The Dragon Reborn (Chapter 8): Jarra

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 8: Jarra

The narrow streets are Jarra and its village green are empty except for one man sweeping the steps of the village’s only inn. The green looks as though it was heavily occupied not long before. Half a dozen arches woven of green branches and dotted with flowers stand in a circle in the middle of the grass, The ground has a trampled look.

Perrin smells sweet wine and spice cakes on the air, mixed with smoke from dozens of chimneys. For an instant, Perrin’s nose catches another smell – a vile smell – that he does not recognize. The faint scent raises the hair on the back of his neck with its vileness. Then it is gone. He is sure though that something has passed that way – something wrong. He scrubs at his nose as if to rub away the memory of it.

Perrin: That can’t be Rand. Light, even if he has gone mad, that can’t be him, can it?

A painted sign of a man standing on one foot, with his arms in the air, hangs on the Inn’s door. The name of the Inn is Harilin’s Leap. The iman sweeping the steps gives a start at Perrin’s eyes. Then his already protruding eyes fall on Loial and he gives a start. He recovers himself enough to welcome all of them to The Leap before introducing himself as Simion and telling them that the Innkeeper’s name is Master Harod. Simion asks Moiraine if she has word of The Great Hunt for the Horn. He also asks how far they have traveled and he asks her if they have heard from Tarabon or Arad Domon of a False Dragon there.

Lan answers for Moiraine and tells him that they have not traveled that far and that he no doubt knows more than they do as to that. Moiraine asks him if they have had a wedding here. Simion laughs and says that they have had a lifetime of weddings. He calls them a plague and says that they have all happened in the last two days. He says every marriageable woman in the village, and for a mile in all directions, is now married. He tells them that it was like a whirlwind just snatched everybody up.

Perrin tells them that this is very interesting and then asks if he has seen a young man. Before he can say more, though, Moiraine cuts him off and asks instead for rooms and a meal. Lan makes a small gesture toward Perrin as if telling him to hold his tongue. Simion says that he will of course see to getting them beds and a meal. He whispers to Moiraine asking what exactly Loial is. Loial hears him though and answers that he is an Ogier. Simion saves himself further embarrassment by calling for stable boys to see to their horses. Perrin follows Moiraine and Lan inside.

Inside, Simion introduces the group to Master Herod who also obviously has never seen an Ogier before. He says aloud that at least he isn’t a Whitecloak and then seems surprised that he said that aloud. Moiraine asks again about rooms and a meal and Master Herod instructs Simion to show them to his best rooms so that they can put down their belongings.

In the rooms, Simion apologizes for his fatigue. Lan tells Simion that he wants the room next to Moiraines. Simion tries to protest that the room is not nice enough but Lan firmly tells him that he wants that room anyway. Moiraine then asks Simion if Master Harod dislikes the Children of the Light. Simion tells her that he did not but he does. He explains that it is not good policy in Jarra to not like the Children, given their village’s proximity to the border with Amadicia. He goes on to say though that there was trouble yesterday. Moiraine looks at him sharply and asks what kind of trouble.

Simion explains that twenty Children of the Light were in the village the day before yesterday. However, he says that three of the Children yesterday abruptly announced that they were no longer Children of the Light. He says that they took off their cloaks and just rode away. Lan grunts and says that Whitecloaks swear for life. Lan asks what their commander did. Simion says that he is sure their commander must have done something, however, another of the Children then abruptly announced that he was off to find the Horn of Valere. Another of the Children, he says, announced that he is traveling to Almoth Plain to hunt the Dragon Reborn. Still more of the Children, he says, started saying things they should not say to women in the streets – even grabbing at them.

Perrin asks him if anyone tried to stop them. Simion looks at Perrin and tells that he carries his axe as if he knows how to use it before saying that it is not so easy when all one knows how to use is a broom or a hoe. He tells the group that the Whitecloaks who stayed in their right minds put an end to it. He tells them that it almost came to drawing swords among the Whitecloaks before they succeeded. After this, he says, two more of the Whitecloaks went completely mad, raving that Jarra is filled with Darkfriends. He says that they tried to burn the village down. The Whitecloaks again stopped their own he says, but there are now burn marks on the wood at the back end of the inn. He tells them that the Whitecloaks who were left tied those two up and rode back to Amadicia.

