The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Shadow Rising, Part 19

Well, this should be interesting, because I’ve just come from the Tor.com soiree/get-together/confab/thingy in the Village, which was tons of fun, mostly through putting faces to names and emails, and there was alcohol involved, and now I’m writing. Be Afraid.

So, welcome to the third-or-fourth-I-kind-of-forget-which-last entry involving The Shadow Rising of the Wheel of Time Re-read, in which we cover the hella long Chapters 52 and 53.

Previous entries are over there, and spoilers abound and abet and abraise you with their spoileryness. But you knew that, even if you never dreamed of phrasing it that way.

On to post-y goodness, eh?

Chapter 52: Need

What Happens
Nynaeve stands in the Stone in Tel’aran’rhiod, seething over the revelation that Egeanin was a vile Seanchan. She had so few friends, and to find one and then lose her like this was maddening. From behind her, Egwene comments that she’s wearing an odd dress, and Nynaeve jumps a mile and turns to find Egwene standing with two women who Nynaeve guesses from Elayne’s descriptions must be Amys and Bair; then she realizes she’s wearing a dress made from chain mail and a helmet. Embarrassed, she changes it back to a Two Rivers dress, and Bair tells her she must learn to control her thoughts in the dream. Nynaeve retorts she is just fine, thank you, and then notices the women look misty and transparent; Egwene explains that they are in transit, and entering the dream while in a saddle is rather difficult. Egwene brings Nynaeve up to date on what’s going on with Rand, and confesses she is deeply worried that Rand is already losing it. Nynaeve puts an arm around her to comfort her, and then gives her the news from Tanchico. She asks the Wise Ones if they know a way for her to get into Amathera’s dreams to see if she is a Darkfriend, and Bair calls her a foolish girl for even suggesting it. She tells Nynaeve that in another’s dream, the other is in control of everything. Nynaeve wants to tug her braid, but for some reason that had felt uncomfortable lately, so she clenches her fist and tells Bair and Amys off, saying she had told women older than they when to sit down and be quiet as Wisdom.

Abruptly she realized her single braid had split in two, one over each ear, red ribbons woven through to make tassels on the ends. Her skirt was so short it showed her knees, she wore a loose white blouse like the Wise Ones, and her shoes and stockings were gone. Where had this come from? She had surely never thought of wearing anything like it. Egwene put a hasty hand over her mouth. Was she aghast? Surely not smiling.

She struggles to change her clothes back, and finally manages it, and, unsure whether the Wise Ones were responsible or not, decides to pretend the whole thing hadn’t happened. She asks if she can bring Amathera into the Dreamworld instead, then, and both Wise Ones snap that such a thing is evil and forbidden. Nynaeve pretends she is not unnerved by their stares, and tells them that she and Elayne need help; the Black Ajah is very close to finding something which might let them control Rand. Bair and Amys discuss among themselves, and though Bair thinks it is too dangerous, Amys tells Nynaeve there is something that might help her, something the Wise Ones do when they need to find a new source of water in the Waste. She explains that need is the key; if you concentrate on what you need strongly enough, you can bring yourself to it in the dream.

“The danger is this, and you must be aware of it.” The Wise One leaned toward her intently, driving her words home with a tone as sharp as her gaze. “Each step is made blind, with eyes closed. You cannot know where you will be when you open your eyes. And finding the water does no good if you are standing in a den of vipers. The fangs of a mountain king kill as quickly in the dream as waking. I think these women Egwene speaks of will kill more quickly than the snake.”

Egwene exclaims she has done this already, and adds hastily that it was before she met Amys. Feeling grateful, Nynaeve hugs Egwene and gives the Wise Ones advice on how to deal with her tendency to jump ahead, which Amys and Bair seem to find ironic. She tells Egwene she or Elayne will meet her here again in seven days; by then, Egwene says, Rand will have all the Aiel behind him (she does not notice Amys and Bair shifting at her words), and Nynaeve says by then they will have the item that threatens Rand. She thinks privately that if not, then the Black Ajah will likely have it. Egwene tells Nynaeve to be careful, though she adds she knows Nynaeve won’t, and she and Amys and Bair vanish. Nynaeve realizes she didn’t tell Egwene about Egeanin, but thinks it would be better not to stir up Egwene’s memories of her captivity anyway.

