S experiences a pattern of experiencing great works of art, but before he can focus on them and truly experience them the way they were intended – he is interrupted by hardship and even tragedy.
In Chapter 1, S enters a tavern full of drunken strangers. But then, S notices a beautiful woman in an emerald green dress seated across the room. He gets the chance to sit with her briefly and talk with her, noticing that she is reading a large book called The Archer’s Tales by Archimedes de Sobreiro. But before S can learn the woman’s name or get a chance to peek inside the book, he is shanghaied.
The Wharf in B__.
After the bomb goes off, S lies in a semi-conscious state on the pavement. He has a flashback or vision of a young man on the same wharf with a young girl. She is rejecting him or his manuscript or both. The weight of the rejection in this tragic and poetic scene is so great that the young man appears to be about to throw himself into the sea. But then, S is interrupted by Stenfalk as he is wakened to reality and urged to leave.
S, Corbeau, and Pfeifer race through the caves to escape Vevoda’s detectives and, as they do, stumble upon ancient cave paintings by the K__ people. The paintings appear to tell the story of their lives and even their creation. But S has no time to ponder them more than a glance as the trio rushes for safety. Even the paintings themselves seem to show the last cave painter interrupted as he attempts to tell his story.
The Storehouse at El H__
S spends less than two hours on land and probably less than a half hour inside the storehouse, but while there he sees priceless antiquities and scrolls and artworks being rushed underground to safety from the impending innovation of the city. He also notices an old painting of what appears to be Sola, here named Samar, painted by Archimedes de Sobreiro, author of The Archer’s Tales. Before S can learn more, his package arrives (the valise) and he is quickly rushed back to shore.
S enters the cabin atop the volcanic island and visits briefly with The Lady. S asks to look at the book labeled S and she says, “Sit. Look all you like. But mind the time.” S flips through the book, where every page is a charcoal drawing of his xebec in different states of assembly, and then realizes he must return to the ship. The Lady is gone because no one lives here.
The Governor’s Mansion
S climbs his way up to the mansion where the governor of The Territory lives. Along the way, he hears the out-of-place birdsong of a merlin, crow, oystercatcher, and magpie (Stenfalk, Corbeau, Ostrero, and Straka). But he is in a hurry to discover the identity of the governor. He finds the governor in an amazing rose garden, but he has not time to stop and smell them. He rushes to his task and then flees just as quickly.
The Winter City
S picks up a newspaper every single day in the Winter City. Each day he holds the paper to his nose and inhales, hoping to catch a whiff of the fragrant ink, but he never does. He takes the newspaper back to his modest apartment and writes in the narrow spaces between the newsprint.
As S prepares to poison the wine, he walks outside and notices in the distance a barn full of ill-gotten art. He longs for the time to investigate further, but he cannot because he must carry out his task. S. has no time to listen to Vevoda VI’s speech, which itself is interrupted later by the sound of a single gunshot. In the cellars, S moves past barrel after barrel of wine in his frantic attempt to locate Vevoda.
It is only at the end of the book – the very last page – when finally S looks through Maelstrom’s spyglass and sees a vision of the xebec as it should be, with all parts in order and every board and sail in place and looking as perfect as can be.