It’s a tense scene, with both Arthur’s group and Mordred’s group expecting the other to double-cross.  Naturally things go south; the catalyst here is a snake biting a knight’s ankle.  This knight (Malory doesn’t specify if he’s one of Arthur’s or one of Mordred’s) draws his sword to chop up the snake, because that’s what you do I guess.  And one drawn sword turns to ten drawn swords turns to twenty drawn swords and horns blowing and banners unfurling and cavalry charging…

Arthur spends the entire battle chasing Mordred around; Mordred spends the entire battle trying to stay out of Arthur’s kill-zone.  The battle stretches on for hours, and knights keep coming up with the intention of slaying Arthur.  Arthur keeps slicing them to bits, and the ground turns to blood-red mud.

At last, after fifteen hours or so of carnage, Arthur finds himself alone on the battlefield.  He’s surrounded by corpses.  It’s dark, and he’s lost track entirely of where anyone is; everybody he sees is dead.

He calls out, and hears a distant reply.  Arthur makes towards the source of the shout, and finds Bedivere and Lucan, both badly wounded, resting at the bottom of a ditch.  Or maybe lying there waiting to die.  One of the two.

“Where is everybody?” Arthur asks them.

Lucan and Bedivere exchange glances.  “We’re everybody,” Bedivere says, eventually.

“Pretty sure everybody else died,” agrees Lucan.

“Or fled.”

“But man, there are a lot of corpses in this field.  Six figures easy.”

“Yeah.”

“Damn.”  Arthur lowers his head.  “This has all gone even more to pot than it already had, which, that’s saying something.  I just wish I knew where Mordred was, so…”

At this point, Sir Mordred comes around a corner, whistling a happy tune.  He sees Arthur among the piles of corpses and stops whistling abruptly.  Then he runs off.

“Spear!” cries Arthur.

“What?”

“Give me your spear! I lost mine and Excalibur’s too good a weapon to use on that prick!”

Lucan reluctantly hands over his sword.  “Sire, what with about a hundred and fifty nine thousand, nine hundred and six of the original one hundred sixty thousand knights being dead, maybe you should just let this one go.  Mordred’s power is plainly broken.  And if you chase him down, Sir Gawaine’s dire prediction might bear out.”

“Don’t care.  Launcelot’s not here.  Mordred is.”

Arthur dashes off after Mordred, and catches up to him!  “Traitor!  Now is thy death-day come!” he shouts, and charges.

Mordred hears Arthur coming and draws his sword.  When Arthur connects with him, Mordred thrusts, and long story short, Mordred bashes Arthur’s helmet in while Arthur drives a spear into Mordred’s brain.  They both go down.

After a few minutes Bedivere and Lucan find them.  They haul Arthur and Mordred’s body to the nearest shelter, an abandoned chapel.  Within, they take a quick inventory:  Bedivere is wounded, Lucan is badly wounded, Arthur is very badly wounded, and Mordred is dead.  Lucan and Arthur both need to lie down for a bit.

From outside the chapel they hear shouts.  Arthur sends Lucan out to see what’s happening; Lucan comes back in a moment later reporting that scavengers are looting the hundred and sixty thousand corpses.

“We should get out of here,” says Arthur.  “But instead I think I’m going to die.  Let my last words be these: ‘darn it, Launcelot, where were you?’”  And he keels over.

Knights of the Round Table who have died: a list I surely won’t have to update as we go on from here!

Sir Balin, slain by Sir Balan in Book II.*

Sir Balan, slain by Sir Balin in Book II.*

Sir Accolon, slain by King Arthur as a result of Morgan’s plan failing in Book IV.*

King Pellinore, slain offscreen by Sir Gawaine sometime after the start of Book IV.

Sir Chestaline, Sir Gawaine’s youthful ward, slain by Roman soldiers during Book V.*

Sir Marhaus, slain by Sir Tristram early in Book VIII.

Sir Lamorak, slain offscreen by Sir Gawaine and his brothers around the time of Book X.

Sir Uwaine, slain by Sir Gawaine in Book XVI.

Sir Colgrevance, slain by Sir Lionel in Book XVI.

King Bagdemagus, slain by Sir Gawaine sometime prior to Book XVII.

Sir Galahad, ascended into heaven with the Grail in Book XVII.

Sir Percivale, died of grief after coming in second on the Grail-Quest, in Book XVII.

Sir Patrice, ate a poisoned apple intended for Sir Gawaine, in Book XVIII.

Sir Meliagrance, decapitated by Launcelot with one hand tied behind his back, in Book XIX.

Sir Tristram, murdered by King Mark sometime before Book XX.

Sir Colgrevance, again, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Agravaine, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Mador de la Porte, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Meliot de Logris, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Petipase of Winchelsea, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Galleron of Galway, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Melion of the Mountain, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Astamore, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Grummore Grummursun, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Curselaine, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Florence, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Lovel, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Gingalin, slain trying to arrest Launcelot, in Book XX.

Sir Gaheris, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Gareth, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Belliance, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Segwarides, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Griftlet the Caterer, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Brandiles, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Aglovale, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Tor, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Gauter, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Gillimer, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Reynolds, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Damas, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Priamus, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir “the Other Kay” Kay, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Driant, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Lambegus, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Herminde, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

The Green Knight, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

The Red Knight, slain by Launcelot during his rescue of Guenever, in Book XX.

Sir Gawaine, dies of injuries after retaking Dover from Mordred, in Book XXI.

Sir Mordred, slain by King Arthur, in Book XXI.

Starred entries are knights who were not, technically, members of the Round Table, but who were more or less solid Camelot-allies.


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Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XXI Chapter 4 — No Comments

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