Embers Falling on Dry Grass
"The sweetness of victory and the bitterness of defeat are alike a knife of dreams.
from Fog and Steel by Madoc Comadrin"
Galad Damodred POV - Galad rides his bay gelding1 along a road in Amadicia accompanied by Trom, Dain Bornhald and Jaret Byar. They are north of a mountain range that held the ancient mines of Aelgar. The Whitecloaks are now allied with the Seanchan. They are heading to a manor house once belonging to Ailron that the Seanchan gave to Eamon Valda. Galad plans to kill Valda. Bornhald and Byar told him that Valda assaulted and killed Morgase.2 Trom and Galad have both been promoted to Lord Captain because three of the high officers were killed by the Seanchan at Jeramel. At the manor there are about fifty regular Whitecloaks and a half dozen Questioners led by Rhadam Asunawa. Valda's dress is much gaudier that Niall ever wore, more gifts. Valda is angry with Trom; he is supposed to be headed to Nassad with other Lords Captain to meet with the Seanchan. Galad challenges Valda. Asunawa objects and wants to arrest Galad, but Valda overrides him and accepts. Bornhald takes Galad's cloak and sword belt while another under-lieutenant, Kashgar, takes Valda's. Galad studied under Henre Haslin and Gareth Bryne. After a fierce battle Galad kills Valda. Most of the Whitecloaks applaud, but Asunawa and the Questioners are gone. They rode toward Nassad, just over the border.3 Galad's supporters believe Asunawa has gone to talk the other Lords Captain into arresting him.4 Galad wants to seek other allies to oppose the Seanchan. A Cairhienin named Doirellin and others agree. Galad tells them they might have to ally with Aes Sedai and Asha'man if the want to fight at Tarmon Gai'don. The men reluctantly agree. Whitecloak law says it is allowable to ally with the serpent to fight the raven. They acclaim Galad the new Lord Captain Commander.4
Rodel Ituralde POV - It is near dawn as Rodel Ituralde leads a hundred Domani and three hundred Taraboners. His horse is Steady. Tornay Lanasiet leads two hundred Taraboners. They are near the village of Serana in Tarabon halfway between Elmora and Amadicia. There is a Seanchan camp nearby. He thinks of his wife Tamsin. They ride into view of the camp surprising the Seanchan and Taraboners there. The defenders mount a charge and seem to trample a few people in the field.5 Lanasiet's men charge forward, but Ituralde has his archers take out the Seanchan command along with a sul'dam and damane. After three volleys the survivors flee, pursued by Lanasiet and his men. Jaalam rides up. There are no bodies on the field where the people were standing.5 Ituralde orders him to burn the warehouse. He has twenty thousand men all over Tarabon on similar raids. He means to work his way back north and re-gather his men. He expects the Seanchan to follow in a fury. They will fall into the trap he has set in Almoth Plain. If they see the trap he has a backup plan.
High Lady Suroth Sabelle Meldarath POV - Dawn is nearing in Ebou Dar and High Lady Suroth still cannot sleep. She wonders if Tuon is alive or dead. It has been seventeen days. She thinks the escape of the Atha'an Miere damane and death of Tylin mean Tuon is dead. Someone is trying to disrupt the Return. Two of her own sul'dam, Renna and Seta, disappeared at the same time. Egeanin Tamarath stole a pair of damane and also disappeared. If Tuon is, indeed, dead Suroth will have to apologize to the Empress. If that happens she will kill herself before reaching Seandar. She still has some hope. Tuon's der'sul'dam6 left nine days ago with all her sul'dam and damane. Captain Musenge left at the same time with many of his men. She worries that someone may suspect she is Atha'an Shadar, a Darkfriend. The door opens and Liandrin enters dressed as da'covale. Almandaragal, her lopar, prepares to defend her. Liandrin professes her loyalty citing how she killed Alwhin. She brings a message from an officer of Captain-General Galgan to summon Suroth. Suroth thinks it is time to have a sul'dam collar Liandrin; she will send Elbar to find another Darkfriend.7 She sends Liandrin to Rosala for a beating then goes to her anteroom where Banner-General Mikhel Najirah awaits. She has a screen decorated with a kori, a huge spotted cat from the Sen T'jore. He escorts her through the palace where Beslan is now king. Captain-General Lunal Galgan's ancestors date back to Luthair Paendrag. He tells her that raken began arriving three hours ago with reports from Lieutenant-General Turan of dozens of raids in Tarabon. Rodel Ituralde was behind them. She orders them to bring her Ituralde's head. She orders Captain of the Air Yulan to put most of his raken on the hunt. He wants to save some for Banner-General Khirgan and to search for the Aiel and seven thousand deserter Whitecloaks in Amadicia. Galgan does not object as long as he has the to'raken he needs for Altara and Illian. She returns to her rooms where Semirhage appears masked in fire. Semirhage offers to make her Empress. Suroth is terrified, but Semirhage tells her that Empress Radhanan and all the imperial family is dead. Seandar is in chaos and there is war from the Aldael Mountains to Salaking. She laughs and says, "Let the Lord of Chaos rule." Suroth is horrified that even one of the Da'concion, the Chosen Ones, could do that. Semirhage orders her to put all her efforts to killing Tuon and to expanding the rumor that she is an impostor. Suroth agrees. She will send Elbar with thousands of men.
