Reimagined Series: Le Morte d’Arthur

Hey everyone! As you can see, I’m starting a new series! You might be a little curious as to what it is, so I’m here to give you all a brief description of it.

How many of you have ever read a book and been like, “Oh I really like that book, but I would have liked it if the author had done this instead.” As many of you may know, I am a writer as well as a reader, and I get thoughts like that pretty often, except in my case, it’s “I would have written this like this instead.” So, I decided to do a post (perhaps a series of posts) of how I would rewrite some classic stories, starting with Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur! I may even add some snippets of scenes I have rewritten from certain stories.

I LOVE this legend; it’s one of my very favorites. I especially love the retelling by Paul Vincent, which I will refer to a few times in this. He basically retold Malory’s version, adding a few stories Malory left out, but in a more modern, easy to read way, and he added a little bit more emotion into the legends, adding some humor and angst into it, rather than just stating the facts like Malory did.

I did do a post of my five favorite King Arthur characters, who’s stories I may mention in this post, so feel free to read that post here to get a little idea of who the characters are, if you are ignorant of them.

As I said before, with Paul Vincent’s version, I wouldn’t change too much, since he made the language more modern and the characters have clearer relationships and so on. However, there are three main things I would change.

1: Elaine of Corbenic and Lancelot’s Relationship

This one is the one which deviates quite a bit from the actual legends. In the actual legends, Elaine of Corbenic loves Lancelot, but he has eyes only for Guinevere, his king’s wife. In Le Morte d’Arthur, their relationship is described in the Eleventh book and in chapters two and three.

Chapters 2 & 3 from Book 11 of Le Morte d’Arthur (taken from The Project Gutenberg)

Sir, said Launcelot, wit you well my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake.

And my name is, said the king, Pelles, king of the foreign country, and cousin nigh unto Joseph of Arimathie.

And then either of them made much of other, and so they went into the castle to take their repast. And anon there came in a dove at a window, and in her mouth there seemed a little censer of gold. And therewithal there was such a savour as all the spicery of the world had been there. And forthwithal there was upon the table all manner of meats and drinks that they could think upon. So came in a damsel passing fair and young, and she bare a vessel of gold betwixt her hands, and thereto the king kneeled devoutly, and said his prayers, and so did all that were there.

Then said Sir Launcelot, What may this mean?

This is, said the king, the richest thing that any man hath living. And when this thing goeth about, the Round Table shall be broken. And wit thou well, said the king, this is the holy Sancgreal that ye have here seen.

So the king and Sir Launcelot led their life the most part of that day. And fain would king Pelles have found the mean to have had Sir Launcelot to love his daughter fair Elaine, and for this intent: the king knew well that Sir Launcelot should have a child by his daughter, the which should be named Sir Galahad, the good knight, by whom all the foreign country should be brought out of danger, and by him the holy Graale should be achieved.

Then came forth a lady that hight dame Brisen, and she said unto the king, Sir, wit ye well, Sir Launcelot loveth no lady in the world but all only queen Guenever, and therefore work ye by counsel, and I shall make him to see your daughter Elaine, and he shall not wit but that he seeth queen Guenever.

Oh, fair lady, dame Brisen, said the king, hope ye to bring this about?

Sir, said she, upon pain of my life let me deal. For this Brisen was one of the greatest enchantresses that was that time in the world living.

Then anon by dame Brisen’s wit she made one to come to Sir Launcelot that he knew well. And this man brought him a ring from queen Guenever like as it had come from her, and such one as she was wont for the most part to wear. And when Sir Launcelot saw that token, wit ye well he was never so fain.

Where is my lady? said Sir Launcelot.

She is in the castle of Case, said the messager, but five mile hence.

Then Sir Launcelot thought to be there the same night. And then this Brisen, by the commandment of king Pelles, let send Elaine to this castle with twenty-five knights unto the castle of Case. Then Sir Launcelot rode unto that castle, and there anon he was received worshipfully with such people to his seeming as were about queen Guenever.

So when Sir Launcelot was alight, then dame Brisen brought him a cup full of wine, and as soon as he had drank that wine he was so assotted that he wend that maiden Elaine had been queen Guenever. Wit ye well that Sir Launcelot was glad, and so was that lady Elaine, for well she knew that of them should be born Sir Galahad, that should prove the best knight of the world. And then Sir Launcelot remembered him, and he arose up and went to the window.

