He is the sacred knight of the Mother. She sent him to this rainy, miserable island, where the castles are drafty and everyone smells of wet sheep.
They think the Mother he means is the mother of their sun god. He lets them. Their tender little god is born in the winter and dies in the spring, which seems backward to him, and the god’s mother is merciful, is kindly.
Lancelot’s Mother is another thing entirely: a war god, a horse god, and her stone is stained brown by generations of blood poured on it by the bucketful.
He shudders to think of it, the revulsion and delight of her. As her knight, his dreams belong only to her, and in his dreams she smells of blood and horses. He climbs her and rides her from one end of the sky to another, wakes with his balls shriveled dry by her, his nerves stretched like harp strings, as if he could be plucked and sing out a praise song for her.
But awake he pretends to be their own kind of holy: celibate as a eunuch, sober and respectful. They see him quaking on his knees in their musty holy house (as if any interior space could be holy) and think he quivers with the fervor of his piety. Never knowing that behind his hands he laughs.
They cannot guess what is coming.
But oh, already he has begun his work: knocked them all down on the tournament field, made himself sound milk-mouthed and squeaky with noises of faith and humility like one of their crying monks, until the king himself stares at Lancelot with moon-shot eyes.
And the queen: vain little girl, married to a man too old and busy to fill her. She is Lancelot’s final goal, and he won’t even have to pick the fruit. Already he can see that she will place herself in his hands. He will use her up and turn her inside out. He will make sure everyone can see.
This fusty little kingdom will break with it. Their trappings of Rome will fall away, and the Mother will gallop over the land once again. She will take this earth and its people in her sharp-toothed jaws and make them hers. She will rise in screams and blood out of the pyres of these people.
It is this fire that Lancelot sees in the darkness made by his hands when he kneels on their church stones. It will take years of work, but her will has made his strong.
They call themselves a candle in the darkness. He is the wind that will blow them out.