The Great Hunt (Chapter 43): A Plan

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 43: A Plan

Outside in the hallway, Min digs her nails into her palms at the first sound of Egwene’s piercing cries from the room. She steps toward the door before she stops herself, and when she does stop herself, tears spring up in her eyes.

Min: Light help me, all I can do is make it worse. Egwene, I’m sorry.

She picks up her skirts and runs. Half blind with weeping, she finds herself in the street before she knows it. She had intended to go to her room but could not stand the thought of being warm and safe in her room while Egwene was being hurt in hers. She starts down the street fighting off tears. She does not know where she is going, only that it has to be as far as she can reach from Egwene’s cries.

A low pitched shout of her own name brings her up short. At first she cannot make out who had called. Few people walk the street in this part of Falme where the damane are housed. Min’s eyes pass over two women in long sleeve coats and then swing back in wonder as they walk toward her.

Min: Nynaeve? Elayne?

Min thinks that she has never seen anything as wonderful as the sight of these two. Nynaeve tells her that the green color of her dress looks good on her and also says that Min should have taken up wearing dresses long ago. Nynaeve’s voice sharpens as she draws close enough to see Min’s face. Elayne adds that she can see Min has been crying. She asks if something has happened to Egwene.

Min looks back over her shoulder, seeing sul’dam and damane coming and going, and then grabs her friends by the arm hurrying them down the street toward the harbor. Min begins babbling about how dangerous it is for them to be on that street, let alone in Falme, and also how good it is to see both of them.

Nynaeve tells her she imagines that Min feels about half as good to see them as they feel to see her. Then she asks if Min knows where Egwene is and if she is in one of those buildings. She also asks if Egwene is alright. Min hesitates only a fraction before answering that Egwene is as well as can be expected. Min can see in her mind’s eye what would happen if she told them what was happening to Egwene at that moment. She imagines Nynaeve storming back and staging a rescue effort to stop them.

Min says she is back there but that she does not know how to get her out. She tells them she has found a ship willing to give them passage if they can make it that far with her. He says that he will not help unless they make it that far. Min says that she cannot say that she blames the Captain but she does not know how to even get Egwene to his vessel. Nynaeve replies that she had only thus far considered riding east but she worries about that inasmuch as they would have to be all of the way off of Toman Head before they were clear of Seanchan patrols completely. She says that beyond that there is supposed to be fighting on Almoth Plain.

Min tells her that the Seanchan also patrol off of the harbor and that there is no way of telling whether the patrol ships has a damane until it is too late. The Captain told her that if she can give him a damane of his own that he will sail this instant. Min then draws a breath and tells them that she does not believe that there is time to let the ship’s captain talk himself into sailing anymore. She tells Nynaeve that they plan to send Egwene back to Seanchan, and soon. Elayne gasps and asks why. Min replies miserably that Egwene is able to find ore in the ground. She tells them that Egwene believes she will be sent to Seanchan in a few days.

Min then tells them that even if they have time to convince the ship’s captain to sail with them, they still have the problem of getting the collar off of her and getting her out of the house. Elayne sighs and says that she wishes Rand was here. When they both look at her, she blushes and quickly adds that he does have a sword. Nynaeve says that they do not need swords or brawn. She says that they need brains. Min tells her that they need a large army and relays that the Seanchan faced larger armies of Taraboners and Domani when they arrived and she says that they won every battle. She hopes that they can think of something that she has not. She suggests that she can probably get one of them inside the damane houses, because servants are allowed visitors, but she also says that she has no idea how to get the collar off of Egwene’s neck or how to open the bracelet.

Nynaeve says that she has a few ideas and she states that she has not been idle while in Falme. She tells Min to take her to the ship’s captain and states that he cannot be too much more difficult to handle than the men on the Village Council. Elayne nods, grinning, and Min feels the first real hope she has had since arriving on Falme.

