The next chapter, “Conspiracies,” opens with a series of what read as folk sayings before moving into plans to present Kettricken as having had a miscarriage in the hope of creating a sufficient distraction to allow Chade to have a private audience with Shrewd. Kettricken but begrudgingly goes along with the plan, finding the situation distasteful.
After tumult from Kettricken summons Regal away, Fitz presents a fatal distraction to the guard left on Shrewd’s door, allowing Chade time to meet with his king. Fitz then goes about the castle, looking as nonchalant as he can manage, and taking in the gossip. It indicates to him that Chade has been at work around Buckkeep. And he encounters Molly as he goes about; she rebukes him and declares her intent to go elsewhere to protect someone she loves more than him.
After being staggered by Molly’s break with him, Fitz calls on Burrich; the Fool is with him. They confer about events, and Burrich and the Fool offer their sympathies for Fitz’s broken heart. They all incur rebuke from Lacey, who arrives to have them help dispose of the signs of the feigned miscarriage and to note to Fitz that there are axemen trying to break down Shrewd’s door. The Fool is scandalized, but Fitz allays his concerns.
The group of conspirators disperses, and Fitz calls on Nighteyes. They spend a bit of time together, happily. After, Fitz returns to Buckkeep, taking in more gossip before returning to his rooms and finding Serene waiting for him. A tense exchange follows, after which, Fitz is summoned to Kettricken. They two have an oblique conversation about next steps to take–which Fitz carries to Chade when he reports to his summons, in turn. They purpose to move swiftly to evacuate Chade and Kettricken from Buckkeep, and Chade begins to exhibit a strange merriment at plotting how he will enact the escape.
The rush towards the end of the novel continues in the present chapter, as might be expected, and it is coupled with in-milieu urgency by the need of the various characters to effect their plans before Regal can take certain people–Shrewd and Kettricken, particularly–more fully into his power, both through not having other oversight and through assuming more formal, titular authority.
As I think on it now, though, I have to wonder why those involved–notably Chade and Fitz–do not take more overt action against Regal. They obviously fear Regal is acting against Shrewd–Fitz far more so than Chade, admittedly, but even Chade is acting as if Regal is a threat. They know Regal is a traitor to his father. Why neither of them takes steps to eliminate the problem he presents is not clear; Fitz might, admittedly, be restrained by obedience to Chade and a promise effectively extorted from him by Shrewd, though those justifications scan weakly. Chade, however, is not in such a position; his reluctance to act seems strange in context, now. And things will grow yet more odd…