Morning is nearing after three days of battle between the Great Coalition and the Aiel. Lan makes the rounds checking on the guards around the camp of three hundred. He has fought the Aiel before on the Shienaran marches. His sword, wrought with the One Power, was the sword of Malkier kings. He catches some sentries, including Basram and Jaim, nodding at their posts. Bukama has been following Lan. When Malkier fell, twenty men left with baby Lan; Bukama was one of only five who made it out and is the last left alive. They are two of the few who still wear traditional hadori, leather headbands. After crossing the Spine of the World, the Aiel ravaged Cairhien then fought through Tear and Andor before reaching Tar Valon. The Great Coalition army fighting them is near two hundred thousand.
One of the sentries named Rakim approaches leading a Tairen with silver-worked boots on horseback. The rider does not deign to give his name, but announces that Lord Emares is following a few hundred Aiel. He wants Lan to help him pin the Aiel on a spur of mountain called the Hook about three leagues east of Tar Valon. They are heading east, away from the Erinin River. Lan uses ko'di to keep his anger under control. He agrees to be in place by daylight and the rider leaves. After Lan rouses the camp, Bukama comes up with his horse Sun Lance. Caniedrin brings Lan's Cat Dancer. Lan and his forces ride to the Hook. The force of Aiel arrives before Emares and they are over two thousand. At the same time they hear trumpets in the distance. Lan prepares to attack and die but the Aiel do not attack. Instead, they suddenly stop and shout Aan'allein, "One Man Alone," in the Old Tongue, then continue east. Caniedrin and Bukama ask if they should follow, but Lan wants to find Emares to find out what happened.
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Notes (Possible Spoilers)#
[#1] The Great Coalition forces still do not realize that the Aiel are simply following Laman trying to kill him. At least some of the Aes Sedai do understand the cause. (NS,Ch2)
[#2] Indicating that he is a noble
[#3] Per the information in the Guide, the Aiel retreat began on the second day of the month of Danu. This precisely sets the timing for most of the first half of the book.
[#4] King Laman is dead. The Aiel achieved their goal so they are returning to the Aiel Waste.
[#5] Saluting Lan. Lan apparently does not realize that the Aiel know and respect him.
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