The Great Hunt


The Great Hunt: Page 53



A woman had been standing over him, looking down. Her face was in shadow, but her eyes seemed to shine like the moon, and Egwene had known she was evil. Then there was a flash of light, and they were gone. Both of them. And behind it all, almost like another thing altogether, was the feel of danger, as if a trap was just beginning to snap shut on an unsuspecting lamb, a trap with many jaws. As though time had slowed, and she could watch the iron jaws creep closer together. The dream had not faded with waking, the way dreams did. And the danger felt so strong she still wanted to look over her shoulder - only somehow she knew that it was

She wondered if the woman had been Moiraine, and upbraided herself for the thought. Liandrin fit that part better. Or perhaps Alanna; she had been interested in Rand, too.
She could not bring herself to tell Anaiya. Formally, she said, "Anaiya Sedai, I know it sounds foolish, but he is in danger. Great danger. I know it. I could feel it. I still can."
Anaiya wore a thoughtful look. "Well, now," she said softly, "that's a possibility I'll wager no one has considered. You may be a Dreamer. It is a small chance, child, but ... We haven't had one of those in - oh - four or five hundred years. And Dreaming is close linked to Foretelling. If you really can Dream, it may be that you can Foretell, as well. That would be a finger in the Reds' eye. Of course, it could be just an ordinary nightmare, brought on by a late night, and cold food, and us traveling so hard since we left Fal Dara. And you missing your young man. Much more likely. Yes, yes, child, I know. You are worried about him. Did your dream indicate what kind of danger?"
Egwene shook her head. "He just vanished, and I felt danger. And evil. I felt it even before he vanished." She shivered and rubbed her hands together. "I can still feel it."
"Well, we will talk about it more on the River Queen.
If you are a Dreamer, I will see you have the training Moiraine should be here to ... You there!" the Aes Sedai barked suddenly, and Egwene jumped. A tall man, who had just sat down on a cask of wine, jumped, too. Several others quickened their step. "That's for loading aboard, not resting on! We will talk on the boat, child. No, you fool! You can't carry it by yourself! Do you want to hurt yourself?" Anaiya went striding off down the dock, giving the unfortunate villagers a rougher side of her tongue than Egwene would have suspected she had.
Egwene peered into the dark, toward the south. He was out there, somewhere. Not in Fal Dara, not in the Blight. She was sure of it. Hold on, you woolheaded idiot. If you get yourself killed before I can get you out of this, I will skin you alive. It did not occur to her to ask how she was going to get him out of anything, going to Tar Valon as she was.
Snugging her cloak around her, she set out to find a boat to the River Queen.

