The next chapter, “Skilling,” opens with a rumination by Chade about the dichotomy between the Forged Ones and the Skilled. It moves to Fitz and Burrich forcing their way into Shrewd’s chambers, where Kettricken and the Fool attend the elderly king. The Fool tries to dissuade them, unsuccessfully; Shrewd rouses himself and bids Fitz make himself available to Skill through to reach Verity.
In the event, Fitz uses Shrewd to Skill, rather than the intended other way around, and they reach Verity briefly before Shrewd falters and Regal interrupts them. The Fool manages to calm matters, and Burrich manages to extricate Fitz from the room before Regal can vent his anger upon him. And after, Burrich chides Fitz for his austerity and self-destructive tendencies–and notes that Regal is soon to be named King-in-Waiting. He also reports that Molly has visited, and that he has relayed Fitz’s words.
After Burrich leaves, Fitz thinks to call on Molly. He is dissuaded after Nighteyes makes him aware that Will is trailing him; Fitz returns to his rooms, from whence Chade summons him. Chade rebukes Fitz’s rashness of the evening. He also intimates that his regular hiding place may be compromised and reiterates to Fitz that Regal must think himself secure. Fitz makes to engage in the formal mourning expected of him after the (false) report of Verity’s death.
The following days are troublesome for Fitz, full of tumult with Regal’s impending elevation. The Skilled ones with whom Fitz had trained and who came to hate him hound him. Patience and Lacey find themselves largely despoiled, as well, and confused that Shrewd has not stopped the egress of goods and supplies. They also let slip that Kettricken took a fall; Fitz speeds off to tend to her, but is assured by her ladies that there has not been a miscarriage. Fitz follows up and finds the trap that had been set for Kettricken, a greased step.
The Fool meets Fitz there, having been beaten again. He reports on Regal’s most recent machinations with Shrewd. He also implores to be taken with Shrewd if and when the king is spirited away.
A lot seems to be happening in the chapter–fittingly enough, since it is near the end of the novel, and things have to be wrapped up for the novel to stand alone. It might be argued, of course, that as a member of a series, Royal Assassin need not be a complete narrative in itself; it emerges from and feeds into other works, so not all of its narrative threads need be tied off. And even were it a stand-alone project, it need not tie off every loose end; leaving some things unresolved helps to create the “inner consistency of reality” about which Tolkien writes, the correspondence to the observed world of the reader–and we never know the whole of another’s story.
Even so, for a given work to be satisfying, it does have to offer some closure. The present chapter points toward that closure, certainly, and ominously. For cause, as will soon become clear.