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The Way of Kings: Chapter 41

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<< TWoK Chapter 40: Eyes of Red and Blue / TWoK Chapter 42: Beggars and Barmaids >>
Twok41


Point of view: Kaladin
Setting: Hearthstone, five-and-one-half years ago

Kaladin pushes past a hysterical Laral to join Lirin in the surgery room. Kaladin leaps to assist his father, Hesina and Tien taking auxiliary roles or fleeing, respectively. Roshone and his son Rillir have been terribly wounded while hunting whitespines. Rillir has been pierced through the torso, his leg hanging by a few tendons.

Kaladin washes out Rillir’s stomach wound so his father can examine it. Lirin probes the wound, grows even sterner, then turns away to tend to Roshone instead. The citylord protests, but Lirin coldly explains that his son is dead. There is nothing he can do to help him except ease his pain. He has Kaladin dose the furious lighteyes with dazewater, then apply it to Rillir to ease his passing.

Quote of the Chapter:

"I work under three guidelines, Roshone," Lirin said, forcibly pressing the lighteyes down against his table. "The guidelines every surgeon uses when choosing between two patients. If the wounds are equal, treat the youngest first."

"Then see to my son!"

"If the wounds are not equally threatening," Lirin continued, "Treat the worst wound first."

"As I’ve been telling you!"

"The third guideline supersedes them both, Roshone," Lirin said, leaning down. "A surgeon must know when someone is beyond their ability to help. I’m sorry, Roshone. I would save him if I could, I promise you. But I cannot."

Kaladin and Lirin extract the shards of whitespine tusk from Roshone efficiently, while Lirin complains about the folly of going hunting for such dangerous creatures. As if it weren’t enough to send half the town to the war. Before removing the last shard, Lirin’s scalpel hovers over Roshone’s femoral artery. If he cut it, Roshone would be dead in minutes. He looked up at his son, then pulled back his scalpel, removed the last shard, and began to close the wound. Rillir had already stopped breathing behind them.

Later that day, Kaladin watches the blood-red sunset, thinking about blood, eyes, and nobility. When his father joins him, he tells Lirin that he saw inside a man. Specifically, he saw inside his father; saw a man who would have let Roshone die if Kaladin hadn’t been there. He demands to know why he didn’t let him die, or even kill him.

Lirin says he couldn’t, because he’s not a killer. "Somebody has to start. Somebody has to step forward and do what is right, because it is right." He wants to be better than the lighteyes, to reawaken human decency, and for his son to do the same. Kaladin, on the other hand, thinks he should have let Roshone die.

Lirin tells him to go inside and get some rest so he could be ready when Alds and Milp, the darkeyed men who accompanied Roshone’s hunting party, are brought back. Kaladin doubts this will happen; the men are surely dead by now. He thinks about whether he would have killed Roshone, and thinks he wouldn’t. But he doesn’t feel like he had any obligation to help, either. He realizes that his father is wrong about him. He’s nowhere near as gentle or adverse to death as his father suspects. He discovers that he could kill, when necessary. He believes that some people just need to be removed.

- Paraphrased from Carl Engle-Laird[1]

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