Fear not, for it is another Wheel of Time Re-read post! Prithee, I give unto you Part 6 of The Dragon Reborn, and beg that ye will accept these humble Chapters 35-39 as a token of my esteem.
Nay, I say to thee, scorn not my gift as unworthy, foreasmuch as ye accepted its precedents with nary a complaint, thus I abjure thee to cease being so damn picky, jeez.
Um, I mean, but Hark! And heed ye all my warning well: take not my gift if thou hast not yet partaken of the seed from whence it sprang, lest ye be sorely puzzled, and the taste of it turn foul in your mouth.
Or, uh, something. Okay, so I don’t speak Ye Olde English. But I’m getting better!
Chapter 35: The Falcon
Lan and Perrin hurry back into the inn; Lan goes to Moiraine’s room and Perrin to Loial’s. He tells Loial they’re leaving and why, goes to his own room and gets his stuff, then goes down to the stable. The stableman gives Perrin trouble about getting the horses, until Lan arrives and cows him into submission. They ride out, and Loial tries to convince himself that he is enjoying the adventure; Perrin thinks he is crazy.
“I am only fixing the mood in my head,” Loial said, sounding formal. Or perhaps defensive. “For my book. I have to put it all in. I believe I am coming to like it. Adventuring. Of course, I am.” His ears gave two violent twitches. “I have to like it if I wish to write of it.”
Perrin shook his head.
They arrive at the wharves, and Lan books them passage on a ship called the Snow Goose; Perrin wonders if it will be fast enough to outrun wolf dreams. Just as it is casting off, the girl Perrin noticed watching him leaps on board and announces she will take passage as far as Perrin is going. She pays the captain, then comes to stand next to Perrin in the bow. He realizes he is trying to decide if she is beautiful or not, and calls himself a fool. After a moment, she remarks that she did not expect her travels to take her back to Illian so soon; he is going to Illian, is he not? Perrin is tight-lipped, and she tells him not to sulk. She goes on that he and that Aielman between them left quite a mess behind; the uproar was just starting when she left. Perrin is surprised that she didn’t tell them about him, and she snorts that the townsfolk think the Aielman chewed through the chain or some such. He asks if she is following him, and why was she staring at him in the inn? She ignores this, and comments that an Ogier is an Ogier, and she got a much better look inside Lady Alys’ hood than Orban did, and that makes the stone-faced one a Warder, but she cannot account for Perrin.
“So there I have an”—she looked around, then dropped her voice, though the closest crewman was working a sweep ten feet away—”an Aes Sedai, a Warder, an Ogier—and you. A countryman, by first look at you.” Her tilted eyes rose to study his yellow ones intently—he refused to look away—and she smiled. “Only you free a caged Aielman, hold a long talk with him, then help him chop a dozen Whitecloaks into sausage. I assume you do this regularly; you certainly looked as if it were nothing out of the ordinary for you. I scent something strange in a party of travelers such as yours, and strange trails are what Hunters look for.”
Perrin is startled, and protests that she can’t be a Hunter, she’s a girl. She smiles sweetly at him and produces two knives with a flourish, scaring the nearby sailors, and makes them disappear again. She tells Perrin that nimble fingers and wits will take you further than a sword and muscles, and fortunately she has those. Perrin mutters that she has modesty too, evidently; she ignores this and says that the Horn of Valere surely lies at the end of a strange trail, and Perrin’s party is the strangest she’s seen yet. He asks what her theory about the location of the Horn is, and she answers Manetheren, making him jump. But he tries to encourage the idea, thinking it might make her leave, and she tells him at least she won’t pick fights with the Warder the way Gann and Orban would have. Perrin finally asks for her name, in lieu of calling her “girl”. She tells him she calls herself “Mandarb”, and Perrin bursts out laughing. He tells her that the stallion over there is named Mandarb, and she flushes and admits her real name is Zarine Bashere, but Zarine is no name for a Hunter. Perrin replies that he likes the name Zarine, and thinks it suits her, and she glares at him. He bids her goodnight and heads below; as he reaches the hatch she calls out after him.
