Welcome back to my re-read, recap, and reaction to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. This post will only have spoilers through the current chapter.
You can find my previous chapter recaps HERE.
Chapter 6: Dark Prophecy
Rand is inside an old farmhouse. Trollocs are banging on the barred door when he realizes that they can come through the windows even if the door holds. He wonders why they are not trying the windows. He wonders why they are not trying the windows. The door slowly gives way but it continues to hold. Rand shouts that they have to stop them but there is no way to stop them. When he looks for a way to run, there is only one door. The room is a box with only one door and so many windows.
Mat tells Rand that it’s too late. Rand thinks that his grin looks odd on a bloodless pale face. A hilt from a dagger sticks out from Mat’s chest. The hilt is capped by a ruby. Rand believes that the gem has more life than Mat’s face. Mat says that it’s too late to change anything.
Perrin says that he has finally gotten rid of them. Blood streams down his face, like tears, from his empty eye sockets. He holds something out with his blood covered hands while telling Rand that he is free now. Perrin says that it’s over.
Padan Fain cries out that it’s never over, al’Thor, while in the middle of the room with them. The door explodes in splinters and two red clad Aes Sedai step through. They are leading in their master, who wears a blood red mask. Rand recognizes him as Ba’alzamon. The man with fire behind his eyes and mouth tells Rand that it is not yet over between the two of them. Then Fain and Ba’alzamon speak as one.
For you, the battle is never done.
Rand gasps and sits up on the floor, clawing his way awake. He feels as though he can still hear Fain’s voice. Rand looks around and verifies that he is still hidden where Egwene had left him – bedded down on a pallet in the corner of her room. Rand looks around the room and sees Nynaeve knitting on a rocking chair.
The Wisdom speaks. She tells Rand that if he sleeps in the afternoon he cannot expect to sleep at night. Rand frowns. He tells her that he needed a place to stay and he was tired. He then defends himself by saying that he did not choose where he is sleeping of his own volition. He tells her that Egwene invited him. Nynaeve gives him an amused smile.
Nynaeve: The Light help me, Rand, you are becoming more Shienaran every day.
She then tells him that any day now he will start talking about his honor and asking peace to favor his sword. Nynaeve tells him that Egwene explained the situation to her and she assures Rand that they will keep him hidden from the Amyrlin and any other Aes Sedai if that is what he wants.
Rand meets her eyes and sees her doubt an uneasiness. He knows Nynaeve is not completely certain that keeping him away from the Aes Sedai is the right thing to do. He can channel the One Power. Rand tells her that as soon as he can, he will hide in a cart or sneak out. Nynaeve does not answer. Rand asks her where Egwene is and she tells him that Egwene has gone to see Padan Fain because she believes seeing faces he knows may help him.
Rand: Mine certainly did not. She ought to stay away from him. He’s dangerous.
Nynaeve: She’s trying to help him. Remember, she was training to be my assistant. And being a Wisdom is not all predicting the weather. Healing is part of it, too. Egwene has the desire to heal, the need to. And if Padan Fain is so dangerous, Moiraine would have said something.
Rand laughs. He notes that they did not ask Moiraine and tells Nynaeve that Egwene admitted as much to him. He sarcastically tells her that he can just see her asking permission for anything. She raises an eyebrow at him in reply. He did not apologize. He next asks if they have started searching for him yet. He tells her that Lan said the Amyrlin Seat is in Fal Dara because of him.
Nynaeve tells him that she is not sure if they have begun searching for him or not. She tells him that a serving woman came by a while ago to turn down the bed, as though Egwene would be going to sleep in the afternoon. Nynaeve says she sent the servant away and nobody saw him. Rand tells her that they would not use the maids to search for him.
She then tells him that when she went to get butter earlier, there were too many women in the hallway. Those who are attending the feast later should have been getting dressed, helping them, or getting ready to serve. She also says she saw the Lady Amalisa coming out of a storeroom with her face covered in dust. Rand says that it is ridiculous and scoffs at the idea of Lady Amalisa – or any of the women – being part of a search. Rand says he believes they would be using soldiers, warders, and the Aes Sedai.