Lan notes that this is rough behavior even for Whitecloaks and Simion agrees. Moiraine confirms that they are gone now before saying that she is sure they will pass a quiet night. Perrin keeps his mouth shut but he wonder about Rand and why Moiraine is not asking after him. He lets Simion guide him down the hall to another room. Loial stoops to put his head under the doorway. Perrin thinks to himself that the beds look lumpy. Simion tells Loial that he will see to getting beds put together for him. Simion does not hurry out of the room, though, fussing with the candlestick as if he is trying to place it in exactly the right spot. Perrin thinks that he seems uneasy before deciding that he would be more than uneasy if Whitecloaks had been doing those things in Emond’s Field. Perrin asks Simion if another stranger has passed through the village in the last day or two – describing him as a tall man with gray eyes and reddish hair.

Simion says that he remembers him. He tells them that the young man came through the town the day before, in the morning, and that he looked hungry. He says that the stranger played the flute for all the weddings yesterday. He tells Perrin that at first the women cast eyes on Rand when they were in the middle of all of the weddings. He then asks Perrin if the man is a friend. Perrin replies that he knows him. Simion tells him that the man was odd, talking to himself, and laughing aloud when no one had said anything. He tells Perrin that Rand slept in this very room the prior night, for part of the night at least.

Simion: He woke us all in the middle of the night yelling. It was just a nightmare but he wouldn’t stay any longer. Master Harod didn’t make much effort to talk him into it after all of that noise.

Simion goes on more slowly. He tells them that Rand said something strange before he left. Raid said the night before that someone was after him. He said that the people after him would kill him if he did not go. He tells Perrin that Rand said “one of us has to die and I mean it to be him.” Loial rumbles that Rand did not mean them and adds that they are his friends. Simion says of course before telling both of them almost apologetically that he thinks their friend is sick in the head. Perrin tells him that they will take care of him and that this is why they are following him.

Simion abruptly shouts that he knew it and that he knew she could help him. He tells them that Rand left toward the East as though the Dark One himself was on his heels. Simion asks Perrin if he thinks she will help his brother. He tells them his brother Noam is sick and that Mother Roon has told him that she cannot do anything to help. Perrin keeps his face expressionless.

Perrin asks him what makes him think that she can help his brother. Simion says that he traveled to Jehanna once and he saw two women like her. Simion whispers that it is said they can raise the dead. Perrin asks him sharply who else knows what kind of woman she as Loial tells him at the same time that if his brother is dead there is nothing anyone can do. He babbles in reply that no one knows but himself and that Noam is not dead. He explains that no one else in the village could recognize her and he adds that even Master Harod has never been more than twenty miles from the village in his entire life. Simion says that he would have asked Moiraine directly but he was nervous that she might take offense at the suggestion of her being Aes Sedai. Perrin tells the man that he makes no promises and then suggests that Loial keep the man company until he has spoken with Moiraine. Simion gives a start as Loial place a hand on his shoulder. The Ogier says that Simion and himself will talk as he shows him to his own room.

Loial: Tell me Simion, what do you know of trees?

Perrin does not wait to return down the dark hall. He knocks on Moiraine’s door. He waits for her peremptory “come” before he goes inside. Moiraine and Lan are standing together as if they have been discussing something and the Aes Sedai does not look pleased about being interrupted.

Perrin: Rand’s been here alright. That fellow Simion remembers him.

Moiraine hisses through her teeth as Lan growls that Perrin was told to keep his mouth shut. Perin decides to face the Warder as that is easier than facing Moiraine. He asks how they are supposed to find out that Rand has been there without asking questions. Perrin tells them that Rand left last night heading east while carrying on about someone following him, trying to kill him. Moiraine repeats the word east calmly, though the tone of her voice is at odds with the look of disapproval on her face. She tells Perrin that she was almost certain that Rand had been there even before they heard about the Whitecloaks. She says that what they learned about the Whitecloaks made Rand’s presence in the village a certainty.

Perrin is incredulous and asks if the Whitecloak’s behavior means that Rand’s madness is catching. She tells him no before explaining that Rand is more strongly ta’veren than anyone since the Age of Legends. She says that the Pattern shaped itself around him the day before. Perrin draws a long breath and asks if this kind of thing is what they are likely to find anywhere that Rand has been.

