|<<< The Dark Waits >>>|
|Setting: On the road to Caemlyn|
- Point of view: Rand al'Thor
The sky is leaden and Rand, who does not feel well, is riding in a cart as he, Mat and the driver enter a village. He notes offhand that the villages are getting closer since leaving Four Kings. He looks over the side. People are calling to the cart driver, one Hyam Kinch, described as leathery-faced and taciturn, who occasionally shouts back around a pipe. Rand and Mat are ignored. They pass by the village inn. Rand notices that the people seem to know each other. They pass through the village without stopping. Shortly thereafter, the cart in which they are riding is herded off onto the verge by a merchant's train going the opposite direction, and it causes Rand to tense up. Mat is riding with Master Kinch, but leans over to ask if Rand sees anything. Rand shakes his head, "no." Master Kinch notices this conversation, though he says nothing. We learn that Mat's eyes were hurting but they're better. Mat asks Rand if he is getting better, and Rand muses that he has never gotten better so quickly after being sick, and considers it a gift of the light, and then pleads silently that it has to be the light. Rand is having a reaction to channeling lightning two days before, which only lasts a few hours.
They are passed by a band of the Queen's Guard, clothed in red and white and looking quite sharp. Master Kinch approves of them, and informs Rand that they keep the Queen's peace and enforce the Queen's law. It is obvious that he favors them. Curiosity aroused by Rand's questioning, he asks where they are from. Mat says, "far off." Rand says "Two Rivers." Kinch makes a remark about how bad things must be if there are members of the realm that do not know the Queen's Guard. Rand speculates idly on whether the mayor knows that the Two Rivers is part of Andor and concludes that it doesn't make much difference. Two Rivers towns solve their own problems.
Master Kinch stops and offloads his two passengers. He observes that they are two days away from Caemlyn, if Rand can get his legs under him. Mat helps Rand out of the cart, and with effort Rand stands on his own two legs. The farmer notes that Rand is still unsteady and offers hospitality to the two until Rand is fully healed. Rand politely declines and asks how far the next village is. Kinch says that Carysford can be reached before dark. Again, he offers shelter after correctly guessing that the two boys are running from something, but observing that he's sure they aren't Darkfriends.
Mat angrily demands to know what the farmer knows about Darkfriends, which sends the farmer packing. After Kinch has left, Mat apologizes and explains that he feels like everyone is after them and he just wants it to be over, at the same time offering to give Master Kinch's offer a try. Rand says that there are are still good people around, but they have to keep going. Mat is relieved and tries to take some of Rand's burdens, but he doesn't let him.
The chapter flashes back to the disastrous events in Four Kings two nights ago, and what it was like as they made their escape from The Dancing Cartman. It was rainy and Mat could not see and stumbled a lot. Rand despaired at the speed they had to adopt because of it. Mat, sensing Rand's frustration implored Rand not to leave him, and Rand reassures him. Rand finally decides that they have to stop or Mat will break a leg. Mat mentions the name Gode and Rand says that he is dead and then muses silently that he must be.
Rand moves them to some bushes that have enough leaf cover to shelter them a bit from the rain. Arranging their cloaks to fend off most of the rain they sink into a cold sleep, where Rand dreams that he is back in a deserted Four Kings. The experience is a kind of strange dreaminess where only what he looks at is real. The town may seem deserted, but something waits. He approaches the Cartman and finds Gode inside, burned red and oozing. "So you are dead," Rand says, and Ba'alzamon replies "yes, but he did find you for me." Rand turns his face and finds Ba'alzamon standing next to him. Ba'alzamon tries to persuade Rand to come to him. Rand refuses him, saying that the Darkfriend will have to kill him because he will not serve him. Ba'alzamon becomes angry but says, in essence, so be it. He then offers Gode his reward for being a good hound. As Gode crumbles to dust, his face is suffused first with sublime joy, and then horror.
Ba'alzamon once again returns his attention to Rand, claiming him as his own, saying that he belongs to him and that the Eye of the World will never serve him. From his open palm a ball of fire bursts into Rand's face, burning him, which wakes Rand. He finds the skin of his face tender, as if sunburned. He notes that Mat, too, is having an uneasy sleep, so Rand wakes him. Mat cries out "he took my eyes." Rand comforts him by holding him close and assuring Mat that he won't let Ba'alzamon hurt them.
The rains continue all night until just before dawn. They get up, don their wet cloaks and continue through the biting wind that has sprung up to blow the clouds away. They pass through another village about midday and keep out of sight afterward; Rand is still afraid that some of Gode's men might be around. Shortly thereafter, in his worry for Mat, he unintentionally allows a farmer and his cart to overtake them. The farmer offers them a ride. Afraid that his refusal might seem suspicious, he graciously accepts.