Nynaeve could remember all too well the other woman’s nightmares for weeks after she was freed, waking up screaming that she would not be chained. Much the best to let it lie. It was not as if Egwene need ever meet the Seanchan woman. Burn that woman! Burn Egeanin to ash! Burn her!

Nynaeve changes her clothes back to her Taraboner disguise, and then realizes she can change her hair and face too. She conjures a tall mirror and makes herself look like Rendra, and thinks triumphantly that if this wasn’t being careful, she didn’t know what was. She closes her eyes and concentrates on her need to find what was threatening Rand in Tanchico, and opens them to find herself in an ornate bedroom, with a woman wearing only a stole and a crown standing against one of the bedposts, facing another woman with her back to Nynaeve, lounging on a couch and looking as misty as Egwene had earlier. Even from the back, Nynaeve instantly recognizes Temaile Kinderode. Temaile is laughing and considering what song she is going to make Amathera learn next, and then asks what Amathera is staring at; before Temaile can turn and see Nynaeve, she squeezes her eyes shut and concentrates on need again. This time she opens them in the exhibition hall of the Palace, heart pounding.

Speak of landing in a vipers’ den. Temaile Kinderode. The Black sister Amico had said enjoyed causing pain, enjoyed it enough to have made one of the Black Ajah comment. And her not able to channel a spark.

She calms herself, and thinks that at least she knows for sure that Amathera is no ally of the Black Ajah. She examines the hall, sure that what she was looking for must be here, and sees a dark-haired, handsome woman appear a ways down, wearing a shockingly transparent gown that looks like mist. Nynaeve thinks she must be someone who randomly dreamed herself into Tel’aran’rhiod, and waits for her to vanish, but the woman grins at something in a glass case and then moves to study something else on a white stone stand, and Nynaeve thinks there is something about the woman that bothers her.

Nynaeve realized she had taken hold of a handful of braids again. The woman… Of its own accord her hand pulled—hard—and she stared at it in amazement; her knuckles were white, her hand quivering. It was almost as if thinking of that woman… Arm shaking, her hand tried to yank her hair out of her scalp. Why under the Light?

Explosively, Nynaeve’s memory of what had happened to her and Elayne in the inn comes back; she remembers the two of them fighting eagerly for the chance to spill their guts to this woman, and is suddenly murderously angry. She doesn’t understand why the woman, who she thinks must be a Black sister not on their list, didn’t turn them over to Liandrin, but is too enraged to care, and prepares to step out and confront her. Before she can, though, a woman who looks like Birgitte appears, puts a finger to her mouth, and nods toward an archway before vanishing. Nynaeve ignores this and prepares to step out anyway, but then sees that the mist-clad woman is gone. Furious that the woman pretending to be Birgitte had distracted her, Nynaeve storms through the doorway and demands to know who the other woman thinks she is, interfering right as she was about to teach a Black sister a lesson.

“I am Birgitte,” the woman said, leaning on her bow. “At least, that is the name you would know. And the lesson might have been yours, here as surely as in the Three-fold Land. I remember the lives I have lived as if they were books well-read, the longer gone dimmer than the nearer, but I remember well when I fought at Lews Therin’s side. I will never forget Moghedien’s face, any more than I will forget the face of Asmodean, the man you almost disturbed at Rhuidean.”

