|<<< And After >>>|
|Setting: Near Ebou Dar, Wolf Dream, Caemlyn, Blight, Field of Merrilor, Tarwin's Gap|
Point of view: Graendal
Graendal is in her elegant palace just outside Ebou Dar, but she has no plans to stay. She quickly packs what she considers a few necessities. Angry because her plan to kill Perrin Aybara has failed, she protests silently that "it should have worked!" As she continues packing, she reminds herself that "he" can find her anyplace in this world, so considers moving to a Mirror World through a Portal Stone, but even as her thoughts complete, "he," Shaidar Haran, appears. Throwing herself to her knees, Graendal attempts to talk her way out of her failure to slay Aybara, but the Myrddraal is having none of it. He also blames her for the death of three Chosen and describes her recent efforts as "a lattice of failure, a framework of incompetence." The more she pleads, the less inclined Haran is to listen. His final statement is chilling: "I shall not forget you, and you shall not forget that which comes next." Grinning, he reaches for the howling Forsaken.
Point of view: Perrin Aybara
Perrin visits the wolf dream and is dismayed to find that even here it is dying, just like the real world. Because of his affront at what is happening he gathers his will and demands that it return to health and vigor and at first he succeeds. Life reappears, healthy and vigorous, in a circle around him. He forces it out until even the clouds above part and sunlight pours down. He then imagines that Hopper still lives and the wolf appears as if from mist, but his eyes are dead. He suddenly realizes that he cannot control the whole of the wolf dream and something snaps; the wolf dream returns to its former sense of dying accompanied by lightning, thunder and death, as Hopper vanishes from before him. Remembering Faile helps to stabilize him and he also remembers Hopper's last request: "Seek Boundless. He will explain."
So he begins the search for Boundless. He quickly finds him, but after a short amount of wolf banter, Perrin tells the wolf that that Hopper said he, Perrin would need him, Boundless. The wolf vanishes.
That starts a wild chase where Perrin, turning into Young Bull to better follow, seeks out the young wolf and the wolf sends back thoughts of anger and pain. Those mental sendings soon become images of cities, forests, fields, and a final image of a cage and Perrin looking down at him. Though by now Perrin is chasing Boundless over a body of water, the last vision so shocks him that he stops in his tracks and turns back into a human. He remembers that scene, that Moiraine had been with him, and he suddenly understands who Boundless is.
He calls the wolf by his human name: "Noam." Boundless' mind vanishes, but Perrin now knows where to find him, and goes there; the place in the sending--a small village, barn and a cage. Once he arrives, they converse, Perrin as his human self, Noam as his wolf self. During that conversation, Perrin comes to realize that Noam chose the wolf dream over the waking world because his life was filled to bursting with pain. "The wolf is peace," Boundless/Noam says. Perrin realizes something about balance, for Elyas, for Noam, and for himself and he comes to an epiphany: the wolf dream will never take him. Oh, it has its own dangers when he loses control, but that fear he had been nurturing since the day he let Noam free, the fear that some day the wolf dream would overcome him, just as he thought it had done in Noam's case, was a false fear. He has found that final thing that he needed to understand.
He is grateful for this new revelation. So grateful that he contrives as powerful a sending as he can make it, to Boundless, and then the rest of the wolf brothers who can hear him: himself as Perrin and himself as Young Bull, standing side by side on a hilltop, their scents the same, followed by a most humble, most profound and most sincere, "thank you."
Point of view: Olver
Just outside Caemlyn, in Mat's tent in the camp of the Band of the Red Hand, Olver plays a game of Snakes and Foxes with the non-attentive Talmanes Delovinde, who is more of a baby-sitter than companion. As Olver plays the game, the boy ruminates over a great many subjects, such as his father's death, what it means to be a warrior, and what Mat, Noal, and Thom are really doing right now. At first, grudgingly and then with more acceptance, he realizes that he could not have been the third person to travel with them to the Tower of Ghenjei; Noal was a much better choice. But he also thinks of his future when he will make his own decisions. He then spends a moment sizing up Talmanes, whom he likes, but decides he is not someone with whom he would like to go drinking and hunting serving girls together, which Olver decides he should be able to start doing in about a year. He then thinks about his plan to find and then kill the Shaido who killed his father. In the meantime the game is played to its conclusion when both Olver and Talmanes are shocked to find that Olver actually wins "the game which cannot be won."
Olver says aloud that he wishes Mat were back and Talmanes says that the errand Mat runs for the Queen should be done soon. Olver shakes his head because he knows that Mat is on no errand for the Queen, and makes his way to the other side of the tent where Mat has a stack of paperwork waiting for his return. He finds Verin's unopened letter. After rationalizing his actions as Mat's personal messenger, Olver opens the letter, reads enough of it to know it is important and takes it to Talmanes, who at first scolds Olver for opening it. But when Olver gets insistent Talmanes breaks down and at first hesitantly, but then with more dread, reads it, after which he drops the letter, and rushes from the tent cursing.
Olver picks the letter back up, and reads it a second time, understanding it better. Verin had counted on Mat being curious and opening the letter within days of her leaving. She warns that an army of Trollocs and Myrddraal are using the Ways to enter Caemlyn through a Waygate everyone thinks is secure but is not, and if preparations are not made then Caemlyn would fall before the month is out.
Since Mat never read the letter, this information never got out.
Olver steps outside the tent and sees a harsh red glow over the city; Caemlyn is burning. Talmanes screams for his men to get ready for a fight and shouts something about saving the dragons "or we're all dead."
