The Great Hunt: Page 86
Because of a young man off to see the world, who made him think there was more to life than his farm. Rand al'Thor. You could almost think he was ta'veren. Elaida is certainly interested in him. I wonder if meeting him will shift our lives in the Pattern?"
Egwene looked at Elayne and Min. She was sure they could not have a clue that Rand really was ta'veren. She had never really thought about that part of it before; he was Rand, and he had been cursed with the ability to channel. But ta'veren did move people, whether they wanted to be moved or not. "I really do like you," she said abruptly, including both girls in her gesture. "I want to be your friend."
"And I want to be yours," Elayne said.
Impulsively, Egwene hugged her, and then Min jumped down, and the three of them stood there on the bridge hugging one another all together.
"We three are tied together," Min said, "and we cannot let any man get in the way of
"Would one of you mind telling me what this is all about?" Gawyn inquired gently.
"You would not understand," his sister said, and the three girls all caught a fit of the giggles.
Gawyn scratched his head, then shook it. "Well, if it has anything to do with Rand al'Thor, be sure you don't let Elaida hear of it. She has been at me like a Whitecloak Questioner three times since we arrived. I do not think she means him any - " He gave a start; there was a woman crossing the garden, a woman in a redfringed shawl. "'Name the Dark One,'" he quoted, "'and he appears.' I do not need another lecture about wearing my shirt when I'm out of the practice yards. Good morning to you all."
Elaida spared a glance for the departing Gawyn as she came up the bridge. She was a handsome woman rather than beautiful, Egwene thought, but that ageless look marked her as surely as her shawl; only the newestmade sisters lacked it. When her gaze swept over Egwene, pausing only a moment, Egwene suddenly saw a hardness in the Aes Sedai. She had always thought of Moiraine as strong, steel under silk, but Elaida dispensed with the silk.
"Elaida," Elayne said, "this is Egwene. She was born with the seed in her, too. And she has already had some lessons, so she is as far along as I am. Elaida?"
The Aes Sedai's face was blank and unreadable. "In Caemlyn, child, I am councilor to the Queen your mother, but this is the White Tower, and you, a novice." Min made as if to go, but Elaida stopped her with a sharp, "Stay, girl. I would speak with you."
"I've known you all my life, Elaida," Elayne said incredulously. "You watched me grow up, and made the gardens bloom in winter so I could play."
"Child, there you were the DaughterHeir. Here you are a novice. You must learn that. You will be great one day, but you must learn!"
"Yes, Aes Sedai."
Egwene was astounded. If someone had snubbed her so before others, she would have been in a fury.
"Now, off with both of you." A gong began to toll, deep and sonorous, and Elaida tilted her head. The sun stood halfway to its pinnacle. "High," Elaida said. "You must hurry, if you do not want further admonishment. And Elayne? See the Mistress of Novices in her study after your chores. A novice does not speak to Aes Sedai unless bidden to. Run, both of you. You will be late. Run!"
They ran, holding their skirts up. Egwene looked at Elayne. Elayne had two spots of color in her cheeks and a determined look on her face.
"I will be Aes Sedai," Elayne said softly, but it sounded like a promise.
Behind them, Egwene heard the Aes Sedai begin, "I am given to understand, girl, that you were brought here by Moiraine Sedai."
She wanted to stay and listen, to hear if Elaida asked about Rand, but High rang through the White Tower, and she was summoned to chores. She ran as she had been commanded to run.
"I will be Aes Sedai," she growled. Elayne flashed a quick smile of understanding, and they ran faster.
Min's shirt clung to her when she finally left the bridge. Not sweat from the sun, but from the heat of Elaida's questions. She looked over her shoulder to make sure the Aes Sedai was not following her, but Elaida was nowhere in sight.
