Study Guide

Le Morte D'Arthur Book 14

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Book 14

Sir Percyvale de Galis

  • After Sir Percyvale separates from Launcelot, having been defeated by Galahad, he rides to a hermitage where he meets with his aunt, a recluse living inside it.
  • His aunt tells him that his mother is dead, which bums him out for a bit. She also tells him all about the history of the Sege Perylous and the Grail Quest, and that he can find Galahad by riding to the Castle Gooth and questioning Galahad's cousin, who lives there.
  • At a nearby chapel, Percyvale hears mass at an altar that has what appears to be a dead body behind it. Yikes.
  • The dead body turns out to be a man, who is still alive, but covered in wounds. Suddenly, the wounded man rises and takes communion.
  • The priest tells Percyvale that the man is King Evelake, who has asked God to let him remain alive until he meets his descendant, the knight who will achieve the Grail.
  • Percyvale encounters with twenty knights. Galahad rescues him, but rides away before Percyvale, who's on foot, can catch him.
  • Percyvale attempts to retrieve a stolen horse for a servant, but fails. So what does he do next? Go to sleep, of course.
  • When he wakes, a mysterious woman standing over him offers him a horse if he promises to be her servant. Sounds like a good deal. He agrees.
  • Percyvale rides the horse three days' distance in the space of one hour, and then abandons it in a river when he realizes the horse is a fiend. Good call, Percy.
  • On foot, now, he walks to a valley where he sees a lion chasing a serpent that carries the lion's young. He lends a hand and helps the lion defeat the serpent.
  • That night, the lion keeps Percyvale company, sleeping at his feet. Sir Percyvale dreams that a lady riding on a lion tells him that he's about to fight a great battle with the strongest champion in the world, while a lady on a serpent tells him that he has offended her by killing her serpent. He just can't win, it seems.
  • When Sir Percyvale awakes, an old man arrives on a ship and tells him that the lady on the lion represented the New Law of Christ, while the one on the serpent was the Old Law.
  • After the old man departs, another ship arrives, this one covered in black silk and carrying a beautiful lady, who promises to bring Percyvale to Galahad if he swears to do her will. He's game.
  • According to this lady, her husband stole her inheritance from her after she angered him, and now she wants Percyvale to help her get it back.
  • She pitches a tent and procures a feast for Percyvale, who promptly asks the lady to have sex with him, which she agrees to after Percyvale promises to be her servant.
  • As Percyvale is about to have sex with her, he sees his sword, which reminds him of his knighthood and chastity. He makes the sign of the cross, which causes the tent to turn into a black cloud.
  • The lady sails away in her ship, telling Percyvale he has betrayed her.
  • Percyvale cuts himself in the thigh as a way of punishing the flesh that he had allowed to control his actions.
  • The old man on the ship arrives again and tells Percyvale that the woman was the greatest devil in hell, and that Percyvale should be duly warned by the adventure he has had. Phew, that was a close one, Percy.

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