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 26: Behind A Lock
Shaking her head, Egwene walks back to the doors she has dismissed thinking that the woman had to have gone somewhere. Inside the first door are shapeless mounds under dusty cloths. The air seems stale as if the door has not been opened in some time. She grimaces at the sight of mouse track on the floor but she sees no others. Two more doors opened hastily show the same thing. When she pulls her head out of the third room, Nynaeve and Elayne are coming down the ramp behind her. Nynaeve asks in surprise if Else is hiding.
Egwene: I lost her.
Egwene peers both directions down the curving gallery. Elayne says with a smile that if she had thought Else could outrun Egwene, she would have joined the chase. Nynaeve tells them that they will need to find Else later and to make sure that she can keep her mouth shut. Egwene says slowly that she thought she was right on top of her but then says that she found someone else. She then tells Nynaeve that she turned her back for a moment and the someone else was gone. She tells them that she never eve saw Else.
Elayne’s breath catches and asks if it was one of the Soulless. Egwene says firmly thtat she was not one of the Soulless. Egwene decides not to tell them that the other woman made her feel six years old with a torn dress and a runny nose. Instead she tells them that the woman was tall a striking with black eyes and black hair. She adds that you’d notice this woman in a crowd of one thousand. She tells them that she has never seen this woman before but that she thinks she is Aes Sedai. Nynaeve waits impatiently for more, but when no more is said, she tells Egwene that if she sees her again to point her out. She adds that they have no time to stand here talking.
Egwene falls in beside Nynaeve and Elayne. She realizes that she is still clutching the stone ring so she puts it into her belt pouch and draws the strings tight. As they make their way through the Tower, she keeps an eye out for the woman in silver and white. She is relieved not to see her. The more she thinks about the woman, the more that she feels there was something wrong about her.
They reach the library. It is the greatest library on the continent consisting of writings collected from every nation since the Breaking of the World and some that pre-date the Breaking. The librarians are all Brown Sisters and they guard against any scrap of paper escaping without their knowledge. They reach a door and descend down a steep flight of stairs to store rooms beneath. Egwene channels a small ball of light to held them see their way down the steps. Elayne does the same. At the bottom of the steps, they take a side corridor toward a main hallway. They pass through another door and take another flight of stairs downward. Egwene thinks to herself that they could scream their lungs out down where they are and no one would hear whimper. She feels a lightning bolt form, or the flows for one, while holding up the ball of light. She has never before tries to channel two flows at once and it does not seem difficult at all.
The main hall of the next level below is like the first – wide and dusty but with a lower ceiling. Nynaeve hurries to the third door on the right and then stops. The door is not large but its rough wooden planks give an impression of thickness. A round iron lock is drawn tight through a chain fastened by two staples. Lock and chain both have a look of newness. There is almost no dust on them.
Nynaeve: A lock? Did either of you see a lock anywhere else?
She yanks on the lock and pounds on the door. Elayne tells her to calm herself and says that they will open it in some way. Nynaeve shouts that she does not want to calm herself. She says that she wants to be furious. Egwene touches the chain lightly. She has learned more things than how to make lightning bolts since leaving Tar Valon. One thing she has learned is an affinity for metal. This comes from being strong in the weave for earth. Few women are strong with earth.
Suddenly, Nynaeve barges over holding the One Power and also carrying a prybar made of air. SHe tells Egwene to move out of the way. When Nynaeve prys at the chain, it snaps like thread. Nynaeve falls backward and her prybar disappears. Egwene tells her that she thinks she did something to the chain but she is not certain what it is that she did. Nynaeve mutters that Egwene could have said something. She then throws open the door and goes inside.
The dusty room inside is ten paces square and it holds only a heap of bags, each stuffed full, tagged, and sealed with the flame of Tar Valon. Egwene does not need to count to know that there are thirteen bags. She moves her ball of light to the wall and fastens it there. She is not certain how she did this. Elayne frowns at Egwene as if thinking and then hangs her light on the wall also. Watching Elayne, Egwene thinks she sees what it is that she herself had done. Nynaeve goes straight to tumbling the bags apart and reading the tags.
Nynaeve: Rianna, Joiya Byir, these are what we are after.
She examines the seal on one of the bags and then breaks it open. She says that at least they know no one has been there before them. Egwene choses a bag and breaks its seal, also. Egwene’s bag contains a scrap of paper showing a map of the city of Tear. Elayne’s bag contains a book on the customs and ceremonies of the Tairen Court. Kneeling among the bag she is searching, she retrieves a scrap of paper that she has already thrown away. It contains a list of trading ships with a list of dates that they sail from Tar Valon and a list of dates that they are expected to arrive in Tear.
Egwene says slowly that it could be a coincidence. After searching through all of the bags though, they all agree that there is too much pointing toward Tear. They find another book about Tear and another list of vessels, including evidence that the ships on the list sailed the night after Liandrin and the others fled from the Tower. There is also a faintly sketched plan of a building with one room labeled as “Heart of the Stone.” There is yet another page which includes a list of five Inns in Tear.
Egwene wonders aloud how anyone could miss seeing this. She also asks aloud why the Amyrlin said nothing of this. Nynaeve says bitterly that the Amyrlin keeps her own counsel. Nynaeve then draws a deep breath and says that she worries she is looking at bait. Once Egwene thought of it, she agreed. It is all so obvious that a trap or a diversion seem likely. Elayne adds uncertainly that the people who left this may not have cared whether or not these belongings were ever found or if they were followed. She also says that perhaps they meant it to be so obvious that whoever found it would dismiss Tear immediately. Egwene speculates that they intended to taunt whoever might find this. For a while, they sit and stare in silence at the array.
Egwene grips her stone ring through the belt pouch.
Egwene: Maybe we will know after tonight.
Nynaeve looks at her, silent and expressionless, and then choses out a dark skirt that seems to have not too many holes. She begins bundling in it the things they have found. She tells them that for now they will take these things back to her room and hide them. She says that if they hurry they will not be late to the kitchens.
We learn that Else/Lanfear pointed them in this direction in the last chapter. Here the super girls find bait / evidence pointing them toward Tear… which just so happens to be where Rand is going, too.
We do not really have a reason to think, one way or another, whether the Black Sisters actually went to Tear. All of this could be fake. Or it could be real and part of the plan. Either way, there is nothing subtle about it. If Lanfear put all of this together, on her own, she apparently thought they needed a huge neon sign telling them where she wanted them to go.
The main other bits from this chapter are Egwene learning One Power tricks.
- She realizes she can divide flows and do two separate things at once.
- She learns how to hang a ball of light on the wall – and gets a little freaked out by the fact that she did it without understanding what she did until she saw Elayen copy her (she taught Elayne who in turn taught her.)
- She did something unknowingly to the chain. This seems like a special-to-Egwene thing where she is good with flows of Earth and the other two are not.
Since we now have Forsaken just wandering around inside The White Tower, the sooner the girls can power themselves up, the better.
I guess the other interesting thing is that we are led to believe – base don lack of footprints – that Lanfear can teleport or become invisible or both. That is in addition to being able to make herself look like Else.