Nynaeve: You are a woolhead sometimes, Rand. The men I saw didn’t know what the women were doing, either. I heard some of them complaining about having to do all of the work themselves. I know it makes no sense that they would be looking for you. None of the Aes Sedai seem to be taking any interest. But Amalisa was not readying herself for a feast by dirtying herself in a storeroom. They were looking for something – something important.
Nynaeve says that Amalisa will barely have time to be ready for the feast if she started getting ready immediately after she saw her. She then notes that Egwene will not have time to be ready, either, if she does not return from visiting Fain soon. Rand notices that Nynaeve is not wearing the Two Rivers woolens he is used to. Her dress is blue silk. She tells Rand that the Lady Amalisa gave it to her. She stares at the embroidery on the dress and looks lost on thought.
Rand tells her that the dress is very pretty on her and that she is pretty tonight. He regretted the words as he said them. She jerks her hand away from the dress and glares at him. He speaks to forestall her saying that they cannot keep the gates to the city barred forever. He tells Nynaeve that once the gates are open, he will be gone, and the Aes Sedai will never find him. He shares that Perrin told him there are days in the Black Hills where you can go days without seeing a soul. He says that he hopes he can figure what to do about himself before shrugging uncomfortably. He then tells her that if he cannot figure things out, there will be no one there to hurt.
Nynaeve: I am not so sure, Rand. I can’t say you look like more than another village boy to me, Rand, but Moiraine insists that you are ta’veren. And I don’t think she believes the Wheel is finished with you. The Dark One seems…
Rand: Shai’tan is dead!
The room seems to lurch. He grabs his head as waves of dizziness slosh through him.
Nynaeve: You fool! You pure, blind, idiotic fool! Naming the Dark One! Bringing his attention down on you! Don’t you have enough trouble?
Rand mutters that he is dead. Rand says that he saw Ba’alzamon die and that he watched him burn.
Nynaeve: And I wasn’t watching you when The Dark One’s eye fell on you just now? Don’t tell me you felt nothing or I’ll box your ears. I saw your face.
Rand insists again that he is dead. Nynaeve calls him a fool, again, this time shaking a fist at him. As she threatens to box his ears, she is cut off by bells ringing throughout the keep. Rand jumps to his feet and tells her that it is an alarm. He believes they are searching for him. Nynaeve says that ringing bells to signal a search for him only warns him. She says that if it is an alarm, it is not for Rand.
Rand glimpses through the arrow-slit window and looks out. Whatever caused the alarm is inside the keep. The bells fall silent and unmask the shouts of men. Rand cannot make out what they are calling. Rand suddenly calls out t Egwene’s name. He grabs his sword from the bundle.
Rand: Light, it’s supposed to hurt me, not her.
He shouts to Nynaeve that she is in the dungeon with Fain and he worries that he might be loose somehow. Nynaeve grabs him by the arm before he can leave through the door. She tells him not to be a worse goat-brained fool than he has already been. She tells him Egwene will be alright and that she was planning to take Mat and Perrin with her.
Nynaeve: Even if she met trouble they would look after her.
Rand: What if she couldn’t find them, Nynaeve. Egwene would never let that stop her. She would go alone, the same as you and you know it. Light, I told her Fain is dangerous. Burn me, I told her!
Rand pulls free, jerks open the door, and dashes out. A woman screams at the sight of him in a laborer’s coarse shirt and jerkin with a sword in his hand. Even when invited in, men do not go armed into the women’s apartments. Women fill the corridor in the hallway all talking loudly at the same time demanding to know what is happening. Rand pushes through them, muttering apologies. Rand looks at the shawls the women are wearing and he notices that they are Aes Sedai. He pushes through faster. Suddenly, a woman steps in front of him, in the hallway, and he stops in spite of himself. He remembers her face – the Amyrlin Seat. Her eyes widen at the sight of him and she steps back. Rand thinks to himself that she knows and that Moiraine told her. He hears shouting behind him but he does not listen.
