The Great Hunt

The Great Hunt: Page 41

The Sea of Storms was quieter in the summer.

"She'll have to," he muttered, and strode below to his cabin.
He tossed the sack of gold on his bed, built neatly against the hull like everything else in the stern cabin, and dug out the parchment. Lighting a lantern, hanging in its swivel from the overhead, he studied the sealed document, turning it as if he could read what was inside without opening it. A rap on the door made him frown.
Yarin stuck his head in. "They're all aboard but three I couldn't find, Captain. But I've spread the word through every tavern, hell, and crib in the quarter. They'll be aboard before it's light enough to start upriver."
do sail now. To sea." Domon cut off Yarin's protests about light and tides, and Spray not being built for the open sea. "Now! Spray can clear the bars at dead low tide. You've no forgotten how to sail by the stars, have you? Take her out, Yarin. Take her out now, and come back to me when we be beyond the breakwater."
His second hesitated - Domon never let a tricky bit of sailing pass without him on deck giving orders, and taking Spray out in the night would be all of that, shallow draft or no - then nodded and vanished. In moments the sounds of Yarin shouting orders and bare feet thumping on the decks overhead penetrated Domon's cabin. He ignored them, even when the ship l

Finally he lifted the mantle of the lantern and stuck a knife into the flame. Smoke curled up as oil burned off the blade, but before the metal could turn red, he pushed charts out of the way and pressed the parchment flat on his desk, working the hot steel slowly under the sealing wax. The top fold lifted.
It was a simple document, without preamble or salutation, and it made sweat break out on his forehead.
The bearer of this is a Darkfriend wanted in Cairhien for murders and other foul crimes, least among them, theft from Our Person. We call upon you to seize this man and all things found in his keeping, to the smallest. Our representative will come to carry away what he has stolen from Us. Let all he possesses, save what We claim, go to you at reward for taking him. Let the vile miscreant himself be hanged immediately, that his Shadowspawned villainy no longer taint the Light.
Sealed by Our Hand
Galldrian su Riatin Rie
King of Cairhien
Defender of the Dragonwall
In thin red wax below the signature were impressed the Rising Sun seal of Cairhien and the Five Stars of House Riatin.
"Defender of the Dragonwall, my aged grandmother," Domon croaked. "Fine right the man do have to call himself that any longer."
He examined the seals and signature minutely, holding the document close to the lamp, with his nose all but brushing the parchment, but he could find no flaw in the one, and for the other, he had no idea what Galldrian's hand looked like. If it was not the King himself who had signed it, he suspected that whoever had had made a good imitation of Galldrian's scrawl. In any case, it made no real difference. In Tear, the letter would be instantly damning in the hands of an Illianer. Or in Mayene, with Tairen influence so strong. There was no war now, and men from either port came and went freely, but there was as little love for Illianers in Tear as the other way round. Especially with an excuse like this.
For a moment he thought of putting the parchment into the lantern's flame - it was a dangerous thing to have, in Tear or Illian or anywhere he could imagine - but finally he tucked it carefully into a secret cubbyhole behind his desk, concealed by a panel only he knew how to open.
"My possessions, eh?"
He collected old things, as much as he could living on shipboard. What he could not buy, because it was too expensive or too large, he collected by seeing and remembering. All those remnants of times gone, those wonders scattered around the world that had first pulled him aboard a ship as boy. He had added four to his collection in Maradon this last trip, and it had been then that the Darkfriend pursuit began. And Trollocs, too, for a time. He had heard that Whitebridge had been burned to the ground right after he sailed from there, and there had been rumors of Myrddraal as well as Trollocs. It was that, all of it together, that had first convinced him he was not imagining things, that had had him on guard when that first odd commission was offered, too much money for a simple voyage to Tear, and a thin tale for a reason.
