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 11: Glimmers of the Pattern
Ingtar calls a halt to the march before sunset. The Shienarans are feeling the effects of what they saw in the village. The place Ingtar picks to make camp has the look of a place that can be defended. It is a deep hollow large enough for all the men and horses. A sparse thicket covers the outer slopes. The rim of the hollow is high enough to hide the entire camp, though, even without the trees.
Uno is telling Ragan that he saw a woman in white just before they found the body of the myrddraal. He says it is the same woman that he saw in the window in the earlier village at the ferry. Rand pauses while overhearing. He thinks to himself that the woman was not found at the first village and could not possibly have arrived at the next village ahead of them. However, thinking about the village brings to Rand’s mind the house with the family and the flies. Rand wonders if he is going insane and he wishes that Moiraine is there to talk with.
Ingtar sets up camp in such a way that they can break it and move quickly. Everyone is told to sleep by their mounts. Rand thinks that Ingtar is feeling the worsening of their situation. Everyone now knows that they are chasing something that can nail a halfman to a door while the halfman is still alive.
Rand jumps as Ingtar speaks at his shoulder. He asks the Shienaran what happened back there at the village and Ingtar replies that trollocs took the people from the village. He tells Rand that if trolloc raids get past defenses in the Borderlands, they take villagers with them after. He says that sometimes they recover the people before they are eaten and wish they had not recovered them. Ingtar says that Halfmen sometimes like to have their way with the villagers before they butcher them.
Rand: The Fade back there didn’t have any fun, Ingtar. What could nail a myrddraal to a door, alive?
Ingtar hesitates and shakes his head. He then tells Rand that Moiraine Sedai entrusted him with something to give Rand at the first camp south of the Erinin. He hands Rand a canvass. Rand’s skin prickles at the touch of it. Rand thinks for a moment that Ingtar does not want to think about what happened to the Fade. Then he realizes that thinking about what happened to the Fade may be preferable to what Moiraine sent him. Ingtar then adds that he was told to tell Rand, at the same time, that if something happens to him the lances are to follow Rand. Rand gasps.
Ingtar meets his incredulous stare and Rand replies that he has never led anything other than a flock of sheep. Rand adds that Moiraine cannot tell him who his second is, noting that his second is Uno. Ingtar then tells Rand that on the morning they left, both he and Uno were called in to meet with Lord Agelmar whereupon the Lord of Fal Dara issued the command making Rand Ingtar’s second on this mission. Rand asks him why and Ingtar looks as though he does not understand either.
Ingtar mentions again that he heard rumors from the women’s apartments that Rand is an outland lord. He says that he knows Rand denies it just as much as Rand denies the look of his own face. He also says he knows Rand claims to be a shepherd, however, he points out that he has never seen a shepherd with a heron marked blade. Ingtar admits to Rand that he would not have chosen Rand as his second but he adds that he believes Rand has it in him to do his duty, if it comes to that. Rand asks him who else knows about this and Ingtar says that all of the lances know. Rand tries to tell Ingtar that he will not accept the duty but Ingtar just states that he knows Rand will do his duty. He leaves to tend to the camp.
Rand stares at the bundle in his arms and licks his lips. He is afraid that he knows what is in it. He does not want to open the bundle where any eyes other than his own can see. Rand takes the bundle and sneaks into the trees. He unfastens the cords which are tied in neat knots that look like they were tied by Moiraine’s own hands. He knows they were because she would not have entrusted this to anyone. Rand spreads out a banner, white as snow, and large enough to be seen over an entire length of a battlefield. Across the banner crawls a rippling figure like a serpent scaled in gold and crimson. Unlike a serpent, the figure has four legs each tipped with five golden claws, with eyes like the sun and a golden lion’s mane. Rand has before him the Banner of Lews Therin Telamon. It is the banner of the Dragon.
Mat calls out to Perrin to look at what Rand has now.
Mat: First fancy coats, and now a banner. We’ll hear no end of lording it, now.
Mat gets close enough to see what is on the banner and stumbles back a step. Anger boils up in Rand. He snatches up the banner with words pouring out uncontrollably. Rand tells him that it’s the Dragon’s Banner and that Moiraine wants him to be a puppet on Tar Valon strings. He says she wants him to be a False Dragon and that she will push it down his threat whether he wants it or not. Rand continues, angrily, saying that he will not be used. Mat backs up all the way to a tree trunk, stunned.