Chapter 3

And anon as he had unshut the window, the enchantment was gone, then he knew himself that he had been deceived. Alas, said he, that I have lived so long; now am I shamed. So then he gat his sword in his hand, and said, Thou traitress, who art thou? thou shalt die right here of my hands.

Then this fair lady, Elaine, kneeled down afore Sir Launcelot and said, Fair courteous knight, come of king’s blood, I require you have mercy upon me; and as thou art renowned the most noble knight of the world, slay me not, for I shall have a son by thee that shall be the most noblest knight of the world.

Ah, false traitress, said Sir Launcelot, why hast thou betrayed me? Anon tell me what thou art.

Sir, she said, I am Elaine, the daughter of king Pelles. 

Well, said Sir Launcelot, I will forgive you this deed. And therewith he took her up in his arms and kissed her, for she was as fair a lady, and thereto young, and as wise as any was that time living. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, I may not blame this to you, but her that made this enchantment upon me, as between you and me; and I may find her, that same lady Brisen, she shall lose her head for witchcraft, for there was never knight deceived so as I am.

And so Sir Launcelot armed him, and took his leave mildly at that lady, young Elaine, and so he departed.

Then she said, My lord Sir Launcelot, I beseech you see me as soon as you may, for I have obeyed me unto the prophecy that my father told me, and by his commandment to fulfil this prophecy I have given the greatest riches and the fairest flower that ever I had, and that is my maiden love and faith, and therefore, gentle knight, owe me your good will.

And so Sir Launcelot arrayed him, and was armed, and took his leave mildly of that young lady Elaine, and so he departed, and rode till he came to the castle of Corbin where her father was. And as soon as her time came she was delivered of a fair child, and they christened him Galahad. And wit ye well that child was well kept and well nourished, and he was named Galahad, because Sir Launcelot was so named at the fontain stone; and after that, the Lady of the lake confirmed him Sir Launcelot du Lake.

Now obviously I won’t get into all the annoying sinfulness that went on here (a major reason why I never cared for Lancelot and especially Guinevere) but something I always wished could happen, would be that Lancelot would actually come to love and marry Elaine, and that he could have raised Galahad with her. (Though I think there may have been a prophecy about that where he couldn’t see him until he knighted him or something too.)

Because the ending of Le Morte d’Arthur (my favorite part of the book, actually) depends on Lancelot’s affair with Guinevere, however, I can see where people would say that is impossible to do. However, I had an idea once which I believe fixes the issue and still leaves it to where Camelot would have the same fate.

After the above events happen, more things happen to where Elaine tricks him again, Guinevere gets ticked, and Lancelot goes mad (pretty dramatic, right?) Lancelot is insane for like, two or three years, I believe, until he stumbles upon Corbenic again, and Elaine takes him to see the Holy Grail, and he’s cured. From then, he stays with her at Joyous Isle for a while, then some Round Table knights find him and he finally returns to Camelot and never sees Elaine again.

My Reimagining:

When he is healed of his insanity and stays at Joyous Isle with Elaine, Lancelot starts to see Elaine in a little different light. The longer he’s away from Camelot and Guinevere, the less he misses her, and while he still wishes to return to Camelot someday to see his king and old friends, he begins to become content at Joyous Isle.

Soon he starts to fall in love with Elaine, and realizes he’d like to have a family someday, something Guinevere can’t give him, as obviously she’s married to Arthur. He already has a son with Elaine (Galahad, who at this point could either be being raised by the nuns mentioned in Le Morte d’Arthur as being the ones who raised him, or with Elaine) and finally asks Elaine to marry him, realizing she’s the most perfect girl for him (and even in Le Morte d’Arthur it’s said he thought she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, apparently even above Guinevere).

So they get married and live happily at Joyous Isle. The events then can pick up, where some Round Table knights finally discover him, and maybe he even does go back to Camelot for some visits, but his heart remains with Elaine at Joyous Isle.

Elaine’s death is only mentioned in passing in Le Morte d’Arthur, so we can only assume what happened to her. In my idea, something would happen to where she would die, probably before the Grail Quest, of a sudden illness or accident. Lancelot would be heartbroken, and then would attempt to heal his broken heart via going on the Grail Quest, to keep his mind off of it (and to perchance meet up with his son Galahad). The events of Le Morte d’Arthur would then go on as usual, and then, when the Grail Quest is complete and Lancelot arrives back and starts up his romance with Guinevere once again, it would be attributed to the fact that he still missed Elaine, and went to Guinevere for “comfort”, triggering the rest of the legend.

