In the Chronicle Edit
Kvothe first hears of the Lackless family via a child's rhyme while traveling with his troupe, and he first hears of Meluan after Maer Alveron patrons him to write love songs about her. After Kvothe saves the Maer from being poisoned by Caudicus, the Maer informs Kvothe of his wishes to woo Meluan and marry her. Kvothe works with the Maer by writing letters, poems, and songs for Meluan. The courtship was successful and Meluan and the Maer marry.
While Kvothe is still in favor with the Maer, Meluan reveals to him, under strictest promise of secrecy, that she possesses an ancient box without handle, lid, or hinges which contains some unknown threat or treasure. This box is assumed to have been passed down to every Lackless heir since remembrance. Meluan hopes that Kvothe can help her find a way to open it without damaging the contents. Kvothe is able to discern there is some faint engraving on one side of a Yllish story knot, but has no recommendations of how it might open. He also notes the box has a faint scent of lemon and seems to possibly contain another box inside.
Shortly thereafter, Meluan discovers Kvothe is one of the Edema Ruh, a group for whom she harbors a strong resentment. It is then revealed the true heir of Lackless, Meluan's older sister, Netalia Lackless was either stolen by or ran away with Edema Ruh troupers. Afterward, the Maer Alveron is forced to dismiss Kvothe from Severen to appease Meluan. However, he gives him a writ allowing him to play in his lands but falls short of issuing an official writ of patronage.
Just before Kvothe leaves Severen, he is given a wooden ring by Meluan. In congruence with Vintic tradition of trading rings. The ring symbolizes that Kvothe is so low class that he should be considered inhuman and beneath contempt. Despite Bredon and Stapes advising otherwise, Kvothe wears the ring for all to see.
Lady Lackless Songs Edit
More than one form of seemingly nonsensical rhymes referring to the "Lady Lackless" appear in the Kingkiller Chronicle. Each one refers to a bit of mystery and secrecy in the history of the family.
- "The Name of the Wind, Chapter Eleven "The Binding of Iron" (recited by a young Kvothe in front of his mother)"
- ―Seven things has Lady Lackless
Keeps them underneath her black dress
One a ring that’s not for wearing
One a sharp word, not for swearing
Right beside her husband’s candle
There’s a door without a handle
In a box, no lid or locks
Lackless keeps her husband’s rocks
There’s a secret she’s been keeping
She’s been dreaming and not sleeping
On a road, that’s not for traveling
Lackless likes her riddle raveling.[src]
- "The Wise Man's Fear, Chapter 108 "Quick" (recited by a young boy in a non-Ruh troupe)"
- ―Seven things stand before
The entrance to the Lackless door
One of them a ring unworn
One a word that is forsworn
One a time that must be right
One a candle without light
One a son who brings the blood
One a door that holds the flood
One a thing tight-held in keepingThen comes that which comes with sleeping[src]
It is speculated by fans of the series that Meluan Lackless is actually Kvothe's Aunt.
Kvothe's mother makes reference to the way in which his father stole the heart of a noble girl and whisked her away. In addition, she becomes quite concerned over Kvothe's idle singing of the child's rhyme about the "Lady Lackless."
Yet further circumstantial evidence is provided when Kvothe is talking to Wilem and Simmon on Stonebridge and relates to them a song his father wrote for his mother, causing her to make him sleep underneath the wagon that night, where he refers to her as "Tally" and concludes with the lines:
- It's worth my life
To make my wife
Not tally a lot less...
The Lackless sister who disappeared with the Ruh was named Netalia Lackless, and the final line appears to be a phonetic pronunciation of her name. It is likely that she made him sleep under the wagon because he had cleverly written a song that would reveal her true identity.
Lastly, upon Kvothe's meeting Meluan Lackless for the first time, he is stricken with a powerful feeling of familiarity, as though he has seen her before. He never places the feeling or is able to explain it, and it remains an open arc in the story.
Also notably from the same verse as mentioned above, Arliden captializes 'Tally' in one of the lines.
"My sweet Tally cannot cook."
This is significant, and a nod to the reader that this is in fact Natalia Lackless.
There is another reference toward a relation between Kvothe's mother, Kvothe himself and Meluan when the two (Kvothe and Meluan) first meet when the Maer is courting.
"I helped her into her seat, her profile struck me with such a strong resemblance that I couldn’t help but stare. I knew her, I was certain of it. But I couldn’t for the life of me remember where we might have met. . . ."
He ponders on her origin, and where he could have seen her resemblance and discounts anywhere near The University, or across the river. This leads toward a place in his past. His mother. Laurien. Formerly Natalia Lackless.
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