Fool's Assassin / Page 59

Page 59


In considering the magnitude of the suffering that was created, we can only find fault with ourselves that the Master level of Skill-users remained ignorant of what Skillmaster Clarity was doing until the damage had been done. In order to avoid such a disastrous misuse of the Skill in the future, the following actions have been taken.

Skillmaster Clarity is to be sealed from use of the Skill in any form henceforth. The selection of a new Skillmaster will be made by a process in which the Queen or King suggests three candidates from among the Masters and a vote of the Masters chooses the new Skillmaster. The vote will be done in secrecy, the ballots counted publicly, and the results announced by three randomly chosen minstrels dedicated to the truth.

This gathering of the Masters concludes that no Solo must ever hold the rank of Skillmaster again. If Clarity had had a coterie of his own, he would have been unable to conceal his actions.

Henceforth, the Skillmaster shall submit himself to a review of all the Masters at least once a year. If he is found incompetent by a vote of the Masters, he will be replaced. In extreme cases of abuse or poor judgment, he will be sealed.

Compensation and care will be provided to the survivors of the Cowshell Village Tragedy. While it cannot be revealed to any of them that the Skill was the source of the madness that overtook their village that night, all amends that can be made to them must be made, with openhanded generosity and no cessation of such reparation until their natural deaths.

Resolution of the Masters following the Cowshell Village Tragedy

That first evening that the baby existed outside of Molly’s body, I was dazed by her. Long after Molly fell asleep with the baby cradled against her, I sat by the fire and watched them both. I invented a hundred futures for her, all of them bright with promise. Molly had told me she was small; I dismissed that concern. All babies were small! She would be fine, and more than fine. She would be clever, this little girl of mine, and lovely. She would dance like thistledown on the wind, and ride as if she were part of her mount. Molly would teach her of bees and to know the names and properties of every herb in the garden; I would teach her to read and to figure. She would be a prodigy. I imagined her little hands stained with ink as she helped with a transcription, or copied over the illustrations that would never go right for me. I imagined her on the floor of the ballroom of Buckkeep Castle, twirling in a scarlet gown. My heart was full of her and I wanted the world to celebrate with me.

I laughed aloud, ruefully, at how astounded everyone would be to hear of her. Nettle and I had not noised about Molly’s claim to be pregnant. We had thought it a sorrow we should keep to ourselves. And now, how foolish we would both look when the word went out that I had a child, a little daughter, fair as a daisy. I imagined a gathering to welcome her to the world. Her brothers would come, with their families, and Hap. Oh, that I could somehow send word to the Fool of the joy that had come into my life! I smiled to think of it and longed that it could be so. There would be music and feasting on her naming day. Kettricken, and Dutiful and his Queen, and the Princes, even Chade would make the journey to Withywoods.

And with that thought, my elation began to unravel. A child imagined is not the same as a child sleeping in her mother’s arms. What would Kettricken and Chade see when they looked at her? I could imagine Chade’s skepticism that such a fair-haired child could be of Farseer lineage. And Kettricken? If she recognized that my own Mountain mother had likely been fair and acknowledged the babe as the daughter of FitzChivalry Farseer, what then? What would she think she had the right to ask of my daughter? Would this infant, like Nettle, be seen as a secret reserve of Farseer blood, an heir that could be produced if the recognized line should somehow fail?

Trepidation rose in me, a cold tide that drowned my heart in fear. How could I have longed for this child and never considered the dangers that would surround her, simply by virtue of her being my daughter? Chade would want to test her for the Skill. Kettricken would believe that the Farseer throne had the right to select a husband for her.

I rose and soundlessly paced the room, a wolf guarding his den. Molly slept on, the sleep of exhaustion. The swaddled babe next to her stirred softly and then subsided. I had to protect them, to give the child a future she could determine for herself. My mind swirled with ideas. Flight. We would pack tomorrow and flee; we’d travel to where we could settle as simply Molly and Tom and our baby … no. Molly would never consent to breaking off contact with her other children; nor could I just walk away from those I loved, no matter what threat they might seem to present right now.

So what could I do? I looked at them, sleeping so peacefully, so vulnerable. I would keep them safe, I vowed to myself. It suddenly came to me that the child’s fair hair and blue eyes might be in our favor. No one would look at her and assume that she was the natural child of Molly or me. We could claim she was a foundling, taken in. The falsehood blossomed in my mind. So easy to claim! Not even Nettle need know; once I had shown Molly the threat to the child, perhaps she would agree to the deception. Nettle would believe we had adopted the babe to placate her mother’s longing for an infant. No one need know that she was truly a Farseer. One simple lie could keep her safe.

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