2: Galahad and Lancelot’s Father-Son Time

This one is more of a desire to have the original legend expounded upon, rather than changing anything major like the above idea. The desire for expansion originates truly from one line in the legend, but in order to get the full scope, it’s best to explain the situation around them. Galahad is on the Grail Quest, the sole reason he was born, and at this time I believe he’s about sixteen or seventeen. He comes onto a funeral boat and meets none other than his father, Sir Lancelot.

Chapters 13 and 14 of Book 17

Now saith the history, that when Launcelot was come to the water of Mortoise, as it is rehearsed before, he was in great peril, and so he laid him down and slept, and took the adventure that God would send him.

So when he was asleep, there came a vision unto him and said, Launcelot, arise up, and take thine armour, and enter into the first ship that thou shalt find.

And when he had heard these words, he start up and saw great clearness about him. And then he lift up his hand and blessed him, and so took his arms, and made him ready; and so by adventure he came by a strand, and found a ship, the which was without sail or oar. And as soon as he was within the ship, there he felt the most sweetness that ever he felt; and he was fulfilled with all thing that he thought on or desired.

Then said he, Fair sweet Father Jesu Christ, I wot not in what joy I am, for this joy passeth all earthly joys that ever I was in. And so in this joy he laid him down to the ship’s board, and slept till day. And when he awoke, he found there a fair bed, and therein lying a gentlewoman dead, the which was Sir Percivale’s sister. And as Launcelot devised her, he espied in her right hand a writ, the which he read, the which told him all the adventures that ye have heard tofore, and of what lineage she was come. So with this gentlewoman Sir Launcelot was a month and more.

If ye would ask how he lived, He that fed the people of Israel with manna in the desert, so was he fed. For every day, when he had said his prayers, he was sustained with the grace of the Holy Ghost.

So on a night he went to play him by the water side, for he was somewhat weary of the ship. And then he listened, and heard an horse come, and one riding upon him. And when he came nigh he seemed a knight. And so he let him pass, and went there as the ship was, and there he alight, and took the saddle and the bridle and put the horse from him, and went into the ship.

And then Launcelot dressed unto him and said, Ye be welcome.

And he answered and saluted him again, and asked him, What is your name? for much my heart giveth unto you.

Truly, said he, my name is Launcelot du Lake.

Sir, said he, then be ye welcome, for ye were the beginner of me in this world.

Ah, said he, are ye Galahad?

Yea forsooth, said he. And so he kneeled down and asked him his blessing, and after took off his helm and kissed him.

And there was great joy between them, for there is no tongue can tell the joy that they made either of other, and many a friendly word spoken between, as kind would, the which is no need here to be rehearsed. And there every each told other of their adventures and marvels that were befallen to them in many journeys, sith that they departed from the court.

Anon as Galahad saw the gentlewoman dead in the bed, he knew her well enough, and told great worship of her, and that she was the best maid living, and it was great pity of her death. But when Launcelot heard how the marvellous sword was gotten, and who made it, and all the marvels rehearsed afore, then he prayed Galahad his son that he would shew him the sword, and so he did. And anon he kissed the pommel, and the hilts, and the scabbard.

Truly, said Launcelot, never erst knew I of so high adventures done, and so marvellous and strange.

So dwelled Launcelot and Galahad within that ship half a year, and served God daily and nightly with all their power. And often they arrived in isles far from folk, where there repaired none but wild beasts; and there they found many strange adventures and perilous, which they brought to an end. But because the adventures were with wild beasts, and not in the quest of the Sancgreal, therefore the tale maketh here no mention thereof, for it would be too long to tell of all those adventures that befell them.

Chapter 14

So after, on a Monday, it befell that they arrived in the edge of a forest, tofore a cross, and then saw they a knight, armed all in white, and was richly horsed, and led in his right hand a white horse. And so he came to the ship, and saluted the two knights on the high Lord’s behalf, and said, Galahad, sir, ye have been long enough with your father, come out of the ship, and start upon this horse, and go where the adventures shall lead thee in the quest of the Sancgreal.

