Chapter 37:

How King Arthur and his men fought their battle with the five kings, and killed them and defeated their hosts

King Arthur, when he heard the shouts and saw the multitude of armed men that was coming, asked for his arms and armed himself as quickly as he could, for he saw that he greatly needed to do so, and the others who were with him also did this; and before they were armed, a badly wounded knight arrived who said to the king, "Ride, lord, very quickly, and get yourself and your wife to safety, for, if you delay even a little, you will be killed, and you will have no power to defend yourself, for your men are all killed; and if you pass over that water, you will have nothing to fear, for King Pelinor will be here with you in the morning."

And the king said to the queen, "My lady, mount and go over that water, and I will go with you until you are there, for, certainly, I would not want you to fall into their power."

Then the queen mounted, and went toward the river as fast as she could, and the king and Galvan, Quia, and Giflete went with her, so well armed that they lacked nothing, and when they arrived at the river they found it very rough and high. And when the king saw this, he felt great grief and said to the queen, "What shall we do with you? For if we throw you into the water you will die, and if you stay, your enemies will take you and kill you, for I see no remedy anywhere."

The queen said, "May God never help me, if my enemies ever hold me in their power; and I would first choose to venture myself in the water, live or die, than for them to have me in their hands."

And while the queen said this, Quia said to the king, "Lord, see there the kings as they come, who seek you in all this tumult; I know them by their arms."

And Giflete said, "Returning to them would be our folly, and they are coming with great strength; but let us put the queen in the river, and if they come after us, we can easily kill them before they pass."

"I do not know," said Quia, "what you are saying; but I tell you in truth that I will not pass over there until I have jousted with one of them."

"Quia," said Galvan, "jousting with them would be to our detriment, for they are five and we are four."

"Do not fear," said Quia, "for I will kill two, and each one of you will kill yours."

"May he who remains behind," said the king, "have ill luck."

Then Quia charged before them all against the king of the Marcha, whom he found first, and he wounded him so hard with his lance that his arms did not save him from having the iron pass through his body, and he fell dead to the earth. And Galvan who came after him, charged at the king of Ireland, and wounded him so hard that his shield and arms failed him, and he pierced his body with the lance up to the shaft, and thrust him from the horse to the ground dead. And Giflete did the same to the king of the Valley, and King Arthur to King Serolis; and Quia, who had struck the first blow, put his hand to his sword, which was good and razor-sharp, when he saw his lance broken, and wounded the king of the Isle so badly that he made his head in its helmet fly more than a lance's length away, and the body fell to earth. And when the other three saw this blow, they said, "By God, Quia, you fulfilled what you promised, for you killed two of them, just as each of us killed one. Now it will already be time for us to pass over the water, for you see here all the host of our enemies." And those who looked toward the river saw the queen who was there and they wished to pass over, and the queen showed them a ford, and they went onto it. Those of the host wished to cross after them and more than two hundred of them drowned.

When King Arthur saw them cross and die thus, he asked the queen how she had found that ford and she said, "I found it purely by lucky chance."

"I want," said the king, "this ford to have the name of the Queen's Ford from today on."

And so it was, so that it never afterwards lost that name. And when the knights of the other host saw their lords dead, they stood over them and made the greatest moan in the world, and all of them disarmed, since they thought that they were already safe. And when King Arthur's men who had escaped them fleeing through the trees, some armed and some unarmed, saw them weeping, they believed that some king of the host was dead. And while they thought about that, a knight from the kingdom of Londres arrived who told them, "Sirs, I bring you good news, that the five kings who brought this host here are dead, and those who make that dole are unarmed, for they think that with the great trouble they caused us, none of us will dare go against them, so that they take it as read that they are in safety. And now, if you wish to gain honor and price for the rest of your life's days, go to them armed as you are and I tell you well that you will find them so tired that they cannot defend themselves, and you will do what you wish to them."

And when they heard this, they were very happy, and they took their arms and their horses and charged the horses against their enemies, and began to kill and wound them, for they found them on foot and unarmed, and the shouts were louder and greater than they had been before, for the others began to flee as best they could, for they saw themselves killed and wounded, and the king's men reached them and unhorsed them. And when the king saw that his men struck at his enemies so, he said to the others who were with him, "Now to them! for our host is recovered."

Then they returned to where their men were, and they found their enemies defeated and the greater part of them killed, for their men did not wait for them, but attacked them. And they did so much that they had won the field before King Arthur arrived, so that there was already no resistance at all. And when they saw King Arthur, they went to him and said to him, "King Arthur, now we give thanks to God, for with His mercy we have vanquished our enemies, so that not a quarter of them remain alive. And of these most are wounded."

And when the king heard this, he dismounted, and took off his helmet, and raised his hands toward heaven and said, "Father of the heavens, blessed be Thou who magnifieth me thus against mine enemies, and not because of my goodness or my knighthood, but because of thy help and thy succor."

Then he commanded a count of how many of his men he had lost, and he found that they were five hundred horsemen and footmen. And while they were being counted, one of King Pelinor's knights arrived who said to him, "Lord, King Pelinor salutes you, who is three leagues from here and brings a great host."

"He is welcome," said King Arthur, "and we have vanquished our enemies by the loveliest adventure which ever came to Christian man." And he told him how it had been.

And the messenger returned to King Pelinor, and told him the news as he had heard them from King Arthur, and he was very pleased, and said that God should be blessed who had worked so well for him.

So those of Ireland and the far lands were defeated, who had come against King Arthur when he did not expect them, for they had come furtively. And after this battle was won as it has been said, a man departed from there and went to the other half of the host which had remained on the other side of the mountain, who awaited a command to go to the battle, when he should arrive. And when the man arrived, he said to them, "Command quickly for all to go to sea, and take shelter in the ships."

