Part 3, Chapters 24-26 Summary
Lancelot tells his brother, Sir Ector Demaris, that he cannot leave Elaine. Sir Ector says that once it becomes known that Lancelot is alive and here, no one will leave him alone: he will be trapped in the castle. Queen Guenever has spent a great deal of money, men, and time to locate him, but Lancelot says that Guenever told him never to come back. Sir Ector asks his brother if he loves Elaine and Lancelot says that he does. Elaine begs him to promise that, if he should leave, he will come back some day. Lancelot insists that he has no plans to leave. At dinner, a messenger arrives with the news that there is a squire outside who will talk to no one but Lancelot. Going outside, Lancelot discovers that it is his Uncle Dap, carrying all his armor and accoutrements. Lancelot puts on his armor, mounts his horse, and rides off to Camelot.
Fifteen years pass after Lancelot returns to Guenever at Camelot, and things return to what they had been before his “Wild Man” years. Lancelot and Guenever resume their affair, and Arthur resumes his pretense of being unaware of it. Through battle and conquest, Arthur’s kingdom grows and peace spreads across the land. The giants and dragons have been conquered. Arthur’s Camelot becomes the center of honor and culture. A new generation of knights makes their way to Arthur’s court, eager to be one of the company of the Round Table. One of the knights is Gareth, Gawaine’s brother. Another is Mordred, Arthur’s son by his half-sister Morgause.
Lancelot and Arthur discuss Gareth, who has arrived incognito and serves in the kitchen. Though Kay had tormented him, Lancelot had been kind and helped him on his adventure, afterward knighting him. They wonder how Gareth's mother, Morgause, felt about his leaving, but Lancelot says that the old queen is chasing Lamorak, King Pellinore’s son, even though he is a youth and she is a grandmother. Arthur now worries about the Round Table. Something is going wrong, he feels. Lancelot reflects on Mordred, whom he instinctively dislikes, not knowing that Arthur is his father. Then, Gareth arrives with the news that his mother was killed by her son Agravaine when she was found naked in bed with Lamorak. He chopped off her head and then went after Lamorak. Eventually, Agravaine finds King Pellinore’s son, and Mordred stabs him in the back.