"Politics is a foggy mire full of snakes"
   —Basel Gill

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Setting: Caemlyn, Queen's Blessing Inn


Point of view: Rand al'Thor

The innkeeper of the Queen's Blessing in Caemlyn, Master Gill, provides Rand and Mat with a small meal while Rand explains that they are there to meet the rest of their group, from whom they have become separated, and that they are pursued by darkfriends. Because of their friendship with Thom, Master Gill advises them against approaching the queen's Aes Sedai advisor, Elaida, or the queen's guards; he also complains of the sudden plague of rats in the city.

Mat bemoans to Rand that Moiraine, Perrin and Egwene appear not to be in Caemlyn and are probably dead while Rand ponders the Dark One using vermin, including rats, as eyes. After their meal, a pretty maid takes them to their attic room and shows an interest in Rand, who does nothing but wish that he had Perrin's way with girls. Mat throws himself onto his bed while Rand leaves to avoid Mat's sullen withdrawl.

Rand notices a queen's guardsman briefly check the main room in the inn, which he is assured is normal, before he goes to the inn's library, looking for somewhere quiet to sit. He is amazed by the number of books in the library.

There he meets the ogier Loial, whom he initially and briefly mistakes for a Trolloc. Loial introduces himself and says that Rand's reaction is not unusual for humans; he explains that he left his stedding without permission from his elders, who consider him hot-headed, at the tender age of ninety. He left to read more books and to see the world, especially the ogier groves, most of which are now gone. Loial initially thinks that Rand is an Aielman. Rand then tells his story and after listening, Loial states that Rand is ta'veren and because of that, he wishes to travel with him. Rand declines but they agree to talk again and maybe play a game of stones.













  • Till shade is gone, till water is gone, into the Shadow with teeth barred, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit in Sightblinder's eye on the Last Day. - Aiel saying

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