Chapter no 6 – The Price of Remembering

The Name of the Wind

IT WAS EARLY EVENING of the next day before Chronicler came down the stairs to the common room of the Waystone Inn. Pale and unsteady, he carried his flat leather satchel under one arm.

Kote sat behind the bar, paging through a book. “Ah, our unintentional guest. How’s the head?”

Chronicler raised a hand to touch the back of his head. “Throbs a bit when I move around too quickly. But it’s still working.”

“Glad to hear it,” Kote said.

“Is this…” Chronicler hesitated, looking around. “Are we in Newarre?”

Kote nodded. “You are, in fact, in the middle of Newarre.” He made a dramatic sweeping gesture with one hand. “Thriving metropolis. Home to dozens.”

Chronicler stared at the red-haired man behind the bar. He leaned against one of the tables for support. “God’s charred body,” he said breathlessly. “It really is you, isn’t it?”

The innkeeper looked puzzled. “I beg your pardon?”

“I know you’re going to deny it,” Chronicler said. “But what I saw last night…”

The innkeeper held up a hand, quieting him. “Before we discuss the possibility that you’ve addled your wits with that crack to the head, tell me, how is the road to Tinuë?”

“What?” Chronicler asked, irritated. “I wasn’t heading to Tinuë. I was… oh. Well even aside from last night, the road’s been pretty rough. I was robbed off by Abbot’s Ford, and I’ve been on foot ever since. But it was all worth it since you’re actually here.” The scribe glanced at the sword hanging over the bar and drew a deep breath, his expression becoming vaguely anxious. “I’m not here to cause trouble, mind you. I’m not here because of the price on your head.” He gave a weak smile. “Not that I could hope to trouble you—”

“Fine,” the innkeeper interupted as he pulled out a white linen cloth and began to polish the bar. “Who are you then?”

“You can call me Chronicler.”

“I didn’t ask what I could call you,” Kote said. “What is your name?”

“Devan. Devan Lochees.”

Kote stopped polishing the bar and looked up. “Lochees? Are you related to Duke…” Kote trailed off, nodding to himself. “Yes, of course you are. Not chronicler, the Chronicler.” He stared hard at the balding man, looking him up and down. “How about that? The great debunker himself.”

Chronicler relaxed slightly, obviously pleased to have his reputation precede him. “I wasn’t trying to be difficult before. I haven’t thought of myself as Devan in years. I left that name behind me long ago.” He gave the innkeeper a significant look. “I expect you know something of that yourself….”

Kote ignored the unspoken question. “I read your book years ago. The Mating Habits of the Common Draccus. Quite the eye-opener for a young man with his head full of stories.” Looking down he began moving the white cloth along the grain of the bar again. “I’ll admit, I was disappointed to learn that dragons didn’t exist. That’s a hard lesson for a boy to learn.”

Chronicler smiled. “Honestly, I was a little disappointed myself. I went looking for a legend and found a lizard. A fascinating lizard, but a lizard just the same.”

“And now you’re here,” Kote said. “Have you come to prove that I don’t exist?”

Chronicler laughed nervously. “No. You see, we heard a rumor—”

“‘We?’” Kote interrupted.

“I’ve been traveling with an old friend of yours. Skarpi.”

“Taken you under his wing, has he?” Kote said to himself. “How about that? Skarpi’s apprentice.”

“More of a colleague, really.”

Kote nodded, still expressionless. “I might have guessed he would be the first to find me. Rumormongers, both of you.”

Chronicler’s smile grew sour, and he swallowed the first words that came to his lips. He struggled for a moment to recapture his calm demeanor.

“So what can I do for you?” Kote set aside the clean linen cloth and gave his best innkeeper’s smile. “Something to eat or drink? A room for the night?”

Chronicler hesitated.

“I have it all right here.” Kote gestured expansively behind the bar. “Old wine, smooth and pale? Honey mead? Dark ale? Sweet fruit liquor! Plum? Cherry? Green apple? Blackberry?” Kote pointed out the bottles in turn. “Come now, surely you must want something?” As he spoke, his smile widened, showing too many teeth for a friendly innkeeper’s grin. At the same time his eyes grew cold, and hard, and angry.

Chronicler dropped his gaze. “I’d thought that—”

“You thought,” Kote said derisively, dropping all pretense of a smile. “I very much doubt it. Otherwise, you might have thought,” he bit off the word,

“of how much danger you were putting me in by coming here.”

Chronicler’s face grew red. “I’d heard that Kvothe was fearless,” he said hotly.

The innkeeper shrugged. “Only priests and fools are fearless, and I’ve never been on the best of terms with God.”

