ToM: PROLOGUE: Distinctions


"It soon became obvious, even within the stedding, that the Pattern was
growing frail. The sky darkened. Our dead appeared, standing in rings
outside the borders of the stedding, looking in. Most troublingly, trees fell ill,
and no song would heal them.

It was in this time of sorrows that I stepped up to the Great Stump. At first, I
was forbidden, but my mother, Covril, demanded I have my chance. I do not
know what sparked her change of heart, as she herself had argued quite
decisively for the opposing side. My hands shook. I would be the last
speaker, and most seemed to have already made up their minds to open the
Book of Translation. They considered me an afterthought.

And I knew that unless I spoke true, humanity would be left alone to face the
Shadow. In that moment, my nervousness fled. I felt only a stillness, a calm
sense of purpose. I opened my mouth, and I began to speak.

—from The Dragon Reborn, by Loial,
son of Arent, son of Halan, of Stedding Shangtai-

Lan POV#

Lan rides Mandarb across the Proska Flats in northern Saldaea near the Blight. He is following the road he turned away from twenty years ago to follow Moiraine. He thinks that Nynaeve has learned to talk and think like Aes Sedai. He has seen neither people nor Trollocs in days. He hears a noise and prepares an arrow. A man walks around a hill leading a pack horse.[1] He is pleased to find Lan and says he expected to find him on the Kremer Road. The man is Bulen, his retainer so many years ago in the Aesdaishar Palace. Nynaeve told them Lan was coming. He brought badly needed supplies. At first Lan refuses to let him follow, but Bulen tells him that his father was Malkier. He needs someone to give him permission to don the hadori. At last Lan relents and the two travel on.

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Perrin POV#

Perrin is dreaming a normal dream; he is hammering hot iron. Hopper lies in a corner. He cannot seem to make anything useful and is embarrassed at what Master Luhhan would think. He is trying to make something important but he needs to understand the parts first. He still worries about what the men think about him and Berelain. He needs to spend time with Faile. Hopper invites him to go run but Perrin is afraid of losing himself. He hears hissing from the quenching barrel and pulls out a hot statue. It is Aram, screaming. It falls and breaks. Perrin is now back in Malden, only he carries the axe instead of the hammer. He kills the two Shaido as he remembers. Aram attacks him but Perrin refuses to kill him. An image of Perrin splits off, turns into a wolf, and kills Aram. Perrin is back in the forge. He pulls out more statues from the barrel, Tod al'Caar, Jori Congar, Azi al'Thone. Hundreds. The broken pieces of the Aram statue become hands reaching for him. Hopper slams into him.

Perrin starts awake. He is in his tent with Faile. They have been camped in a field for days since a bubble of evil; red snakes came out of the ground, biting and poisoning hundreds. The Aes Sedai could not completely Heal them.[2] It takes a long time for him to go back to sleep.

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Graendal POV#

Graendal is in Natrin's Barrow with Aran'gar. Graendal prefers to observe from a distance but Aran'gar wants to be where the action is. The Great Lord was not pleased that she lost control of Egwene. Graendal uses the trickle of True Power that Moridin and the Great Lord gave her as a reward. The True Power strains and scars the Pattern. What the Creator can create, the Great Lord can destroy. Delana enters and sits with Aran'gar.

A personal alarm goes off and Graendal meets her guard captain Garumand. He reports that the guard captured Piqor Ramshalan approaching. Under Compulsion he says the Dragon Reborn sent him but he wants to be king and he will reward her if she helps him. Graendal commands Aran'gar and Delana to weave Compulsion on Ramshalan to confuse Rand about the source. He probably has Nynaeve with him and she might have the skill to read Compulsion.

She then weaves Spirit of the True Power to take over the mind of a dove. She sends Ramshalan back and has the dove follow. She wonders if Lews Therin remembers her murder of Yanet. Through the dove's eyes she sees Ramshalan reach Rand and Nynaeve and the Aiel. Through the dove's ears she hears something about boxes and Callandor. The she sees the access key and begins to panic. She wraps Aran'gar and Delana in Air then opens a gateway with saidar. She jumps though the gateway to a nearby hill and sees a flash of light as the gateway disappears. She feels a balescream from massive use of balefire. From the top of the hill she sees that Natrin's Barrow is gone. She now feels safe that Rand will assume she is dead, but she worries that the Great Lord will be angry that she caused the death of one of the Chosen. She will have to be careful.

