Launcelot’s out in the churchyard, reflecting on his bizarre experience just now. “Excuse me,” says Hellawes. “Sir Launcelot?”
Launcelot did not see this damosel approaching, and startles. “What? How did you get here? I last saw you crying over your late husband’s body, in the previous chapter!”
“Sir Launcelot, leave that sword behind thee, or thou wilt die for it.”
“Hmmm.” Launcelot’s eyes narrow. “I don’t think so.”
“Oh, hey, good for you,” says Hellawes. “If you had surrendered the sword just now, you’d have never seen your precious Lady Guenever again.”
“We’re just good friends,” Launcelot says reflexively. “Wait, what? What are you talking about? I’d be a fool to just toss this obviously magical sword aside, especially if it meant also losing Guenever.”
“Now, gentle knight, I require thee to kiss me but once.”
“What? What is this about? Who are you, really?”
“Kiss now, answers later.”
“No! No, I’ve made certain promises to a certain lady. There will be zero kissing of random damosels by me today.”
“Well, good knight, if you had kissed me then you’d have dropped dead, so good for you.”
“Alas! Now I am undone,” cries Hellawes. “This wasn’t even a trap for you, but for Sir Gawaine.”
“I had an affair with Gawaine, and, well, the upshot of it is that he and my husband good Sir Gilbert fought, and Sir Gilbert lost a hand. That’s Gilbert’s body in the chapel.”
“Wait, what? Didn’t I see Sir Gilbert’s body in a different location last chapter? Did you carry it over here?”
“Oh, Sir Launcelot. Now I tell thee I have loved thee for seven years, but there may be no woman has thy love save Queen Guenever.”
“Everything you say just raises further questions. We never met before today! Also, Guenever and I are just friends.”
“I had a plan, you know. I was going to kill you, and take your body, and treat it with herbs and embalming fluids, and animate you as my zombie love-slave. I guess that won’t happen, now. I got all this poison lipstick for nothing.”
“Jesu preserve me from your subtle crafts!” The Man from Benwick is, understandably, pretty well skeeved out. “I’m out!”
And Launcelot mounts his horse and rides off. Hellawes, Malory claims, dies of grief within a fortnight.
Launcelot makes it back to Sir Meliot’s sister, who is thrilled to see him returned alive and intact with the bloody shroud and the magic sword. She takes him into Meliot’s castle, where Meliot lies, slowly bleeding to death thanks for Hellawes’s dark magic. Launcelot touches the sword to the wound, and wipes the wound with the bloody cloth (which sound unhygenic but what do I know?); Meliot is instantly recovered. He leaps to his feet and thanks Launcelot, and invites him to stay for supper. Probably they share a laugh about Sir Launcelot still wearing Sir Kay’s gear.
It’s a nice supper, and in the morning Launcelot says, listen, I’ve got to move on. I’ll see you back in Camelot at Pentecost, okay? I know Penetecost is coming up, but there’s time to squeeze in one or two more strange adventures before then, I think. I’ll see you at the big party.
And Lancelot rides off.