Hello! Have a story (and please, please comment if you like it ... it took me two months to write it!). But first ...

Spoiler alert! If you avoid fan speculation, do not read this, because it is based on many fan theories about Day 3, and I did my research to come up with a plausible plot arc. Endnotes and links to fan theories are provided in a final "chapter."

KKC belongs to Pat Rothfuss. I put myself at his mercy.


CHAPTER ONE

White Lies


Chronicler yawned as he lurched down the stairs into the early morning silence of the Waystone's common room. Shards of pink light sliced through tightly latched shutters, forming sharp, bright-edged shapes where they fell across empty tables and chairs. It was sunrise, then, damnably early to be awake. Still, Chronicler was surprised to see the shutters still closed. He had half expected to find Kvothe and Bast already seated at the wide mahogany bar, halfway through breakfast, tapping their fingers idly against the grain and grumbling about lazy, entitled guests who had no respect for the daily exigencies of simple village folk: wood to be split and bread to be kneaded, water to be pumped and bars to be polished to dust.

Chronicler placed his leather satchel on the table nearest the stairs and peered around the room, hoping for a glimpse of the innkeeper or his improbable assistant. He wondered idly how quickly the red-haired man could procure breakfast, and whether he stocked coffee. He stalled out as his eyes caught on the dark mass huddled by the bar.

Kvothe lay atop a long table, seemingly sound asleep. He slept on his side, half-curled, his right hand wrapped around his left. He was barefoot. His jaw had turned an ugly shade of purple where the soldier had clipped him yesterday. His chest rose and fell in uneven gasps. Chronicler watched with open curiosity as he mumbled something incoherent and shifted in his sleep. He looked very young, and very fragile, and utterly out of place.

Had he dipped into his collection last night and passed out at the bar? The gods only knew the poor fellow had plenty of reasons to drink himself stupid. Chronicler looked around for a tell-tale tumbler of whiskey, a bottle of scutten, maybe a strong black brand. But no, all the bottles had been wiped clean and put away. The only thing out of place - besides the man on the table, of course - was the sword, Folly, which lay at his side.

Chronicler took a few cautious steps towards the table, leaned over the younger man, and nudged his shoulder gently.

"Kvo-aargh!" Chronicler let out a wild yell as he fell heavily to the floor.

He found himself on his back. Kvothe towered over him, his gaze wild, unseeing, and impossibly bright. He had thrown all his weight behind one knee, and was now using it to great effect to pin the scribe to the ground. Chronicler's shoulder, the one the scrael had so obligingly opened for him just days before, screamed in pain. He was fairly certain he'd encountered a chair on his way down.

Kvothe held Folly just above his throat. "Stop!" Chronicler wheezed. He scrabbled at the blade, gasping for air. "It's just me."

The red-haired man's eyes widened. He scrambled backwards, nearly dropping the sword in his haste to set it aside.

"Black hands, man!" he said, aghast. "Are you trying to get yourself killed?"

Chronicler just groaned and slumped into the floor. The innkeeper looked him up and down, then blushed a deep red. He gave the scribe a sheepish look.

"Sorry," he said, and he sounded like he meant it. He stood and held out a hand. A slight frown creased his brow. "That said, you really ought to know better by now than to sneak up on me like that."

The balding man rose unsteadily to his feet, ignoring Kvothe's outstretched hand. He fingered the stitches in his shoulder. They still held. Well, that was something. He glared at the innkeeper and made a show of brushing dust off of his shirt. There wasn't any, of course.

Kvothe shrugged uncomfortably and glanced away. His eyes fell upon the cheerful gold light sneaking through the shutters, and he swore under his breath. He leapt over the bar, graceful as a cat - or perhaps a thief - to rest the sword back in its cradle on the mounting board. He whirled and placed his hands flat on the bar, as if preparing to throw himself over it again. He stopped himself just before he leapt, his lips pressing into a thin line. He rubbed his palms against the grain, then forced himself to walk, stiffly, around the end of the bar and across the room. He opened the shutters on the wide window nearest the door. Daylight suffused the taproom, bright and golden and full of promise.

Kvothe clapped Chronicler on his good shoulder as he walked back to the bar. "I've got to get the bread on," he said, "before Bast wakes and wonders why I haven't gotten to it yet. He worries too much about me as it is. Open things up for me, would you?"

Chronicler snorted, and Kvothe gave him an odd look. "What's so funny?"

"You and him," he said, "dancing around each other the way you do. Merciful Tehlu, don't you tire of lying? I'm starting to think you two invent secrets just to fight off boredom."

Kvothe's eyes narrowed. He opened his mouth as if to ask what Chronicler meant, then closed it again. "I don't have time for this," he snapped. "Either help me or get out of the way."

Feeling a little guilty about the jibe - and not a small bit anxious about placing himself at the mercy of two men who would clearly care not a jot if he died violently, and soon - Chronicler obliged. He opened the shutters, and the front door besides. It was a cool autumn day, but the light and fresh air went a long way towards chasing out the dark silence that hung around the place.

The innkeeper disappeared into the back room. He reappeared several minutes later with an armful of kindling and knelt before the black stone fireplace.

"What were you doing?" Chronicler asked as he watched the red-haired man brush ash from the hearth.