(FreeBooks.Mobi) Chapter 13
(Portal Stone)
From Stone to Stone
The light of the rising sun woke Rand, and he wondered if he were dreaming. He sat up slowly, staring. Everything had changed, or almost everything. The sun and the sky were as he expected to see, if pallid and all but cloudless. Loial and Hurin still lay on either side of him, wrapped in their cloaks asleep, and their horses still stood hobbled a pace away, but everyone else was gone.
Soldiers, horses, his friends, everyone and everything gone.
The hollow itself had changed, too, and they were in the middle of it now, no longer on the edge. At Rand's head rose a gray stone cylinder, every bit of three spans high and a full pace thick, covered with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of deeply incised diagrams and markings in some language he did not recognize. White stone paved the bottom of the hollow, as level as a floor, polished so smooth it almost glistened. Broad, high steps rose to the rim in concentric rings of different colored stone. And about the rim, the trees stood blackened and twisted as if a firestorm had roared through them. Everything seemed paler than it should be, just like the sun, more subdued, as if seen through mist. Only there was no mist. Just the three of them and the horses appeared truly solid. But when he touched the stone under him, it felt solid enough.
He reached out and shook Loial and Hurin. "Wake up! Wake up and tell me I'm dreaming. Please wake up!"
"Is it morning already?" Loial began, sitting up, then his mouth fell open, and his big, round eyes grew wider and wider.
Hurin woke with a start, then leaped to his feet, jumping like a flea on a hot rock to look this way, then that. "Where are we? What's happened? Where is everybody? Where are we, Lord Rand?" He sank to his knees, wringing his hands, but his eyes still darted. "What's happened?"
"I don't know," Rand said slowly. "I was hoping it was a dream, but ... Maybe it is a dream." He had had experience of dreams that were not dreams, experience he wanted neither to repeat nor to remember. He stood up carefully. Everything stayed as it was.
"I do not think so," Loial said. He was studying the column, and he did not appear happy. His long eyebrows sagged across his cheeks, and his tufted ears seemed to have wilted. "I think this is the same stone we went to sleep beside last night. I think I know what it is, now." For once, he sounded miserable about knowing.
"That's ..." No. That being the same stone was no more crazy than what he could see around him, Mat and Perrin and the Shienarans gone, and everything changed. I thought I'd escaped, but it's started again, and there's no such thing as crazy anymore. Unless I am. He looked at Loial and Hurin. They were not acting as if he were mad; they saw it, too. Something about the steps caught his eye, the different colors, seven rising from blue to red. "One for each Ajah," he said.
"No, Lord Rand," Hurin moaned. "No. Aes Sedai would not do this to us. They wouldn't! I walk in the Light."
"We all do, Hurin," Rand said. "The Aes Sedai won't hurt you." Unless you get in the way. Could this be Moiraine's doing somehow? "Loial, you said you know what the stone is. What is it?"
"I said I think I know, Rand. There was a piece of an old book, just a few pages, but one of them had a drawing of this stone, this Stone" - there was a distinct difference in the way he said it that marked importance - "or one very like it. And underneath, it said, 'From Stone to Stone run the lines of "if," between the worlds that might be."'
"What does that mean, Loial? It doesn't make any sense."
ook his massive head sadly. "It was only a few pages. Part of it said Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends, some of those who could Travel, the most powerful of them, could use these Stones. It did not say how, but I think, from what I could puzzle out, that perhaps those Aes Sedai used the Stones somehow to journey to those worlds." He glanced up at the seared trees and pulled his eyes down again quickly, as he did not want to think about what lay beyond the rim. "Yet even if Aes Sedai can use them, or could, we had no Aes Sedai with us to channel the Power, so I don't

Rand's skin prickled. Aes Sedai used them. In the Age of Legends, when there were male Aes Sedai. He had a vague memory of the void closing round him as he fell asleep, filled with that uneasy glow. And he remembered the room in the village, and the light he had reached for to escape. If that was the male half of True Source ... No, it can't be. But what if it is? Light, I was wondering whether to run or not, and all the time it's right inside my head. Maybe I brought us here. He did not want to think about it. "Worlds that might be? I don't understand, Loial."
The Ogier shrugged massively, and uneasily. "Neither do I, Rand. Most of it sounded like this. 'If a woman go left, or right, does Time's flow divide? Does the Wheel then weave two Patterns? A thousand, for each of her turnings? As many as the stars? Is one real, the others merely shadows and reflections?' You see, it was not very clear. Mainly questions, most of which seemed to contradict each other. And there just wasn't much of it." He went back to staring at the column, but he looked as if he wished it would go away. "There are supposed to be a good many of these Stones, scattered all over the world, or there were, once, but I never heard of anyone finding one. I never heard of anyone finding anything like this at all."
"My Lord Rand?" Now on his feet, Hurin seemed calmer, but he clutched his coat at the waist with both hands, his face urgent. "My Lord Rand, you'll get us back, won't you? Back where we belong? I've a wife, my Lord, and children. Melia'd take it bad enough, me dying, but if she doesn't even have my body to give to the mother's embrace, she'll grieve to the end of her days. You understand, my Lord. I can't leave her not knowing. You'll get us back. And if I die, if you can't take her my body, you'll let her know, so she has that, at least." He was no longer questioning at the end.

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