The following chapter, “Verity’s Dragon,” opens with a note about the mistakes made in Tradeford’s dealings with the Red-Ship Raiders. It moves thence to Verity kissing Kettricken goodbye, making ready to enter his dragon along with Kettle. There is a final conference about what is to follow; Verity will return Kettricken to Buckkeep, Starling accompanying her, while Fitz and Nighteyes remain apart. Fitz knows he cannot risk returning to Buck, having already been executed once. The Fool obstinately determines to remain with Fitz, as well, though Fitz is suspicious of the Fool’s reasons.
Farewells made, Verity and Kettle enter the dragon. The dragon wakes, rises, and takes Kettricken and Starling on its back before speeding off to Buck. Fitz watches them go, then misses the Fool, who has gone to Girl-on-a-Dragon. The Fool realizes the impossibility of waking that unfinished statue and agrees to help Fitz pack for a return to Jhaampe. Fitz makes to retrieve pack animals, only to be informed by Nighteyes that they are under attack.
Burl assails the Fool, and Nighteyes assails Burl in turn. Spilling the blood and calling through the Wit awaken Girl-on-a-Dragon at last, carrying the Fool away as Burl dies. And Will attacks Fitz, in turn, Regal guiding him and summoning the strength of additional coteries of Skill-users to help press the attack on Fitz in anticipation of carving his own dragons to become the savior of the Six Duchies and the conqueror of the Mountain Kingdom–and other lands yet. More soldiers join the fracas, and Girl-on-a-Dragon returns to assail Regal’s forces.
Will flees, and Fitz and Nighteyes take the opportunity provided by the dragon’s return to stake out a likely avenue of further flight. Their stakeout is rewarded; they intercept but do not stop Will as he makes to flee through a Skill-pillar, and they are dragged along with him. Melee resumes, and Fitz and Nighteyes hold their own admirably, but they soon reach their limits.
Again, though, blood and the work of the Wit awaken one of the carved dragons, which acts towards Fitz and Nighteyes as a hunter in the same group. Fitz and Nighteyes realize the trigger for the dragons’ awakening, and they rush to rouse the other dragons, marshaling them to their aid and Verity’s. They send the Fool, still astride Girl-on-a-Dragon, to lead the others to Verity and remain behind where the dragons had been.
The end of the book is fast approaching at this point, and it makes sense that matters would seem to rush towards completion therefore. Fitz does seem to do better in the fight than would be expected, especially given the injuries described and the tendency earlier in the novel to have him suffer from his wounds. Adrenaline and the strange workings of multiple magics may be accepted as explanations, however; dragons awakening and consuming life more directly than as food has to have some other effects that might well not be noticed in the moment and ill-remembered afterwards.
And I had something I was going to write, but it escapes me at the moment…