The next chapter, “Heart of a Wolf,” begins with an in-milieu discussion of the Old Blood from Badgerlock’s “Old Blood Tales” before moving on to Fitz relating waking the next morning, taking in what seems to him a more vivid world. He regards himself, realizing he has been disguising himself from the world, and he and Nighteyes decide to discuss more of their past travels and experiences with the Fool. The wolf runs off, and Fitz returns to his cottage, its chores, and breakfast with the Fool.
Fitz and the Fool confer about the former’s arrival at the cottage and the nearby ruined town of Forge. Talk turns to the work of Queen Kettricken to secure peace with the Outislands who had raided and ravaged the Six Duchies years before via a marriage of her son, Prince Dutiful, to a narcheska–“A sort of princess,” as the Fool relates, or “At the very least, a daughter of some powerful noble”–from that region. As they go on, Fitz feels pain from Nighteyes and rushes off to aid him, the Fool following. Fitz finds the wolf choking on fish and frees the obstruction, only to feel pain emerging in the wolf’s body from another source. Failing to reach the wolf with the Wit, he Skills into him, becoming suddenly and strangely aware of the wolf and compelling the old animal’s body to work. The wolf protests, and Fitz has trouble returning to his body again, struggling to do so and eventually succeeding with some help from the Fool. The experience upsets all three, and it takes some time for them all to begin recovering from the inadvertent hurts inflicted upon one another. Raggedly, slowly, they three return to Fitz’s cabin.
The present chapter raises an important point regarding consent for medical attention–even lifesaving medical attention. Both Fitz and the Fool plunge recklessly into another to save their life; Fitz delves into Nighteyes, and the Fool into Fitz. Both who receive the treatment resent it, even as they recognize it saved them to receive it. The Fool claims a higher purpose, needing Fitz to effect positive change in the world; Fitz is, frankly, selfish, although a kind of selfish that evokes some sympathy. After all, even a beloved pet commands no small devotion, and Nighteyes is more than a pet to Fitz; the two are more a hybrid being than two separate entities, and it makes sense for people to try to save parts of themselves as well as those whom they love. Even so, the acts do deprive those who receive them of some of their agency, making for some complicated ethical implications and calling for some deeper thinking. As good reading should.