The subsequent chapter, “Explosions,” begins with a spy’s report to Chade about the Outisland delegation’s return from Buckkeep before turning to Fitz’s sleepless review of information left available by his old mentor. Chade joins him not long after, singed and deafened by the result of one of his experiments gone awry. The two confer haltingly until the late hour compels both to rest.
Fitz resumes his role as Badgerlock and goes about morning chores before resuming Skill instruction for Dutiful and Thick. Before the latter enters, Dutiful spies the figurine the two had retrieved from the beach to which they had escaped from the Piebalds, identifying it as Elliania as she would become. They puzzle over events together before Thick joins them, and instruction begins. As it proceeds, some of Thick’s history emerges; he had been put to work as a cut-purse by his mother and her companions, the latter of whom abandoned Thick after his mother died. That Thick has been unwittingly employed as an informant by Piebalds in Buckkeep Town also emerges, as well as the specific targeting of Badgerlock and Golden.
Thick is dismissed, and Badgerlock and Dutiful confer about what they have learned–which includes the presence of Laudwine in Buckkeep Town. Badgerlock warns Dutiful against going out for the next few days, urging him to use a crass excuse for it: “A headache sounds like a ploy. A boil on your ass doesn’t.” Badgerlock urges Dutiful to aid in acquiring some things Thick had noted wanting, and they part to go about their needed tasks.
For Badgerlock, those tasks involve making a clandestine report to Chade. Along the way, he manages to confirm his suspicion that Rosemary is Chade’s present apprentice, as she seems to have suffered similar injuries to Chade’s own. Soon after, Badgerlock returns to Golden’s chambers with accoutrements for them to eat; Chade greets them there, rebuking them both for their folly in being at odds at the moments and receiving Fitz’s report. Chade notes that direct action is politically untenable, as Kettricken will be meeting with a secretive delegation of the Old Blood soon, and he advises Fitz to monitor things but to not intervene. The Fool offers Chade some assistance with his appearance and, as the meeting breaks up, Fitz muses ruefully on his strained relationships.
I note with some interest Fitz’s refusal to dose himself with elfbark early in the chapter. I’ve noted his addiction repeatedly in the rereading series already, so many times that it boots little to cite examples; I don’t think, however, I’ve noted the interaction of his addictions–to his magic and to more “normal” drugs–although my work in the substance use treatment center showed me that many who experience addiction to one thing also experience it with others. That is, few who have a chemical dependency have it with only one chemical, in my experience. More interesting, though, is that Fitz rejects the chemical not because of its health effects, but because of its interpersonal effects–and that does seem to mirror what I saw from many clients; the degradation of their own bodies did not push them to seek treatment so much as the degradation of their social connections, whether shown by running afoul of legal authorities (law enforcement or family protective services) or by the intervention of their families and friends. Just an observation, really, at this point.