Chapter no 67: A Matter of Hands

The Name of the Wind

AFTER LUNCH AT ANKER’S, I decided to return to the Fishery and see how much damage had been done. The stories I’d overheard implied that the fire had been brought under control fairly quickly. If that was the case, I might even be able to finish work on my blue emitters. If not, I might at least be able to reclaim my missing cloak.

Surprisingly, the majority of the Fishery made it through the fire without much damage at all, but the northeast quarter of the shop was practically destroyed. There was nothing left but a jumble of broken stone and glass and ash. Bright blurs of copper and silver spread over broken tabletops and portions of the floor where various metals had been melted by the heat of the fire.

More unsettling than the wreckage was the fact that the workshop was deserted. I’d never seen the place empty before. I knocked on Kilvin’s office door, then peered inside. Empty. That made a certain amount of sense. Without Kilvin, there was no one to organize the clean up.

Finishing the emitters took hours longer than I’d expected. My injuries distracted me, and my bandaged thumb made my hand slightly clumsy. As with most artificing, this job required two skilled hands. Even the minor encumbrance of a bandage was a serious inconvenience.

Still, I finished the project without incident and was just preparing to test the emitters when I heard Kilvin in the hallway, cursing in Siaru. I glanced over my shoulder just in time to see him stomp through the doorway toward his office, followed by one of Master Arwyl’s gillers.

I closed the fume hood and walked toward Kilvin’s office, mindful of where I set my bare feet. Through the window, I could see Kilvin waving his arms like a farmer shooing crows. His hands were swathed in white bandages nearly to the elbow. “Enough,” he said. “I will tend them myself.”

The man caught hold of one of Kilvin’s arms and made adjustments to the bandages. Kilvin pulled his hands away and held them high in the air, out of reach. “Lhinsatva. Enough is enough.” The man said something too quiet for me to hear, but Kilvin continued to shake his head. “No. And no more of your drugs. I have slept long enough.”

Kilvin motioned me inside. “E’lir Kvothe. I need to speak to you.”

Not knowing what to expect, I stepped into his office. Kilvin gave me a dark look. “Do you see what I find after the fire is quenched?” He asked, gesturing toward a mass of dark cloth on his private worktable. Kilvin lifted one corner of it carefully with a bandaged hand and I recognized it as the charred remains of my cloak. Kilvin shook it once, sharply, and my hand lamp tumbled free, rolling awkwardly across the table.

“We spoke about your thieves’ lamp not more than two days ago. Yet today I find it lying about where anyone of questionable character might take it for their own.” He scowled at me. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

I gaped. “I’m sorry Master Kilvin. I was…They took me away…”

He glanced at my feet, still scowling. “And why are you unshod? Even an E’lir should have better sense than to wander naked-footed in a place such as this. Your behavior lately has been quite reckless. I am dismayed.”

As I fumbled about for an explanation, Kilvin’s grim expression spread into a sudden smile. “I am joking with you, of course,” he said gently. “I owe you a great weight of thanks for pulling Re’lar Fela from the fire today.” He reached out to pat me on the shoulder, then thought better of it when he remembered the bandages on his hand.

I felt my body go limp with relief. I picked up the lamp and turned it over in my hand. It didn’t seem to have been damaged by the fire or corroded by the bone-tar.

Kilvin brought out a small sack and lay it on the table as well. “These things were also in your cloak,” he said. “Many things. Your pockets were full as a tinker’s pack.”

“You seem in a good mood, Master Kilvin,” I said cautiously, wondering what painkiller he’d been given at the Medica.

“I am,” he said cheerfully. “Do you know the saying ‘Chan Vaen edan Kote’?”

I tried to puzzle it out. “Seven years…I don’t know Kote.

“‘Expect disaster every seven years,’” he said. “It is an old saying, and true enough. This has been two years overdue.” He gestured to the wreckage of his shop with a bandaged hand. “And now that it has come, it proves a mild disaster. My lamps were undamaged. No one was killed. Of all the small injuries, mine were the worst, as it should be.”

I eyed his bandages, my stomach clenching at the thought of something happening to his skilled artificer’s hands. “How are you?” I asked carefully.

“Second-grade burns,” he said, then waved away my concerned exclamation before it hardly began. “Just blisters. Painful, but no charring, no long-term loss of mobility.” He gave an exasperated sigh. “Still, I will have a damned time getting any work done for the next three span.”

“If all you need is hands, I could lend them, Master Kilvin.”

He gave a respectful nod. “That is a generous offer, E’lir. If it were merely a matter of hands I would accept. But much of my work involves sygaldry that would be…” he paused, choosing his next word carefully, “…unwise for an E’lir to have contact with.”

“Then you should promote me to Re’lar, Master Kilvin.” I said with a smile. “So I might better serve you.”

He gave a deep chuckle. “I may at that. If you continue your good works.”

