Queen Morgause's four children are visiting Mother Morlan—an old, lady currently housing one of the Irish Saints. The Saint is a relapsed saint, busy saving Mother Morlan's soul. The children are coming to hear a story from Mother Morlan or Sir Toirdealbhach (the saint). They argue over which story they want to hear—although they settle on a fighting story from Sir Toirdealbhach.
Just as Arthur grew up under the tutelage of Merlyn, the Orkney clan grow up under the tutelage of Sir Toirdealbhach. But, unlike Merlyn, this saint is somewhat twisted and barbaric, and loves warfare.
Later, in the street, the children come across two moth-eaten donkeys. The boys commandeer them at once and ride them harshly. They had the idea to hurt the donkeys—no one had told them it was cruel to hurt animals. But, when they come to the ocean, they see a magic barge on the water. Inside of the barge are three seasick knights—King Pellinore bursts into tears after being reprimanded by Sir Grummore. Upon landing, the knights hop out—the third of which is a black knight called Sir Palomides.
The incidence with the donkeys illustrates how the boys' upbringing has perverted their sense of right and wrong. They do not understand that they should not hurt animals, or other people. This is something Arthur will attempt to teach them at Court later.
The boys gather around the knights with their mouths open. They are Knights of King Arthur against whom the Gaels are revolting. Why had they come, the Gaels wonder. The Knights draw closer together—they do not know that King Arthur is at war with the Gaels.
As always, King Pellinore and Sir Grummore are comedic, clueless knights—they do not even know Arthur is at war.