Olver rushes back into Mat's tent to find his hidden knife. Never again would he be a coward. It was time, the boy concludes, to fight.
Point of view: Barriga
Barriga the merchant, bleeding from a bandaged head wound flees stumbling, into the Blight. Kandor has fallen. Trollocs are raging everywhere to the south. He stumbles and falls and once again sees his caravan overrun by Trollocs. He decides he needs to make for Arafel, presuming that not all of the Borderlands could have fallen.
Climbing up a hillside, he falls. As he grows faint from blood loss, three shadowy shapes appear in front of him. At first mistaking them for Myrddraal he is relieved to see the veils and short spears of the Aiel, men of the Dragon Reborn. As they come closer he wonders why these dark-eyed Aiel are wearing red veils. One of the Aiel loosens his veil to reveal a smiling face, filled with teeth sharpened to points. As the "Aiel" takes out a knife and gleefully goes for the kill, Barriga realizes that these weren't Aiel. They are something else. Something terrible.
Point of view: Rand al'Thor
Rand sits quietly within a dream that he controls, his own dream, not Tel'aran'rhiod; he is thinking of the morrow when he is to speak his demands to the monarchs of the world in exchange for his going to Shayol Ghul to face the Dark One and wonders what he would do if they refuse. He is going to break the seals anyway no matter what Egwene says; that wasn't up for discussion. Still, it is going to be hard for them to say no, especially since he has a reputation for irrationality.
He rests in the peace of his dream. Until he hears a scream in the distance and senses pain. He follows that screaming until he comes to a door, which he wrenches open and enters a room filled with blackness. He follows the wall of the room, noting that it is round like a skull. He finally sees a glimmer of light, a candle standing on a floor of black marble. Huddled there is a woman with silver hair wearing a thin white shift. She pleads with Rand for help, claiming that he knows her. At first Rand does not recognize her, but light figuratively dawns on him and he recognizes her as Mierin. At just about that point he reaches for her but she is dragged away into a pit. He freezes, confused and unable to find calm because of the emotions roiling about inside: hatred, concern, and viperous desire. The woman is Mierin Eronaile, whom Rand once called the Lady Selene, but most people knew her by a completely different name: Lanfear.
Point of view: Lan Mandragoran
Tarwin's Gap is home to Lan; yet it is now part of the Blight. Its wide pass is rocky, and dotted here and there with blighted scrub. Yet this is Malkier, his land, and he has come home for the last time.
Trollocs are clustered on the other side of the pass, their numbers staggering; easily ten times the size of Lan's own army, twelve thousand strong and gathered as he marched through the countryside headed for this destination, this confrontation.
Something has changed recently, something wonderful. He felt Nynaeve assuming the Warder bond, and though he regretted the pain she would feel when he died (which would be soon), the bond also gives him strength.
Lan is flanked by two companions who discuss the current plan. They remind Lan that this is his land. And their words are like an elixir; he bellows defiance to the Shadow army waiting on the other side of the Gap, naming himself Lord of the Seven Towers, Defender of the Wall of First Fires, Bearer of the Sword of the Thousand Lakes, and then rejecting the title Aan'allein in favor of his true title: King of Malkier. He sends one last powerful sensation of love to his wife and starts the charge.
He well believes that this day will be Malkier's last day, but it will be a day remembered with honor. His army is made up of Kandori, Arafellin, Shienaran, Saldaean and even Malkieri troops. And leading these twelve thousand men, they charge with shouts and raised swords through the pass toward an army of one hundred and fifty thousand waiting Shadowspawn.
Background of the Dark Prophecy
- The Dark Lord provides us with three informative paragraphs that come from His book of prophecies. The actual prophet is not cited in this quotation--we only know that the snippet comes from the Prophecies of the Shadow.
- The first deals with The Dark Lord conquering the world and laying waste to the nations, and promising that only He and those who serve Him will survive.
- The second deals with the demise of a person/people called the "Fallen Blacksmith" and the "Broken Wolf," metaphors that can refer to Perrin Aybara or Elyas Machera. The timing of when this "demise" will happen is stated to be after the "the One-Eyed Fool travels the halls of mourning, and the First Among Vermin lifts his hand to bring freedom to Him who will Destroy." The "One-Eyed Fool," and the "First Among Vermin," could refer to Matrim Cauthon and Rand al'Thor, respectively.
- "The halls of mourning" probably refers to the Tower of Ghenjei.
- "The First Among Vermin [...] bring[ing] freedom to Him who will Destroy" probably means Rand breaking the final seals on the Bore.
- The third and final paragraph deals with the arrival of the "Lord of the Evening." It is prophesied that He will take our eyes, skin, and lips so that we will bow before Him, serve Him and praise him. The prophecy then says that the Lord of the Evening shall face the Broken Champion (who is probably Rand) and spill his blood and bring beautiful darkness. The prophecy closes with an encouragement for all followers of the shadow to beg for their destruction.
- Shaidar Haran
- Perrin Aybara
- Rand al'Thor
- Boundless / Noam
- Lan Mandragoran
- Kaisel Noramaga Grandson of Queen Ethenielle Kirukon Materasu
- Faile Aybara
- Egwene al'Vere
- Moiraine Damodred
- Elyas Machera
- Mat Cauthon
- Noal Charin
- Thom Merrilin
- Elayne Trakand
- Setalle Anan
- Verin Mathwin
- Bergevin quartermaster
- Thum merchant or merchant guard
- Yang merchant or merchant guard
- Rebek merchant or merchant guard
- Min Farshaw
- Mierin Eronaile / Lanfear
- Nynaeve al'Meara