The following chapter, “Negotiations,” begins with Torg taunting Wintrow with the Vivacia‘s itinerary. Wintrow considers his current situation as he works on the task assigned him. After Torg stalks off, Wintrow and a young crewman, Mild, talk, with Wintrow soon offending the other through his priestly approach; Mild upbraids him for acting like the deck is a monastery, like his sailor’s self is a monk yet. And the ship speaks to him as he considers matters further, relaying the crew’s discontent and an anecdote about a departed crewman.
That night, Althea calls upon the ship again and speaks to Wintrow. They agree to hold Kyle to his promise about the Vivacia, though Wintrow voices his doubts that Kyle will follow through on his promise. She bids him trust the ship, though the ship’s treatment of Torg gives her some doubt.
At the Vestrit home, Ronica awaits a visitor, musing on Rache until the visitor arrives. Said visitor is a Rain Wild Trader, whom Ronica welcomes with an old ritual. They confer together for a time, the relationships between the two groups of Traders receiving some explication. Then they come to business, the expected payment on the Vivacia; the Vestrits are short, and Ronica offers a compromise. The Rain Wild Trader, a Festrew, invokes the familial form of the debt, which Ronica side-steps based on the family’s current situation. They dicker for a bit, and they strike a deal, though the looming specter of a marriage up the Rain Wild River remains present between them.
Meanwhile, Keffria and Kyle lay together. They confer about Malta again, and about Wintrow, and Kyle insults her. He manages, somehow, to convince her to allow herself to be assuaged, and they return to sleep.
Ronica, however, remains awake, and Althea calls upon her in the night. She asks only if Ronica remembers Kyle’s oath; Ronica avers that she does, and Althea vanishes into the night. And all the while, the serpents following Maulkin press on to an unclear goal.
Leaving aside the hazing Wintrow undergoes and what is either his failure to understand his current situation or his laudable assertion of his own identity, the chapter’s focus on the entanglement of family and finance for the Vestrits is an interesting point. There is a certain delicious irony in Althea appearing to Ronica after the matter of the Rain Wild Traders is concluded, and Althea’s myopia in pursuing her own goals for the Vivacia even as the ship’s cost is not yet met stands out. What comes across, both from Althea and from Keffria not meeting the Festrews, is that Ronica has not trusted her daughters, not really, with much of what they need to know to run the family business as one. Some small part of Kyle’s complaint is justified; he has not been told things that he probably should know. (That does not mean he would handle the knowledge well, however.) But whether that is for the best…and it certainly does not justify his actions.