A chapter titled “Treasons and Traitors” follows, opening with a note regarding the children of Shrewd and Desire. It moves to follow Fitz’s continued plotting to spirit Shrewd and Kettricken from Buckkeep; he confers with Burrich, not entirely comfortably. He moves then to confer with Nighteyes; man and wolf both chide him for thanking them for what they perceive as their duty.
Fitz moves next to Kettricken, and, after she manages to achieve privacy for them, he relays what he can of what she is to do. After, he finds himself wandering in thought, and he arrives in Verity’s chambers. Reminiscing about the man, he inadvertently makes Skill contact with him, and they confer through that medium until Verity grows aware of an interloper and breaks off the connection. Fitz soon confronts said interloper, Justin, who is joined by Serene; they depart, and Fitz continues his errands.
Fitz is distracted from them by a summons from Duke Brawndy of Bearns. Answering it, he finds himself the focus of something of a plot. Brawndy, speaking for his counterparts in Shoaks and Rippon Duchies, purposes to put Fitz forward as a regent for the child Kettricken bears. Fitz steps slightly aside from that purpose, and Branwdy offers him his fealty. He also asks Fitz to accept Celerity’s betrothal, and Fitz nearly accepts, but demurs in favor of resolving the present conflict first.
Later, Chade presses Fitz for information about the plot, clearly in high dudgeon. He reminds his protege of their rightful place and backs away from earlier concerns about Regal’s kingship, then sets aside that line of conversation in favor of returning to their plot to spirit Shrewd and Kettricken away. It is an unhappy conversation, one without much hope.
The name of Shrewd’s second wife, Queen Desire, is not newly announced in the chapter, but as I reread it this time, I was struck by the comment being offered by way of her name. I’ve noted (here, here, here, and here), as have others, that the Six Duchies tends towards emblematic names, particularly among its royal and noble houses. Given that, Desire reads as being something of an allegory of her name, the more so with the reminder at the head of the chapter that she was routinely intoxicated, and not always on alcohol, and in conjunction with the earlier notes of Desire’s…amorousness (here, for example). She is clearly given to indulging her name, and was presumably able to instill her name in others–such as Shrewd. Given how matters fall out from that relationship–it seems not to have been happy, and the fruit of it, Regal, is hardly the most pleasant of fellows–it is possible to read into the Six Duchies’ monarchy the comment that succumbing to desire or putting the enactment of desire above other concerns is the unmaking of the shrewd, as well as much else.
It is a lesson many could still stand to learn.