Malory has kind of lost his narrative thread here, not for the first or last time. He picks up with Mordred and Agravaine, two of Sir Gawaine’s brothers. They’re riding along, on their adventures, and they come across Sir Dalan, a new character who should not be confused with Sir Dinadan or Sir Dinas or Sir Darras or Sir Daname or Sir Dirant or Sir Dinant. A lot of Malory’s names have some similar phonemes in them, is what I’m saying.
Dalan has been fleeing across the landscape, on account of Pitiless Bruce is chasing him.
Pitiless Bruce! Sir Gawaine’s nemesis! Last seen way back in Chapter 2 of this selfsame Book!
“Well, sure, we’ll help you out,” says Mordred. “I’m Mordred and this is my brother Agravaine, and over there is Sir… okay, I forget his name, but he’s another Knight of the Round Table. We didn’t mention before because he just kind of wandered up the road a second ago.”
The knight whose name they’ve forgotten turns out to be Sir Dinadan, Tristram’s erstwhile sidekick. Tristram just went off to Cornwall and left him behind, so he’s on his way to Sir Palomides, Tristram’s best frenemy, to fill him in.
“You guys got this one,” Dinadan tells Mordred and Agravaine. “I’m just going to keep going.”
But then! Before Dinadan can leave, enter Pitiless Bruce! He twirls his handlebar mustache, Bruce does (Malory does not specify that Pitiless Bruce has a handlebar mustache but I defy you to picture him without one), and challenges Dalan to a joust.
“Tag me in!” cries Mordred, and so Mordred and Pitiless Bruce joust. Pitiless Bruce dehorses him easily.
“Now that he’s out of the way, Dalan, you and I…”
But Agravaine interrupts. “Now tag me in!” he cries. Dalan tags him in, and then Agravaine and Pitiless Bruce joust. Once again, Pitiless Bruce dehorses his opponent easily.
“Oh, fine, jeez, why do I ever even…” Sir Dinadan grumbles about it, but he comes to Dalan’s defence. This time it’s Pitiless Bruce who gets humiliatingly easily dehorsed.
Mordred and Agravaine and Pitiless Bruce all get back up, and Pitiless Bruce flees on foot.
“Well, that was pointless,” says Dinadan. “I’ll just be going now.”
“Hold on, you’re, what’s your name? You’re that one guy.”
“Dinadan,” says Dinadan.
Mordred snaps his fingers. “Right! Hey, you’re friends with Sir Lamorak, right?”
“I guess,” says Dinadan. “I mean, Chapter 20 pretty clearly marks me as his companion, and just a couple of chapters ago I was congratulating him and getting all buddy-buddy. He’s closer to Sir Palomides, though. I’m pretty much spoken for, as Tristram’s sidekick.”
“Still, we hate Lamorak,” says Mordred.
“So we’re your enemies, just on general principle,” says Agravaine.
Dinadan shakes his head. “Guys, I don’t wanna…” But Dalan interrupts Dinadan.
“Hold the phone,” Dalan says. “Did you say you’re Sir Dinadan?”
Dinadan sighs. “…Yeah?” He can tell something bad is coming.
“Sir Dinadan killed my father!”
“I guess that’s possible,” muses Dinadan. “I’ve killed a bunch of dudes.”
“Upon my father’s honor, we must joust! I demand a full-on to-the-death joust!”
For once Malory spares us the blow-by-blow: to make the shorter tale, he says, Sir Dinadan smote him off his horse, that his neck was nigh broken. And in the same wise he smoke Sir Mordred and Sir Agravaine.
Spoiler alert: once Mordred and Agravaine go fully to the Dark Side, they murder Dinadan as payback for this event, which is why Malory is bothering to include it, though it makes for a lifeless and dull narrative.
After this little misadventure, Dinadan rides on until he comes to the castle wherein Sir Palomides has been recuperating from his injuries of Chapter 20. Dinadan tells Palomides all about the events of Chapter 22, how Tristram forgave Mark and Mark promised to be nicer from now on, and how they left for Cornwall together.
“Dang it,” says Palomides. “Tristram is going to seduce the lovely Isoud, I just know it. I suppose if someone has to have an affair with the woman I love and it can’t be me, it may as well be Tristram, though.”
“That’s the spirit!” says Dinadan.