In which we consider the question of what you do after you’ve won the Holy Grail
After Jesus beamed out, Galahad healed Evelake, pretty much as an afterthought. Evelake departed to join the white monks, Nacien’s religious order, which is funny, because he was dead. It’s yet another Malory continuity error. The various Grail-seeking knights would compare notes at this point, except an angelic voice commanded them to quit screwing around and get moving.
The three French knights did touch base with Galahad before they split. They were headed to Camelot, to tell everybody there about the Grail! Malory suddenly remembers that one of the three French knights was Sir Claudine, son of wicked King Claudas who had been mentioned very, very occasionally ever since Book I. So that happens.
Then Bors, Percivale, and Galahad boarded their magic ship, which someone had loaded up with the Grail while they weren’t looking. “Sweet!” said Galahad. “We got the Grail. I win! I’m ready to die now.”
Galahad looked expectantly at Bors and Percivale, like they were supposed to slice his head off or something? The two knights exchanged baffled glances, but before they could ask any questions yet another angelic voice told Galahad that yes, he could die. He just had to say the word, and boom, soul out of body, life over. Galahad looked super smug about this.
“So, call me thickheaded,” said Percivale, “but why are you so eager to die?”
Galahad grinned. “That I shall tell you: the other day when we saw a part of the adventures of the Grail I was in such a joy of heart, that I trow never man was that was earthly. And therefore I wot well, when my body is dead my soul shall be in great joy to see the blessed Trinity every day, and the majesty of Our Lord, Jesu Christ.“
“Basically on the one hand nothing in this world could ever top the events we witnessed, and on the other hand when I die I get to go to heaven, which will be awesome! I’m really looking forward to it.”
Bors did not completely buy this. “Maybe you should lie down. Sir, in this bed ought ye to lie.“
“So saith the scripture!” lied Percivale, which may be my single favorite thing in Le Morte D’Arthur ever.
“That might be smart.” Galahad stroked his chin. “I’m not sure I’ve actually slept in days.”
And so, concerned about Galahad’s safety and sanity, Percivale and Bors put him in a bed. He passed out immediately and didn’t wake until the ship had docked at Sarras, days or weeks later.
Sarras! It’s a magical, mystical city which exists only for purposes of this story, apparently! Malory may or may not believe that it is the home of the Saracens.
Percivale pointed out that the boat he’d loaded Magdalena’s corpse into had already docked somehow. This was the boat Sir Launcelot abandoned, which you’ve probably forgotten was a different boat than the one that Galahad and Percivale and Bors (and Magdalena when she was alive) had been gallivanting around in.
The knights exited the magical ship, bearing the Grail with them on the heavy silver Grail-tray that came with it. Along the way Galahad healed a crippled beggar, so that he could help carry the tray (one person at each corner). Then they had to run back and make a second trip to grab Mags’s corpse from the other boat.
And then they held a special Grail-authenticated funeral ceremony for Mags! She’d only been dead for about a dozen chapters. I’m sure that was fine. Afterwards the king of Sarras, King Estorause, had a few questions for them. Who they were, why they had a cup on a big silver tray and a dead woman, and so on.
“I’ve been wondering for a while now,” explained Estorhause. “But it seemed impolite to bother you with questions until the funeral was over.”
Galahad explained that they were on special Grail business, for Jesus.
Estorhause did a double-take. “Wait, you people work for Jesus? Jesus! Man, I hate that guy!” And our heroes were soon thrown in prison in a deep hole with no food or water.
You might think this was bad thing and a setback for Galahad, Percivale, and Bors. But you forget: God was on their side! At the bottom of the hole, the power of the Grail sustained them. They waited for Estorhause to die of an unexpected stroke. This took a month.
While dying, Estorhause managed to order the knights released from prison so he could apologize to them, before his brain seized up entirely and he passed away. Afterwards for no clear reason, suddenly Galahad was the king! There was some noise about a voice among the people, maybe Nacien disguised with a big hat, shouting about how Galahad should become king, but come on. Clearly the fix was in. The inhabitants of Sarras offered Galahad two options: become king, or get killed.
Though he had been all fired up for death just recently, Galahad picked King! He got a crown and built a nice tabernacle to store the Grail. Bors, his Vice-King, and Percivale, the King House Chief of Staff, joined him in daily Grail-prayers.
A year went by like this.
One morning at the end of the year, Galahad got up extra-early for some solo Grail-prayer time. He was surprised by a priest at the tabernacle already when he arrived. Galahad didn’t recognize him until after they’d celebrated Mass, but it was Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph congratulated him on achieving the Grail and on not having any sex! I guess there were a bunch of women in Sarras throwing themselves at him?
Bors and Percivale came in at the tail end of this, for their daily Grail-prayer. Galahad kissed them goodbye before his big exit.
“Fair lord,” he said to Bors, “salute me to my lord Sir Launcelot my father, and as soon as ye see him, bid him remember of this unstable world. It’s a reference to the adventures we shared together and with Magdalena’s corpse. He’ll know what I mean.”
And then, abruptly, he keeled over! A flight of angels appeared and escorted his soul (and also the Grail, which they took with them) up to Heaven. Also they took the Spear of Longinus, which Malory forgot to mention Galahad had brought along from Castle Corbin.
The whole thing bummed Bors out pretty severely, but Percivale was completely and utterly broken-hearted. Galahad won and ascended directly into heaven! And Percivale was left behind. Now there was no more Grail! Percivale forsook his arms and armor and dressed up as a hermit. He moved to a hermitage outside Sarras, where he spent fourteen months crying and praying until he died of grief. Bors, meantime, kept busy with all the duties of the Vice-King of Sarras in the absence of King Galahad.
Fourteen months later, once Percivale had received a full state funeral, Bors figured that was pretty much it for the Grail quest. He resigned his position in the Sarras government, boarded a handy ship, and after a whole series of adventures Malory doesn’t care enough to describe, he returned to Camelot.
“Well, that was a pretty crazy three to five years,” said Bors. He told everyone about his experiences. It took a while.
“Wow,” said Arthur, once he finished.
“Oh, one last thing.” Bors turned to Launcelot. “Galahad’s last words were something about how you need to remember of this unsiker world as ye behight him when ye were together more than half a year.”
“Oh, yeah.” Launcelot had little response to that. “Bors, ye are right welcome to me,” he said lamely. “All that ever I may do for you and for yours ye shall find my poor body ready at all times, while the spirit is in it, and that I promise you faithfully, and never to fail. And wit ye well, gentle cousin. Ye and I will never depart asunder whilst our lives may last.“
“Sure,” said Bors. “Last two guys I made that deal with are both dead, but whatever.”
And that ends the Grail quest! Fade to black.
In which we consider the question of what you do after you’ve won the Holy Grail — No Comments
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