Mat and Thom arrive at Aringill on the Gray Gull. Captain Huan Mallia is glad to see them go because Mat won all his money and ate all his food. There are numerous ships about including a bluff-bowed ship still far to the north. There is a stream of barges bringing Cairhienin refugees from the smaller town across the river. Mat thinks the killers were after him because of Elayne's letter. He opened it and showed it to Thom as well but it seemed innocuous. They go to look for an inn, but The Riverman as well as the next four are full. The enter The Good Queen and are again turned away, but Mat offers a huge sum to the innkeeper, Jeral Florry, who allows them to stay in his stable. Mat then gambles with him and wins two horses.
As they bed down in a stable, a woman enters pulling a cart. A lantern lights immediately and Thom and Mat wonder how that happened so fast. Four men follow her in. She is Aludra, the Mistress of the Illuminator chapter house in Cairhien. The leader of the men is Tammuz. Mat attacks the men knocking them out with his quarterstaff. Aludra explains that she was expelled because of the disaster at the show for King Galldrian. Thom disparagingly notes that he is now dead. Aludra explains that the men are out to kill her because she continues to ply her trade in fireworks. As a reward, she gives Mat a bundle of fireworks along with dire warnings about mishandling them. She especially warns him never to cut one open. Mat remembers trying to cut one open when he was ten. He also remembers the licking he got from Bran al'Vere, Doral Barran and his father. Thom asks how she lit the lantern so fast, but she merely smiles. She will not give away all her secrets. She departs saying she will head for Lugard. Mat and Thom decide to ride on rather than have to explain four injured men to the local constables.
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Notes (Possible Spoilers)#
[#1] This could well be the Darter with Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve aboard!
[#2] The town is Maerone.
[#3] They were after Mat, not the letter.
[#4] Aludra has invented matches.
[#5] More evidence that Thom was responsible for his death.
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