Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK II CHAPTER IX

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How Balin and his brother, by the counsel of Merlin, took
King Rience and brought him to King Arthur.

THEN Merlin lodged them in a wood among leaves beside the
highway, and took off the bridles of their horses and put them to
grass and laid them down to rest them till it was nigh midnight. 
Then Merlin bade them rise, and make them ready, for the king was
nigh them, that was stolen away from his host with a three score
horses of his best knights, and twenty of them rode to-fore to
warn the Lady de Vance that the king was coming; for that night
King Rience should have lain with her.  Which is the king? said
Balin.  Abide, said Merlin, here in a strait way ye shall meet
with him; and therewith he showed Balin and his brother where he

Anon Balin and his brother met with the king, and smote him down,
and wounded him fiercely, and laid him to the ground; and there
they slew on the right hand and the left hand, and slew more than
forty of his men, and the remnant fled.  Then went they again to
King Rience and would have slain him had he not yielded him unto
their grace.  Then said he thus:  Knights full of prowess, slay
me not, for by my life ye may win, and by my death ye shall win
nothing.  Then said these two knights, Ye say sooth and truth,
and so laid him on a horse-litter.  With that Merlin was
vanished, and came to King Arthur aforehand, and told him how his
most enemy was taken and discomfited.  By whom? said King Arthur. 
By two knights, said Merlin, that would please your lordship, and
to-morrow ye shall know what knights they are.  Anon after came
the Knight with the Two Swords and Balan his brother, and brought
with them King Rience of North Wales, and there delivered him to
the porters, and charged them with him; and so they two returned
again in the dawning of the day.  King Arthur <62>came then to
King Rience, and said, Sir king, ye are welcome: by what
adventure come ye hither?  Sir, said King Rience, I came hither
by an hard adventure.  Who won you? said King Arthur.  Sir, said
the king, the Knight with the Two Swords and his brother, which
are two marvellous knights of prowess.  I know them not, said
Arthur, but much I am beholden to them.  Ah, said Merlin, I shall
tell you: it is Balin that achieved the sword, and his brother
Balan, a good knight, there liveth not a better of prowess and of
worthiness, and it shall be the greatest dole of him that ever I
knew of knight, for he shall not long endure.  Alas, said King
Arthur, that is great pity; for I am much beholden unto him, and
I have ill deserved it unto him for his kindness.  Nay, said
Merlin, he shall do much more for you, and that shall ye know in
haste.  But, sir, are ye purveyed, said Merlin, for to-morn the
host of Nero, King Rience's brother, will set on you or noon with
a great host, and therefore make you ready, for I will depart
from you.