The Dragon Reborn (Chapter 51): Bait for the Net

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 51: Bait for the Net

From the corner of her eye, Nynaeve thinks that she sees a tall man in reddish hair wearing swirling brown cloak. As she turns to peer at him from the wide brim of the straw hat that Ailhuin has given her, an ox cart has already drawn between them. When it lurches on the man is nowhere to be seen. She is almost certain that she had seen a wooden flute case on his back and his clothes were not from Tear. She thinks to herself that it could not have been Rand and just because she keeps dreaming about him does not mean that he is in the city.

A barefoot man carrying a basket of fish suddenly trips, spilling the fish onto the mud. Every one of the long sleek shapes lands upright, nose stuck in the mud, forming a neat circle. The man gets back to his feet and re-gathers the fish. Nynaeve blinks at what she has just seen, but redirects her attention to a brigand facing her from the doorway of his shop. She tugs her braid and tells the man that she will take his cut of meat but adds that if this is what he charges he will not get more business from her. He just shrugs and takes her coins.

She starts back toward Ailhuin’s house and is relieved to see a woman yelling at a shop owner about the condition of the fruit he is selling her. Almost everyone Nynaeve has encountered in the city seems ready to lie down and die. She then upbraids herself for her lack of patience with the people around her before letting her mind drift to thoughts of Egwene and how she snaps at the most obvious of suggestions. Nynaeve is not used to having to convinced people – especially people she had changed swaddling clothes for. The fact she is only seven years older than Egwene is of no account.

Nynaeve blames all of Egwene’s bad dreams and the fact that they do not know what they mean. She and Elayne are also having bad dreams now and she does not know what that means, either. She is frustrated also that Juilin Sandar has said nothing of his search except that he is still searching. One consolation for Nynaeve is that she has been able to convince Egwene not to use the dream ter’angreal again. Nynaeve mutters to herself that if the Black Ajah are in tel’aran’rhiod that they will be hunted down. She mutters that she is the hunter this time and not the rabbit. Her mind drifts further to blaming Moiraine – reasoning that if the Aes Sedai had not come to Emond’s Field that she have taught Egwene enough. When she thinks of Rand, she thinks she could have done something, though she does not know what. That she knows the latter two things are not true does not help, it makes things worse.

Nynaeve rounds a corner and Juilin Sandar has to leap out of her way to keep from being trampled. Only his staff saves him falling into the mud. The pale wood from which it is made is called bamboo and it is stronger than it looks. He tells her that he was looking for her. She asks if he has found them. After looking around to see if anyone is listening, he replies that he has. He tells her to come back with him and says the others are waiting.

She asks him why he is so nervous and whether he accidentally revealed himself to their quarry. He hurriedly tells her no but his eyes dart around. He steps close to her and tells her that the women she seeks are in the Stone and guests of the High Lord Samon.

Juilin: Why did you call them thieves? The High Lord Samon!

He almost squeaks and there is sweat on his face. As she wonders how they might reach the Black Sisters, she tells Juilin to be at ease and says that they can explain everything to his satisfaction. She tells him to come with her to Mother Guenna’s house so that they can all three explain it to him. He gives a short uneasy nod and walks along with her. When they get to Mother Guenna’s house, she and Julin enter through the back – as everyone does including Ailhuin – and she for once does not stop to pat her horse on the nose to tell him that he’s a good boy.

Inside, Ailhuin Guenna is standing in the middle of the room, with her arms at her sides, and her eyes bulging in fear. Nynaeve sees that she is struggling furiously without moving a muscle. She does not need to see the weaves of air to know what has happened. She knows they have been found. Rage floods her and as she reaches for saidar, it is as if she has run into a wall – a wall of clear glass. A moment later Liandrin and another woman with black hair enters, the glow of saidar surrounding both of them.

Liandrin smiles at her and begins to lecture her as Nynaeve hits her in the mouth as hard as she can, trying to get away. She tries to get far enough away that they cannot hold her shield. Suddenly blows rain down on her from every side, like fists and sticks pummeling her. Neither of the two Aes Sedai even lift a hand. Groaning, Nynaeve rolls onto her side trying to protect herself. She resolves not to cry out even if they beat her to death. Eventually the blows stop.

Liandrin: Perhaps you are too stupid to know when you are defeated, Wilder. You fought almost as wildly as that other foolish girl, that Egwene. She almost went mad.

She tells her that they will all learn to submit. Nynaeve tries to reach for saidar again and finds that invisible wall again. Liandrin says that they have no use for Ailhuin and says that she will stop her heart. The other woman tells her no, that always she kills too quickly, and that only The Great Lord an make use of the dead. The other woman tells Ailhuin that she saw who came with them and adds that the High Lord Samon will not be pleased if she speaks of what she has seen. She tells her that she will die if she says a word. Ailhuin tells her that she will hold her tongue.

