MEANWHILE, remember Sir Launcelot? Last seen all the way back in Book XV, doing his best to be less wicked and atone for his various sins and earn a place on the Grail leaderboard? We now join his quest, already in progress!
As we join his quest, already in progress, we see him napping. (LAUNCELOT NAPS 9!)
In his sleep Launcelot had another mystic vision! This one was very straightforward: an angelic voice telling him to board the next boat he saw. There was no need for Nacien to translate this one.
And so once he awoke, Launcelot rode until he hits the coast where he found a (suspiciously conveniently) beached boat. When Launcelot climbed aboard, immediately he felt a sense of well-being such that he hadn’t had since he was a child. He was fulfilled with all thing that he thought on or desired. It was a moving experience; he dropped to his knees and prayed.
Afterwards he took another nap in a handy bed belowdecks, as the boat propelled itself out to sea. (LAUNCELOT NAPS 10!)
Upon awakening, he discovered he was not alone in the bed; rather he shared it the corpse of Magdalena. She just lay there, with him, in bed. She came with a handy pamphlet explaining who she was and how she’d died, providing Launcelot with useful context. How Mags got onto the boat so fast is an exercise for the reader, I guess; she instructed Percivale to put her on a boat but we didn’t see him do that before we cut to Launcelot. I suppose this might have been weeks or months after the affair of the collapsing castle.
A month passed, with Launcelot on the boat. Eventually bored, he decided to swim. Malory explained that he’d spent all the intervening time praying, and somewhat huffily asserts that no, Sir Launcelot didn’t starve to death on the boat because God gave him manna, like the Israelites in the desert, okay? Is that all right with you?
While swimming, Launcelot spotted a knight coming up on some handy shoreline: Sir Galahad! There was a little back and forth where they didn’t recognize one another at first.
“Truly, my name is Launcelot du Lake.”
“Sir, then ye be welcome, for ye were the beginner of me in this world.”
“Ah, are ye Galahad?”
That’s the actual dialogue. You can really feel the love, right?
Once Galahad and Launcelot finished recapping their adventures at one another, Launcelot led Galahad aboard his magic boat. Galahad saw Mags’s body, which would have been pretty badly decomposed by this point, or maybe God had been miraculously keeping her fresh. Malory doesn’t say, either way. Galahad gave a brief impromptu eulogy for Mags, but Launcelot was way more interested in Galahad’s new magic sword, the Sword of Strange Girdles.
Then, says Malory, there was a six month period during which Launcelot and Galahad and Mags’s corpse sailed around the ocean together. They landed on strange islands and had all kinds of awesome mystic father/son/corpse bonding sessions on their many strange adventures. It’s like a Le Morte D’Arthur spin-off, which I guess makes this the backdoor pilot.
Half a year after they met up, on a Monday Malory tells us, the magic boat landed at the edge of a forest, where a knight in shining white armor had been waiting for them. He dismounted when he saw the boat land, and gave his horse to Galahad. Fun is fun, but the time had come for Galahad to finish up the Quest for the Holy Grail and stop with the random aquatic strange adventures.
“Well, bye Dad,” said Galahad. “An angel just told me I won’t ever see you again.”
“Bye son!” Launcelot waved him goodbye. “Say Hi to Jesus for me, when you meet Him! I’ll pray for you!”
Launcelot returned to the magic boat, and it sailed him around the ocean for another month. He spent his time aboard meditating and praying for Grail-related revelations. Finally one night at the start of month nine of this Launcelot/boat sequence, at midnight, the boat landed at a castle. The back gate, by the dock, hung wide open; he could walk straight in. The only issue was the two giant lions pacing around.
Just in case he’d been hesitant, a disembodied angelic voice ordered him to hurry into the castle already! Launcelot donned his arms and armor, then disembarked.
But just as he was about attack the lions, Peter the dwarf appeared from nowhere, frantically making the cool-it gesture at Launcelot. “Geez, guy! What are you even doing with armor? This is a nonviolent quest zone!”
“Whoops,” said Launcelot. “I didn’t realize. Thanks for the correction.” He gave a quick prayer and sheathed his sword, then walked straight past the lions, giving them a respectful nod as he went by. They returned his nod, curtly.
Though he didn’t recognize the castle he entered, Sir Launcelot had been there before: this was Castle Corbin, home of Pellam, former home of Elaine, birthplace of Sir Galahad, and the site of Sir Bors’s extremely peculiar adventure back in Book XI.
Also in this castle? The Grail! Dun dun dunnn!