The Quest to Seek the Holy Grail: A RANDOM Retelling.

Chapter 1. Fishy Beginnings

This whole messy affair started on an ordinary enough day-ordinary for Camelot, that is. I had just succeeded in turning a tortoise into a large chunk of lapis lazuli. It appeared to be of the finest quality and quite valuable, but I would not venture to sell it until I had it appraised by a jeweler. I was feeling quite pleased with myself and had even gone so far as to give my lovely assistant the rest of the day off as I sat down to dinner with the king and assorted knights. Guenivere was absent and Lancelot was late. Galahad was praying quite vigorously over his food, probably asking forgiveness for not eating vegetarian. Galahad had tried this once, for about a week, and then returned to being carnivorous, expressing the vehement desire never to see a carrot again. I produced a fork and knife out of thin air, an old parlour trick of mine, and proceeded to do the fine spread justice.

We were pretty far along in our meal when there was somewhat of a disturbance toward the lower left corner of the hall. What looked to be a cup of some sort was flying through the air towards the centre of the old round table. Only it wasn't a real cup, it was a vaporization of a cup. In other words, a cup-shaped ghost. I paid no attention, I was on friendliest terms with the ghosts of the castle, and this was just an old trick of the ghost of the Drunken Friar. Only, he'd never performed it in front of this many people, the old boy was somewhat shy. I resisted the urge to applaud.

By this time, the entire company was completely silent, and there was a sort of light radiating from the cup. Galahad stood up as if in some sort of trance, mesmerized by the thing. It remained for a few clicks like that, and then the whole affair disappeared. Galahad sat down, panting like a dog and pale as a sheet. King Arthur asked him what the devil had just happened, and everyone clustered around young Galahad. Nobody even thought of asking me what it was. After all, I'm only the king's advisor and high magician.

Galahad said that the angel of the Lord had appeared to him and instructed him to seek the Holy Grail. I'd heard it before, and quests to seek most anything Holy usually end rather sad with a high body count. Lots of casualties, you know. I immediately dragged Arthur aside for a short conference.

"Art," I said. "Art, you can't authorize a quest based on some cockamamie hallucination of Galahad's. We all know the boy's unstable, and- " Arthur cut me off.

"Sooth, Merlin, you cannot mean what you say! We all saw the vision of the Grail enter this chamber. It is only a fault of our own that we did not hear the message from God, for Galahad, as the purest amongst us, was the only one worthy of hearing the voice of the angel of the Lord," he stated, sounding rather stuffy. I explained very carefully to him about the trick of the Drunken Friar's, but by then I had lost him. He was already ordering the pages and squires to make ready various assorted horses and ready weaponry and other sundry provisions for a long quest. I retreated to my tower, planning to sulk until the boys were gone and everything was quiet again.

However, it didn't all go as planned. Only two of the boys were selected to go, in the end. Sir Galahad and Sir Lancelot were the only two judged holy enough to embark, and as Galahad resisted bringing any entourage, Lance's pageboy was the only third party. I had, as I stated, planned to retreat to my room and sulk until the whole matter had evaporated. But then, I received word that the problem of the old 'Mayonnaise Incident' was in danger of resurfacing, and I realized that I must either retreat gracefully or go into hiding until the threat passed, along with the irate pawnbroker's insurance agents. Much to my own chagrin, I found myself volunteering to accompany Lance and Galahad on the quest.

Arthur shipped me off quite gladly. I chose the horse, tied the old beard in a knot, grabbed the staff and we started on our way. I must admit, we could not have chosen a nicer time to begin a journey. It was early fall, and the deciduous' were beginning to turn a pleasant orange. The climate was genial, and we met few people on our road for quite some time.

It was when we came to our first bridge that we occasioned our first difficulty. Bridges in these parts are usually guarded by various random knights bent on making life difficult for other knights on quests. This one was no different.

There is one certain trend in troublemaking knights that I never shall understand. They all seem to name themselves after a color and style their armor and sometimes horse after the same. The bloke guarding this particular bridge was no exception to the rule. His armor, tunic, horse and shield were all a particularly revolting shade of chartreuse. Upon sighting us, the fellow gave a hallo that was styled to blow the eardrums out at close range. Lance hallooed back.

"You there, good sir knight! We wish to pass your bridge!" bellowed Lance. I could have told him he was wasting his breath. The only thing these knights accepted from other knights was a fight.

"NO ONE PASSES HERE WITHOUT FIGHTING THE CHARTREUSE KNIGHT!" boomed the here named. Lance started to bellow back an acceptance of the challenge, but I stopped him before he got too far.

"Lance, why don't you let me handle this," I said, and trotted up to the old Chartreuse. "Hullo, Knight, no, I'm not armed. I say, I'd like to propose a deal. You let us pass, and we wont kill you." The knight looked impassive, or maybe it was just the helmet.

"THAT DOES NOT SEEM LIKE A DEAL. NO ONE PASSES HERE WITHOUT FIGHTING THE CHARTREUSE KNIGHT!" he boomed again. I rubbed my ears.

"Oh, alright then, I'll throw in a pilchard," I said, "And would you please lower your voice?"

"A pilchard?" he asked, obligingly lowering his voice. "What's a pilchard?" I smiled knowingly.

"One of the great treasures of the known world," I said, sphinx-like.

"All right, hand it over," he said. I balked.

"No, no, no, it's much too valuable. I'll give it to you after we cross the bridge." The Chartreuse Knight eyed me suspiciously through the slits in his helmet. After some consideration, he nodded.

"YOU MAY PASS AT THE PRICE OF ONE PILCHARD," he bellowed, injuring my eardrums permanently. I motioned to Lance, Galahad and the pageboy. They looked collectively surprised and followed my lead across the bridge. When the company was safely across, I turned around.

"One pilchard, as promised," I said, and tossed the fish at him, hitting him square in the helmet. He roared.

"WHAT IS THIS TRICKERY? I HAVE BEEN DUPED!" he hollered. I smiled and waved, retreating the whole way.

"Nonsense! I gave you a pilchard, just as you asked. But if one isn't enough, I'll compensate," I said, and with that, I magically caused a massive avalanche of pilchards to deluge the poor knight. The pageboy and I had a hearty laugh at that, but Lance seemed upset.

"I would have fought him. I would have fought him and gained fame for defeating the Chartreuse knight," he said, giving me a stern look.

"My boy, you would have doubtless gained numerous injuries as well. This way, we're across the bridge, you're unhurt, and the Chartreuse knight won't have to worry about lunch! It's a good deal all the way round, if you think about it," I said, but it didn't seem to console Lance much. Galahad was somewhat scandalized over the whole thing, but about a mile away from the bridge, he finally broke down in fits of laughter, which of course started the pageboy and me chuckling again. After all, it's not every day you see a fully grown man submerged in a flood of small, sardine- like fish.

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