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 34: A Different Dance
Furlan shows the group to their rooms as Perrin wonders if the black-haired girl knows what yellow eyes mean. He is broken from his thoughts as the innkeeper says something about a False Dragon in Ghealdan. Moiraine, sounding shaken, asks him whether there is now another False Dragon in Ghealdan. He tells her not to worry as Ghealdan is one hundred leagues away but Lan tells him harshly to answer whether there is a False Dragon in Ghealdan. Furlan says that there is not, but rather, there is a man proclaiming the Dragon there. He describes the man in Ghealdan as someone who preaches The Draagon’s coming. He further clarifies to say that the man in Ghealdan is talking about the man in Tarabon or Arad Doman.
Perrin realizes wonderingly that the innkeeper is talking about Masema. Lan also seems to make this realization and softens his tone with the innkeeper. He tells the man that he knew a fellow once who liked to give wild speeches and then asks Moiraine if she remembers Masema. Her voice firms when she tells Lan that she remembers the man and she adds that when she next meets Masema she will have his hide peeled to make boots.
She enters her room and slams the door as the worried innkeeper changes the topic to having found an Ogier bed in the attic for Loial. As he speaks, Perrin thinks on the black-haired woman some more. Perrin enters his own rooms, puts up his things, and carefully avoids lying down on the bed, fearful of sleep. While he sits on a stool, Loial enters his room grinning with excitement over the Ogier-sized bed he will get to sleep in. He tells Perrin that the bed is made from sung wood and adds that it must be over one thousand years old. He tells Perrin that no Ogier treesinger has sung a piece so large in at least that long.
Perrin remains distracted while Loial talks. Loial notices and tells him that supper is prepared below. He hardly notices Loial going as he fights back yawns and considers recent events. He compares his circumstances a blacksmith’s puzzle. He knows that the girl was staring at him but is not sure why. He knows his yellow eyes might be an explanation, but the innkeeper and no one else seems to have noticed. Everyone else is more focused on an Aiel caged in the square, an Ogier, and Hunters for the Horn who are about. Perrin also wonders about the Aiel in the cage and he knows that Min’s visions are always important. He thinks to himself that he should have stopped the children from throwing rocks at the man.
He thinks on all of this over and over until night falls. Abruptly Perrin stands, loops his ax and belt around his waist, and leaves the room. He strides toward Moiraine’s room, knocks once, and enters. Perrin stops immediately, his face burning, as Moiraine pulls her pale blue robe around herself. She asks him coolly if he needs something. After stumbling over his words, Perrin finally asks her if all of this is Rand’s doing. She tells Perrin that she does not think so before adding that she will know more when Lan returns tonight to tell her what she has learned. She tells Perrin that she has to decide how best to follow Rand as from where they are now, he either boarded a ship to Illian, with an intention of boarding another there for Tear, or he crossed the river intending to reach Tear cross-country. Perrin interjects that he does not believe they can catch Rand in any case as he has been staying ahead of them even on foot. Moiraine tells Perrin that Rand has the blood of long walkers and fast runners. She says that they will take the river to Illian and then travel on to Tear from there. She hopes that they will catch him that way or beat him there.
Perrin next asks Moiraine if she has sensed any foul Darkfriends in Remen, reminding her that she once said she could sense that in someone. Moiraine, brushing her hair, tells him that very few Darkfriends are so far gone into the Shadow as to be sensed that way. Abruplty she halts her brush in mid stroke and asks why he is asking. Perrin tells Moiraine that a girl in the common room was staring at him. He adds that she was not looking at her or Loial like everyone else but was staring at him specifically. Moiraine resumes brushing her hair, smiles, and tells him that he is a good looking young man and that some girls admire a pair of shoulders. She asks if there is anything else and Perrin replies that there is not, having no desire to discuss Min’s viewing with her. In the hallway outside of her room, Perrin gives himself a shake over having seen her with her robe open. He then goes down to the common room.
The room is full with some people even standing against the walls. He listens to Lord Orban retell the story if their fight with the Aiel for a moment before going outside. The street outside is just as crowded as the common room with people by the windows listening to Orban’s tale. Perrin continued on and found no one at all in the town’s square though he has the feeling of bein watched. The gibbet in the square stands as he remembered and the Aiel remains there in the cage. Perrin looks around, searching the dark square, and he sees no one despite the feeling of being watched. Perrin lowers the cage to the paving blocks and the Aielman inside is studying Perrin silently now. He uses the spike on his axe to break the weakest link on the chain before pulling the chain away and opening the cage’s door. The Aiel sits inside, knees under his chin, staring at Perrin. Perrin whispers to him that the cage is open but that he will not carry the man out. The Aiel finally speaks and tells Perrin that he is strong. He asks why Perrin is trying to free him. Perrin asks him again to get out of there before somebody comes. The man swings himself out but then leans over after doing so. He tells Perrin that he has been in the cage since yesterday and that it will take a moment for his legs to work. He introduces himself as Gaul of the Imrad Sept of the Shaarad Aiel. He continues saying that he is Shae’en M’taal, a Stone Dog. He tells Perrin that his water is Perrin’s. Perrin in turn introduces himself as Perrin Aybara of the Two Rivers, adding that he is a blacksmith.
