"I wonder what the Women's Circle would say about the Wisdom dancing?"
   —Rand al'Thor (about Nynaeve al'Meara)

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Setting: The Stag and Lion Inn, Baerlon, Caemlyn Road

Summary Edit

Point of view: Rand al'Thor

After parting with Nynaeve, Rand heads for the inn's common room. There he finds a crowd gathered, listening to Thom recite stories from The Great Hunt of the Horn. Rand finds a spot to sit between Mat and Perrin, and listens to Thom tell story after story.

Eventually, the gleeman puts down his harp and picks up his flute, signaling the end of stories for the evening. The first song is somewhat slow and melancholy, but the next ones are livelier; Rand and Perrin quickly jump up to dance, leaving Mat to guard their things. As Rand dances his way around the room, he notices a scar-faced man who seems to be scowling at him. The man is quickly forgotten, however, when Rand finds his next dancing partner is Nynaeve.

Rand stumbles through his steps with the Wisdom, and as they change partners again she teases him that she had thought him a better dancer. He hardly has time to gather himself, though, as he has to dance with Moiraine next. When Rand gets the chance to dance with Egwene, he acquits himself better, but still can't muster the will to speak to her since their earlier quarrel.

The group dances on through the evening, and Rand manages to improve his poise when dancing with Nynaeve and Moiraine again. Around midnight, the Aes Sedai retires for the evening; Egwene hurries after her, but not without casting a worried glance toward Nynaeve. Nynaeve then joins in on one more dance before she too returns to her room, clearly believing she has outdone Moiraine in some way.

Soon after, Thom begins putting his instruments away and Lan drops in to gather up the stragglers. Rand is surprised to hear Mat telling Lan about a scar-faced man that has been staring at him, but when he looks around he finds the man is no longer in the room. Lan says he may be a Whitecloak spy, but that it's no concern to them. Rand says he's going to get some milk from the kitchen, and Lan warns him not to wander far, saying that there's something wrong.

As Rand heads for his room sipping his milk, a Fade approaches from the end of the hall. The Halfman asks Rand where the others are, but Rand is unable to either answer or run away. As the sound of boots running in the upstairs hallway is heard, the Fade swings its sword at Rand's head, then stops at the last moment, saying that Rand belongs to the Great Lord of the Dark.

The Myrddraal vanishes from the hall just before Lan comes crashing down the stairs. Now the group must leave immediately, since their location has been found out. Thom and Nynaeve decide to go with them. As they make hurried preparations to depart, Moiraine cautions the innkeeper to disassociate himself from them as well as he can, but Master Fitch politely ignores her advice. As they mount their horses, Rand apologizes to Egwene for their argument, and it seems to make her feel better.

When the group reaches the Caemlyn Gate to leave the city, the watchman must be persuaded -- via soft words and hard currency -- to open the gate. As soon as the gate begins to open, however, five Whitecloaks appear, disputing the right of the party to leave the city at night. One of them is Dain Bornhald, the man Mat and Rand had encountered earlier, who fell victim to Mat's practical joke. When he recognizes Rand, he threatens to take the group to the Whitecloak camp for questioning.

Now Moiraine, who had stayed back out of the light at the approach of the Children, moves forward to challenge Bornhald. She speaks in a thunderous voice that comes from all directions at once, asking if a Whitecloak would dare to question her. Instantly recognizing her for an Aes Sedai, the man draws his sword and strikes at her, but she raises her staff and easily blocks the blade. Bornhald's sword is left bent and smoking and he is knocked back into his men; they all go down in a heap. Moiraine is now towering taller than the town's walls, and at Lan's urging the party charges past the downed men through the gate into the night. Some distance from the wall, Lan stops the group to wait for Moiraine, and Rand looks back to see her step over the town wall. The town's watchmen then slam shut and bar the gate behind them, despite the protests of the Whitecloaks.

As Lan starts moving everyone down the Caemlyn Road, Mat looks back to see flames lighting up the night sky over Baerlon and Moiraine knows right away that it is the Stag and Lion that is burning. Some of the group question why they would not go back to help, but Moiraine points out that that could give the Dark One exactly what he wants.

A few hours before dawn the group stops to rest for just an hour, then continues east down the road.












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