The Great Hunt


The Great Hunt: Page 26



"There is nothing to do for the one," she said, "and the other can wait."
Liandrin reached Rand first and began to bend toward Egwene, but Moiraine darted in ahead of her and laid her free hand on Egwene's head. Liandrin straightened with a grimace.
"She is not badly hurt," Moiraine said after a moment. "She was struck here." She traced an area on the side of Egwene's head, covered by her hair; Rand could see nothing different about it. "That is the only injury she has taken. She will be all right."
Rand looked from one Aes Sedai to the other. "What about Mat?" Liandrin arched an eyebrow at him and turned to watch Moiraine with a wry expression.
"Be quiet," Moiraine said. Fingers still lying on the area where she said Egwene had been hit, she closed her eyes. Egwene murmured and stirred, then lay still.
"Is she ...?"
"She is sleeping, Rand. She will be well, but she must sleep." Moiraine shifted to Mat, but here she only touched him for a moment before drawing back. "This is more serious," she said softly. She fumbled at Mat's waist, pulling his coat open, and made an angry sound. "The dagger is gone."
"What dagger?" Liandrin asked.
Voices suddenly came from the outer room, men exclaiming in disgust and anger.
"In here," Moiraine called. "Bring two litters. Quickly." Someone in the outer room raised a cry for litters.
"Fain is gone," Rand said.
The two Aes Sedai looked at him. He could read nothing on their faces. Their eyes glittered in the light.
"So I see," Moiraine said in a flat voice.
"I told her not to come. I told her he was dangerous."
"When I came," Liandrin said in a cold voice, "he was destroying the writing in the outer chamber."
He shifted uneasily on his knees. The Aes Sedai's eyes seemed alike, now. Measuring and weighing him, cool and terrible.
dash; it was filth," he said. "Just filth." They still looked at him, not speaking. "You don't think I ... Moiraine, you can't think I had anything to do with - with what happened out there." Light, did I? I named the Dark One.
She did not answer, and he felt a chill that was not lessened by men rushing in with torches and lamps. Moiraine and Liandrin let their glowing balls wink out. The lamps and torches did not give as much light; shadows sprang up in the depths of the cells. Men with litters hurried to the figures lying on the floor. Ingtar led them. His topknot almost quivered with anger, and he looked eager to find something on which to use his sword.
"So the Darkfriend is gone, too," he growled. "Well, it's the least of what has happened this night."
"The least even here," Moiraine said sharply. She directed the men putting Egwene and Mat on the litters. "The girl is to be taken to her room. She needs a woman to watch in case she wakes in the night. She may be frightened, but more than anything else she needs sleep, now. The boy ..." She touched Mat as two men lifted his litter, and pulled her hand back quickly. "Take him to the Amyrlin Seat's chambers. Find the Amyrlin wherever she is, and tell her he is there. Tell her his name is Matrim Cauthon. I will join her as soon as I am able."
"The Amyrlin!" Liandrin exclaimed. "You think to have the Amyrlin as Healer for your-your pet? You are mad, Moiraine."
"The Amyrlin Seat," Moiraine said calmly, "does not share your Red Ajah prejudices, Liandrin. She will Heal a man without need of a special use for him. Go ahead," she told the litter bearers.
Liandrin watched them leave, Moiraine and the men carrying Mat and Egwene, then turned to stare at Rand. He tried to ignore her. He concentrated on scabbarding his sword and brushing off the straw that clung to his shirt and breeches. When he raised his head, though, she was still studying him, her face as blank as ice. Saying nothing, she turned to consider the other men thoughtfully. One held the body of the hanged man up while another worked to unfasten the belt. Ingtar and the others waited respectfully. With a last glance at Rand, she left, head held like a queen.
"A hard woman," Ingtar muttered, then seemed surprised that he had spoken. "What happened here, Rand al'Thor?"
Rand shook his head. "I don't know, except that Fain escaped somehow. And hurt Egwene and Mat doing it. I saw the guardroom" - he shuddered - "but in here... Whatever it was, Ingtar, it scared that fellow bad enough that he hung himself. I think the other one's gone mad from seeing it."
"We are all going mad tonight."
"The Fade ... you killed it?"
"No!" Ingtar slammed his sword into its sheath; the hilt stuck up above his right shoulder. He seemed angry and ashamed at the same time. "It's out of the keep by now, along with the rest of what we could not kill."
"At least you're alive, Ingtar. That Fad