The farmer is Alpert Mull, and is described as a solid man with a square face and square hands, grooved from hard work and worry. Mull wants to talk, and shares his woes with the two travelers, including a desire to see the Queen do something about the state of affairs in the kingdom. After a while, explaining that he has a wife and children, and obviously fearful of the two, he lets them off. Mat reaches for the dagger, but Rand constrains him. Mull again explains about his family, whines about how he should help them, and in the end offers them scarves. Rand accepts the scarves with a promise that "we never saw you," and then tells Mull that he is a good man, despite what he thinks of himself.
By dusk the wind had stiffened and Mat begins demanding to know when they are going to stop. Their clothes still clammy, Rand determines that they cannot spend the night out in the open and begins searching for shelter under the hedge. Night falls without finding a spot, then Rand sees lights up ahead; it is a village. He determines that they had enough money for a room out of the cold. He heads for the town, Mat in tow. Mat demands to know when they are going to stop, and Rand replies that they will stop when they are are someplace warm.
They find an inn in the village. When they enter, they find that it has a much more wholesome air to it than Saml Hake's place. The innkeeper is Rulan Allwine, and described as stout and as clean as his immaculate inn, but his prices are high, and he is unapologetic about what he charges. They pay the fee and ten minutes later they are eating a hot meal by the fire. After the meal, they go to bed, Rand still dressed in his damp clothing; he wants to be ready to run if they must.
They wake up the next morning having slept well. Mat exclaims that he can see--it's not perfect yet, but it will be by nightfall, he opines. Rand realizes that he too feels good, for a couple of reasons; Gode's men did not follow and they are one day closer to Caemlyn, where Moiraine will be waiting for them. He realizes that he is actually delighted at the prospect of being reunited with the Aes Sedai and her Warder.
They are eating breakfast in the common room when a cocky young man, twirling his cap on one finger walks in, scans the place, and sees them. Their presence surprises him and once he gets over his surprise, he grudgingly approaches their table. He requests politely to be allowed to sit. At first Rand thinks that the young man, only a bit older than him, wants to share their breakfast, but then a study of his dress convinces Rand that the young man can pay his own way. Rand allows him to sit. The man's name is Paitr and he is obviously nervous. Paitr tries to explain that whatever he is about to do or say, "it was not his idea," to which Mat growls, "Darkfriend."
Paitr has a strong reaction to the accusation, but does not deny it. Rand is surprised to see that this wholesome-looking fellow turns out to be a Darkfriend. He orders the young man and his fellows to leave them alone, they'll get nothing from them. Mat threatens exposure to the village. Paitr promises that he just wants to talk, after what they did in Four Kings. Both Mat and Rand respond hostilely.
Stuffing a heel of a loaf into his pocket Rand contemplates how they are going to leave the inn. If Paitr finds out that Mat is half-blind, he will tell other Darkfriends. He orders Mat up and then distracts the Darkfriend by implied threat. They make for the door, but Paitr tries to slow them down. Rand tells him to leave them alone. In an attempt to gently constrain him, Paitr places his hand on Rand's shoulder. Rand has flashbacks of several of his more scary recent encounters with trollocs and myrddraal and he punches Paitr in the nose, which topples Paitr to the floor on his rump.
Paitr makes threats seated on the floor with a bloody nose, confirming that he is indeed a Darkfriend. This time, an old man who was sweeping up the floor hears, and Paitr dashes out of the common room, afraid. The old man is afraid of Paitr, but he is no less fearful of Rand and Mat.
As they leave, Mat whines that Darkfriends are right behind them but Rand disabuses him of such notions.
They get six rides that day, one of them claiming that a "crazy old man" in Market Sheran, obviously the town they just acquitted, was claiming that there were Darkfriends in the village, the farmer considering it a hilarious story. Another farmer tells them quite a different, far scarier story, and the two are glad to be let off close to sundown well down the road from their last stop. They enter a village of brick houses bisected by the Caemlyn Road, and go to The Queen's Man, the village inn. Rand realizes that they do not have the money for room and board at the inn. Mat offers to juggle and then reinforces his offer with an explanation that he does not want to sleep outside. Rand acquiesces, but once inside, Rand worries that it was a mistake. The place is crowded, and it feels like half of the common room inhabitants are out of place. Nevertheless, they talk to the innkeeper, who assumes that they are going to Caemlyn to see the False Dragon. Mat juggles a demonstration and Rand plays a few notes on the flute and the innkeeper agrees to let them play for room and board. They get ready to perform, when Rand begins to feel queasy. The queasiness increases until Rand has to sit. He also begins to shiver though the room is quite warm.  He becomes oblivious to his surroundings as he gets sicker, except that he realizes that people are arguing about something. Then he is lifted to his feet by Mat, who has all their belongings on his shoulders and they leave by the back entrance. They move to the stable, Rand's teeth chattering all the while and his legs becoming weak.