This revelation only makes Nynaeve angrier, mostly because she can’t warn Egwene for seven days, and she asks what Birgitte is doing here, considering she’s supposed to be dead. Birgitte explains that death is not the same for those bound to the Horn, and she waits in the Dreamworld to be born again. Nynaeve says they could use her help, but Birgitte says she cannot affect the real world until she is born again, and then she would only be a helpless infant. She adds that she shouldn’t be talking to Nynaeve at all; they are forbidden to talk to those who know they are in the Dreamworld, but Birgitte knows there is evil walking the world, and she is attracted to those she sees fighting against it, like Nynaeve and the other two women, and the young man with the wolves, even though it “violates the precepts”. A harsh male voice agrees that it does, and Nynaeve whirls to see an ugly man with two swords on his back who she realizes must be Gaidal Cain. Birgitte smiles at him fondly.

“We have almost always been linked,” Birgitte told Nynaeve without taking her eyes from Cain’s. “He is usually born well before me—so I know my time approaches again when I cannot find him—and I usually hate him at first sight in the flesh. But we nearly always end lovers or wed. A simple story, but I think we have spun it out in a thousand variations.”

Cain tells Birgitte that nothing but pain has come from ignoring the precepts, and Birgitte replies that she cannot sit by while the Shadow rises. He growls, asking if she’s forgotten what Moghedien promised her when they followed Lews Therin. He moves away, ignoring Nynaeve completely, and Nynaeve asks Birgitte to tell her about Moghedien. Birgitte answers that Moghedien takes no risks, and attacks only where she sees weakness; she will run if she thinks there is even a chance of defeat. But she warns Nynaeve not to take Moghedien lightly, especially not in Tel’aran’rhiod; Lanfear might claim the Dreamworld as hers, but Moghedien far outstrips her in ability here, though Lanfear is stronger in the real world. Nynaeve asks what it was Moghedien promised Birgitte, and Birgitte looks at Cain.

“She promised to make me weep alone for as long as the Wheel turns. She said it as a fact that simply had not happened yet.”

Birgitte warns Nynaeve again to be careful, and tells her they will meet again if Nynaeve survives. She goes to Cain, and they both disappear. Nynaeve wonders why everyone keeps telling her to be careful. The thought of Moghedien makes her furious again, and she appears back in the hall, filled with the Power, but it is still empty. She debates going up and teaching Temaile a lesson in lieu of Moghedien, but decides to see what the Forsaken was grinning at instead. She goes over to the case and sees that it contains one of the seals on the Dark One’s prison. Nynaeve knows this must be gotten away from the Black Ajah, too, but decides to try to find the other thing too. She tries the need trick again, and opens her eyes to find she is standing in front of a white stone pedestal with a necklace and two bracelets made of black metal on it. She reaches to touch them, and jerks her hand back at the wash of pain and sorrow that comes from them. She realizes that this was the other thing Moghedien was looking at, but at that moment Elayne shakes her awake.

Nynaeve’s eyes popped open, staring up at her. “If she knows what it is, why hasn’t she given it to them? If they know who she is, why does she have to look at it in Tel’aran’rhiod? Is she hiding from them, too?”