Chronicler frowned, aware that he was being baited. “Listen,” he continued calmly, “I was extraordinarily careful. No one except Skarpi knew I was coming. I didn’t mention you to anyone. I didn’t expect to actually find you.”

“Imagine my relief,” Kote said sarcastically.

Obviously disheartened, Chronicler spoke, “I’ll be the first to admit that my coming here may have been a mistake.” He paused, giving Kote the opportunity to contradict him. Kote didn’t. Chronicler gave a small, tight sigh and continued, “But what’s done is done. Won’t you even consider…”

Kote shook his head. “It was a long time ago—” “Not even two years,” Chronicler protested.

“—and I am not what I was,” Kote continued without pausing. “And what was that, exactly?”

“Kvothe,” he said simply, refusing to be drawn any further into an explanation. “Now I am Kote. I tend to my inn. That means beer is three shims and a private room costs copper.” He began polishing the bar again with a fierce intensity. “As you said, ‘done is done.’ The stories will take care of themselves.”


Kote looked up, and for a second Chronicler saw past the anger that lay glittering on the surface of his eyes. For a moment he saw the pain underneath, raw and bloody, like a wound too deep for healing. Then Kote looked away and only the anger remained. “What could you possibly offer me that is worth the price of remembering?”

“Everyone thinks you’re dead.”

“You don’t get it, do you?” Kote shook his head, stuck between amusement and exasperation. “That’s the whole point. People don’t look for you when you’re dead. Old enemies don’t try to settle scores. People don’t come asking you for stories,” he said acidly.

Chronicler refused to back down. “Other people say you’re a myth.”

“I am a myth,” Kote said easily, making an extravagant gesture. “A very special kind of myth that creates itself. The best lies about me are the ones told.”

“They say you never existed,” Chronicler corrected gently.

Kote shrugged nonchalantly, his smile fading an imperceptible amount.

Sensing weakness, Chronicler continued. “Some stories paint you as little more than a red-handed killer.”

“I’m that too.” Kote turned to polish the counter behind the bar. He shrugged again, not as easily as before. “I’ve killed men and things that were more than men. Every one of them deserved it.”

Chronicler shook his head slowly. “The stories are saying ‘assassin’ not ‘hero.’ Kvothe the Arcane and Kvothe Kingkiller are two very different men.”

Kote stopped polishing the bar and turned his back to the room. He nodded once without looking up.

“Some are even saying that there is a new Chandrian. A fresh terror in the night. His hair as red as the blood he spills.”

“The important people know the difference,” Kote said as if he were trying to convince himself, but his voice was weary and despairing, without conviction.

Chronicler gave a small laugh. “Certainly. For now. But you of all people should realize how thin the line is between the truth and a compelling lie. Between history and an entertaining story.” Chronicler gave his words a minute to sink in. “You know which will win, given time.”

Kote remained facing the back wall, hands flat on the counter. His head was bowed slightly, as if a great weight had settled onto him. He did not speak.

Chronicler took an eager step forward, sensing victory. “Some people say there was a woman—”

“What do they know?” Kote’s voice cut like a saw through bone. “What do they know about what happened?” He spoke so softly that Chronicler had to hold his breath to hear.

“They say she—” Chronicler’s words stuck in his suddenly dry throat as the room grew unnaturally quiet. Kote stood with his back to the room, a stillness in his body and a terrible silence clenched between his teeth. His right hand, tangled in a clean white cloth, made a slow fist.

Eight inches away a bottle shattered. The smell of strawberries filled the air alongside the sound of splintering glass. A small noise inside so great a stillness, but it was enough. Enough to break the silence into small, sharp slivers. Chronicler felt himself go cold as he suddenly realized what a dangerous game he was playing. So this is the difference between telling a story and being in one, he thought numbly, the fear.

Kote turned. “What can any of them know about her?” he asked softly. Chronicler’s breath stopped when he saw Kote’s face. The placid innkeeper’s expression was like a shattered mask. Underneath, Kote’s expression was haunted, eyes half in this world, half elsewhere, remembering.

Chronicler found himself thinking of a story he had heard. One of the many. The story told of how Kvothe had gone looking for his heart’s desire. He had to trick a demon to get it. But once it rested in his hand, he was forced to fight an angel to keep it. I believe it, Chronicler found himself thinking.

Before it was just a story, but now I can believe it. This is the face of a man who has killed an angel.

“What can any of them know about me?” Kote demanded, a numb anger in his voice. “What can they know about any of this?” He made a short, fierce gesture that seemed to take in everything, the broken bottle, the bar, the world.

Chronicler swallowed against the dryness in his throat. “Only what they’re told.”

Tat tat, tat-tat. Liquor from the broken bottle began to patter an irregular rhythm onto the floor. “Ahhhh,” Kote sighed out a long breath. Tat-tat, tat-tat, tat. “Clever. You’d use my own best trick against me. You’d hold my story a hostage.”

