The next chapter, “Charms,” begins with an in-milieu commentary about Kettricken’s tenure as Queen of the Six Duchies. It pivots to Fitz returning to his assigned quarters, assessing them and weighing options. He frets over Hap and Nighteyes and rehearses some of what Chade told him and showed him of the remaining available Skill scrolls before waxing eloquent about once-Skillmaster Galen‘s deficiencies. His thoughts turn to the problem of Prince Dutiful, and he reaches out to Nighteyes through the Wit. Reassured by the psychic contact, he falls asleep at last.
Fitz wakes the next morning to the aspersive words of the Fool as Lord Golden; the pretense drops swiftly as the Fool reminds Fitz of the roles they must play together in the present circumstances. Fitz has some pangs at his preparation for the role of Tom Badgerlock, servingman, and he goes about expected tasks. Once again, he finds himself nostalgic and marking differences between the Buckkeep of his youth and that of his present–though he notes some things remain in place. He happens to see the Queen and marvels at her until he is rebuked by a passing petty noble, and he forces himself into his role despite his anger. That anger inspires him to make some adjustments to the basic role he plays for the Fool-as-Lord-Golden; the adjustments are approved, the two converse, and Golden sends Badgerlock out on some morning errands.
When Badgerlock goes about the errands, Fitz muses on his relative invisibility as a servingman. He also takes in as much gossip and information as he can while he is fitted for new clothes and seeks out a working weapon. He also seeks out Jinna, asking her to relay a message to Hap; she offers instead to host the young man for a time, and Fitz has the strange experience of being Wit-addressed by Jinna’s cat. Jinna also offers Badgerlock some warning about recent animus against Old Blood, noting that his demeanor is not one that normally sets people at ease; she offers him a hedge-magic charm to assist with that, one that works even on her, and they start to act on it when Jinna’s niece, Miskya, arrives. Introductions are made, and Badgerlock returns to Buckkeep proper, seeking the weaponsmaster.
There is much to note about the performance of social roles and concerns of social strata in the present chapter. Fitz lampshades no small amount of it, noting his own contrasting statuses as a servingman presently and formerly as a (bastard) prince of the realm; others, notably Jinna, comment on the lower social status that comes with employment, even if it affords Badgerlock more material wealth than he was able to command in his small, independent holding near Forge. As ever, it is perilous to read with affect, but, as ever, I cannot help but do so, and with my recent relocation and shift in employment, I have had both an elevation and a reduction in social status, even as I am making more money in the classroom than at the treatment facility. The chapter, as well as experience, remind me that social status is a complex, nuanced thing, not the simple system many want to assume it is; it’s a reminder, among many others, that many would do well to take.