“Farmboy! Perhaps I will call myself Faile. My father used to call me that, when I was little. It means ‘falcon.’ ”
Perrin almost falls down the ladder, and goes below, telling himself it’s just a coincidence; why did Min have to go seeing things?
Well, at least Perrin never said “as you wish.”
I’m going to try for some neutrality re: Faile at this stage. I can’t promise it will last, but remembering what I said about letting future events retroactively poison earlier ones, it behooves me to not be a hypocrite and at least make the attempt. Even though I seem to recall that my first impression of Faile was that she irritated the crap out of me… no. Neutrality. Okay.
So, Faile. Mostly she comes off here as being very, very young, knowing it, and trying desperately to cover it up with bravado. Basically she’s like every teenager you’ve ever met, or been. And… I’m going to stop there. For now.
Loial: still adorable. I actually felt really bad for him that he wasn’t going to get to sleep in his sung wood bed.
Chapter 36: Daughter of the Night
Perrin finds an empty cabin and lies down. He reaches for wolves and finds none; he thinks about Elyas and wonders if living like him is the only way to accept the wolves and stay sane, but rejects that idea. Exhausted, he falls asleep quickly.
He is standing in thick, gray, and curiously dry fog, and notices that his axe is not on his belt. Hopper comes out of the mist and wordlessly cautions him to be silent. Perrin takes hold of his fur and lets Hopper lead him through the fog, until it turns to pitch blackness. Hopper stops, and Perrin realizes queasily that they seem to be suspended in midair, bodiless; below him is a vast array of mirrors, with a small group of men among them; Darkfriends, clearly, and terrified to find themselves in this place instead of in their beds asleep. Ba’alzamon is there, and orders them to silence, hand pressing against his chest. He tells them that they were given tasks, and some have failed them. He points to one, and tells him that he allowed “the boy” to escape in Tar Valon, and the man he points at starts to scream and fade into mist. Ba’alzamon tells the others that this is a dream, but what happens here is real, and that one will never wake. He banishes the rest to wake and obey him, but is only alone for a moment before a woman appears next to him; Perrin recognizes her as the woman who had urged him to glory in his earlier dream. She creates a throne for herself to sit on, and tells Ba’alzamon that he makes free use of her domain; he asks dangerously whether that means she no longer serves the Great Lord of the Dark.
“I serve,” she said quickly. “I have served the Lord of the Twilight long. Long did I lie imprisoned for my service, in an endless, dreamless sleep. Only Gray Men and Myrddraal are denied dreams. Even Trollocs can dream. Dreams were always mine, to use and walk. Now I am free again, and I will use what is mine.”
“What is yours,” Ba’alzamon said. The blackness swirling ’round him seemed mirthful. “You always thought yourself greater than you were, Lanfear.”
Perrin reacts in shock to the knowledge that one of the Forsaken had been in his dreams. Lanfear jumps up and retorts that if Ba’alzamon is so great, why have all of his grandiose plans come to nothing? Lews Therin walks again, and the Aes Sedai have him all but leashed. He was hers long before “that straw-haired chit” Ilyena ever saw him, and he will be hers again. Ba’alzamon asks again if she is abandoning her oaths, and she tells him she serves the Great Lord of the Dark, and no other, forever! She and Ba’alzamon and the mirrors vanish, and Hopper moves on, guiding Perrin from the dark back to fog, and out to a sunlit hill. Perrin demands to know what all that was, and why Hopper showed it to him. Hopper replies that Young Bull is too young, too new, and it is dangerous for him to be here. Perrin then asks how Hopper is here, and Hopper tells him that all the brothers and sisters are here, past, present and future.
Perrin knew that wolves did not smile, not the way humans did, but for an instant he had the impression that Hopper was grinning. Here, I soar like the eagle. The wolf gathered himself and leaped, up into the air. Up and up it carried him, until he dwindled to a speck in the sky, and a last thought came. To soar.
