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In the
end our king, by the advice of these traitors, rode into the forest here
by, to chase the red deer. When he had become warm from the hunt he
alighted to drink at a woodland spring, and, while he was bent over the
water, one of these villains thrust him through the body with a spear.
They then fled from the spot, thinking he was dead. Shortly after they
had gone, fortune brought me to the spot, where I found my lord still
alive, but mortally hurt, and learned from him his story. Knowing that
we had no knights able to revenge him on his murderers, I had him
brought to the water, and put into the ship alive, and the letter which
he bore in his hand I wrote from his own words. Then he died, and, as he
had ordered, the ship set sail up the Humber, bound for the realm of
Logris, where it was hoped that some valiant Knight of the Round Table
would take this adventure on himself."

"Truly your doleful tale grieves me sorely," said Palamides. "I saw the
letter you speak of. It was read to me by one of the best knights upon
the earth, and it is by his command I am here. I came to revenge your
king, and I shall never be at ease till I meet with and punish his
murderers."

"You have my hearty thanks and best wishes," said Ebel. "Since you
accept this adventure, you must enter the ship again, and sail forward
till you reach the Delectable Isle, which is near by the Red City. We
shall await here your return. If you speed well this castle is yours.
King Hermance built it for the two traitors, but we hold it against
them, and they threaten us sorely unless we yield it."

"Look that you keep it, whatsoever may come to me," said Palamides. "For
if fortune decides that I am to be slain in this quest, I trust that one
of the best knights in the world will come to revenge me; either
Tristram de Lyonesse or Lancelot du Lake."

Then Palamides entered the ship and sailed away towards the Red City.
But as he came near it, and landed on the coast, another ship touched
shore near by, from which came a goodly knight, with his shield on his
shoulder and his hand on his sword.

"Sir knight, what seek you here?" he asked Palamides. "If you have come
to revenge King Hermance you must yield this quest to me, for it was
mine before it was yours, and I shall yield it to no man."

"You speak like a true knight," said Palamides. "But when the letter was
taken from the dead king's hand there was nothing known of any champion
for him, and so I promised to revenge him. And this I must and shall do,
lest I win shame instead of honor."

"You have right on your side," said the knight. "What I propose is this.
I will fight with you; and he who proves the better knight shall have
the quest."

"That fits with my fancy," said Palamides; "for from what I hear no
second-rate champion can watch this pair of villains."

With this they advanced their shields and drew their swords, and began a
stern and well-contested combat. For more than an hour the fight between
them continued, but at the end of this time Palamides seemed stronger
and better-winded than at the beginning, and he finally dealt his
opponent a blow that brought him to his knees. Then the discomfited
combatant cried out,--

"Knight, hold your hand."

Palamides let fall his sword at this request.

"You are the better of us two, and more worthy of this battle," said the
knight. "But fain would I know your name."

"My name is Palamides. I am a Knight of the Round Table, and one well
known in Arthur's realm."

"In good faith it is, and much beyond that realm," answered the knight.
"I know only three living men besides yourself who are fitted for this
task, and they are Lancelot, Tristram, and my cousin Lamorak. As for me,
my name is Hermind, and I am brother to the murdered King Hermance."

"I shall do my best to revenge your brother," said Palamides. "If I am
slain, I commend you to Lancelot or Tristram. As for Lamorak, he will
never strike blow again."

"Alas, what mean you?"

"That he has been murdered--waylaid and slain treacherously by Gawaine
and his brothers, except Sir Gareth, the best of them all." And he told
the story of the death of Lamorak, much to the grief and indignation of
his hearer.

Then Palamides took ship again, and sailed on till he came to the
Delectable Isle. Meanwhile Hermind made all haste to the Red City, where
he told of the arrival of the famous knight Palamides and of his combat
with him. The people were filled with joy at these tidings, and quickly
sent a messenger to the two brethren, bidding them to make ready, as a
knight had come who would fight them both. The messenger found them at a
castle near by, and delivered his message.

"Who is this champion?" they asked. "Is it Lancelot or any of his
blood?"

"No."

"If it were, we would not fight. But we care for no one else."

"It is a good knight though, Sir Palamides, a Saracen by birth, and
still unchristened."

"He had best have been christened before he came here, for it will be
too late when we have done with him. Let him know that we will be at the
Red City in two days, and will give him all the fighting he is likely to
want for the rest of his life."

