This book is all about Galahad and the Grail, and Malory helpfully reminds us where he left Galahad: Book XIV, Chapter 4.
Though Percivale is a holy knight and a fabulous fighter he can’t handle 20+ to one odds. He takes out a third or so of his opponents, but then they kill his horse! Oh no! Is this the untimely end of Percivale?
No! Because Galahad springs up out of nowhere, all in red, and lays into the funeral-goers, until they break and flee into the woods. That Galahad! He’s so dreamy!
As he watches Galahad chase the opposition into the woods, Percivale marvels at how the target of his quest just appeared out of nowhere like that. “Hey, Galahad! Thanks for saving me!” he shouts. “Come back here so I can thank you properly!”
But alas, Galahad disappears into the woods, and Percivale is left alone.
Malory continues this narrative, filling us in on Galahad’s actions since then, though he ignores the gap between that appearance and Book XIII, Chapter 17. That was Galahad’s unlikely adventure at the Castle of the Maidens, as you may recall. So from the Maidens’ Castle to Goothe, where he saves Percivale, and then on from Goothe. We all up to speed? Great.
Galahad rides away from Percivale and has all kinds of awesome adventures that Malory isn’t going to go into right now, because they don’t involve a jousting tournament. Instead he skips to the part where Galahad stumbles across a jousting tournament in progress. It’s outside a castle, and the teams are the knights not inside the castle, and the knights inside the castle. The knights not inside the castle are winning; Galahad can see them just cutting down their opponents as their opponents try to sally forth from the castle gates.
Malory is not describing a siege. He is describing a jousting tournament. Totally different.
Anyway, Galahad decides he should help the knights inside the castle. He pulls out his magical white shield, and throws a spear and waves his sword around, and generally does such wonderful deeds of arms that all they marvelled.
But what’s this? Sir Gawaine and Sir Ector the Lesser! They’re participating in this tournament as well, on the (previously) winning side!
“Man, we’re getting our butts kicked by that knight with the white shield,” complains Ector.
Gawaine recognizes the shield. “That’s no knight, that’s Sir Galahad! Mister Holy Blessed Dude himself! I’d hate to be the guy next up against him!”
And then the melee shifts such that by adventure Sir Gawaine finds himself in a one-on-one with Galahad, because Malory knows one trick of dramatic irony and he uses it over and over. Galahad doesn’t even hesitate, he bashes Gawaine’s skull in and down Gawaine goes, skull caved in, pieces of his helmet embedded in his brain, horse sliced open from Galahad’s follow-through.
“Crap, Uncle Gawaine!” I did not realize that Gawaine was the uncle of Ector the Lesser. In fact I was pretty sure Ector was in the Bors/Launcelot/Lamorak family of knights, which is unrelated to the Gawaine/Uwaine/Gaheris/Mordred group, but that’s what Malory says now, that Ector is Gawaine’s nephew. Never mind that Ector called Launcelot uncle back in Book VI, when he first appeared, and never mind that his appellation, Ector de Maris, fits in more with Launcelot du Lake and Lamorak de Galis. Uncle Gawaine. Fine.
Ector stands over Gawaine’s body and chases off the knights moving in to finish him off, as Galahad wanders off. Then Ector and Gawaine share a touching moment wherein Gawaine thinks he’s dying and Ector assures him he’ll be up and Grail-Questing again in no time, and Gawaine is all no, I’m done, go on without me. Malory reminds us about the bit in Book XIII, Chapter 3, where Arthur gets Gawaine to try to draw out the sword in the stone, but he can’t, and then Launcelot (who at the time was uttering prophecy because why not) asserted that Galahad would one day use the sword to bash Gawaine’s skull in. Malory is all, PROPHECY COMPLETED 1/1.
Ector nurses Gawaine back to health, the end. A big hand for Ector and Gawaine, everybody! They’ll be back after the Grail Quest is over, although I can’t promise that Gawaine won’t randomly murder anyone between then and now!