Min looks at the auras around the two women. She sees danger though that is obvious. She also sees new things among what she saw before. She sees a man’s ring of heavy gold floating about Nynaeve’s head. She sees a red hot iron above Elayne’s head and an ax. She believes that Elayne’s auras mean trouble but they are distant, somewhere in the future. Min tells them they are going down near the harbor and the walk down the sloping street.

As they talk, Min is surprised to learn that the two women have been in Falme only a few days less than Egwene and herself. After considering it, though, she decides that it is no wonder they did not run into each other soon. She had been reluctant to leave Egwene’s side and the city streets are crowded. The smell of salt and pitch grows heavy in the air. Sailors begin to appear, many bare-chested despite the cold. They visit an Inn, the Three Plum Blossoms, and go inside. The fat Innkeeper eyes the three women, frowning, and Min believes it is her Seanchan dress than stops him from telling them to leave.

The man Min is looking for is alone at a table in the corner in his accustomed place.

Min: Do you have time to talk, Captain Domon?

He looks up and brushes a hand across his beard when he sees that she is not alone. He asks her if she has brought friends to drink up his coin. He then says the Seanchan lord bought his cargo, and coin he has, so he tells all of them to sit. Elayne jumps as he suddenly bellows for mulled wine. Min tells her friends that it’s alright and that he only looks and sounds like a bear.

Domon: A bear do I be? Well maybe I do. But what of you girl? Have you given over thought of leaving? That dress do look Seanchan to me.

Min fiercely replies ‘never’ to him. They both fall silent and wary as a servant girl approaches with their wine. After she goes, Domon continues.

Domon: Fortune prick me, girl, I mean no offense. Most people only want to go on with their lives.

Nynaeve interjects that they also wish to go on with their lives and asks him about sailing. Domon says that he would sail today if he could. He states that High Lord Turak sends for him once every two or three days to tell him tales of the old things he has seen. He asks Nynaeve if he looks like a gleeman to her. He says that initially he thought he could spin a tale or two and be on his way but now he thinks that when he no longer entertains Turak, it is an even wager whether Turak lets him go or cuts off his head. He tells them that Turak looks soft but he is as hard as iron and as cold-hearted.

Nynaeve asks him if his ship can avoid the Seanchan. He says that he can, if he can get out of the harbor without a damane ripping his ship into splinters. He says that there are shoal waters along the coast and that his ship, the Spray, has a shallow draft. However, he cannot avoid the Seanchan he says if the trailing ship has a damane in tow. As he is talking, Nynaeve cuts him off and says that they will take passage with him. She tells him that there will be four of them. She also says she expects him to be ready to sail as soon as they are aboard. Doman scrubs a finger across his upper lip and peers into his wine.

Doman: Well, as to that, there still do be the matter of getting out of the harbor, you see.

Nynaeve asks him what he would think if he can sail with something better than damane. Min’s eyes widen as she realizes what Nynaeve intends and Elayne mutters under her breath that Nynaeve tells her to be careful. Domon’s eyes are only for Nynaeve, though, and his eyes are wary at that. He asks her what she means in a whisper. She opens her coat and fumbles at the back of her neck. She pulls loose a leather cord that has been tucked inside of her dress. Two gold rings hang on the cord. Min gasps as she sees the heavy man’s ring that she saw when she read Nynaeve’s aura in the street. The other ring ring is what makes Domon’s eyes bulge. It is a slender ring, made for a woman’s finger, of a serpent eating its own tail.

Nynaeve looks at Domon and confirms that he knows what that ring means. He puts his hand over the ring and tells her to put it away. His eyes dart around uneasily. He tells her that ring is dangerous if it is seen. Nynaeve calmly replies “as long as you know what it means.” She pulls the cord from Doman’s hand and reties it around her neck. Domon tells her that he knows.