Out in the keep, men are running through the courtyard with swords in hand. Over the clamor of the alarm bells, he can hear shouts, screams, and metal ringing on metal. He realizes there is fighting inside of Fal Dara when three trollocs run at him from around a corner. The hallway that had been full of men a moment ago is now empty except for the three trollocs and Rand. Rand badly does a sword form, hummingbird kisses the honeyrose, and a bear snouted trolloc evades it easily. However, in doing so, it bumps into the other two trollocs. Just then, several Shienaran soldiers charge at the trollocs. Shouts and screams fill the air from everywhere.
Rand runs toward the dungeon, passing dead trollocs and dead men in the hallway along the wya. He turns a corner and finds six dead Shienarans. A seventh man dies at the hand of a myrddraal as Rand watches. The Fade moves with viperous grace. It starts toward Rand, next. Rand’s hands shake as he raises his sword. Suddenly the Fade stops smiling.
Ingtar steps up beside him and tells him that this one is his. He advises Rand to try himself against a trolloc or two before facing one of these. Rand tells him he is going to the dungeon to check on Egwene and Ingtar tells him to see to her. Rand offers to fight the Fade with him and the older man tells him he is not ready for this. He then shouts at Rand to go. He feels ashamed as he runs away from the fight and toward the stairs that lead underground.
The corridors beneath the keep are silent. The door to the dungeon is open. It should have been closed and bolted. Rand started to call out and stops himself. He realizes that if Egwene is in there and in trouble, shouting will only warn whoever or whatever is endangering her. He takes a deep breath. In one motion, he pushes the door wide open and enters, sword in hand. He spins around looking for danger and find no one. Rand’s eyes fall on the table and he stops dead.
On either side of the lamp on the table, as if to create a centerpiece, sit the heads of both guards in two pools of blood. Rand gags and doubles over. He vomits into the straw on the floor. When he is finished, he rises and looks around the room more closely. Bloody lumps of flesh lay scattered in the straw on the floor. Blood covers the walls in scrawled letters – both single words and whole sentences. Some Rand recognizes as trolloc script and others, Rand can read, though he wishes he can not. Rand remembers Egwene. He picks up the lamp and hardly notices when the heads topple over on the table. He calls for her and starts toward the inner door before stopping dead at the sight of more writing on the walls.
We will meet again on Toman Head. It is never over, al’Thor.
Rand grabs a hand full of straw and scrubs furiously at the words on the door. He scrubs until it is all one bloody smear.
A woman’s voice calls out from the doorway asking him what he is doing. Rand turns to face her and her back is stiff with outrage. Her hair is pale and gold, in a dozen or more braids, but her eyes are dark and sharp on his face. Rand thinks that she is pretty but then he notices the red fringed shawl around her shoulders.
Rand tells her that the writing is filthy and vile. She tells him everything must be left exactly as it is for study and that he is to touch nothing. She says she knows that he is one of the ones who arrived with Moiraine, and with a gesture, she asks him what he had to do with this – indicating the room. Rand goggles at her. He says he came down to find Egwene. He turns to open the inner door and she tells him that he will stay and answer her. Suddenly it is all Rand can do to think. Icy cold squeezes at him from all sides and he feels as though his head is caught in a frozen vice. He can barely breath. She tells him to answer her and give her his name. Involuntarily, Rand grunts. He squeezes his jaw shut to avoid answering. She increases the pressure. Frozen needles prick his brain and the Void forms within him instantly. Dimly, Rand can sense light and warmth somewhere in the distance. Rand thinks to himself that he has to reach the light or she will kill him. Inwardly, he stretches toward the Light. Just before he can reach it, another voice speaks.
A woman asks what is going on here. The cold and the pain vanish. Rand’s knees sag but he does not fall to his knees. He raises his head. Moiraine is standing in the doorway. Moiraine asks again what is going on. Liandrin tells her that she found the boy inside with the guards murdered. She notes to Moiraine that he is one of hers. She asks Moiraine what she is doing in the dungeon noting that the battle is above. Moiraine replies simply that she could ask the same of her.
