|<<< Wolfbrother >>>|
|Setting: Wilderness between Shadar Logoth and Caemlyn|
- Point of view: Perrin Aybara
Perrin Aybara and Egwene al'Vere are beginning their journey to Caemlyn. Both argue about who should be allowed to ride Bela, Perrin feeling that Egwene should be the sole rider, and Egwene believing that they should trade off. Finally, Perrin agrees that they shall take turns, but insists with an iron will that Egwene be the first to ride, suddenly threatening to put her in the saddle if she continues to argue. Egwene smiles, and mounts. Though they continue to switch places at frequent intervals, Perrin is never really very comfortable in the saddle of diminutive Bela. The first day of their travel Perrin tries a little hunting with sling and snare. He is able to fetch a rabbit.
When he returns to the camp, which Egwene has remained behind to set up, he finds Egwene having set the wood for a fire but is sitting before it with her eyes closed. She is trying to light the fire with the One Power. Unnerved by her attempt, failure that it is, he offers to make a fire bow and demands that Egwene forsake her attempts to start a fire with the One Power. She refuses, informing him that she has lost her flint. He backs down but does manage to extract a promise from her not to try again that night. She continues to try on consequent nights, but is never really successful though some nights she generates a trickle of smoke.
The rabbit is the last hot meal they have for a while, subsisting on “coarse wild tubers” and other wild vegetables. They become very hungry, seeing little game to feed themselves. Though they make good time, they see little evidence of civilization.
Two days away from the river the land through which they travel changes to thickly forested hills. Such landscape lasts for a day before it flattens out again, though this time they walk through forest broken by glades sometimes a mile or more in length. The touch of winter is still on the land and in the air.
Perrin is walking and Egwene riding when they detect smoke and the smells associated with cooking. Feeling unsure of his ability to use it, Perrin arms himself with his axe. He tells Egwene to stay put. She acquiesces reluctantly as he moves off to investigate. He finds a lean, sun-browned man tending a campfire and leaning against an oak tree.
The man is queerly dressed in animal skins, most of which still have the hair attached. His graying brown hair, which hangs down to his waist, is tied at the top of his neck with a leather strap, and he sports a thick beard fanning across half his chest. The man is armed with a knife long enough to be a sword, and a bow and arrows. He is cooking six rabbits over the fire. The man offers to feed Perrin and Egwene, admitting that he hasn’t seen them eat in a couple of days.
After he gets over his surprise at being tailed for the last several days, and then his anger for the slight insult, his hunger persuades him to ignore the sharp words of the stranger and he calls Egwene to join them. Perrin introduces himself, and the strange man reciprocates with the name Elyas Machera. Perrin shakes his hands and then notices with some startlement that the man’s eyes are golden. Egwene appears and notices the rabbits but not the eyes.
They fall to, their hunger making them hasty. Elyas waits until they have had their fill before asking them what they are doing out in the middle of the wilderness. Egwene admits that they are going to Caemlyn, at which Elyas bursts out into raucous laughter. He informs them that they are going to pass 100 miles to the north of Caemlyn if they continue on the path they have been following. Egwene primly informs them that they were going to ask directions, and Elyas, still laughing though much more gently, informs them that there’s no one to ask all the way to the Spine of the World.
Perrin, disturbed by the man’s mirth, muses that they may be eating with a madman. Egwene waits for Elyas to stop laughing and politely asks the man to show them the way. That is enough to sober him up. He admits to a general dislike of cities and people in general because “they don’t like my friends.” The only reason he helped them is because they were stumbling around like a couple of newborn cubs. Egwene presses the man who orders them to be still because his friends are coming.
Suddenly Bela panics as shadows move up. Elyas orders Perrin to make Bela be quiet, informing him that the newcomers will not hurt Bela, or them for that matter, if they do not move.
Four wolves walk into the clearing, and Perrin can see many more pairs in the darkness. Perrin reaches for his axe, but Elyas warns him not to do that.
The four wolves are staring at Perrin and he gets the feeling that all the wolves are copying them. He cautiously drops his hand away from the axe and imagines that the tension among the wolves drops. Bela quiets, but is still fearful, the wolves ignore her.
Egwene asks if they are tame and Elyas answers sarcastically that wolves don’t tame. They are his friends and he converses with them, hunts with them, keeps them company. After Egwene dismisses the possibility of conversation, Elyas briefly explains that it is not really conversation but the exchange of feeling. Perrin notes that for all his gruffness, Elyas seems pleased to be talking to two humans. He asks Elyas how he learned to talk to wolves. He replies that the wolves found out that he could. They found him, not the other way around. He was considered touched by the Dark One because wolves appeared wherever he was. Normal people began avoiding him and those who would associate with him were not the kind of people he wanted to associate with. He says that every wolf remembers the history of all wolves, or at least the shape of history and wolves remember a day when they hunted with men.