Considering, Domon says that the girl who likes to hear his tongue wag must be one of Nynaeve’s four. Then he looks at Elayne and suggests that this child cannot be someone like her. Elayne straightens angrily but Nynaeve puts a hand on her arm and smiles at Domon saying that he might be surprised at what they can do even before they have earned the right to wear a ring. She tells him that when they sail he will have three on his ship who can fight damane if need be. Domon whispers “three” and his face brightens. He tells them that he should take them to Spray and cast off right now. However, he says that he must first tell them what they face if they stay and maybe even if they go with him.

Domon: I did see a woman who wore a ring like that taken by the Seanchan. A pretty slender little woman she was with a big wa-, a big man with her who did look as if he did know how to use his sword.

Domon says that one of them must have been careless because the Seanchan ambushed them. The big man put six or seven soldiers on the ground before he died. He tells them that the woman was surrounded by six damane who stepped out of the alleys of a sudden. He tells them that one moment the woman looked as if she would destroy them all and then the next moment a look of horror crossed her face. Elayne’s face is white and she says that they cut her off from the True Source. Nynaeve calmly replies that they will not allow the same to be done to them.

Doman: May hap it will be as you say but I will remember it until I die. ‘Ryma help me,’ that is what she did scream. And one of the damane did fall down crying and they put one of those collars on the neck of the woman.

Domon tells them that he ran. He says he has seen three women taken and that he does not have the stomach for it. He says he would leave his aged grandmother on the dock to sail from here but he says he did have to tell them. Min tells them slowly that they have two prisoners. Ryma, a Yellow was one of them. Min says that Egwene did not know who the other is. Nynaeve gives her a sharp look and Min falls silent, blushing. From the look on Domon’s face, it does not help their cause to tell him that the Seanchan hold two Aes Sedai and not just one.

Abruptly Domon stares and Nynaeve and takes a long gulp of wine. He asks her if that is why they are here – to free those who are taken. Nynaeve replies briskly that he knows what he needs to know. She tells him that he must be ready to sail on the instant, any time, in the next two or three days. She asks him again if he will do it. She tells him that there are other ships and that she means to have passage assured on one of them today. Finally Domon nods. He tells her that he will be ready.

When they return to the street, Min is surprised to see Nynaeve sag against the front of the Inn as soon as they are out of Domon’s sight. She asks Nynaeve if she is ill. Nynave draws a long breath.

Nynaeve: With some people, you have to be certain. If you show them one glimmer of doubt they will swoop you off in some direction that you do not want to go. Light, but I was afraid he was going to say no. Come, we have plans yet to make. There are still one or two small problems to work out.

Elayne tells Min that she hopes she does not mind fish. Min is incredulous at the idea that they only have one or two small problems. She hopes very much that Nynaeve is not just being certain again.

REACTION:

Bayle Domon is back! I kind of suspected that he was the sailor Min was talking about with Egwene in the previous chapter. Jordan didn’t get him stuck in Falme entertaining Turak for no reason. But it’s nice when The Pattern begin to come together.

Nynaeve is amazing yet again. She’s going to overthrow the Seanchan Empire if that is what it takes to get her Two Rivers babies back home to the Two Rivers. And… Nynaeve teaming up with Bayle Domon is the thing I never knew that I wanted but now that I am aware of its possibility I cannot live without it. Best team-up since…

Domon reveals himself to the women to be a good man. He wouldn’t let them take the risk without telling them that the Seanchan have captured Aes Sedai. We already knew he was a good man. Nobody who talks about his aged grandmother so much could be a bad guy.

As far as the plan goes, we appear to be working it out in reverse. They’re making sure they can leave Falme before they figure out how to get Egwene out of the damane house. I suspect Nynaeve already has a plan for how to do that, though. Will she be rescuing Aes Sedai damane, too?

What do we make of Min’s auras? I think it obviously means that they successfully escape and with Egwene in tow. But… Elayne and a red hot poker and an ax? In the distant future? Interesting.

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