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A Memory of Light/Prologue

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<<<   By Grace and Banners Fallen    >>>
Setting: Multiple

Point of view: Bayrd

"The Dragon is reborn, old bonds are broken, old oaths done away with... and I'll be hanged before I let Andor march to the Last Battle without me."

In the camp of Jarid Sarand's remaining forces, a bubble of evil has caused all metal to lose strength and cohesion. In addition, the forest smells like dry dust. Bayrd is working on a flint spearhead, trying to remember what his father taught him. Lord Sarand raves that it is the work of Elayne Trakand and her Aes Sedai, but his men recognize it as a symptom of the Last Battle and prepare to depart without permission. Sarand accuses them of mutiny and tries to attack Bayrd, so the soldiers tie him to a tree and tell him they will send someone to rescue him once they are safely away. Bayrd believes that while the Dragon Reborn has broken all bonds of men, he has a deeper loyalty to fight for Andor.

Point of view: Talmanes Delovinde

Talmanes Delovinde, riding Selfar, brings the Band of the Red Hand up the road toward besieged Caemlyn. The streets are clogged with refugees, but they make way once Talmanes explains that his soldiers are trying to reinforce the city. Just as he meets up with Sandip and some of the Band's scouts, the Trollocs reach the gates, trying to cut off the stream of refugees. Talmanes orders the Band to move faster.

Point of view: Slayer (as Isam)

"I want him dead. I want him gutted like an animal, his bowels spilled onto the ground, his blood a milkpan for ravens, his bones left to bleach, then grey, then crack in the heat of the sun. I want him dead, hunter."

Isam awaits one of the Chosen within a pitiful excuse for an inn. The sprawling ramshackle buildings, located on the outskirts of Thakan'dar, are unaffectionately dubbed "Town by the people who live there. Uncharacteristic fear stirs within him as he looks through a window and spies red-veiled men in clothes like cadin'sor stalk the streets, scaring anyone else out of their way. They scare Isam as well, and he thinks of jumping to the safety of Tel'aran'rhiod. He knows the Samma N'Sei, the Eye Blinders, will kill for a whim or less, and quickly. However when Moridin walks down the street, even the red-veiled men duck out of view. Moridin reputedly killed at least a dozen of them when he first arrived; unlike them, Moridin can channel here. To Isam's surprise, Moridin passes the inn by without stopping. Taking a drink of fire and picking at a tasteless meal, Isam is surprised by the appearance of a slender woman garbed in Moridin's colors. Deducing that she must be one of the Chosen that he has not met, or possibly one in disguise, he kneels and the pain at the side brings thoughts of Aybara and a promise of vengeance. He receives his orders from her: kill Rand al'Thor, as directly and efficiently as possible. She orders two of the red-veiled men to accompany him, along with a number of ordinary fighters, Talentless. Isam thinks this is going to be a hateful job.

Point of view: Talmanes Delovinde

"I killed a Myrddraal tonight, Andoran. It nicked me with a Thakan'dar blade, and the wound has gone black. That means I have a few hours at best before the blade's poison burns me from the inside out and I die in the most agonizing way a man can. Therefore, friend, I suggest you trust me when I tell you that I really have nothing to lose"
   —Talmanes Delovinde

Talmanes and the Band are engaged in heavy fighting with Shadowspawn just inside the gate to Caemlyn. Talmanes has killed a Myrddraal, but took a minor wound in his side from its sword: he knows he will die without Healing. He goes back out of the gate to confront some mercenaries he saw standing idly by on their way in; he gives them a choice between helping with the hope of payment later, or dying as cowards. They assent, and he sets them to guard the gate while the Band pushes further in, trying to recover the dragons and stymie the attack on the unarmed citizenry.