Egwene finds the concept intriguing and asks Elyas to teach them how to talk to them and he tells her that it can’t be taught. Then he drops a bombshell by revealing that the wolves say that Perrin can talk to them.
Perrin is convinced by this that Elyas is mad.
Elyas once again demands to know why they are out in the wilderness. Egwene begins telling their practiced cover story telling the strange man that they are from Saldaea. Elyas denounces it for a lie, saying that Dapple (one of the wolves) says so. After a feeble protest and a stray action by Perrin (he reaches for his axe which causes all four wolves to rise up), Egwene offers to leave Elyas’ cozy camp since he considers them liars. Elyas retorts that he would want nothing better except that he wants to know about the trollocs and half-men. When Egwene was telling her story the wolves could smell them in the story. He strongly advises them to tell the truth because some of the wolves think they might make a tasty dinner, also expressing the hope that they are not darkfriends because he hates killing people after feeding them. Finally, he advises them to tell the truth because the wolves will know if they do not. It is at this point that Perrin realizes that Elyas’ eyes are wolf’s eyes.
Egwene looks at Perrin as if she wanted him to make the decision. Perrin decides to come clean and starts the tale back in Emond’s Field, when Matrim Cauthon saw the man with the black coat. It takes a long time but it seems to satisfy the wolves. He finishes the story by revealing that they are going to Caemlyn in hopes of rejoining Moiraine Damodred, though she is not mentioned by name, and that if she is not found in Caemlyn, then they will continue on to Tar Valon.
In responding to Perrin’s tale, Elyas reveals that he is not fond of Aes Sedai, who have tried to gentle him. He called sisters from the Red Ajah some pretty nasty names after they caught him once. He also admits that he did not like killing warders, calling it nasty business.
Perrin asks if talking to wolves is a manifestation of the One Power and Elyas says no, that it is an old thing, old as humankind. Aes Sedai do not like these new demonstrations of old things because they say that it is a sign that things are falling apart. There is a quick mention of the Amyrlin Seat, suggesting that he has perhaps had dealings with her, but details are lacking to give us any more information on what he means. Perrin admits a disinclination to trust Aes Sedai as well, a comment which Egwene does not like. He continues, however, by saying that because they have trollocs and Darkfriends after them they have no choice.
Elyas looks like he is having a conversation with the wolves, a conversation that Perrin thinks he can almost hear. In his own head he denies that he can talk to wolves and one of the four surrounding Elyas looks directly at him and grins. Perrin realizes that it is Hopper and wonders how he knew that wolf’s name is Hopper.
Elyas offers to let them stay with him and his wolves, saying that it would be very safe. Perrin admits to some doubt as to the wisdom of such a move since more than trollocs are after them. Elyas laughs and says that the eyeless ones can easily be handled by the pack. The wolves will accept Perrin because he can talk to wolves and will accept Egwene because she is with him.
Perrin protests that he cannot talk to wolves. Elyas laughs and tells him that he can “play the goat” if he wants to. Perrin protests more strongly, but is interrupted by Egwene, who states flatly that they are going to Caemlyn, and then on to Tar Valon. Perrin, taken aback that she spoke for him, chides her for it, but he agrees with her that he is continuing on to Caemlyn.
Elyas says that is what the wolf he calls Dapple said they would say, also remarking that Egwene is firmly planted in the human world while Perrin is planted halfway between. He then agrees to go with them to keep them safe and to make sure they have food to eat.
Suddenly the wolves stand and there is a confrontation between the one called Dapple and the one called Burn. Burn dashes off into the night to find and kill trollocs. Dapple resumes her seat. Elyas explains that there was just a confrontation where Burn insisted on hunting trollocs. He then reiterates that he will help them on their journey. Egwene thanks him but tells him that it is not necessary if he will just give them directions. He insists that he will, hinting that Dapple, who is named the leader of the pack, and hinting that her authority extends even over him, has said so. He then avers that in the morning he will head south with them.
As the chapter closes, Perrin is sitting quietly. He feels Burn and a dozen more of the young male wolves leaving. He wants to pretend that it is all just Elyas making him think he can hear these wolf thoughts, but he cannot. The last sentence describes the sharp penetrating thought of Burn as the wolf bounds away, which mixes hatred and the taste of blood.
- Emond's Field
- Spine of the World
- Shadar Logoth
- Tar Valon
- River Arinelle
- Aiel Waste
- Sea of Storms
- ↑ It's not clear if this is a term from Elyas or from the wolves but it is from the very distant past