The following chapter, “Verity’s Bargain,” begins in a note regarding the inland Duchies’ experience of the Red-Ship raids before moving into the party facing an end to their efforts and lives. Fitz contemplates their mortality before dozing off.
He is wakened by Verity looming over him. Fitz accompanies his king to confer about possible next steps, and Fitz volunteers to give himself over utterly in exchange for a final vision of Molly. Verity reluctantly agrees, and Fitz sees Molly tend to Burrich before the two confess their acceptance of Fitz’s death and their mutual love. Then Verity takes Fitz.
It is not what Fitz had expected. Rather than pulling his life from him to put it into the dragon, Verity exchanges bodies with Fitz, who hobbles around in the older man’s form. Nighteyes inquires after the event, and the Fool greets him, taking a bit to recognize him. Once again, the Fool is drawn towards the statue of a girl on a dragon, on which he has been working as Verity and Kettle have on their dragon. Fitz gives some of his pain and memory to the same, earning successive remarks and rebuke from the Fool, Nighteyes, and Kettle. The last quickly recognizes what Fitz has done for Verity and commends him for it.
After, Verity returns to Fitz, and the two consider each other before Verity puts them back in their right bodies. They confer, Verity noting that Kettricken will bear his heir and the Farseer line be preserved. He moves off to consider what he has been able to recall, while Fitz makes to wash. In the wake of it, Starling approaches him. She reiterates her offer from before, and, after some hesitation, he accepts it.
In the wake of their intimacy, Nighteyes reminds Starling of the Wit-bond as they make to return to the group to quicken Verity’s dragon.
It is clear that the book is hastening towards its end and the trilogy’s in the present chapter. Similarly clear is the setup for a sequel series; engendering an heir, particularly through magical means, portends more to come. And the narrative function is far from opaque, as well; the chapter reads like a pause before a headlong rush into other action, not setup for Freytag’s climax–that is long past, both in the book and in the trilogy–but rather a juxtaposition of contemplation and gentler humanity with much less pleasant, much less human and humane things to come.
Because there are, after all, still foes on approach, as well as a greater threat that is treated in the Asimov-invoking chapters’ openings and that still needs to be addressed. The Raiders are yet raiding, and stopping them was the whole point of Verity’s expedition and the sacrifice he is making…