The next chapter, “A Sword and a Summons,” starts with FitzChivalry’s written musings on the myth that spurred Verity to head into the mountains and carve his dragon. It turns thence to gloss over the next days, with Fitz musing on the changes in his outlook and perspective. The Fool continues to carve on the wooden features of Fitz’s cottage, and Nighteyes continues to be largely quiet and still, his age clearer than previously. They continue together for a time, until the Fool declares one evening that he must leave on the morrow. Fitz protests, but the Fool notes the need–and his desire to remain.
At an off-hand comment from Fitz, the Fool is startled and reveals more of his own background and experience–something he does not do often. He notes that another had been thought to be the White Prophet that he knows himself to be, and that that other, the Pale Woman, had been part of the driving impetus behind the Red Ship War.
When, on the next day, the Fool makes to depart, Nighteyes notes that they should accompany him; Fitz demurs in favor of waiting for Hap, although he chafes at it. The Fool leaves in peace and friendship, and Fitz turns reluctantly to the chores of the day. Days pass, and weeks, and Hap returns, having fared poorly in his attempt to earn his own apprentice fee; he frets about prospects as he hears the news Fitz shares of Jinna’s visit and the Fool’s. Fitz offers to borrow the money, which surprises and elates Hap; Nighteyes puts in archly, and Hap notes that the sooner they go to Buckkeep, the better off they’ll be.
Fitz reluctantly agrees and makes preparations for the return to Buckkeep. His clothes are hardly fit, and the same is true of his fighting instincts, but he still possesses both, as well as a sword given him by Verity. He is about to depart for Buckkeep when a messenger arrives, bearing a scroll emblazoned with Fitz’s old emblem. It is a summons from Chade, and Fitz gives directions for a departure in haste rather than the leisurely trip he had planned.
I note with some happiness the commentary at the beginning of the chapter, in which Fitz waxes poetic about cultures having myths of returning heroes from days past. As a scholar of Arthurian literature, still, and of Malory, still, I am attuned to such references, as I’ve demonstrated. I note, though, on this rereading that Fitz himself seems to fit the criteria, if only as loosely as he fits being a hero. Coming out of a quiet, clandestine retirement after years away may not be a return from Avalon, but it is a figure from a generation ago returning to activity–and quite a bit of it, as will become clear.