Then he went to his father, and kissed him sweetly, and said, Fair sweet father, I wot not when I shall see you more, till I see the body of Jesu Christ.

I pray you, said Launcelot, pray ye to the high Father that He hold me in his service.

And so he took his horse; and there they heard a voice, that said, Think for to do well, for the one shall never see the other before the dreadful day of doom.

Now, son Galahad, said Launcelot, since we shall depart, and never see other, I pray to the high Father to preserve both me and you both.

Sir, said Galahad, no prayer availeth so much as yours.

And therewith Galahad entered into the forest. And the wind arose, and drove Launcelot more than a month throughout the sea, where he slept but little, but prayed to God that he might see some tidings of the Sancgreal.

As you might be able to tell, the last paragraph in the thirteenth chapter is what prompted the desire for expansion. “So dwelled Launcelot and Galahad within that ship half a year, and served God daily and nightly with all their power. And often they arrived in isles far from folk, where there repaired none but wild beasts; and there they found many strange adventures and perilous, which they brought to an end. But because the adventures were with wild beasts, and not in the quest of the Sancgreal, therefore the tale maketh here no mention thereof, for it would be too long to tell of all those adventures that befell them.” I would love to hear about all the adventures they went on and how it grew them closer together not only as father and son, but also to the Lord.

I don’t actually have any firm ideas for how I would write a story about this scene yet, but I do know I would definitely expound on their relationship and make them grow close, that way their separation is that much more poignant and meaningful.

3: Gaheris and Gareth’s Deaths and the Aftermath

Paul Vincent’s retelling did a really good job establishing the emotional bonds to this scene, the scene which honestly triggers the downfall of Camelot. He establishes Lancelot and Gawain as best friends, and obviously Gareth is especially favored by both of them, Lancelot because he knighted him, and Gawain because that’s his favorite little brother.

Again, my reimagining of this scene is more like a desire for expansion. I wish Gareth’s relationships with both of them was more clearly shown as well, and for the scene itself to be more expanded, rather than just stated. Also, in the original Le Morte d’Arthur, Gawain is merely told of his brother’s deaths, swears vengeance on Lancelot and faints. Paul Vincent does a much better execution of it, by having Gawain actually FIND his unarmed brothers on the battlefield and showing his pain and anger at the loss of his two closest brothers and his grief splintering his relationship with Lancelot.

The original scenes can be found in Book twenty, chapters eight through ten.

Chapters 8-10 of Book 20

Then said the noble king Arthur to Sir Gawaine, Dear nephew, I pray you make you ready in your best armour, with your brethren Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth, to bring my queen to the fire, there to have her judgment, and receive the death.

Nay, my most noble lord, said Sir Gawaine, that will I never do, for, wit you well, I will never be in that place where so noble a queen as is my lady dame Guenever shall take a shameful end. For wit you well, said Sir Gawaine, my heart will never serve me to see her die, and it shall never be said that even I was of your counsel of her death.

Then, said the king to Sir Gawaine, suffer your brothers Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth to be there.

My lord, said Sir Gawaine, wit you well they will be loth to be there present, because of many adventures the which be like there to fall, but they are young and full unable to say you nay.

Then spake Sir Gaheris and the good knight Sir Gareth unto Sir Arthur, Sir, ye may well command us to be there, but wit you well it shall be sore against our will; but and we be there by your strait commandment, ye shall plainly hold us there excused, we will be there in peaceable wise, and bear none harness of war upon us.

In the name of God, said the king, then make you ready, for she shall soon have her judgment anon.

Alas, said Sir Gawaine, that ever I should endure to see this woefull day. So Sir Gawaine turned him, and wept heartily, and so he went into his chamber, and then the queen was led forth without Carlisle, and there she was despoiled into her smock.

And so then her ghostly father was brought to her, to be shriven of her misdeeds. Then was there weeping, and wailing, and wringing of hands, of many lords and ladies. But there were but few in comparison that would bear any armour for to strength the death of the queen.

Then was there one that Sir Launcelot had sent unto that place for to espy what time the queen should go unto her death. And anon, as he saw the queen despoiled into her smock, and so shriven, then he gave Sir Launcelot warning. Then was there but spurring and plucking up of horses, and right so they came to the fire, and who that stood against them, there they were slain, there might none withstand Sir Launcelot, so all that bare arms and withstood them, there were they slain—full many a noble knight. For there was slain Sir Belias le Orgulous, Sir Segwarides, Sir Griflet, Sir Brandiles, Sir Aglovale, Sir Tor, Sir Gauter, Sir Gillimer, Sir Reynold’s three brethren, Sir Damas, Sir Priamus, Sir Kay the stranger, Sir Driant, Sir Lambegus, Sir Herminde, Sir Pertilope, Sir Perimones, two brethren, that were called the green knight and the red knight.