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Galad POV#

Galad leads seven thousand of the Children of the Light through a swamp on the border of Ghealdan and Altara. There are swarms of bitemes. Asunawa will not expect this move. He leads his horse Stout. He still thinks about Valda and Morgase. The Last Battle will come soon. Dain Bornhald, Jaret Byar and Trom are with him. Galad insists they will need the Aes Sedai to fight Shadowspawn and Forsaken and his men reluctantly accept that. One of the scouts, Barlett, reports something ahead. There is a dead forest, the trees covered with gray lichen. There is also a slow river with bloated bodies of men and mules.[3] They ford the river and move on.

Galad plans to lead them to his estates in Andor. He hopes Elayne now holds the Lion Throne. Barlett reports that the swamp ends ahead in a clearing. They ride ahead, but as they enter the clearing ten thousand soldiers appear, Whitecloaks and Amadicians. It is a trap set by Asunawa with the help of Barlett. Barlett coldly tells Galad that Galad is the traitor, not himself. Galad, Bornhald and Byar ride out to negotiate with Asunawa and the Lords Captain with him, Golever and Harnesh. They argue doctrine and philosophy. Galad's words seem to affect the Lords Captain but Asunawa will not budge. Finally, Galad offers to surrender himself if Asunawa promises not to Question any of his men. Asunawa reluctantly agrees. The Questioners arrest him, strip him and beat him unconscious.

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Padan Fain POV#

Fain walks through the Blight carrying the ruby dagger. The sky is black. The only emotion he has left is hatred for Rand and the Dark One. He keeps cutting himself with the blade but he does not care. He was once Fain, once Mordeth, but he needs a new name now. He just finished killing a Worm. They make a lot of noise, so he hopes any Trollocs nearby will send scouts to investigate. Sure enough, a group of Trollocs led by a Myrddraal appear. A mist comes out of the ground. It kills the Fade and turns the Trollocs into zombies of some sort.[4] Fain no longer hunts Rand. He plans to meet him at Shayol Ghul and kill him.

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Malenarin Rai POV#

Malenarin is the commander of Heeth Tower, the northernmost watch tower near the Blight in Kandor. He reviews reports, including a letter from a merchant named Barriga who wants to bring his caravan to Heeth Tower to trade. He is also making plans to give his father's sword to his son Keemlin who will reach his nameday in three days.

He meets Jargen, sergeant of the watch. Jargen reports a signal flash from Rena Tower to the northwest, in the Blight itself. Niach Okatomo is commander there. They wait but there is no further message. There is also no response from Farmay Tower. Malenarin orders a warning message sent to the southward towers. He also orders messengers sent south. Fast riders, usually young boys. He is relieved that Keemlin is next on the messenger roster. He may ride to safety. He goes to the roof where Lieutenant Landalin reports no response from Barklan Tower to the south. Malenarin sees three riders heading south as well. He orders the tower to prepare for assault. He is then shocked to see Keemlin come up; he was supposed to ride. Keemlin admits that he sent Tian in his place. His mother Lady Yabeth has lost all her other sons. Malenarin is nearly overcome. He orders a soldier Kralle to bring his father's sword. Keemlin protests that it is still three days, but Malenarin says that a man stands before him. Malenarin gives him the Borderlander oath then the sword. Someone shouts, and they see Draghkar in the air and a horde of Trollocs approaching.

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Notes (Possible Spoilers)#

[#1] The pack horse's name is Scouter. (ToM,Ch7)
[#2] Much as Aviendha's weaves were ineffective against the fiery bubble of evil that consumed Adrin. (TGS,Ch11)
[#3] Victims of Malden. And the dead mules that Robert Jordan promised us!
[#4] This seems very much like Mashadar from Shadar Logoth.

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