Percivale (apparently) follows the Queen of the Wilderness’s instructions. He departs from her castle and rides all day until he comes to a remote fortress, which Malory doesn’t want to come right out and identify as Castle Goothe, but I’m pretty sure that’s where he is. There he’s allowed to stay the night, and attend church services in the morning.
This is a special Mass that has been set up, seemingly just for him: a priest ready at the altar. Over on the far side of the altar, in the back of the church, Percivale notices a rich bed and a fair, as of cloth of silk and gold, but he can’t get over there because it’s blocked by a gate closed with iron and also there’s a curtain that makes it hard to see. But he’s pretty sure there’s someone in the bed.
Percivale is a gentleman, not some kind of looky-loo peeper; he le[aves] off his looking and [hears] his service. During the eucharist rite, that curtain gets drawn back so that the person in the bed can receive communion, and Percivale gets a total eyefull. It’s a passing old man with a crown of gold upon his head and no shirt on. Thanks to the lack of shirt, Percivale can take in the man’s great wounds, both on the shoulders, arms and visage.
Percivale estimates this guy to be roughly three hundred years old.
After the service is over, the old man’s crown gets placed carefully on the altar, for some reason. Percivale watches this ritual, then asks a priest what the heck is up with the old guy and the wounds and so on.
“So have you heard of Joseph of Aramathea?” asks the priest.
“Natch,” says Percivale.
“Joseph converted a heathen king named Evelake,” says the priest, in case Percivale forgot. “This story was recounted back in Book XIII, Chapter 10?”
“Well. After the events detailed in that chapter, Evelake continued to dwell in England. The Lord God wanted him to pursue the Grail, but Evelake was too busy involving himself with the secular world, like you do…”
Percivale makes the wrap-up signal. “Check.”
“So, long story short, God struck him blind.”
“And then he was all, ooh, God, please don’t kill me until I meet my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson, who will achieve the Grail as I have failed to do.”
“Really. That’s a very specifically-worded request.”
“Uh huh! And then… this is the good bit, here… then God said heard be they prayers, for thou shalt not die till he have kissed thee. And when that knight shall come the clearness of your eyes shall come again, and thou shalt see openly, and thy wounds shall be healed, and erst shall they never close.”
Percivale lets out a low whistle. “Wow, heavy.”
The priest nods solemnly. “I know! And then three hundred years go by, and that brings us to the present day.”
“You don’t happen to be a knight of the Round Table, do you?”
So Percivale introduces himself. When he hears Percivale’s name, Evelake gets all excited and I am seriously at a loss as to which of these scenarios is the correct one.
1) Percivale is the distant descendant of Evelake, and will achieve the Grail. Thus Evelake ceases to be blind at this point, due to miracles.
2) Percivale is unrelated to Evelake, it’s Galahad who is the distant descendant of Evelake and Jesus also. Thus Evelake stays blind until he and Galahad meet (spoiler: they meet in Book XVII).
3) The whole nine-generations-down thing that Guenever claimed Galahad had going for him, back in Book XIII, that was just a misunderstanding and really it was Evelake the whole time, not Jesus, even though there was zero mention of Evelake or any character who might possibly have been Evelake, at the time.
I’d like to believe that what Malory is trying to convey here is that Percivale is a distant descendant of Evelake, just as Galahad is a distant descendant of Jesus. This fits in with the runner that Percivale is, like, the Galahad of Earth-2, the other holy knight who is in the other prophecy. But I skipped ahead to check, and the bit about Evelake’s wounds closing would seem to refer to a later event, when Galahad does this whole thing in Book XVII and we’ll get to it. So I’m going to go with interpretation number 2.
Either way, after the Mass is over Percivale rides off to the next stage of his strange adventure.