TFoH: News Comes to Cairhien

Rand POV#

Rand has been in Cairhien for ten days. He is on a balcony of the Sun Palace with a lovely young woman, Selande. She tries to entice him, but he terrorizes her and she runs away. He worries about the weather. Both Moiraine and Asmodean say it is the Dark One's work. He is concentrating on Sammael, building his army in Tear. There are Ogier from Stedding Tsofu in the city looking for stonemason work. About a hundred Whitecloaks left as soon as he took the city. Bael and Rhuarc are still with him. Indirian and the other clans chiefs that recently joined have acknowledged him as the Car'a'carn. Berelain sent a message. She is on her way to join him with a small army. She also asked after Perrin. He thinks he might put her in charge in Cairhien as he plans to take Meilan and the other Tairens with him.

He goes back inside the palace where Asmodean plays his harp. Meilan, Torean, Aracome, Dobraine, Maringil and Colavaere are waiting. Selande is still terrified. Dobraine reports that the soldiers are on schedule. Rand thinks that he is the only one of the nobles who might actually be loyal. Rand has the Aiel hunting bandits and brigands. Stone Dogs killed two hundred near Morelle. Maringil argues that Morgase still has troops in Cairhien and is laying claim to the Sun Throne. He sends them away. He knows that Colavaere send Selande and a string of other young women to seduce him, so he asks Colavaere to dinner just to frighten her.

Moiraine, Egwene and Aviendha enter. It is six days since he has seen Egwene. He sarcastically asks if she has any more good news about Masema or the Aes Sedai who supposedly will support him. She will not tell him where they are. Moiraine brought him two letters. The first is from Elaida. She promises to keep him alive for Tarmon Gai'don and is sending an escort to bring him to the White Tower. The second is from Alviarin Freidhen. She is his biggest fan, but warns him that others in the White Tower do not support him. She asks him to keep her letter secret, especially from Moiraine. He immediately shows both letters to Moiraine and asks her opinion. Moiraine confirms that the oaths preclude written lies as well as verbal, so Rand thinks there might be a rift in the White Tower.[1] There are clearly White Tower spies in Cairhien for news of his presence to have gotten there so fast.

Somara enters and announces Mat. He just returned to Cairhien. Rand has heard that the Band of the Red Hand is growing fast. Talmanes, Nalesean and Daerid are having to turn away recruits. Moiraine notes that the Band of the Red Hand, or Shen an Calhar in the Old Tongue, was Aemon's personal army during the Trolloc Wars. He led the band south across the Alguenya River to battle the invading Andorans. Moiraine notes that he won three battles with little loss even though the Band of the Red Hand was outnumbered each time. Mat reports that he heard Morgase is dead. Gaebril now claims to be king of Andor and Cairhien. Rand thinks Elayne, forgive me and he hears an echo in his head, Ilyena forgive me. He feels guilty because he focused on Sammael even though he knew Rahvin was in Caemlyn. Rand wants to go after him immediately, but Moiraine convinces him to wait till morning.

He sends out all but Mat, telling Asmodean to come back later. He hears a small voice telling him that Rahvin likes to attack from behind or at the flanks. Moiraine warns him that Rahvin might be with Semirhage, Graendal or Lanfear. Rand agrees that the three of them can come with him. The women leave and Rand begins giving instructions to Mat.

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Egwene POV#

At Egwene's room, Moiraine warns Egwene and Aviendha of the danger they face tomorrow, then leaves. Aviendha says she must tell Amys what they plan for tomorrow. Aviendha dragged Lady Berewin down the hall by her hair for flirting with Rand. Egwene warns her again not to tell Rand about Salidar till she is ready. After Aviendha leaves, Egwene wonders what Rand will do if Lanfear is there. She can barely eat her supper.

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Mat POV#

Mat angrily returns to his rooms after his meeting with Rand. Rand was as dogged as Hawkwing after the rout at Cole Pass.[2] He seems drawn to battle even though he tries his best to avoid it. It is evident that Rand asked him to join Weiramon and lead the army in Tear. Melindhra returns. She checks on Kadere every day. He is down by the docks looking for ships to Tar Valon. Mat tells her he will be leaving for a while and mentions Caemlyn. She immediately attacks him and tries to kill him with a dagger marked with nine golden bees.[3] He manages to fatally wound her. As she dies, she tells him some oaths are more important than others. She was a Darkfriend. Mat is very upset that he killed a woman. He realizes that the dagger means that Sammael sent her.[3] One of the Forsaken has noticed him. He feels the dice spinning in his head.[4]

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Notes (Possible Spoilers)#

[#1] If either of them consider that Alviarin might be Black Ajah it is not apparent. Rand actually believes Alviarin's letter and thinks that he has secret supporters in the White Tower. (LoC,Ch27)
[#2] A battle from Mat's memories. This is the only mention of this site.
[#3] The dagger is meant to point Rand at Sammael. It is not clear if the dagger actually came from Sammael or from one of the other Forsaken, most likely Rahvin. (TFoH,Ch34)
[#4] Mat is beginning to realize the futility of trying to avoid his destiny.

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