"What?"

"Sleeping on the table," he clarified.

Annoyance flashed across the younger man's face. "Practicing the Ketan," he said shortly. He rubbed his hand and frowned. "I couldn't get it right. I took a break. Must have fallen asleep."

Chronicler felt a stab of pity for the man, though it was tempered slightly by the ache in his shoulder. "I'm sure you'll get it next time."

"I'm sure," Kvothe echoed. His voice was flat as a cutting board.

He finished kindling the fire and stood back. He clapped his hands together and smiled placidly. "There. I'll just fetch some water and we'll be ready for company." His lips twisted wryly. "Who knows? Maybe we'll get a whole half dozen today." He looked up at Chronicler. "Now, breakfast. Omelets?"


Bast came down the stairs just as Kvothe disappeared into the back room with two empty plates. He acknowledged the scribe with a nod, then strode past him into the center of the taproom. He stood a while by the door, humming absently to himself, staring out at the wide dirt road and the vivid autumn colors beyond.

Kvothe's voice wafted in from the back room. "Bast, is that you? Hold on, I'll throw together some breakfast."

Bast smiled brightly and plopped down next to Chronicler at the bar.

He immediately looked bored. His bright eyes darted from the bottles on the shelf to the sword on the wall, then away. He shifted on the stool, stood, sat back down again, and sighed. He yawned widely and stretched like a cat.

He pulled four bottles off the shelf. Red, blue, yellow, and green. He slid them around on the bar, making their colored reflections waltz dizzyingly across the wall. His eyes darted back and forth and he laughed quietly to himself, dancing in his seat.

Chronicler was relieved to see that Bast's mysterious midnight outing had lifted his spirits. For all of that, there was something different about him this morning, something feral and dark that the daylight couldn't hide. His eyes were too bright and too hard, his demeanor too wild.

"Where did you go last night?" Chronicler said quietly.

Bast's hands froze on the bottles. His smile grew wicked. He put a long finger to his lips. "Shhh," he hissed, his eyes darting towards the back room.

Chronicler snorted, shaking his head. "Tehlu shelter us, fools and children all."

Bast's smile dropped a notch. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing. Just that you two make a fine couple. You deserve each other, really."

"A fine couple?" Bast turned the words over slowly in his mouth. He cocked his head to the side, clearly puzzled. "You think Reshi and I are ... lovers?"

"Aren't you?"

Bast laughed, a wild cackle. He laughed helplessly, doubling over and clutching at the bar for support. Chronicler reddened.

"Reshi, did you hear?" Bast called out, his bright blue eyes dancing. "Chronicler thinks we are lovers."

Chronicler heard a soft snort from the back room. "With all those dark-eyed milkmaids left to charm? How could you possibly find the time?"

Bast laughed again and shook his head, grinning from ear to ear. "Anpauen," he said, gesturing inarticulately at Chronicler. "The stories you folk tell yourselves."

"There's no need for all that," Chronicler grumbled, clearly affronted. "It was an honest mistake." Bast just chuckled some more.

Chronicler stared at the bar in sullen silence until Kvothe reappeared from the back room. The red-haired man placed a plate before Bast with a practiced flourish. It practically brimmed over with tomatoes and fried potatoes. Underneath lay two properly plate-sized omelets stuffed with mushrooms, peppers, and cheese.

Bast clapped delightedly. "Reshi, you've outdone yourself."

Kvothe sketched a shallow bow. He smiled indulgently and pushed the food towards his apprentice. "Well, I didn't want you to starve," he explained. "And I thought you might be famished, after last night."

Bast's smile froze. "Last night?" he said warily.

"Oh, yes." Kvothe's smile was all teeth. "You must have really worn yourself out, running around like that. It's not like you to wake up so late."

Bast relaxed. For a moment, he'd feared his master had found the bodies of the soldiers in the woods. Or worse, that he had somehow learned Bast had hired them to rob the inn. He was not sure how the innkeeper would react if he discovered that Bast had been spreading tales and causing trouble in the hope of forcing his master's hand. Few things frightened Bast more than the razor-sharp edge of the innkeeper's anger.

"Oh, that." He waved his hand dismissively. "That was nothing. Chronicler kept me awake all night with his snoring, is all."

"Snoring!" Chronicler cried. "I did not."

Kvothe frowned. "I didn't hear any snoring, Bast."

"Of course you didn't, Reshi," Bast said pointedly. "How could you, when you were sleeping on the tables down here?"

Kvothe looked shocked. He stared at his apprentice in consternation. "You knew? Why didn't you wake me?"

Bast shrugged and shoveled a forkful of potatoes into his mouth. "I've sat on that miserable plank you call a bed. I didn't figure you'd notice the difference." He swallowed, then continued. "Besides, I think it's good for you, Reshi. Practicing the Ketan again, I mean. Wearing yourself out. Building up your strength. It will all come back to you soon, I'm sure of it."

Kvothe's pause was barely noticeable. "I'm sure you're right, Bast," he said easily. "Now finish your breakfast, and I'll restart my story."

Bast shook his head vigorously. "I don't need my ears to eat," he said between bites. "Go on, please."

Kvothe drew a long breath, then sighed. "Very well. But I warn you both, things are about to take a dark turn."