Perrin gets a little choked up. He looks around, and suddenly he is somewhere else, and Rand is below him, being stalked by Myrddraal and other men and women. Rand begins to kill them methodically, with fire and lightning and what looks like bars of white-hot steel, and when they are all dead, he sinks to his knees, laughing or crying or both. Perrin sees more coming, and calls out to Rand to warn him. Rand looks up at him and snarls “Burn you!” and sends something at him, and Perrin wakes up to find a penny-sized burn spot on his chest. He falls back asleep for a while, but the second time he wakes he gets up and knocks on cabin doors until he finds Moiraine’s. He tells her the whole dream, and shows her the burn. She sits silently after, gazing at him, and he demands to know whether she thinks it was real or not. She finally replies that there are Aes Sedai who would try to gentle him if they heard what he just told her. Perrin freezes, and she goes on that the attempt wouldn’t hurt him, since he cannot channel, but he should be careful. His dreams are like nothing Moiraine’s encountered before. Perrin thinks it was real, and means Lanfear is loose. He wants to know what she will do; Moiraine replies that she will go to Illian and then Tear. She doesn’t take it well when Perrin attempts to press the matter, so he backs off and asks if she will Heal the burn; she will not, as it may remind him to be careful. Perrin goes to leave, and stops and asks what it means if a mother names her daughter “Zarine”. Moiraine can’t imagine why he would ask such a thing, and Perrin only tells her that it’s the name of one of the other passengers.
“Zarine. It is a Saldaean name. No woman would name her daughter that unless she expected her to be a great beauty. And a heartbreaker. One to lie on cushions in palaces, surrounded by servants and suitors.” She smiled, briefly but with great amusement. “Perhaps you have another reason to be careful, Perrin, if there is a Zarine as a passenger with us.”
Perrin assures her he will. He thinks that he understands why Zarine doesn’t like her name, but he’s fine with it as long as she doesn’t call herself “falcon”.
Rand sits up, gasping, and thinks to himself that that was Perrin he saw, and he almost killed him. He had to be more careful. He sees a party of ten or so on horseback approaching his camp, and stands. They look to be men-at-arms escorting a merchant; the merchant tells him she saw his fire, and trusts there is no objection to them sharing his campsite?
“None,” Rand told her. Careful. Two steps brought him close enough, and he leaped into the air, spinning—Thistledown Floats on the Whirlwind—heron-mark blade carved from fire coming into his hands to take her head off before surprise could even form on her face. She was the most dangerous.
The others scream and scramble for weapons, and Rand quickly kills them all. Then he lets his sword vanish, and pulls the woman’s horse free of her headless corpse and loads his belongings on it.
The Power still filled him, the flow from saidin sweeter than honey, ranker than rotted meat. Abruptly he channeled—not really understanding what it was he did, or how, only that it seemed right; and it worked, lifting the corpses. He set them in a line, facing him, kneeling, faces in the dirt. For those who had faces left. Kneeling to him.
“If I am the Dragon Reborn,” he told them, “that is the way it is supposed to be, isn’t it?” Letting go of saidin was hard, but he did it. If I hold it too much, how will I keep the madness away? He laughed bitterly. Or is it too late for that?
He frowns when he sees that there are eleven men in the line; he could have sworn there were only ten guards. He tells the eleventh man that he chose the wrong company, mounts and rides toward Tear.
Lanfear is kind of strangely awesome in this chapter. Yeah, she’s a complete psycho, but she’s also the only one of the Forsaken to stand up to Ishy to his face, and you have to admit that in a perverse way it’s admirable.
And well, Faile is right that “Zarine” is an awful name, at least. I’d hate it too, especially if it carried that connotation.
Rand: Yeesh. In light of the way Rand behaves later re: harming women, this scene is downright shocking. In fact, it is anyway. He didn’t even hesitate!
The presence of the Gray Man in the entourage confirms Rand was right to think them Darkfriends, but that’s only clear to us; Rand himself had no such assurance, or at least I don’t think he does. Which makes the slaughter that much more disturbing. The most unsettling part of all, of course, is the business with lining up the corpses to kneel to him, which is just fucked up, if you’ll pardon my French. Eurgh. I remember thinking at this point, damn, he’s completely lost it. I would say that of all the more or less questionable things Rand does over the course of the series, this one interlude still stands out as being by far the creepiest, in my opinion.
