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The Eye of the World/Chapter 21

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< The Eye of the World

"Do you think I can stand face-to-face with a woman who can touch the True Source and channel the One Power, even if only now and then, without knowing what she is?"
   —Moiraine Damodred

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Setting: The banks of the River Arinelle

SummaryEdit

Point of view: Nynaeve al'Meara

Sunrise finds Nynaeve asleep against a tree in a hollow a little way back from the riverbank. The light wakens her horse, which in turn wakens her. She admonishes herself for being unable to stay awake one night. Deeply unsettled by the recent events, she reflects on her escape from Shadar Logoth. She had avoided the Trollocs until she was out in the forest, whereupon a group of ten had made a charge at her until they had caught the scent of something, or someone, else, and bounded away without giving her a second glance. Annoyingly, it seems Moiraine has been right all along.

She decides to head downriver, keeping an eye out for tracks. Despite never having been further from Emond's Field than the boys until now, she is willing to head all the way to Tar Valon if she doesn't find her fellow villagers.

After some miles, finding only confused jumbles of tracks that could be anything, she detects the smell of woodsmoke. Not knowing if the camp may hold friend or foe, she approaches as carefully as she can, and soon comes upon the Aes Sedai and her Warder; she hangs back to observe them. The pair are discussing the disappearance of the nearby Trollocs and the lack of any clear sign of where the Emond's Field boys went - Nynaeve noting Lan's lack of success in that regard as vindication of her own. Of more concern to Lan is how so many Trollocs, near a thousand by his reckoning, could be moved so far south without being seen, and what implications this has for the fight against the Shadow. Moiraine has no good answer, aside from a fervent wish that none of the Forsaken are loose. Of the boys, Moiraine says that one is across river and safe, but the location of the others, while downriver, has faded away due to a bond having been broken; the statement puzzles Nynaeve. Moiraine begins to fret over opposition she may face, not only from the Dark One but from other Aes Sedai of the White Tower, until she suddenly realizes that Nynaeve is watching them, which startles Lan, and beckons her out.

Embarrassed, but satisfied that at least the Warder was unaware of her presence, Nynaeve emerges and immediately begins to berate Moiraine over her plots to use the Emond's Field boys. The Aes Sedai is nonplussed, enraging Nynaeve, but then drops a bombshell on the Wisdom, saying that the only reason she became aware of her presence was because Nynaeve is capable of wielding the One Power herself. Though disbelieving, she is forced to question herself as Moiraine systematically dismantles her flimsy excuses and denials.

Moiraine describes how after first using the Power, even unknowingly, the channeler will experience a reaction to it, occurring perhaps a week to ten days after the event. That reaction may include rapidly passing bouts of fevers and chills, combined headaches, numbness, feelings of exhilaration or perhaps giddiness, and the taking of risky actions out of one's normal character. Nynaeve remembers such times clearly—the remembrance shocks her to the core—but still she refuses to believe. Moiraine goes on to describe an affinity that develops between a channeler and a person upon whom they have practiced Healing; she presumes that the Wisdom has in the past Healed either Egwene or Perrin, perhaps both, which allowed her to make a beeline to the inn in Baerlon where the two were staying. Nynaeve absently confirms that it was Egwene; she recalls how she had always taken for granted that she could somehow sense the approach of people she knew, never correlating the fact that her cures had previously worked remarkably well on them, with that ability.

Disgusted that she herself can touch the True Source like "a filthy Darkfriend Aes Sedai", Nynaeve maintains that if she learned to survive the use herself, then Egwene can do the same without it being necessary to take her to Tar Valon. Moiraine disagrees however, explaining that it is not the reactions to the use of the Power - which occur more quickly with each usage until the two occur near simultaneously, then cease - that are a problem, but the fact that 75% of those born with the ability die screaming and convulsing within two to five years after the last reaction occurs, if they are not found and given proper training.

Even if she had not been aware of two apprentice Wisdoms who died in those circumstances, Nynaeve realizes that the truth can no longer be denied. Moiraine tells Nynaeve that she may have even more potential than Egwene, both could perhaps be the most powerful Aes Sedai seen in centuries, which nearly pushes the Wisdom back into denial; she instead settles for asking Moiraine not to divulge her secret to anyone else. Moiraine nods assent.

Nynaeve recalls her initial concern, and demands of Moiraine what she wants with the Emond's Field boys. Moiraine answers that the Dark One wants them, and for that reason - and what better? - she will oppose it.

Moiraine announces their departure to Lan, minus the Wisdom. Nynaeve believes the Aes Sedai wishes rid of her, and states her intention to come along. Moiraine considers the other woman's role in the Pattern with Lan, and regrets not talking to Min in more detail. Lan seems more diffident and respectful of Nynaeve, even going so far as to call her by name. Nynaeve, already annoyed by the pair's obtuse conversation and lack of explanations, takes the Warder's new approach for mockery. He leaves to fetch her horse, and Nynaeve anticipates revenge, imagining him returning empty-handed having been unable to detect her trail.

While the Warder is away, Moiraine answers Nynaeve's prodding about their chosen southerly course, explaining the nature of her bond with the boys via the coins she gave to them. As long as the coins are in their possession, she can follow them, and while she can sense a coin across the river to the east, the two trails that passed downriver can no longer be detected. Moiraine's apparent lack of interest in Egwene irks Nynaeve, but Moiraine patiently explains that it is the boys that are the Dark One's primary concern. Moiraine's placidity, and her own impotence, nearly overwhelm Nynaeve and she turns away from the Aes Sedai to cover the tears welling in her eyes. Lan returns with Nynaeve's horse, and is startled and apparently concerned to see her condition; again she misinterprets his reaction as mockery.

As she follows the Aes Sedai and the Warder from the forest, Nynaeve's resolve hardens. If Moiraine's plots and plans do not end in them finding the Emond's Fielders all safe and well, then she had best beware of Nynaeve; if she can indeed use the One Power, she can use it against Moiraine.

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