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 27: The Shadow in the Night
Rand and Loial are making their way back from The Bunch of Grapes to their own Inn. The streets are empty except for a group of men using strings to work a large goat horned trolloc puppet. Loial tells Rand a story about how he was winning at dice until Dena joined the game. After she joined, he says confusedly, she won all of his winnings from him. Loial says that she called it a little lesson.
The sun is close to setting. Rand feels Selene’s note in his pocket. Loial wonders aloud whether it is possible that Dena cheated him. Rand tells Loial that they cannot wait for Ingtar any longer and that they need to begin returning toward Shienar. The men with the puppet are drawing closer.
Loial: Rand, I don’t think that’s a…
The men carrying poles with outstretched string let their poles clatter onto the street. Instead of collapsing, the trolloc leaps at them. Instinct brings Rand’s sword out of its sheath. The trolloc dies quickly. The men – Darkfriends – look at Rand and Loial before running. Rand tells Loial that Hurin is alone and that they have to get back to the Inn.
Suddenly, a large thick arm grabs Rand, pinning his own arms to his chest. A hairy hand reaches for his throat. As quickly as it has seized Rand, the hand was torn away. Rand is stunned by the thick Ogier fingers clutching the trolloc’s hand. Loial wrestles Rand free from the Trolloc’s other arm. The trolloc and Ogier tussle leaves Rand no room to assist his friend without risking injury to him. The Trolloc pulls an arm free from Loial but as it does, Loial puts his own arm around its neck, hugging it close. The trolloc claws for its sword. Still, Rand can find no opening to aid Loial without also putting him at risk.
Rand thinks to himself that he could help if he used the One Power. Reluctantly Rand forms the Void. Saidin draws him like a flower’s perfume drawing a bee. He reaches for it and there is nothing there. He tries again and again without success. With a heave, Loial throws the trolloc aside so hard that it cartwheels against the side of a building. It strikes headfirst with a loud crack and slides down the wall with its head twisted at an impossible angle. Loial stares at it, his chest heaving. He lets Void and tainted Light go and runs to Loial’s side.
Loial: I never killed before, Rand.
Anxiously Rand looks around at empty streets and barred doors and window. He thinks that where there are two trollocs, there have to be more. Rand tells Loial that he is sorry he had to do it. He tells his friend that it would have killed both of them, or worse, if he had not. Loial says he knows but he cannot like it – even a trolloc. Suddenly Loial sees another of them. This group is disguising a trolloc as a puppet, as the others had done, as they move through the streets of the Foregate.
Rand decides that Fain is hunting them but must also be concerned about the trollocs being seen. He tells Loial that if they can get back to where there are people, they will be safe. He also states that they need to get back to Hurin as soon as possible. They try to move toward the other streets in the Foregate where there are people. However, as they turn to go, they find another group of Darkfriends with another puppet. They turn again, down another street, and they are again cut off by Darkfriends and a trolloc puppet. Every time Rand tries to reach the music and the laughter there is a trolloc in the way. Slowly but surely, Rand and Loial and forced to the east, away from other people, and toward narrow and darkening streets. When they reach the eastern edge of the Foregate, Loial tells Rand that there is no where else to go.
At the edge of the Foregate, Rand can see a building with walls about a mile away. Rand thinks that it must be a Lord’s manor. He tells Loial that he suspects those walls could stop a trolloc. He suggests that his coat might finally be good for something and believes help might be offered to an Ogier and an outland Lord. Loial corrects Rand abut the building, though. He says that he believes Rand is looking at the Illuminator’s Chapter House. Loial tells Rand that Illuminator’s guard their secrets so tightly that he doubts they would allow King Galldrian himself inside.
A familiar woman’s voice suddenly speaks to them, asking what trouble they have gotten themselves into now. Rand stares and Selene steps around the corner they had just rounded themselves. Rand asks how she got there and he tells her she needs to run because there are trollocs after them. Selene tells Rand that she saw. Her voice is dry, yet cool and composed. She says that she came to find him and yet she finds him being herded like a sheep by trollocs.
Selene: Can the man who possesses the Horn of Valere let himself be treated so?
Rand snaps at her that he does not have it with him and that he does not think it would help even if he did. He tells her that the dead heroes are not supposed to come back to save him from trollocs. Rand then snaps at her again to get away now. Not more than one hundred paces away, a trolloc lifts its head and sniffs the air. The large shadow by its side has to be another trolloc. There are smaller shadows, too, almost certainly Darkfriends.
