The Great Hunt (Chapter 38): Practice

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 38: Practice

Egwene is sitting cross-legged on her bed. Three tiny balls of light are making patterns above her hands. Egwene is not supposed to be channeling unsupervised, however, Nynaeve is in the room and is an Accepted. She just is not technically permitted to teach anyone, yet. In any case, Egwene has found in her last thirteen weeks inside the White Tower that she cannot resist the urge to touch saidar.

Min is also in the small windowless room. Egwene knows her well enough now to be certain the woman will not report her for channeling when she is not supposed to. Nynaeve is pacing in the small room. She crosses it, wall to wall, in three short paces. Nynaeve’s own room is much larger. However, since she has made no friends among the other Accepted, she spends free time with Egwene.

Novices are usually kept too busy to spend time in their rooms, however, today is a free day – only the third for Egwene since she and Nynaeve came to the White Tower. Min tells the other two women that Else was making calf-eyes at Galad earlier as he was practicing the sword with the Warders. The small balls of light falter above Egwene’s hands before she replies casually that Else can look at whoever she wants. Min goes on and says that Galad is nice to look at, particularly when he is not wearing his shirt. The balls of light begin moving furiously above Egwene’s hand as she insists that she has no interest in looking at Galad with or without his shirt.

Min apologizes for teasing Egwene but then says nearly every woman in the White Tower who is not a Red spends time staring at him. Egwene’s balls of light disappear. She giggles and admits that Galad is good looking. She says that even when he walks he looks as though he is dancing. She blushes. Min admits that she cannot help staring at him either and she says that she can see what he is really like.

Egwene replies questioningly to her that Galad is good and Min tells her that Galad is so good he would make her tear her hair out. Egwene has seen enough of Min’s ability now to believe her that she has it. She resumes her practice with the balls of light. Min shrugs and then tells Egwene that Galad did not even notice what Else was doing. Instead, he asked Else if she know whether or not Egwene would be walking through the south garden after supper since today is a free day. Min says that she felt sorry for else.

Egwene: Poor Else.

The balls of light then become more lively above Egwene’s hand. Min laughs. The door bangs open. Egwene gives a yelp and lets the balls of light vanish before she sees that it is only Elayne. The golden haired Daughter Heir hangs her cloak on a peg and says that she just heard King Galldrian is dead and that Cairhein will be going through a War of Succession. Min snorts before complaining about war generally. She says that war is all that they hear about and she points out that the False Dragon in Saldaea is caught but says that there is still war on Toman Head and in Tier. Min says that she heard a cook saying yesterday that Artur Hawkwing is marching on Tanchico. Egwene inerrupts her by saying that she thought Min did not want to talk about it.

Elayne interjects next that she saw Logain crying. She says he ran when he saw her and that she cannot help but feel sorry for him. Min tells her that it is better that he cries than the rest of them. Elayne says that she knows what he is, or what he was at least, and that since he is no longer what he was, she can feel sorry for him.

Egwene slumps back against the wall and thinks of Rand. She has not dreamed about him in months. Anaiya still makes her write down everything she dreams, though, so that she can check them for signs or connections to real world events. Egwene says that oddly it feels as though Rand has ceased to exist. She thinks that if he had been caught and gentled she would have heard something. The thought sends a chill through her.

Elayne sits beside Egwene on the bed and tells Egwene that if she is mooning over Galad that she will provide her no sympathy. Elayne says that she will have Nyneve douse Egwene with one of those horrible concotions that she is always going on about. The Daughter Heir looks up at the Wisdom and sees that she did not even notice her own appearance in the room. She asks what is wrong with her and asks if she has started sighing after Galad, too.

Min leans toward the two of them and lowers her voice. She tells them that she would not bother her and shares that a skinny Accepted told Nynaeve that she is as clumsy as a cow with half the talents. Nynaeve clouted her ear. Elayne winces and Min says “exactly.” She tells them that Nynaeve was sent to Sheriam’s study and that she has not been fit to live with since.

