Chapter VI:

As tales of Arthur and his knights gained popularity, they quickly spread across Europe. In the twelfth century, the French writer Chrétien de Troyes takes up the Arthurian Legend. Unlike writers before him, Chrétien's literature is deeply sensitive, and it is from him that we get much of the romance associated with King Arthur, as well as the character of Lancelot.

Lancelot du Lac With Merlin gone, the Lady of the Lake took on the role of Arthur's advisor. Though she had despised Merlin, she liked Arthur, and she held him in great regard for the work he had done to unite Britain.

One day, Nimue came to him and asked for a boon.

“Take him into your castle and train him in the art of knighthood,” she asked, referring to the handsome, young man beside her. “Knight him whenever he asks for it.”

The young man with her was Lancelot du Lac, and Arthur could see he had the promise of a great fighter. He agreed, and the lady took her leave.

Lancelot asked to be knighted that very evening. Arthur was surprised he wanted to be knighted so soon, but Lancelot was sure he was ready. Arthur agreed, and the following morning, the ceremony took place. There was great celebration, and all in the palace cheered. After he was knighted, Lancelot asked to be the Queen's Champion. This would make it his royal duty to protect the Queen, and defend her honor. Guinevere was flattered, and accepted. In the battles that followed, Lancelot proved to be an excellent knight. His skill with the sword was unparalleled by any in Camelot, and he quickly rose the ranks to become Arthur's finest knight. But more than that, he and Arthur became good friends, and for a time, he, Arthur, and the Queen were inseparable.

Then one day, Lancelot was gone. The King and Queen tried very hard to search for him, but no one in the kingdom knew his whereabouts. Many years passed, but Arthur and Guinevere never stopped thinking of their friend, or wondering what had become of him. Then one day, Lancelot returned. He had become pale and ragged, but it was unmistakably him. When Arthur asked what had happened, he had a long tale for him.

He traveled to the city of Corbenic While he had been gone, Lancelot told Arthur, he had come to the city of Corbenic. Corbenic was ruled by a king named Pellés, the Fisher King. While he was there, the city came under attack by a ferocious dragon. The people had fled in terror, but Lancelot stayed and fought the monster to its death. He used his shield to protect himself from its fire, and stabbed it with his sword until it was dead. When he emerged victorious, the people cheered him. As a reward, King Pellés held a feast in his honor.

At the feast, King Pellés said to him, “Now you will see something no other knight has ever seen.”

With that, three servants entered the room. The one in the middle was holding the Holy Grail, the sacred cup from which Jesus Christ had drunk during the Last Supper.

King Pellés told him, “The cup was passed down to me by my forebear, Joseph of Arimathea.” Arthur dismissed this as trickery, but Lancelot swore he had really seen the Grail.

But there was more, Lancelot told him. He had seen the Grail, but he was denied it because of his impure love for another man's wife: Arthur's queen, Guinevere. Arthur could not bear to hear this, but Lancelot begged him to listen. All those years ago, it was Guinevere whom he truly loved. His jealousy had driven him insane, and after leaving Camelot, he had lived in the woods as a madman. After he came to Corbenic and defeated the dragon, King Pellés gave him his daughter, Elaine. Elaine was very beautiful and she loved him very much, but his heart belonged to Guinevere. Desperate for him, she pursued him relentlessly and used magic to snare him. Together they had had a son, whom they christened Galahad. When Lancelot found out what she had done, he ran away, disgusted with the deception.

As the two men were speaking, they were quickly summoned to the river, where a large barge had washed ashore, carrying a dead woman's body. When they arrived, Lancelot looked at the woman and then turned away quickly. It was Elaine. She had committed suicide.