"Stopping a man from what he wants to do is like taking a sweet from a child. Sometimes you have to do it, but sometimes it just isn't worth the trouble."
   — Egwene al'Vere

External summary

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Setting: Cairhien (city)

Point of view: Rand al'Thor

Rand is taking a break from a meeting while Selande tries to seduce him. He scares her away with talk of channeling and going mad eventually. He is making plans on how to take care of Sammael in Illian and deal with all the other situations around him. He also has to deal with all the plots of the nobles that are supposedly his allies. Rand invites Lady Colavaere to dine with him alone so he can tell her to stop sending women after him.

Moiraine brings two letters from Tar Valon: Elaida and Alviarin each wrote to him. Elaida tells him an escort will arrive so he can be brought to Tar Valon for protection until the Last Battle. Alviarin writes a flattering letter without saying much except to keep the letter secret. Moiraine and Egwene read both letters.

Mat arrives and Rand puts him to work planning and leading the effort to attack Sammael and Illian. Mat has been getting more recruits than he can use and has named his force the Band of the Red Hand, after a famed group that defended Manetheren during the Trolloc Wars. Mat led his group against the Andorans that are trying to take Cairhien for Gaebril and won three victories. Mat gets irate at being prodded by Moiraine, then gives out the latest rumor, that Morgase, Elayne's mother is dead. Rand knew that Gaebril (who is really Rahvin) was keeping Morgase under control but resisted attacking in that direction because he thought that was what the Forsaken wanted him to do. Rand wants to go immediately, but Moiraine suggests waiting until tomorrow.

Rand has his talk with Mat, laying out his plans for the Band.

Point of view: Egwene al'Vere

Moiraine tells Egwene and Aviendha to be careful tomorrow, then leaves. Aviendha then has to leave to let the Wise Ones know of tomorrow's plans.

Point of view: Matrim Cauthon

Mat is upset at his inability to get away from Rand. He was trying when he ended up fighting the Andorans and he can't think of a way of leaving that won't end up with him getting caught or being in a battle again. He starts giving his goodbyes to Melindhra as part of his escape plan and she berates him for not seeking out his own destiny. Mat makes a slip and mentions Caemlyn, which causes Melindhra to attack and try to kill him. He is dazed and on his back while she grabs a knife to finish him off. He takes a knife from his sleeve and throws it, and wishes it back in his hand immediately. Before she dies he asks why, and she mentions other oaths she has that are more important. She makes one last attempt with the knife but it hits Mat's foxhead medallion and the blade breaks. She curses that he has the Great Lord's own luck. Mat realizes that she was a Darkfriend. As he tries to think of what to do, he feels the dice spinning in his head, again.