When Palamides came to the city he was received with the greatest joy,
and the more so when the people saw what a handsome and well-built man
he was, neither too young nor too old, with clean and powerful limbs,
and no defect of body.

At the time appointed there came to the city the two brethren, Helius
and Helake by name, both of them strong and valiant men, of great
prowess in war, false as they were at heart. And with them they brought
forty knights, to guard them against any treachery from the Red City,
for they knew well that it was filled with their enemies.

The lists had already been prepared, and at the appointed hour Palamides
entered full armed, and confronted his antagonists boldly.

"Are you the two brethren Helius and Helake, who slew your king by
treason?" he asked.

"We are the men who slew King Hermance," they replied. "And bear in
mind, Sir Saracen, we are able to stand by our deeds, and will handle
you so before you depart that you will wish you had been christened
before you came so far."

"I trust to God I shall die a better Christian than either of you,"
Palamides replied. "And you had best kill me if you get the chance, for
I vow not to spare you."

As he spoke the trumpet sounded, and, reining back their horses, they
rode against each other with terrific speed. Palamides directed his
spear against Helake, and struck him so mighty a blow that the spear
pierced through his shield and hauberk, and for a fathom's length
through his breast, hurling him dead to the earth. As for Helius, he
held up his spear in pride and presumption, and rode by Palamides
without touching him.

But when he saw his brother stretched in death on the earth his
assurance changed to doubt, and rage drove the pride from his heart.
"Help thyself, villain!" he cried, and rushed upon Palamides before he
could prepare to encounter him, striking him a blow with his spear that
bore him from his saddle to the earth. Then he forced his horse over
him backward and forward before the dismounted champion could regain his
feet.

As he came again, the fallen knight reached up and caught the horse by
the bridle, dragging himself by its aid to his feet. Then, as the animal
reared, he pressed so strongly upon it that it toppled backward to the
ground, the rider barely saving himself from being crushed beneath his
fallen horse. But he was on his feet in an instant, and, sword in hand,
struck Palamides a blow on the helm that brought him down to one knee.

Before he could repeat the blow the gallant Saracen was on his feet and
had drawn his trenchant blade, with which he attacked his antagonist in
turn. A fierce and deadly combat succeeded, the two knights hurtling
together like two wild boars, now both hurled grovelling to the earth,
now on foot again and hewing at each other with the strength of giants.

Thus for two hours they fought, without time for rest or a moment's
space to recover breath. At the end of that time Palamides grew faint
and weary from the violence of his efforts, but Helius seemed as strong
as ever, and redoubling his strokes he drove back the Saracen knight
step by step, over all the field. At this the people of the city were
filled with fear, while the party of Helius shouted with triumph.

"Alas!" cried the citizens, "that this noble knight should be slain for
our king's sake."

While they thus bewailed his threatened fate and the seeming victory of
their tyrant, Helius showered so many vigorous blows on his weakened
foe that it was a wonder he kept his feet. But when he saw how the
common people wept for him his heart was filled with a sense of shame,
while a glow of fury burned like fire in his veins.

"Fie on you for a dastard, Palamides!" he said to himself. "Why hang you
your head so like a whipped hound?"

Then, with a new spirit burning hotly within him, and fresh strength
animating his limbs, he lifted his drooping shield and turned on Helius
with lion-like fury, smiting him a vigorous blow on the helm, which he
followed quickly by others. This violent onset was too much for the
strained strength of the false knight, and he retreated in dismay, while
the sword of Palamides fell with ever more and more might. At length
came so mighty a blow that he was hurled like a log to the earth. The
victorious Saracen gave him no time to recover, but sprang upon him like
a fury, tore the helm from his head, and with a final stroke smote the
head from his body.

Then he rose and stood leaning upon his sword, hardly able to bear
himself on his feet, while from all the people of the city went up loud
shouts of joy and congratulation.

"Palamides, the conqueror! Palamides, our deliverer! Palamides, our
king!" they shouted, while one adorned his brows with a wreath of
laurel, and others tore off his armor and applied ointments to his
bleeding limbs.

"Fair friends, your crown is not for me," he said. "I have delivered you
from your tyrants, but you must choose some other king, as I am under
promise to return with all speed to my lord King Arthur at the castle of
Lonazep."

This decision filled them with grief, but they brought him to the city
and treated him with all the honor which they could bestow upon him.



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