Nynaeve growls. Min apparently had not lowered her voice enough. Suddenly the door to the room whips open and a gust of wind topples Min off of her chair and against the wall. Nynaeve looks stricken as Elayne checks to see whether anyone out in the hall may have seen, No one is there. Back inside, the Wisdom apologizes to Min. She starts to explain about her temper but then cuts herself off and notes that she cannot ask the other woman to forgive her for this. She tells Min that she can report her to Sheriam and that she will understand.

Egwene wishes that she were somewhere else. Nynaeve can become prickly when others see her admit fault As a result, she begins playing with the balls of light above her hands once more and Elayne joins her. They seem to be hoping that Nynaeve will decide that they are to distracted to pay attention to her quiet words with Min.

Min: When it comes to forgiving, maybe you should forgive me. You have a temper and I have a big mouth. I will forgive you if you forgive me.

They murmur to each other about being forgiven before hugging. Min laughs and says that if she does it again, she will clout Nynaeve’s ear and the Wisdom laughs saying that next time she will throw something at her instead. Nynaeve’s laughter ceases abruptly when she notices Egwene and Elayne. She tells them both to stop or else there really will be someone going to the Mistress of Novices. Egwene protests but backs off.

Min mutters that she does not like reading friends because friendship gets in the way of the reading. She tells them that nothing has changed about the three of them and then stops, frowning. Min tells all three of them that they are in some kind of danger or that they will be very soon. Nynaeve concludes that this means the novices in the room must not channel without someone to guide them.

Elayne changes the subject. She tells Min that if she puts on a dress that she thinks Gawyn will ask her to go walking with him. Elayne says that she thinks her brother likes Min but says that the britches and coat put him off. Min replies that she dresses how she likes and that she will not change for a Lord, even if he is Elayne’s brother. Min says that sometimes it is useful to pass as a boy. Elayne smiles and says that no one who looks twice believes she is a boy.

The door swings open once more. Egwene bounds to her feet believing that the wind has opened it again but before she can get to the door, Leandrin Sedai steps inside. Egwene blinks in surprise. She had not heard the Red Sister was in the Tower. The room is now crowded with five women inside. Elayne stands up. She, Egwene, and Nynaeve curtsy. Leandrin’s eyes settle on Nynaeve. She asks the Wisdom why she is in the Novice quarters. Nynaeve replies in a tight voice that she is visiting with friends. Leandrin tells her that the Accepted can have no friends among the Novices and she says that Nynaeve should have learned that by this time. The Red Sister concedes though that it is as well that she finds her here though because she needed to speak with her also. Liandrin tells Elayne and Min to leave.

After they are gone, the Red Sister stares at the two who remain for a while. She then asks them if they are from the same village as the boys who traveled with Moiraine Sedai. Egwene asks her eagerly if she has some word from Rand. The Red Sister arches an eyebrow at her. Egwene asks forgiveness and tells the Aes Sedai that she forgets herself. Nynaeve asks her if she has word of them because the Accepted have no rule about not speaking to an Aes Sedai unless spoken to.

Liandrin tells both women that the boys from their village are in danger and that they may be able to help. Egwene says that she wants to help them at the same time that Nynaeve asks them what type of trouble. Liandrin tells them that the boys are being hunted by Shayol Ghul as she has heard they once were before. She tells the two of them that if they come with her, some dangers may be eliminated. She tells them directly that she will give them no more information than this. Egwene tells her that they will come. Nynaeve asks the Red Sister where they are to go.

Liandrin tells them that they must travel to Toman Head. Nynaeve says that there is a war at Toman Head. Liandrin asks with a twist to her mouth whether that will stop them and she says flatly that she thought they called the boys their friends. Egwene again says that they will come and talks over Nynaeve’s continued objections to the contrary.

Nynaeve asks Liandrin why the help must come from the two of them and she asks what they can do that Moiraine or other Sisters cannot. Liandrin is clealry angry at Nynaeve but she tells them that they are connected to the boys, because they come from the same village, but beyond that connection she cannot say why the help must be from the two of them. She asks them again if they will come with her and a visible tension leaves her when they nod that they will. She tells them to meet her at the northernmost edge of the Ogier grove one hour before sunset with their hoses and whateer they will need for the journey. She instructs them to tell no one of this.

