Chapter no 85: Hands Against Me

The Name of the Wind

SIMMON AND WILEM TOOK me to my room at Anker’s where I fell into bed and spent eighteen hours behind the doors of sleep. When I woke the next day I felt surprisingly good, considering I had slept in my clothes and my bladder felt stretched to the size of a sweetmelon.

Fortune smiled on me, giving me enough time for a meal and a bath before one of Jamison’s errand boys tracked me down. I was needed in the Masters’ Hall. I was due to be on the horns in half an hour.

Ambrose and I stood before the masters’ table. He had accused me of malfeasance. In retaliation I had accused him of theft, destruction of property, and Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Arcanum. After my previous experience on the horns I had familiarized myself with the Rerum Codex, the University’s official rules. I had read them twice to be certain of how things were done around here. I knew them like the backs of my hands.

Unfortunately, this meant I knew exactly how much trouble I was in. The charge of malfeasance was a serious one. If they found me guilty of intentionally harming Ambrose, I would be whipped and expelled from the University.

There was little doubt that I had hurt Ambrose. He was bruised and limping. A garish red abrasion colored his forehead. He wore a sling as well, but I was fairly certain that was merely a piece of drama he had added on his own.

The trouble was, I didn’t have the slightest idea what had really happened. I hadn’t had the opportunity to speak with anyone. Not even to thank Elodin for helping me yesterday in Kilvin’s shop.

The masters allowed each of us to speak our piece. Ambrose was on his best behavior, which meant he was very polite when he spoke at all. After a while, I began to suspect that his sluggishness might be from a too-liberal dose of painkiller. By the glaze in his eyes, my guess was laudanum.

“Let’s deal with the grievances in order of their severity,” the Chancellor said after we had related our sides of the story.

Master Hemme made a gesture, and the Chancellor nodded for him to speak. “We should pare the charges down before we vote,” Hemme said. “E’lir Kvothe’s complaints are redundant. You cannot charge a student with both theft and destruction of the same property, it is either one or the other.”

“Why do you say that, Master?” I asked politely.

“Theft implies the possession of another’s property,” Hemme said in reasonable tones. “How can you possess something that you have destroyed? One charge or the other should be set aside.”

The Chancellor looked at me. “E’lir Kvothe, do you wish to set aside one of your complaints?”

“No sir.”

“Then I call for a vote to set aside the charge of theft,” Hemme said.

The Chancellor glared at Hemme, chastising him silently for speaking out of turn, then turned back to me. “Stubbornness in the face of reason is hardly laudable E’lir, and Master Hemme makes a convincing argument.”

“Master Hemme makes a flawed argument,” I said evenly. “Theft implies acquisition of another’s property. It is ridiculous to imply you cannot destroy what you have stolen.”

I saw a few of the masters nod at this, but Hemme persisted. “Master Lorren, what is the punishment for theft?”

“The student may be given no more than two single lashes across the back,” Lorren recited. “And must return the property or the price of the property plus a fine of one silver talent.”

“And the punishment for destruction of property?”

“The student must pay for the replacement or repair of the property.” “You see?” Hemme said. “There is the possibility that he would have to

pay twice for the same lute. There is no justice in that. It would be punishing him twice for the same thing.”

“No Master Hemme,” I interjected. “It would be punishing him for theft and for destruction of property.” The Chancellor gave me the same look Hemme had earned before for speaking out of turn, but I bulled ahead. “If I had lent him my lute and he had broken it, that would be one matter. If he had stolen it and left it intact, that would be another. It is not one or the other. It is both.”

The Chancellor rapped his knuckles on the table to quiet us. “I take it then, that you will not set aside one of the charges?”

“I will not.”

Hemme raised a hand and was recognized. “I call for a vote to strike the charge of theft.”

“All in favor?” the Chancellor said wearily. Hemme raised his hand, as did Brandeur, Mandrag, and Lorren. “Five and a half to four: grievance stands.”

The Chancellor pressed on before anyone could slow things down. “Who finds Re’lar Ambrose guilty of destruction of property?” Everyone raised their hands but Hemme and Brandeur. The Chancellor looked at me. “How much did you pay for your lute?”

“Nine talents and six.” I lied, knowing it to be a reasonable price.

