“Would you kill for me?”
I didn’t need to think about it. “Yes. If I had to. But you’re safe here, Fool. The stout walls of Buckkeep Castle are all around you. And I am at your side. No one knows where you are. Sleep without fear.”
“Would you kill for me if I asked you to?”
Was his mind wandering that he had repeated his question? I spoke soothingly. “You wouldn’t have to ask me to. If someone were threatening you, I’d kill him. Simple as that.” I didn’t tell him to go to sleep. It isn’t that easy, after you’ve experienced torture. There were still nights when I woke with a jolt, thinking myself back in Regal’s dungeon. The smallest thing could trigger a sudden rush of terror: the smell of a certain kind of charcoal, a creak like a rope tightening, a clang that sounded like a cell door slamming. Even just the dark. Just being alone. In the dark, I reached out and set my hand on his shoulder. “You’re safe. I’ll keep watch if you want me to.”
“No.” He reached up and put his bony hand on top of mine. The logs in the fire crackled softly and I listened to him breathe. He spoke again.
“That isn’t what I meant. It’s the message I sent with the last four messengers. The favor I hated to ask. I was ashamed to ask it, ashamed to ask anything of you after I had used you so mercilessly. But there was no one else I could ask, anywhere. I tried to do it myself. They’d stopped questioning me. They’d begun to leave me alone. And one day they were careless. Perhaps. I escaped. I thought I escaped. I found friends and took shelter and rested. I knew what I had to do. Knew what must be done, and I prepared for it as well as I could. And I tried. But they were expecting me. They caught me and the ones who had given me shelter and aid. They took me back and that time, they didn’t bother with finesse or questions. Just brutality. Breaking my bones. Taking my sight.”
“What had you done?” My breath felt short.
“I tried and botched it badly. They mocked me. They told me I’d always fail. But you wouldn’t. You’d know how. You had all the training. And you were good at it.”
The warmth of the bed could not dispel the chill that was building in me. I shifted away but his hand suddenly gripped mine, tight as death. “You were good at it, once. At killing people. Chade trained you and you were good at it.”
“Good at killing people,” I said in a wooden voice. Those words did not make sense when I said them aloud. Good at creating death. A silence thicker than darkness separated us.
He spoke again. Desperation filled his voice. “I hate to ask it. I know you have set it out of your life. But I must. When I am rested, when I explain it to you, you will understand. They have to be stopped, and only death will do it. There is only you between them and what they would do. Only you.”
I did not speak. He was not himself. The Fool would never have asked this of me. He was blinded and ill and in pain. He had lived in terrible fear. He still feared. But he was safe now. As he became better, his mind would clear. He’d be himself again. He’d apologize. If he even remembered this conversation.
“Please, Fitz. Please. They must be killed. It’s the only way to stop them.” He took in a painful gasp of air. “Fitz, would you assassinate them? All of them. Put an end to them and the horrible things they are doing?” He paused and added the words I’d dreaded hearing. “Please. For me.”
According to the locals, only once in each generation is a true White Prophet born. Often enough, the child is born into a family that had no awareness that they carried such blood in their veins. If the family is in a region where the White Prophets are venerated, there is rejoicing and celebration. The wondrous child is raised at home until he or she is ten years of age. At that time, the family makes a pilgrimage to the Pale Isle, thought to have been the homeland of the White folk and now the location of the Servants of the Archives, those who dedicate themselves to the preservation of the records and prophecies of the White Prophets. There the child will be greeted with joy and taken into their custody.
It is said that every dream the child relates will be recorded there. Until his twentieth year, he is prohibited from reading any of the preserved prophecies of other White Prophets, lest their information taint the purity of his vision. When he attains his twentieth birthday, his education in the Archives begins.
Then this traveler was told the sad tale of a White infant born in a distant village where folk had no knowledge of the White Prophets. When the time for a new White Prophet to be born had passed with no such child being reported, the Servants of the Archives undertook to read for themselves all prophecies that might relate to such a lack. Their research led them to send messengers to that remote region, looking for the child. They came back with a tale of a pale child deemed a freak and an idiot, left to starve in his cradle.