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 13: From Stone to Stone
The rising sun wakes Rand and he wonders if he is dreaming. He sits up slowly, staring, because everything has changed. Loial and Hurin still lay on either side of him, with their hoses still hobbled a pace away, but everyone else is gone. Soldiers, horses, his friends, everyone, and everything are gone. The hollow of the camp is different now, too. Rand, Loial, and Hurin are in the middle of it now, and no longer on the edge. At Rand’s head is a gray stone cylinder, three spans high and a pace thick. The stone cylinder is covered by hundreds or thousands of deeply carved markings in a language he does not recognize. What stone paves the bottom of the hollow, as level as a floor. It is polished so smoothly that it almost glistens. Broad high steps in concentric rings of different colored stone rise to the rim of the hollow. Around the rim of the hollow, the trees are blackened and twisted, as if a firestorm has roared through them. Everything seems paler than it should be – as if it is being seen through mist – only there is no mist.
Rand wakes the other two with him. Loial looks around, shocked, while Hurin leaps to his feet like a flea on a hot rock, asking where they are and what has happened. Rand tells him that he does not know what has happened and that he was hoping it was all a dream. Rand stands carefully.
Loial is studying the column and seems unhappy. He tells the other two that he believes the big stone column is the same stone they slept beside during the night. Loial says that he thinks he knows what it is now. He sounds miserable about knowing.
Rand notices that the steps along the rim of the hollow contain seven colors. He notes that they colors are the colors of the Ajans within the White Tower. Hurin protests that Aes Sedai would not do this to them. He asks Loial what he thinks he knows about the Stone. Loial tells him that he read an old book, once, which contained a drawing of the Stone. He says that underneath the drawing, it was written “from Stone to Stone, from the lines of if, between the worlds that might be.” Rand asks the Ogier what that means. He does not know. However, Loial says that the book stated that during the Age of Legends, the most powerful Aes Sedai – the ones who could Travel – could use the Stones. Loial says that he thinks those Aes Sedai used the Stones to journey to other worlds. He then notes that even if Aes Sedai could use the stones, the three of them have no Aes Sedai with them to Channel the One Power. Rand’s skin prickles.
Rand has a vague memory of the Void closing around him with the uneasy Light inside of it. He also remembers the room in the village, with the flies, and the Light inside of the Void that he had used to escape the room. He wonders if that Light was the male half of the True Source and he thinks that perhaps he brought the three of them there. Rand changes the subject away from himself and asks Loial what he means by “worlds that might be.”
Loial attempts to explain by giving a hypothetical. He asks Rand, if a woman faces a choice to go left or right, does the Wheel weave two separate patterns around which choice she makes. He then says that if it does, is one of the Patterns more real than the other. He concludes by saying that the answers are not clear. However, he also tells Rand that there are supposed to be a great many of these Stones scattered around the world. Hurin interrupts, calmer, but on his feet. He asks Rand if he will get them all back.
Rand thinks to himself that he probably got all of them into this situation. He tells Hurin that he will do his best. Hurin looks back at Rand confidently. Rand puts his hands on the column and slowly forms the Void. Inside the Void, he can see the Light. He knows now that it is Saidin. He reaches for it and catches nothing – as if trying to grasp water. He thinks that it feels like a slimy water but he cannot scoop up any of it. He tries repeatedly with the same result. Finally, the Void shatters like a thousand tiny shards across his mind. He stumbles back. That has never happened to Rand before with the Void. He head feels numb. He touches his temple and is surprised not to see blood on his fingers.
Hurin still stares confidently at Rand. Loial has a slightly puzzled frown while watching Rand. Hurin suggests to Rand that they can find the Darkfriends and make one of them tell them how to get back. Hurin tells Rand that they can follow their trail. Rand is surprised to learn that their trail exists in this place. He says the smell of it is faint and pale, like everything else in that place, but he says he can smell the trail. Hurin points to the rim of the hollow.
Rand considers. He decides that if Fain and the Darkfriends are in this place, he has to find them, if for no other reason than to reacquire the Horn and the dagger. He decides to follow them because he is afraid to try channeling the power again. He tells Hurin that they will go after the Darkfriends.
Loial still looks puzzled when he looks at Rand. Rand tells the Ogier that they will find another Stone. Loial tells him that the book fragment said that the Stones come from an Age before the Age of Legends. He also says that the Aes Sedai then did not know well how to use them. He tells Rand that the Aes Sedai used the Stones with the One Power and he asks Rand how he intends to use the Stone, or any other Stone they find, to take them back. Rand can only stare at Loial. He thinks quickly and says that if the Stones are older than the Age of Legends, maybe the people who used them did not use the One Power. He tells Loial that there must be another way to use them. He then points out that the Darkfriends got to this place, too, and they could not use the One Power. He says he will find out what the other way of using the Stones is.
Loial gives Rand a doubtful nod and the two of them begin following Hurin. The land around them seems to twist the eye. Everything close at hand is alright, but things seen at a distance, or from the corner of the eye, seem to rush toward Rand when he changes his gaze. It makes for dizziness.
Rand asks Loial if the piece of the book said anything about the twisting nature of the land and Loial says it did not. Hurin tells Rand that they need to move south.
Rand brings up that Ingtar told them it was a three or four days ride to the monument of Artur Hawkwing. He wonders aloud if that monument exists here, too.
Rand: If this is a world that could be, maybe it’s still standing. Wouldn’t that be something to see Loial?
They ride south.
Given Egwene’s dream from the previous chapter, I am going to go out on a limb and say that Rand did not take everyone to this weird “other world.” She saw an evil woman leaning over Rand before he vanished.
Other than the oddity of the trip to this other world itself, a couple of noteworthy things happen in this chapter. 1) Rand figures out the basics of how to channel on purpose, and 2) Rand starts letting someone call him “Lord.”
I think it’s pretty clear now that Loial strongly suspects Rand can channel, too. He does not want to come right out and ask about it, but you can tell from his questioning of Rand that he is thinking it.
The story does not tell us when “channeling” was first discovered. At least it has not told us, yet. However, if the Stones pre-date the Age of Legends, then maybe it’s possible that Rand is correct about using them without the One Power. That begs another question. Why does Rand think there was a time before channeling existed? As far as he knows, shouldn’t channeling have always existed? I guess Rand’s quick thinking strongly implies that it was believed within the story that channeling was something uniquely born in the Age of Legends.