The next chapter, “Laurel,” begins with a musing on the stone with which the Elderlings built before turning to Fitz waking in the bed in Chade’s hidden chambers, still fully clothed. He assesses his situation as Chade arrives, noting a coming breakfast with Lord Golden and a coming expedition to Galeton. The two exchange information, Fitz reporting his Skill-sharing and Chade noting the lack of romantic entanglements for Prince Dutiful. Chade also notes that matters are being prepared for Hap to have a chance to succeed.
Fitz begins to attend to his errands in his guise as Badgerlock, including making arrangements for Hap. Despite worries, he notes being eager to get underway, and he is comforted by a brief touch of the Wit from the approaching Nighteyes. He reports being called to an errand before the wolf breaks contact, and when he returns to Buckkeep proper, he is bidden report to Lord Golden at once. There, he is informed that the Queen has bidden her Huntswoman, Laurel, join the pair, and they pack to depart.
Laurel meets Golden and Badgerlock as they make to depart, and they go out together, exchanging backgrounds as they do. After they are clear of Buckkeep Town, Golden urges haste, and the horses all leap into gallops, Badgerlock’s fractious mount outstripping the other two as they proceed.
The musing early in the chapter on the tensions between love and duty as they applied to Fitz in his youth, and how Chade and Kettricken have steered Dutiful away from encountering such entanglements, resonates strangely with me as I read the chapter once again. I’m fortunate enough not to have experienced such a thing; my loyalties are neatly ordered and not in conflict, and I met my wife when we were both in graduate school–neither of us were children at that point. But I cannot help but feel for the as-yet unmet Prince Dutiful, bearing an emblematic name as is so often the case among the Six Duchies nobility and royalty, and one that constrains him mightily despite his youth–no less than his position as the sole heir to an uncertain throne must.