Rand mutters that it is too late for Selene to run. He shifts his flute case and wraps his own coat around her to hide her. It is long enough to hide her white dress entirely. He advises her that she will have to hold the coat up to run. Rand then tells Loial that if the Illuminators will not let them in that they will have to find a way to sneak in. When Loial begins to protest, Rand asks him if he would rather wait for the trollocs. The three run toward the Illuminator’s chapter house.
Selene comments that Rand is letting himself become flustered. She tells Rand to seek the Oneness and be calm.
Selene: One who would be great must always be calm.
He complains that he does not want greatness. The three make their way across the hills to the chapter house through the twilight shadows. Loial stops when he reaches the wall. It stands twice as tall as the Ogier is. It is covered with a white plaster. Rand peers back toward the Foregate. He asks Loial if he can see them. Loial looks back toward the Foregate and nods unhappily. He says that he only sees some of the trollocs but that they are coming this way. He says they are running. Loial starts to say he does not think the Illuminators will let them in but Selene cuts him off. She says that if Rand wants to go in, he needs a door, such as *that one.* She points to a nearby door a little down the wall. She strides to it and pulls and then it opens. The three go inside and close the door behind them. Rand murmurs that it is better to be arrested by the Illuminators than to be taken by trollocs. Loial responds by saying that this is what he was trying to tell Rand.
Loial: I’ve heard Illuminators kill intruders. They keep their secrets hard and fast, Rand.
Rand decides that at the worst, humans have to be better to deal with than trollocs.
Rand: I’m sorry I got you into this, Selene.
Selene: Danger adds a certain something and so far you handle it well. Shall we see what we find?
She brushes past him up the alleyway. Most of the nearby buildings are windowless, however, one on their right is emitting light through open windows. Rand pulls back into the dark of an alley as a man and woman appear, walking slowly through the open space. Their clothes are not Cairheinin. The man wears britches as baggy as Rand’s shirtsleeves. The woman’s dress is a pale green and her hair is done in a multitude of short braids.
The woman asks a man called Tammuz if all is ready. She sharply asks if he is certain. He spreads his hands, calling the woman Aludra, and he says in an assuring tone that all is ready. He tells her that the display could be given this very moment. Her voice fades as they walk by. Rand hears her asking about the gates and doors being barred.
They duck into a building filled with fireworks. They creep through. Rand is nervous about bumping them. Loial, so large, continually bumps them and mutters. Selene strides through them without a car, though also without any effort to keep Rand’s coat around her pulled closed. The white of her dress shines brightly in the dark. Rand watches the lighted windows carefully, waiting for even one person to appear. One person seeing them would sound an alarm. Selene could not be missed if someone walked past. Rand is just breathing a sigh of relief when Loial brushes past another rack of fireworks. The rack makes hardly a sound as a it falls. However, with a crackling hiss, the fuse bursts into flame. The flame races toward one of the tall tubes.
Rand tackles Selene to the ground behind the wall. She makes an angry noise as he does so. He tries to spread himself over her protectively. He wonders if there will be anything left of the wall after the tube explodes. He hears a thud in the ground and lifts himself off of her cautiously to peer around. As he does, she punches him hard in the ribs and gives an oath in a language Rand does not recognize. She then wriggles out from under him. A trickle of smoke is leaking out of the top of one of the tubes. Rand shakes his head wonderingly that it was not more.
Then, with a crash like thunder, a huge flower of red and white blooms high in the dark sky. As Rand goggles at it, the lighted building adjacent to them erupts with noise. Men and women fill the windows staring and pointing. The three lean back against the wall. Rand tells the other two that their only hope is to blend into the shadows. Selene adds that sometimes if one is very still they cannot be seen at all. She does not sound worried.
On the other side of the wall, Rand recognizes the voice of Aludra. She calls Tammuz a great buffoon.
Aludra: Your mother, she was a goat, Tammuz! One day you will kill us all!
Defensively, he tells her that he is not to blame for this. She tells him not to speak to her and that a pig is not allowed to speak. Footsteps fade back to the building in the company of Aludra’s muttering. Tammuz remains behind growling under his breath. He fixes the sticks in the stand, knocked over by Loial, and stalks away toward the building where everyone else had gone. Rand says hat he thinks they have used up their luck for the night. Just then, though, Loial tells him that he believes they need some more luck.
Rand peers past Loial’s shoulders and sees three trollocs coming cautiously down the alley. One woman standing at the window does not seem to see the trollocs. Selene says that all of this now seems like a trap. She suggests that Rand might be able to kill the trollocs so quickly that they cannot make an outcry. She tells him that he may not want greatness but says it will take a great man to do what must be done. Rand tells her that she does not have to sound happy about it, as he tries to stop thinking about how she smells and how she felt when he was lying atop her.
