On to happier notes. Merlin arranges for Arthur to marry Gwenyvere, daughter of King Lodegrean, with whom he is madly in love.
As a wedding gift, King Lodegrean gives Arthur a round table with seats for 150 knights, and a hundred knights, to boot.
Arthur knights his nephew, Gawain, and a poor cowherd named Torre, who turns out to be King Pellynore's illegitimate son.
Merlin seats King Pellynore in the "Sege Perelous," the place for the best knight of the Round Table. Lucky him.
Arthur marries Gwenyvere, and during the wedding feast, a white hart pursued by a white hound enters the hall and runs round the table. After one of the knights scoops up the white hound and rides away with it, a lady enters asking for her hound back. Shmoop smells trouble again.
This lady's pursued by another knight, who carries her away by force.
But Merlin tells Arthur he must retrieve the hart, hound, and the lady or else the event will be a dishonor to his feast. So Arthur sends Gawain after the hart, Torre after the hound, and Pellynore after the lady. We get each of their stories in turn, so Shmoop'll go ahead and break them down for you, one by one.
Gawain sets off in search of the elusive deer.
Along the way, he kills Sir Alardyne of the Out Isles when he annoyingly refuses to allow Gawain to follow the hart over a river without fighting him first.
Gawain follows the hart into a castle where it's killed by some of his hounds. Then a knight from the castle kills some of Gawain's hounds, so Gawain fights with that guy, too. Don't mess with Gawain's dogs, people.
At first, Gawain totally refuses to grant the knight mercy for killing his hounds, but when Gawain accidentally kills this knight's lady when she covers his body with hers, Gawain sends the knight, who has survived the attack, to Arthur.
Four other knights come into the room and start fighting with Gawain as vengeance for their fallen comrade, until four ladies ask for mercy for Gawain.
The four ladies send Gawain back to Arthur's court wearing the head of the dead lady around his neck and her body before him on his horse. Ick.
As a judgment upon Gawain for failing to grant mercy, and for killing a lady, the Queen and her ladies decree that Gawain must help ladies as long as he lives, be courteous, and grant mercy to anyone who asks for it. Hey, there are worse punishments.
Sir Torre, who's out looking for the hound who crashed the wedding feast, defeats two knights and sends them to Arthur. The dwarf that was their servant joins Sir Torre, and directs him to the hound. Torre takes the hound from the arms of a sleeping lady.
Later, Sir Torre fights with a knight named Abelleus who rides in pursuit of the hound, then kills him at the request of a lady who claims Abelleus killed her brother.
Sir Torre returns to court with the hound, and Arthur grants him an earldom. Job well done.
Pellynore rides in pursuit of the lady that the knight led away, and in his rush to catch them, refuses to help a lady by a well with a wounded knight in her arms. We have the sneaking suspicion this just might come back to haunt him.
Pellynore kills the knight who kidnapped the lady back at court, then is granted custody of her by her cousin, Sir Meliot de Logurs. We learn that the lady's name is Nenyve.
Taking shelter in a grove for the night, Pellynore overhears two knights from the northern alliance plotting to poison King Arthur.
Pellynore and the lady pass the knight and lady he refused to help at the beginning of his quest, and find them eaten by wild beasts, except for their heads.
Pellynore returns to court carrying the dead lady's head. Merlin tells him that the lady was his own daughter and the knight was her lover, a man who would have served the Round Table well.
Merlin tells Pellynore that his punishment for failing to help them is that the man he trusts most will betray him. Hmm. Let's make a mental note.
Arthur establishes the Knights of the Round Table by giving them riches and lands, and by making them swear an oath of chivalry, which they will always repeat at the feast of Pentecost.