We have to cut the story at this point, because of Sir Launcelot. There’s this whole thing Malory needs to tell us, and it’s about Launcelot. Malory apologizes for this. He’s a master storyteller but sometimes things get complicated. Jump cut back to Camelot. Launcelot found the whole court abuzz with the tale of Sir Ill-Fitting Suit and Marcie and her shield that she’d recovered and so on.
“Whoa,” said Launcelot. “That sounds like a very dangerous strange adventure to send a wet-behind-the-ears knight on. You all know the backstory behind Marcie and that shield, right? Back in Book VIII, around Chapter 21, Marcie met up with Sir Tristram. She explained how Pitiless Bruce had stolen the shield, and Tristram got it back for her, remember?”
“Wait a second,” said Arthur. “That was a baby. That was a baby for you, for some reason. I don’t remember why you were expecting a baby be dropped off by courier, but it was definitely a baby.”
“It was a shield, it was always a shield, it was never a baby,” Launcelot said firmly. “Sire.”
“Another continuity error, no doubt,” grumbled Arthur. “I suppose you want to go find Sir Ill-Fitting Suit and make certain he’s all right.”
Launcelot quickly caught up to Breunor, Marcie, and Mordred. As soon as Mordred saw Launcelot, he turned back towards Camelot; Sir Breunor only needed one knight with him at a time. Launcelot fell in where Mordred had been, nice as you please. He even picked right up where Mordred left off, defending Breunor as a good knight whenever Marcie berated him!
But this new status quo was disrupted mere moments later, as a damosel appeared bearing a telegram for Launcelot from Tristram. Remember Tristram?
HOWDY LAUNCELOT STOP AM MARRIED TO ISOUD THE WHITE STOP WHOA STOP SLOW DOWN STOP ONLY GONE TO SECOND BASE WITH ISOUD THE WIFE STOP STILL LOVE THE LOVELY ISOUD STOP AM ALREADY DRAFTING LETTER TO LOVELY ISOUD STOP DONT BE MAD STOP YOUR BUDDY TRISTRAM
“I need to compose the proper response to this message,” Launcelot said. “You two go ahead; I’ll catch up.”
While Launcelot composed a response to the telegram, Breunor and Marcie continued on. They soon came a castle, Castle Pendragon, where the knights wanted to joust Breunor. He was up for it, but then instead of jousting him one on one like they had agreed to, every knight in Pendragon rushed him en masse! He had no chance against their sheer numbers (though he fought through an even larger crowd of guys at Castle Orgulous), and they took him prisoner.
The next morning Launcelot gave the damosel-courier his response for Sir Tristram and sent her on her way. He started after Breunor and Marcie, but along the way he bumped into a knight who wanted to joust him. Launcelot defeated him handily, then recruited the guy — who turned out to be Launcelot’s old friend Sir Nerovens — into joining up. The two of them rode towards Castle Pendragon. On the way, Nerovens filled Launcelot in on how Castle Pendragon was full of jerks who’d probably taken Breunor prisoner with some kind of cheat move.
Launcelot figured he was obliged to rescue Breunor, if the kid’d been captured by a bunch of jerk knights. He approached the castle gates, where a half-dozen knights made like to capture him, just as they did Breunor. However they did not reckon on Sir Launcelot being the best knight ever! He whupped all six of them, in a splendid scene, humiliating the jerks until they fled back into the castle.
Their lord emerged to engage with Launcelot. This, oddly enough, was Sir Brian of the Isles, last mentioned way, way back in Book III as Nimue’s cousin’s old frat brother. For no reason Malory bothers to explain, Sir Brian was both a noble man and a great enemy unto King Arthur. When he and Launcelot met, naturally there was a joust. And naturally Launcelot won, because Launcelot always won; Launcelot was the best. Sir Brian surrendered eventually.
“Let’s see all your prisoners, then,” said Launcelot.
Brian emptied out Castle Pendragon, freeing not just Breunor and Marcie, but also thirty other knights in Arthur’s service, plus forty ladies. It was a big complex scene, with lots of jostling and knights arguing over whose lady is whose. In the confusion Launcelot slipped away. He was just too knightly to stick around and accept thanks, you know.
While Breunor and Marcie collected their things and pieced together what exactly happened, Sir Nerovens’s damosel Loretta arrived. “It was Launcelot!” she explained. “He’s the best and he saved you all!”
“Launcelot sure is the best,” everyone agreed, in unison.
“I didn’t realize that was Sir Launcelot!” cried Marcie. “Last chapter he was defending the knightliness of Sir Ill-Fitting Suit here, and I argued with him! I actually argued with Sir Launcelot, the best knight, about someone’s knightliness! I’m so ashamed. Come on, Sir Ill-Fitting Suit, let’s catch up to him so I can apologize!”
Breunor and Marcie rode after Launcelot at speed, and caught up to him in just a couple of miles. Immediately Marcie apologized: “For now I know the flower of all knighthood is departed even between Sir Tristram and you. My eyes are finally open! I have sought you for so long, so long my lord!” She wailed and points. “Once I met Sir Tristram, and he rescued this shield, which had been taken from me by Pitiless Bruce, and now I have met you, Sir Launcelot, the best knight.”
Launcelot bit his lip. He really didn’t like this kind of fawning; it was one reason he traveled incognito. “Who told you I’m Sir Launcelot?”
“Curse that Loretta, and curse Sir Nerovens for telling her. But okay, listen, I’ll travel with you both, provided you don’t make a big deal out of me being Sir Launcelot, okay?”
“And I hope this will finally shut you up about Sir Ill-Fitting Suit here being a bad knight, Ill-Speaker,” added Launcelot.
“Oh, I’ve learned my lesson,” she responded. “Also secretly I’ve been in love with him this whole time. I was trying to talk him out of being a knight, because I thought it would get him killed. That sounds plausible, right?”
“Extremely plausible!” cried Launcelot. “Let you no more be nicknamed Ill-Speaker! Now I shall call you Clear-Sighted!”
“Whatever,” said Marcie.