Ambrose roused himself at this. “Come now. You’ve never held ten talents in your life.”

Annoyed, the Chancellor rapped his knuckles at the interruption. But Brandeur raised a hand to speak. “Re’lar Ambrose does raise an interesting point. How does a student who came to us destitute come by such money?

A few of the masters looked at me speculatively. I looked down as if embarrassed. “I won it playing corners, sirs.”

There was an amused mutter. Elodin laughed out loud. The Chancellor rapped the table. “Re’lar Ambrose to be fined nine talents and six. Does any master oppose this action?”

Hemme raised his hand and was voted down.

“On the grievance of theft. Number of lashes sought?” “None,” I said, raising a few eyebrows.

“Who finds Re’lar Ambrose guilty of theft?” the Chancellor called out. Hemme, Brandeur, and Lorren kept their hands down. “Re’lar Ambrose to be fined ten talents and six. Does any master oppose this action?”

Hemme kept his hand down this time, looking sullen.

The Chancellor took a deep breath and let it out in a rush. “Master Archivist, what is the punishment for Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Arcanum?”

“Student may be fined, lashed, suspended from the Arcanum, or expelled from the University depending on the severity of grievance,” Lorren said calmly.

“Punishment sought?”

“Suspension from the Arcanum,” I said as if it were the most sensible thing in the world.

Ambrose’s composure broke. “What?” he said incredulously, turning to face me.

Hemme chimed in. “Herma, this is growing ridiculous.”

The Chancellor looked at me with a tinge of reproach. “I’m afraid I must agree with Master Hemme, E’lir Kvothe. I hardly think that this is grounds for suspension.”

“I disagree,” I said, attempting to bring all my powers of persuasion to bear. “Think on what you’ve heard. For no other reason than his personal distaste for me, Ambrose chose to publicly mock me, then steal and destroy the only thing I owned of any value.

“Is this the sort of behavior that a member of the Arcanum should

exhibit? Is this the attitude you wish to cultivate in the rest of the Re’lar? Are petty meanness and spite characteristics you approve of in students who seek to become arcanists? It has been two hundred years since we have seen an arcanist burned. If you succeed in giving guilders to petty children such as this,” I gestured to Ambrose. “That long-standing peace and safety will be over in a scant handful of years.”

It swayed them. I could see it on their faces. Ambrose moved nervously beside me, his eyes darting from face to face.

After a moment of silence the Chancellor called for the vote. “Those in favor of suspension for Re’lar Ambrose?”

Arwyl’s hand went up, followed by Lorren’s, Elodin’s, Elxa Dal’s…. There was a tense moment. I looked from Kilvin to the Chancellor, hoping to see one of their hands join the others.

The moment passed. “Grievance failed.” Ambrose let out a breath. I was only slightly disappointed. In fact, I was rather surprised I had managed to carry it as far as I had.

“Now,” the Chancellor said as if preparing himself for a great effort. “The grievance of malfeasance against E’lir Kvothe.”

“From four to fifteen single lashes and mandatory expulsion from the University,” Lorren recited.

“Lashes sought?”

Ambrose turned to look at me. I could see the wheels in his mind turning, trying to calculate how heavy a price he could make me pay and still have the masters vote in his favor. “Six.”

I felt a leaden fear settle into the pit of my stomach. I didn’t care one whit about the lashes. I would take two dozen if it would keep me from being expelled. If I were thrown from the University my life was over. “Chancellor?” I said.

He gave me a tired, kindly look. His eyes said he understood, but that he had no choice but to see things through to their natural end. The gentle pity in his look frightened me. He knew what was going to happen. “Yes, E’lir Kvothe?”

“Might I say a few things?”

“You have already given your defense,” he said firmly.

“But I don’t even know what I did!” I burst out, panic overwhelming my composure.

“Six lashes and expulsion,” the Chancellor carried on in an official voice, ignoring my outburst. “All those in favor?”

Hemme raised his hand. Brandeur and Arwyl followed. My heart sank as I saw the Chancellor raise his hand, and Lorren, and Kilvin, and Elxa Dal. Last of all was Elodin who smiled lazily and waggled the fingers of his upraised hand, as if waving. All nine hands against me. I was to be expelled

from the University. My life was over.

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