Arthur cupped his hands together and called to his nephew. “Hey, Gawaine!”
Gawaine was already deep into the feasting, but he rose and wander out of the castle, down to his uncle on the riverbank. “Yes, Uncle Sire?”
“You’re all the time talking about what a great knight you are, right?”
Gawaine shrugged. “Sure. I’m pretty awesome.”
“So you seem like a great candidate for the title of ‘best knight.’ And also you’ve always rubbed me the wrong way. So, pull this sword from out this stone, will you?”
“I’d rather not try.” Gawaine had been in earshot a moment ago, when Launcelot uttered all that prophecy, Malory claims now.
“Yeah, but do it.”
“Do I have to?”
Arthur considered. “We disagree. I say you should pull the sword out, you say you shouldn’t. How can we resolve this?” he asked rhetorically. “I have it! Which of us is king? We’ll go with what that guy says.”
Gawaine sighed. “Fine. I’m doing it already.” He grabbed the pommel of the sword and gave it a yank, but nothing doing. Sword remained in stone.
“Aw, man!” Launcelot winced. “Dude, now you’re cursed to be wounded by this sword! Didn’t you listen?”
Gawaine shrugged sheepishly. “Uncle Sire tells me to do a thing, I do it. He’s the king, and I’m his loyal knight.”
“Well dang,” said Arthur. “That’s sweet of you to say. Now I feel kind of bad for trying to get you cursed in the first place.” He snapped his fingers. “Jeez! What am I thinking… Sir Percivale! You’re the vaunted subject of prophecy, circa Book X, Chapter 23! There was this whole thing with a mute woman speaking. Obviously you’re the knight in question here, the ‘best knight’ that the sword was meant for.”
“Sounds plausible,” agreed Percivale.
“So snap to! But, and this is important, I want you to promise that you won’t maim Gawaine. Can you do that?”
“Absolutely.” Percivale nodded solemnly. “I’ll do it gladly, for to bear Sir Gawaine fellowship.” And Percivale grabbed the sword and gave it a good yank! And then… nothing. It just sat there, in the stone.
“I really thought you had it,” said Arthur.
“Let me try again!” Percivale tugged and tugged on the sword, but it wouldn’t budge.
Sir Kay took a step back. “Well, hopefully you’re not cursed. I’ll set up a cordon around this, so that knights don’t wander in and curse themselves trying to claim the sword. But on the plus side,” he told Arthur, “this absolutely counts as a strange adventure for Pentecost feasting purposes, am I right?”
Arthur brightened. “Hey, yeah! And now it’s over, which is great. Nice short strange adventure, just ten minutes. Let’s go eat!”
So all the knights sat down to eat, one per chair except that the Siege Perilous remained empty. I don’t know where Percivale sat but it wasn’t there.