Tristram and Dinadan ride down the road, in theory towards Camelot. Tristram declined to stay with Bleoberis and company last chapter, but it’s getting along in the day and neither he nor Dinadan have had lunch. So they stop and bug some shepherds for food. The shepherds have no food, but they can point the knights towards yonder castle.
“It’s a great place for knights to say,” the shepherds say. “There’s just one little quirk: for a knight to stay there overnight he has to defeat two other knights in battle. And if he’s a knight, he has to defeat two knights!”
“The second half of that warning makes no sense,” says Dinadan, speaking for your humble narrator.
“Sounds good,” says Tristram.
“No it doesn’t, it sounds stupid!” snaps Dinadan. “This is crazy and stupid! Why should we have to joust two knights just to stay overnight? I’ll just sleep out in a field. Better that than deal with this bullroar.”
“What? You should be ashamed of yourself!” Tristram’s on a hair trigger. “Aren’t you in the Round Table? Or are you Cornish? I forget. Either way. Dude! You shouldn’t be afraid of fighting!”
“To be fair,” interjects a shepherd, “if you lose the fight they beat you up and you don’t get to sleep there.”
“I really question the logic of trying to stay in a castle where you have to fight guys just for a mattress,” grumbles Dinadan.
According to Malory, Dinadan and Tristram argue about this for a fair bit, until Tristram just flat-out pulls rank on Dinadan and orders him to fight. They get to the castle, and then it turns out to be no big deal, inasmuch as they are allowed to team up, fight two-on-two and they win easily.
“Great,” says Dinadan. “I’m going to bed, and I’m going to sleep late, with this bottle of wine and this damosel and this roast turkey leg. I’m going to have a private little RenFair party.”
So he gets ready for bed, but then there’s a pounding on the door of the castle. Two knights are outside petitioning for entrance! It’s Sir Palomides and Sir Gaheris, Malory says. Like that’s going to impress us.
“C’mon, Dinadan,” says Tristram. “Those guys want to come in and sleep, they’ll have to beat us in jousts!”
“What? No! Just let them in!”
“It’s the rule of the castle! We beat the other guys, so we’ve got to take on all comers!”
“No! That’s stupid! It was stupid when we were trying to get into the castle and it’s even more stupid now that we’re already in the castle!”
“What kind of knight are you?!”
“The kind that is sore and tired after rescuing your sorry hide from thirty fricking knights last chapter!”
For a second it looks like Tirstram and Dinadan are going to brawl, right there! But instead, somehow, Dinadan ends up jousting Palomides while Tristram jousts Gaheris. Tristram unseats Gaheris, but Palomides dehorses Dinadan. Everyone except Dinadan is way into continuing the joust on foot, in the traditional manner. Dinadan, however, complains of bruises, exhaustion, and plays that Remember how I fought thirty knights with you earlier today? card again. He does not want to play. Tristram takes his helmet off and pulls Dinadan aside.
“Dude, just be cool, okay? Can’t you just be cool for once? Dude!”
“Don’t ‘dude’ me, dude. You’re a jerk, Tristram. It’s been a long day. I just want to sleep. This is Launcelot all over again. You know, one time I went on a strange adventure with Launcelot, and he never wanted to rest. It was always ride along, joust a guy, ride some more, joust another guy. At the end of it I needed three months of bed rest! You and Launcelot are two of a kind, you know that? No consideration for the limitations of us mere mortals!”
“Fine, then,” says Tristram, with exaggerated stiffness and wounded pride and he’s all huffy. “I’ll joust them both myself!”
Sir Palomides refuses to fight Tristram two on one, though, so it ends up just being the two of them, while Gaheris watches. They joust for a while, and eventually Tristram gets frustrated and lashes out — this is a nonlethal courtesy joust, remember? Because Tristram forgets! Suddenly Gaheris and Dinadan have to leap in and pull Tristram off of Palomides, like he’s a poorly socialized rescue dog at the dog park who really shouldn’t be at the dog park and won’t be taken to a dog park again we can be confident of that.
Once he calms down, Tristram agrees that everyone can stay in the castle, at which point Dinadan gives a short speech about how much of a dick Tristram is, how Dinadan won’t stay in the stupid castle, and how he hopes they never meet again. Then Dinadan rides away, swearing the whole time.
Tristram can’t take a hint. He abandons the castle and Palomides and Gaheris and rides after Dinadan. “Dinadan! Buddy! Calm down! Aren’t we friends? You’re my Book Nine pal! We’re going on a strange adventure together!” Tristram chases Dinadan to a priory a few miles up the road, where they end up staying overnight.