Perrin: Light, if there are Shadowspawn after him they can track him as easily as we can.

Moiraine says that perhaps they can, but also perhaps not. She sounds vexed as she says that no one knows anything about ta’veren as strong as Rand. She tells Perrin that Artur Hawkwing was the most strongly ta’veren of anyone about whom writings remain and she says that he was not close to as strongly ta’veren as Rand. Perrin tells Moiraine that she had better be glad he opened his mouth this time because Simion knows that she is Aes Sedai. He explains that the man told him that he hopes she can heal his brother of some sickness.

Perrin: If I hadn’t talked to him, he would never have worked up nerve enough to ask. But he might have started talking among his friends.

Lan looks at Moiraine like a wolf about to leap. She shakes her head no. Perrin understand what they are thinking.

Perrin: You were thinking of… Simion couldn’t tell anyone if he were dead, could he?
Moiraine: He will not die by my actions but I cannot and will not promise that it will always be so.

She tells Perrin to take her to Simion. The door to Loial’s room stands open spilling a pool of candle light into the hallway. Two beds inside are pushed together. Loial and Simion are seated on the edge of one of the beds. Loial is in the middle of explaining to him about the stedding when they enter. Simion stands on his feet, bowing and scraping and backing up until he reaches the far wall. Moiraine tells him to show her to his brother and she promises to do what she can. She tells Perrin that he will come, too. Moiraine tells Lan that all of them going will attract unwanted attention and she assures Lan that Perrin can give her whatever protection that she might need.

Lan: See that you do, Blacksmith. If any harm befalls her…

Lan’s icy stare finishes the promise. Simion leads Moiraine and Perrin outside. He leads them to a small shed behind the stable and hurriedly unbars the door. The far end of the shed is barred off with slats of wood. A stout iron lock holds shut a crude door of wooden slats. Behind the bar a man lays sprawled on his stomach on the straw covered floor. The man on the floor is barefoot. His shirt and britches are torn as if he did not know how to take them off. There is an odor of unwashed flesh that Perrin thinks even Simion and Moiraine can likely smell. Noam lifts his head and stares at the silently, without expression. There is nothing at all about him to suggest that he Simion’s brother. That is not what startles Perrin, though. Noam is staring at them with golden yellow eyes.

Simion explains to them that Noam for a year had been saying he could talk with wolves. He says then his eyes changed colors. Simion tells them that a month or two ago, Noam did not come into town. Simion says that he went to see what was the matter with him and found him like this. Cautiously, unwillingly, Perrin reaches out toward Noam as he would have toward a wolf. Perrin finds a chaotic jumble of images and desires, part memory and part yearning. He jerks back and seals himself off from the other man. Perrin places a hand on the wall to steady himself and asks for the Light help him.

Moiraine touches the lock as Simion tells her that he will have to go and retrieve the key. She gives a tug and the lock springs open. Simion gapes at her. Simion warns her that Noam bit Mother Roon when she tried to help him and he says that his brother also killed a cow with his teeth. She opens the door and goes inside.

At her first step, Noam’s lips peel back from his teeth and he begins to growl. His whole bod quivers. Noam backs himself into a corner. Slowly, calmly, she kneels and takes his head between her hands. Noam’s growl heighten into a snarl and trails off into a whimper. For a long moment, she holds his head. Finally, she turns her back on him and leaves the room. Noam stares after her as she goes. She replaces the lock but does not snap it shut. Noam lays himself snarling against the wooden bars. He bites at them and batters them with his shoulders, all the while snarling and snapping. Perrin tells her that she takes chances and she looks at him in return until he drops his gaze.

Simion stares at his brother and asks if she can help him. Moiraine replies that she is sorry. She explains that healing requires something from the healed.

Moiraine: There is nothing here that remembers being Noam, nothing here that remembers being a man. There are no maps remaining to show him that path and nothing left to take that path. Noam is gone Simion.

Simion scrubs a hand across his eyes and blinks. He thanks her. She puts a hand on his shoulder, murmurs comforting words, and then she is gone from the shed. Perrin knows he should follow her but Noam holds him in place. Perrin removes the dangling lock. Noam stares at him warily. Perrin tells Simion that Noam can either die in the cage or out in the wild. Perrin says that out there at least he will be as happy as he can be.

