The returning scouts are Elyas Machera and Elienda. The Maiden goes to report to the Wise Ones. Elyas reports that they found the Shaido camped around a large town forty miles east. There are nine or ten septs with at least ten thousand spear fighters. Perrin knows that many septs would also have about fifty Wise Ones who can channel. Aram wants to attack anyway, but Elyas puts him down. Arganda suggests a ransom. Marline says it is against customs, but the Shaido have broken so many that they may consider it. Berelain offers her jewels and gold. Gallenne says it would be foolish to trust the Shaido and give away their position. Annoura counters, suggesting negotiation.
Perrin ends the discussion saying no ransom. He wants Elyas to show him the camp. Perrin recalls Nat Torfinn, a blind man who could work blacksmith's puzzles by touch, but Perrin must see a puzzle to work it. He sends Aram to bring Grady to the Traveling ground. Elyas smells the Darkhound trace. A Shadowbrother is the soul of a wolf corrupted by the Shadow. Darkhound and wolves will fight in the Last Battle. The Pattern is so complex it makes Sovarra lace look simple. Darkhound can eat the souls of wounded wolves turning them into more Darkhound. Perrin wonders if they can eat the soul of a Wolfbrother. Perrin paces with Stepper until Aram, Dannil and two dozen Two Rivers scouts arrive with Jur Grady. He is tired, but Fager Neald is just as tired and Grady is a bit stronger. He makes a gateway and Perrin rides through followed by Marline, Aram and the Two Rivers men, Gallenne and some Mayeners, Arganda and some Ghealdanin, and finally Annoura and Grady. The gateway is bigger than the first one Perrin remembers Grady making. Arganda fought in the Aiel War at Tar Valon.
They work their way upslope and meet Sulin and Tuandha. The Shaido sent some of the people from the city north. Jondyn Barran, Get Ayliah and Hu Marwin followed to get information. Gaul and the other Maidens are circling the city again. From the top of the slope they can see the entire area. The size of the city and the camp is daunting. Marline reports sensing too many channelers. She thinks all the Shaido channeling Wise Ones, between four and five hundred, are down there. Annoura says, "Oh, Light!"
A road leads north and south from the city. There is an aqueduct that brings water from a lake five miles north. Suddenly colors erupt in Perrin's head and he sees an image of Rand and Nynaeve facing each other. He forces the image away. Grady, Marline and Annoura are looking northwest and are badly shaken. Annoura wonders if the Forsaken have a sa'angreal or maybe even the Dark One is loose. She wants to go investigate, but Perrin tells them it is Rand's business. He orders Sulin to get him some prisoners. He will solve the puzzle, free Faile and destroy the Shaido.
More Perrin POV
Notes (Possible Spoilers)#
[#1] The town is Malden. (CoT,Ch9)
[#2] Sevanna kept all the Wise Ones who can channel with her so the total is, indeed, over four hundred. (ACoS,Ch40)
[#3] Unlike women, the ultimate strength of male channelers cannot be predicted. They grow in strength in irregular spurts.
[#4] Although Annoura's actions have been suspicious, this seems an odd spontaneous reaction from a Darkfriend.
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