After a missive that remarks on the flood and its effects, “Partners” opens with Sedric coming to his senses in the mouth of the dragon Relpda as she swims upon the swollen, caustic river. The two continue their mental communion, and Sedric begins to despair as he assesses their situation. Sedric prevails upon Relpda to put to shore, albeit with some difficulty on both their parts, and as they struggle to reach land, Relpda presses upon Sedric for more, effectively making him her keeper.
Aboard the Tarman, Leftrin gives orders to secure against the results of the flood and maintain both a vigil and a signal for survivors not yet recovered. Assessing the losses–which appear to include all the keepers and Alise–his thoughts darken, and Carson offers to assist in the search for survivors. Carson heads out to search, and Leftrin and his crew continue their efforts, Leftrin berating himself against the flood and its effects.
Sedric and Relpda continue to struggle together, Sedric realizing that the effort of preserving him is costing the dragon dearly. Sedric shunts aside thoughts of returning to Bingtown and bends his mind to how he might help his benefactor, making some headway to that end despite his overall physical ineptitude. As he does, however, he is surprised to be encountered by Jess. The two assess their improved prospects, and Jess discusses killing Relpda to sell her parts–alongside Sedric. Sedric takes some time to realize the proposal being made to him, and when he does, Sedric considers the offer, moving to pacify Relpda as Jess approaches.
The present chapter certainly makes much of pathos, emphasizing it through the burgeoning connection between Sedric and Relpda. As I reread, I find myself in mind of animals being led off to die, and the thought occurs to me that the present text might well be read as a musing on animalism or sentientism. As with many, many things, however, I am insufficiently versed in either philosophical approach to do more than recognize that they might apply; I must leave to others the work of explicating any such thing.
More and more, such is the case. I am some time away from academe at this point, and it is increasingly clear to me that I should be away from it. Even recognizing as much, however, I am called to continue such projects as this (even if with some pauses and hitches and false starts). I know there are still things for me to say about these works and about works like them, things that I can recognize and point out to others so that they can build upon what I find to learn yet more about the works and about the worlds they depict and in which they exist.
Such action, looking at what people make to better understand the made, the maker, and the world, is a goal of literary study, generally. Even though I no longer participate in that field professionally, I still think it is a worthwhile thing.
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