In which Launcelot has a gay panic moment
Late that night, Becca sneaked into Launcelot’s cell, and unlocked the twelve different locks securing Launcelot in his prison. She led him out to where she had stashed his armor, and once he had armored up, she led him to where she’d stowed his horse. Exactly how Launcelot’s horse made it to Castle Chariot from the apple-tree where it was left, that’s an exercise for the reader I guess, thanks Malory!
“There’s a monastery ten miles up the road from here,” she told him. “Wait there, and I’ll be along tomorrow. I’ll take you to my father then.”
“Agreed,” said Launcelot, and rides off.
Problem! It was very dark in Arthurian England at night, especially on moonless overcast nights. Launcelot got lost in about thirty seconds, and lost the road. He stumbled around in the woods like an imbecile, feeling pretty dumb about it. At last he found a tent out there, in the woods, a bright red one.
“Okay,” he said to himself. “I’ll tie up my horse and sleep here, and wait until morning. I’ll be able to see in the morning.” So he tied up his horse, entered the tent, and lay down on the cot inside. Soon he was fast asleep (LAUNCELOT NAP 2!)
Sir Launcelot: he sleeps kind of a lot.
Needless to say, this tent was not a tent that someone had pitched with the intention of hosting Sir Launcelot. No, in point of fact this tent belonged to a knight name of Sir Bellus, who’d set it up specifically for a tryst with his girlfriend, DeeDee. He and DeeDee had agreed to meet late that night, so when Bellus arrived late at the tent (in the dark) and felt that there was someone already in the cot, he assumed it was her. Naturally Bellus climbed in and started making out with the person in the cot.
Launcelot woke to a rough beard kissing him, as Malory put it, and so of course he did what any red-blooded Knight of the Round Table would do under the circumstances: he screamed in gay panic! Launcelot leaped out of bed, grabbed a sword, and started swinging it wildly.
Bellus picked up on Launcelot’s hostility, and quickly drew his own sword. Bellus assumed that Launcelot was there for DeeDee — maybe she was cheating on him with this guy? — and so didn’t stop to ask pertinent questions. Launcelot, for his part, assumed that whoever it was that had abducted Lionel had come for him (Malory forgot to mention this in the previous scene you guys, but Becca told Launcelot that Morgan le Fay didn’t have Lionel prisoner).
The two knights fought a bit, but Bellus was doomed from the get-go. Launcelot stabbed Bellus in the stomach, and this was the point at which they determined it all to be a hilarious misunderstanding. Sir Bellus explained why he was there, and Launcelot explained why he was there, just as DeeDee finally arrived! She was upset at first, what with Bellus’s horrible wound, but by the end of the scene they were all just laughing about it, Love, American Style style.
As an apology for wounding Bellus, Launcelot tells DeeDee that once Bellus is recovered, they should both go to Camelot, where surely King Arthur will fete them both and probably promote Bellus to the Round Table (this never happens). By the time the scene was done, it was well after dawn, and there was light sufficient for Launcelot to make his way to the abbey he had been bound for in the first place.
Becca actually beat Launcelot to the abbey, since Launcelot had been delayed by comic/homophobic misadventure. She greeted him with a hug and made sure he got a shower and a change of clothes before sending for her father, King Bagdemagus. When Bagdemagus came, he brought a pack of his own knights with him, just in case, but when he saw Launcelot he smiled and waved and they embraced.
“Launcelot, my good man, what the heck are you doing out here?”
“It’s a long story,” said Launcelot, and recounted the events of the first part of this story (excepting the parts where he was asleep). “So, to sum up, I’ve mislaid Sir Lionel, and I owe Becca (or her male relative) a favor.”
“And I’ll call in that marker, yeah,” said Bagdemagus. “There’s a joust next Tuesday…”
“Becca told me about it. So you and the King of Northgalis have a regular joust thing going, and he’s called in some of King Arthur’s knights on his side? Who’s he got?”
“Some of the younger knights. No one important, like you would have heard of: there’s Sir Mador de la Porte, Sir Gahalantine, and Sir Mordred.”
“Mordred?” Launcelot’s face tightened. “That rings a bell…”
Bagdemagus shrugged. “Arthur’s nephew, Sir Gawaine, says Mordred is his long-lost little brother. I don’t know him very well.”
“Well, here’s what we do. I’ll get a face-concealing helmet, and you get three good knights of yours with matching helmets, and we’ll all four wear shields that are plain white. We fight as a unit, and it’ll be hard for the opposition to tell that one of your knights is much much tougher than the others. Plus, of course, they won’t know that it’s me.”
And this is what happened, pretty much. Launcelot and King Bagdemagus’s men jousted in a big tournament against King Northgalis’s men and Northgalis’s three ringers from Camelot, with Launcelot disguised as Sir Guy Incognito, a generic knight. (JOUSTING TOURNAMENT 11!)
The three ringers — Mador, Mordred, and Gahalantine — hung back and watched the initial bouts.
“One of those knights of Bagdemagus’s is pretty nasty,” observed Mador. “Hold my beer, I’ma go joust him.”
This went poorly for Mador.
“Now it’s Mordred’s turn to shine!” cried Sir Mordred. He charged Launcelot! Launcelot pounded Mordred so hard he went flying through the air and landed on his head. His helmet broke in half and he broke his neck and he was in a coma for weeks, Malory tells us. Mordred would eventually more or less recover, but he would never again be quite right in the head. Way to go, Launcelot! Camelot might have continued indefinitely were it not for you damaging Mordred’s brain!
But the horrible repercussions of Mordred’s injury are all in the distant future (Book XXI, specifically). At the tournament, he just went down. Gahalantine finished his drink and jousted Launcelot and lost too, although not as quickly as Mador and not as messily as Mordred.
Once the three ringers from Camelot had been dispatched, Launcelot just lay into Northgalis’s knights, until finally Northgalis signaled a surrender. Bagdemagus and his men cheered, because they had been doing this every Tuesday for I don’t know how long, and they had always lost up until this point. It was also at this point that someone got Mordred some medical attention.
Everybody went off to either Northgalis’s castle or Bagdemagus’s castle, and in Bagdemagus’s castle Launcelot was the hero of the hour. The next morning Launcelot said he was leaving to go search for Sir Lionel, but he took Becca aside and told her, if you ever need a knight, you get the word to me, and I’ll come running. (Like Sir Bellus joining the Round Table, this never pays off.)
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