I am glad I decided to accompany you today. You are straying, indulging in whimsy. Some of you seem to have forgotten what it is we seek, what we wish to achieve.


After Ben leaves, the troupe try to keep Kote from moping. They teach him to jest and dance, how to use a sword, his father trains him for acting, and his mother explains court etiquette.

A fallen oak tree lying across the road brings the troupe to a halt. Kote slips away into the wood to play and look for wild sage for his mother.

Upon Kote's return to the camp site he finds desolation. The camp has been set on fire and the troupe massacred:  "All the flames were tinged with blue.[1]" Peering around Shandi's wagon, he steadies himself against the wagon's wheel: "When I gripped it, the iron bands that reinforced the wheel crumbled in my hand, flaking away in gritty sheets of brown rust.[2]" As he steps back the wagon wheel creaks and cracks and gives way with "the wagon splintering as if its wood were rotten as an old stump.[3]"

Kote is left in full view of the fire. One of the men siting by the fire rose to his feet with his sword drawn. His motion was as smooth as quicksilver flowing onto a table. "His face was narrow and sharp, with the perfect beauty of porcelain. His hair was shoulder length, framing his face in loose curls the colour of frost. He was a creature of winter’s pale. Everything about him was cold and sharp and white. Except his eyes. They were black like a goat’s but with no iris.[4] His eyes were like his sword, and neither one reflected the light of the fire or the setting sun.[5]" Haliax tells Cinder "Send him to the soft and painless blanket of his sleep.

"The voice came from a man who sat apart from the rest, wrapped in shadow at the edge of the fire. Though the sky was still bright with sunset and nothing stood between the fire and where he sat, shadow pooled around him like thick oil. The fire snapped and danced, lively and warm, tinged with blue, but no flicker of its light came close to him. The shadow gathered thicker around his head. I could catch a glimpse of a deep cowl like some priests wear, but underneath the shadows were so deep it was like looking down a well at midnight."
In the face of Cinder's defiance, Haliax calls "Ferula." Cinder convulses, crumbling to his knees with his arms wrapped around his midsection.[6]

As Haliax admonishes Cinder and begins to order the murder of Kote he is interrupted by something arriving in the sky. He stands and spreads his arms with the others stepping into the shadow surrounding him. Then they were gone.

Kote runs from body to body, he finds his parents and attempts to bury them. He finds their wagon, lights candles and falls asleep. He wakes to a burning wagon. Gathering some possessions and his father's lute he walks into the forest. As day breaks he begins to play the lute and continues playing it until he falls asleep.

  1. Chapter 12. Puzzle Pieces Fitting, page 82 - Signs of Chandrian
  2. Chapter 12. Puzzle Pieces Fitting, page 83 - Signs of Chandrian
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Chapter 7. Of Beginnings and the Names of Things, page 49 - Kote's sword, in the early morning sun: "In fact, the light the sword reflected was dull, burnished, and ages old."
  6. Chapter 13. Interlude - Flesh with Blood Beneath, page 92 - This is similar to what Chronicler does to Bast, binding with iron.



"I hope they spent those last few hours well. I hope they didn’t waste them on mindless tasks: kindling the evening fire and cutting vegetables for dinner. I hope they sang together, as they so often did. I hope they retired to our wagon and spent time in each other’s arms. I hope they lay near each other and spoke softly of small things. I hope they were together, busy with loving each other, until the end came.

It is a small hope, and pointless really. They are just as dead either way.

Still, I hope."