NB in this entry Bors speaks for me.
Mags leads the knights across the room to a big bed, and shows them two swords and four wooden rods hanging on the wall over the headboard. Two of the rods are white, one is red, and the last is green. At first glance they look like they’ve been painted or stained, but in fact the wood is just brightly colored.
“So, this branch was taken by Eve from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” Mags says, pointing. “And this one she took from the tree where she and Adam first met.”
“Really,” says Bors.
Mags nods. “Mmm-hmm. And the green one is from the tree under which Abel was conceived, and the red one is from the tree under which Abel was murdered. Eve collected tree branches, it turns out.”
“Now, you’re probably wondering how they came to be here.” Mags pauses, in case anyone wants to marvel at her perspicacity, but no. “The answer of course is King Solomon.”
“Of course! That makes so much sense,” says Bors. He elbows Galahad, who just looks at him blankly. Bors realizes that neither Galahad nor Percivale have ever encountered sarcasm before.
“This Solomon was wise and knew all the virtues of stones and trees, and so he knew the course of the stars, and many other divers things.”
“Right. King Solomon from the Bible. Famously wise.”
“And his wife was a horrible shrew who convinced him that all women are essentially wicked animals.”
“So you’re saying King Solomon was a misogynist,” says Bors.
“Yep! But then an angel came to him and explained about Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, the one and only good woman who has ever or will ever live.” Mags is pretty pleased with how her lecture is going so far. “So King Solomon felt quite the fool, let me tell you, thinking that just because all women except Mary are terrible, all women are terrible.”
“Women suck, you guys.”
“Then the angel told Solomon how eventually, the very last descendant of King Solomon, and also the last descendant of Mary, because of course, then the very best knight who ever lived, tied for first with the Solomon’s brother-in-law Josua. Who was a very great knight, as we all know. But the last descendant of Solomon, Mary, and Jesus will be just as good!”
Bors catches Mags’s eye, and tilts his head subtly towards Galahad, who is rapt with this story. He clicks his tongue.
Mags nods slightly.
Bors rolls his eyes.
“Solomon was of course thrilled to learn about his descendant, but it bothered him that he didn’t know what this future knight’s name was going to be. So naturally he did all kinds of crazy magic, trying to divine it. His wife thought this was stupid, but she was the stupid one. Women are dumb!”
“Also she suggested he build this boat, which he did. Or he had it built, anyway. Then she suggested that he take King David’s sword and refurbish it and keep it on the ship. She also had this bed made, and these three wooden spindles…”
“These three wooden spindles, she had them made, and then she predicted that someday a maiden (that’s me) would come here and tell this story to worthy knights (that’s you). An angel came and did all the detailing, including carving the message over the entryway. Which freaked Solomon out, so he sent the ship out into the sea, where it has waited for us.”
While Bors double-checks those wooden spindles and confirms that yes, they’re wood and they’re white and red and green, not painted or stained, just naturally those colors, Percivale finds a pile of money and also a pamphlet that has the whole story Mags just told in it. “Look! Independent corroboration!”
“Last thing I need to do is replace the crappy belt that the sword is on with a good one, made from my own hair,” says Mags. She’s been carrying around three belts made from her own hair, in a little case. “I made these when I found out that I was going to be doing this. It meant shaving my head, but while I’m wearing this wimple you can’t tell and besides, I’m no longer a woman of this world, I’m some kind of crazy Grail-nun.”
“Wow, that’s great,” says Bors. He isn’t sure if he’s being sarcastic or sincere. “Your whole spiel has doubtless been very helpful.”
“So here’s the sword, the Sword of the Strange Girdles,” Mags says, passing it to Galahad. “The sheathe is called the Mover of Blood, and it was made from the Tree of Life which grew next to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Hence the name.”
While Mags ties the Mover of Blood onto Galahad using a belt made from her own hair, Galahad thanks her and compliments her on her holiness and declares that until one or both of them die, he will be her champion.
Then they leave that ship, and get back on the one Nacien gave them, and it magically propels itself to the next stage of the quest.