I decided to change the subject, rather than push my luck. “What went wrong with the canister?”

“Too cold,” Kilvin said. “The metal was just a shell, protecting a glass container inside and keeping the temperature low. I suspect that the canister’s sygaldry was damaged so it grew colder and colder. When the reagent froze…”

I nodded, finally understanding. “It cracked the inner glass container. Like a bottle of beer when it freezes. Then ate through the metal of the canister.”

Kilvin nodded. “Jaxim is currently under the weight of my displeasure,” he said darkly. “He told me you brought it to his attention.”

“I was sure the whole building would burn to the ground,” I said. “I can’t imagine how you managed to get it under control so easily.”

“Easily?” he asked, sounding vaguely amused. “Quickly, yes. But I did not know it was easily.

“How did you manage it?”

He smiled at me. “Good question. How do you think?”

“Well, I heard one student say that you strode out of your office and called the fire’s name, just like Taborlin the Great. You said, ‘fire be still’ and the fire obeyed.”

Kilvin gave a great laugh. “I like that story,” he said, grinning widely behind his beard. “But I have a question for you. How did you make it through the fire? The reagent produces a most intense flame. How is it you are not burned?”

“I used a drench to wet myself, Master Kilvin.”

Kilvin looked thoughtful. “Jaxim saw you leaping through the fire just moments after the reagent spilled. The drench is quick, but not so quick as that.”

“I’m afraid I broke it, Master Kilvin. It seemed the only way.”

Kilvin squinted through the window of his office, frowned, then left and walked to the other end of the shop toward the shattered drench. Kneeling down, he picked up a jagged piece of glass between his bandaged fingers. “How in all the four corners did you manage to break my drench, E’lir Kvothe?”

His tone was so puzzled that I actually laughed. “Well, Master Kilvin,

according to the students, I staved it in with a single blow from my mighty hand.”

Kilvin grinned again. “I like that story too, but I do not believe it.”

“More reputable sources claim I used a piece of bar-iron from a nearby table.”

Kilvin shook his head. “You are a fine boy, but this twice-tough glass was made by my own hands. Broad-shouldered Cammar could not break it with an anvil hammer.” He dropped the piece of glass and came back to his feet. “Let the others tell whatever stories they wish, but between us let us share secrets.” “It’s no great mystery,” I admitted. “I know the sygaldry for twice-tough

glass. What I can make, I can break.”

“But where was your source?” Kilvin said. “You could have nothing ready on such short notice….” I held up my bandaged thumb. “Blood,” he said, sounding surprised. “Using the heat of your blood could be called reckless, E’lir Kvothe. What of binder’s chills? What if you had gone into hypothermic shock?”

“My options were rather limited, Master Kilvin,” I said.

Kilvin nodded thoughtfully. “Quite impressive, to unbind what I have wrought with nothing more than blood.” He started to run a hand through his beard, then frowned in irritation when the bandages made this impossible.

“What of you, Master Kilvin? How did you manage to get the fire under control?”

“Not using the name of fire,” he conceded. “If Elodin had been here, matters would have been much simpler. But as the name of fire is unknown to me, I was left to my own devices.”

I gave him a cautious look, not sure whether he was making another joke or not. Kilvin’s deadpan humor was hard to detect at times. “Elodin knows the name of fire?”

Kilvin nodded. “There may be one or two others here at the University, but Elodin has the surest grip of it.”

“The name of fire,” I said slowly. “And they could have called it and the fire would have done what they said, like Taborlin the Great?”

Kilvin nodded again.

“But those are just stories,” I protested.

He gave me an amused look. “Where do you think stories come from, E’lir Kvothe? Every tale has deep roots somewhere in the world.”

“What sort of a name is it? How does it work?”

Kilvin hesitated for a moment, then shrugged his massive shoulders. “It is troublesome to explain in this language. In any language. Ask Elodin—he makes a habit of studying such things.”

I knew firsthand how helpful Elodin would be. “So how did you stop the fire?”

“There is little mystery in it,” he said. “I was prepared for such an accident and had a small vial of the reagent in my office. I used it as a link and drew heat from the spill. The reagent grew too cold to boil and the remaining fog burned away. The lion’s share of the reagent drained down the grates while Jaxim and the others scattered lime and sand to control what was left.”

“You can’t be serious,” I said. “It was a furnace in here. You couldn’t have moved that many thaums of heat. Where would you have put it?”

“I had an empty heat-eater ready for just such an emergency. Fire is the simplest of troubles I have prepared for.”

I waved his explanation aside. “Even so, there’s no way. It must have been…” I tried to calculate how much heat he would have had to move, but stalled out, not knowing where to begin.

“I estimate eight hundred fifty million thaums,” Kilvin said. “Though we must check the trap for a more accurate number.”

I was speechless. “But…how?”

“Quickly,” he made a significant gesture with his bandaged hands, “but not easily.”

You'll Also Like