Nynaeve: We are not supposed to leave the Tower without permission.
Liandrin: You have my permission. Tell no one. No one at all. The Black Ajah walks the halls of the White Tower.

Egwene gasps as does Nynaeve. Nynaeve says that she thought Aes Sedai refused to acknowledge the existence of the White Tower. Liandrin says that the Last Battle is approaching and that the time is now here where such denials can no longer be made. She says again that the Black Ajah walks the Tower and she asks them if the Blacks would leave the two of them alive to help their friends. She tells them to meet her one hour before sunset and not to fail her. Then she leaves.

Egwene collapses onto her bed. She tells Nynaeve that Liandrin cannot possibly know about Rand and the Wisdom agrees. She says that she wishes she knew why a Red would want to help. She also says she wishes she knew why Liandrin would work with Moiraine.

Nynaeve: I’d have sworn that neither of them would give each other water if they were dying of thirst.

The Wisdom says that she would wager every word they heard is true but she wonders whether they heard what they thought they did. Egwene shivers thinking about the Black Ajah. Nynaeve points out that Liandrin has forestalled their asking for advice because now they have no one they can trust.

Min and Elayne bustle in slamming the door behind them. Min asks if they are really going and Elayne gesture toward a tiny hole in the wall connecting her own room to this one. Elayne says that they heard everything. Egwene and Nynaeve exchange glances. They both wonder if the other two girls managed to cipher out the truth about Rand. Nynaeve tells them that they will have to keep this to themselves. Min says that they do not need to worry about her keeping it to herself because she will be going with them. Elayne says that she is going as well.

Nynaeve reminds Elayne that she is the Daughter Heir of Andor.

Nynaeve: If you disappear from the Tower, why, it could start a war.

Elayne says that her Mother would not start a war with Tar Valon even if they dried and salted her. She says that if the other three of them can go off on an adventure they should not think she will stay behind and wash dishes. She then says Gawyn will die of envy when he finds out she has left. Elayne says playfully that if Egwene leaves Rand lying about that she might have a chance to pick him up. Egwene replies sadly that she does not think either of them will get to have him.

Elayne: Then we’ll find whoever he does choose and make her life miserable. But he couldn’t be fool enough to choose someone else when he could have one of us.

Elayne tries to assure Egwene that she is joking and that she knows Rand is hers. She then says she just feels free. She says she has never had an adventure. Nynaeve tells Elayne that this is foolishness and that she must stay behind because among other reasons there is war on Toman Head. Elayne tells the Wisdom that she heard what Liandrin said about the Black Ajah and she asks how safe she will be if she stays behind in the White Tower. She tells Nynaeve that her Mother would pitch her in the middle of a battle to get her away from the Black Ajah if she even suspected that the Black was real. Elayne tells Nynaeve that the only way to stop her from coming will be to tell the Mistress of Novices.

Nynaeve throws up her hands. She turns to Min to see if she can talk sense into Elayne. Min, squinting at all three of them, says that Elayne has to come as much as the rest of them do. She says she can see the danger around all of them more clearly now. She says the danger has something to do with them deciding to go. She says it is clearer because it is more certain. Min tells Nynaeve that Elayne is linked to the boys as much as any of them and that Elayne is part of it, whatever “it” is. Elayne seems taken aback by that comment and also interested.

Nynaeve says abruptly that if they are all going that they had best be about seeing to making plans. She goes over how they will have to pack and see to getting their horses from the stables without being stopped. Egwene listens and wonders what the danger is that Min sees for them. She wonders what danger might be threatening Rand. She knows of only one danger that might threaten him and it makes her cold to think of it.

Egwene: [thinking to herself] Hold on, Rand. Hold on you woolheaded idiot. I’ll help you somehow.

