Enter a damosel! Let’s call her Muriel. “Knights,” she says, “I’ve just come from Sir Darras’s court, upstairs. He says he’s not going to execute you!” I guess this is because Malory didn’t want to freak us all out with too much suspense?
This is good news, yet Tristram sinks further into the depths of despair and fever. He brings everybody down: Palomides, Dinadan, Muriel, everybody. Muriel reports back to Sir Darras that is dungeon is a real downer of a happening, and that Tristram might die of grief and/or his wounds being infected.
“That won’t do at all!” booms Sir Darras. “I can’t have knights dying in my prison when I’ve decided not to execute them! Tristram’s death would severely undercut my authority!”
Darras summons Tristram up to his court. “Apparently you’re dying of depression? Stop it at once! You’re a noble knight with a lot of friends who would try to avenge you if you died in my dungeon. Wit ye well it shall never be said that Sir Darras shall destroy such a noble knight as thou art, in prison. I mean, yes, you did kill three of my sons at the tournament of the Castle of Maidens in Chapter 33, even though all of my sons arrived home safe and sound in Chapter 34. I was angry about that, I admit it. But I can’t keep you here if you’re going to die, so, apparently I’m freeing you.”
“Just so you know,” says Tristram, “if they had been my brothers, in the heat of the moment, I would have killed them anyway. It’s a violent and chaotic time out there, on the tournament field. Really it’s a wonder any knights survive at all.”
“Hmm, well, my other two sons have recovered from their injuries. Promise not to kill them, okay? And remind us all one more time who you are, even though my actions up to this point have been predicated in part on my knowledge of your identity? Apparently I’ve forgotten.”
Tristram explains that he’s Sir Tristram of Liones, nephew of King Mark of Cornwall. He doesn’t mention his status as the king of Brittany or the husband of Isoud the White, because that’s old news and no longer relevant to his life, I guess. He also refuses to make any promises about Darras’s other two sons — he won’t murder them or anything, but if he ends up jousting them, hey, jousting is a dangerous game. It’s the jai alai of Arthurian Times. But Tristram will declare that he owes Darras a favor, promising by the faith of [his] body, ever while [he lives he] will do you service.
Tristram recovers from his illness, and when he was big and strong they took their leave, which is just an adorable phrasing. Tristram, Dinadan, and Palomides all leave Castle Darras together, but then they split up, and as per usual, Malory wants to track each knight’s strange adventure separately. First up, Sir Dinadan!