Chapter 37: Fires in Cairhien
Aboard the Blue Crane, Egwene watches the Cairhien side of the Erinin go by, dismayed by the smoking ruins that keep appearing on the shoreline instead of villages, and the near-constant plumes of smoke from further inland. The mainly-from-Tar-Valon captain and crew keep bowing to her and the other two girls, because Egwene won the argument with Nynaeve that all three of them should pose as full Aes Sedai and not just Nynaeve, who thought that Elayne and Egwene looked too young to pull it off. Egwene thinks about the dream ring, and how she had entered Tel’aran’rhiod several more times, with nothing much happening. Her dreams without the ring had been hectic and filled with images, most of which she does not understand. She had finally let Elayne and Nynaeve each try sleeping with the dream ring, and both had definitely reached Tel’aran’rhiod, but neither had seen anything of use while there.
Elayne joins her on deck, also watching the shore, and murmurs that it is terrible; Egwene replies she is ignoring it, because she can’t do anything about it. They discuss briefly the state of relations between Cairhien and Andor, and then Egwene suddenly realizes that her dream about Mat being chased by someone who wasn’t there must have meant a Gray Man. Elayne doesn’t understand why a Gray Man would be after Mat, and Egwene says bitterly that it doesn’t do them any good to know anyway. The conversation is interrupted when the ship slams into something, and Elayne and Egwene are thrown to the deck. The captain, Ellisor, roars outrage and stomps over to see what they’ve run aground on; Nynaeve appears from below deck and joins them, and Egwene thinks wryly that she’s probably trying to tell the poor man how to do his job. After a moment, she sees Ellisor’s hands waving in protest, and Nynaeve comes over to them, followed by the captain, who is pleading with her to reconsider. Nynaeve tells Elayne and Egwene that they’ve run aground on a sunken ship, and Ellisor doesn’t think the sweeps will get them off of it. Ellisor tries to reassure them that another ship will be along at some point to help, but Nynaeve is determined not to wait; she wants to go ashore and walk to Jurene, two hours away. Egwene asks if that’s a wise idea, and Nynaeve glares at her and explains her reasoning elaborately. Elayne puts in quickly that it sounds reasonable, and Egwene nods grudgingly. Nynaeve overrides Ellisor’s protests and goes below to get her things; Elayne comments that if one of them says “up”, the other is sure to say “down”. Egwene replies that Nynaeve needs to figure out that she is not the Wisdom anymore, and they are all on the same level now. Elayne sighs. They are rowed ashore by the crew shortly, and set off, Egwene and Nynaeve not speaking to each other; after a while Elayne gives up trying to make peace between them. Egwene announces that the Amyrlin is not here, and if they see brigands she will defend herself. Nynaeve remarks to the air that they can frighten off brigands without breaking any rules. Elayne is trying to head the argument off at the pass when a figure in brown and gray stands up from a bush almost directly in front of them.
It’s funny to me how some of what Egwene Dreams here still hasn’t come to pass, or I don’t think so, anyway. At least, I don’t recall seeing anything that would definitively match the image of Perrin stepping over a cliff, though I suppose the “learning to fly” thing could be a reference to Hopper, and thus the cliff is Perrin accepting his Wolfbrotherhood? Eh, maybe. I hate when the prophetic things are vague. Frickin’ prophecy, still a bastard.
For instance, I always did really like the way the steel trap image so aptly foreshadowed Min’s unwitting triggering of the Tower coup. Very cleverly done. See, they should all be like that!
And, yeah. Other than the dreams, and the slow escalation of Nynaeve and Egwene’s power struggle, there’s not much else of note in this chapter.
Chapter 38: Maidens of the Spear
Egwene and Elayne scream in surprise and embrace saidar, but Nynaeve just stands there with her arms folded. Egwene sees that the figure is a young Aiel woman with blue-green eyes and reddish hair; she is carrying no visible weapons. Elayne lets saidar go, but Egwene does not; she thinks that after the Seanchan she is not foolish enough to think a woman is no threat. But she is surprised to feel a strange affinity for the woman, and decides it must be because of her resemblance to Rand.
