Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK IV CHAPTER II

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How five kings came into this land to war against King
Arthur, and what counsel Arthur had against them.

AND as King Arthur rode to Camelot, and held there a great feast
with mirth and joy, so soon after he returned unto Cardoile, and
there came unto Arthur new tidings that the king of Denmark, and
the king of Ireland that was his brother, and the king of the
Vale, and the king of Soleise, and the king of the Isle of
Longtains, all these five kings with a great host were entered
into the land of King Arthur, and burnt and slew clean afore
them, both cities and castles, that it was pity to hear.  Alas,
said Arthur, yet had I never rest one month since I was crowned
king of this land.  Now shall I never rest till I meet with those
kings in a fair field, that I make mine avow; for my true liege
people shall not be destroyed in my default, go with me who will,
and abide who that will.  Then the king let write unto King
Pellinore, and prayed him in all haste to make him ready with
such people as he might lightliest rear and hie him after in all
haste.  All the barons were privily wroth that the king would
depart so suddenly; but the king by no mean would abide, but made
writing unto them that were not there, and bade them hie after
him, such as were not at that time in the court.  Then the king
came to Queen Guenever, and said, Lady, make you ready, for ye
shall go with me, for I may not long miss you; ye shall cause me
to be the more hardy, what adventure so befall me; I will not wit
my lady to be in no jeopardy. Sir, said she, I am at your
commandment, and shall be ready what time so ye be ready.  So on
the morn the king and the queen departed with such fellowship as
they had, and came into the north, into a forest beside Humber,
and there lodged them.  When the word and tiding came unto the
five kings above said, that Arthur was beside Humber in a forest,
there was a knight, brother unto one of the <105>five kings, that
gave them this counsel:  Ye know well that Sir Arthur hath the
flower of chivalry of the world with him, as it is proved by the
great battle he did with the eleven kings; and therefore hie unto
him night and day till that we be nigh him, for the longer he
tarrieth the bigger he is, and we ever the weaker; and he is so
courageous of himself that he is come to the field with little
people, and therefore let us set upon him or day and we shall
slay down; of his knights there shall none escape.