“I would tell the truth.”

“Nothing but the truth could break me. What is harder than the truth?” A sickly, mocking smile flickered across his face. For a long moment, only the gentle tapping of drops against the floor kept the silence at bay.

Finally Kote walked through the doorway behind the bar. Chronicler stood awkwardly in the empty room, unsure whether or not he had been dismissed.

A few minutes later Kote returned with a bucket of soapy water. Without looking in the storyteller’s direction, he began to gently, methodically, wash his bottles. One at a time, Kote wiped their bottoms clean of the strawberry wine and set them on the bar between himself and Chronicler, as if they might defend him.

“So you went looking for a myth and found a man,” he said without inflection, without looking up. “You’ve heard the stories and now you want the truth of things.”

Radiating relief, Chronicler set his satchel down on one of the tables, surprised at the slight tremor in his hands. “We got wind of you a while back. Just a whisper of a rumor. I didn’t really expect…” Chronicler paused, suddenly awkward. “I thought you would be older.”

“I am,” Kote said. Chronicler looked puzzled, but before he could say anything the innkeeper continued. “What brings you into this worthless little corner of the world?”

“An appointment with the Earl of Baedn-Bryt,” Chronicler said, puffing himself up slightly. “Three days from now, in Treya.”

The innkeeper paused mid-polish. “You expect to make it to the earl’s manor in four days?” he asked quietly.

“I am behind schedule,” Chronicler admitted. “My horse was stolen near Abbott’s Ford.” He glanced out the window at the darkening sky. “But I’m willing to lose some sleep. I’ll be off in the morning and out of your hair.”

“Well I wouldn’t want to cost you any sleep,” Kote said sarcastically, his

eyes gone hard again. “I can tell the whole thing in one breath.” He cleared his throat. “‘I trouped, traveled, loved, lost, trusted and was betrayed.’ Write that down and burn it for all the good it will do you.”

“You needn’t take it that way,” Chronicler said quickly. “We can take the whole night if you like. And a few hours in the morning as well.”

“How gracious,” Kote snapped. “You’ll have me tell my story in an evening? With no time to collect myself? No time to prepare?” His mouth made a thin line. “No. Go dally with your earl. I’ll have none of it.”

Chronicler spoke quickly, “If you’re certain you’ll need—”

“Yes.” Kote set a bottle down hard on the bar, hard. “It’s safe to say I’ll need more time than that. And you’ll get none of it tonight. A real story takes time to prepare.”

Chronicler frowned nervously and ran his hands through his hair. “I could spend tomorrow collecting your story….” He trailed off at the sight of Kote shaking his head. After a pause he started again, almost talking to himself. “If I pick up a horse in Baedn, I can give you all day tomorrow, most of the night, and a piece of the following day.” He rubbed his forehead. “I hate riding at night, but—”

“I’ll need three days,” Kote said. “I’m quite sure of it.” Chronicler blanched. “But…the earl.”

Kote waved a hand dismissively.

“No one needs three days,” Chronicler said firmly. “I interviewed Oren Velciter. Oren Velciter, mind you. He’s eighty years old, and done two hundred years worth of living. Five hundred, if you count the lies. He sought me out,” Chronicler said with particular emphasis. “He only took two days.”

“That is my offer,” the innkeeper said simply. “I’ll do this properly or not at all.”

“Wait!” Chronicler brightened suddenly. “I’ve been thinking about this all backward,” he said, shaking his head at his own foolishness. “I’ll just visit the earl, then come back. You can have all the time you like then. I could even bring Skarpi back with me.”

Kote gave Chronicler a look of profound disdain. “What gives you the slightest impression that I would be here when you came back?” he asked incredulously. “For that matter, what makes you think you’re free to simply walk out of here, knowing what you know?”

Chronicler went very still. “Are—” He swallowed and started again. “Are you saying that—”

“The story will take three days,” Kote interrupted. “Starting tomorrow.

That is what I am saying.”

Chronicler closed his eyes and ran his hand over his face. The earl would be furious, of course. No telling what it might take to get back in his good graces. Still…“If that’s the only way that I can get it, I accept.”

“I’m glad to hear it.” The innkeeper relaxed into a half smile. “Come now, is three days really so unusual?”

Chronicler’s serious expression returned. “Three days is quite unusual. But then again—” Some of the self-importance seemed to leak out of him. “Then again,” he made a gesture as if to show how useless words were. “You are Kvothe.”

The man who called himself Kote looked up from behind his bottles. A full-lipped smile played about his mouth. A spark was kindling behind his eyes. He seemed taller.

“Yes, I suppose I am,” Kvothe said, and his voice had iron in it.

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