Launcelot rode off into the sunset, ready for a new strange adventure! Which is to say, back to the first part of this same strange adventure, which had been disrupted by Lionel’s disappearance. Soon he was back in the general vicinity of where he had lost Lionel. Malory forgot that he specified that it was a cornfield and not a forest, because now it’s a forest. There Launcelot met a random damosel.
“Ahoy, damosel! Any strange adventures around?”
Yuffie (that is what I am calling this damsel) scoffed. “Oh, don’t even ask me about strange adventures. It’s strange adventures out the wazoo here, you know that? I mean, assuming you want to do them.”
“Why wouldn’t I want to do a strange adventure?” asked Launcelot. “I’m a knight! It’s what I do!”
“Fine, fine, I’m not looking to pick a fight with you. Tell me your name, and I’ll direct you to the biggest, victorious-est knight in the region. I’m sure jousting him will be strange adventure enough for you.” Plainly Yuffie didn’t hold much truck with knights and their strange adventures.
“You don’t have to twist my arm to get me to tell you I’m… Sir Launcelot du Lake!” (dramatic sting)
No reaction whatsoever from Yuffie. “Yeah, okay, whatever. There’s this knight who just beats everybody. His name is Sir Turquine, he’s in this castle over that-a-ways? He’s got all these knights imprisoned in his basement. And some of those guys are from Camelot, so you know he’s badass.”
“How many knights?”
“Three score and four, that’s how many.”
Launcelot let out a low whistle. “Dang.”
“Yeah. But I’m sure you’ll trounce him.” Yuffie rolled her eyes. “If you survive, and don’t die, and don’t end up Prisoner Number Sixty-Five, promise me you’ll take a trip with me and beat up this one guy who’s hassling me and my friends.”
Yuffie led Launcelot over to Castle Turquine, and the shields hanging from the tree, and the big washbasin gong. Launcelot rang the gong!
Launcelot looked quizzically at Yuffie, who shrugged and shook her head. “I dunno. Try it again?”
Launcelot tried it again!
Let’s skip ahead a half-hour. Eventually Launcelot gave up on ringing the gong, and mounted up, and started riding around the outside of Castle Turquine, hooting and shouting.
No response, at least not right away. But another half-hour later, a knight finally appeared!
It was Sir Gaheris, one of Gawaine’s younger brothers!
He was tied up!
Specifically, he was tied to the back of a horse!
Specifically, it was Turquine’s horse!
And Turquine was riding his horse! Malory bets you didn’t see that coming!
Launcelot spot Turquine with Gaheris, and told Yuffie “check it out, number sixty-five there is my buddy, Sir… Sir Gawaine’s Brother. He probably has another name. I forget. Sir Aggravating? No, that’s a different guy. Sir Uwaine? No, that’s his cousin. I don’t remember his name. I admit that. But I’ll rescue him nonetheless! I’m guessing Lionel is another prisoner. So I’ll rescue them both. Really, I’ll just rescue everybody…”
Yuffie flipped through a magazine. “Great, have fun.”
Turquine got into earshot at about this point, so Launcelot shouted a challenge to him. “Hey, Sir Turquine! Hey! Over here! I’m from Camelot, and I’m here to joust you!”
“I’m here to rescue that knight, and all the other knights you imprisoned! Let’s joust!”
“Fine, fine.” Turquine moved to attack Launcelot, but Launcelot raised an arm.
“No, no, no, hold on. Get the knight off your horse first, we don’t want him to get hurt.”
“And while we’re at it, you should give your horse a few minutes of rest. It wouldn’t be fair for me to beat you, and you with an exhausted horse.”
“That’s right kindly of you,” growled Turquine. “Clearly when it comes to the flower of chivalry, you’re a pretty pretty blossom. But my motto is still Down with the Round Table!”
“Yeah, I’m definitely going to beat you.”
So they jousted for a while, blah blah blah, couple of hours of jousting. Turquine called for a thirty-second time out, and made Launcelot an offer.
