Welcome back to my chapter-by-chapter read-through and reaction to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. There are spoilers ahead but only through the current chapter.
Chapter 20: Dust on the Wind
The party leaves Shadar Logoth in the night. The wind is cold and gusty. As they crept slowly out of the abandoned city, the party fell some distance behind Moiraine and Lan. Suddenly a thin tendril of silvery fog crossed the street between Moiraine and Lan and the rest of the party. Moiraine urgently told the party on the other side of the fog to stop.
The tendril of fog begins growing thicker. She tells them that the fog is Mashadar, the evil of Shadar Logoth.
Unseeing, unthinking, moving through the city as aimlessly as a worm burrows through the earth. If it touches you, you will die.
Moiraine tells the others she cannot do anything about Mashadar. They must split up. She points to a red star in the sky. She tells the party separated from herself and Lan by the fog to keep on toward the star and that it will take them to the river.
Rand moves first and the rest of the party follows. They find streets made impassable by the ruin of the city and another street where the way through is walled off by fog. After backtracking several times, they continue moving toward the star. Then a pair of trollocs appears. Then two more. Then two more. They charged at the humans and the humans scattered in different directions. Rand is chased by trollocs and a myrddraal. He charges down a street and between grey tentacles of glowing fog. He gets past the fog. The trollocs and myddraal hesitate before following. When the myddraal attempts to drive the trollocs after Rand, the glowing tenndrils of Mashadar strike at the trollocs like vipers. As the trollocs attempt to scream, fog rolls over their open mouths and inside their bodies.
Rand is alone and seems to be clear of the trollocs and Mashadar. He thinks about his companions but realizes that the Shadar Logoth is vast and avoiding what chases him would make a search too difficult to attempt. He rides toward the star and the river. Ahead of him, he sees what he thinks is a trolloc catch pole. He charges at the pole and prepares to swing his sword. Only at the last moment is he able to keep the sword from striking Mat. After some minutes in silence, the two boys hear a trolloc horn inside the city and a replying horn outside the city’s walls. They find an open space in the wall where a gate had been. They leave the city. Soon they hear Thom’s galloping horse approaching from the rear and he shouts “ride you fools!” Trollocs are chasing them.
Perrin sits alone near an open gateway by the city’s walls. Instead of leaving through the gateway, he studies it carefully. He rode out of the deep shadows into the lesser shadows when another horse approaches. Egwene calls for Rand hesitantly and Perrin replies. Neither of them have seen anyone else. He and Egwene rode out through the gate together toward the river. Not long after leaving the city, trollocs get their sent and sound their hunting horns. The two Emond’s Fielders ride. Bela, carrying Egwene, begins to fall behind. Perrin rides hard and calls for Egwene to hurry. He does not notice that he has approached a sheer bluff over the Arinelle River and he rides ride off the side. He felt another splash assuming that Egwene came over after him. The current washes him down the river and he swims across the river. His arms and legs become leaden in the icy water. Suddenly his feet hit ground beneath them. He is across. He calls for Egwene and gets no answer. He can still hear trollocs on the other side of the river but he cannot see or hear his friends.
Rand, Mat, and Thom ride through trees chased by trollocs carrying catch poles. Thom separates from the two boys before reappearing behind both the boys and the pursuing trollocs a few minutes later. He throws knives at the trollocs from behind, killing two of them and injuring a third. He tells the boys that he hopes the river is not too far.
They arrive at the river and turn to ride south along the bank of the river. Rand sees a light ahead. The light is a lantern tied to a trade vessel, docked for the night along the river. Trollocs begins sounding horns. Thom runs toward the boat and boards it, shouting for the men aboard to wake up. Rand follows, lands on one of the crewmen, and scrambles aboard behind Thom. The crewmen scramble to cut loose the mooring lines and move on down the river. Rand is suddenly struck across the back and knocked down by a trolloc that is now aboard the ship. The blow knocks Rand’s sword from his hand. A trolloc stands over him with a broken catch pole. As the creature is about to stab Rand with the jagged wood, Rand shouts “no!” and the ship’s boom swings. It hits the trolloc in the chest, knocking it over the side of the boat.
Rand sees a round – but still hard – faced man approach. He has long hair to his shoulders, a beard that does not cover his upper lip, and a thick accent. He yells for Floran Gelb. Gelb is the man Rand stepped on when boarding. “Captain Domon” asks him if it was his job to secure the boom and the man insists that he did. Domon then asks if Gelb if it was his job to stand guard. Gelb accuses Rand of hitting him in the head with a club and he further accuses Rand of being a darkfriend in league with the trollocs.
In league with my aged Grandmother!
Domon says that the trollocs “do be following me.” Domon tells Thom, Mat, and Rand to come speak with him below in his cabin.
My name be Bayle Domon. Captain and owner of the Spray, which be this ship. Now who be you and where be you goin’ out here in the middle of nowhere and why should I not throw you over the side for the trouble you’ve caused me?
After Rand and Mat tell Domon they are on the way to Caemlyn, Thom interjects and says that from there they will go where the wind takes them. “That’s how gleemen travel. Like dust on the wind.” Thom introduces them and then proceeds to tell Domon that Rand and Mat are apprentices. He also tells a Gleeman-esque story about how they ended up on his ship. Domon says the story is hard to believe but admits he did see the trollocs himself. He notes, though, that this means the men have no money to pay. At this point, Rand and Mat both produce the silver coins that Moiraine had given them all the way back in Emond’s Field when first they met her.
Thom inquires with Domon about seeing trollocs before. Domon tells him that he wintered in Saldaea where trolloc raids had been hot.
Rand worries for Egwene. After the three men leave Domon’s cabin, Thom puts a hand on his shoulder and tells him their companions are likely safe with Moiraine and Lan by now.
Rand says that he had told Egwene he would take care of her.
I should have tried harder.
♫Dust… in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind…♫
The party is split up. Let’s take a tally. Rand, Mat, Thom, Perrin, and Egwene escaped the city. Egwene and/or Bela may or may not have drowned in the river. Rand, Mat, and Thom lost their horses. Rand and Mat lost their Moiraine-issued silver coins.
The first non-Rand POV of the entire series is Perrin. That is interesting. Rand appears to be “the chosen one” figure of the series since the story has been focused on him so far. Mat did the weird/cool thing of speaking in an ancient language. Egwene knows how to channel. Nynaeve maybe does, too. We have not heard much about Perrin, though. In case Robert Jordan did not make it clear enough in this chapter, Perrin self-identifies as a careful thinker. It was therefore ironic that careful thinker Perrin rode his horse off a cliff.
Something was definitely up with Rand and that ship’s boom. I also got the feeling that something significant occurred when Rand and Mat gave up their silver coins.
Domon won me over immediately when he referred to his “aged grandmother.” There is no way that he is a secret bad guy.
The coolest moment in the chapter was probably Thom disappearing in the chase with Mat and Rand and then reappearing behind the trollocs. He threw those knives to kill as though he had killed before. There is *much* more to this Gleeman than meets the eye, it seems. Perhaps we will learn more on the boat.