"And what news is this that you bring?" they said.

"The worst that could be brought," he said, "for our five kings are dead, and those who departed from here last night are all dead, so that not a single one remains alive, and if any are, they are few and wounded. Now think to save yourselves while you have time, for if they find us here, never will a single one of us escape, since they are marvelously many; and because of this I came to tell you these news, for I would not wish for them to find you here."

And when they heard this news, they felt great grief, and they moved toward the sea, and wherever they went they did as much harm as they could to the land, until they got to the sea, and they spread out along the shore as much as they could, for they greatly doubted the land.

And so Our Lord strove for those of Londres who were already as if lost, and He succored them in such guise that they killed their enemies. And King Arthur had a rich and lovely abbey built on the field where the battle was in honor of knightly deeds, and after it was built and made abundant with all it might need, and friars were placed there, he gave it a name which it never afterwards lost: the Lovely Adventure. And he departed from that land, and returned to Camelot to rest, since that was the city in which he was most pleased to stay, among all those he held.

Morgaina was still in court with Queen Ginebra, and Yvan her son was great among the new knights, but he did not love his mother Morgaina at all, because he saw that she did not appreciate his father King Urian. And it was true that she hated nothing in the world so much as her husband King Urian and her brother King Arthur. And she loved nothing so much as a knight whose name was Acalon, and that knight was a native of Gaul, which now is called France. And the knight loved her so much it was a marvel, so that they loved each other as much as two people can love. And when King Arthur went to Camelot, he found eight fewer knights at the Round Table, because of those who had died in the battle, and took counsel with King Pelinor about what he would do.

"Lord," he said, "another eight knights should be sought from among the best you can find here, and I can even tell you that you will find eight as good or better than those who died."

"You know them better than I," said King Arthur, "for you traveled with them out on adventure. Therefore I beg you to tell me which of them you think ought to be there. And I command you by the oath you hold of me."

"I will tell you," said King Pelinor, "in such manner that I will not be censured, and you may place them at the Round Table, if it seems to you that it is best to do so; and of the eight I will tell you, four are already men, and four are youths; and of these Galvan your nephew is one, since there is no better young knight in your court than he; and the name of another is Giflete, son of Ebron, who is a good knight; and the name of the third is Quia, your steward, who is a good knight who certainly merits the Round Table and to sit in any of its ranks because of the two blows he struck at the two kings he killed, for never did a youth begin so highly."

"Truly," said King Arthur, "he would well merit a seat at the Round Table even if he never did anything more."

"And I will tell you of two youths for the fourth seat," said King Pelinor, "and you may take whichever you choose: one is Bandemagus, a good and handsome knight, and the other is Tor, my son, whom I will not praise because he is my son; but those who are here know whether chivalry is well served by him. Now place whichever you choose, because, certes, both are worthy of it."

And the king said that he would place Tor there, for it seemed to him that Tor had had a better beginning than Bandemagus. "And now tell me the other four," said King Arthur.

"I will tell you," said King Pelinor. "King Urian is the first, and King Lot is the second, and Borin de Rinel is the third, and Galegragames the Blond is the fourth; those four ought to be there, since they were good youths and are good knights already of age."

And King Arthur accepted this all. And in the morning all eight were placed at the Round Table; and after they seated themselves, they found their names written in letters of gold on the seats; not because any man had written them, but by divine grace, which was the guide of this deed, and the names of the others who had been there before had been erased as soon as those knights had died. And when Bandemagus saw that Tor, who was younger than he, was seated at the Round Table with the other good men who were named for goodness above all others, he began to swear foully and curse at the altar, and curse himself, and he was the saddest man in the world that day, since he did not know how to remedy his troubles. And the next morning he heard mass, and called one of his squires and said to him, "I want to go from here and rest on the mountain, and you must take my war horse and my arms, and take them from here so that no one else knows of it."

"Sir," he said, "do you have somewhere to go which would be better than staying at court?"

"Do not worry," said Bandemagus, "for I will eventually return."

"Then go," said the squire, "since I will be with you eventually."

Bandemagus, leaving the city, went straight to the forest and hid himself among the trees so that anyone who left the court and passed by there would not find him. And as he hid thus, he saw his squire coming and went to him. And the squire descended and armed his lord, and after he had armed him, he knelt before him and said to him, "Sir, in God's name, grant me a boon."

"I grant it you," said Bandemagus.

"Sir, let me come with you on this road, so that you do not go alone. And since I know that you will not soon feel like returning to this land, it would be ill and perilous for you to go alone and without a squire."

"Since it is so," he said, "come, friend."

And the squire then mounted his hack, and Bandemagus took his horse and mounted it all armed, except for his shield and lance which the squire carried. Then they put themselves on the road, and arrived at a cross which was newly made. And when Bandemagus saw the cross, he descended from the horse and knelt before it and said a prayer, and after he had done so, he swore on the cross before his squire that he would not return to King Arthur's court until he had conquered one of the knights of the Round Table in single combat, so that all should say that he was worthy of so high a seat as that. And this oath made, he arose and mounted his horse. His squire, when he saw this, said, "Sir, now I see that you did not begin this career because of disgrace, and that you do not wish to return there so soon. And why did you bring such awful grief to your uncle King Urian? For certes, he loves you so much that he will die of grief at your departure, since he will believe that he has lost you."

"Do not worry over that," said Bandemagus, "for I would prefer never to enter court again than not to perform some knightly deed such that knights far and near will speak of it, so that good news may come to my uncle."

"May God give you the strength," said the squire.

Then Bandemagus went on his way with his squire, and went as chance should guide him.