“Look at me, stranger, what do you see? I’m gigantic, right?”
“Yeah, okay,” said Launcelot.
“You’re pretty badass yourself, though, you know?”
“I’ve been told that.”
“In terms of jousting ability, you’re as tall as I am!”
“That’s a pretty strained metaphor.”
“Yeah, I know. But, listen. There’s this one knight that I hate. Assuming, heh, assuming you’re not him –“
“Who is he?”
“Let me finish. Here’s what we do. We stop the joust right now, we become lifelong buddies, and I release all of my prisoners. You help me defeat the knight that I hate, I help you in all other areas of life, it’ll be great. They’ll write songs about us, and our manly bro hugs. The legendary partnership of Sir Turquine and Sir whatever your name is, you dig?”
“Cool, cool,” said Launcelot. “One question, just so I know, your enemy becomes my enemy and so on, so, who is this knight that you, and by you I mean we, hate so much, and why do we hate him?”
“Oh, pal, listen. This guy, Sir Launcelot du Lake, killed my brother, Sir Carados.”
“Really? The nice old knight who told Sir Gawaine about the backstory between Ettard and Pellas back in Book IV?”
“I don’t know about that,” said Turquine. “Maybe that was a different Carados. The one I’m talking about got killed, by Launcelot, at the Dolorous Tower in a strange adventure Malory isn’t going to cover.”
“Oh, that guy,” said Launcelot, remembering.
“Anyway, to attract Launcelot’s attention I’ve been abducting and just killing outright a whole pile of knights. I maimed some dudes, too. Right now I’ve got sixty-four, well, this guy is sixty-five, I have a bunch of prisoners, is what I’m saying. I’ll free them all, though, and you and I can go kill Launcelot, together. It’ll be faster than waiting for him to come to me. That plan is taking me way too long.”
“Man.” Launcelot sighed. “If I were a certain kind of guy I maybe would take you up on that offer, and then once you released the prisoners betrayed you, but I’m not that guy. I’m the guy who is known as Launcelot du Lake, King Ban’s son of Benwick, and we’re going to have to finish this joust after all.”
“You’re Sir Launcelot?” Turquine burst out laughing. “I have to say, I’m thrilled to meet you! I’ve heard so much about you!”
And Turquine and Launcelot charged one another, Malory says, as two wild bulls rushing and lashing with their shields and swords, that sometime they fell both over their noses.
Another couple of hours of fighting went by, and Launcelot won eventually, which was kind of anticlimactic actually.
Were it not for his oaths of chivalry and personal code of conduct, Launcelot could have given Turquine a false name. Then the two of them could have gone off on strange adventures together, winning tournaments and fighting armies and spiting Morgan le Fay and so on. Stealing pies off of windowsills. Over the weeks and months, Turquine and Launcelot would become a great and storied team, just as Turquine had predicted. At all times, however, Launcelot would remain troubled, for he knew that eventually his comrade would learn the truth. He would work constantly to dodge people who know him and might call him by his proper name, and rumors would abound of Launcelot eschewing knightly society in favor of riding around alone or in the company of a strange, huge knight whose name no one ever learned because Launcelot led him away too quickly from all of the townspeople. Turquine would speculate with his buddy about that darn Launcelot, and his odd-sounding companion, and how nobody seemed to know what he was doing or why. Finally Sir Gawaine, that bigmouth, would ride Launcelot down with a message from Guenever, and Turquine would learn the truth, and Launcelot and Turquine would have to fight a duel atop an active volcano. I’m just saying. Missed opportunity, Malory. This is the kind of thing that drives people to write fanfiction. That and terrible series finales that either address longstanding sexual tensions without resolving anything, or else resolve things in a matter that wholly ignores the dramatic arc of the entire last two-thirds of the show. You know the shows I’m talking about.
“Hey Yuffie!” Launcelot shouted. “I killed Turquine, so, we can go do that other thing you wanted to do! Am I going to need a horse?”
Yuffie rode up and reminded him about Gaheris and the sixty-four other prisoners.
