“So, Palomides, if that’s your real name —”
“We’ve known one another for literally years at this point, Tristram.”
“Why, I wonder,” Tristram asks, pressing on, “why was it that you happened to be in a fight with those ten knights?”
“It was nine knights last chapter. But sure. Funny story. Remember how, when last we separated, you and me and Sir Dinadan all went out in different directions to have contemporaneous strange adventures?”
“Not even a little bit!” thunders Tristram.
“Yeah, it happened.” Palomides sighs. “I ran into a woman standing over a corpse and weeping, I asked her what was up, like you do, and she was all, Pitiless Bruce just murdered my husband, that’s him lying here, woe woe sob.”
“Pitiless Bruce, you say?”
“Sir Breuse Saunce Pite, the very same. So naturally I helped her bury her late husband, vowed vengeance on her behalf, all that knightly stuff. Then when we rode past this tower here…” Palomides pauses to point out the tower into which Pitiless Bruce and his knights fled, on the grounds that even though he saw it with his own eyes mere minutes prior, Tristram probably forgot about it. “And whop, out pops Pitiless Bruce, who knocks down my horse!”
“Double jerk! Because while I was getting back up off the ground where I fell when my horse was stabbed out from under me, Pitiless Bruce straight up murdered the widow who rode with me!”
“Hence the melee with Bruce and his eight or nine or ten underlings. Then I was wounded, then you rescued me, and that brings us up to the present.”
“Well,” says Tristram, “now I understand the manner of your battle, but in any wise have remembrance of your promise that ye have made with me to do battle with me this day fortnight.”
“I know, I know,” sighs Palomides. “But right now you’re going to help me slay Pitiless Bruce, right? Probably you can break into his tower over there.”
“Screw that,” says Tristram. “I’ma take you through the forest and drop you off at some safe hermitage or convent to recover.”
(Sir Tristram! Our hero!)
So Tristram carts Palomides, who’s gravely wounded remember, through the forest. Eventually they stop at a well, where Tristram decides to drink some water. He dismounts and notices another horse already tied up next to the well, and a fair knight armed, lying napping under a tree. He’s using his helmet for a pillow but otherwise he’s in full battle dress.
“Hey, check it out Palomides,” says Tristram. “A sleeping knight! Maybe I’ll stab him for fun!”
“Jeez, Tristram, at least wake the guy up first!”
So Tristram pokes him with the butt of his spear until he’s awake.
And then — you would never see this coming — the knight wakes up, pulls his helmet on, swears a bit, and then, hefting a spear of his own, charges Tristram!
The strange knight dehorses Tristram, which is funny, because Malory indicated earlier in the same paragraph that Tristram had dismounted. He wounds Tristram, then dehorses and wounds the already-injured Palomides. At this point the strange knight left them there, and took his way through the forest.
Tristram slowly rises to his feet, as does Palomides. “Wow,” says Tristram.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have poked him,” suggests Palomides.
“By my head I will follow this strong knight that thus hath shamed us.”
“…Yeah, I’m opting out of this one.”
“Pfft, whatever. Just remember that we’re going to meet up and fight in a fortnight. At the porch Merlin made.”
“At Merlin’s porch, sure. Listen, assuming I’m not sick or captured, I’ll be there.”
“Yeah, you better.”
“You on the other hand may be dead, since you’re going off to, I don’t even know, with the guy you just attacked…”
Tristram waves away Palomides’s concerns, and rides off.
I’m starting to think Tristram’s characterization is consistent with bipolar disorder.