Mat says that’s crazy but Perrin never backed up. He studies the banner. Finally he asks Rand if he can channel. Mat gasps and Rand drops the banner. He hesitates only a moment before nodding wearily.
Rand: I did not ask for it. I don’t want it. But I do not think I know how to stop it.
He says he does not think they will let him stop.
Mat: Burn me! Blood and bloody ashes! They’ll kill us you know. All of us.
Perrin calmly tells Mat to shut up. Mat asks why they did not just gentle him and Rand tells him that they all do know. He does say that the Amyrlin Seat knows, though. He says that Moiraine told him that he is the Dragon Reborn and that he can leave Fal Dara and go wherever he wants. He tells Mat that they are trying to use him, not stop him.
Perrin tells Mat to shut up, again, and asks Rand why he is with them. He says that Mat is probably right about how Ingtar and the others might react to knowing that Rand can channel. Rand explains that he was trying to leave and get away from everyone. However, he says the Amyrlin arrived and that prevented him from leaving. He then points out that next the Horn and the dagger were stolen.
Rand: Light, I thought I could stay with you until we found the dagger at least.
Mat is in disbelief that Rand came because of the dagger. He says he never thought of that or that Rand wanted to help him. Then Mat asks him if he is feeling alright and asks if he is going mad already. Rand leans down, picks up a pebble from the ground, and throws it at Mat. After Mat says ouch, he says that Rand’s fancy clothes and all the “lord” talk did not seem right in the head. Rand replies, calling Mat a fool, that he was tryin to get rid of him so that he did not accidentally hurt him with the One Power.
Rand’s eyes drop to the banner and confesses to both of them that he will hurt them eventually if he does not learn how to stop it. He says again that he does not know how to stop it. Mat suggests that it might be in his own best interest to sleep as far away from Rand as possible. Then he tells a story that he heard from a merchant’s guard, once, about another man who can channel. The merchant’s guard told Mat that the channeler woke up one morning to find every home in his village smashed flat, with the people inside smashed flat, except for the room the channeler was sleeping in. Perrin suggests to Mat that this story means Mat should probably sleep cheek by jowl with Rand.
Mat says to Rand that he may be a fool but that he intends to be a living fool. He then tells Rand that he is grateful for Rand’s help but says his friend is just not the same anymore. Mat vanishes into the trees toward the camp. Rand asks Perin, “how about you?” and his friend replies that he does not know. He tells Rand that his mother used to frighten him as a kid with stories about men channeling. Then he touches the banner and tells Rand that he suggests burning or burying it before running. Perrin stands and says they should get back to the camp. Perrin again suggests that Rand should think about running but he also points out that maybe Rand cannot run and that he should think about that, too. Perrin’s eyes look inward.
Perrin: Sometimes you can’t run.
Perrin left and Rand kneels there by the banner on the ground. He thinks that running might be what Moiraine wants. He also thinks over the message that his life may one day depends on having the banner. He ties the bundle back together and takes it back to camp. The sun is setting. He looks at Mat and Perrin bedding down for the night and goes to the other side of the camp where Loial and Hurin are preparing to sleep. Loial is examining a half buried stone next to where he had been reading.
Loial tells Rand that he believes the stone was worked once. He points out that there are markings on it and suggests that it was once a column of some kind. He says that the markings look familiar. Rand shifts the stuff in his saddlebag to one side and shoves the canvass wrapped banner inside. It barely fits.
The camp is in full dark. Rand does not sleep immediately. His mind races over the day’s events. Sleep finally comes and with sleep the Void surrounds him unbidden. Within the Void is an uneasy glow that disturbs his dreams.
Padan Fain stares northward past the only fire in his camp. He is smiling though it does not touch his eyes. He thinks of himself as Padan Fain but he has been changed and he knows it. He now knows many things his old masters could not suspect.
Fain was a Darkfriend many long years before Ba’alzamon summoned him and set him on a track toward Emond’s Field. Ba’alzamon had distilled Fain and what he knew of the boys in the Two Rivers, and then he distilled it back into Fain’s body so that he could feel their presense and even smell them, where they had been, or where they go – especially the one. Part of Fain still cringes when remembering what Ba’alzamon did to him but it is only a small part, hidden and suppressed. He is changed now.
Following the boys had led Fain into Shadar Logoth and then… Fain feels whole within himself now. He fingers the ruby hilted dagger at his waist. It is the only weapon he carries and the only one he needs. The twelve remaining Darkfriends in his camp huddle together staring at him. On the other end of the camp sit twenty trollocs. Their human eyes are watching Fain’s every move in the way that mice watch a cat.
