On the Way to the “Tournoi”

King Marc’s court was traveling to Tintagel for a “tournoi” (tournament). Whoever won the tournament would be deemed the most valiant knight and be prized with the golden sparrowhawk.

Isolde and I were at the front of the procession behind Tristan when a knight of unknown fealty blocked our passage through the woods.

“Ye must turn back. I am to be the most valiant knight at Tintagel. Ye cannot be allowed to pass.”

Tristan challenged him and the two began to fight, first with lances and then with swords. We could hear the clang of the metal in loud bursts. Crimson blood tinted broken chain mail.

This continued for some time, both knights taking hits and withstanding injury. Finally, Tristan dislodged the other knight’s helm and came so close to the bone of his face that he cut his hair with the edge of his sword.

The cowardly knight exclaimed,

“Vassal, ye have won. Do not kill me! Take my sword, I give it to ye.”

“I will not kill ye. But ye have forfeited your right to participate in the tournament and must come with me to Tintagel as my prisoner,” Tristan told him.

This meant he traveled next to Tristan for the rest of the journey and reveled in complaining every step of the way. Tristan ignored him except to make sure he took no missteps, but Isolde gave the false knight disapproving looks from time to time for his lack of decorum in the presence of the queen and her lady-in-waiting. Tristan did not ask me to treat wounds, but I understood that I was to keep an eye on the knight. If he took ill, he would be cumbersome to travel with. But by this point, we were not far from Tintagel.

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