Perrin tells Gaul that he is far for home and asks why he is here. Gaul tells him that the Aiel are searching for He Who Comes With the Dawn. Perrin has heard this name before from his prior meeting with an Aiel. Perrin tells Gaul that he is looking in the wrong direction, that he is also lookin for him, and that the one they are seeking is on his way to Tear.
Gaul: Tear? Why, it must be. The prophecy says that when the Stone of Tear falls we will leave The Three Fold Land at last.
Gaul continues saying that the Aiel will be changed and will find again what was theirs and what was lost. Perrin tells him that he does not know their prophecies before reminding him that someone could come at any minute. Gaul answers him by saying it is too late to run now. A deep voice shouts that the savage is loose. Ten or a dozen Whitecloak men come running from across the town square, drawing swords. Gaul calmly lifts a dark cloth from his shoulders and wraps it around his head. After all but his eyes are hidden, he asks Perrin if he likes to dance before darting away from the cage straight at the on-coming Whitecloaks.
They pause for an instant in surprise and an instant is all that the Aiel needs. He disarms one man, breaks the arm of another, kicks the face of a third, moving forward as if the fight is a dance. Perrin has only an instant to pull his ax loose and block a Whitecloak’s sword. He wants to cry out as his halfmoon blade then tears out the man’s throat. He does not have time for crying out or regrets, all the while hating the wounds the ax is making in his defense. He hates it all but he does not want to die. After some time passes, all of the Whitecloak men are down. Most of them are Gaul’s work though Perrin – to his shame – wishes that all of them were. Gaul comments that Perrin does not dance the spears badly.
Perrin: I don’t see how twelve men fought twenty of you and won even if two of them are Hunters.
Gaul: Is that what they said?
He explains that he and his companion were careless having been in these soft lands for too long and that they were surprised because the wind was blowing in the wrong direction and masked the Hunters’ presence. He says that they walked into their camp before they knew it. He tells Perrin that his companion died and that he was caged. Gaul then tells Perrin that it is now time for running. He adds that he will remember Tear.
Gaul: May you always find water and shade, Perrin Aybara
Perrin started to run as well before realizing that he has a bloody axe in his hands. Hastily he wipes it on a dead man’s cloak. He puts the haft back into a loop on his belt before breaking into a trot. As his second step, he sees the dark-haired girl. She turns to run, darting back into the street, and then vanishing. Lan meets Perrin before he reaches the place where she had been standing. He speaks to Perrin in a tight hard voice.
Lan: Is this your work Blacksmith? The Light burn me, is there anyone who can connect it to you?
Perrin: A girl. I think she saw. I don’t want you to hurt her, Lan. Plenty of others could have seen, too. There are lighted windows all around.
Lan gives Perrin a push toward the inn. Lan says that he saw a girl running before changing the subject. He tells Perrin to get Ogier up and to the stable. He says that after this they need to get their horses to the docks as soon as possible. He orders Perrin to run.
Does anyone think The Children of the Light might have a Perrin Aybara problem on their hands? That conflict feels as though it is leading somewhere.
Re: Min’s vision. I suspect that making friends with an Aielman, directing that man toward Tear/Rand, and ratcheting up his own place of reproach among the Whitecloaks really *is* a turning point in Perrin’s life. We don’t even know what role the observer girl plays in all of this yet.
Here’s something else to think about… would any of this have happened if Min does not tell Perrin about her vision? When we measure prophecies, we also have to measure the measurer.
The strangest part of this chapter is the “Perrin walks in on partially nude Moiraine” scene. I always like to believe that scenes serve a purpose. I’m not sure what this purpose is, though. Perhaps he’ll act differently toward her for a while.
Loial is going to be really sad about not sleeping in the Ogier-sized bed. That guy has been sleeping on too small beds now for YEARS. Speaking of Loial, is this the first time we are told about how talented he is as a tree singer – in comparison to other Ogier? I know we have seen him do it. I don’t remember him humble bragging before.