Perrin: He is not your brother anymore but you’re the one that has to decide. You can leave him in here for people to stare at, leave him to stare at the bars of his cage until he finds a way. You cannot cage a wolf Simion, not and expect it to be happy, or live long.

Simion nods toward the shed door. Perrin swings back the slatted door of Noam’s cage before standing aside. For a moment, Noam stares at the opening. Then he runs through the opening on all fours with surprising agility out of the cage, out of the shed, and into the night.

Simion says that he is not sure what Master Harod will say. Perrin closes the cage and relocks it. He tells Simion to let Master Harod puzzle it out on his own. Simion barks a laugh. He tells Perrin that they did not always keep his brother in this cage. He explains that they moved him here when the Whitecloaks passed through. He tells Perrin that he was worried they would believe his brother is a Darkfriend. He also adds that the Whitecloaks have a list of Darkfriend names and that one of the names on their list is a man named Perrin Aybara who has yellow eyes and runs with wolves.

Simion: You see why I didn’t want them to know about Noam.

Perrin turns his head enough to look over his shoulder. He asks the other man if he thinks Perrin is a Darkfriend. Simion replies that a Darkfriend would not care if his brother died in a cage.

Simion: I suppose she found you soon after it happened, in time to help. I wish she’d come to Jarra a few months ago.

Perrin tells him that he wishes Moiraine could have done something for his brother. Suddenly it occurs to him that the whole village must know about Noam and his eyes. He asks Simion if he can bring him some food in his room. Perrin thinks that Master Harod and the others might not have noticed his eyes, on account of Loial, when they entered. He thinks though that they would notice now if he eats in the Common Room. Simion seems to understand and tells him that he will bring food in the morning also, so that he does not need to leave the rom until he is ready to leave the village altogether. Perrin tells Simion that he is a good man.

REACTION:

I guess this is the chapter when we find out that keeping it too wolfy can go really wrong. As much as I occasionally get irritated by Perrin’s unwillingness to turn Young Bull loose… well, it’s understandable why he would not want to end up like Noam.

Noam killed a cow… with his teeth. Yikes. Being a wolf man sounds awesome when you’re fighting The Twisted Ones but it is decidedly less awesome when you’re tackling someone’s dairy cow to the ground and, well… yikes.

It’s interesting that we see Noam introduced in the same chapter wherein we hear that Rand is behaving – in the eyes of Simion at least – like someone who is a little bit out of his mind, too. When we are *in* Rand’s head we do not get this perspective of him. Outside of Rand’s perspective though, Perrin’s from earlier in the chapter and Simion here, we see someone losing his grip a little bit. Sanity is becoming a theme with the young protagonists, too.

Rand knows he is going to go insane from channeling saidin. That appears to be actively happening now. Mat went fully insane already via the Shadar Logoth dagger during Book #1. Noam demonstrates to the reader that Perrin is staring insanity right in its yellow eyed face, too.

Rand’s presence apparently causes every unmarried person in Jarra who is of age to get married – even the elderly widows and widowers. That’s an interesting build-up of the ta’veren thing which otherwise seems a lot like plot armor. Perhaps we’ll see more to this than only plot armor.

I’m not sure how to feel about the implication that Lan was set to go kill Simion to keep him quiet. That feels very much out of character. That said, that scene is written in a way that implies this would not be the first time that Lan killed an innocent person at Moiraine’s behest. Moiraine herself telling Perrin that she will not promise that she’ll never have Lan kill someone who is otherwise innocent to keep him quiet is also not great. I’m not liking our primary Aes Sedai in this book so far.

One other thing… Perrin sniffs something vile when he enters Jarra. Did Jordan get confused and think that Perrin’s wolf senses are somehow actually Sniffer powers? Wolves are not supposed to be able to smell something that was there a day earlier are they? It seems very much like Jordan is providing a subtle hint re: the whereabouts of Padan Fain (who is the character described by his smell this way throughout Book 2.) We met Ordeith earlier in this book and he was very Fain-ish. He was ALSO with the Children of the Light. Ordeith passing through Jarra with the Children makes sense. But… Perrin shouldn’t be able to actually smell the man in the way that Hurin could smell him. This feels like a goof on Jordan’s part to me.

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