Digging into his chest, he set out on the desk what he had bought in Maradon. A lightstick, left from the Age of Legends, or so it was said. Certainly no one knew the making of them any longer. Expensive, that, and rarer than an honest magistrate. It looked like a plain glass rod, thicker than his thumb and not quite as long as his forearm, but when held in the hand it glowed as brightly as a lantern. Lightsticks shattered like glass, too; he had nearly lost Spray in the fire caused by the first he had owned. A small, agedark ivory carving of a man holding a sword. The fellow who sold it claimed if you held it long enough you started to feel warm. Domon never had, and neither had any of the crew he let hold it, but it was old, and that was enough for Domon. The skull of a cat as big as a lion, and so old it was turned to stone. But no lion had ever had fangs, almost tusks, a foot long. And a thick disk the size of a man's hand, half white and half black, a sinuous line separating the colors. The shopkeeper in Maradon had said it was from the Age of Legends, thinking he lied, but Domon had haggled only a little before paying, because he recognized what the shopkeeper did not: the ancient symbol of Aes Sedai from before the Breaking of the World. Not a safe thing to have, precisely, but neither a thing to be passed up by a man with a fascination for the old.
And it was heartstone. The shopkeeper had never dared add that to what he thought were lies. No riverfront shopkeeper in Maradon could afford even one piece of cuendillar.
The disk felt hard and smooth in his hand, and not at all valuable except for its age, but he was afraid it was what his pursuers were after. Lightsticks, and ivory carvings, and even bones turned to stone, he had seen other times, other places. Yet even knowing what they wanted - if he did know - he still had no idea why, and he could no longer be sure who his pursuers were. Tar Valon marks, and an ancient Aes Sedai symbol. He scrubbed a hand across his lips; the taste of fear lay bitter on his tongue.
A knock at the door. He set the disk down and pulled an unrolled chart over what lay on his desk. "Come."
Yarin entered. "We're beyond the breakwater, Captain."
Domon felt a flash of surprise, then anger with himself. He should never have gotten so engrossed that he failed to feel Spray lifting on the swells. "Make west, Yarin. See to it."
"Ebou Dar, Captain?"
No far enough. No by five hundred leagues. "We'll put in long enough for me to get charts and top the water barrels, then we do sail west."
"West, Captain? Tremalking? The Sea Folk are tight with any traders but their own."
"The Aryth Ocean, Yarin. Plenty of trade between Tarabon and Arad Doman, and hardly a Taraboner or Domani bottom to worry about. They do no like the sea, I have heard. And all those small towns on Toman Head, every one holding itself free of any nation at all. We can even pick up Saldaean furs and ice peppers brought down to Bandar Eban."
his head slowly. He always looked at the dark side, but he was a good sailor. "Furs and peppers'll cost more there than running upriver for them, Captain. And I hear there's some kind of war. If Tarabon and Arad Doman are fighting, there may be no trade. I doubt we'll make much off the towns on Toman Head alone, even if they are safe. Falme's the largest, and it is not big."
"The Taraboners and the Domani have always squabbled over Almoth Plain and Toman Head. Even if it has come to blows this time, a careful man can always find trade. West, Yarin."
When Yarin had gone topside, Domon quickly added the blackandwhite disk to the cubbyhole, and stowed the rest back in the bottom of his chest. Darkfriends or Aes Sedai, I'll no run the way they want me. Fort

Feeling safe for the first time in months, Domon went on deck as Spray heeled to catch the wind and put her bow west into the nightdark sea.

(FreeBooks.Mobi) Chapter 10
The Hunt Begins
Ingtar set a fast pace for the beginning of along journey, fast enough that Rand worried a little about the horses. The animals could keep up the trot for hours, but there was still most of the day ahead, and likely days more beyond that. The way Ingtar's face was set, though, Rand thought he might intend to catch those who had stolen the Horn in the first day, in the first hour. Remembering his voice when he swore his oath to the Amyrlin Seat, Rand would not have been surprised. He kept his mouth shut, though. It was Lord Ingtar's command; as friendly as he had been to Rand, he still would not appreciate a shepherd giving advice.

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