The Great Hunt (Chapter 12): Woven in the Pattern

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 12: Woven in the Pattern

Egwene hurries after Nynaeve to where the Amyrlin’s horse is located. Her desire to know what caused the turmoil in Fal Dara even outweighs her desire to know what has become of Rand. He is beyond her reach for the moment. She has heard that there is a search for a bowman going in, inside the keep, who fired a shot at the Amyrlin Seat herself.

Siuan is speaking with Agelmar. She tells him that he will find the bowman or he will not. She adds that her own business in Tar Valon is as urgent as Ingtar’s quest. He protests and says that he believes they will have the man within the hour. She laughs as a reply saying that it will be too late in the day for her to leave if she waits. Siuan tells him to send word if they catch the man. Siuan’s eyes travel around the ramparts and she tells Agelmar that she believes the bowman has already fled Fal Dara. Her tone is one of finality.

Siuan’s eyes land on Egwene and Nynaeve. Egwene steps back from eyes that seem to her capable of learning all of her secrets just from a look. She gives a curtsey. Nynaeve stands still, straight-backed, but she grips Egwene’s hand tightly. Siuan calls out to Moiraine that these are her two. Moiraine nods and all of the Aes Sedai in the party turn to look at the two women from Emond’s Field.

Siuan: Yes, I sense a fine spark in each of them. But what will kindle from it? That’s the question.

The Amyrlin Seat says abruptly that it is time to be gone and that she and Agelmar can say what needs to be said without everyone gawking like novices on a free day. At her command, the Warders scatter to their mounts and the Aes Sedai glide to their own horses. A servant appears next to Agelmar with a silver chalice. Agelmar then performs a departure ceremony with a twist to his mouth indicating that he wishes she were not leaving so soon.

By the time Egwene scrambles into Bela, the Amrylin’s palanquin is already moving toward the city gates. Roars and cheers greet their precession as they pass through the town toward the gates. Warders lead their column and ride guard around the Aes Sedai. Archers and pikemen follow behind . Egwene glances back often until trees and hills hide Fal Dara’s walls from view.

Nynaeve speaks to Egwene and says that Rand will be alright, noting that he has Lord Ingtar and twenty lances with him. She says that there is nothing either of them can do. She looks toward Moiraine and adds, “not yet.” They push forward hard, and toward dark, every night on their journey, with the Amrylin barely allowing them enough light before dark to get their tents pitched. Each Ajah has their own small domed tent. Moiraine shares a tent with her two Blue sisters. The Warders sleep on the ground wrapped in their cloaks.

Lan came once to the tend that Egwene shares with Nynaeve, taking the Wisdom a little distance away into the night for a private conversation. Egwene cannot hear what they are speaking about, but she watches them from a distance. Eventually Nynaeve erupts in anger and stalks back toward the tent. Lan stands watching their tent from the darkness for a long time before he goes away. After that, he does not come again.

Moiraine does not come near them. She spends her waking hours speaking with the Aes Sedai other than the Red Sisters. Egwene suggests to Nynaeve that Moiraine may be done with them. Nynaeve snorts and says that she believes Moiraine will be done with them when she is dead. She simply says Moiraine is sly. Other Aes Sedai visit them, though.

On the first night, Egwene was startled when a graying Aes Sedai, with a distracted look on her face, pushed into their tent. The Aes Sedai glanced at the lantern when she entered and the flame rose a little higher. Egwene thinks that she feels something when it happened. She also thought she could see something happen with the woman when it happened. The Aes Sedai introduces herself as Verin Mathwin. She indicates that she knows both of their names, where they are from, that the Two Rivers was once Manetheren, and she states that the old blood sings.

Egwene asks if they are being summoned to the Amyrlin Seat and Verin laughs. She says that the Amyrlin Seat has much more important things to deal with than two women who are not even novices yet. However, she then pauses and says that you can never tell, noting that both of them – especially Nynaeve – have considerable potential. Verin tells Egwene that she is in the tent to give her a lesson. The Brown sister tells both women to sit. Egwene settles cross legged across from Verin. Verin tells her that she has been getting ahead of herself. She goes on to say that what Egwene has done is dangerous though not exactly wrong. Egwene is nervous and asks what she has done.

Verin: Why, you have been channeling the power, child.

Egwene gapes. Nynaeve burst out in anger.

Nynaeve: That is ridiculous! Why are we going to Tar Valon if not for that?