Elayne asks what she’s talking about, and Nynaeve relates her adventures. Elayne and Egeanin listen in disbelief, and Elayne hopes Nynaeve doesn’t kick up a fuss about her untying Egeanin’s hands. Elayne cannot remember the incident with Moghedien in the inn at all, and fights nausea at the thought of it. Nynaeve growls that she has a score to settle with Moghedien. Moving on to the items Nynaeve had found, Elayne asks how jewelry can be dangerous to Rand, and almost simultaneously she and Nynaeve look at Egeanin, making the connection. Egeanin tells them she’s never heard of an a’dam that can control a male channeler, but Elayne is sure that that is what this is. Nynaeve theorizes that Moghedien knows what it is, but for some reason has not told Liandrin and Co. about them. They begin to plan how to get the bracelets and the seal out of the Palace, but are interrupted by a commotion outside the door; the three rush out to find Juilin and Domon standing over a blond man unconscious on the floor, and Thom getting up with a hand to his head. Elayne rushes to help him, but he says it was nothing; the blond man had kicked him in the head, but he’s fine. Elayne is indignant at this. Juilin and Domon snipe at each other over who had come to the rescue, but their animosity seems unfocused, and Elayne realizes that Nynaeve and Egeanin are only wearing shifts, and Juilin and Domon are eyeing them appreciatively. Nynaeve glares at Juilin and stalks back into the room, but to Elayne’s surprise Egeanin shrieks in dismay and literally leaps back inside. Elayne stares at the men disapprovingly, but they ignore her; Juilin examines the blond and exclaims in surprise that this was the same man who tried to rob him, and then frowns and says he does not believe in coincidence. Elayne and Nynaeve look at Egeanin, who confirms the man is Seanchan, but no friend of hers, especially if he finds out she released Bethamin. She suggests they slit his throat, which shocks Juilin and Domon, but Nynaeve tells the men to dump him in the alley and meet back in the private dining room to make plans. As Nynaeve and Egeanin get dressed, Elayne tries to advise Egeanin to just ignore the men when they do things like that. Egeanin snaps back that she is “no shea dancer”, but adds thoughtfully that “he” is rather good-looking, though. Elayne thinks she means Juilin, and is startled to learn Egeanin was talking about Domon.

Elayne supposed there was no accounting for tastes—Nynaeve certainly loved Lan, and he was much too stone-faced and intimidating—but Bayle Domon? The man was half as wide as he was tall, as thick as an Ogier!

Nynaeve snaps that if they are quite done chattering about men…? Elayne is annoyed, but moves on, telling Nynaeve that she has thought of a way to move around the Palace undetected, and the three of them begin to plan.

Commentary
I continue to feel sympathy for Nynaeve in the beginning of this chapter in her vastly conflicting feelings about Egeanin. I never really noticed it before (which is something I seem to be saying a lot in this recap series), but her comment about how she has so few friends that she really resents losing one was very poignant to me. I heart Nynaeve in general, but there’s no doubt that she is the kind of person who does not make friends easily; this is a recurring problem for anyone who is both as blunt and abrasive, and yet as guarded and secretly uncertain as Nynaeve is. Also, that whole “running to all corners of the map and saving the world a lot” thing tends to get in the way of maintaining an active social life, for some reason. Who’d’ve thunk it?

This entire chapter is something of a mini-character study on Nynaeve, really, leaving aside all the plot-advancing and infodumpy stuff. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth reiterating the number of similarities she shares with Mat, specifically in the way they both make their obstinate refusal to examine their own psyches bizarrely charming. I had to chuckle at her thought halfway through, wondering why everyone kept telling her to be careful, because the way she views herself is so unlike the way everyone around her does, both in her negative traits and her positive ones. I don’t know why I find it so, well, adorable that neither she nor Mat seem to have any conception of how brave they really are. Of course, neither of them seems to get how obnoxious they can be, either, but at least that’s consistent.

I really do get why some people have such a problem with her, by the way. I guess, though, that for me courage and competence trump far worse personality flaws than Nynaeve’s been given. The fact that she is brave to the point of stupidity (some might say, considerably beyond that) is only a plus in my book; there is something viscerally satisfying in having a character around who is willing to go the HULK SMASH route no matter what the personal risk – at least in a fictional character.

It’s even more a treat to see it in a female character. Girls so rarely get to be the “lead, follow, or get the hell out of my way” type in fiction – or at least, to be that and not be penalized and/or judged for it – that I feel obliged to trumpet the coolness of it.

Anyway. Moving on to Birgitte, aka Chatty McExposition, at least in this chapter. Sheesh. Actually, no, she’s been that in all her appearances thus far in the series, hasn’t she? Well, I guess someone had to explain to us What is Up with all the new concepts introduced in the last two books. For someone who’s contractually forbidden to talk with Our Heroes she’s done an awful lot of Esplaining, thus far.

