The next chapter, “Lone Wolves,” opens with a brief musing on the Fool before turning to a hunting scene, with Fitz guiding the wolf cub in a failed attempt to take a white rabbit in the snow. After, Fitz guides the cub to an abandoned shack that mice have taken over, purposing to leave him there. He attempts to do so, forcefully and with regret against which he tries to steel himself.
Lost among his thoughts, Fitz is attacked by Forged Ones who purpose to eat him. He fights them, faring poorly until the wolf cub arrives and turns matters. When Fitz wakes from his exertions, the wolf cub reveals his name, Nighteyes, and their bond reasserts itself with greater intensity.
After, Fitz returns to Buckkeep and reports to Verity, whom he finds Skilling with greater intensity than is to his good. Verity, with some apology, directs Fitz to resume exterminating the arriving Forged Ones. The two also confer about Kettricken, and Verity notes the consuming passion for the Skill. Verity also asks about Fitz’s injuries before bidding him be careful. They eat together, and Fitz considers what is likely to come. They also confer about the Fool and the dearth of Skilled people who should be present but are not. Verity assigns Fitz a mapping task and bids him report early the next morning.
As I read the chapter again, I found myself annoyed by the continued treatment of Kettricken as a childish figure who has to be given tasks to distract her. The fight against the Forged Ones she led, among many others, should have served to Verity as an indication that she is a woman of her own volition and no mean leader, not some idle arm-ornament. And while some allowance might be made to Verity for the thought-disrupting effects of any addiction–and the Skill is repeatedly asserted to be addictive–it still rankles that he looks on the leader his wife is as in need of distraction.
Fitz, too, ought to know better. Indeed, in the chapter, he notes knowing Kettricken better than her husband does. Too, he has demonstrated in the text that he has no small degree of political acumen; his specific suggestion speaks to that acumen, in fact, as well as serving as a bit of revenge for wrongs done him in the previous novel. And while it may be the case that the power difference between him and Verity accounts for some of his behavior, Fitz has proven willing to talk back to power before; he seems to have forgotten things he has already learned, no less so than Verity. It’s something that vexes me as I read again, though I will concede it may be me reading with more affect than I ought to once again.