The other Aes Sedai is named Rianna and she along with Liandrin pulls Nynaeve to her feet, pushing her to the front of the house. Rianna warns her that if she gives any trouble that she will make her peel off her own skin and dance in her bones. Nynaeve almost laughs wondering what trouble she could give. She is shielded and so bruised she can barely stand.

At the front of the house are two soldiers as well as Amico Nagoyin and Joiya Byir two more Black Sisters. Both of them shine with the power. Elayne is between them with a swollen eye and a split lip. She tells Nynaeve that she is sorry and that they never saw them until it was too late. Egwene lies on the floor, almost so covered in bruises as to be unrecognizable. One of the soldiers hoists Egwene over his shoulder and she hangs as limply as a barley sack. Nynaeve demands to know what they did to her but then feels something strike her so hard across the mouth that her eyes go blank for a moment. Joiya Byier tells her that she will not stand for demands. She tells Nynaeve to speak when she is spoken to. Nynaeve decides to do no more and lets herself be pushed into the muddy street.

Everyone is loaded into a black lacquered coach bearing the sigil of a gauntleted fist clutching jagged lightning bolts. She supposes that it is High Lord Samon’s sign and that he must be a Darkfriend. Outside, they see Sandar. Nynaeve curses at him and is struck by a blow from the One Power again. Liandrin grabs Juilin by the hair as he looks at her like a dog expecting either a treat or to be kicked. She tells Nynaeve not to be too hard on him as he had to be persuaded to serve. His head turns to Nynaeve and he apologizes saying that he had to do it, but when Liandrin turns his back toward her he becomes an anxious hound once more. Afraid, Nynaeve wonders what they did to him and what they are about to do to them.

All of their group are bundled into the coach and it lurches into motion. Nynaeve tells Liandrin and Rianna that if they have killed Egwene that she will not rest until they are all hunted down like dogs. Rianna glares at her by Liandrin only sniffs. The latter tells her not to be a complete foot as they are wanted alive.

Liandrin: Dead bait will catch nothing.

Nynaeve wonders for what they are bait but replies to Liandrin that she is the one who is a fool. She asks the other Sister if she really thinks the three of them are here alone and not even full Aes Sedai. She tells Liandrin that the three of them are bait for her. Elayne tells her sharply not to tell her that and Nynaeve blinks before she realizes that Elayne is helping her fabrication. Elayne adds to Nynaeve that if she lets he ranger get the best of her that she will tell them what they must not hear.

Elayne: They must take us inside the Stone. They must –
Nynaeve: Be quiet! You are letting your tongue run away with you!

Elayne manages to look abashed and Nynaeve hopes that they can chew on that thought. Liandrin only smiles at them, though, and says that once their time as bait is done, they will tell them everything, and that they will want to do so.

Liandrin: They say that you will be very strong one day but I will make sure that you will always obey me, even before the Great Master Be’lal works his plans for you. He is sendng for myrddraal. Thirteen of them.

Liandrin laughs at her final words and Nynaeve feels her stomach twist. Her brain is numb with shock at the thought of one of the Forsaken. Then the rest of it and what it means comes home to her. Thirteen myrddraal and thirteen Sisters of the Black Ajah – she hears Elayne screaming before she realizes she is screaming herself. It is impossible to say which is louder, their despairing screams, or the laughter from Liandrin and Rianna.

REACTION:

Let’s consider it a mercy from Mr. Jordan that we did not have to see Egwene’s capture.

The Supergirls are captured, on their way to be bait for one of the Forsaken, and said Forsaken plans to forcibly turn them to the Shadow (that’s what the 13 + 13 thing means in case anyone forgot.) They will then no longer be themselves inside of their bodies. Yikes.

What did they do to Juilin’s mind? Double yikes.

Still… did the little ruse in the carriage matter? Will the Black Sisters be somewhat apprehensive? I doubt it. I think having a Forsaken on your side leaves your brimming with confidence. How exactly would several full Aes Sedai showing up even help? It wouldn’t. Even if Nynaeve and Elayne are telling the truth about being bait.. so what? The Shadow has Be’lal. He trumps a bunch of Sisters. He probably also knows for certain that a bunch of non-evil Sisters are not in the city anyway.

After this chapter, we can surmise that Lanfear worked with Be’lal to send the Supergirls to Tear. Be’lal wanted them as bait, it sounds like, but she helped to tell them where to go. Are these two responsible for the attempts on Mat’s life since he left Tar Valon? Or was that someone else? Are the Darkhounds chasing Rand to Tear trying to prevent him from getting there? Attempts to prevent Rand from arriving in Tear seem counter-productive to Lanfear and Be’lal’s plans.

How does Ba’alzamon want this all to play out?

There is some good news in all of this. Rand is 100% in Tear. Nynaeve saw him. Her dreams of him are enough to know for certain, too, but the fact those fish all landed in the mud, nose first, is some ta’veren nonsense. He was on the street with her.

We also know that Mat, Thom, Perrin, Moiraine, Lan, and those handy-in-a-pinch Aiel are all in Tear, too.

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