"A man could get killed in this"
   —pure Mat Cauthon

External summary

<<<   Heading South    >>>
Setting: halfway to Tear
Point of view: Matrim Cauthon

Mat and the Band are heading south to meet up with other forces arrayed to invade Illian. It has been eleven days since they left Maerone and they are just over half way. Chel Vanin returns from scouting and insists Mat see something he found. A Tinker caravan was attacked and everyone killed. One of the Tinkers used his own blood to write on one of the wagons, "TELL THE DRAGON REBORN," but nothing indicated what he was to be told. Mat has the wagon burned to avoid rumors and arranges for the bodies to be buried.

Mat has trouble getting to sleep inside his tent so he heads outside to lay in the grass for a while. He hears a sound and looks back toward his tent and sees a group of Aiel setting up to attack the tent. Mat calls out to rouse the camp but the Aiel attack him and he makes a desperate defense until his troops come to his aid. The Aiel attackers are defeated but at a high cost. Mat decrees that from now on the Band will be digging a ditch with a log palisade every night to protect the camp―even if the men grumble about the extra work. When Mat inspects his tent and the area he finds that a Gateway was used to bring the Aiel, meaning one of the Forsaken was involved.

Mat hears footsteps and nearly attacks Olver before recognizing him. Mat thought Olver was supposed to be left in Maerone, but now he appears to be a camp mascot. Olver shows Mat his Snakes and Foxes board. Mat hires him to be his messenger.