And so in this rashing and hurling as Sir Launcelot thrang here and there, it mishapped him to slay Gaheris and Sir Gareth, the noble knight, for they were unarmed and unaware, for, as the French book saith, Sir Launcelot smote Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris upon the brain pans, where through they were slain in the field, howbeit in very truth Sir Launcelot saw them not, and so were they found dead among the thickest of the press.

Then when Sir Launcelot had thus done and slain, and put to flight all that would withstand him, then he rode straight unto dame Guenever, and made a kirtle and a gown to be cast upon her, and then he made her to be set behind him, and prayed her to be of good cheer. Wit you well the queen was glad that she was escaped from the death, and then she thanked God and Sir Launcelot. And so he rode his way with the queen, as the French book saith, unto Joyous Gard, and there he kept her as a noble knight should do, and many great lords and some kings sent Sir Launcelot many good knights, and many noble knights drew unto Sir Launcelot. When this was known openly, that king Arthur and Sir Launcelot were at debate, and many were full heavy of their debate.

Chapter 9

So turn we again unto king Arthur, that when it was told him how, and in what manner of wise the queen was taken away from the fire, and when he heard of the death of his noble knights, and in especial for Sir Gaheris’ and Sir Gareth’s death, then the king swooned for pure sorrow. And when he awoke of his swoon, then he said, Alas that ever I bare crown upon my head, for now have I lost the fairest fellowship of noble knights that ever held Christian king together. Alas, my good knights be slain away from me, now within these two days I have lost forty knights, and also the noble fellowship of Sir Launcelot and his blood, for now I may never hold them together no more with my worship. Alas, that ever this war began.

Now, fair fellows, said the king, I charge you that no man tell Sir Gawaine of the death of his two brethren, for I am sure, said the king, when Sir Gawaine heareth tell that Sir Gareth is dead, he will go nigh out of his mind. Mercy, said the king, why slew he Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris! for I dare say as for Sir Gareth he loved Sir Launcelot above all men earthly.

That is truth, said some knights, but they were slain in the hurtling, as Sir Launcelot thrang in the thick of the press, and as they were unarmed he smote them, and wist not whom that he smote, and so unhappily they were slain.

The death of them, said Arthur, will cause the greatest mortal war that ever was. I am sure, wist Sir Gawaine that Sir Gareth were slain, I should never have rest of him till I had destroyed Sir Launcelot’s kin and himself both, or else he to destroy me; and therefore, said the king, wit you well my heart was never so heavy as it is now, and much more I am sorrier for my good knights’ loss, than for the loss of my fair queen, for queens I might have enow, but such a fellowship of good knights shall never be together in no company; and now I dare say, said king Arthur, that there was never Christian king held such a fellowship together, and alas that ever Sir Launcelot and I should be at debate. Ah, Agravaine, Agravaine, said the king, Jesu forgive it thy soul, for thine evil will, that thou and thy brother Sir Mordred haddest unto Sir Launcelot, hath caused all this sorrow. And ever among these complaints the king wept and swooned.

Then there came one unto Sir Gawaine, and told him how the queen was led away with Sir Launcelot, and nigh a twentyfour knights slain. O Jesu defend my brethren, said Sir Gawaine, for full well wist I that Sir Launcelot would rescue her, or else he would die in that field; and to say the truth he had not been a man of worship, had he not rescued the queen that day, in so much she should have been burnt for his sake: and as in that, said Sir Gawaine, he hath done but knightly, and as I would have done myself, and I had stood in like case.

But where are my brethren? said Sir Gawaine, I marvel I hear not of them.

Truly, said that man, Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris be slain.

Jesu defend, said Sir Gawaine, for all the world I would not that they were slain, and in especial my good brother Sir Gareth.

Sir, said the man, he is slain, and that is great pity.

Who slew him? said Sir Gawaine.

Sir, said the man, Launcelot slew them both.

