Cut to four months later. Arthur’s siege on Joyous Gard has gone on nearly that long; Launcelot refuses to come out. Then, Launcelot finally appears, up on the walls of the castle. He calls down to Arthur, saying that the siege is pointless and suggesting they all just agree to disagree. Can’t King Arthur just accept that Guenever would be with Launcelot?
Arthur offers to just joust Launcelot, one on one. If Launcelot isn’t scared…
Launcelot is not about to joust King Arthur. He does not want to be the guy who jousted King Arthur and killed him; Launcelot straight-up refuses.
“Jesus, Launcelot!” shouts Arthur. “You’ve got some nerve claiming the moral high ground! Thou hast slain my good knights, and full noble men of my blood! I can’t even count, there’s Gaheris, and Agravaine, and Tor, and…” Arthur trails off. He’s forgetting something, he knows. Then he remembers. “Oh, yes, also you kidnapped my wife and you’ve been having an affair with her since Book V. This is Book XX! That’s fifteen Books!”
Launcelot gasps in mock outrage. “I admit I killed a bunch of guys on my way out, and I am sorry about that, but what’s done is done. As to the charge that I’ve been having an affair, I formally deny that and I’ll joust any knight who says otherwise! Also you tried to set Guenever on fire, twice. Don’t act like this is about her. You were always perfectly happy to let me act as her champion and defender, confident that I’d save her. Now I’ve saved her again, and this time instead of thanking me and rewarding me with high honors, you lay siege to my castle.”
“Objection!” cries Sir Gawaine, whom everyone forgot was also still alive and present. “You murdered Agravaine, Gaheris, and Gareth, plus my three sons! That’s why we’re here, maybe, but if so, that’s a good reason to be here!”
“Did I not just say I was sorry?” Launcelot gets all testy. “Also, you’re a fine one to be talking about murdering knights; you murdered Sir Lamorak!”
“I did indeed, which just goes to show you what a great knight-killer I am! I can also show you more directly!”
“I’m not afraid!” Launcelot scoffs. “Unlike a certain knight whose name is Gawaine, who was so scared for Sir Lamorak that technically his brother Gaheris had to do the deed.”
“Guys! Guys!” Arthur waves his arms around, trying to get everyone’s attention. “Listen, it’s obvious we don’t actually want a big bloody destructive battle…”
“I do!” shouts Gawaine. “Battle! Battle! Launcelot sucks! Everybody!”
Soon he has Arthur’s whole army chanting it, ‘battle battle Launcelot sucks.’
Up in the castle, Launcelot’s men do not take this well. “Boss, they’re saying you suck. They’re the ones who suck!”
Launcelot sighs. “Okay.” He calls back down to Arthur. “Tell you what. You and Gawaine agree to stand well back and away from the fighting, because I don’t want either of you hurt, and we’ll come out and have a battle!”
“No dice!” cries Gawaine.
But by then Launcelot’s men have already thrown the gates open and it’s too late to do anything but sally forth.
There’s a big ol’ battle at this point. The Benwick knights mow through the many unnamed scrub knights that Arthur and Gawaine brought. Sir Gawaine trounces Sir Lionel.
At the height of the violence, Sir Bors (fighting for his cousin Launcelot of course) dehorses Arthur. He moves to melee, figuring that he can take Arthur out quickly, but Launcelot stops him, and gives Arthur a new horse.
Arthur spends most of the battle not fighting at a hundred percent on account of he’s weeping uncontrollably. Forced to fight Launcelot! So sad.
In the morning, after a full day of fighting, Sir Gawaine and Sir Bors end up doing one of those simultaneous de-horsings that seems to happen so much in Malory. Both sides haul away their wounded, and Launcelot seals himself up inside Joyous Gard again.
All of the Benwick knights get together to compare notes and wounds. Sir Lavaine and Sir Urre haven’t been part of Team Benwick for very long. They don’t know Launcelot so well, so after the battle they go to him and brag about how many of Arthur’s men they killed, expecting Launcelot to congratulate them. Instead he just grumbles about how terrible it is to be fighting Arthur.
“This won’t end until either you or Arthur gets killed,” says Sir Palomides, and Launcelot knows he’s right.