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The High History of the Holy Graal: Branch XVI


This High History saith that Messire Gawain and Lancelot were repaired to the court of King Arthur from the quest they had achieved. The King made great joy thereof and the Queen. King Arthur sate one day at meat by the side of the Queen, and they had been served of the first meats. Thereupon come two knights all armed, and each bore a dead knight before him, and the knights were still armed as they had been when their bodies were alive.

"Sir," say the knights, "This shame and this mischief is yours. In like manner will you lose all your knights betimes and God love you not well enough to give counsel herein forthwith of his mercy."

"Lords," saith the King, "How came these knights to be in so evil case?"

"Sir," say they, "It is of good right you ought to know. The Knight of the Fiery Dragon is entered into the head of your land, and is destroying knights and castles and whatsoever he may lay hands on, in such sort that none durst contend against him, for he is taller by a foot than any knight ever you had, and of grisly cheer, and so is his sword three times bigger than the sword of ever another knight, and his spear is well as heavy as a man may carry. Two knights might lightly cover them of his shield, and it hath on the outer side the head of a dragon that casteth forth fire and flame whensoever he will, so eager and biting that none may long endure his encounter."


"None other, how strong soever he be, may stand against him, and, even as you see, hath he burnt and evil-entreated all other knights that have withstood him."

"From what land hath come such manner of man?"

"Sir," say the knights, "He is come from the Giant's castle, and he warreth upon you for the love of Logrin the Giant, whose head Messire Kay brought you into your court, nor never, saith he, will he have joy until such time as he shall have avenged him on your body or upon the knight that you love best."

"Our Lord God," saith the King, "Will defend us from so evil a man."

He is risen from the table, all scared, and maketh carry the two dead knights to be buried, and the others turn back again when they have told their message. The King calleth Messire Gawain and Lancelot and asketh them what he shall do of this knight that is entered into his land?

"By my head, I know not what to say, save you give counsel herein."

"Sir," saith Lancelot, "We will go against him, so please you, I and Messire Gawain between us."

"By my head," saith the King, "I would not let you go for a kingdom, for such man as is this is no knight but a devil and a fiend that hath issued from the borders of Hell. I say not but that it were great worship and prize to slay and conquer him, but he that should go against him should set his own life in right sore jeopardy and run great hazard of being in as bad plight as these two knights I have seen."

The King was in such dismay that he knew not neither what to say nor to do, and so was all the court likewise in such sort as no knight neither one nor another was minded to go to battle with him, and so remained the court in great dismay.

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