Rand invites Min to go to the farm with him but she is afraid. She heads back to The Crown of Roses to report. Rand has not been to the farm in too long. He needs to warn them about the presence of the embassy. Alanna and Verin are already in the city and there are rumors of another Aes Sedai who Heals stray cats. Rand can tell that Alanna is not at Culain's Hound and that she is eager. He assumes that she is at The Crown of Roses. Rand Travels to the farm leaving Enaila and Somara behind.
He is amazed at how much the farm has grown. There are now over a hundred students. Henre Haslin is teaching sword practice. Saeric, a Red Water Goshien with one hand, is teaching kicks. One of the men comes up and challenges Rand. Taim comes up and clubs him, then orders Kisman and Rochaid to haul off Torval. Taim tells Rand that they need hard discipline. Lews Therin says he should have killed him long ago. Taim says he teaches the men the little he knows of Healing first, then how not to feel the heat. Taim tells Rand that the men named the farm the "Black Tower." Rand is unhappy with the name but agrees to let it stand.
Taim assembles the students in front of a block of black stone used as a podium. From the stone Rand scans the students. He sees Jahar Narishma and other men from Shienar, Saldaea, Tarabon, Cairhien and Illian. There are men as young as Eben and Fedwin and others older than Damer. He sees a man with a farmer's face and a Tairen lord's beard. Rand tells the men that they will be called Asha'man. The word asha'man means "guardian or defender of a just cause" in the Old Tongue. Bashere gave him the word. He tells them the first level will be soldier, the second level will be Dedicated and the highest level will be Asha'man. He presents Taim the sword pin of the Dedicated and the dragon pin of the Asha'man. Taim looks furious.
Rand and Taim go into the farmhouse where Sora Grady serves them wine. Taim says he now has Damer, Grady and other older men leading recruiting parties. Rand asks Taim why he got mad about the pins and winds up shouting. Taim shakes with rage, then gets control of himself and changes the subject to the Aes Sedai in Caemlyn. Rand warns him again to stay away. Taim says he has not been there since the day with the Gray Man. Taim tells Rand there are parties of Red Ajah sisters nearby trying to intercept men on their way to the Black Tower. Lews Therin shouts that he must kill him. Rand mutters back, "You're dead." Taim now looks concerned and tells Rand he must hold on to sanity. Taim suggests a convenient "accident" for the Aes Sedai in Caemlyn. Rand warns him a third time to stay away and says he will hold Taim responsible if anything happens to them. Taim asks what if Sammael or Demandred decides to kill them? Rand tells Taim to hope it does not happen. Rand intends to teach them to dance to his flute.
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Notes (Possible Spoilers)#
[#1] This certainly sounds like Marillin of the Black Ajah.
[#2] This behavior that will greatly delay the discovery of his kidnapping and his rescue. (LoC,Ch53)
[#3] Is this the black stone of Egwene's Dream in ACoS,Ch10?
[#4] This sounds like the same man that Rand sees in Illian in TPoD,Ch22. He is Donalo Sandomere. (WH,Prologue)
[#5] Taim expresses a very odd series of emotions in this chapter. Why? See the discussion about Mazrim Taim in the FAQ, Section 1.5.6.
[#6] This would seem to be a lie, as Elaida does not send her force against the Black Tower until ACoS,Prologue.
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