Mat makes a bed of hay and puts Rand on it, covering him with both cloaks. Rand immediately pushes them off declaring that he is hot. Mat leaves for a moment and comes back with food and water, and news that there is no village wisdom, but that Master Inlow, the innkeeper will give them whatever they want so long as they do not frighten his guests with Rand's illness. He offers some of the food to Rand who cannot take it. Mat sits down to eat.
Throughout the night, Rand is racked by a cycle of chills followed by fever. He dreams fever dreams of Ba'alzamon and Myrddraal and shadows, waking up once, declaring that there are Darkfriends and shadowspawn in the stable, fumbling for his sword. Mat calms him and tries to get the sword away from him. Rand protests, attempting to explain that the sword is from his father and Mat desists.
During that final vision, Mat wakes him, offers him water and notes that Rand's fever has broken, answering the question inspired by Tam's visitation, that he is Rand al'Thor. Rand falls back into dreamless, though light sleep. He is awakened by the squeal of the stable doors. He is still quite weak. Mat is sleeping soundly. Rand looks toward the door to find a well-dressed woman. Rand hurriedly wakes Mat.
The woman explains that she came to see her horse, then asks if Rand is ill, offering to look at him; she has some knowledge. Rand politely declines. She ignores him and approaches anyway, noting that he has no fever. She exclaims that he was ill, however, reaches under her cloak to retrieve something. Suddenly, everything happens at once, and Rand cannot take it all in. When the dust settles, however, Mat has the ruby dagger from Shadar Logoth at her throat, her dagger is stuck in a wooden beam, and the wood around it is turning black with char. Mat orders her not to move, and orders Rand to watch her. Her hand is still on the hilt, and he pries it loose and pushes her back.
Mat removes the dagger, which stops the wood from burning, but not smoking, and gives it to Rand. It is an ornate dagger, but for all that, seeming to be quite ordinary. Mat looks at the woman, intending to kill her. Rand persuades him not to, though it takes some doing.
Mat orders her to move and she does so, slowly. She encourages them to stop struggling, because it would be for the best. Mat scoffs at this and orders her to a new place. Once again she encourages them to come to the Dark Lord of their own accord, because if they do, they will have places of honor. She explains that Gode and the fellow in Market Sheran made mistakes. She also assures them that so long as they run, there will be pursuit.
It reminds Rand of something Ba'alzamon said, "My hounds are jealous, and may not be gentle..."
Mat taunts her and she bristles and mentions that a Myrddraal is on his way, but by then Mat locks her in another room and her words are cut off. The boys decide that they need to get going, despite the fact that Rand can barely move. Rand says that he will run to get away from the Fade.
As they leave, Rand supported by Mat, Rand tosses the dagger in a bucket of water where it hisses.
With light, the town awakes, and Rand does his best to act inconspicuous. He is worried that Darkfriends are hiding in the crowds, and there is the Fade to worry about.
A mile outside of town, his legs desert him and he tumbles to the earth. He tries to get up with Mat's help, but it is no use. A man with a cart drives up, and says around his pipe, "something wrong with him?" Mat tries to deny it. Rand takes a couple of steps and tells the driver that he hasn't slept for two nights; must have been something he ate at the last village.
The driver blows a streamer of smoke, and remarks that if he were a young man, he, too, might be going to Caemlyn to see the false Dragon. Mat announces that yes, they are going to see the false Dragon. The driver offers them a ride, and introduces himself as Hyam Kinch.
- Rand al'Thor
- Matrim Cauthon
- Hyam Kinch
- Alpert Mull
- Rulan Allwine
- Paitr Conel
- Master Inlow Innkeeper
- Mili Skane (Darkfriend assassin)
Referenced in Fever Dream
- Egwene al'Vere
- Moiraine Damodred
- Thomdril Merrilin
- Lan Mandragoran
- Perrin Aybara
- Marin al'Vere
- Bayle Domon
- Master Fitch
- Min Farshaw
- Tamlin al'Thor
- Howal Gode
- Queen Morgase
- Old Bain
- Saml Hake
- Mother Brune
- Moiraine Damodred
- Lan Mandragoran as Warder
- Ackley Ferran
- Great Lord of the Dark
- Myrddraal also known as Fades
- Queen's Guards
- Children of the Light
- Aes Sedai
- Village Council
- Breen's Spring
- Two Rivers
- The Dancing Cartman
- Emond's Field
- Eye of the World
- The Stag and Lion
- Tar Valon
- Shadar Logoth
- Winespring Inn