Despite Merlin's warnings that she was a whore, Arthur decided it was time to marry Guenevere, daughter of King Leodegrance, and received his father Uther's old round table - which Leodegrance had been keeping - and one hundred knights into the bargain. The table seated 150, so Arthur started looking for a full compliment, but could only find another 28. Through Merlin's magic every seat was personalised in gold, except for two.
Before the wedding, Aries the cowherd begged Arthur to dub his workshy, violent eldest son Tor, and Arthur agreed. Merlin then revealed how Tor was a bastard sired by King Pellinore, who had been passing by and "half-forced" Aries' old lady when but a virgin.
Merlin explained that one seat at the round table would destroy any who sat there, except for one person, yet to be announced, but that the two next to it were slightly less risky, and in one of these he put King Pellinore. The just-knighted Sir Gawaine and his as-yet-unknighted brother, Gaheris, quietly swore revenge against him, as the man who slew their father at the Battle of Terrabil.
Arthur and Guenevere were wed in St Stephen's church in Camelot, but at the reception a traditional other-worldly white hart ran into the hall, pursued by 60 black hounds and a small white one (or brachet). There was a fracas, and a hart-buffeted knight got up and left on his horse with the brachet. Then a lady rode in on a white palfrey complaining about her stolen hound, until, to Arthur's relief, another knight appeared and forcibly rode off with her. Merlin said that these adventures must be pursued, and detailed Sir Gawaine to retrieve the hart, Sir Tor the brachet and knight, and King Pellinore the lady and knight.
Sir Gawaine set off after the hart with his brother Gaheris, as squire, and six hounds, and after settling a quarrel between the brothers Sorlouse and Brian of the Forest and killing Sir Allardin of the Isles at a river, they brought the hart down in the castle of Sir Ablamar of the Marsh. Gawaine's hounds killed the hart, Ablamar killed Gawaine's hounds for killing his lady's hart, and Gawaine accidentally decapitated Ablamar's lady whilst aiming for Ablamar (even though he had asked for mercy). Then he made Ablamar go and tell it at Camelot. That night in the castle, four knights attacked the brothers in revenge for the death of the lady, until four other ladies appealed for mercy, and sent the pair back to Camelot, festooned with the corpse.
Guenevere convened a court of ladies who sentenced Gawaine, in future, to fight for any lady who required it, and to show mercy to any who asked it.
Picking up a servile dwarf from two recreant knights he had defeated at joust, Sir Tor tracked the brachet to the bed of a damosel in a white pavillion in a forest (next to a similar pavillion containing three damosels), and stole it. On the way home to Camelot Sir Abellus caught them up and demanded that he return it to his lady, but at a passing damosel's insistence, Tor chopped his head off (for having killed her brother).
In his eagerness of pursuit of the knight and the lady, Pellinore ignored a damosel nursing her own dying knight by a well, and before falling on her paramour's sword she cursed him to one day need help as much as she. He found the lady being fought over by her abductor Sir Hontzlake of Wentland and her own kinsmen Sir Meliot of Logurs. he killed the former and lodged with the latter. After inviting his host to visit Camelot with his pacifist brother, Sir Brian of the Isles, Pellinore headed for home with the lady, but she had a trotting accident and they had to stop and sleep in the open.
That night they overheard two unknown knights (one from the South and one from the North) meeting and plotting to poison Arthur with the help of a traitor in the court.
They returned to Camelot, pausing only to bury the dead knight by the well and collect the damosel's head (all that the lions had left). There, Merlin explained that the dead damosel Eleine was the result of another of Pellinore's promiscuous exploits, this time with the Lady of the Rule, and that her dead knight was called Sir Miles of the Lands and that he had been speared in the back by Loraine le Savage. Further, he predicted that Pellinore's penance for failing to help them would be to die abandoned by his best friend. He also revealed that the lady Pellinore had rescued successfully was Nimue, one of the Damosel's of the Lake, and over time, Merlin fell hopelessly in love with her.
Arthur swore in all his knights of the round table, binding them to chivalry, mercy and the law: "Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Table Round, both old and young. And every year were they sworn at the high feast of Pentecost".
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