High History of the Graal; Perlesvaus
This story saith that Briant would have been wroth with a will against Orguelleux of the Launde, had it not been for the King, and Orguelleux against him, for Orguelleux heeded no danger when anger and ill-will carried him away. Therewithal the talk came to an end. When the King learnt the tidings that Madeglant was discomfited and that the land of Albanie was in peace, he sent word to Lancelot to return back. They of the land were very sorrowful when he departed, for great affiance had they in his chivalry. So he came back thither where King Arthur was. All they of the land made a great joy, for well loved was he of many, nor were there none that hated him save of envy alone. They told him the tidings of King Claudas, and also in what manner Briant had spoken. Lancelot took no notice outwardly, as he that well knew how to redress all his grievances. He was at the court of a long while, for that King Claudas was about to send over thither some one of his knights. Briant of the Isles would fain that the King should have given him his leave, for more he hated him than ever another knight in the court, sith he it was that many a time had harmed him more than any other. By Briant's counsel, King Claudas sent his knight to King Arthur's court, wherein did he not wisely, for that he thereby renewed a matter whereof afterward came right great mischief, as this title witnesseth.
Madeglant of Oriande heard say that Lancelot was repaired back, and that the land of Albanie was all void save for the folk of the country. He maketh ready his navy at once and cometh back to the land in great force. He burneth the land and layeth it waste on every side, and doth far worse therein than he did aforetime. They of the land sent over to King Arthur and told him of their evil plight, warning him that, and he send them not succour betimes, they will leave the land and yield up the castles, for that they might not hold them longer. He took counsel, the King with his knights, whom he might send thither, and they said that Lancelot had already been there and that now another knight should be sent thither. The King sent thither Briant of the Isles, and lent him forty knights. Briant, that loved not the King in his heart, came into the land, but only made pretence of helping him to defend it. One day fell out a battle betwixt Madeglant and Briant and all their men. Briant was discomfited, and had many of his knights killed. Madeglant and his people spread themselves over the land and laid the towns in ruins and destroyed the castles, that were disgarnished, and put to death all them that would not believe in their gods, and cut off their heads.
All they of the land and country longed with sorrow for Lancelot, and said that had he remained there, the land would not have been thus destroyed, nor might they never have protection of no knight but of him alone. Briant of the Isles returned back, as he that would the war against King Arthur should increase on every side, for, what good soever the King may do him, he loveth him not, nor never will so long as he is on live. But no semblant thereof durst he show, for, sith that the best of his knights had been slain in the battle, so had he no power on his side, as against Lancelot and the good knights of his fellowship, whereof he would fain that there had been not one.
King Arthur was at Cardoil on one day of
Whitsuntide. Many were the knights that were come to this court whereof I tell
you. The King was seated at meat, and the day was fair and clear, and the air
clean and fresh. Sagramors li Desirous and Lucan the Butler served before the
King. And what time they had served of the first meats, therewithal behold you,
a quarrel, like as it had been shot from a cross-bow, and striketh in the column
of the hall before the King so passing strong that there was not a knight in the
hall but heard it when it struck therein. They all looked thereat in great
wonderment. The quarrel was like as it were of gold, and it had about it a many
costly precious stones. The King saith that quarrel so costly cometh not from a
poor place. Lancelot and Messire Gawain say that never have they seen one so
rich. It struck so deep in the column that the iron point thereof might not be
seen, and a good part of the shaft was also hidden. Thereupon, behold you, a
damsel of surpassing great beauty that cometh, sitting on a right costly mule,
full well caparisoned. She had a gilded bridle and gilded saddle, and was clad
in a right rich cloth of silk. A squire followed after her that drove her mule
from behind. She came before King Arthur as straight as she might, and saluted
him right worshipfully, and he made answer the best he might.
"Damsel, tell me what boon you would have
"Damsel," saith the King, "Pray
Lancelot that he be fain to set his hand, and then the rest shall go after him
if needs be."
Lancelot hath no mind to disobey the King's
commandment; and he remembered that the damsel had conjured him by the thing
that most he loved; nor was there nought in the world that he loved so much as
the Queen, albeit she were dead, nor never thought he of none other thing save
her alone. Then standeth he straight upright, doth off his robe, and cometh
straight to the quarrel that is fixed in the column. He setteth his hand
thereunto and draweth it forth with a right passing strong wrench, so sturdily
that he maketh the column tremble. Then he giveth it to the damsel.
"Damsel." saith Lancelot, "I
see that you reckon but little of my life, so only that your wish be