“My name is Aviendha,” the Aiel woman said, “of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad Aiel.” Her face was as flat and expressionless as her voice. “I am Far Dareis Mai, a Maiden of the Spear.” She paused a moment, studying them. “You have not the look in your faces, but we saw the rings. In your lands, you have women much like our Wise Ones, the women called Aes Sedai. Are you women of the White Tower, or not?”
Egwene notes the “we”, but sees no one else around. Nynaeve replies to Aviendha that they are women of the White Tower, but whether they are wise is another matter; what does she want of them? Aviendha says that one of their number is gravely wounded, and asks if they will help. Nynaeve replies slowly that she will do what she can, but she makes no promises. Aviendha says she will take them to her, and two more Maidens rise up out of the grass less than ten paces away, startling Egwene. They start into the thicket, and Egwene finally releases saidar, though she worries about what will happen if Nynaeve cannot help their companion. Elayne introduces herself, using her full name and title, to Egwene’s astonishment, seeing as Andor had fought in the Aiel War.
But the flame-haired Aiel closest to her only said, “I am Bain, of the Black Rock sept of the Shaarad Aiel.”
“I am Chiad,” the shorter, blonder woman on her other side said, “of the Stones River sept of the Goshien Aiel.”
They glance at Egwene, and she gives them her name, adding “Daughter of Marin al’Vere, of Emond’s Field, in the Two Rivers,” when they seem to expect more. Bain asks if they are first-sisters, and Elayne explains to Egwene that first-sisters means they have the same mother. She tells them that sometimes she thinks of Egwene as a first-sister, but they are not blood kin. Chiad asks why then do they not go to their Wise Ones and be made first-sisters? Now both Elayne and Egwene are confused, and Egwene apologizes for their ignorance, saying that all she knows of the Maidens is that they fight and do not care for men. Bain and Chiad are mystified by this, and explain a little about what the Maidens are, and that members of a society do not fight against each other even when their clans do, but there is blood feud between the Sharaad and Goshien, and Bain and Chiad felt that the Maiden tie was not enough, so they were bonded as first-sisters.
“As is proper for first-sisters who are Maidens, we guard each other’s backs, and neither will let a man come to her without the other. I would not say we do not care for men.” Chiad nodded, with just the hint of a smile. “Have I made the truth clear to you, Egwene?”
“Yes,” Egwene said faintly. She glanced at Elayne and saw the bewilderment in her blue eyes she knew must be in her own.
Chiad adds they should be bonded as first-sisters if that’s what they consider each other; Elayne blushes, and Egwene knows she’s thinking about Rand. They arrive where another of their number, Jolien, is watching over the wounded Maiden, Dailin. Aviendha explains that she took a sword-wound from “treekillers” who thought they were bandits. Nynaeve examines her, and asks if she was moved; Aviendha replies that she wanted to die near water. Nynaeve begins snarling about stupid girls moving injured people for stupid reasons, and sorts her herbs. Aviendha says she had not heard Aes Sedai use herbs, and Nynaeve snaps “I use what I use!” and continues muttering to herself. Chiad tells Bain that Nynaeve does sound like a Wise One. Egwene worries that Nynaeve is putting them all on edge, and tries to soothe them by asking about Dailin’s water wish, and realizes that she’s made it worse. She embraces saidar, just in case, despite Elayne’s headshake, and Aviendha abruptly says that she would never harm an Aes Sedai. As Nynaeve makes Dailin drink a concoction, she explains that once the Aiel served the Aes Sedai, but failed them in some way, and it is said that if they fail the Aes Sedai again, they will destroy the Aiel. Nynaeve growls to herself about swords and stabbing people, and Elayne says firmly that they will not destroy them, and Aviendha says nevertheless, even if Elayne brought her lightnings and balefire against her, she would dance with them, but never harm Elayne. Egwene asks what balefire is, and Aviendha does not know, but is surprised Egwene doesn’t either. Egwene replies that perhaps the Tower has forgotten much, too, but thinks to herself that she did know what it was in her Accepted test. Nynaeve snaps that no one has a right to tear bodies so, and Aviendha asks nervously if she is all right, and Egwene replies she is better than all right: she is getting angry.
