In The First Continuation of De Troyes' Perceval, Gawain manages to enter the Grail Castle, not once but twice. Instead of asking the question (the "riddle" of Spicer's poem), the task in this account involves mending a broken sword.
In the first instance, which occurs rather early on in the narrative, he meets the wounded lord as well and encounters several sights.
First, a boy brings in the Lance with the bleeding tip: "In his hand he was holding a whlte lance with a rounded shaft. He came across the crowded hall and passed before Sir Gawain. And the lance-head bled." (111) Next, he is afforded a vision of the Grail: "And while he was thus absorbed he saw coming through the hall behind the boys, another girl, slim and straight, of lovely appearance, most beautiful, but she was grieving bitterly. Between her hands she held aloft the Holy Grail for all to see" (112). Finally, a broken sword is brought in: "And when she had disappeared with the Grail, four servants followed carrying a bier covered with a royal silk, and in the bier there was a body. And on the silken covering lay a sword which was broken across the middle. But anyone who did not already know would have found it hard to see the break, for the sword looked quite intact" (112).
Gawain begins to ask the wounded lord questions about the marvels that he has witnessed but is directed to the broken sword instead. He is instructed to mend the sword as proof of his perfection as a knight. Gawain is unable to mend the sword. He almost manages but a tip breaks off just as he lifts the sword off the bier. The wounded lord, however, has words of encouragement for Gawain:
"You have not yet achieved enough as a knight to be able to know the truth about these things; for I promise you, the one who will come to know the truth will be esteemed and praised as the finest knight in the world. But you may well yet come to know the truth, and win by your chivalry glory and influence about others" (113).Gawain manages to return to the Grail castle after numerous adventures. The descriptions of the sights Gawain encounters on his second trip to the Grail Castle are described in a much more elaborate manner than during his first trip.
First he sees a richly decorated bier, with a broken sword on it:
On the bier a great cloth of red Grecian samite had been laid in honour, with a cross of golden thread in the middle; it covered the bier entirely. [...A]t the four corners burned four great candles, standing on four candlesticks which were worth a fortune [....] On the samite that I've described there was just one half of a broken sword - the upper half, with the sword's point - lying, according to the text, right on the dead man's breast. (129)Then, the Grail magically appears:
The rich Grail, without anyone carrying it, served them splendidly, coming and going swiftly before all the knights. [...T]he Grail passed back and forth, and the good knight, I assure you, could not understand who was carrying it. It served at least seven full courses, and served them richly and handsomely to all the tables in great silver bowls: as soon as one course was removed, so the next was presented - it served them beautifully indeed. (130)Last of all, the lance with the bleeding tip comes into view:
And just the, at the head of the high table, he [Gawain] saw a lance, with a head as white as snow. It was propped upright in a rich silver vase, with two candles burning before it, shedding a great light in the hall. From the tip of the head sprang a trickle of blood which ran down the lance and into the rich basin. All around the lance, right down to the grip, were traced the paths of the drops as they fell into the vessel. But no matter how much it beld, the vase would not be filled, for the blood passed thought a large and splendid pope of dazzling green emerald into a channel of gold, which, by a brilliant and ingenious plan. flowed out of the hall. (130)He fails to mend the sword again but this time manages to ask and receive an explanation about the lance with the bleeding tip. The lance is the one that pierced the side of Jesus Christ when he was on the Cross. In finding out about the lance, he manages to partially restore life to the land.
Selections from The First Continuation. Translated by Nigel Bryant