Chapter no 64: Nine in the Fire

The Name of the Wind

THE NEXT DAY, as luck would have it, I made a trip to Imre. Then, since I just happened to be in the neighborhood, I stopped by the Oaken Oar.

The owner didn’t know the name “Denna” or “Dianne,” but a young, lovely dark-haired girl named “Dinnah” was renting a room there. She wasn’t in right now, but if I cared to leave a note…. I declined his offer, comforted by the fact that since I now knew where Denna was staying, finding her would be relatively easy.

However, I had no luck catching Denna at the Oaken Oar over the next two days. On the third day, the owner informed me that Denna had left in the middle of the night, taking all her things and leaving her bill unpaid. After stopping by a few taverns at random and not finding her, I walked back to the University, not knowing if I should be worried or irritated.

Three more days and five more fruitless trips to Imre. Neither Deoch nor Threpe had heard any news of her. Deoch told me that it was her nature to disappear like this, and that looking for her would serve about as much purpose as calling for a cat. I knew it to be good advice, and ignored it.

I sat in Kilvin’s office trying to look calm as the great, shaggy master turned my sympathy lamp over in his huge hands. It was my first solo project as an artificer. I’d cast the plates and ground the lenses. I’d doped the emitter without giving myself arsenic poisoning. Most importantly, mine was the Alar and the intricate sygaldry that turned the individual pieces into a functioning handheld sympathy lamp.

If Kilvin approved of the finished product, he would sell it and I would receive part of the money as a commission. More importantly, I would become an artificer in my own right, albeit a fledgling one. I would be trusted to pursue my own projects with a large degree of freedom. It was a big step forward in the ranks of the Fishery, a step toward gaining the rank of Re’lar, and more importantly, my financial freedom.

Finally he looked up. “This is finely made, E’lir Kvothe,” he said. “But the design is not typical.”

I nodded. “I made a few changes, sir. If you turn it on you’ll see—”

Kilvin made a low sound that could have been an amused chuckle or an irritated grunt. He set the lamp down on the table and walked around the room, snuffing all the lamps but one. “Do you know how many sympathy lamps I have had explode in my hands over the years, E’lir Kvothe?”

I swallowed and shook my head. “How many?”

“None,” he said gravely. “Because I am always careful. I am always absolutely sure of what I hold in my hands. You must learn patience, E’lir Kvothe. A moment in the mind is worth nine in the fire.”

I dropped my eyes and tried to look appropriately chastised.

Kilvin reached out and extinguished the one remaining lamp, bringing the room to near total darkness. There was a pause, then a distinctive reddish light welled from the hand lamp to shine against a wall. The light was very dim, less than that of a single candle.

“The action on the switch is graded,” I said quickly. “It’s more of a rheostat than a switch, really.”

Kilvin nodded. “Cleverly done. That is not something most bother with on a small lamp such as this.” The light grew brighter, then dimmer, then brighter again. “The sygaldry itself seems quite good,” Kilvin said slowly as he set the lamp down on the table. “But the focus of your lens is flawed. There is very little diffusion.”

It was true. Instead of lighting the whole room, as was typical, my lamp revealed a narrow slice of the room: the corner of the worktable and half of the large black slate that stood against the wall. The rest of the room remained dark.

“It’s intentional.” I said. “There are lanterns like that, bull’s-eye lanterns.” Kilvin was little more than a dark shape across the table. “Such things are known to me, E’lir Kvothe,” his voice held a hint of reproach. “They are much used for unsavory business. Business arcanists should have no mingling


“I thought sailors used them,” I said.

“Burglars use them,” Kilvin said seriously. “And spies, and other folk who do not wish to reveal their business during the dark hours of night.”

My vague anxiety grew suddenly sharper. I had considered this meeting mostly a formality. I knew I was a skilled artificer, better than many who had worked much longer in Kilvin’s shop. Now I was suddenly worried that I might have made a mistake and wasted nearly thirty hours of work on the lamp, not to mention over a whole talent of my own money that I’d invested in materials.

Kilvin made a noncommittal grunt and muttered under his breath. The half-dozen oil lamps around the room sputtered back into life, filling the room with natural light. I marveled at the master’s casual execution of a six-way

binding. I couldn’t even guess where he had drawn the energy from.

“It’s just that everyone makes a sympathy lamp for their first project,” I said to fill the silence. “Everyone always follows the same old schema. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to see if I could make something new.”

“I expect what you wanted was to demonstrate your extreme cleverness,” Kilvin said matter-of-factly. “You wished to not only finish your apprenticeship in half the usual time, you wanted to bring me a lamp of your own improved design. Let us be frank, E’lir Kvothe. Your making this lamp is an attempt to show that you are better than the ordinary apprentice, is it not?” As he said this, Kilvin looked directly at me, and for a moment there was none of his characteristic distraction lurking behind his eyes.

I felt my mouth go dry. Underneath his shaggy beard and heavily accented Aturan, Kilvin had a mind like a diamond. What had made me think I could lie to him and get away with it?

“Of course I wanted to impress you, Master Kilvin,” I said, looking down. “I would think that that goes without saying.”

“Do not grovel,” he said. “False modesty does not impress me.”

I looked up and squared my shoulders. “In that case, Master Kilvin, I am better. I learn faster. I work harder. My hands are more nimble. My mind is more curious. However, I also expect you know this for yourself without my telling you.”

Kilvin nodded. “That is better. And you are right, I do know these things.” He thumbed the lamp on and off while pointing it at different things around the room. “And in all fairness, I am duly impressed with your skill. The lamp is tidily made. The sygaldry is quite cunning. The engraving precise. It is clever work.”

I flushed with pleasure at the compliments.

