The Great Hunt

The Great Hunt: Page 14

The sight of him brought back memories Rand would just as soon have done without. Fain on the seat of his big peddler's wagon wheeling across the Wagon Bridge, arriving in Emond's Field the day of Winternight. And on Winternight the Trollocs came, killing and burning, hunting. Hunting three young men, Moiraine had said. Hunting me, if they only knew it, and using Fain for their trail hound.
Fain stood at Egwene's approach, not shielding his eyes or even blinking at the light. He smiled at her, a smile that touched only his lips, then raised his eyes above her head. Looking straight at Rand, hidden in the blackness behind the light, he pointed a long finger at him. "I feel you there, hiding, Rand al'Thor," he said, almost crooning. "You can't hide, not from me, and not from them. You thought it was over, did you not? But the battle's never done, al'Thor. They are coming for me, and they're coming for you, and the war goes on. Whether you live or die, it's never over for you. Never." Suddenly he began to chant.
"Soon comes the day all shall be free.
Even you, and even me.
Soon comes the day all shall die.
Surely you, but never I."
He let his arm fall, and his eyes rose to stare intently at an angle up into the darkness. A crooked grin twisting his mouth, he chuckled deep in his throat as if whatever he saw was amusing. "Mordeth knows more than all of you. Mordeth knows."
Egwene backed away from the cell until she reached Rand, and only the edge of the light touched the bars of Fain's cell. Darkness hid the peddler, but they could still hear his chuckles. Even unable to see him, Rand was sure Fain was still peering off at nothing.
With a shiver, he pried his fingers off his sword hilt. "Light!" he said hoarsely. "This is what you call being like he used to be?"
"Sometimes he's better, and sometimes worse." Egwene's voice was unsteady. "This is worse - much worse than usual."
"What is he seeing, I wonder. He's mad, staring at a stone ceiling in the dark."If the stone weren't there, he'd he looking straight at the women's apartments. Where Moiraine is, and the Amyrlin Seat. He shivered again. "He's mad."
"This was not a good idea, Rand." Looking over her shoulder at the cell, she drew him away from it and lowered her voice as if afraid Fain might overhear. Fain's chuckles followed them. "Even if they don't look here, I cannot stay here with him like this, and I do not think you should, either. There is something about him today that ..." She drew a shaky breath. "There is one place even safer from search than here. I did not mention it before because it was easier to get you in here, but they will never look in the women's apartments. Never."
"The women's ... ! Egwene, Fain may be mad, but you're madder. You can't hide from hornets in a hornets' nest."
"What better place? What is the one part of the keep no man will enter without a woman's invitation, not even Lord Agelmar? What is the one place no one would ever think to look for a man?"
"What is the one place in the keep sure to be full of Aes Sedai? It is crazy, Egwene."

Poking at his bundles, she spoke as if it were all decided. "You must wrap your sword and bow in your cloak, and then it will look as if you are carrying things for me. It should not be too hard to find you a jerkin and a shirt that isn't so pretty. You will have to stoop, though."
"I told you, I won't do it."
"Since you're acting stubborn as a mule, you should take right to playing my beast of burden. Unless you would really rather stay down here with him."Fain's laughing whisper came through the black shadows. "The battle's never done, al'Thor. Mordeth knows."
;d have a better chance jumping off the wall," Rand muttered. But he unslung his bundles and set about wrapping sword and bow and quiver as she had suggested.
In the darkness, Fain laughed. "It's never over, al'Thor. Never."