Rand pulls back the door to the inner room and says that Egwene came down there. He goes in holding his lamp high. Inside, Rand hears a prisoner gurgle and kick before dying. He had hung himself using his belt and the iron bars of his cell. In the next cell, a big man with sunken knuckles is huddled, eyes wide open, at the back of his cell. At the sight of Rand he claws frantically at the stone wall. Rand calls out to him that he will not hurt him but the man continues on, screaming and digging. His hands are bloody and Rand realizes this is not his first attempt to dig through the stone with his bare hands. He calls out for Egwene. The light from his lamp reaches Fain’s cell.
The door to Fain’s cell is open and the cell is empty. He sees two shapes on the stone in front of the cell. Egwene and Mat lay sprawled and unconscious. With a flood of relief, Rand sees their chests rising and falling. There does not seem to be a mark on either of them. He calls out to Moiraine that Egwene and Mat are both inside and injured.
Rand feels like crying, thinking that it is supposed to hurt him, not his friends.
Rand: I named the Dark One. Me!
Moiraine tells him not to move them. Liandrin leads the way down the corridor but Moiraine darts in and places a hand on Egwene’s head first. She announces that she is not badly hurt. She points at a spot on Egwene’s head and says that she was struck there but that it is the only injury she has taken. Rand asks about Mat. Moiraine tells him to be quiet. Egwene stirs and is still. She tells Rand that Egwene is sleeping. Moiraine shifts to Mat and announces that this is more serious. She says that the dagger is gone. Suddenly voices are in the outer room and Moiraine calls out to them that they are inside. She shouts to bring two litters quickly.
Rand tells Moiraine that he told Egwene not to come and that Fain is dangerous. Liandrin tells Moiraine that when she arrived, Rand was destroying the writing in the outer chamber. Rand again shouts that it was filth. They look at him not speaking. Rand tells Moiraine that she cannot think he had anything to do with what happened in the other room and the Aes Sedai does not answer. The inner room is suddenly filled with torches and lamps. Ingtar leads men with litters to where Egwene and Mat lay.
Ingtar almost quivers with anger and notes that the Darkfriend is gone too. Moiraine tells him that Fain’s escape is the least that has happened, this night, even in the room where they stand. She gives instructions for Egwene to be taken to her room with a woman to watch over her in case she wakes in the night. She says that Mat needs to be taken to the Amyrlin Seat’s chambers. She further instructs them to find the Amyrlin, wherever she is, and tell her that Matrim Cauthon is there. When the men leave with his friends, the Aes Sedai turn to stare at Rand. She does not speak. Finally, she leaves.
Ingtar, who is overseeing the removal of the body of the dead prisoner, asks Rand what happened. Rand shakes his head and says he does not know except that Fain escaped somehow. He says that he saw the guard room and that whatever happened in hear scared one of the men so badly that he hanged himself. Rand says he thinks the other has gone made from seeing it. Ingtar replies that everyone is going mad tonight. Rand asks him if he killed the Fade and Ingtar replies, no, with disgust.
Suddenly Ingtar’s face is tired and full of pain.
We had it in our hands, in our hands, and we lost it, Rand! Lost it!
Rand asks him what they lost and Ingtar tells him the Horn of Valere is gone, chest and all. He tells Rand that the strong room was looted with Ronan and the watchman guarding the strongroom dead also. Ingtar continues on, telling Rand that the darkfriends came in through the dog gate and that they left the same way.
Rand asks how anyone could get through the dog gate, noting that it and all the other gates are barred and guarded. Ingtar tells him the guards at the dog gate had their throats cut. He says that someone killed the guards and then opened the gate.
Rand: But that means…
Ingtar: Yes. There are Darkfriends inside Fal Dara. Or were.
