The next chapter, “Ice,” opens with a letter from the Old Blood to Kettricken. It moves then to initial efforts to tunnel to Icefyre, the manner of which is described in some detail. Fitz works throughout the day, and in the evening, Chade and Dutiful confer with him about Thick’s seeming distraction by the dragon and Fitz’s own continued absence in the Skill. The Prince and his advisor purpose to reach out to Nettle via the Skill, and their talk turns to the Hetgurd representatives before ranging to the Fool, and Fitz finds himself pulled between the Fool and his old mentor until Dutiful expressly charges him to follow his conscience in the matter.
The three continue to converse, Dutiful noting Elliania’s reluctance to keep him on the appointed task. They try to puzzle out the source for the command and the compulsion, and Fitz is dismissed, his lack of Skill making him no help to what must come next. After some brief survey, he calls upon the Fool, hearing the latter’s tale of arriving at Aslevjal–including a trip through Skill-pillars and aloft astride Girl-on-a-Dragon once again. Fitz drifts off amid the tale and wakes to find himself at peace with the sleeping Fool.
The present chapter makes reference to Fitz’s investiture of Girl-on-a-Dragon with a number of his own more painful memories, an excision of pain from himself. It is an adolescent fantasy, of course, to be able to simply pull out of one’s own mind memories of trauma and torment; they inhere in the mind and body far too deeply to be so treated, unless by some strange magic to which the readers have access only through the reading. And it is one I find I still indulge; there’s enough in my past that I’d forget if I could, certainly, but I cannot do so. (Admittedly, most of it consists of reminders of my own poor judgment. It’s part of why I don’t do a lot; I’m worried about screwing up once again.) But I am obliged to wonder what I have forgotten and what I have lost because I have forgotten what I have–and I have no Fool to my Fitz, though I would not be happy to put myself into his position, certainly.
Affective as my reading is and tends to be, I know better than to think that I would do well in such situations as the books I read depict. Years of sedentary study and of trying to live the life to which they tend do not prepare a body well for adventure, after all…
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