Malory announces that he’s going to switch over to another member of the Tristram Rescue Squad. Speak we of other knights that sought after Sir Tristram many divers parts of this land, he says, and I’m like, cool. So naturally we cut to Gawine’s brother Sir Gaheris. Believe it or not, this is the beginning of a pretty decently structured chunk of narrative.
But still! Sir Gaheris: not actually part of the Tristram Rescue Squad. Whatever, Malory! Maybe you shouldn’t have come up with a Tristram Rescue Squad Roll Call Sound Off Now, if you can’t stick to it.
Gaheris figures to catch a Tristram, you’ve got to think like a Tristram. He heads straight for Cornwall, and Mark’s court in Tintagil. Mark puts him up, of course, since he’s King Arthur’s nephew and a Knight of the Round Table. A banquet gets thrown together, wherein Gaheris gets to sit at Mark’s own table and eat off Mark’s own plate, as is the style of the time.
“So Gaheris, how’re tricks?” asks Mark.
“Oh, hey, here’s a piece of news,” says Gaheris. “Just recently we had a big three-day tournament in the Castle of Maidens, up in Logris.”
“And the best knight was this one guy with a black shield…”
“Ah, Launcelot, of course. Ol’ Sir Black-Shield, that’s what they call him,” says Mark, who likes to sound smart.
“I don’t think so, no. This wasn’t Launcelot, it was…”
“Sir Palomides! I should have guessed. He’s been an honored guest here many times, even though he isn’t Christian! Ran off with my wife, you know. Heh, crazy times. That Palomides, such a nutbar.”
“Not so, for both Sir Launcelot and Sir Palomides were on the contrary party against the Knight of the Black Shield,” says Gaheris.
Mark throws his head down on the table, where it hits with a smacking sound. “Then it was Sir Tristram.” Mark tries not to think about Tristram.
“Yeah, that’s right, he’s your nephew, isn’t he?” Gaheris asks. He’s about to question whether Mark has seen Tristram lately, when the lovely Isoud speaks up.
“I know it’s been chapters and chapters since I did anything or had any lines (which still puts me well up above Guenever), but excuse me. Did you mention my beloved Tristram? Tristram was there? Did he win? Oh, what I am saying, listen to me, of course he won. He wins everything, he’s such an absolute dream! O how I miss him!”
At this point I assume Gaheris starts drinking heavily. I know I would, if I was stuck having dinner with Mark and Isoud.
Shortly afterwards, with Gaheris still hanging out in Cornwall, Mark decides to throw a big party. As a king it’s his most important duty. To this party shows up, along with everybody important in Cornwall, Sir Uwaine! Morgan le Fay’s son! Unlike Gaheris he is a member of the Tristram Rescue Squad.
“That stuck-up prideful jerk Sir Uwaine, always running around like blood doesn’t stick to his hands,” grumbles Mark. “I wish I had a decent knight in my court, to send to joust him. That’d take him down a peg, oh yes.”
Sir Andred pipes up. You remember him, right? Tristram’s cousin, Mark’s other nephew, not a very good knight, very jealous of Tristram? Andred volunteers to joust Uwaine on Mark’s behalf.
This goes as well for Andred as you would expect, given that I just characterized him as “not a very good knight.” He’ll be okay in less than a full chapter, folks, but for the moment he’s taken from the field in a stretcher.
“That stuck-up prideful jerk Sir Uwaine, always smiting my poor nephews,” grumbles Mark. “If only I had a decent knight in my court, someone could avenge poor Sir Andred… wait! I do! Sir Dinas!”
Surely you remember Sir Dinas! He’s Mark’s seneschal, the Kay to Mark’s Arthur. Dinas is an okay knight: he doesn’t have a lot of respect for Mark and admires Tristram. Mark keeps him around anyway because he’s a good enough knight.
“I’m too old for this shit,” says Dinas. “Uwaine’s of the Round Table, young, knightly… full knightly, even.”
“As your king I beg you! For my love take upon thee to joust,” pleads Mark.
Dinas acquiesces, goes to joust Uwaine, gets himself as badly beaten as Andred. Again, he’ll be fine in a bit, but for the moment he’s out.