The following chapter, “A Dragon’s Will,” starts as a group from the small pirate fleet–Althea, Brashen, Malta, Reyn, Wintrow, Amber, Jek, and Red–readying a landing place and food for Tintaglia. She alights without dignity and takes food with complaint, and she reports the status of her serpents as she comments favorably on Malta and Reyn. The dragon’s imperiousness sits ill with Wintrow, and a tense exchange ensues that Malta manages to defuse.
Back aboard the Motley, further negotiations ensure, spearheaded by Malta; Althea finds herself approving of Malta’s work in that line. As the talks proceed, Althea realizes that the world has shifted, fundamentally, something she discusses briefly with Brashen as the talks conclude and the parties begin to disperse. Jek ships out aboard the Motley, while Amber accompanies Wintrow to the Vivacia, and Brashen and Althea return to the Paragon. After reporting things to the ship, they retire to Brashen’s cabin and make ready for bed; Althea struggles with herself as they compose themselves for the night’s rest.
Etta considers Amber and Wintrow as the two make to confer; her own status is strange to her, and she tries to reconcile herself to it. Meanwhile, Amber apologizes to Wintrow for having failed to find him before, to Wintrow’s confusion. Amber also offers cryptic wisdom. The beginnings of a hailstorm force them below decks, and Wintrow joins Etta.
Althea wakes from a nightmare, having struck Brashen in her somnolent thrashing. He believes they are to part; she disabuses him of the notion, and the two affirm their mutual love. Althea, though, holds something back.
The theme of arrogance, touched upon again in the present chapter, is one that pervades the Liveship Traders series. While there are a great many characters who do well to take pride in themselves and their abilities, no few of them take far more than is due them. It is not only the dragon–though a prideful dragon is a long-standing literary trope, to be certain–but several of the ships’ captains, as well as many of the wealthy and ennobled depicted in the series. Many of them learn humility, to be fair; those who do not seem either to be the dragon or to die. I am sure there’s some lesson to take from it, just as I’m certain that more could (and perhaps should) be done to explicate the theme–but that will be for another piece than this one.