The Great Hunt


The Great Hunt: Page 155




Min tried to stop Rand from throwing back the blankets, but he pushed her gently aside. "I need to walk." She helped him up, but with a great many sighs and grumbles about him making his wound worse. He discovered that his chest was wrapped round with bandages. Min draped one of the blankets about his shoulders like a cloak.
For a moment he stood staring down at the heronmark sword, what was left of it, lying on the ground. Tam's sword. My father's sword. Reluctantly, more reluctantly than he had ever done anything in his life, he let go of the hope that he would discover Tam really was his father. It felt as if he were tearing his heart out. But it did not change the way he felt about Tam, and Emond's Field was the only home he had ever known. Fain is the important thing. I have one duty left. Stopping him.
The two women had to support him, one on either arm, down to where the campfires were already burning, not far from a road of hardpacked dirt. Loial was there, reading a book, To Sail Beyond the Sunset, and Perrin, staring into one of the fires. The Shienarans were making preparations for their evening meal. Lan sat under a tree sharpening his sword; the Warder gave Rand a careful look, then a nod.
There was something else, too. The Dragon banner rippled on the wind over the middle of the camp. Somewhere they had found a proper staff to replace Perrin's sapling.
Rand demanded, "What is that doing out where anybody who passes by can see it?"
"It is too late to hide, Rand," Moiraine said. "It was always too late for you to hide."
"You don't have to put up a sign saying 'here I am,' either. I'll never find Fain if somebody kills me because of that banner." He turned to Loial and Perrin. "I'm glad you stayed. I would have understood if you hadn't."
"Why would I not stay?" Loial said. "You are even more ta'veren than I believed, true, but you are still my friend. I hope you are still my friend." His ears twitched uncertainly.
"I am," Rand said. "For as long as it's safe for you to be around me, and even after, too." The Ogier's grin nearly split his face in two.
"I'm staying as well," Perrin said. There was a note of resignation, or acceptance, in his voice. "The Wheel weaves us tight in the Pattern, Rand. Who would have thought it, back in Emond's Field?"
The Shienarans were gathering around. To Rand's surprise, they all fell to their knees. Every one of them watched him.
"We would pledge ourselves to you," Uno said. The others kneeling with him nodded.
"Your oaths are to Ingtar, and Lord Agelmar," Rand protested. "Ingtar died well, Uno. He died so the rest of us could escape with the Horn." There was no need to tell them or anyone else the rest. He hoped that Ingtar had found the Light again. "Tell Lord Agelmar that when you return to Fal Dara."
said," the oneeyed man said carefully, "that when the Dragon is Reborn, he will break all oaths, shatter all ties. Nothing holds us, now. We would give our oaths to you." He drew his sword and laid it before him, hilt toward Rand, and the rest of the Shienarans did the same.
"You battled the Dark One," Masema said. Masema, who hated him. Masema, who looked at him as if seeing a vision of the Light. "I saw you, Lord Dragon. I saw. I am your man, to the death." His dark eyes shone with fervor.
"You must choose, Rand," Moiraine said. "The world will be broken whether you break it or not. Tarmon Gai'don will come, and that alone will tear the world apart. Will you still try to hide from what you are, and leave the world to face the Last Battle undefended? Choose."
They were all watching him, all waiting. Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain. He made his decision.

(FreeBooks.Mobi) Chapter 50
(Serpent and Wheel)
After
By ship and horse the stories spread, by merchant wagon and man on foot, told and retold, changing yet always alike at the heart, to Arad Doman and Tarabon and beyond, of signs and portents in the sky above Falme. And men proclaimed themselves for the Dragon, and other men struck them down and

Other tales spread, of a column that rode from the sinking sun across Almoth Plain. A hundred Bordermen, it was said. No, a thousand. No, a thousand heroes come back from the grave to answer the call of the Horn of Valere. Ten thousand.
They had destroyed a legion of the Children of the Light entire. They had thrown Artur Hawkwing's returned armies back into the sea. They were Artur Hawkwing's armies returned. Toward the mountains they rode, toward the dawn.
Yet one thing every tale had the same. At their head rode a man whose face had been seen in the sky above Falme, and they rode under the banner of the Dragon Reborn.
And men cried out to the Creator, praying, O Light of the Heavens, Light of the World, let the Promised One be born of the mountain, according to the Prophecies, as he was in Ages past and will be in Ages to come. Let the Prince of the Morning sing to the land that green things will grow and the valleys give forth lambs. Let the arm of the Lord of the Dawn shelter us from the Dark, and the great sword of justice defend us. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.
-from Charal Drianaan te Calamon,
The Cycle of the Dragon,
Author unknown, the Four



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