Chapter no 48: Interlude—A Silence of a Different Kind

The Name of the Wind

BAST SAT IN THE Waystone Inn and tried to keep his hands motionless in his lap. He had counted fifteen breaths since Kvothe had spoken last, and the innocent silence that had gathered like a clear pool around the three men was beginning to darken into a silence of a different kind. Bast took another breath

—sixteen—and braced himself against the moment he feared would come.

It would not be to Bast’s credit to say that he was afraid of nothing, as only fools and priests are never afraid. But it is true that very few things unnerved him. Heights, for instance, he didn’t care for very much. And the great summer storms that came through these parts that blackened the sky and tore up deep-rooted oaks made him feel uncomfortably small and helpless.

But when you came down to it, nothing really frightened him, not storms, not tall ladders, not even the scrael. Bast was brave by being largely fearless. Nothing would turn him pale, or if it did, he didn’t stay pale for very long.

Oh, certainly he didn’t relish the thought of someone hurting him. Stabbing him with bitter iron, searing him with hot coals, that sort of thing. But just because he didn’t like the thought of his blood on the outside didn’t mean he was really afraid of those things. He just didn’t want them to happen. To really fear something you have to dwell on it. And since there was nothing that preyed on Bast’s waking mind in this fashion, there was nothing his heart truly feared.

But hearts can change. Ten years ago he had lost his grip climbing a tall rennel tree to pick fruit for a girl he fancied. After he slipped, he had hung for a long minute, head down, before falling. In that long minute, a small fear rooted inside him, and had stayed with him ever since.

In the same way, Bast had learned a new fear of late. A year ago he had been fearless as any sane man can hope to be, but now Bast feared silence. Not the ordinary silence that came from a simple absence of things moving about and making noise. Bast feared the deep, weary silence that gathered around his master at times, like an invisible shroud.

Bast breathed in again—seventeen. He fought not to wring his hands as he waited for the deep silence to invade the room. He waited for it to crystallize and show its teeth on the edges of the cool quiet that had pooled in

the Waystone. He knew how it came, like the frost that bleeds out of the winter ground, hardening the clear water that an early thaw leaves in wagon ruts.

But before Bast could draw another breath, Kvothe straightened in his chair and made a motion for Chronicler to lay down his pen. Bast nearly wept as he sensed the silence scatter like a dark bird startled into flight.

Kvothe gave a sigh that hovered between annoyance and resignation. “I will admit,” he said. “That I am not sure how to approach the next part of the story.”

Afraid to let the silence stretch for too long, Bast chirruped, “Why don’t you simply talk about what is most important first? Then you can go back and touch on other things, if you need to.”

“As if it were as simple as that,” Kvothe said sharply. “What is most important? My magic or my music? My triumphs or my follies?”

Bast flushed a deep crimson and bit his lips.

Kvothe let out his breath in a sudden rush. “I’m sorry, Bast. It’s good advice, as all of your seemingly inane advice turns out to be.” He pushed his chair back from the table. “But before we continue, the real world has certain calls on me that I can no longer ignore. If you will please excuse me for a moment?”

Chronicler and Bast stood as well, stretching their legs and attending to calls of their own. Bast lit the lamps. Kvothe produced more cheese and bread and hard spiced sausage. They ate, and some small effort was made at polite conversation, but their minds were elsewhere, dwelling on the story.

Bast ate half of everything. Chronicler accounted for a sizable, though more modest amount. Kvothe had a bite or two before he spoke. “Onward then. Music and magic. Triumph and folly. Think now. What does our story need? What vital element is it lacking?”

“Women, Reshi,” Bast said immediately. “There’s a real paucity of women.”

Kvothe smiled. “Not women, Bast. A woman. The woman.” Kvothe looked at Chronicler. “You have heard bits and pieces, I don’t doubt. I will tell you the truth of her. Though I fear I may not be equal to the challenge.”

Chronicler picked up his pen, but before he could dip it, Kvothe held up a hand. “Let me say one thing before I start. I’ve told stories in the past, painted pictures with words, told hard lies and harder truths. Once, I sang colors to a blind man. Seven hours I played, but at the end he said he saw them, green and red and gold. That, I think, was easier than this. Trying to make you understand her with nothing more than words. You have never seen her, never heard her voice. You cannot know.”

Kvothe motioned for Chronicler to pick up his pen. “But still, I will try. She is in the wings now, waiting for her cue. Let us set the stage for her


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