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Szeth is in the City of Bells to finish off the last names on his list of targets. He’s working as a porter in order to get the lay of the land and workings of the city. He is to kill King Taravangian, who is well-loved for his acts of charity, including building hospitals and paying to staff them. Szeth is already regretting what is to come.
For this particular mission, Szeth is specifically commanded not to kill anyone else when he confronts Taravangian; he is to kill the King as quietly as possible while delivering a message he has to make sure the King hears. While in the larder of the palace, Szeth obtains permission to go to the privy. Once alone, Szeth uses his Shardblade to cut a hole in the rock floor and uses a half Basic Lashing upwards on the rock so it floats above rather than make any noise. He then jumps on the rock after using a Lashing to change his own weight so he can slowly descend atop the rock. Szeth finds himself in a much fancier privy meant for lighteyes.
Szeth changes into a servant’s outfit and goes into the hallway after dismissing his Shardblade. Szeth knows exactly where the King will be. He approaches a door with two guards and makes quick work of them, but does not kill them. He kicks open the door and finds a man sitting cross-legged on the floor staring out a window in the opposite direction. Szeth delivers his message:
|“||"I have been instructed to tell you that the others are dead. I’ve come to finish the job."||”|
The man does not acknowledge him at first. Then Taravangian asks him if he killed his guards while also naming Szeth as Szeth-son-son-Vallano. He praises the good job Szeth has done killing so many of Roshar's leaders and creating chaos, then asks:
|“||"Was this your destiny? Do you wonder? Given that monstrosity of a Shardblade by your people, cast out and absolved of any sin your masters might require of you?"||”|
Szeth insists he isn’t absolved by any means and that he feels each death upon his soul. He kills, but his punishment is to “bear the sins” and be Truthless. Taravangian counters that Szeth knows many more truths than the rest of the Shin. Szeth determines this King isn’t as feeble as most believe; he is cunning. Taravangian then pulls out Szeth’s Oathstone, revealing himself to be Szeth’s unseen master. Taravangian had put his own name on the hitlist in case Szeth was captured and the list discovered, but now he orders Szeth to not kill him.
Szeth wants to know if this was all about vengeance. The king says it wasn’t, but was rather about stability. Szeth is bewildered that killing all of these leaders could be considered stabilizing anything. Taravangian indicates these things must be done so that things can be made stronger in the long run.
Taravangian then quotes a Shin proverb in its original language, which shocks Szeth. He leads Szeth down a stairwell to a secret room containing hundreds of beds of the sick and infirm; rather than helping the patients, they are slowly draining the blood from them. The horror of it hits Szeth, and Taravangian says they do this only to the sickest people, but they do occasionally pull in others who won’t be missed. Anger rises in Szeth to the point where he nearly kills Taravangian, but he is reined in by his oath and a word from the King.
Taravangian’s hands aren’t clean; he tells Szeth that he has bled out many people himself over the years. One of the nearby "patients" shouts out something about the Stormfather and then dies. The King explains that they are killing these people to record their last words, which began appearing seven years earlier when Gavilar first went to the Shattered Plains. These words, King Taravangian claims, will help save the world.
Szeth calls him a monster, which is a label the King readily accepts, claiming "I am the monster who will save this world." Taravangian then adds another name to the end of the list: Dalinar Kholin. He says it is to be done "brutally" and soon before Dalinar can unite the Alethi Highprinces.
- by Michael Pye
Quote of the Chapter:
|“||"Sometimes," Taravangian said, "you must tear down a structure to build a new one with stronger walls."||”|