The glow of saidar surrounded Nynaeve suddenly—Egwene leaned forward, trying to see, and so did Elayne—and Dailin started up with a scream, eyes wide open. In an instant, Nynaeve was easing her back down, and the glow faded. Dailin’s eyes slid shut, and she lay there panting.
I saw it, Egwene thought. I… think I did. She was not sure she had even been able to make out all the many flows, much less the way Nynaeve had woven them together. What Nynaeve had done in those few seconds had seemed like weaving four carpets at once while blindfolded.
Nynaeve wipes the blood away from Dailin’s torso to show that there is no wound or even scar left, and tells the other Aiel to get Dailin washed and fed.
Enter Aviendha. Dun?
I would never have guessed from this intro, by the way, that Aviendha was destined to become such a major character in the story. I figured she was going to be like Hurin, and disappear after TDR was over. Boy, was I wrong.
Nice little bit of detail, Egwene feeling an instant kinship to Aviendha. Egwene thinks it is the resemblance to Rand, when of course it’s actually Egwene sensing Aviendha’s ability to channel.
Also, this is the first time we really see Nynaeve’s Uber-Healing in action. It is Cool.
Chapter 39: Threads in the Pattern
The Aiel are amazed at the Healing, and Aviendha tells Nynaeve that she owes her a blood debt, and “my water is yours”. Nynaeve says she can repay her by telling her if there is a ship at Jurene, and Aviendha replies there was one as of yesterday. Egwene says they must have crossed at least one river since leaving the Waste; knowing how they feel about water, how did they manage it? Aviendha says that Jolien remembered that wood floats, and they made themselves a “little ship” of planks to cross. Egwene is impressed by their courage; Elayne asks why they have come all this way in the first place.
“We seek the one foretold,” Bain said. She was holding a sleeping Dailin so Chiad could slip a shirt of brown linen onto her. “He Who Comes With the Dawn.”
“He will lead us out of the Three-fold Land,” Chiad added. “The prophecies say he was born of Far Dareis Mai.”
Startled, Elayne says she thought that Maidens were not allowed to have children, and Aviendha tells her that if a Maiden has a child, the Wise Ones give it to another woman to raise, in a way that no one knows whose child it is. She adds that all Aiel women wish for such a child, in the hope that they will raise He Who Comes With the Dawn, except that now the Wise Ones say he is here in the wetlands, “Blood of our blood mixed with the old blood, raised by an ancient blood not ours.” She asks a question in return, of where they are going. Nynaeve tells her Tear, but they must be about it if they are to get there before the Heart of the Stone crumbles into dust. The Aiel freeze, and Aviendha asks carefully why they are going to the Stone. Nynaeve says they are hunting Darkfriends, and she never said they were going to the Stone, only that she wanted to get to Tear before it crumbles. They make their good byes and leave, the Aiel women watching them go. Once they are away, Egwene asks Elayne about giving her title; wasn’t she worried they might carry a grudge from the Aiel War? Elayne explains that the Aiel didn’t view the Aiel War as a war at all; to them, it was an execution: Laman’s, for the crime of cutting down Avendoraldera. Egwene thinks about the history leading up to that, and concedes Elayne might be right. Then Elayne says to Egwene that she knows who He Who Comes With the Dawn must be, right? Egwene hadn’t thought of it, but says, you don’t mean…?
Elayne nodded. “I think so. I do not know much of the Prophecies of the Dragon, but I have heard a few lines. One I remember is, ‘On the slopes of Dragonmount shall he be born, born of a maiden wedded to no man.’ Egwene, Rand does look like an Aiel. Well, he looks like the pictures I have seen of Tigraine, too, but she vanished before he was born, and I hardly think she could have been his mother anyway. I think Rand’s mother was a Maiden of the Spear.”
They catch up with Nynaeve and compliment her on her Healing, but in Egwene’s view Nynaeve ruins the moment by tugging on her hair like she’s still a little girl. Then Elayne screams a warning, and Egwene turns to see men with slings stepping out of the trees. She reaches for saidar, but something hits her head and she blacks out.