Egwene manages to say that Moiraine Sedai has been giving her lessons. Verin holds up her hands for quiet and the two women from Emond’s Field fall silent. She asks Egwene if she believes that Aes Sedai immediately teach any woman, who says that she wants to be an Aes Sedai, how to channel. Nynaeve roughly asks why Moiraine did it.

Verin: Because Egwene had already channeled.

Nynaeve tells Verin, unhappily, that she has also channeled. Verin explains that the two of them have different circumstances. Verin says the fact that Nynaeve is alive means she weathered the various dangers of channeling, on her own. She adds that Nynaeve knows how lucky she is. She tells Nynaeve that of every four women forced to do what the Wisdom did, only one survives.

She tells Nynaeve that “wilders” – which she apologetically explains is what women in the White Tower call women who have managed some rough control without training – have difficulties of their own. She says that in almost all cases, wilders have built up walls of a sort to keep themselves from knowing what it is that they are doing. She says that the walls interfere with conscious control. She adds, though, that if the walls interfering with control can be demolished, some of the most adept Siters, ever, started as wilders.

Verin returns her attention to Egwene. She says that the younger woman’s problem is different from that of Nynaeve. She tells Egwene that most girls – even the ones born with the seed to channel in them that Egwene has – are afraid of channeling. She says most even require step by step aid for months after arriving at the White Tower. She notes that this is not Egwene’s story. She says that from what Moiraine has told her, Egwene leaped into this as soon as she knew that she could.

Verin: Fumbling your way through the dark with never a thought as to whether there was a bottomless pit under your next step.

She says there have been others like Egwene – Moiraine among them – but that once Moiraine knew what Egwene had done there was nothing left for her to do except to teach her. Verin asks Egwene if Moiraine ever explained any of this to her. Egwene says no. Verin tells her that Moiraine has never believed in telling anyone something that she believes they did not need to know.

Egwene asks Verin if there is a bottomless pit and the Brown sister tells her that there has not been one so far.

Verin: But the next step? [..] You see, Child, the more you try to touch the True Source, the more you try to channel the One Power, the easier it becomes to actually do it.

She explains to Egwene that the danger of Saidar is that before you are taught, it is easier to do something with it that is not what the user intended at all. She says that Egwene’s efforts with the One Power is like someone who has been teaching herself to run up hills without also teaching herself to run down the other side.

Verin: Sooner or later you’re going to fall if you don’t learn the rest of it.

She asks Egwene how many people she might hurt, accidentally, without meaning to. She says that her lesson tonight will be followed by lessons from other Sisters, every night, until Egwene reaches Tar Valon. She explains to Egwene that the goal will be to prevent Egwene from doing something entirely by accident. Verin tells Egwene and Nynaeve that when they arrive at the White Tower, the Sisters will turn them both over to Sheriam Sedai, who is Mistress of Novices.

Nynaeve offers to leave and sit by the fire during their lesson. Verin encourages the Wisdom to stay and suggests that she would profit from the lesson. She further tells Nynaeve that Moiraine has suggested that she will need only a little training in the White Tower before being raised to the Accepted. Nynaeve thanks her for the offer but says that she can wait until they arrive at Tar Valon to receive lessons. Verin cuts her off and tells Nynaeve that by any gauge, she is a full grown woman. She says that the younger a novice, usually, the better she handles the discipline of the Tower.

Verin: A novice is expected to do as she is told, when she is told, and without question.

Verin contrasts novice training with Accepted training, telling her that Accepted are allowed to ask questions and set their own direction more freely. She asks Nynaeve which of those two things she would prefer. Nynaeve settles down next to Egwene for the lesson.

Verin directs the two women through the process of emptying themselves of their thoughts. She tells both of them to imagine only the bud of a flower. She says that they can smell and feel it. She says that they are the bud. Verin’s voice drones on hypnotically. Egwene is a rosebud inside herself. Suddenly there is light pressing in upon the petals. Slowly the petals unfold toward the light. The rose and the light are one. Egwene and the light are one. Egwene can feel the merest trickle of the light seeping through her. She stretches and strains for more. Then, in an instance, it was all gone, both rose and light.

Egwene opens her eyes. Nynaeve is wearing a grim expression. Verin tells Egwene that she cannot make it happen. She tells Egwene that she must let it happen. She tells her that she must surrender to the power before she can control it. Nynaeve metters that this is all complete foolishness and says that she does not feel like a flower. She says that she feels like a blackthorn bush and states that she will wait by the fire after all.

