A chapter titled “Pink Sugar Cake” follows, beginning with part of an in-milieu treatise on teaching the Skill. It turns to Fitz, as Badgerlock, repairing to Verity’s tower, where Dutiful awaits him with the materials requested for Thick–and more, besides. Badgerlock commends the Prince’s generosity but notes some problems with the specifics, with which the Prince does not argue. They confer about the Piebald situation before parting, Badgerlock leaving an admonishment for Dutiful to go about his business as best he can before he himself takes the goods to Chade’s hidden chamber to await Thick.
Thick is waiting for him in the room and is surprised that Badgerlock has provided what was promised, if with noted help from Dutiful. Badgerlock gently plies Thick for more information, taking the opportunity provided by a bath and rough tailoring to do so. He finds himself on the receiving end of Thick’s Skill along the way, unintentionally but not the less powerfully, but he learns much as he tends to his student.
At length, Thick resolves to depart, and Fitz forebears to press further for fear of overplaying his hand. After Thick leaves, Fitz ruminates on what he has learned from him and considers what his course of action will be. His need to think becomes restlessness, and he finds his way to sword practice. In practice, his returned skill in a fight is noted, and determines to go into Buckkeep Town to see Hap, to buy more goods for Thick, and perhaps to scout around a bit.
As I reread the chapter, and as I sat down to write this part of my rereading noted, something happened to me again that used to happen quite often when I was writing more formal papers on Hobb’s novels but that has not happened in a while. I started reading, not plumbing the text for details to fuel insights, but reading for the joy of it. And I looked up to find that nearly an hour had passed, and I was several chapters ahead of where I thought I would be, refreshed despite the hour.
It’s the kind of thing that determined what my plan B would be when I fell back into it, the kind of thing that prompted me to pursue a career engaged with the written word. And it’s the kind of thing it’s good to be reminded of, from time to time.