That may I not believe, said Sir Gawaine, that he slew my brother Sir Gareth, for I dare say my brother Gareth loved him better than me and all his brethren, and the king both. Also I dare say, and Sir Launcelot had desired my brother Sir Gareth with him, he would have been with him against the king and us all, and therefore I may never believe that Sir Launcelot slew my brother.

Sir, said this man, it is noised that he slew him.

Chapter 10

Alas, said Sir Gawaine, now is my joy gone. And then he fell down and swooned, and long he lay there as he had been dead. And then when he arose of his swoon, he cried out sorrowfully and said, Alas!

And right so Sir Gawaine ran to the king crying and weeping, O king Arthur, mine uncle, my good brother Sir Gareth is slain, and so is my brother Sir Gaheris, the which were two noble knights.

Then the king wept and he both, and so they fell on swooning. And when they were revived, then spake Sir Gawaine, Sir, I will go see my brother Sir Gareth.

Ye may not see him, said the king, for I caused him to be interred, and Sir Gaheris both; for I well understood that ye would make over much sorrow, and the sight of Sir Gareth should have caused your double sorrow.

Alas, my lord, said Sir Gawaine, how slew he my brother Sir Gareth? mine own good lord, I pray you tell me.

Truly, said the king, I shall tell you as it is told me, Sir Launcelot slew him and Sir Gaheris both.

Alas, said Sir Gawaine, they bare none arms against him, neither of them both.

I wot not how it was, said the king, but, as it is said, Sir Launcelot slew them both in the thickest of the press, and knew them not; and therefore let us shape a remedy for to revenge their deaths.

My king, my lord, and mine uncle, said Sir Gawaine, wit you well, now I shall make you a promise that I shall hold by my knighthood, that from this day I shall never fail Sir Launcelot, until the one of us have slain the other: and therefore I require you, my lord and king, dress you to the war, for wit you well I will be revenged upon Sir Launcelot, and therefore, as ye will have my service and my love, now haste you thereto, and assay your friends. For I promise unto God, said Sir Gawaine, for the death of my brother Sir Gareth I shall seek Sir Launcelot throughout seven kings’ realms but I shall slay him, or else he shall slay me.

Ye shall not need to seek him so far, said the king, for, as I hear say, Sir Launcelot will abide me and you in the Joyous Gard, and much people draweth unto him as I hear say.

That may I believe, said Sir Gawaine, but my lord, he said, assay your friends, and I will assay mine.

It shall be done, said the king, and, as I suppose, I shall be big enough to draw him out of the biggest tower of his castle.

So then the king sent letters and writs throughout all England, both in the length and the breadth, for to assummon all his knights. And so unto Arthur drew many knights, dukes, and earls, so that he had a great host. And when they were assembled, the king informed them all how Sir Launcelot had bereft him his queen. Then the king and all his host made them ready to lay siege about Sir Launcelot, where he lay within Joyous Gard.

Thereof heard Sir Launcelot, and purveyed him of many good knights, for with him held many knights, and some for his own sake, and some for the queen’s sake. Thus they were on both parties well furnished and garnished of all manner of things that longed to the war. But king Arthur’s host was so big that Sir Launcelot would not abide him in the field, for he was full loth to do battle against the king; but Sir Launcelot drew him to his strong castle with all manner of victual, and as many noble men as he might suffice within the town and the castle.

Then came king Arthur with Sir Gawaine, with an huge host, and laid a siege all about Joyous Gard, both at the town and at the castle, and there they made strong war on both parties. But in no wise Sir Launcelot would ride out nor go out of his castle of long time, neither he would none of his good knights to issue out, neither none of the town nor of the castle, until fifteen weeks were past.

As I said before, Paul Vincent’s version does a better job with the emotion of Gawain finding and realizing about his brother’s deaths, and building up his relationship with Lancelot to make it doubly hard. However the battle is still skimpily narrated and told in like manner as the original, which is fine, I guess, but I wish it was more detailed, and maybe even told from a character’s point of view.

I actually wrote a snippet for this scene, detailing the battle from Gareth’s point of view. It’s still very rough, but it will give you an idea of how I would reimagine the scene.

My Reimagining:

“The queen has finished her confession. It is time.” 

Gaheris and Gareth exchanged looks as the procession proceeded towards them. “What a terrible end for such a lady. Even if she is guilty, there would need to be more proof than what Agravain and Mordred found against them,” Gareth said shaking his head. 