Pevara POV - Pevara and Javindhra meet with Tsutama Rath, the Red Ajah Highest, in her ornately decorated room. Tsutama heard rumors from Dumai's Wells that three of the dead sisters were Red.8 She ordered Tarna and Katerine to keep silent but there are too many eyes-and-ears reports. Katerine reported that Galina was killed. Duhara, the third Sitter, left on a ship over a week ago.9 Tsutama has a letter from Sashalle Anderly. It confirms Toveine's letter which laid all the blame on Elaida. Logain is no longer gentled. He and Toveine left with the Asha'man, several other sisters and Warders to find Rand and are probably with him. Several sisters swore fealty to the Dragon Reborn until Tarmon Gai'don. Sashalle, Irgain Fatamed and Ronaille Vevanios were Healed by Damer Flinn. The great blast of the One Power was twelve days ago. Tsutama decides that the only course forward is Pevara's plan to bond the Asha'man. She orders Pevara and Javindhra to arrange it. Javindhra behaves oddly. Afterwards Pevara goes to a meeting with Yukiri, passing Adelorna Bastine on the way. Yukiri reports that she broke Marris Thornhill. Her one other Black Ajah contact outside her heart is with the rebels. Talene gave up Atuan who gave up Marris and Karale Sanghir, but they are now at a dead end. There is a Black Ajah Supreme Council meeting tonight, with Talene ordered to attend so Saerin hid her in a basement. Pevara wants bring in Zerah and the others and attack the meeting, but Yukiri convinces her it is a bad idea. The Gray Ajah learned of Toveine's disaster from Akoure Vayet. Only the Gray Ajah head and the Sitters including Evanellein know. Yukiri's language is becoming as coarse as Doesine's. Seaine arrives. The White Ajah learned of the Black Tower disaster from Ayako Norsoni. She also reports that Elaida finally made clear that her mission was to find treason in Alviarin, not to hunt the Black Ajah. They are no longer certain that Elaida is not Black Ajah herself.
Alviarin Freidhen POV - Alviarin retrieves a secret message and returns to her quarters. She is still overwhelmed by her experience with Shaidar Haran, the Great Lord in her eyes. She passes Seaine and Ferane on the way. The whole White Ajah is ashamed of her for being demoted from Keeper. She passes Astrelle and Tesan who are discussing the statistical methods of Radun and Covanen. She passes Ramesa and Norine who spurn her. She is still sore from her penances with Silviana. Katerine spread the news of Dumai's Wells through the Black Ajah. In her rooms she decodes the message and two others. One reports that Talene left the White Tower yesterday, before the Supreme Council meeting. Alviarin is now certain there was something between her and Yukiri and Doesine. Alviarin is afraid to call Mesaana who probably wants to kill her. She writes orders to find Talene and to keep close watch on Yukiri and Doesine.
Galina Casban POV - Wearing gai'shain white, Galina rides her horse Swift outside the Shaido camp. She plans to repay Elaida. Therava still owns her; she cannot channel without her permission. Sevanna almost never lets her. Her goal is to get that Oath Rod so she can remove those oaths. Gaul and Fager Neald kidnap her. She threatens that Therava and Sevanna will punish them. They bring her through a gateway to Perrin's camp. Neald has Noren take her horse, then they bring her to Perrin's tent. She overhears the end of a conversation about arranging a meeting.10 Perrin, Berelain, a soldier11 and a man in a black coat12 are in the tent. Galina recognizes Berelain. From Dumai's Wells she realizes that Neald and the other black coated man are Asha'man and nearly panics. Despite her clothes she claims she is on Aes Sedai business with Sevanna. She claims that Faile and Alliandre are under her protection in Malden. She gives her name as Alyse. Berelain offers to let her speak with Masuri Sokawa, Seonid Traighan and Annoura Larisen, but Galina declines. Perrin has her verify the accuracy of maps of Malden and the surrounding Shaido camp. She asks him to hold off his attack for a week so she can conclude her affairs. He does not commit, then asks her about the Wise Ones drinking only water.13 He asks her to warn Faile to go to Lady Cairen's fortress at the north end of the city and hide when she hears wolves during the day. Lying, Galina says she will. A lean serving woman with a gray bun14 enters to light lamps. After retrieving her horse Neald takes her back to the Shaido camp. She is late and Therava punishes her. She plans to get the Oath Rod, kill Faile and her friends, and escape.
Egwene al'Vere POV - Egwene awakes riding in a carriage through Tar Valon from Northharbor to the White Tower. There are five Aes Sedai with her, Katerine Alruddin and Barasine of the Red Ajah, Felaana of the Brown, Pritalle Nerbaijan of the Yellow and Berisha Terakuni of the Gray. The sisters of different Ajahs are nearly at each other's throats. Jala and Merym went ahead to report to Elaida. They gave her forkroot; she tries to remember what Nynaeve told her about it. She wonders if Romanda or Lelaine will be raised after her. Pritalle's Warder is Harril. Egwene tells them she converted the harbor chain to cuendillar. The coach reaches the White Tower and they disembark. Nicola Treehill in novice white waits at the back entrance. She tells them Elaida wants Egwene sent to Silviana. She apologizes to Egwene for running away and says Areina is with her. Pritalle and Harril go to stable his horse Bloodlance. Felaana and Berisha also leave. Katerine and Barasine escort Egwene into the White Tower. Inside they run into Melare who was with Zanica, Arebis and Desala at Southharbor. They captured Leane. She converted half the chain there. Katerine and Barasine take her to Silviana Brehon. Elaida has her reduced to novice, but otherwise not punished her, blaming everything on the rebel leaders. Silviana says Sheriam Bayanar was too lenient. Egwene tells her she is a Dreamer and warns her about the coming Seanchan attack. Katerine and Barasine escort her to the novice quarters where she goes to sleep and enters Tel'aran'rhiod. She will warn Siuan about what happened then start working on the White Tower from within.
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