Mat and the leaders of his Band of the Red Hand are staying at The Golden Stag in Maerone across the river from Aringill. Mat's Redarms defeated the White Lions who were holding Maerone. After their defeat they headed east, further into Cairhien. Mistress Daelvin is the innkeeper of The Golden Stag. Mat is in the common room with his commanders Talmanes, Daerid and Nalesean. Mat flirts with Betse Silvin, one of the serving girls. She admires his foxhead medallion and asks where he got the scar on his neck. Mat tells her he was hanged for knowledge.
Mat dances with her and memories start floating up - Wearing Barsine lace and sapphire studs from Aramaelle while dancing with the Wavemistress of Clan Shodein in the court of Shaemal in Coremanda. There will soon be news that Barsine has fallen to the Trollocs. This was the beginning of the Trolloc Wars and the fall of Coremanda, Essenia, Manetheren and Eharon. His memories range from long before the Trolloc Wars to the final battle of Artur Hawkwing's rise. The Band of the Red Hand is now six thousand strong. He still worries about being linked to the Horn of Valere. Mat asks the girl if she ever heard of the Daughter of the Nine Moons but she has not.
Edorion enters the common room to remind Mat that it is time for inspections. This day they inspect the town inns. Maerone used to be a major thoroughfare of commerce and so has many inns such as The Fox and Goose, The Wagoner's Whip, The River Gate, The Erinin Inn, The Three Towers and The Silver Horn.
Edorion is of House Selorna and Nalesean is of House Aldiaya. Mat thinks Edorion is cannier than Nalesean, but House Aldiaya outranks House Selorna. Edorion heard a rumor that Rand was in town yesterday. Mat wonders how he knows. Rand did, indeed, visit Mat yesterday, gating into his room late at night. He ranted about finishing Sammael and casually mentioned that Mazrim Taim joined him. Mat and Edorion hear a disturbance down the street. Two Mindean men from Murandy, Paers and Culen, are threatening a small boy for touching their horse. Mat knocks them down. Their servant, Padry, moans over their injuries and tells Mat they are Hunters of the Horn. Mat tells one of his file leaders, Harnan, to run them all out of town. The boy says his name is Olver and that he is good with horses. The Shaido killed his father and his mother died of illness. Mat tells Edorion to take him back to The Golden Stag and get him cleaned up.
Estean runs up with news that there is a Sea Folk ship at the dock. Estean takes Mat to the docks. Mat can see a delegation disembarking at Aringill and recognizes two of them as a clan Wavemistress and her Swordmaster. The ship raises anchor and sails north toward the mouth of the Alguenya River. Mat returns to The Golden Stag and dances some more with Betse Silvin.
After midnight, Mat tells Talmanes, Daerid and Nalesean that they are leaving at dawn. The next morning Mat rides Pips as his captains, Talmanes, Daerid, Meresin, Alhandrin, Carlomin and Reimon ready their troops. Mat's banner is a red hand on a white field with his motto, Dovie'andi se tovya sagain. ("It's time to toss the dice" in the Old Tongue). Mat cites strategy from Madoc Comadrin, a general six hundred years before Hawkwing. He remembers meeting Comadrin. They will be in Tear in a month. Mat thinks that what will happen is different than what anyone but he, Rand and Bashere suspects.
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Notes (Possible Spoilers)#
[#1] And some of them eventually join Toram Riatin. (ACoS,Ch35)
[#2] This is one of Robert Jordan's most direct connections between Mat and Odin from Norse mythology.
[#3] The ship is the White Spray. The Wavemistress in the delegation is Zaida din Parede Blackwing. Her Windfinder, Shielyn, also accompanies them. They left their ship, the Blue Gull, moored in Tear. (KoD,Ch22) Harine din Togara Two Winds is still on board heading for Cairhien. (LoC,Ch28, WH,Ch11)
[#4] This secret plan is finally revealed and executed in ACoS,Ch41.
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