Ingtar looks around the room and says they are helping nothing inside and orders everyone out. Rand joins them all in leaving. Rand asks if Ingtar has increased the guard on the gates and Ingtar says that as soon as Agelmar heard what had happened, he ordered the increased guard. Rand then asks him about the earlier order to not leave the city and Ingtar is confused.
Ingtar: Rand, the keep was not closed until Lord Agelmar heard of this. Someone told you wrong.
Rand is quiet. However, he knows that the guards he spoke with would not have made up the order. He wonders to himself, then, who and how it was given.
In the outer room, two Aes Sedai with brown fringed shawls are studying the scrawls on the walls. Each has an inkpot in her writing case and they make notes about what they see. One of them points out scrawls that seem interesting and calls over the other, Verin, to see it. Rand hurries out. He does not want to remain in the same room with anyone who believes trolloc script, written in human blood, is interesting.
Outside the dungeon, Rand wonders where he can go. Getting back into the women’s apartments will not be easy without Egwene to help. Lan finds him before he can go anywhere.
He tells Rand that he can go back to his own room if he wants. He shares that Moiraine had his things fetched from Egwene’s room and sent to his own. When Rand asks how she knew, Lan tells him that Moiraine knows a great many things and that he should understand that by now. He then tells Rand that the women are all talking about him staring down the Amyrlin and waving a sword.
Rand apologizes and explains. Lan tells him the women are not angry, though some of them believe he needs a strong hand to settle him down. He says they are fascinated by him.
Lan: Even the Lady Amalisa cannot stop asking questions about you. Some of them are starting to believe the servant’s tales. They think you’re a prince in disguise, sheepherder. Not a bad thing. There’s an old saying here in the Borderlands. ‘Better to have one woman on your side than ten men.’ The way they are talking among themselves they are trying to decide whose daughter is strong enough to handle you.
Lan laughs. Rand thinks it looks odd, like a rock laughing. He tells him that the women in Shienar have never seen a male as peculiar as he is. He says it is too bad he has to leave. Rand growls and says he has been trying to leave. He tells Lan that the gates were guarded. He says he tried while it was still daylight and that he could not take Red out of the stable. Lan tells him that Moiraine sent him to tell Rand that he can leave anytime he wants – even now. Moiraine had Agelmar exempt Rand from the order. Rand asks him why he was barred before. Lan looks troubled but then he speaks.
Lan: When someone gives you a horse, sheepherder, do not complain that it is not as fast as you’d like.
Rand asks about his friends. Lan tells him the girl is fine. He says the choice of when to leave is up to him. Then he walks away leaving Rand standing in the corridor.
I really enjoyed the Rand-Nynaeve section at the start of the chapter. I suppose seeing things with more mature eyes is fun and the reason so many “coming of age” stories are written in the first place. All of Rand’s conversations with Nynaeve feel like moments where Rand is hit with something he had not really thought of before (i.e. Nynaeve is pretty.)
That said, Rand is all kinds of dumb. His justification for continuing to believe he actually killed The Dark One is non-existent. He knows better. His justification for believing that they wouldn’t send servants to look for him – people who could search without raising notice or alarms from anyone – is naive. His justification for storming out of his hiding spot to search for Egwene is.. thin. Was that a ta’veren thing? If he had not gone down to the dungeon, the message to him from Fain would have been seen by others. Maybe Liandrin would not have taken care of Egwene and Mat properly. Etc.
Scenes such as the one in the dungeon are why I laugh at the weird section of the Wheel of Time community who insist that somehow these books can be made PG-13ish. If you actually read the books closely, the violence might actually be worse than in the A Song of Ice and Fire. This section here was… gross. Rand vomiting was completely appropriate.
Is Rand going to mention to Moiraine that Liandrin was killing him? You know… verify that she actually saw that from the doorway? My guess is no. It seems safe to assume Liandrin is Black Ajah even if it has not been stated openly yet – not even in her POV chapter.
I definitely pictured a rock laughing when Rand describes Lan that way.
Also, if Lan published a book of old sayings, I would definitely read it.