The Void surrounds him. He shakes it away. Selene replies to him that his greatness will make her happy. Rand thinks she sounds angry despite her words. He tells Loial to take Selene to the outer wall and he says he may have to lift her over so that she can climb down. Loial replies that the trollocs will see them as soon as they move and Rand tells him that he will take care of the trollocs. He thinks to himself that he might be able to take care of three trollocs, quickly, with The Void.
As the Ogier and Selene move, one of the trollocs points at them excitedly. They hesitate to follow, though, watching the open window above from which a woman still watches. Loial calls softly to Rand that there is a door ahead. The trollocs move at the sound of his voice and the woman at the window cries out. Rand moves quickly. He snatches a smoldering stick and hurls himself at the nearest tube. It tilts, staring to fall over. He stop it and it is pointing straight at the trollocs. They stop uncertainly. Rand touches the smoking end of the string right where it joins the tube.
A roar like a thunder clap follows and blinding burst of light tears away the dark. Rand is thrown backward. Blinking, Rand staggers to his feet. He stares in amazement. Half the tubes and all of the racks lay on their sides. One corner of the building beside which the trollocs had stood is simply gone. There is no sign of the trollocs. Rand hears shouts from the Illuminators in the building through the ringing in his ears. He breaks into a tottering run. Halfway down the alley, he stumbles over something and realizes that it is his cloak. He picks it up without pausing. Behind him the cries of the Illuminators fill the night. Loial is standing impatiently at the door. He is alone.
Rand asks him where Selene is. Rand turns to go back but Loial grabs his shoulder and tells him that he cannot help her. He says that they must go. Rand lets himself be pulled out of the door into the darkness. Loial says that he tried to stop her. He tells Rand that they could not have done anything to help her. Rand sighs and agrees. Some distance away now, he sees the glow at the Chapter House lessening and decides tha the Illuminators must be putting out the flames. Rand says he has to help Selene somehow.
They go back through the Foregate. When they make it all the way back to their Inn in Cairhein, the Innkeeper hands them a sealed letter. Rand stares at the white seal – the crescent moon and stars. Rand asks who left this and when. The Innkeeper tells Rand an old woman left it not a quarter of an hour ago. The Innkeeper says the woman was a servant though she did not say from which House. Rand thanks him and stares at the seal.
Hurin takes his pipe from his mouth when Rand and Loial enter the room. Hurin says that they were long with the gleeman and asks if Thom is well. Rand replies that Thom is well. He breaks open the seal on the letter and reads.
When I think I know what you are going to do, you do something else. You are a dangerous man. Perhaps it will not be long until we are together again. Think of the Horn. Think of the Glory. And think of me for you are always mine.
The letter has no signature. Rand asks aloud if all women are crazy. Hurini shrugs and Rand throws himself into a chair. Rand says that he wishes Ingtar would come.
I guess what I imagine with the Foregate puppets is that they look something like Chinese dragon puppets.
That said, I am not sure that this disguise would actually fool anyone into not noticing an actual dragon (or in this case, a trolloc.) Rand is still something of a country bumpkin but Loial should have noticed more quickly – though it is Loial who noticed first.
It kind of gets lost in the shuffle but LOIAL KILLS A TROLLOC WITH HIS BARE HANDS. Then he just flings the body against a building. The Pattern did Rand a favor in sending him an Ogier BFF.
Selene just… shows up. She finds a door where there is no door… twice. She just disappears. I suspect she used the One Power to hide them at one point (when she says that if you stay still you can avoid being seen at all.) She curses at him in an unknown language. She magically gets a letter delivered to Rand’s inn before he and Loial get back. We are well past the point where Rand should have some serious questions about Selene. Rand has no reason to suspect that she is Lanfear but he should be suspecting something.
The only thing Rand seems to be certain of is that she is crazy. He has no idea how right he is on that point.
Rand kind of invents gunpowder in this chapter. No big deal.
Jordan definitely drew some inspiration for this chapter title from Pat Benatar, right? That’s my personal head canon, anyway.
RJ: “I really can’t settle on what to call this one.” [turns on his radio to clear his head and immediately begins smiling broadly]
The video (which is about FIGHTING THE NAZIS?) does not mirror the chapter. Which character is most like Pat Benatar… Min maybe? I could see Min reborn and spun out of the Pattern as a rock star. Or as WW2 aviator.