Fain thinks back to their journey from Fal Dara. Initially it had been a struggle. Every morning he would wake and find the myrddraal back in control, trying to drive their party back north toward the Blight. Bit by bit, though, those mornings of weakness grew shorter. He remembers the feel of the hammer in his hand, driving the spikes into the myrddraal while it was alive. Fain smiles. This time it touches his eyes.
Fain thinks to himself that he should never have let the trollocs take the entire village. He believes it will slow them down. However, the village by the ferry had been deserted so he allowed it. Fain instructs the trollocs to go to where the villagers are bound, to kill them all, and to leave a pile of bones for party trailing them to find. He instructs the trollocs to leave the heads on top of the pile. The trollocs scurry away and in moments the shrieks and bellows of the villagers can be heard.
Fain turns to look at his Darkfriends. He thinks to himself that they truly are his, both body and soul. He asks them if they believe the trollocs will grow hungry again before they find another village. One of the dirty Darkfriends, wearing what used to be a finely cut dress, states that the other Darkfriends the trollocs killed before were merely commoners. Fain cuts her off and says that they are less than peasants to him. He speaks to all of them and says that if they want to live, they must be useful.
The group of them babble about how useful they are. The noise of their babbling blends into the sound of the trollocs’ slaughter. He turns his back on them with no fear of them. He places his hand on a golden chest. He has not yet puzzled out how to open it. He thinks to himself that he will figure it out.
Fain cannot feel al’Thor. He believes that either the distance between them is too great or al’Thor is doing what Fain thinks of as his vanishing trick. Inside the keep in Fal Dara, occasionally, the boy simply vanished from his senses and Fain did not know how. However, each time, al’Thor always returned just as suddenly as he had gone. Fain thinks to himself that the boy will come back this time, too.
Fain: This time, yo ucome to me, Rand al’Thor.
I think my favorite version of Mat is the “so overwhelmed by information that all he can do is swear” version of Mat. I also enjoy the slow introduction of Randland swearing into the story, too. “Burn me!” “Light!” “Blood and ashes!” If you read these books enough, you find yourself thinking these swear words internally during your every day life. Sometimes you speak them to a confused audience.
Uno sees that woman in white again. That’s something to keep an eye on.
Rand is placed second in command of the entire group chasing down the Horn. It’s funny that he left that part out when *finally* telling Mat and Perrin about everything else. His friends would have been baffled by that information.
Mat and Perrin find out that Rand can channel AND that Moiraine has told him that he is the Dragon Reborn. Does it occur to any of them that he might actually *be* the Dragon Reborn? If so, it’s not stated. Maybe when they give themselves a chance to think about it, it might occur to them that Ba’alzamon does not necessarily have a reason to hunt down a False Dragon in his dreams. It might also occur to them that Ba’alzamon would have every reason in the world to track down the actual Dragon Reborn. Just saying.
Mat obviously did not handle this news very well. For a guy who at one point in time was toxic and insane himself, you might expect him to be a little more sympathetic. I suppose that’s the difference in knowing that your own craziness is/was curable and the craziness of your friend is not. It’s also probably a function of not understanding how dangerous he was becoming before Moiraine found him in Caemlyn. In any case, it’s hard to really put yourselves into Mat and Perrins’ shoes, in our real world, because there is nothing in our real world quite like finding out someone you know is a man who can channel. It’s… very bad. Very, very, very bad.
Perrin handles it better. I think he can relate to Rand due to his own experience in becoming a “wolf brother” against his own will. But at the end of the day, he still tells Rand to run away and he camps next to Mat for the night – as far from Rand as is possible.
At the end of the chapter, we learn several bits of information. Fain’s struggle with the myrddraal is why the Darkfriends kept changing directions early in the pursuit. Fain is the thing worse than a myrddraal that Hurin continues smelling. Fain is the one who killed the myrddraal while it was still alive. Fain is afflicted with that Shadar Logoth evil – just as Mat had been. Somehow that mixed with what he already was and made something worse. Fain also does not know how to get the Horn out of the golden chest. I do not know if it is relevant that the village by the ferry was abandoned before Fain arrived but it’s interesting. The second village, though… yikes.
All of the foregoing said regarding Fain, I have a really hard time being interested in him as a villain. He just seems too oily to be frightening – even if the reality is that he should be terrifying. Hopefully he translate better to the visual medium.