My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as "quothe." Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree. "The Flame" is obvious if you've ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it's unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire. "The Thunder" I attribute to a strong baritone and a great deal of stage training at an early age. I've never thought of "The Broken Tree" as very significant. Although in retrospect, I suppose it could be considered at least partially prophetic. My first mentor called me E'lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them. But I was brought up as Kvothe. My father once told me it meant "to know." I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.
You think I'm playing at some game? You think iron will keep you safe? Hear my words, manling. Do not mistake me for my mask. You see light dappling on the water and forget the deep, cold dark beneath. Listen. You cannot hurt me. You cannot run or hide. In this I will not be defied. I swear by all the salt in me: if you run counter to my desire, the remainder of your brief mortal span will be an orchestra of misery. I swear by stone and oak and elm: I'll make a game of you. I'll follow you unseen and smother any spark of joy you find. You'll never know a woman's touch, a breath of rest, a moment's peace of mind. And I swear by the night sky and the ever-moving moon: if you lead my master to despair, I will slit you open and splash around like a child in a muddy puddle. I'll string a fiddle with your guts and make you play it while I dance. You are an educated man. You know there are no such things as demons. There is only my kind. You are not wise enough to fear me as I should be feared. You do not know the first note of the music that moves me.