The Great Hunt


The Great Hunt: Page 121



What do you say, Lord Ingtar? Lord Rand?"
Verin answered him. "What you suggest might be possible, sniffer, but as well hope to open this Waygate again and find Machin Shin gone as hope to find a Portal Stone.
I know none closer than the Aiel Waste. Though we could go back into Kinslayer's Dagger, if you, or Rand, or Loial think you could find that Stone again."
Rand looked at Mat. His friend had lifted his head hopefully at this talk of the Stones. A few weeks, Verin had said. If they simply rode west, Mat would never live to see Toman Head.
"I can find it," Rand said reluctantly. He felt ashamed. Mat's going to die, Darkfriends have the Horn of Valere, Fain will hurt Emond's Field if you don't follow him, and you're afraid to channel the Power. Once to go and once to come back. Twice more won't drive you mad. What really made him afraid, though, was the eagerness that leaped inside him at the thought of channeling again, of feeling the Power fill him, of feeling truly alive.
"I do not understand this," Alar said slowly. "The Portal Stones have not been used since the Age of Legends. I did not think there was anyone who still knew how to use them."
"The Brown Ajah knows many things," Verin said dryly, "and I know how the Stones may be used."
The Eldest nodded. "Truly there are wonders in the White Tower of which we do not dream. But if you can use a Portal Stone, there is no need for you to ride to Kinslayer's Dagger. There is a Stone not far from where we stand."
"The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and the Pattern provides what is needful." The absent look dropped from Verin's face altogether. "Take us to it," she said briskly. "We have lost more than enough time already."

(FreeBooks.Mobi) Chapter 37
(Portal Stone)
What Might Be
Alar led them away from the Waygate at a dignified pace, though Juin seemed more than anxious to leave the Waygate behind. Mat, at least, looked ahead eagerly, and Hurin seemed confident, while Loial appeared concerned more that Alar might change her mind about his going than about anything else. Rand did not hurry as he pulled Red along by the reins. He did not think Verin meant to use the Stone herself.
ne column stood upright near a beech almost a hundred feet tall and four paces thick; Rand would have thought it a big tree before he saw the Great Trees. There was no warning coping here, only a few wildflowers pushing through the leafy mulch of the forest floor. The Portal Stone itself was weathered, but the symbols covering it were still clear enough to make out.
The mounted Shienaran soldiers spread out in a loose circle around the Stone and those afoot.
"We stood it upright," Alar said, "when we found it many years ago, but we did not move it. It ... seemed to ... resist being moved." She went right up to it, and laid a big hand on the Stone. "I have always thought of it as a symbol of what has been lost, what has been forgotten. In the Age of Legends, it could be studied and somewhat understood. To us, it is only stone."
"More than that, I hope." Verin's voice grew brisker. "Eldest, I thank you for your help. Forgive us for our lack of ceremony in leaving you, but the Wheel waits for no woman. At least we will no longer disturb the peac