Point of view: Leilwin

"My people live with a grave misconception of the world, Bayle. In doing so, they create injustice"
   —Lielwin Shipless

Leilwin and her husband make their way through the camps at the Field of Merrilor, trying to find Nynaeve al'Meara or Elayne Trakand. She wants to assist them against her own people, having seen the lie of the damane and sul'dam for herself. Sleete confronts them and asks their business in the Aes Sedai camp. They lie, saying (in Leilwin's case, with a fake Illianer accent) that Nynaeve and Elayne owe them payment for services. Sleete takes them to the camp of the Dragon Reborn instead, and delivers them to Nynaeve, warning that Leilwin at least is using a bad accent to conceal her nature. Nynaeve accepts their cover story until Sleete leaves, then berates them for losing the black metal a'dam and letting Semirhage collar Rand, nearly causing the end of the world and the war against the Shadow. Leilwin falls into despair at this, knowing that she traded the a'dam to High Lady Suroth for her life. Having lost what shreds of honor she has left, she pledges herself to be the property of the White Tower. Nynaeve dismisses this 'offer' and takes the pair of them to see the Amyrlin Seat.

Point of view: Talmanes Delovinde

"See, it is a good thing I have no sense of humor, otherwise I would think the Pattern was playing a joke on me."
   —Talmanes Delovinde

Melten is applying a poultice of blisterleaf to Talmanes' tainted wound, saying it is an old Borderlander trick to slow the poison. He will still die without Healing, but it will help for a while. He also instructs Talmanes to drink as much full-strength Shienaran brandy as he can stand while still remaining standing. Talmanes accepts the flask doubtfully, but it does seem to counteract the spreading pain. Melten names him "Dreadbane", a title given in the Borderlands for those who have killed Myrddraal. Melten tells Talmanes that when the pain gets too much, he will give him a quick death. Talmanes knows he isn't joking, but shrugs it off with a quip, instead calling for Dennel to bring maps. He says they are going to go straight for the Palace, then try to get a gateway made to the warehouse where the dragons are being stored. Ladwin and Mar come down from the streets further up, saying another fist of Trollocs is ahead of them.

Point of view: Aviendha

"He has embraced death. he may still carry a sword and wear the clothing of a wetlander, but he is ours now, finally and truly""

In a sweat tent in the Aiel camp on the Field of Merrilor, Aviendha has just told the other Wise Ones of her horrifying vision of the future of the Aiel from the glass columns in Rhuidean. Everyone is silent for a time, but then everyone speaks at once: Melaine believes it is a side-effect of Sightblinder being so close to the world; Sorilea and Bair want to test the vision to see if all women see the same future. Aviendha worries about the immutability of the vision, if it is in fact true. Kymer, a younger Wise One, points out that the visions of the past from the glass columns are unchanging, but the three rings ter'angreal shows only possible futures. Bair believes they must be changeable, as everything in Rhuidean is there to help the Aiel. Sorilea says that it does not matter; even if the vision is unchangeable, they must proceed as if the Aiel can be saved. Aviendha goes to Rand to see what she can learn of his plans for the following day. Bair stops her before she goes, asking for a gateway to Rhuidean so she can learn the truth of the vision for herself. She advises Aviendha to test the vision by changing the name of one of the children she saw, never telling anyone the original; if that can be changed, then more can be changed. Aviendha asks Bair about Nakomi, but Bair knows no one by that "ancient name." Aviendha weaves the gateway for Bair, then leaves to find Rand.

Point of view: Talmanes Delovinde

The reduced numbers of the Band have led them to an impasse; they have Trollocs ahead and behind now, and at least the ones ahead are linked to a Myrddraal. Suddenly a group of Palace Guards break through from above; Talmanes' attack let them go on the offensive finally and escape the Palace. Charlz Guybon is leading them personally; he and Talmanes argue over the best course of action. Guybon wants to defend the Palace and the refugees therein; Talmanes wants him to lead the refugees out while Talmanes finds the dragons. A scout comes up with news that the Trollocs have taken over the city walls, hemming them all in. Guybon and Talmanes agree to work together to find the dragons.