Egwene comes to groggily to see that she is tied across the back of a horse, surrounded by roughly-dressed riders. She can’t see if Nynaeve and Elayne are there. Enraged at the idea of being bound again, she reaches for the Source, but the pain in her head is so bad she cannot. Then one of the men notices she is awake, and panics. She tries to say something to them, but they hit her head again and she loses consciousness. The second time she wakes her head doesn’t hurt as much, oddly, and she sees she and the other girls are in a crudely constructed room with a dirt floor. Nynaeve and Elayne are still unconscious, and Egwene sees with worry that there is blood on Elayne’s face. She peeks through a crack in the wall, and sees a group of men surrounding their leader, Adden, who is frowning at something on the table before him. Another man with a missing ear comes in and says “he” has not arrived yet, and also that he does not like dealing with “that kind”. Adden laughs and says there’s good prices for Aes Sedai if you have the stomach to deal with the right buyer. He picks up the item from the table, and Egwene sees it is one of their gold serpent rings. Missing Ear mutters they are fools for trying this, and a fat man assures him that they will not wake for hours, with his granny’s potion in them. Egwene thinks his granny should have strangled him in his cradle, and goes to Nynaeve and shakes her. Nynaeve’s eyes pop open, and Egwene hurriedly claps a hand over her mouth and explains the situation to her. Nynaeve tastes her mouth, and laughs softly, saying the idiots fed them sleepwell root; Egwene remembers that the herb helps you sleep, but it does so by relieving pain. Nynaeve goes to crouch by Elayne, and tells Egwene that she thinks Elayne’s skull is broken, and that she’s dying. Egwene begs her to do something, and Nynaeve, nearly in tears, says they took her herbs, and she can’t do it without them.
Suddenly she seized Elayne’s shoulders as if she meant to lift the unconscious woman and shake her. “Burn you, girl,” she rasped, “I did not bring you all this way to die! I should have left you scrubbing pots! I should have tied you up in a sack for Mat to carry to your mother! I will not let you die on me! Do you hear me? I won’t allow it!” Saidar suddenly shone around her, and Elayne’s eyes and mouth opened wide together.
Egwene gets her hands over Elayne’s mouth just in time, and gasps as she gets caught in the backwash of Nynaeve’s Healing. When it is over, Elayne is Healed and Egwene’s headache is completely gone. Shaking, Nynaeve mutters that doing it that way was like peeling her own skin off, and Egwene explains what’s going on to Elayne. Elayne’s face darkens, and Nynaeve says they’ll show these fools what happens when they meddle with us. All three embrace saidar, and go to look through the cracks again, and see that there are now three Myrddraal in the next room. All the men except for Adden are pressed back against the walls, as far as they can get from the Fades; one of them picks up one of the rings on the table, heavier than the other three, and Nynaeve gasps. Another Fade tells Adden they are the ones it seeks, and Adden will be well rewarded. Nynaeve whispers they must take them by surprise, and Egwene starts channeling a tiny flow into the chain blocking the door.
One of the Myrddraal lifted its head. Another leaned across the table toward Adden. “I itch, human. Are you sure they sleep?” Adden swallowed hard and nodded his head.
The third Myrddraal turned to stare at the door to the room where Egwene and the others crouched.
The chain fell to the floor, the Myrddraal staring at it snarled, and the outer door swung open, black-veiled death flowing in from the night.
Instant chaos ensues, and is just as quickly over, though there is still fighting going on outside the building; Adden and his men are all down, along with two Aiel, and the five Aiel still on their feet surround the Fades, who are back to back in the center of the room. The Aiel circle, drumming their spears against their bucklers, calling to the Fades to dance with them. Nynaeve says she thinks it is time, and throws open the door. The three of them step out, and Egwene hears one of the Aiel gasp; the Fades stare, and Egwene feels she can see the knowledge of their deaths in their gaze.
