Cut to four months later. Arthur’s siege on Joyous Gard went on nearly that long; Launcelot refused to come out. Then, Launcelot finally appeared, up on the walls of the castle. He called down to Arthur, saying that the siege was pointless and suggesting they all just agree to disagree. Couldn’t King Arthur just accept that Guenever would be with Launcelot?
Arthur offered to just joust Launcelot, one on one. If Launcelot wasn’t scared…
Launcelot was not about to joust King Arthur. He did not want to be the guy who jousted King Arthur and killed him; Launcelot straight-up refused.
“Jesus, Launcelot!” shouted Arthur. “You’ve got some nerve claiming the moral high ground! Thou hast slain my good knights, and full noble men of my blood! I can’t even count, there’s Gaheris, and Agravaine, and Tor, and…” Arthur trailed off. He was forgetting something, he knew. Then he remembered. “Oh, yes, also you kidnapped my wife and you’ve been having an affair with her since Book V. This is Book XX! That’s fifteen Books!”
Launcelot gasped in mock outrage. “I admit I killed a bunch of guys on my way out, and I am sorry about that, but what’s done is done. As to the charge that I’ve been having an affair, I formally deny that and I’ll joust any knight who says otherwise! Also you tried to set Guenever on fire, more than once! Don’t act like this is about her. You were always perfectly happy to let me act as her champion and defender, confident that I’d save her. Now I’ve saved her again, and this time instead of thanking me and rewarding me with high honors, you lay siege to my castle.”
“Objection!” cried Sir Gawaine, whom everyone forgot was also still alive and present. “You murdered Agravaine, Gaheris, and Gareth, plus my three sons! That’s why we’re here, maybe, but if so, that’s a good reason to be here!”
“Did I not just say I was sorry?” Launcelot got all testy. “Also, you’re a fine one to be talking about murdering knights; you murdered Sir Lamorak!”
“I did indeed, which just goes to show you what a great knight-killer I am! I can also show you more directly!”
“I’m not afraid!” Launcelot scoffed. “Unlike a certain knight whose name is Gawaine, who was so scared for Sir Lamorak that technically his brother Gaheris had to do the deed.”
“Guys! Guys!” Arthur waved his arms around, trying to get everyone’s attention. “Listen, it’s obvious we don’t actually want a big bloody destructive battle…”
“I do!” shouted Gawaine. “Battle! Battle! Launcelot sucks! Everybody!”
Soon he had Arthur’s whole army chanting it, ‘battle battle Launcelot sucks.’
Up in the castle, Launcelot’s men did not take this well. “Boss, they’re saying you suck. They’re the ones who suck!”
Launcelot sighed. “Okay.” He called back down to Arthur. “Tell you what. You and Gawaine agree to stand well back and away from the fighting, because I don’t want either of you hurt, and we’ll come out and have a battle!”
“No dice!” cried Gawaine.
But by then Launcelot’s men had already thrown the gates open and it was too late to do anything but sally forth.
There was, of course, a big ol’ battle at this point. The Benwick knights mowed through the many unnamed scrub knights that Arthur and Gawaine brought. Sir Gawaine trounced Sir Lionel.
At the height of the violence, Sir Bors (fighting for his cousin Launcelot of course) dehorsed Arthur. He moved to melee, figuring that he could take Arthur out quickly, but Launcelot stopped him, and gave Arthur a new horse.
Arthur spent most of the battle not fighting at a hundred percent on account of he was weeping uncontrollably. Forced to fight Launcelot! So sad.
In the morning, after a full day of fighting, Sir Gawaine and Sir Bors ended up doing one of those simultaneous de-horsings that seem to happen so much in Malory. Both sides hauled away their wounded, and Launcelot sealed himself up inside Joyous Gard again.
All of the Benwick knights got together to compare notes and wounds. Sir Lavaine and Sir Urre hadn’t been part of Team Benwick for very long, and didn’t know Launcelot so well. After the battle they went to him and bragged about how many of Arthur’s men they killed, expecting Launcelot to congratulate them. Instead he just grumbled about how terrible it was to be fighting Arthur.
“This won’t end until either you or Arthur gets killed,” said Sir Palomides, and Launcelot knew he was right.