The Great Hunt: Page 147
Mat shook his head. "Rand, these people are crazy. I know I've said that before, but these people really are. Those servants ..." Rand held his breath, wondering if they had all killed themselves. Mat said, "Whenever they saw us fighting, they fell on their knees, put their faces to the floor, and wrapped their arms around their heads. They never moved, or cried out; never tried to help the soldiers, or give an alarm. They're still there, as far as I know."
"I would not count on them staying on their knees," Ingtar said dryly. "We are leaving now, as fast as we can run."
"You go," Rand said. "Egwene -"
"You fool!" Ingtar snapped. "We have what we came for. The Horn of Valere. The hope of salvation. What can one girl count, even if you love her, alongside the Horn, and what it stands for?"
"The Dark One can have the Horn for all I care! What does finding the Horn count if I abandon Egwene to this? If I did that, the Horn couldn't save me. The Creator couldn't save me. I would damn myself."
Ingtar stared at him, his face unreadable. "You mean that exactly, don't you?"
"Something's happening out here," Hurin said urgently. "A man just came running up, and they're all milling like fish in a bucket. Wait. The officer is coming inside!"
"Go!" Ingtar said. He tried to take the Horn, but Mat was already running. Rand hesitated, but Ingtar grabbed his arm and pulled him into the hall. The others were streaming after Mat; Perrin only gave Rand one pained look before he went. "You cannot save the girl if you stand here and die!"
He ran with them. Part of him hated himself for running, but another part whispered, I'll come back. I'll free her somehow.
they reached the bottom of the narrow, winding staircase, he could hear a man's deep voice raised in the front part of the house, angrily demanding that someone stand up and speak. A serving girl in her nearly transparent robe knelt at the bottom of the stairs, and a grayhaired woman all in white wool, with a long floury apron, knelt by the kitchen door. They were both exactly as Mat had described, faces to the floor and arms wrapped around their heads, and they did not stir a hair as Rand and the others hurried by. He was relieved to see the motions of breathing.
They crossed the garden at a dead run, climbing over the back wall rapidly. Ingtar cursed when Mat tossed the Horn of Valere ahead of him, and tried again to take it when he dropped outside, but Mat snatched it up with a quick, "It isn't even scratched," a
More shouts rose from the house they had just left; a woman screamed, and someone began tolling a gong.
I will come back for her. Somehow. Rand sped after the others as fast as he could.
(FreeBooks.Mobi) Chapter 46
To Come Out of the Shadow
Nynaeve and the others heard distant shouts as they approached the buildings where the damane were housed. The crowds were beginning to pick up, and there was a nervousness to the people in the street, an extra quickness to their step, an extra wariness in the way they glanced past Nynaeve, in her lightningpaneled dress, and the woman she held by a silver leash.
Shifting her bundle nervously, Elayne peered toward the noise of shouts, one street over, where the golden hawk clutching lightning rippled in the wind. "What is happening?"
"Nothing to do with us," Nynaeve said firmly.
"You hope," Min added. "And so do I" She increased her pace, hurrying up the steps ahead of the others, and disappeared inside the tall stone house.
Nynaeve shortened her grip on the leash. "Remember, Seta, you want us to make it through this safely as much as we do."
"I do," the Seanchan woman said fervently. She kept her chin on her chest, to hide her face. "I will cause you no trouble, I swear."
As they turned up the gray stone steps, a sul'dam and a damane appeared at the head of the stairs, coming down as they went up. After one glance to make sure the woman in the collar was not Egwene, Nynaeve did not look at them again. She used the a'dam to keep Seta close by her side, so if the damane sensed the ability to channel in one of them, she would think it was Seta. She felt sweat trickling down her spine, though, until she realized they were paying her no more attention than she gave them. All they saw was a dress with lightning panels and a gray dress, the women wearing them linked by the silver length of an a'dam. Just another Leash Holder with a Leashed One, and a local girl hurrying along behind with a bundle belonging to the sul'dam.
Nynaeve pushed open the door, and they went in.