(And who exactly is the co-signer on these “precepts”, anyway? The Creator? Did he have an informational seminar with Birgitte and Hawkwing and everyone else who got bound to the Horn in which he detailed the conditions of their sub-letted tenancy in Tel’aran’rhiod in between lives, or what? Seems a little… involved for Mr. I WILL TAKE NO PART, eh?)

I did like her character analysis of Moghedien, though. I didn’t quote it in the recap, but her description of Moggy as a snake coiled in high grass, waiting her moment to strike, was a nicely deft way of introducing a new and different kind of villain to the series. The irony that Moghedien’s method of attack is most devastatingly used on Birgitte herself later on just adds that extra spice to it.

I’m glad that Juilin has re-acquired a little backbone by this time, even if it takes the form of ogling women in lingerie (or what passes for lingerie in WOT). While I find it a little annoying that Juilin never really quite gets the character development he deserves, I have to confess I’m rather enjoying this state of affairs that makes the male characters adjuncts to the women, instead of the much-more-common other way around.

Chapter 53: The Price of a Departure

What Happens
An exhausted Perrin sits with Tam, Abell, Bran, Faile, and Cenn in the inn, trying not to hear the Women’s Circle across the room discussing how little food is left. Cenn complains that the women are getting to use lamps while they make do with candles, and Tam, Abell and Bran variously tell him to quit complaining and wasting Perrin’s time. Perrin wishes they would stop worrying about that, or better yet tell him to run along and let them handle matters. As the men discuss weapons supplies, he tries to remember how many attacks there had been in the last seven days, and cannot.

“ …mustn’t let the men know,” Marin was saying softly, as if repeating a caution voiced before.

“Of course not,” Daise snorted, but not much louder. “If the fools find out the women are on half rations, they’ll insist on eating the same, and we can’t… ”

Perrin thinks that he is glad none of the women have had to fight yet, besides Bain and Chiad and Faile of course. Bran tries to suggest Perrin go to bed, but Perrin tells him he’ll sleep later. They are interrupted by Dannil bursting in to tell Perrin the Whitecloaks have brought a badly wounded man to the village who insists on speaking only to Perrin. Perrin and Faile get up, and Aram, who’s been lurking in the stairway, stands too, hesitantly, and Perrin tells him gruffly to come along if he’s coming. He thinks that neither Raen or Ila had spoken to Aram or Perrin since that day in the inn, and now Aram follows him around constantly when he’s not pestering Tam or the Warders to teach him swordcraft. Outside, Dannil tells off ten of the Companions, as they are now (to Perrin’s disgruntlement) called, to guard him as he walks to where the Whitecloak patrol, led by Byar, has brought the wounded man. The man has an arrow stuck through his chest, and Perrin demands to know if anyone has sent for the Aes Sedai. The man struggles to speak, asking for Perrin Goldeneyes. He tells the man that he is Perrin.

“Goldeneyes? I—cannot see—very well.” His wide, wild stare was right at Perrin’s face; if he could see at all, the fellow must see his eyes shining golden in the dark.

“I am Perrin Goldeneyes,” he said reluctantly.

The man seized his collar, pulling his face close with surprising strength. “We are—coming. Sent to—tell you. We are co—” His head fell back, eyes staring at nothing now.

Perrin asks if anyone knows him, but the Two Rivers men all shake their heads; Perrin asks the Whitecloaks if the man said anything else, but Byar just snarls “Shadowspawn!” under his breath and takes off. Perrin supposes the man might have meant that holdout farm folk are finally coming in, though he doubts that anyone could have survived out there that long. He staggers upright, and Faile tells him he needs to get some sleep, and he thinks he should have found some way to make her stay in Tear. A young boy runs up to tug on Perrin’s sleeve, and tell “Lord Perrin” that there’s something moving in the Westwood. Perrin tells him sharply not to call him that, and to go tell them he’s on his way. He ignores Faile’s protests, and her attempt to physically drag him back to the inn, and she is reduced to muttering sotto voce imprecations at him she still seems to think he cannot hear. They get to the west end of the village to find Tomas, Bain and Chiad there. Tomas says he thinks it is only one, but he thought Perrin might be able to tell.

