In which nothing happens, very slowly
We turn from the crazy sitcom of Gareth and his gal pal Lionesse and her shrewish sister Linet and their milquetoast brother Gringamore. Back in Camelot (or Caerlaeon, which is where Malory puts Arthur’s court this time) Pentecost had come again. I find that somewhat suspicious, but regardless. Arthur needed his annual someone-else’s-strange-adventure fix, and this year he lucked out, because in came the Red Knight, the Green Knight, and the Indigo Knight. Together, they brought Arthur’s court up to speed about Sir Prettyboy and his marvelous adventures.
“Wow,” said Arthur. “And here I assumed that because Prettyboy so meekly accepted Kay’s verbal abuse, he wasn’t knightly material. Just goes to show. I wonder who he really is.”
Before Kay could respond, Sir Launcelot came in. He announced another knight had arrived, with a huge entourage. And then, sure enough, another knight entered with a huge entourage! It was the other Red Knight. When he found out there was already a Red Knight in the scene, he announced his real name, Sir Ironside. Sir Ironside explained that Sir Prettyboy defeated him just like the Red, Black, Green, and Indigo Knights before him. Prettyboy sent him to present himself to Arthur or Lancelot or Guenever or somebody.
“I brought along five hundred other knights for moral support,” the other Red Knight explained. “I’m not used to presenting myself to people.”
“Well, hey, welcome to London or Camelot or wherever we are,” said Arthur. “You seem like a decent chap, except for all the murders — what say I make you a knight of the Round Table?”
“One thing, though, no more murders. All those random murders you’ve been doing? No more of that.”
“Sure, no problem, I was only doing that because I was mad at Sir Gawaine. Or Sir Launcelot. One of the two.”
Arthur got the other Red Knight to apologize to both of them, just to be on the safe side. Gawaine and Launcelot did the classy thing and accepted the other Red Knight’s apology, so that was all well and good. They were also extremely curious as to what Sir Prettyboy was up to, with the other Red Knight defeated. The other Red Knight filled them in on what he knew, about how after Gareth left the Indigo Knight and defeated the other Red Knight, he’d hooked up with Dame Lionesse at Castle Perilous (previously called Castle Dangerous, unless Castle Dangerous is Lionesse’s castle and Castle Perilous is Gringramore’s castle).
Past that, no one had any info. The Green Knight could relate the story of how Sir Prettyboy killed the Bruce brothers, Arnold and Gherard, but that had happened before he encountered the variously colored knights.
Then, randomly, Margawse appears! Everyone was surprised! Arthur’s sister Queen Margawse of Orkney hadn’t been to Arthur’s court in like, fifteen years. It’d been awkward ever since they’d slept together back in Book I. Her sons Gawaine, Gaheris, and Agravaine (Mordred wasn’t mentioned for whatever reason) ware all thrilled to to see her, as was Arthur. But she hadn’t come to visit her brother or her sons; she had come to check up on her youngest, Gareth.
“I sent him here like a year ago?”
Arthur shrugged helplessly.
“He’s very knightly, and like, seven feet tall?”
“Oh, okay. Okay.” Arthur snapped his fingers as he finally gets it. “Okay, I know who you’re talking about. We were just talking about him, in fact, these are some knights he defeated… we’ve been calling him Prettyboy. And that is a loving nickname I assure you. Really. Let me recap what we’ve pieced together of his adventures so far.”
And Arthur recapped, which I’ll skip over.
Afterwards Margawse said there’s just one thing she didn’t understand. “Prettyboy the kitchen worker? You gave my youngest son a demeaning nickname and made him work in the kitchen?”
Arthur gave a sheepish grin. “Well, you know, you didn’t send word you were sending him, and when he arrived he didn’t have armor or knightly stuff or say his name…”
Margawse didn’t get that at all. That made no sense. When Margawse sent Gareth out she had made sure he’d had all the usual knightly stuff.
“Peter’s fault, probably. You know Peter, right? A year after Prettyboy… sorry, Gareth. A year after Gareth arrived, Peter showed up with a kit of knightly gear for Prettyboy, I mean Gareth, so, clearly…”
And then Arthur just completely threw Kay under the bus. He’d always been nervous around Margawse.
Once all this was settled, Gawaine and his brothers wanted to go find Gareth and bring him back. But Sir Launcelot thought this was a bad idea (as does Sir Baudwin, who invited himself into this confab). The better idea, pitched by Sir Launcelot with an endorsement from Sir Baudwin, was to send a messenger to Castle Perilous, whichever castle that was, and invite Dame Lionesse to Camelot. She would come to Camelot, because who wouldn’t? And assuming she had hooked up with Prettyboy the way the other Red Knight had seemed to think was so likely, she’d surely bring him along. It was the perfect crime.
Arthur thought it over, and decided to go with this plan.
Now we turn back to Castle Perilous, where Lionesse and Gareth were all shacked up and living in sin. Also Sir Gringamore and Dame Linet were there too. The plan to travel around together had fallen through, in favor of unwed sex. When Arthur’s messenger arrived with the invitation to Camelot, Lionesse squealed! She was a total fangirl for King Arthur. “Oh my God yes! Yes! King Arthur wants to see me, oh my God, how does he even know who I am? Is this about my A/G fanfiction, do you think? Go back to Camelot and tell King Arthur that I will be coming running, running do you hear me?”
As Lionesse hurried to update her Tumblr, fuckyeaharthurandguenever.tumblr.com, the messenger returned to Camelot with a positive impression.
Afterwards Gareth fretted. “Listen, if we go back to Camelot, my mother will probably be there and my brothers too. It’ll be a whole big thing. Like Launcelot before me, I just want to get away from all that crap. Of course, unlike Launcelot before me, my motivation is sex.”
“But… King Arthur! King Arthur!”
“Well, you’re the man, so, I’ll do whatever you say,” said Lionesse. “Please, tell me what decision I’ll make.”
(I do not think Malory writes very good dialogue for women. What do you think?)
“Here’s what we do,” said Gareth. “Go to Camelot without me, and when they ask about me don’t say anything. Instead, invite everyone here for a big jousting tournament, winner gets to marry and rule you and also I get all your lands and a crown and a really high-end falcon, too.”
“Sounds good,” said Lionesse, and boom, she rode off to Camelot and of course they all asked her about Gareth and she was all not telling and then she invited them all to a big jousting tournament and they accepted, en masse.
Lionesse returned to Castle Perilous on the Isle of Avilion, which I’m pretty sure is Malory misspelling Avalon. You’d think Malory would have mentioned this before, but no. The Isle of Avalon is where Gringamore lived, apparently. There, she and Gareth and Gringamore and I guess Linet all met up.
“There’s just one flaw in my plan,” announced Gareth. “I can’t win the jousting tournament wounded like this. I got wounded when Linet’s knight kept attacking me, as we all recall.”
“Oh, yeah, I was meaning to offer you some of my magic healing ointment,” said Linet. “I didn’t before, but here.”
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