"We called the stonemasons back from Cairhien," Alar said, "but we still hear what happens in the world Outside. False Dragons. The Great Hunt of the Horn. We hear, and it passes us by. I do not think Tarmon Gai'don will pass us by, or leave us in peace. Fare you well, Verin Sedai. All of you, fare well, and may you shelter in the palm of the Creator's hand. Juin." She paused only for a glance at Loial and a last admonitory look at Rand, and then the Ogier were gone among the trees.
There was a creaking of saddles as the soldiers shifted. Ingtar looked around the circle they made. "Is this necessary, Verin Sedai? Even if it can be done... We do not even know if the Darkfriends really have taken the Horn to Toman Head. I still believe I can make Barthanes -"
"If we cannot be sure," Verin said mildly, cutting him off, "then Toman Head is as good a place to look as any other. More than once I've heard you say you would ride to Shayol Ghul if need be to recover the Horn. Do you hold back now, at this?" She gestured to the Stone under the smoothbarked tree.
Ingtar's back stiffened. "I hold back at nothing. Take us to Toman Head or take us to Shayol Ghul. If the Horn of Valere lies at the end, I will follow you."
"That is well, Ingtar. Now, Rand, you have been transported by a Portal Stone more recently than I. Come." She motioned to him, and he led Red over to her at the Stone.
"You've used a Portal Stone?" He glanced over his shoulder to make sure no one else was close enough to hear. "Then you don't mean for me to." He gave a relieved shrug.
Verin looked at him blandly. "I have never used a Stone; that is why your use is more recent than mine. I am well aware of my limits. I would be destroyed before I came close to channeling enough Power to work a Portal Stone. But I know a little of them. Enough to help you, a bit."
"But I don't know anything." He led his horse around the Stone, looking it up and down. "The one thing I remember is the symbol for our world. Selene showed me, but I don't see it here."
"Of course not. Not on a Stone in our world; the symbols are aids in getting to a world." She shook her head. "What would I not give to talk with this girl of yours? Or better, to put my hands on her book. It is generally thought that no copy of Mirrors of the Wheel survived the Breaking whole. Serafelle always tells me there are more books that we believe lost than I could credit waiting to be found. Well, no use in worrying over what I don't know. I do know some things. The symbols on the top half of the Stone stand for worlds. Not all the Worlds That Might Be, of course. Apparently, not every Stone connects to every world, and the Aes Sedai of the Age of Legends believed that there were possible worlds no Stones at all touched. Do you see nothing that sparks a memory?"
"Nothing." If he found the right symbol, he could use it to find Fain and the Horn, to save Mat, to stop Fain hurting Emond's Field. If he found the symbol, he would have to touch saidin. He wanted to save Mat and stop Fain, but the did not want to touch saidin. He was afraid to channel, and he hungered for it like a starving man for food. "I don't remember anything."
Verin sighed. "The symbols at the bottom indicate Stones at other places. If you know the trick of it, you could take us, not to this same Stone in another world, but to one of those others there, or even to one of them here. It was something akin to Traveling, I think, but just as no one remembers how to Travel, no one remembers the trick. Without that knowledge, trying it might easily destroy us all." She pointed to two parallel wavy lines crossed by an odd squiggle, carved low on the column. "That indicates a Stone on Toman Head. It is one of three Stones for which I know the symbol; the only one of those three I've visited. And what I learned - after nearly being caught by the snows in the Mountains of Mist and freezing my way across Almoth Plain - was absolutely nothing. Do you play at dice, or cards, Rand al'Thor?"
"Mat's the gambler. Why?"
"Yes. Well, we'll leave him out of this, I think. These other symbols are also known to me."
With one finger she outlined a rectangle containing eight carvings that were much alike, a circle and an arrow, but in half the arrow was contained inside the circle, while in the others the point pierced the circle through. The arrows pointed left, right, up and down, and surrounding each circle was a different line of what Rand was sure was script, though in no language he knew, all curving lines that suddenly became jagged hooks, then flowed on again.
"At least," Verin went on, "I know this much about them. Each stands for a world, the study of which led eventually to the making of the Ways. These are not all of the worlds studied, but the only ones for which I know the symbols. This is where gambling comes in. I don't know what any of these worlds is like. It is believed there are worlds where a year is only a day here, and others where a day is a year here. There are supposed to be worlds where the very air would kill us at a breath, and worlds that barely have enough reality to hold together. I would not speculate on what might happen if we found ourselves in one of those. You must choose. As my father would have said, it's time to roll the dice."
Rand stared, shaking his head. "I could kill all of us, whatever I choose."
"Are you not willing to take that risk? For the Horn of Valere? For Mat?"
"Why are you so willing to take it? I don't even know if I can do it. It - it doesn't work every time I try." He knew no one had come any closer, but he looked anyway. All of them waited in a loose circle around the Stone, watching, but not close enough to eavesdrop. "Sometimes saidin is just there.

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