Kvothe wakes up after fourteen hours of post-magic sleep in the bandit’s camp, where his fellow warriors stashed him over night.
Hespe had taken an arrow in the leg when the sentry had surprised them. Dedan had a deep gash along one of his shoulders, which was fairly lucky, considering he’d rushed the sentry bare-handed.
I’m sure none of them will worry about these injuries getting infected in the middle of a forest, as always. It’s like people in these books have antiseptic blood.
One of the sentries escaped the destruction of the camp but none of them feel like chasing him down, and more worryingly the seemingly-invincible bandit leader is nowhere to be found. They assume that he was crushed to death by a piece of the oak tree when the lightning hit it but they don’t actually see his body (spoiler: he’s totally still alive)
We finally get some sort of explanation for how the hell Kvothe was able to do that lightning thing.
The lightning? Well, the lightning is difficult to explain. A storm overhead. A galvanic binding with two similar arrows
But there was only one arrow.
An attempt to ground the tree more strongly than any lightning rod
That doesn’t make sense in either the scientific or sympathetic definition of the word “ground”. Nothing we’ve seen before explains how Kvothe was able to do this.
Honestly, I don’t know if I can take credit for the lightning striking when and where it did
No, fuck you. You don’t get to pull magical powers out of your ass and then try to hand wave it away with ambiguity.
This marks a subtle but important shift in the texture of the story. Before Kvothe had mundane actions elevated to the realm of legend by credulous idiots who jump to make up stories for no apparent reason. Now, he really is doing impressive, seemingly impossible feats. The stories that spread about this are likely going to be no more impressive than Kvothe’s actual actions, except that the exact identity of the mysterious power at work will likely get changed to demons or something.
The tensions of the group lessen considerably now that the job is finished, except that Marten is understandably not eager to spend much time around Kvothe after seeing him stab the shit out of the bandits with magic.
Predictably, when they get around to moving the huge branch that crushed the leader’s tent they find no sign of him (because he’s a Chandrian).
Marten, however, grew distinctly uneasy when we didn’t find his body. He murmured something about demons and refused to go near the wreckage. I thought he was being a superstitious fool
Kvothe, you saw him pull an arrow out of his leg and you have personal, airtight proof that demons, or something very like them, actually exist. Now isn’t the time to be skeptical.
There was also a heavy hardwood box slightly smaller than a loaf of bread. Alveron’s family crest was enameled on the cover, and it was locked tight.
Alveron is the Mayor, by the way. I’m guessing this is one of the tax collection boxes that the bandits had been robbing. In hindsight, putting your seal on the box containing all of your taxes might not be the smartest move. Like I’m guessing governments don’t transport sums of physical currency in bags with SWEET GOVERNMENT CASH-MONEY stamped on them.
Actually this raises a good point, why isn’t the Mayor guarding these transports better? Money tends to justify the most elaborate security measures you can buy, second only to nuclear launch codes. I remember when the euro came in the trucks transporting it to the bank in my town- at the time pretty much a small village- were escorted by actual soldiers armed to the teeth with assault rifles and body armour, and this is for a country where not even organized crime groups tended to have a lot of guns (sadly not true any more). If you absolutely have to move your tax money through the remote bandit murder-forest, maybe invest in professional armed guards and not feckless mercenaries.
In a scene that does finally actually come across as genuinely playing with genre conventions Kvothe jokingly hits the top of the box while reciting magic words from a story about Taborlin, causing the lid to fly open. What actually happened is that Hespe and Marten’s previous lock-picking attempts had loosened it already. See this is the sort of thing that could genuinely lead to Kvothe getting a mythical reputation, but only around people not versed in magic, as fellow wizard school students would know opening boxes with Harry Potter-esque magic words isn’t possible.
The box contains a map of the surrounding forest and piles of cash worth about 500 silver talents. Kvothe and the others quickly work out how much they’re going to yoink before giving the rest back to the Mayor.
“I was hired to find a group of bandits, not destroy a minor military encampment.” I held up my royal. “This is our bonus for services beyond the call of duty.”
I actually don’t have a problem with since I’d have totally done the same given all the bullshit they went through to take out the bandits. Kvothe explains that he also decided on this to lessen the possibility of someone stealing the box on the way back.
Second, I could use the money. Both the royal I had tucked openly into my pocket, and the other three I’d palmed when handing out coins to the others. As I said, Alveron would never know the difference, and four royals would cover a full term’s tuition at the University.
If Kvothe starts angsting about money in the third book after this I’m going to punch Rothfuss into the sun.
Kvothe takes one of the bandit’s swords and after revealing to Tempi that he has no idea how to use it (something Tempi finds hard to believe), he asks Tempi to teach him. Tempi seems very conflicted about this for some reason and asks Kvothe to teach him how to lute in exchange.
Over Rock and Root
The map they found indicates that they’re closer to town than they thought so they decide to cut through the dense forest rather than follow the road, as apparently none of them have seen The Blair Witch Project.
During the first night Tempi begins to truly instruct Kvothe in the ways of the KETAN, the Adem’s martial art kata-thing.
Unfortunately their route through the forest takes them straight through swamp-land, prompting them to question the wisdom of traipsing through the woods instead of following the road. They emerge at night, tired and wet, and Dedan and Hespe acknowledge that they want to bone each other or something, I guess.
As we were finishing up, we heard the faint sound of singing upstream
I wonder what this could be? Something stupid, perhaps?
It was Felurian.
Welp, here we go.
For a while now I’ve been implying something incredibly fucking stupid was going to happen later on in the book. This is it. We have reached the edge of the screaming abyss. Walk with me, loyal readers, I can’t handle the fail on my own! IT’S JUST TOO GOD DAMN STUPID
So Felurian is a hawt naked woman sitting on a rock by a pond in the moonlight. The scene where our heroes try to track down the source of her song is actually pretty eerie and other-worldy, but unfortunately the mood is ruined when we then have to hear her twee little song again:
di mari felanua kreata tu ciar
tu alaran di.
loesi an delian tu nia vor ruhlan Felurian thae.
I can’t help but read that in a sort of traditional country-music sing songy voice that really takes all of the atmosphere out of it.
Instead of immediately turning and running in the opposite direction Kvothe takes a completely idiotic notion to go have a chat with Felurian, because “there was magic here, real magic. What’s more, it was a magic of singing”. Even Tempi seems to realize that he should stay away from Felurian but Kvothe steps blithely into the clearing after promising to meet them at the inn in three days. At least leave the money box behind so they can give it to the Mayor and get paid, asshole.
Felurian sprints off in a teasing “come and catch me” way so Kvothe gives chase. Apparently she doesn’t actually “ensnare” men so much as hope they’ll be horned up enough to follow her to their deaths. Even in our own non-magical world if I was in the woods at night and a mysterious naked woman started trying to get me to follow her I would probably assume something strange was going on and decline the offer.
Eventually Kvothe catches her and they start having hot sweaty fairy sex. This is described with a lot of vague euphemisms about sudden thunder and the thrumming of drums, which I guess is a relief since we won’t have to get any descriptions of Kvothe’s turgid wizard-penis.
And everything stops. All of me arches. I am taut as a lute string. Trembling. Aching. I am tuned too tight, and I am breaking….
Will our hero survive his deadly fairy-boning session? You’ll have to find out next time because I’m too tired to face the rest of this bullshit right now.