Flames burst out of all three Myrddraal, sprouting in every direction, and they shrieked like splintered bones jamming a meatgrinder. Yet she had forgotten she was not alone, that Elayne and Nynaeve were with her. Even as the flames consumed the Halfmen, the very air seemed suddenly to push them together in midair, crushing them into a ball of fire and blackness that grew smaller and smaller. Their screams dug at Egwene’s spine, and something shot out from Nynaeve’s hands—a thin bar of white light that made noonday sun seem dark, a bar of fire that made molten metal seem cold, connecting her hands to the Myrddraal. And they ceased to exist as if they had never been. Nynaeve gave a startled jump, and the glow around her vanished.
Elayne asks Nynaeve what that last was, and Nynaeve doesn’t know, but Egwene somehow is sure that it was balefire. The Aiel unveil themselves a trifle hastily; three are men, one with gray in his red hair, and one of the other two is Aviendha. Nynaeve starts toward the fallen Aiel, and the older man, Rhuarc, tells her there is no point; they took Shadowman steel. Nynaeve checks them anyway, and sees one of the bodies is Dailin, which infuriates her. Aviendha starts being fatalistic, and Nynaeve rounds on her; she falls silent, and the other Aiel exchange glances as if wondering if she will do to them what they did to the Fades. Elayne speaks up and apologizes for interrupting their dance; Rhuarc chuckles and says he’s just as glad they did; they would probably have killed the Shadowmen, but they would have lost more fighters doing it. Nynaeve asks how Aviendha came to be here, and Aviendha replies that she followed them, and when she saw the men take them, she went for help, though she is startled that she found her own clan chief out here. Rhuarc shrugs and says Amys and Bair and Melanie and Seana stalked him “like ridgecats after a wild goat”, saying the dreams said he must go, and did he truly want to die old and fat in bed. Egwene’s ears prick up, and she asks if their Wise Ones know what their dreams mean; Rhuarc replies that she would have to ask them. He remarks that they are three Aes Sedai, heading to Tear, and picks up Lan’s ring; Nynaeve steps over and snatches it out of his hand.
“And one of them carries a ring I have heard of as a boy. The ring of Malkieri kings. They rode with the Shienarans against the Aiel in my father’s time. They were good in the dance of the spears. But Malkier fell to the Blight. It is said only a child king survived, and he courts the death that took his land as other men court beautiful women. Truly, this is a strange thing, Aes Sedai. Of all the strange sights I thought I might see when Melaine harried me out of my own hold and over the Dragonwall, none has been so strange as this. The path you set me is one I never thought my feet would follow.”
Nynaeve snaps that she sets no path for anyone, and the conversation ends. They spend the night in the camp, and the next day take three of the brigands’ horses and ride toward Jurene. The nineteen Aiel who survived the assault accompany them on foot. Egwene tries to hold her mount to a walk to accommodate them, but Aviendha and Rhuarc both laugh and offer to race her horse and see who wins. They reach Jurene, and the Aiel take their leave, Rhuarc saying that perhaps they will meet again “before the change comes”. The girls continue to the town, and get the news from the Queen’s Guards stationed there, as well as some propositioning; Nynaeve slaps one man’s face, and Egwene thinks she was pinched. They decide not to wear their rings, since the one place they did not want to be taken for Aes Sedai was Tear, and book passage on a slow bluff-bowed ship called Darter.
Good God, this was a frickin’ long chapter.
And huh, I forgot all about this whole interlude. Which is sad, since it’s about the most awesome thing the Girls do in TDR. The overkill aspect of it (literally) was rather hilarious. Though I’m having a little trouble understanding how the Girls set three Fades on fire (and balefired them!) in such close quarters with no collateral damage.
Speaking of balefire, I continue to love how Our Heroes reinvent the wheel, ba dum dum, by spontaneously coming up with stuff everyone else in the world has forgotten for thousands of years. And by “love”, I mean “kind of roll my eyes at”, but fortunately the Rule of Cool still applies, and thus I let it slide.
And jeez, has anyone not heard of Lan? He’s like the Tom Cruise of Randland, except without all the creepy couch-jumping and Scientology. Sheesh.
And, um, more fancy dated words. Hither, thither, whither, yon, trice, thrice, splice, don! Thence, whence, schmence, fluffery, and Monday bringeth much more stuffery!
Chapters 40-46, tis fo’shizzle, I trow. God rest ye merry; now get thee to a nunnery, go!