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The Eye of the World/Chapter 24

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< The Eye of the World

"I will go home, one day, when I can. I'll raise sheep, like... like my father, and if I never leave home again, it will be too soon... As soon as we can we're going home and forget all this even exists..."
   —Rand al'Thor

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<<<   Flight Down the Arinelle    >>>
Setting: Aboard the Spray, as it sails down the Arinelle

SummaryEdit

Point of view: Rand al'Thor

Rand is moving through the streets of a maze, a dank, murky maze smelling of the grave. He feels like he is immersed in that smell. He notices some motion out of the corner of his eye and freezes near a wall, feeling exposed; it is no hiding place where he has stopped. He sees the motion and discovers that it is a man in a blood-red coat that ripples as he walks. The man is looking for something or someone. Rand notices that his eyes glow like two red furnaces and recognizes him for Ba'alzamon. He studies the approaching man for a moment and decides that his only option is to keep moving and to not think. Meanwhile he is musing that he is in an illusion.

He wonders about Mat Cauthon briefly and worries for him. He also mentally reminisces about the two or three close encounters he has had as he flees through this maze. He wonders if this is a nightmare or Baerlon all over again. He also muses about thoughts that he should not think, and what happens when he does.

It is hot and dusty in this maze and he has been in it a long time. He walks over smooth stones covered with dust that threaten to make him sneeze. He tries breathing through his mouth and it chokes him.

Again, he speculates that he is in a dangerous place, and has already had two to three encounters with Ba’alzamon but he doesn't remember how he escaped, only that he did. He reminds himself that it is dangerous to think too much.

He stops to look at the thorn bushes making up the maze hedge and touches one of the thorns, which painfully pricks him. He reels back, shaking blood from the burning wound. His foot overturns a stone and he realizes that it is a human skull, and then notices that there are plenty of other stones that look just like that one. He continues on hesitantly, and thinks that things may not be what they seem here, but suppresses the thought. It's too dangerous to think here. He grabs hold of himself and sucks his pricked finger, which has almost stopped throbbing. He moves in the direction he is facing. Remembering a rule of thumb about finding one's way out of a maze, he takes two right turns and finds himself face-to-face with Ba'alzamon who is surprised to see him. The man asks Rand how long he expects to be able to evade him and once again claims that Rand is his.

Distressed, Rand mutters twice, "light help me," fumbling for a sword that is not there. He does not know what the expression means. Ba'alzamon sneers out, "The Light will not help you and the Eye of the World will not serve you. You are my hound and if you will not course at my command, I will strangle you with the corpse of the Great Serpent!" Rand suddenly realizes that he is dreaming. Ba'alzamon is amazed at this and shimmers away into nothing. The scene has changed. He is looking at a myriad of mirrors; all reflecting himself back at him. He sees a red blur in them which turns out to be Ba'alzamon returning, who approaches from the back, and he finds that his face and Ba'alzamon's face are the same.

Rand awakens. He is on some rivercraft called the Spray. He places a finger in his mouth and tastes blood. Upon inspecting his finger, he finds that it has been pricked and is bleeding.

The Spray is making haste down the Arinelle, but it is doing so slowly. The captain of the craft is a man named Bayle Domon. During the day they have rowers, but they travel even at night and let the current carry them downriver. There is a constant wind but it blows in the wrong direction so it may not be used to move the ship. Captain Domon is a tyrant, driving his crew mercilessly to get away from the place where the craft was attacked by Trollocs. The Arinelle is devoid of rocks but sandbars and shallows there are aplenty so they still have to go carefully, even if their need for haste is real.

The crew grumbles for a break, but the Captain either browbeats them into submission, or scares them by displaying the weapons left behind by the attacking Trollocs. That is enough to silence them for a while, but then they start up again. Rand notices that this works in a cycle. He also notices that Thom Merrilin stays away from them when they are grumbling. Otherwise he is in the thick of them, telling jokes and slapping backs. But he also notices that Thom watches them very carefully whatever he is doing. The surprising thing is that they do not blame the three of them for the Trolloc attacks, but they blame Floran Gelb. Rand remembers that Gelb is constantly blaming the night's events on them, going so far as to say that they are in league with the Trollocs. It is obvious that no one believes Gelb. It turns out that Gelb had not kept the watch he was assigned, which was the watch when the Trollocs attacked, and now no one wants much to do with him. He pleads and whines to his crew, but whenever he looks at Rand or his companions, his eyes flash murderous fire.