REACTION:

In case we have forgotten, Liandrin is almost certainly Black Ajah. She is almost certainly the one who warded the Dragkhar that attacked Moiraine when Moiraine was visiting Adeleas and Vandene’s home. We know Verin was not the one who followed Moiraine because she immediately showed up to join Ingtar’s party in pursuit of the Horn. We can also feel pretty certain that Lanfear is not the one who tried to kill Moiraine because 1) she could have probably done that herself without Shadowspawn help, and 2) she was with Rand masquerading as Selene. (I mean, Selene might be someone else but I doubt it.)

No other power wielding women that we know about could have known where Moiraine went. It had to be Liandrian and she had to have simply followed her from the boat.

In addition, if there was any other doubt that Liandrin is Black Ajah, we also know that Liandrin terrorized Lady Amalisa in Fal Dara.

If we then read the stuff Liandrin said about the Black Ajah wanting Rand’s village friends out of the way, she’s probably referring to herself and her plans to kill them all sometime soon. Sneaky.

Speaking of the Shadow not knowing where Rand is, Egwene stops dreaming about him while he is in the Portal Stone. She even thinks to herself that it is as though he does not exist. Is her ability to Dream about someone linked to their presence in normal reality? That might be a clue as to how her ability works.

So… this little trip seems like a trap to me. To what end? Maybe the Shadow does not know where Rand is right now and they need a captured Egwene/Nynaeve to draw him out. At this very moment, Rand is probably in the Portal Stone living out all of his possible life variations. The Shadow might be as confused by that as everyone else. The Shadow seems to want Rand to visit Toman Head pretty badly. Why? I suspect something bad is waiting there for him. We already know that Fain and the Seanchan are there.

Let’s talk about something else from this chapter. Why is Elayne so aggressively interested in Rand romantically? Is “the Pattern” tugging at her so strongly that she’s willing to hit on the love interest of her new friend? It certainly seems that way. Alternatively, she thinks he’s just that attractive? It’s very strange. I just imagine the next time Rand, Egwene, and Elayne all in the same room as being very awkward.

♫Hey, hey, you, you, I don’t like your girlfriend (That’s right)
No way, no way, I think you need a new one
Hey, hey, you, you, I could be your girlfriend
Hey, hey, you, you, I know that you like me
No way, no way, you know it’s not a secret
Hey, hey, you, you, I want to be your girlfriend♫

If you watch closely, Elayne is slowly manipulating Egwene into mentally accepting the idea that she is the only other acceptable option for Rand romantically if Egwene does not decide that she wants him. The next step after that is convincing Egwene that she does not want him. To that end, Elayne is also seeding the idea of Egwene having interest in Galad. I think she sensed Min’s own interest in Rand and also started working toward pushing Min off in another direction as well.

Min really does seem interested in Rand, too, but it is subdued. That said, she also encourages Egwene to be interested in Galad. She and Elayne are working that angle togehter. Min leaps to travel with Egwene (toward Rand’s vicinity) and her reasoning for doing that is… flimsy. Abnormal interest in Rand makes the most sense as an explanation.

All of the foregoing being said, Egwene *clearly* loves Rand. The Innkeeper’s daughter loves him with the kind of love that flings its whole body at him and tackles him to the ground when necessary. It’s the kind of love that walks into a warzone to help him. She worries about him constantly. We learned from Rand’s POV a few chapters back that Egwene has been planning her life with Rand since she was a little girl. Any danger to Rand is a threat to how she self-identifies.

I want to point out to all the Nynaeve haters in the world that our Wisdom is the only one of these women who seems to be pretty sure that she is walking into some kind of a trap. She seems to have accepted that it is necessary but she is aware of it as she goes. Maybe she is just planning to clout Liandrin’s ears if it becomes necessary.

If I were these women, and I’m already bringing along people who are not invited, then I probaly figure out a way to bring Gawyn and/or Galad, too. Hypothetically:

Liandrin: I said tell no one! Why are all these people here! [Looks at Min, Elayne, Galad, and Gawyn]
Elayne: Oh, we saw them Liandrin Sedai and followed them because they would not tell us where they are going. They are not supposed to leave the Tower.
Nynaeve: The only way I could think to stop them would have required either telling them or telling someone else.

It never hurts to have someone around who is good with a sword, I suspect.

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