(FreeBooks.Mobi) Chapter 4
Alone in her rooms in the women's apartments, Moiraine adjusted the shawl, embroidered with curling ivy and grapevines, on her shoulders and studied the effect in the tall frame mirror standing in a corner. Her large, dark eyes could appear as sharp as a hawk's when she was angry. They seemed to pierce the silvered glass, now. It was only happenstance that she had had the shawl in her saddlebags when she came to Fal Dara. With the blazing white Flame of Tar Valon centered on the wearer's back and long fringe colored to show her Ajah - Moiraine's was as blue as a morning sky - the shawls were seldom worn outside Tar Valon, and even there usually only inside the White Tower. Little in Tar Valon besides a meeting of the Hall of the Tower called for the formality of the shawls, and beyond the Shining Walls a sight of the Flame would send too many people running, to hide or perhaps to fetch the Children of the Light. A Whitecloak's arrow was as fatal to an Aes Sedai as to anyone else, and the Children were too wily to let an Aes Sedai see the bowman before the arrow struck, while she still might do something about it. Moiraine had certainly never expected to wear the shawl in Fal Dara. But for an audience with the Amyrlin, there we

She was slender and not at all tall, and smoothcheeked Aes Sedai agelessness often made her appear younger than she was, but Moiraine had a commanding grace and calm presence that could dominate any gathering. A manner ingrained growing up in the Royal Palace of Cairhien had been heightened, not submerged, by still more years as an Aes Sedai. She knew she might need every bit of it today. Yet much of the calm was on the surface, today. There must be trouble, or she would not have come herself, she thought for at least the tenth time. But beyond that lay a thousand questions more. What trouble, and who did she choose to accompany her? Why here? Why now? It cannot be allowed to go wrong now.
The Great Serpent ring on her right hand caught the light dully as she touched the delicate golden chain fastened in her dark hair, which hung in waves to her shoulders. A small, clear blue stone dangled from the chain, in the middle of her forehead. Many in the White Tower knew of the tricks she could do using that stone as a focus. It was only a polished bit of blue crystal, just something a young girl had used in her first learning, with no one to guide her. That girl had remembered tales of angreal and even more powerful sa'angreal - those fabled remnants of the Age of Legends that allowed Aes Sedai to channel more of the One Power than any could safely handle unaided - remembered and thought some such focus was required to channel at all. Her sisters in the White Tower knew a few of her tricks, and suspected others, including some that did not exist, some that had shocked her when she learned of them. The things she did with the stone were simple and small, if occasionally useful; the kind a child would imagine. But if the wrong women had accompanied the Amyrlin, the crystal might put them off balance, because of the tales.
A rapid, insistent knocking came at the chamber door. No Shienaran would knock that way, not at anyone's door, but least of all hers. She remained looking into the mirror until her eyes stared back serenely, all thought hidden in their dark depths. She checked the soft leather pouch hanging at her belt. Whatever troubles brought her out of Tar Valon, she will forget them when I lay this trouble before her. A second thumping, even more vigorous than the first, sounded before she crossed the room and opened the door with a calm smile for the two women who had come for her.
She recognized them both. Darkhaired Anaiya in her bluefringed shawl, and fairhaired Liandrin in her red. Liandrin, not only youngseeming but young and pretty, with a doll's face and a small, petulant mouth, had her hand raised to pound again. Her dark brows and darker eyes were a sharp contrast to the multitude of pale honey braids brushing her shoulders, but the combination was not uncommon in Tarabon. Both women were taller than Moiraine, though Liandrin by less than a hand.
Anaiya's blunt face broke into a smile as soon as Moiraine opened the door. That smile gave her the only beauty she would ever have, but it was enough; almost everyone felt comforted, safe and special, when Anaiya smiled at them. "The Light shine on you, Moiraine. It's good to see you again. Are you well? It has been so long."
"My heart is lighter for your presence, Anaiya." That was certainly true; it was good to know she had at least one friend among the Aes Sedai who had come to Fal Dara. "The Light illumine you."
Liandrin's mouth tightened, and she gave her shawl a twitch. "The Amyrlin Seat, she requires your presence, Sister." Her voice was petulant, too, and coldedged. Not for Moiraine's sake, or not solely; Liandrin always sounded dissatisfied with something. Frowning, she tried to look over Moiraine's shoulder into the room. "This chamber, it is warded. We cannot enter. Why do you ward against your sisters?"
"Against all," Moiraine replied smoothly.

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