At this point Malory lets us in on a little secret, which is that the whole boiling bathtub thing is all part of an enchantment cooked up by Morgan le Fay and her confederate, the Queen of Northgalis, because they were jealous of how pretty the boiling bathtub lady was. And they’ve moved on, but the spell’s still in place, and this poor woman has been stuck in the tub for five years.
Also, Malory almost forgot this part, the spell is broken if the best knight in the world touches her. Because I guess that made the spell easier for Morgan to cast probably?
But it’s super convenient that this is the case, because boom, Launcelot reaches out to give the boiling damosel a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, and then the spell is broken! She’s been sitting there for years, but now she can get up and ask for a towel!
Despite being super wrinkly after all that time in the tub, she’s extremely attractive, Malory adds. Also naked! Launcelot is totally impressed by her hotness, we’re assured.
Then there’s the celebratory afterparty, which Malory really dances around describing in detail, but he mentions that folks give loving and thanking and all the people, both learned and lewd, are invited, and I’m not going to use the word orgy, but hey. And it takes place in a chapel!
Anyway, one of the townies approaches Launcelot at the party. “Hey boss,” he says. “Remember before, when you were like, is there an ogre or an evil knight you can fight? I was wondering if you’d be interested in killing this dragon that’s been messing us up.”
“Uh, maybe,” says Launcelot. “Let me pray on that one for a bit.”
Launcelot asks the guy to fetch his shield, just to get rid of him, and then he goes for a little walk and pray, ending up in a tomb near the chapel. There, Launcelot either has a mystic vision, or else he discovers a note Merlin wrote at some point in the past, like back in Book II when Merlin was going around writing prophetic notes everywhere. Malory is vague.
But Launcelot sees, written in gold on the walls of the tomb, a prophecy! “A royal leopard shall come here, kill a serpent (by which I mean dragon), and father a lion! Then the leopard will leave. When the lion grows up, it will be the greatest knight ever, possibly even better than the leopard depending on how you definite knightly greatness! PS the leopard’s name will rhyme with Bauncelot du Bake.”
So Launcelot’s down for dragon-slaying, and he totally kills a dragon, which Malory doesn’t waste a lot of words on. Malory’s way more interested in skipping to the end of that, when King Pelles rides up and sees Launcelot standing there surrounded by bloody chunks of dragon.
“Whoa!” King Pelles cries. “Who killed this dragon? Was it you? What’s your name?”