Point of view: Androl Genhald

"If his sword is at your enemy's throat, don't waste time remembering when it was at yours."
   —Old Saldean Proverb
"All men are ignorant, Aes Sedai. The topics of our ignorance may change, but the nature of the world is that no man may know everything.""
   —Androl Genhald
"Being polite to a person is not a sign of respect for them, Pevara Sedai. It is merely a sign of a good upbringing and a balanced nature."
   —Emarin Pendaloan

Androl Genhald is working on the stitches of a saddle while he converses with Pevara; she keeps trying to pump him for information, and suggests that they practice making a circle. Androl doesn't know what she's talking about, but when she explains he suggests she use some of the other Asha'man who are stronger in the One Power. She is surprised, since they all listen to him. Just then, Emarin and Canler return from scouting for gaps in the guard on the walls. They think it might work, in a rainstorm, with luck, but Canler believes Taim's lackeys know they are going to try to escape. Androl says they have to try anyway, and take as many of the non-brainwashed men and their families as possible. Pevara suggests sending a smaller group out to warn the Aes Sedai who have been cooling their heels outside the Black Tower. Telling them of the Knoks Rebellion, Androl says that the Asha'man have to rescue the Black Tower from Taim's corrupting influence themselves, not by relying on the Aes Sedai or even the Dragon Reborn. Most of them leave, but Emarin stays and deduces that Androl was part of the Knoks Rebellion, and recalls that it failed within a matter of years. Androl says they have to try anyway, and reveals that he has figured out Emarin is actually Lord Algarin Pendaloan. He asks for an hour to think of what to do next.

Point of view: Talmanes
"I found the secret to defeating them. You just have to be dead already."
   —Talmanes Delovinde

Jesamyn, the only remaining Kinswoman in the Palace, says that Talmanes wound is too far along for her skill with Healing. She is amazed he is still walking around, but he limps off to collect the Band and Guybon. They make their way to the warehouse where the dragons were stored, but it has been burned to the ground. On the point of despair, Talmanes hears a familiar booming noise from a few streets over, and runs in that direction, killing several Trollocs and surprising the Myrddraal leading them by killing it rather than flinching when it nicks him with its sword. The Trollocs linked to it die as he beheads it, revealing Aludra, the dragons, and several hundred refugees. She has been using smaller fireworks like grenades to keep the Trollocs at bay. Talmanes is overjoyed at seeing the weapons, but his wound has started to make him delirious. When scouts report yet more Trollocs behind, he asks the men to set the table for more guests, then almost falls over. They prepare to try to escape the city.

Point of view: Moghedien
"From this moment on, this man shall be known only as M'Hael. One of the Chosen"
"The last days are upon us. In these hours, you will earn your final rewards. If you have grudges, put them behind you. If you have plots, bring them to completion, for this... this is the end."

Moghedien steps through a gateway into a dreamshard of Moridin's devising, a stone platform floating on a lake of water that burns. She wonders again how sane he really is. Moridin has given her the cour'souvra pendant to wear, but has not released her soul from it. She is worried about the fragility of it, and often clutches at her throat. Demandred arrives, seemingly irritated at Moridin's incessant orders to meet, and Moridin says there are people the remaining Chosen need to meet. An unfamiliar and astonishingly ugly woman enters by gateway, and Moridin introduces her as Hessalam. After a moment Moghedien realizes this is a corrupted incarnation of Graendal, her beauty transformed into repulsiveness. Moridin begins the meeting with Hessalam's arrival, not waiting for Cyndane, (and leaving little doubt to the identity of the one who gave Isam his orders earlier). Moridin opens a literal doorway on the side of the platform and reveals Mazrim Taim, who he reveals has been elevated to the ranks of the Chosen. Taim's new name is M'Hael. Moridin orders Moghedien to assist Demandred with controlling an army that needs monitoring. He tells all of them to finish up any plots they have, discard any grudges; "for this... this is the end", he says.

Point of view: Talmanes

Talmanes has fallen to the ground from the pain of his wound, and stares at the reflected lights of the burning city as his allies argue over how to proceed. The Trollocs have them surrounded and have nearly cut off access to the city gate that Lientenant Sandip is guarding. They prepare to use the dragons in one last stand, when Talmanes seizes on a flash of inspiration and tells Dennell to aim the dragons at the city wall. Guybon protests, citing thousands of years of history, but Talmanes tells him Caemlyn is lost and gives the order. The dragons explode the wall, throwing Trollocs wide and clearing a way out of the city.








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