Episode 45: Perlesvaus, Part 6
Oh boy, we're back with another "season" of everyone's favorite medieval comedy soap opera, Perlesvaus! We've got classic Dungeons and Dragons shenanigans in this one, from sultry maidens to sleeping with your armor on. What mischief (and war crimes) will Percival get into next?
In case you're unfamiliar with this 13th century French chivalric romance, we suggest going back to our first five episodes, or checking out the summaries on the rest of our blog. Without further ado, let's recap this section of Perlesvaus!
We pick up immediately with Lancelot, who has come upon a town which celebrates the “Circle of Gold” - that is, the gilded crown of thrones from the crucifixion. Unfortunately, the Good Knight (Percival) is the only foreigner allowed to see it, so Lancelot goes on his way.
Next he comes across the maiden who hosted the tournament in last episode, and she explains that she’s still looking for someone to take vengeance against the Knight of the Burning Dragon, who killed the knight whose body she’s still carrying around. Lancelot declines this quest, and moves on.
As he travels, a dwarf sees him on the horizon and runs back to the robber-knights living in a forest hideout. Their hideout is a veritable dungeon crawl, with a castle and underground lair. They prepare with their accomplice, a stunning maiden, who stops Lancelot in his tracks with her sultry voice and silk slip of a dress.
She invites him in to the “only castle in the area,” and Lancelot agrees to stay with her. However, he seems suspicious of his host, because he decides to sleep with his armor on that night. This decision was wise, because that night, the maiden sneaks in, steals his sword, and tries to kill Lancelot in his sleep. Battle breaks out between Lancelot and the robber knights, and Lancelot begins a long siege.
However, the tale leaves us on a cliffhanger, as it switches point-of-view to Gawain, who is looking for Lancelot. In his search, he learns Marin the Jealous was killed, Meliot of Logres needs his help, and meets Percival and delivers the message that his mother is looking for him. Percival and Gawain then team up to find Lancelot, and find him under siege. The three of them kill everyone involved and take the loot!
Percival then travels to Logres and hears how Loholt, King Arthur’s son, has killed Logrin, a massive giant terrorizing the area. However, as he was sleeping on the body of the giant (as was his custom after killing his enemy, apparently, and yes, this is in the text), another knight kills him. Though he says this is a bummer, Percival moves on.
Next, he comes across his sister Dindrane, who is weeping and lamenting that King Arthur didn’t tell her that her brother (who is now eavesdropping) was in town. Percival appears before her (concealing his identity), and Dindrane recognizes his shield as that of the Good Knight. She begs him to help her mother, since she is on her own quest. Percival agrees since he was headed that way anyway.
The story then follows Dindrane, who is on her way to the Perilous Cemetery to find the Shroud of Turin so that she may defeat one of her mother’s enemies. She enters the cemetery in middle of the night and sees black ghosts appear outside of the cemetery with flaming lances and swords red as flame. They battle each other, attempting to enter the cemetery, but cannot get in.
Dindrane enters the cemetery’s chapel and retrieves a piece of the shroud. After she does so, a voice proclaims that the Fisher King, her uncle, has died, and the King of Castle Mortal (her other uncle) has taken over. She and all the ghosts lament his death.
Meanwhile, Percival arrives at home where his mother urges him to kill the Lord of the Fens, who has taken her land and castle. Percival wastes no time— he rounds up the lord’s men, drains their blood into a vat in the middle of the court, and then strings the lord upside down above the vat, and drowns in him in men’s blood. Yikes. Ygles seems to realize this was overkill, and then tells her son that it’s his fault the Fisher King has died— after all, he could have asked the question of the Holy Grail at any time and saved the Fisher King from his languor. The maiden of the cart also arrives and bids him to oust the King of Castle and Mortal…but can he?
Thanks for joining us in this week's episode of The Maniculum Podcast. Looking for more? Check out our Master List series for the full collection of segments at the end of our show, and for more gaming and world building ideas, check out The Gaming Table section of our blog, Marginalia!
Searching for our sources? Read Perlesvaus here, and check out our Library for more! Additional references for interested scholars:
Geary, Patrick. "Humiliation of Saints," Saints and Their Cults, Cambridge University Press. Link.
Harward, Vernon J. The Dwarfs of Arthurian Romance and Celtic Tradition. E.J. Brill, 1958.
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