Rand mentions to Mat that he thinks Gelb cannot be trusted and Mat responds with the question, "can any of them be trusted?" and then seeks out solitude.

Thom opines that it will not be from Gelb that trouble comes, not yet at least. The crew might mutiny and then cut the throat of their passengers so that stories will not be told. The gleeman does his share of diffusing the tension by telling stories and singing for the crew, and to make the story that Rand and Mat are apprentice gleemen stick, he gives them lessons every day, teaching them some of the easier stories, tumbling and juggling. Even that is entertaining to the crew, all except Gelb who just watches and hates.

Rand spends most of the day at the railing scanning the shore for Egwene or Perrin, and seeing some wondrous sites as well. Rand spies a reflection in the distance, and Captain Domon tells Rand that it is a never-rusting metal tower, used as a landmark and telling him that they are ten days away from Whitebridge. Mat opines that there is treasure inside. Captain Domon agrees that it might be so, but he then tells of a stone hand fifty feet high sticking out of a hill and clutching a crystal sphere on Tremalking, a Sea Folk island. Domon is sure that there is treasure there, but the Sea Folk will not allow digging, and all they care about is their sailing, and their looking for their Cooramoor, the Sea Folk Chosen One.

Mat says that he would dig for the treasure, and Captain Domon responds that treasure is not the reason for seeing the world, but the strangeness that one encounters, and then regales the two with sites that he has seen, including the Panarch’s palace in Tanchico, where animals that do not exist can bee seen in friezes. Rand retorts that any child can draw a made-up animal. Domon replies agreeably but says they also have the bones. Then he goes on to mention numerous marvels that he has seen throughout the world, and admits to collecting not a few himself.

Rand admits to collecting bones in the hills when he was a child, but thought it might be bad luck. Domon chides him for homesickness and promises him that the world will soon "put a hook in his mouth." He doubts that Rand will ever go home. Rand protests violently and says that he will go home some day, when all of this is over and done with, and raise sheep like his father. He pleads for Mat's support, who gives it out loud, but then mutters that Domon probably doesn't want anyone else going after the treasure.

Four days into the trip finds Rand at the top of the mast, his legs wrapped in the stays, enjoying himself as the boat rocks gently in the river. At his height, however, it's quite an arc. On impulse he stands, balancing himself for three arcs, then he loses his balance. He grabs the stay and hangs on, laughing all along. Thom, who has climbed up to talk him down, remonstrates with him for his foolishness. Rand asks when he came up to join him. Thom angrily tells him when he stopped listening to people who were shouting for him to come down. Rand then notices that everyone except Mat is looking at him, including the captain, who is obviously furious. Rand offers to come down with him, and Thom thanks him vigorously. Rand then acrobats down from his perch to scattered applause, landing close to where Mat sits. [1]

Rand notices that Mat clutches a curved dagger with gold sheath and big red ruby capping the hilt, which he hides from everyone else with his body. He is fingering it until he sees Rand, after which he hides the dagger. Rand asks him where he got it. When Mat does not answer, he gets a little tougher, and asks if he got it from Shadar Logoth.

Mat blames it on Rand and Perrin, but says its okay because he took it, Mordeth did not give it to him, so according to Moiraine, it must be all right. He then asks Rand not to tell anyone lest they try to steal it from him. Rand agrees, though he says that he thinks Master Domon is honest, but he doesn't know about anyone else. Mat pleads that they are the only two left from Emond's Field and can’t afford to trust anyone else. Rand replies that he believes Egwene and Perrin are alive. He also comments that now they don’t have to worry about money; they can sell the dagger. After a moment, Mat agrees. Rand then asks if Mat has had any more dreams. Mat replies, "maybe."

Rand gets a little upset and demands that Mat be more specific. Mat replies that he has and doesn't want to talk about it. Just about then Thom shows up and tells Rand that he convinced the captain that Rand was training when he pulled his acrobatic stunt.

It suddenly occurs to Rand what he had been doing and he sits down at the sheer mental shock of realizing his foolishness, while Thom remarks that they might be able to use his talents on the tightrope or slipwire in Illian or Tear. Rand carefully reminds Thom that they are going to Tar Valon.

Thom reminds him that things may change and then pulls out balls in preparation for making Rand and Mat practice the triple crossover.

The last thoughts of the chapter are Rand’s as he wonders what is happening to him, and an acknowledgement that he needs to get to Tar Valon before he goes mad.

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  1. This is a reaction to channeling from the night Rand uses the boom to save himself from the Trolloc. TEOTW 20

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