“So what’s new, out in this non-Cornwall world where we both spend our time?” asks Mark, changing the subject.
“They’ve just announced the next tournament in the season,” says Lamorak. “Hunting Castle, out by Camelot. King Anguish from Ireland and Mister 100 are both expected to attend.”
Lamorak would maybe say more, but just then Sir Dinadan rides up. Now, Sir Dinadan was Tristram’s traveling companion for much of Book IX. It was in Dinadan’s company that Tristram left Cornwall, when Mark kicked him out. Will Dinadan recognize Mark?
“Ho, Lamorak; stranger,” says Dinadan. So, no.
“Yo,” says Lamorak.
“Yo also,” says Mark.
Dinadan does a double-take. “Is that a Cornish accent?” And he launches into a long spiel about what a lousy country Cornwall is, on account of King Mark is a terrible ruler. His spiel is, Malory tells us, about a thousandfold more than Lamorak’s. Mark looks a little green around the gills by the time he’s done.
But Dinadan isn’t done! He challenges Mark to a joust, then and there, because he’s so mad at Cornwall in general and wants to take it out on somebody. Mark declines, and then Dinadan pushes him to joust with Lamorak instead, which Mark agrees to just to shut him up.
Less than one full combat round later, Mark picks himself up off the ground.
“Ha, beaten by Sir Kay,” laughs Dinadan. “You Cornish churl.”
“That’s not Kay,” Mark protests. “You’re having fun with me. That’s Lamorak!”
Thus goaded by Dinadan, Mark jousts Lamorak on foot.
“Dang, you’re terrible at this,” Lamorak says after a couple of seconds. “I feel almost guilty.” Not too guilty to pound Mark on the helmet until he falls down, though!
“Just stay down, churl,” Dinadan tells him. “You don’t stand a chance against Lamorak. He’s an actual knight, whereas you’re from Cornwall. Listen, travel with me, I’ll introduce you to King Arthur, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.”
Mark and Lamorak and Dinadan end up riding together, like you do. They come to a bridge, guarded by a tower, in which live two knights, brothers named Alein and Trian, who will challenge anyone who crosses the bridge to joust. There’s another knight there, too, Sir Berluse, because Malory never introduces one knight when three will do.
Dinadan goads Mark into agreeing to joust Trian with the ice burn “Now proffer yourself for ever ye be laid in the earth.”
I don’t get it either. But Mark freaks. He grabs his spear and jousts Trian, and then his spear breaks.
“No problem,” says Trian. “I have several.”
“Joust over!” shouts Mark, and hides behind Lamorak.
Everyone’s pretty disgusted but they go on into the castle anyway, and Alein and Trian offer hospitality to the trio.
They had passing good cheer, says Malory… at first. Because before too long, Sir Berluse spots Mark. Berluse, not Bersules, the guy Mark murdered last chapter. This is a completely different guy whose name just happens to be off by one letter, Malory says.
Malory totally forgot to mention this sooner, what with all the random digressing, but Mark killed Berluse’s dad, execution style, when Berluse was a kid. So Berluse fled Cornwall and moved into this tower, which incidentally is owned by Sir Tor, a knight we may remember from Book III.
“Mark!” he shouts, pointing. “King Mark of Cornwall, the dastardly villain!”
Lamorak and Dindan both do spit-takes.
Of course Mark has already been offered hospitality, and that’s a sacred bond, so he isn’t kicked out of the tower immediately. It puts a real pall on the evening, though. Basically everyone who isn’t Mark huddles at one end of the tower while he sits alone at the other. They all talk smack about him. Mark enjoys this about as much as you’d expect.
In the morning Lamorak and Dinadan keep riding towards the tournament, and Mark follows along after them, since Dinadan promised to take him to Arthur. Before they’ve gone very far, though, Berluse and the other knights from the tower circle up and approach them.
“Mark!” cries Berluse. “Traitor! Murderer! I’ma joust you good!”
“Aw, crap,” grumbles Dinadan, because he’s honor-bound to defend Mark.
So long story short, Lamorak just stands there and watches while Dinadan disables Berluse, Alein, and Trian, and Mark runs around squealing. Eventually Berluse is on the ground with Mark’s sword at his throat. Mark tries to kill him, but Dinadan won’t have that.
Four leagues further up the road, they encounter another knight who wants to joust. Dinadan tries to get Mark to do it, but Mark refuses, and so Dinadan has to. This other knight — secretly Berluse’s boss, Sir Tor — dehorses Dinadan pretty easily but declines to continue the joust on foot. Dinadan secretly recognizes Sir Tor but because it’s a secret doesn’t tell anyone.