Whatever the excitement beneath Turak's banner, it did not extend here, not yet. There were only women moving about in the entry hall, all easily placed by their dress. Three graydressed damane, with sul'dam wearing the bracelets. Two women in dresses paneled with forked lightning stood talking, and three crossed the hall alone. Four dressed like Min, in plain dark woolens, hurried on their way with trays.
Min stood waiting down the entry hall when they went in; she glanced at them once, then started deeper into the house. Nynaeve guided Seta down the hall after Min, with Elayne scurrying along in their wake. No one gave them a second glance, it seemed to Nynaeve, but she thought the trickle of sweat down her backbone might become a river soon. She kept Seta moving quickly so no one would have a chance for a good look - or worse, a question. With her eyes fixed on her toes, Seta needed so little urging that Nynaeve thought she would have been running if not for the physical restraint of the leash.
Near the back of the house, Min took a narrow stairs that spiraled upwards. Nynaeve pushed Seta up it ahead of her, all the way to the fourth floor. The ceilings were low, there, the halls empty and silent except for the soft sounds of weeping. Weeping seemed to fit the air of the chilly halls.
"This place ..." Elayne began, then shook her head. "It feels ..."
"Yes, it does," Nynaeve said grimly. She glared at Seta, who kept her face down. A pallor of fear made the Seanchan woman's skin paler than it was normally.
Wordlessly, Min opened a door and went in, and they followed. The room beyond had been divided into smaller rooms by roughly made wooden walls, with a narrow hallway running to a window. Nynaeve crowded after Min as she hurried to the last door on the right and pushed in.
A slender, darkhaired girl in gray sat at a small table with her head resting on folded arms, but even before she looked up, Nynaeve knew it was Egwene. A ribbon of shining metal ran from the silver collar around Egwene's neck to a bracelet hanging on a peg on the wall. Her eyes widened at the sight of them, her mouth working silently. As Elayne closed the door, Egwene gave a sudden giggle, and pressed her hands to her mouth to stifle it. The tiny room was more than crowded with all of them in it.
"I know I'm not dreaming," she said in a quivering voice, "because if I was dreaming, you'd be Rand and Galad on tall stallions. I have been dreaming. I thought Rand was here. I couldn't see him, but I thought ..." Her voice trailed off.
"If you'd rather wait for them ..." Min said dryly.
"Oh, no. No, you are all beautiful, the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Where did you come from? How did you do it? That dress, Nynaeve, and the a'dam, and who is ..." She gave an abrupt squeak. "That's Seta. How ... ?" Her voice hardened so that Nynaeve barely recognized it. "I'd like to put her in a pot of boiling water." Seta had her eyes squeezed shut, and her hands clutched her skirts; she was trembling.
have they done to you?" Elayne exclaimed. "What could they do to make you want something like that?"
Egwene never took her eyes off the Seanchan woman. "I'd like to make her feel it. That's what she did to me, made me feel like I was neck deep in ..." She shuddered. "You do not know what it is like wearing one of these, Elayne. You don't know what they can do to you. I can never decide whether Seta is worse than Renna, but they're all hateful."
"I think I know," Nynaeve said quietly. She could feel the sweat soaking Seta's skin, the cold tremors that shook her limbs: The yellowhaired Seanchan was terrified. It was all she could do not to make Seta's terrors come true then and there.
"Can you take this off of me?" Egwene asked, touching the collar. "You must be able to if you could put that one on - "
Nynaeve channeled, a pinpoint trickle. The collar on Egwene's neck provided anger enough, and if it had not, Seta's fear, the knowledge of how deserved it truly was, and her own knowledge of what she wanted to do to the woman, would have done it. The collar sprang open and fell away from Egwene's throat. With an expression of wonder, Egwene touched her neck.
"Put on my dress and coat," Nynaeve told her. Elayne was already unbundling the clothes on the bed. "We will walk out of here, and no one will even notice you." She considered holding her contact with saidar - she was certainly angry enough, and it felt so wonderful - but, reluctantly, she let it go.
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