How did Elaida know that Moiraine had summoned her? Min had been sure that was a secret known only to her, Moiraine, and Sheriam. And all those questions about Rand. It had not been easy keeping a smooth face and a steady eye while telling an Aes Sedai to her face that she had never heard of him and knew nothing of him. What does she want with him? Light, what does Moiraine want with him? What is he? Light, I don't want to fall in love with a man I've only met once, and a farmboy at that.
"Moiraine, the Light blind you," she muttered, "whatever you brought me here for, come out from wherever you're hiding and tell me so I can go!
The only answer was the sweet song of the graywings. With a grimace she went in search of a place to cool off.
(FreeBooks.Mobi) Chapter 25
Cairhien lay across hills against the River Alguenya, and Rand's first sight of it came from the hills to the north, by the light of the midday sun. Elricain Tavolin and the fifty Cairhienin soldiers still seemed like guards to him - the more since crossing the bridge at the Gaelin; they became more stiff the further south they rode - but Loial and Hurin did not appear to mind, so he tried not to.
He studied the city, as large as any he had seen. Fat ships and broad barges filled the river, and tall granaries sprawled along the far bank, but Cairhien seemed to be laid out in a precise grid behind its high, gray walls. Those walls themselves made a perfect square, with one side hard along the river. In just as exact a pattern, towers rose within the walls, soaring as much as twenty times the height of the wall, yet even from the hills Rand could see that each one ended in a jagged top.
Outside the city walls, surrounding them from riverbank to riverbank, lay a warren of streets, crisscrossing at all angles and teeming with people. Foregate, Rand knew it was called, from Hurin; once there had been a market village for every city gate, but over the years they had all grown into one, a hodgepodge of streets and alleys growing up every which way.
As Rand and the others rode into those dirt streets, Tavolin put some of his soldiers to clearing a path through the throng, shouting and urging their horses forward as if to trample any who did not get out of the way quickly. People moved aside with no more than a glance, as if it were an everyday occurrence. Rand found himself smiling, though.
The Foregate people's clothes were shabby more often than not, yet much of it was colorful, and there was a raucous bustle of life to the place. Hawkers cried their wares, and shopkeepers called for people to examine the goods displayed on tables before their shops. Barbers, fruitpeddlers, knifesharpeners, men and women offering a dozen services and a hundred things for sale, wandered through the crowds. Music drifted through the babble from more than one structure; at first Rand thought they were inns, but the signs out front all showed men playing flutes or harps, tumbling or juggling, and large as they were, they had no windows. Most of the buildings in Foregate seemed to be wood, however big they were, and a good many looked new, if poorly made. Rand gaped at several that stood seven stories or more; they swayed slightly, though the people hurrying in and out did not seem to notice.
"Peasants," Tavolin muttered, staring straight ahead in disgust. "Look at them, corrupted by outland ways. They
"Where should they be?" Rand asked. The Cairhienin officer glared at him and spurred his horse forward, flogging at the crowd with his quirt.
Hurin touched Rand's arm. "It was the Aiel War, Lord Rand." He looked to make sure none of the soldiers were close enough to hear. "Many of the farmers were afraid to go back to their lands near the Spine of the World, and they all came here, near enough. That's why Galldrian has the river full of grain barges up from Andor and Tear. There's no crops coming from farms in the east because there aren't any farms anymore. Best not to mention it to a Cairhienin though, my Lord. They like to pretend the war never happened, or at least that they won it."
Despite Tavolin's quirt, they were forced to halt while a strange procession crossed their path. Half a dozen men, beating tambours and dancing, led the way for a string of huge puppets, each half again as tall as the men who worked them with long poles. Giant crowned figures of men and women in long, ornate robes bowed to the crowd amid the shapes of fanciful beasts. A lion with wings. A goat, walking on its hind legs, with two heads, both of which were apparently meant to be breathing fire, from the crimson streamers hanging from the two mouths. Something that seemed to be half cat and half eagle, and another with a bear's head on a man's body, which Rand took to be a Trolloc. The crowd cheered and laughed as they pranced by.
"Man who made that never saw a Trolloc," Hurin grumbled.
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