“But there is more to artificing than simply skill,” Kilvin said as he lay the lamp down and spread his huge hands out flat on either side of it. “I cannot sell this lamp. It would gravitate to the wrong people. If a burglar were caught with such a tool it would reflect badly on all arcanists. You have completed your apprenticeship, and distinguished yourself in terms of skill.” I relaxed a bit. “But your greater judgment is still somewhat in question. The lamp itself we will melt down for metals, I suppose.”

“You’re going to melt down my lamp?” I had worked for a full span on the lamp and invested almost all the money I had on the purchase of raw materials. I had been counting on making a tidy profit once Kilvin sold it, but now….

Kilvin’s expression was firm. “We are all responsible for maintaining the University’s reputation, E’lir Kvothe. An item like this in the wrong hands would reflect badly on all of us.”

I was trying to think of some way to persuade him when he waved a hand at me, shooing me toward the door. “Go tell Manet your good news.”

Disheartened, I made my way out into the workshop and was greeted by the sounds of a hundred hands busily chiseling wood, chipping stone, and hammering metal. The air was thick with the smell of etching acids, hot iron, and sweat. I spotted Manet off in the corner, loading tile into a kiln. I waited until he closed the door and backed away, mopping sweat off his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt.

“How did it go?” he asked. “Did you pass or am I going to be stuck holding your hand for another term?”

“I passed,” I said dismissively. “You were right about the modifications.

He wasn’t impressed.”

“Told you,” he said without any particular smugness. “You have to remember that I’ve been here longer than any ten students. When I tell you the masters are conservatives at heart, I’m not just making noise. I know.” Manet ran a hand idly over his wild, grey beard as he eyed the heat waves rolling off the brick kiln. “Any thoughts on what you’re going to do with yourself now that you’re a free agent?”

“I was thinking of doping a batch of the blue-lamp emitters,” I said. “The money is good,” Manet said slowly. “Risky though.”

“You know I’m careful,” I reassured him.

“Risky is risky,” Manet said. “I trained a fellow maybe ten years back, what was his name…?” He tapped his head for a moment, then shrugged. “He made a little slip.” Manet snapped his fingers sharply. “But that’s all it takes. Got burned pretty badly and lost a couple fingers. Wasn’t much of an artificer afterward.”

I looked across the room at Cammar, with his missing eye and bald, scarred head. “Point taken.” I flexed my hands anxiously as I looked over at the burnished metal canister. People had been nervous around it for a day or two after Kilvin’s demonstration, but it had soon become just another piece of equipment. The truth was, there were ten thousand different ways to die in the Fishery if you were careless. Bone-tar just happened to be the newest, most exciting way to kill yourself.

I decided to change the subject. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Fire away,” he said, glancing at the nearby kiln. “Get it? Fire away?”

I rolled my eyes. “Would you say you know the University as well as anyone?”

He nodded. “As well as anyone alive. All the dirty little secrets.”

I lowered my voice a bit. “So if you wanted to, could you get into the Archives without anyone knowing?”

Manet’s eyes narrowed. “I could,” he said, “but I wouldn’t.”

I started to say something but he cut me off with more than a hint of

exasperation. “Listen my boy, we’ve talked about this before. Just be patient. You need to give Lorren more time to cool off. It’s only been a term or so….”

“It been half a year!”

He shook his head. “That only seems like a long time to you because you’re young. Believe me, it’s fresh in Lorren’s mind. Just spend another term or so impressing Kilvin, then ask him to intercede on your behalf. Trust me. It’ll work.”

I put on my best hangdog expression. “You could just…”

He shook his head firmly. “No. No. No. I won’t show you. I won’t tell you. I won’t draw you a map.” He softened his expression and lay a hand on my shoulder, obviously trying to take some of the sting out of his bald refusal. “Tehlu anyway, why all the hurry? You’re young. You have all the time in the world.” He leveled a finger at me. “But if you get expelled it’s forever. And that’s what’ll happen if you’re caught sneaking into the Archives.”

I let my shoulders slump, dejected. “You’re right, I suppose.”

“That’s right, I’m right,” Manet said, turning back to look at the kiln. “Now run along. You’re giving me an ulcer.”

I walked away, thinking furiously about Manet’s advice and what he had let slip in our conversation. In general I knew his advice was good. If I were well-behaved for a term or two, I would get access to the Archives. It was the safe, simple route to what I wanted.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford patience. I was painfully aware of the fact that this term would be my last unless I could find a way to make a great deal of money rather quickly. No. Patience wasn’t an option for me.

On my way out, I peered inside Kilvin’s office and saw him sitting at his worktable, idly thumbing my lamp on and off. His expression was distracted again, and I didn’t doubt that his vast machine of a brain was busy thinking about a half dozen things all at once.

I knocked on the door frame to get his attention. “Master Kilvin?” He didn’t turn to look at me. “Yes?”

“Could buy the lamp?” I asked. “I could use it to read at night. Right now I’m still spending money on candles.” I briefly considered wringing my hands before deciding against it. Too melodramatic.

Kilvin thought for a long moment. The lamp in his hand gave a soft, t-tick as he switched it on again. “You cannot buy what your own hands build,” he said. “The time and materials that made it were yours.” He held it out to me.

I stepped into the room to take it, but Kilvin drew his hand back and met my eye. “I must make clear one thing,” he said seriously. “You cannot sell or lend this. Not even to someone you trust. If this is lost, it would eventually end up in the wrong hands and be used for skulking about in the dark, doing dishonest things.”

“I give you my word, Master Kilvin. No one will be using it but me.”

As I left the shop I was careful to keep my expression neutral, but inside I was wearing a wide, satisfied smile. Manet had told me exactly what I needed to know. There was another way into the Archives. A hidden way. If it existed, I could find it.

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