“Right, right. Gaheris, can I borrow your horse?”
Gaheris had been lying insensible where Turquine tossed him. Launcelot shook him awake. “What?”
“What? Who’s there? What?”
“It’s me, Launcelot!”
“Wha? Launcelot, is that you? Hey, cool! Launcelot! It’s Launcelot, everybody! The prince of Benwick! The best knight ever!” Gaheris gestured to nobody in particular.
“I think he may have a concussion,” said Yuffie.
“Three cheers for Lancey!” Gaheris crowed.
“He seems okay to me,” Launcelot said. “Gaheris, buddy, go down into the basement of Castle Turquine over there and you let everybody out, okay? I see a bunch of shields belonging to guys we know, hanging on the tree there.” Launcelot listed off a bunch of knights whose shields he recognized, which list included Sir Kay, Sir Marhaus, and of course Sir Ector-the-Lesser and Sir Lionel. “You let them out and tell them I give everybody permission to loot Castle Turquine as much as you guys want, okay? And I’m going to go do a thing with Yuffie, but I’ll be back at Camelot for next Pentecost, okay?”
Gaheris shook his head. “Wha? Launcelot, is that you? Hey, cool!”
“See? He’s fine. Let’s go.” Launcelot and Yuffie rode off.
Gaheris, bleeding from the head, stumbled into Castle Turquine, and nearly walked into Turquine’s porter.
“Can I help you?” asked the porter.
“WAUGH!” Sir Gaheris jumped him! Before the porter knew what was happening, Gaheris was on top of him and they were rolling around on the ground! Gaheris slammed the porter’s head into the wall until the porter stopped struggling. On the porter’s corpse, he found a big ring of keys, which he took. Gaheris then wandered downstairs and found the main prison door, which he managed to unlock and open before collapsing.
Fortunately Sir Kay was right at the front of the prison, and he took the keys from Gaheris and set knights to work unlocking one another.
“Gaheris! Excellent work!” Kay said, helping him up. “You defeated Sir Turquine, suffering a nasty head wound in the process! Let’s get you cleaned up.” Kay was right there with the water and rags and such. He was a pretty sensible dude, Sir Kay. Walt Disney’s the Sword in the Stone paints him as a sneering punk kid, but he’s all right by Malory.I admit a couple of times he puts his foot in his mouth, but he’s head and shoulders above most of the Round Table.
“No, no, no,” Gaheris mumbled. “It wasn’t me. It was Sir Launcelot, he killed Turquine. He ripped him apart with his bare hands, I saw it myself, it was incredible. He says hi.”
Kay got everyone freed and cleaned up. In the process, he found Turquine’s venison supply, which he distributed such that each knight got about ten pounds of sausage each, assuming my math is correct about what Malory says Kay had available to boil, and he boiled it all for a single meal. Ten pounds (precooked weight) of venison may seem like a lot to you and me, but these were some hungry knights! Many hadn’t eaten in weeks. And Kay was a caterer, so he knew how much venison sausage a half-starved knight needed to get back into fighting shape.
Anyway, that night Gaheris was feeling better and he explained more accurately about Launcelot’s defeat of Turquine, and his instructions regarding how the knights should loot freely then go back to Camelot.
“He wanted me to chase after him, though, right?” asked Sir Lionel. “We were going to have a strange adventure together!”
“And I was going, too,” said Sir Ector-the-Lesser.
Gaheris shrugged. “No, I’m pretty sure he said for everyone to go back to Camelot.”
“Screw that,” said Lionel.
“We’ll catch up to him easily!” cried Ector.
“Oh, if you boys are going to run off like that I’ll have to go with,” sighed Kay. “Keep you out of trouble.”
AND SO in the morning all the knights departed for Camelot, except for Kay, Lionel, and Ector-the-Lesser, who guessed what direction Launcelot went and and rode off after him. Lionel and Ector-the-Lesser gave up and went home before too long, though; Launcelot was just riding too hard and fast and knightly for them to catch up.