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The Way of Kings: Chapter 62

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<< TWoK Chapter 61: Right for Wrong / TWoK Chapter 63: Fear >>
Twok62


The darkness becomes a palace. Let it rule! Let it rule!


Point of view: Kaladin
Setting: The Shattered Plains

While waiting for Sadeas's army to finish crossing a chasm during a plateau run, Moash interrogates Kaladin about the prayer tied to his arm. Kaladin isn’t sure if he believes anymore, but his nostalgia for his mother’s simple faith comforts him. Kaladin and Bridge Four have been run ragged by constant plateau runs and nightly chasm duty. Moash is beginning to make noises about attacking Sadeas, since if they’re going to die anyway they might as well take the Highprince down with them. Kaladin quashes this, preparing for a desperate scheme which might lead to his death.

Before their approach on the final chasm between them and the chrysalis, Kaladin goes to get his Parshendi-carapace armor from Lopen. At that moment, a soldier approaches and demands water from Bridge Four’s supply. Kaladin knows that if the man gets his way, not only will the other soldiers drink them dry, he will discover the armor and reveal their plot. To prevent this, Kaladin stares the man down, reminding him that if he compromises a bridge during an assault, he’s the one who will have to replace the missing bridgeman. The soldier backs down.

They reach the final assault, the Parshendi already lined up on the opposite plateau. It’s going to be a bad run. Kaladin tells Rock that he’s going to duck out from under the bridge once they start running, and to take over while he’s gone. The order to run is given, and Kaladin dashes out ahead of the bridges, putting on his makeshift armor quickly. As they see him, the Parshendi archers stop singing, palpably outraged. Parshendi consider it a dire sin to disturb their dead, not even moving them from the battlefield. So, Kaladin charging at them wearing their dead as a hat? It doesn’t go over well.

The archers focus all their attention on Kaladin, shooting as often as they can, not even maintaining coordinated volleys. Kaladin inhales Stormlight and dodges between the missiles, which bounce off his shield and armor. The speed and agility granted to him by the Stormlight feels like a natural capacity that his body had long yearned for. One arrow catches his arm, but the wound leaks Stormlight and begins to heal immediately.

Another flight of arrows threatens to take his life, but he watches in awe as they change course in midair to strike his shield instead. He has Lashed his shield without knowing what he was doing, something that he realizes he must have been doing for years.

Kaladin realizes suddenly that the bridge crews have passed him, and are setting their bridges. None of Bridge Four have been wounded, and the cavalry is now in position to relieve them. The distracted Parshendi offer little resistance. Bridge Four closes on him, astounded by his foolhardy but terrifically effective plan. Kaladin looks to Teft, who wordlessly confirms that no one could see him glowing.

Seeing Matal, Kaladin calls his men to fall into line. He watches as Sadeas rides past, and the bridgemen bow. Sadeas tells Matal that Kaladin looks familiar, and Matal confirms that "He is the one from before." Sadeas muses on the "'miracle,'" and backhandedly compliments the man for thinking to send Kaladin forward as a decoy.

Once Sadeas is gone, Matal turns on Kaladin, furious. Kaladin reminds him that a) he just got the lighteyes promoted, b) stringing him up never worked before, and c) Matal was unlikely to find any other bridgemen crazy enough to pull that distraction scheme. Matal leaves in a huff.

Kaladin muses on the overwhelming success of their plan. All twenty bridges were set, with hardly any casualties. Kaladin must have drawn almost the entirety of the archers’ attention. Moash exclaims that they have to expand this plan with additional decoys, but Rock’s talk of bones reminds Kaladin of Shen. He goes to find the parshman bridgeman, and finds him sitting far away, his "face a mask of pain." He apparently sat like that as soon as he saw what Kaladin had done. Kaladin feels guilty, but not enough to overwhelm his sense of victory. He sends the bridgemen out to find and aid the wounded.

Kaladin sees his hand shaking, and realizes that he’s in shock. Teft approaches, concerned, and insists that he take care of himself. His powers don’t make him immortal, and the Stormlight only helps his body heal, it doesn’t do the work for him. Teft insists that he let a few others go out to help him draw fire, and Kaladin consents.

Syl asks him if he still feels cursed, and Kaladin admits that he doesn’t. In a way that makes it worse, though. If he was never cursed, his men died because he failed them. She asks him not to feel guilty, and he’s reminded of his father. Kaladin never got the balance of caring right. He doesn’t know how to balance the necessity to do the impossible with the necessity not to feel guilty when he fails.

Bridge Four brings him a wounded man to tend to, and Kaladin starts teaching them how to do basic first aid. He’s interrupted, however, by Lopen’s desperate cries of "Kaladin!" A cluster of Parshendi archers has broken away from the battle to kill the man who mocked their dead. Kaladin tries to spring into action, but he’s exhausted, and he can see death bearing down when something crashes into the Parshendi line. A Shardbearer in gray Plate scythes through them, destroying the squad in seconds. The Shardbearer’s honor guard catches up to him, and he raises his Blade to salute Bridge Four, before rejoining the battle.

The men are astounded. They’d been saved by Dalinar Kholin, although Moash insists that he just took an opportunity. Kaladin is less sure. If it was "just an opportunity taken," why did Dalinar salute him? He turns his mind back to thoughts of escape.

- by Carl Engle-Laird[1]

Quote of the Chapter:

Sadeas regarded the battlefield. Well, luckily for you, it worked. I suppose I’ll have to promote you now. He shook his head. Those savages practically ignored the assault force. All twenty bridges set, most with nary a casualty. It seems like a waste, somehow. Consider yourself commended. Most remarkable, the way that boy dodged ... .

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