Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK I CHAPTER XVI

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Yet more of the same battle.

BY then came into the field King Ban as fierce as a lion, with
bands of green and thereupon gold.  Ha! a! said King Lot, we must
be discomfited, for yonder I see the most valiant knight of the
world, and the man of the most renown, for such two brethren as
is King Ban and King Bors are not living, wherefore we must needs
void or die; and but if we avoid manly and wisely there is but
death.  When King Ban came into the battle, he came in so
fiercely that the strokes redounded again from the wood and the
water; wherefore King Lot wept for pity and dole that he saw so
many good knights take their end.  But through the great force of
King Ban they made both the northern battles that were departed
hurtled together for great dread; <28>and the three kings and
their knights slew on ever, that it was pity on to behold that
multitude of the people that fled.  But King Lot, and King of the
Hundred Knights, and King Morganore gathered the people together
passing knightly, and did great prowess of arms, and held the
battle all that day, like hard.

When the King of the Hundred Knights beheld the great damage that
King Ban did, he thrust unto him with his horse, and smote him on
high upon the helm, a great stroke, and astonied him sore.  Then
King Ban was wroth with him, and followed on him fiercely; the
other saw that, and cast up his shield, and spurred his horse
forward, but the stroke of King Ban fell down and carved a cantel
off the shield, and the sword slid down by the hauberk behind his
back, and cut through the trapping of steel and the horse even in
two pieces, that the sword felt the earth.  Then the King of the
Hundred Knights voided the horse lightly, and with his sword he
broached the horse of King Ban through and through.  With that
King Ban voided lightly from the dead horse, and then King Ban
smote at the other so eagerly, and smote him on the helm that he
fell to the earth.  Also in that ire he felled King Morganore,
and there was great slaughter of good knights and much people. 
By then came into the press King Arthur, and found King Ban
standing among dead men and dead horses, fighting on foot as a
wood lion, that there came none nigh him, as far as he might
reach with his sword, but he caught a grievous buffet; whereof
King Arthur had great pity.  And Arthur was so bloody, that by
his shield there might no man know him, for all was blood and
brains on his sword.  And as Arthur looked by him he saw a knight
that was passingly well horsed, and therewith Sir Arthur ran to
him, and smote him on the helm, that his sword went unto his
teeth, and the knight sank down to the earth dead, and anon
Arthur took the horse by the rein, and led him unto King Ban, and
said, Fair brother, have this horse, for he have great myster
thereof, and me repenteth sore of your great damage.  It shall be
soon revenged, said King Ban, for I trust in God mine ure is
<29>not such but some of them may sore repent this.  I will well,
said Arthur, for I see your deeds full actual; nevertheless, I
might not come at you at that time.

But when King Ban was mounted on horseback, then there began new
battle, the which was sore and hard, and passing great slaughter. 
And so through great force King Arthur, King Ban, and King Bors
made their knights a little to withdraw them.  But alway the
eleven kings with their chivalry never turned back; and so
withdrew them to a little wood, and so over a little river, and
there they rested them, for on the night they might have no rest
on the field.  And then the eleven kings and knights put them on
a heap all together, as men adread and out of all comfort.  But
there was no man might pass them, they held them so hard together
both behind and before, that King Arthur had marvel of their
deeds of arms, and was passing wroth.  Ah, Sir Arthur, said King
Ban and King Bors, blame them not, for they do as good men ought
to do.  For by my faith, said King Ban, they are the best
fighting men, and knights of most prowess, that ever I saw or
heard speak of, and those eleven kings are men of great worship;
and if they were longing unto you there were no king under the
heaven had such eleven knights, and of such worship.  I may not
love them, said Arthur, they would destroy me.  That wot we well,
said King Ban and King Bors, for they are your mortal enemies,
and that hath been proved aforehand; and this day they have done
their part, and that is great pity of their wilfulness.

Then all the eleven kings drew them together, and then said King
Lot, Lords, ye must other ways than ye do, or else the great loss
is behind; ye may see what people we have lost, and what good men
we lose, because we wait always on these foot-men, and ever in
saving of one of the foot-men we lose ten horsemen for him;
therefore this is mine advice, let us put our foot-men from us,
for it is near night, for the noble Arthur will not tarry on the
footmen, for they may save themselves, the wood is near hand. 
And when we horsemen be together, look every each of you kings
let make such ordinance that none break upon <30>pain of death. 
And who that seeth any man dress him to flee, lightly that he be
slain, for it is better that we slay a coward, than through a
coward all we to be slain.  How say ye? said King Lot, answer me
all ye kings.  It is well said, quoth King Nentres; so said the
King of the Hundred Knights; the same said the King Carados, and
King Uriens; so did King Idres and King Brandegoris; and so did
King Cradelment, and the Duke of Cambenet; the same said King
Clariance and King Agwisance, and sware they would never fail
other, neither for life nor for death.  And whoso that fled, but
did as they did, should be slain.  Then they amended their
harness, and righted their shields, and took new spears and set
them on their thighs, and stood still as it had been a plump of