Perrin nodded. Everyone knew about his vision, especially in darkness. The Two Rivers people seemed to think it something special, something that marked him out an idiot hero. What the Warders thought, or the Aes Sedai, he had no idea. He was too tired to care tonight.

He looks carefully, and sees a large shape approaching, and then realizes it is carrying a human figure, and begins laughing, calling for Loial and Gaul to come in. The others all cheer him on, and Loial hurries past the defensive perimeter and sinks to the ground, exhausted. Gaul is limping badly, and almost all their weapons are gone; Bain and Chiad instantly descend upon Gaul and start fussing over the wound in his thigh. Loial tells Perrin that they did it; the Waygate is closed as of four days ago, and no one other than an Aes Sedai or the Elders can open it again. Gaul adds that Loial carried him most of the way, outrunning a Fade and fifty Trollocs for three days. He tries to push the Maidens away, and Chiad snaps at him to lie still or she will say she has touched him armed, which reduces Gaul to splutters, but he lets them tend his leg. Loial assures Perrin that he is not hurt, only tired, and tells him it is very bad out there; he thinks there must be several thousand Trollocs in the Two Rivers, and maybe fifty Myrddraal. Luc appears at that moment and loudly declares Loial is wrong; he estimates less than a thousand are still out there, and tosses a bag with another Fade head in it to Perrin, who promptly hurls it out past the stakes. Gaul angrily supports Loial’s estimate.

Luc’s teeth showed white in a smile. “How many days have you spent in the Blight, Aiel? I have spent many.” Perhaps it was more snarl than smile. “Many. Believe what you wish, Goldeneyes. The endless days will bring what they bring, as they always have.”

He gallops off, and Loial says he and Gaul know what they saw. Perrin thanks him and Gaul, and tells them to get some sleep, and Faile interjects that Perrin needs sleep too. Bain and Chiad are helping Gaul walk, him growling furiously about it (Perrin overhears Chiad say something about “gai’shain”, and Bain laughs), and Perrin lets Faile take him back to the inn and his bedroom. After he promises her he will sleep and she leaves, he lays down and thinks about several thousand Trollocs, and whether Luc could possibly be trusted on his lower estimate, and thinks there’s one way for him to find out.

He stands on the empty Green in the wolf dream, and checks for ravens. As he does so, windows in the sky open:

Egwene stood among a crowd of women, fear in her eyes; slowly the women knelt around her. Nynaeve was one of them, and he believed he saw Elayne’s red-gold hair. That window faded and was replaced. Mat stood naked and bound, snarling; an odd spear with a black shaft had been thrust across his back behind his elbows, and a silver medallion, a foxhead, hung on his chest. Mat vanished, and it was Rand. Perrin thought it was Rand. He wore rags and a rough cloak, and a bandage covered his eyes.

Perrin shivers, and finds he is wearing the hammer again, and has to fight to make it change into the axe; he arms himself with a bow as well, and flits around the Two Rivers in a widening spiral from Emond’s Field. He finds hundreds of Trolloc campsites, confirming Loial and Gaul’s estimate of thousands of Trollocs, all seeming centered on Emond’s Field. He goes to Deven Ride, and finds rudimentary defense precautions there that would not have held off even one of the attacks Emond’s Field had suffered, and only enough Trolloc campsites to keep the villagers hemmed in. He flits to Watch Hill, and finds much the same, along with a banner sporting a red eagle on a field of blue. He remembers that the Red Eagle was the symbol of Manetheren, and supposes Verin and Alanna were telling stories while they were there. Taren Ferry is more than half burned to the ground, with no defenses set up, and Perrin thinks the people might be all gone; across the river he finds debris left behind from fleeing villagers, and wonders why the Fades were letting anyone escape to spread the word, even though any help from outside would almost certainly come too late. He bends down to pick up a doll, and an arrow streaks through where his torso had been a second earlier. He instantly dashes a hundred paces away, nocking an arrow, and starts to run further, but then remembers how visible that makes you to anyone standing still, and decides not to play Slayer’s game this time. He waits.