"Alive? Is that so important?" Suddenly Ingtar's face was no longer angry, but tired and full of pain. "We had it in our hands. In our hands! And we lost it, Rand. Lost it!" He sounded as if he could not believe what he was saying.
"Lost what?" Rand asked.
"The Horn! The Horn of Valere.
It's gone, chest and all."
"But it was in the strongroom."
"The strongroom was looted," Ingtar said wearily. "They did not take much, except for the Horn. What they could stuff in their pockets. I wish they had taken everything else and left that. Ronan is dead, and the watchmen he had guarding the strongroom." His voice became quiet. "When I was a boy, Ronan held Jehaan Tower with twenty men against a thousand Trollocs. He did not go down easily, though. The old man had blood on his dagger. No man can ask more than that." He was silent for a moment. "They came in through the Dog Gate, and left the same way. We put an end to fifty or more, but too many escaped. Trollocs! We've never before had Trollocs inside the keep. Never!"
"How could they get in through the Dog Gate, Ingtar? One man could stop a hundred there. And all the gates were barred." He shifted uneasily, remembering why. "The guards would not have opened it to let anybody in."
"Their throats were cut," Ingtar said. "Both good men, and yet they were butchered like pigs. It was done from inside. Someone killed them, then opened the gate. Someone who could get close to them without suspicion. Someone they knew."
Rand looked at the empty cell where Padan Fain had been. "But that means ..."
"Yes. There are Darkfriends inside Fal Dara. Or were. We will soon know if that's the case. Kajin is checking now to see if anyone is missing. Peace! Treachery in Fal Dara keep!" Scowling, he looked around the dungeon, at the men waiting for him. They all had swords, worn over feastday clothes, and some had helmets. "We aren't doing any good here. Out! Everyone!" Rand joined the withdrawal. Ingtar tapped Rand's jerkin. "What is this? Have you decided to become a stableman?"
"It's a long story," Rand said. "Too long to tell here. Maybe some other time." Maybe never, if I'm lucky. Maybe I can escape in all this confusion. No, I can't. Not until I know Egwene's all right. And Mat. Light, what will happen to him without the dagger? "I suppose Lord Agelmar's doubled the guard on all the gates."
"Tripled," Ingtar said in tones of satisfaction. "No one will pass those gates, from inside or out. As soon as Lord Agelmar heard what had happened, he ordered that no one was to be allowed to leave the keep without his personal permission."
As soon as he heard ...? "Ingtar, what about before? What about the earlier order keeping everyone in?"
"Earlier order? What earlier order? Rand, the keep was not closed until Lord Agelmar heard of this. Someone told you wrong."
Rand shook his head slowly. Neither Ragan nor Tema would have made up something like that. And even if the Amyrlin Seat had given the order, Ingtar would have to know of it. So who? And how? He glanced sideways at Ingtar, wondering if the Shienaran was lying. You really are going mad if you suspect Ingtar.
They were in the dungeon guardroom, now. The severed heads and the pieces of the guards had been removed, though there were still red smears on the table and damp patches in the straw to show where they had been. Two Aes Sedai were there, placidlooking women with brownfringed shawls, studying the words scrawled on the walls, careless of what their skirts dragged through in the straw. Each had an inkpot in a writingcase hung at her belt and was making notes in a small book with a pen. They never even glanced at the men trooping through.
"Look here, Verin," one of them said, pointing to a section of stone covered with lines of Trolloc script. "This looks interesting."
The other hurried over, picking up reddish stains on her skirt. "Yes, I see. A much better hand than the rest. Not a Trolloc. Very interesting." She began writing in her book, looking up every so often to read the angular letters on the wall.
Rand hurried out. Even if they had not been Aes Sedai, he would not have wanted to remain in the same room with anyone who thought reading Trolloc script written in human blood was "interesting."

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