ACoS: Chapter 41
A Crown of Swords
Rand POV - Rand has more nightmares - fighting with Perrin, begging Mat to find Elayne, flashes of color,1 Fain attacking him, Elayne, Aviendha and Min all glaring at him, Alanna trying to soothe him. He wakes to voices; Cadsuane and Min do not want him disturbed. He feels that Alanna is afraid for him. Amys is with Bera and Kiruna on one side. Samitsu,2 Corele and Cadsuane are on the other. All of them are glowering at Dashiva, Flinn, Narishma, and Jonan Adley who are all holding saidin, Dashiva almost as much as Rand could. Rand looks to Adley who nods slightly. Rand is surprised that he is alive and says the ruby dagger is from Shadar Logoth. Samitsu and Corele are startled, but Cadsuane nods saying, "That explains several matters." Samitsu, Corele and Flinn saved him using Healing not seen since the Breaking. He has been out for two days; it is early afternoon. He starts to get up and Amys threatens to call Nandera, Somara and Enaila. The men want him up and the women are fighting it. Dashiva prepares weaves - not shields, but complex weaves of Fire and Spirit for pain. Rand stops him, gets up and gets dressed. He wants to talk to the Asha'man alone. Min says she needs to be with him. All the women but Min leave, glancing at Adley as they go.3 Dashiva laughs as they leave, then frowns at Adley.4 Rand sends the men to the anteroom. Min wanted to stay because she had a viewing of Cadsuane:
Merana has not completed the Sea Folk bargain; she and Rafela have not even left the ship. Adley is there to report on the army; it has reached the Illian hillforts. Flinn and Narishma are startled. They did not know where Adley, Hopwil, and Fedwin Morr had gone either. The army arrived days early. High Lord Weiramon left the foot soldiers behind and pressed forward with horsemen and Aiel. They ran into Shaido yesterday,5 nine to ten thousand, but there were no channeling Wise Ones so they were no problem. They reached the hillforts at noon today. Eben and Adley began attacking, but Sammael showed up immediately. Rand's plan was to convince Sammael that he was not with the army so he would leave Illian. His plan6 is now moot, since everyone with spies knows he is laid up. Fedwin will join them; he visits every night. Sammael is still cutting up the army. Rand announces his attack on Sammael startling Dashiva. For secrecy, Min will keep everyone out and pretend they are still there for about an hour. As Min walks out, Dashiva stares at her licking his lips. Rand clears his throat and Dashiva raises his hands defensively. All five gate to the Saldaean camp near Caemlyn and the Black Tower. It is late afternoon there. Dashiva has no idea what is going on. Taim should not know, one of Fedwin Morr's jobs was to feel for anyone spying. Rand goes to Bashere's tent. He is there with Deira. Rand says no wives today making her angry. There are nine thousand Saldaean light horse and fifteen thousand foot who call themselves the Legion of the Dragon. Fedwin joins them. Rand makes a huge gateway and runs through to the Square of Tammaz with the King's Palace and the Great Hall of the Council at either end. Rand announces himself with a voice amplified by Air and Fire. He and the Asha'man throw balls of fire into the air to clear the square. Dashiva makes blue lightning instead. The Saldaeans follow. Rand makes another gateway. One does not need to know a place at all to Travel a very short distance. Each Asha'man opens his own and they spread out. Rand is atop a tower on the King's Palace. He sends out very broad weavings of all fives Powers to set off all of Sammael's wards. Once triggered such wards have to be remade to work again. From Lews Therin Rand knows Sammael will come. He has never given up anything of his without a fight. After all the Saldaeans are through, Rand closes the gateway and remains standing. He might need to see as well as feel a weave. Hours pass. At sunset, Rand wonders what Sammael is doing. A man channels in the Great Hall, enough for a gateway. Less and Rand might not have felt it at that distance. He gates across just before his tower explodes with Fire and Earth. Then he is hit with laser-like wires of Fire and Air. He starts to use balefire, but stops, remembering Cadsuane. He hears Sammael challenge him to follow, weak flows he might not detect at ten paces. He feels Sammael open gateway a few floors up, gates up there and opens gateway to close to where Sammael went. He finds himself in Shadar Logoth with the setting sun slightly higher there. Sammael attacks again with Earth, Fire and Air. Rand sees two Trollocs. Liah of the Cosaida Chareen appears and kills them, snarls at him and runs off.7 He follows. He runs into four Trollocs and a Fade. He kills them with his One Power sword. Even though the sword takes very little power, Sammael attacks again.8 The lightning is so close Rand loses saidin. He runs into a stadium and falls through the floor. A hand grabs his and a deep voice says, "You are a fool. Count yourself lucky I don't care to see you die today. Are you going to help? I don't intend to carry you on my shoulders, or kill Sammael for you." Rand holds saidin again. The man is a big fellow a little older than Rand and as tall with black hair and coat. Rand has never seen him. "Who are you?" "Just say I'm a wanderer passing through."9 Mashadar falls on them. Both use balefire and their beams cross. Rand's head rings like a gong. With vision doubled he sees the other man holding his head.10 Rand says, "What happened there?" "I don't know what happened. Run if you want to live." He refuses to take Rand's hand. Both run, and there is more lightning. Rand asks him to join the Black Tower so he will not have to be afraid of Aes Sedai. He says, "I have never been afraid of Aes Sedai. You probably should leave here now, but if you intend to stay and kill Sammael, try thinking like him. You have shown you can. He always liked destroying a man in sight of one of that man's triumphs, if he could. Lacking that, somewhere the man had marked as his would do." Rand realizes this must mean the Waygate. "A great many plans will have to be relaid if you let yourself be killed now." The Wanderer runs into an alley and vanishes. He had time to make a gateway, but Rand felt nothing. He felt nothing at the balefire either.11 Rand thinks Sammael brought the Trollocs and Fades by Waygate which means they will all die. Rand climbs a tower overlooking the square with the Waygate. He spots Sammael looking out of a palace entrance. Mashadar starts to fall on Sammael. Rand prepares to balefire him, but he hears a scream. Mashadar has got Liah. Rand balefires her instead and turns back to Sammael, but the whole front of the palace is now full of Mashadar. There was no time for him to run and Rand would have felt it if he opened a gateway so he must be dead.12 The waning moon is almost at half. Rand contemplates a while, then Skims back to Illian. Bashere, Dashiva and the Asha'man are waiting in the throne room. Rand says Sammael is dead. Dashiva sighs loudly with relief. Lord Gregorin den Lushenos, speaking for the Council of Nine, offers Illian and the crown to Rand. The crown is laurel leaves with tiny pointy swords. Mattin Stepaneos disappeared two days ago. Gregorin den Lushenos thinks Brend was involved.13 They want Rand for king because of the grain he sent from Tear prevented starvation. Word spreads, with a feeling the storm is coming.
"Master of the lightnings, rider on the storm,
wearer of a crown of swords, spinner-out of fate.
Who thinks he turns the Wheel of Time,
may learn the truth too late.
From a fragmentary translation of The
Prophecies of the Dragon, attributed to Lord
Mangore Kiramin, Sword-bard of Aramaelle and
Warder to Caraighan Maconar, into what was then
called the vulgar tongue (circa 300 AB)."
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