Verin: As you wish. Did I mention that novices do chores? They wash dishes, scrub floors, do laundry, serve at table, all sorts of things. I myself think the servants do a better job of it by far but it is generally felt that such labor builds character.

Oh, you are staying? Good!

She tells Nynaeve that even a blackthorn bush has flowers sometimes, beautiful and white among the thorns.

Verin tells the two women they will try it one at a time. Several times during Verin’s lesson Egwene manages to fill herself with the One Power. She only manages to make the tent flaps stir with air. She thinks to herself that a sneeze would have done as much. Nynaeve says that she never even felt a glimmer. Verin tells Nynaeve to sit once more as the Wisdom looks angry. Egwene is worried that she will begin berating the Aes Sedai as though she is a village woman. Nynaeve wears a face like week old death, with her eyes clamped shut as though she never means to open them again. Her hands are white-knuckled in her lap. Verin’s voice does not change, as Egwene watches, but suddenly the Brown sister has a gleam in her eyes. She tells Nynaeve to feel the air and the breeze. Egwene sits up straight because this is how Verin had guided her each time she actually managed to hold the power.

As Verin whispers about a soft breeze, abruptly, the stacked blankets burst into flame. Nynaeve opens her eyes with a yell. Egwene jumps to her feet to kick the blankets outside before they catch the tent on fire. Before Egwene manages a second kick, the fire is gone.

Verin: Well, I did not expect to have to douse a fire. Don’t faint on my Child, it’s alright.

Nynaeve says that she was angry. She says that when Verin was telling her about a breeze, fire just popped into her head. She says that she did not mean to burn anything. She says the fire was small in her head. Verin says that she supposes it was a small fire at that and laugh. Then she looks more seriously at Nynaeve and asks if she is alright. Nynaeve indicates that she is. Verin tells both of them that they need to rest and says she has worked them too hard. She tells them both that they need to rest. She stands and says they will be riding again before first light. Verin tells them that she will have more blankets brought to them and states that she now hopes they both understand how important control is. As she is leaving, she tells both of them that if they touch more of the one power than they can handle, they can either die or burn out their own ability to touch the True Source.

As if she had not told them they are walking a knife edge, she cheerfully tells them both to sleep well and leaves.

Egwene hugs Nynaeve and tells her that it is alright to be frightened. The Wisdom gives a croaking laugh, glances as the blankets, and says it takes more than a little fire to frighten her. However, Egwene notes that she does not look at the blankets again even when they are replaced.

As they journey on, day by day, Verin does not visit again. The two women are visited by others, though, and they are quite varied in demeanor. Alviarin is cool and business like as a merchant. Alanna Mosvani laughs and spends as much time talking about the world, and men, as she does teaching. She shows too much interest in Rand, Mat, and Perrin for Egwene’s comfort – especially Rand. Worst of all the Aes Sedai is Liandrin. She teaches them little, and reluctantly at that. She questions the two women as though they have been accused of a crime and all of her questions are about the three boys. She keeps it up until Nynaeve throws her out. When she leaves, though, Liandrin gives them a warning.

Liandrin: Watch yourselves, my daughters. You are in your village no longer. Now you dabble your toes where there are things to bite you.

Egwene begins having dreams about Rand. She attributes the dreams to Liandrin’s questions. Her dreams about Rand are always bad. However, as their party reaches the village of Medo, along the banks of the Mora River which borders Shienar and Arafel, her dreams change. In the village, Egwene approaches a Yellow Sister and asks if she has seen Moiraine Sedai. The woman waves her away.

In Medo, there are two docks with two ships. Their party – horses and all – are being loaded onto the two ships. More ships crowd the river nearby waiting their turn. On the dock, Egwene finds Anaiya, directing the loading process. She asks the Blue Sister if she has seen Moiraine Sedai. Startled, Anaiya tells her that Moiraine is gone and that Nynaeve is already out on one of the ships, the River Queen. She instructs Egwene to find a boat going out to the River Queen and she tells Egwene that the Amyrlin will be aboard their ship.

Egwene: Which ship is Moiraine Sedai’s?
Anaiya: Moiraine isn’t on a ship girl. She’s gone. Two days gone and the Amyrlin is in a taking over it.

She says that first Moiraine left with Lan, then Liandrin right on her heels, and then Verin, none of them with so much as a word for anyone. She says Verin did not even take her Warder.