Ravens swooped above the treetops, searching and calling. No movement to give him away; not a twitch. Only his eyes moved, studying the forest around him. A vagrant puff of air brought him a cold smell, human yet not, and he smiled. No sound save the ravens, though; this Slayer stalked well. But he was not used to being hunted.

Perrin catches a glimpse of Slayer’s face, and thinks again of the resemblance to Lan. He continues to wait, and Slayer soon appears again thirty paces away. Perrin waits for him to move into the open, then stands and shoots him in one motion.

The ravens screamed warning, and Slayer spun to take the broadhead shaft in his chest, but not through the heart. The man howled, clutching the arrow with both hands; black feathers rained down as the ravens beat their wings in a frenzy. And Slayer faded, him and his cry together, growing misty, transparent, vanishing.

Perrin thinks, so that’s what it looks like to die here, and thinks that at least the wolves are safe now. He steps out of the dream, waking up in his room, and tries to think of how to do what he had to do. He hears a commotion outside, and opens the window and calls down to ask what the ruckus is. Dannil, calling him “Lord Perrin”, yells back that Lord Luc just galloped off all hunched over like he was wounded, and nearly rode down Wil and Tell. Perrin considers this, puzzled; Slayer looked he could like be Lan’s brother or cousin, but if Luc looked like anyone, it was maybe Rand a little. He can’t figure out what the connection could be, and then realizes that both men had the same cold, inhuman scent. He tells Dannil to stop calling him that, and that if Luc comes back he is to be put under guard. Perrin goes down to the common room, where Gaul is sleeping, Loial is scribbling away furiously, and Faile is talking with Bain and Chiad. Faile orders him back up to his bed, but he ignores her and asks if she saw Luc leave, and whether he seemed wounded. She confirms both, slowly, and asks how he knew; he replies that he dreamed it, and says he has a favor to ask her. Trying to make his voice casual, he tells her he wants her to take a message for him to Caemlyn, to ask Morgase for help for the Two Rivers. He says he knows it is a dangerous thing he is asking, but she will have Bain and Chiad to help. Chiad stands up, looking anxious, and Faile tells her she will not have to leave him.

After a moment the Aiel woman nodded and resumed her seat beside Gaul. Chiad and Gaul? They were blood enemies. Nothing was making sense tonight.

Faile says quietly that it is a long way to Caemlyn, weeks there and weeks back. Perrin lies that they can hold out that long easily, and that there are only a thousand or so Trollocs out there, but they will need the Guard to get rid of them completely, and Faile is the logical one to go, knowing how to talk to a queen and all. Loial comes up and gives Faile a book of notes, asking her to keep it for him if she is going to Caemlyn.

“Forgive me for interrupting, Perrin.” But his teacup eyes were on her, not him. “Faile suits you. You should fly free, like a falcon.” Patting Perrin on the shoulder, he murmured in a deep rumble, “She should fly free,” then made his way to his pallet and lay down facing the wall.

“He is very tired,” Perrin said, attempting to make it seem just a comment. The fool Ogier could ruin everything!

Faile stares at him silently for a while, then sits in his lap and remarks that his beard needs trimming. Perrin tries to bring her back to the subject, and she finally says she will go, but in return she demands a price: she wants to marry him. Perrin smiles and says he wants to marry her, too, but they will have to wait a year after the betrothal vows. She nearly yanks his beard out, and says fiercely that she will have him as husband tonight, or she won’t go. Perrin protests that he would if he could, but the Women’s Circle would never hear of it. Faile suddenly won’t look at him, and starts talking about how maybe she kind of sort of mentioned to Marin and Daise how long they’ve been traveling together, and they maybe sort of agreed that that could count as the year betrothal, and she’s being forward and brazen and if he ever even thinks of Berelain and now she’s babbling – he cuts her off with a kiss, and asks if she will marry him tonight, and then has to repeat himself six times while she giggles against his throat. Half an hour later finds them kneeling before the Women’s Circle, with Loial and Aram to stand for Perrin and Bain and Chiad for Faile.

