The Chronicle of the Land of Llamalot
Around the time the swallows were gathering to fly south for the dark months ahead, Good King Ringsbury Pendragon decreed his noble Knights should undertake a Quest. ‘Good Knights! I have heard people tell of the fabulous Grail. The Grail doth lie in a field in the far off land of Berk-Shire. Good Knights! I command you:
Go forth and bring back the Grail for the Land of Llamalot.’
It was said the Grail was the most magnificent and sought after of trophies. It did shine brightly in the sunlight and people were dazzled by its magnificence. The Grail would be the prize awarded to the most Noble of Good Knights who would compete in the Trial of Agility, the Trial of the Fleece and the Trial of the Harness in the Tournament at the place they do call Newbury.
In preparation, King Ringsbury had to decide who should accompany his bewitchingly beautiful daughters to the Tournament at the place they do call Newbury in the far off land of Berk-Shire. The Tournament would be the greatest in the land and noble knights and fair ladies would gather from the four corners of the land.
They would come from Herefordshire. They would come from Hampshire. They would come from Nottinghamshire. They would come from Northamptonshire. They would come from Staffordshire. They would come from Gloucestershire. They would come from Windsor…..Indeed, there would be ladies and knights from all Albion.
Sir Sten of the Good Heart was the King’s Champion in the fearful and knightly Trial by Agility and the not so knightly Trial of the Geldings. King Ringsbury was very proud of this most noble of knights. Sir Sten of the Good Heart had twice been Champion of the Trial of the Geldings. But the King was a wise man and knew others amongst his knights must be allowed to compete in the Tournament. Noble knights need noble deeds to perform and to be confined to their castle with no chance to show their own prowess may only breed discord.
And so he decreed the noble knights Sir Silly, Sir Brodivere and Sir Prancealot would act as protectors to the dear Princess Marden Le Fay and the dear Lady Hetty and escort the fair maidens to Newbury.
There they would meet knights from other lands and tales would be told of the white knights, the grey knights, the brown knights, the even browner knights and the knights so brown ‘twould be as if they had rolled in the earth beneath their feet.
King Ringsbury Pendragon’s Captain of the Guard Sir Silly would surely tell tales of how he had protected his charges from fearsome pumas, mountain lions and dragons (dragons?). Sir Silly would also tell of how he had lobbed a few fruity ones at the Egyptian King who had taken temporary residence at King Ringsbury Pendragon’s domain of Llamalot. The Egyptian King was to act as companion to Queen Maesievere and Lady Meg of the Long Lashes for two summers. Indeed, he had already been quite companionable enough with them for Sir Silly’s liking. Somehow, King Ringsbury was always occupied on weighty matters of state when these liaisons took place and was not aware of anything untoward in the kingdom.
King Ringsbury decreed his knights should prepare for the long journey. A string of carriages was prepared. The ladies of the court made banners and pennants to gaily fly from the area of Newbury that would be Llamalot for the duration of the Tournament. Foodstuffs were gathered to include cereals and apples and carrots. Stores were packed in the carriage. The knights polished their bridles and the ladies were busied with needlecrafts preparing displays of all their finery. Lady Hetty and Princess Marden le Fay were mistresses of the needle and the fine crafts they wove and knitted and stitched and crocheted were as if made by a spider they were so fine.
And so the day dawned. Princess Marden le Fay, Lady Hetty, Sir Silly, Sir Brodivere, and Sir Prancealot rode in great comfort in their carriage to the far off land of Berk-Shire. Sir Silly told the serfs to travel in the front carriage. In good time the serfs turned the carriages off the high road at the place they do call Newbury and all was readied for the Tournament.
The Tournament was to last two nights and two days and there was much to be readied. Marquees were erected, fences constructed, banners unfurled, and examples of the ladies’ needlecraft placed on display for all to admire. Great crowds watched competitions of valour and beauty and skill. The young ladies and matrons and the squires and knights of the noble houses represented at the Tournament were to be judged on the first day in matters of seemliness and character but most importantly how they walked in the arena.
Princess Marden le Fay composed herself very well to the great delight of the people and she was declared the most splendid example of fine young womanhood at the show. For this she received a splendid red pennant.
Princess Marden’s young brothers (the young princes Rollo and Mo) had stayed by their father’s side at Llamalot, so it fell to the young squires and knights of other noble courts to present themselves in the arena. This they did with aplomb and indeed one young knight received the greatest accolade of the Tournament and was crowned the Champion of the Tournament.
An old hand at Tournaments, Sir Brodivere was nevertheless pleased to retain for his King the award of first place in the not so knightly Trial of the Geldings. Seven years before, Good King Ringsbury himself had been awarded this magnificent title, and Llamalot had held the title ever since. Sir Brodivere was pleased to have followed in the steps of such illustrious Geldings as King Ringsbury and his own brother Sir Sten of the Good Heart. For this he received a very splendid silver cup and a splendid red pennant.
After the excitements of the arena on the first day, a commotion was heard. Not fifty paces from where the good people were gathered another Tournament was taking place. But this involved a very strange creature indeed. Some said the creature was a Pig! Sir Silly was the natural protector of all at the Tournament and when the Pig emerged from its marquee Sir Silly set up a deafening warning cry to all who would listen – ‘Watch out, Pigs about’. Sir Silly told tales long into the night of how he had vanquished the Pigs of Berkshire, the Lop Pigs, the Saddleback Pigs, the Pigs of Gloucester, the Large Black Pigs, the Middle White Pigs, the Oxford Pigs, the Tamworth Pigs and the Welsh Pigs.
The second day of the Tournament broke. Always proud of their good looks the noble Knights and Ladies of Llamalot were nevertheless delighted to be awarded prizes for their handsomeness and beauty. The auburn Sir Silly with his long red locks shining in the sunlight enchanted the people who were pleased to acclaim him Most Handsome Knight.
The Lady Hetty prettily flicked and fluttered her eyelashes at the people and from this moment on there could only be one lady adjudged Most Beautiful.
Sir Brodivere and his serf competed in the fearful and knightly Trial by Agility. Sir Brodivere jumped beautifully, but was let down by his serf and all who watched were pleased to see Lady Tiffany of Rushcliffe demonstrate the Trial by Agility to perfection.
At the end of the Tournament it was announced Protector Sir Silly had won more competitions than other noble knights. His prize was the Grail. Sir Silly and the knights and ladies of Llamalot had achieved the task set for them by their great and most noble of kings, King Ringsbury Pendragon. Sir Silly ate cereal from the Grail in celebration.
The knights and ladies of Llamalot returned home with the Grail and all was well in the land.
Here endeth the tale of how the Knights of the Round Manger came by the Grail. Another chapter of the Chronicle of the Land of Llamalot will follow.