Egwene is suddenly very worried. She thinks to herself that she needs to tell someone who will not laugh at her. She then tells Anaiya Sedai that Rand is in trouble. The Blue Sister gives her a considering look. She says that given their age and what they are about, that is no surprise. She also notes that Mat is the one from their group that had the look of trouble about him. She apologizes and tells Egwene that she does not mean to mock her. She asks Egwene what kind of trouble and also asks how she knows.

Egwene tells the Blue Sister that she had a dream. The dream had seemed real. First, Egwene saw a man with a mask over his face and fire in place of his eyes. She remembers thinking he had been surprised to see her. His look frightened her until she thought her bones would break from shivering. Suddenly the man vanished and she saw Rand sleeping on the ground wrapped in a cloak. A woman had been standing over Rand looking down. Her face was in shadow but her eyes seemed to shine like the moon. Egwene knew she was evil. In a flash of light, both Rand and the woman were gone. Behind all of this was the feel of danger, as though a trap is snapping shut on an unsuspecting lamb. The dream did not fade with waking. The danger continues to feel so strong she thinks she should be looking over her shoulder, yet somehow she also knows that the danger is aimed at Rand and not her. Egwene wonders to herself if the woman had been Moiriane.

Egwene does not bring herself to tell the Blue Sister the specifics of her dream. She merely says that she knows Rand is in danger – great danger. Anaiya looks at her thoughtfully. She tells Egwene that she may be a Dreamer. She tells Egwene that it is a small chance but says that the Tower has not had a Dreamer in four or five hundred years. She also tells Egwene that Dreaming is closely linked to Foretelling.

Anaiya: If you really can Dream, it may be that you can Foretell as well. That would be a finger in the Red’s eye. Of course, it could just be an ordinary nightmare.

She asks Egwene if the dream indicated what kind of danger. She says that Rand just vanished and she felt danger and evil. She says she felt the evil even before Rand vanished. Egwene shivers, rubs her hands together, and says that she can still feel it. Anaiya tells her that they will talk about it more on the River Queen and that she will see Egwene has the proper training. Anaiya dismisses her and returns her focus to the loading of the ships.

Egwene peers into the dark, toward the South, knowing Rand is out there somewhere.

Egwene: Hold on you woodheaded idiot! If you get yourself killed before I can get you out of this I will skin you alive.

It does not occur to Egwene, to ask herself, how she will get Rand out of anything on her way to Tar Valon. She sets out to find a boat to The River Queen.

REACTION:

This chapter title and the last one feel a bit phoned in as far as I’m concerned.

Egwene and Nynaeve begin getting their feet wet in The White Tower as a whole, meeting Sisters, and getting lessons. Nynaeve touches the One Power on purpose for the first time. In Nynaeve fashion, she gets angry and starts a fire. Egwene learns that she might have an ability called Dreaming – which seems to mean she can learn about the future via dreams.

Verin does an entertaining job of manipulating our strong willed Wisdom into learning. You want to scrub pots and pans as a novice? No? Well, maybe you’d rather just learn from me than in the White Tower. (Well done, sneaky Verin.) We stan our headstrong Nynaeve but she has much to learn.

Note: Did Lan come to say goodbye to Nynaeve before he and Moiraine high-tailed it out of camp? The timing works out well for that idea. Maybe he just came to talk because he knew they were leaving but didn’t actually tell her that they were leaving.

We know that Egwene sees Ba’alazamon – though she does not know that is who it is. I wonder how she’d feel if she knew her friends had been seeing and interacting with that guy in their dreams for months. Interestingly, he seems to see her, too. She also sees a woman by Rand while he is sleeping. (The woman in white that Uno continues to see? Probably.) Egwene knows that this woman is evil. Since the beginning of the book involved some Dark Prophecy prose, scrawled in human blood, that mentions Lanfear’s escape from her ancient prison… that seems like a fair guess as to who this is. We shall see.

Daughter of the Night, she walks again. The ancient war, she yet fights. Her new lover she seeks, who shall serve her and die, yet serve still. Who shall stand against her coming? The Shining Walls shall kneel.

Egwene also says that her eyes “shine like the moon.” That seems like a clue, too.

The other big news from this chapter is that three Aes Sedai sneaked away from their traveling party – Moiraine, Liandrin, and Verin. What happened two days ago to cause this? Who knows. If I were to speculate, based on what we know about Moiraine, it’s that Rand got rid of some book two version of a magically marked coin she covertly gave him. We know Moiraine packed Rand’s bags for him. The other two Sisters probably followed Moiraine.

The world is getting bigger and the danger is getting more danger-y.

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