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"Bloody ashes, woman. This isn't a metaphor for anything! It's just boots."
   —Mat Cauthon

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Setting: Caemlyn, Cairhien

Summary

Point of view: Elayne Trakand

Elayne Trakand rides into Cairhien (city) flanked by Birgitte Silverbow. Both her and Birgitte wear a Silver foxhead medallion copy. Elayne is struggling to make more copies without having the original to study. She keeps looking to the south where Rand is. Elayne can feel the warmth from him and that he is preparing for something. The signing of the Dragon's Peace is to occur tomorrow. They are met by a large army of Cairhienin troops. Bertome Saighan and Lorstrum Aesnan sit at the front. As Elayne rides through the city she can still spot fire-damaged walls from the Shaido. [1] Alise Tenjile who is with Elayne, places a weave around their group that will offer some protection from archers. Lorstrum rides up beside Elayne and warns her of rumors about her ascension. Elayne suspects these rumors initially came from him. As she makes her way to the palace, she passes the people lined on the street to bear witness. There are some who are hostile but most are pleased to have her as their future queen. They were waiting for a monarch after the king died [2] and Rand left. [3] They finally approach the Sun Palace. Elayne notices the broken wing where the attempt on Rand's life had occurred. Elayne is delighted that her plan to be escorted into the palace by the Cairhienin army is working. She is met at the foot of the stairs by Sashalle Anderly and Samitsu Tamagowa, the two that Rand had left in-charge of Cairhien. Sashalle decrees that the Lord Dragon gives up all rights to the land. All control is now handed over to Elayne and the stewardship is dissolved. Elayne makes her way into the throne room. She spots alcoves where treasures were missing due to the Aiel taking their fifth. [4] Elayne enters the throne room and walks up to the Sun Throne. The Cairhienin line up, her supporters first and then the rest arranged by Daes Dae'mar. As Elayne is about to sit, Birgitte quickly searches the throne and it's cushion. She finally finds a needle with black poison on the tip, hidden in the cushion. This was the one definite place an assassin knew Elayne would be. To save face, Lorstrum decrees that it must have been an assassination attempt on the Lord Dragon. Because Lorstrum is Elayne's biggest supporter, the shame of an assassination attempt falls on him. He is now indebted to Elayne and knows it. Birgitte, then sits in the chair to make sure there are no more unknown "surprises". The nobles are shocked at this and Elayne is mortified. Birgitte gets up and confirms that the chair is now safe. Elayne states that Andor and Cairhien are now completely allied. What she does now, are the wishes of the Dragon. She then sits. Elayne's first command as Queen is to gather the entire army, as they march to the Field of Merrilor. Every man is to be conscripted into the army, as well as any willing women. She also wants to meet with every bellfounder in the city. Tarmon Gai'don approaches and the coronation feast can wait till after the Last Battle.

Point of view: Mat Cauthon

Matrim Cauthon now wears a red scarf in memory of all those taken by the Gholam. He makes his way into his tent that is full of papers, such as his agreement to be employed by Elayne. There is also news from Tear and Illian stating that a new Seanchan Empress has ascended. Mat wonders if the Seanchan know what they are in for with Tuon as Empress. Setalle Anan enters Mat's tent. She tells him that Joline Maza arrived safely at Tar Valon. Mat asks her what its like to lose access to the One Power. Setalle tries to describe it as something you intensely love, but can never have again, knowing that it is still there. She asks Mat about his dislike or Aes Sedai and nobles. Mat gives an analogy about boots. Working men have a few pairs of boots and know when to use each set. Life is simple. Nobles have a ton that are for all different events, making it hard to keep track with when to use each set. Mat promises to get access to a gateway for Setalle, once he returns from the Finn. Mat reflects on how to the only way to beat the Finn, is by breaking the rules. He tosses Verin's letter to Mat, unopened on the desk. He refuses to open it until Verin Mathwin arrives back. He makes for the Tower of Ghenjei tomorrow.

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Notes

  1. The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 43
  2. The Great Hunt, Chapter 38
  3. The Path of Daggers, Chapter 29
  4. The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 23