“I have a feeling the worst is yet to come,” Gaheris said, sighing wistfully. “Lancelot has escaped, and surely he will not stand idly by and let Guinevere suffer for his sake.” 

“Surely he would not strike us down,” Gareth said, his tone full of confidence. “Lancelot is the best knight among us, honorable, chivalrous, and courteous. He wouldn’t harm us, even if he did come. He must see we are unarmed.” 

“Yes, he will not strike us, but there are others among us who are armed, and for them, it will not be well. And we must stand here and do our duty, no matter what happens.” 

“We will not be able to persuade him to leave Guinevere to her fate. I know him; he won’t do it.” 

“There are many knights here, Gareth. The king knows Sir Lancelot’s prowess, and that he and his family will try to attack. The only hope of this succeeding is that the armed knights hold him off long enough for her to be tied to the pyre and burned.” 

Just as the procession brought Guinevere pass them and into the gates, the sound of horses hooves could be heard in the distance. Gaheris instinctively gripped for his sword, but, remembering he had not brought it, he sighed. “I don’t think this will work.” 

Those knights who were armed hurried to the gate as the horsemen broke out of the woods, and they watched as the group grew closer and closer. 

“Look, there is Lancelot there, at their helm,” Gareth said, pointing towards him. Despite the fact that they were currently on opposite sides, Gareth’s eyes still shone with admiration for his hero. 

“Just stay steady, brother, and do what you can to do as the king asked without harming anyone. And do stay out of Lancelot’s way; in his haste, he may not recognize you are unarmed. I will go and see what I can do to help the others.” Gaheris turned and entered the gate to see if he could be of any assistance to the men and ladies there.

Swords clashed, battle axes raised, and maces swung as Lancelot’s men collided with those of Arthur’s sent to guard the death of the queen. Since he was unarmed, Gareth watched with the keenest interest. He had not a speck of fear — Lancelot was the knight who had knighted him, and often had said he was like another son to him. Besides, Gawain and Lancelot were practically best friends. He needed to have no fear of him or his men. 

Lancelot swung his sword mightily, striking down his enemies in a magnificent fashion. Gareth kept his eyes upon him, but when a knight fell back next to him, he bent down to help him up. “Sir Tor, let me help you.” 

“Thank you,” the knight rasped, and Gareth saw he was wounded. “Do you know where my brother, Sir Aglovale, is?” 

“I will look,” he said, helping the wounded knight to lean against the side of the gate. He then started to slink through the mass of knights defending the gates to see if he could spot Sir Aglovale. 

He caught sight of him just as Lancelot struck him such a mighty blow that he fell dead at his feet. A pang entered Gareth’s heart. These were his brothers — Lancelot’s brothers — why must they slay each other? 

He didn’t have too much time to reflect upon it, however, as Lancelot rode forwards — towards him! There were other knights around him, and though he tried to move, he found himself too tightly pinned in by them. Some were armed, others were not, and it was a chaotic mess. Lancelot would kill them all like this — he had to help them both, by saving as much blood as he could. “Break up men! We’re so closely packed together, a man can’t wield his sword correctly! Do not be afraid! Be bold! Be courageous!” 

The men began to harken to his voice, but for many of them, it was already too late. Sir Lancelot and Sir Bors struck them down, and though some fled, others weren’t so fortunate. It was all they could do to defend themselves, and Gareth, trapped between them, found himself and the other knights with their back to the city wall. 

Lancelot struck the man on one side of him down, Sir Bors the other — and now, Gareth felt fear. He looked at Lancelot, remaining silent. Surely Lancelot wouldn’t — All he saw was the knight’s flashing, determined eyes under his helmet, and his uplifted sword. He was rooted to the spot, though his sense told him to drop to his knees and beg for mercy. The last thought that ran through his head was, “Lancelot’s like a brother… he couldn’t harm me.” 

A deadening thud hit his helmet, and the last thing he saw was Lancelot turning to fight another knight. His knees turned to jelly, and he felt himself fall. Everything was dull — the noise of battle, the pain of the blow — and finally, it all ended. 

That’s it for all my Reimagining of Le Morte d’Arthur! Have you read the legends or a retelling of them? Would you like anything to be changed? Would you like to see actual snippets of the other reimaginings I suggested for this book? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading, and God bless! ~ Kay Adelin

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