A chapter titled “Icefyre” follows, opening with an in-milieu translation of an Out Island story before turning to Fitz continuing to suffer the aftereffects of his unexpected dosing with elfbark. When he finally comes to, he finds Web attending him. The older man quietly notes that he has sussed out Fitz’s loss of access to the Skill, and the two converse, Web making clear his distaste for the use of such drugs as elfbark.
Their conversation continues, Web enjoying having the chance to speak with Fitz regarding his magics and the community of which he can be part because of them, until they are distracted by a strange swelling within the Wit. At Fitz’s question, Web begins to offer instruction in uses of the Wit other than those Fitz had instinctively known, giving Fitz some practice as they arrive in the company of the others in Dutiful’s party.
They arrive with them to find an argument in progress regarding Icefyre and how to approach the task of his destruction. Information about the dragon is offered, and aspersion heaped upon Dutiful and upon the Narwhal Clan that has caused his challenge to be in place. The Witted members of Dutiful’s party confirm that Icefyre is present and lives, thought they do not understand how it can be so, and Dutiful himself asks Narcheska to release him from the promise made rashly. She does not, and more argument about the manner of taking Icefyre proceeds, leaving Fitz to consider many unfortunate possibilities and the likely need of his clandestine skills. Meanwhile, the Witted coterie finds the place in the ice where the dragon is most likely to be, and a plan to dig to him is begun.
The present chapter is just shy of halfway through the novel. It is clear that a turning point in the narrative has been reached, both in terms of the physical object of the book (I am reading a print copy) and of the sense of story; the present chapter reads as a sort of narrative pause. Matters will soon accelerate–and I look forward to being swept along by the novel once again!