“I, Perrin Aybara, do pledge you my love, Faile Bashere, for as long as I live.” For as long as I live and after. “What I possess in this world I give to you.” A horse, an axe, a bow. A hammer. Not much to gift a bride. I give you life, my love. It’s all I have. “I will keep and hold you, succor and tend you, protect and shelter you, for all the days of my life.” I can’t keep you; the only way I can protect you is to send you away. “I am yours, always and forever.” By the time he finished, his hands were shaking visibly.

Faile moved her hands to hold his. “I, Zarine Bashere… ” That was a surprise; she hated that name. “…do pledge you my love, Perrin Aybara…” Her hands never trembled at all.

Commentary
There may – MAY – have been a tiny sniffle, the first time I read this. MAYBE. There was certainly not full-on tearage. Not at all.

Look, you’re supposed to cry at weddings, okay? Quit judging! Judger!

Faile’s reaction to Perrin’s marriage proposal is seriously the cutest thing she’s ever done in the series, and I mean that in a good way. This is her time of greatest awesome and we should be enjoying that to the hilt, y’all.

I love that she instantly twigs to what Perrin is trying to do, and yet says nothing. Of course, this is because she’s planning to totally cheat on their agreement, but considering her more typical reaction is to fly into a rage and generally act like an armed five-year-old, I’ll take sneaky sneakiness any day. Especially when the result of said sneaky will be so very badass.

Loial: Everybody say it with me now: AWWWWW. And also, wow. Running for three days while carrying ~200 pounds of human?

(Did I just make Gaul fat? I’m thinking, he’s probably around six feet tall, lots of solid muscle, 200 pounds is about right, isn’t it? I don’t know these things.)

Speaking of Gaul, the Aiel mini-soap continues, and I’m wondering if Gaul and Chiad have actually yet said anything to each other approximating the Aiel equivalent of “Hey there, groovy chick and/or dude, you’re hep in a far out way”, or if it’s all been incoherent spluttering and oblique gai’shain references. Inquiring minds are inquiring!

Luc gets shot, yay! Tool. Bye now!

Though Perrin falls prey to one of the classic blunders here. The most famous of which – oh, you’ve seen that movie? But it’s so obscure!

Annnyway. Perrin does make the typical mistake here of assuming his enemy is dead without seeing the body, which as we all know is a gross violation of the Narrative Causality Code, which clearly states that if a character assumes an effect without witnessing it, the Irony Subclause practically demands that it turn out not to be so.

(Mm. I mentioned there was vodka at the Tor thingy, yes? And also, pink beer. And Japanese scotch, because Pablo is a rebel, y’all.)

I suppose I need to make a stink about Perrin trying to send Faile away, emo martyr self-sacrifice not letting her make her own choices etc., but I really don’t have much of an impulse to. Or only a small impulse to. Okay, maybe a medium-sized impulse to.

It’s one of those Guy Things which manages to be simultaneously endearing and exasperating, because hello, not a child here, can take care of myself, but at the same time how can you not appreciate that the guy wants to protect you, you know? It’s like, aw, that’s so sweet, now cut that shit out. And then he’s like “Wut?”, all hurt, and you’re like, sigh, gentle *headdesk*. It is a frustrating dilemma!

Clearly, the solution is to get married. And then recruit your husband an army. I APPROVE.


And that’s our show, kids! Have a splendiferously fantacular weekend, and I’ll see you Monday with the Start of the Beginning of the End of the Book of the Middle of the Series. ’Strewth!

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