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|<<< Eyes Without Pity >>>|
|Setting: Traveling to Caemlyn|
- Point of view: Perrin Aybara
Elyas is pushing them with cautious haste through the flat grassland they are traversing. His precautions seem to resolve around leaving as little indication of their passing as possible. Perrin muses that these precautions aren't much good against dreams, though such thoughts remind him of what they are good against. Egwene asks Elyas if the Trollocs are back, but he responds negatively--some other fear drives his haste. The land becomes rolling hillside with few trees. The temperature remains cold. Elyas avoids crossing the hill crowns and speaks little except to exclaim bitterly that the zigzag path they take is absolutely necessary. Neither of the two enjoy his lectures, but when he gives them he does not slow down. Sometimes they come upon a ridge too long to go around, and when that happens, Elyas approaches the summit on his belly while Perrin and Egwene wait nervously below.
Perrin reminds himself during such times that the wolves will give warning if there's danger, while at the same time wishing they would go away. After a long wait, Elyas always waves them to come on. On the third such ridge, Perrin gets so nervous that he demands to go along with Elyas, who assents with only a reminder to keep low. Egwene jumps down from Bela, as if she expects to follow the two men, but Elyas asks her if she intends to make the mare crawl. She does not respond and Elyas begins climbing the easy slope. Just before the top he flops on his belly and looks over the ridge. The down slope is bare. The vantage point gives them good observation and they see nothing threatening. Perrin asks silently once again what Elyas is looking for. Perrin protests out loud that there is nothing there as he begins to stand and shortly thereafter a flock of ravens bursts out of a nearby stand of trees, birds that Perrin remembers are considered the Dark One's own eyes. Perrin worries that they have seen him and as if his thought alarms them, they fly southward, joined by another nearby flock.
Perrin asks through a dry mouth if that was what Elyas was afraid of and why the wolves did not see them? Elyas respond that wolves do not look up into trees, and no that was not what he was afraid of--he's not sure about what is making him uneasy but as he is saying it another flock bursts southward. He observes that it isn't a big hunt, even after..." but does not finish the statement. Perrin, however, does in his own mind: "even after the dream." Out loud he protests that back home one never sees ravens in those numbers in a whole year. Elyas says that one does in the Borderlands, although rarely, and then admonishes him to hush. Perrin feels Elyas attempting to communicate with the pack, to ask them to check their back trail, and to return to them and to watch the sky. Perrin hears the wolves reply, we come and sees them in his mind as they make the course change.
Perrin asks if Elyas thinks there are ravens behind as well, and the wolf brother replies, "could be. They do it that way some time." Then he tells of a place that if they can reach it by dark, should be safe. Elyas waves Egwene to follow. After prompting from Perrin, Elyas explains that ravens roost during the night and then mutters that he hopes all it is, is ravens, then says that they have to hurry. He gets up and starts running, while, with a curse, tells Perrin to get a move on.
When Egwene joins them she asks what is going on, and Perrin tries to explain, but gives at best a disjointed answer about the ravens. They come to another ridge, which Elyas insists on scouting, and when Perrin protests, Elyas upbraids him for his not thinking things through. The confrontation produces uncertainty in all but Elyas. Perrin and Elyas reach the top of a crest and watch as a flock of ravens attack and kill a fox and then head southward. This causes Elyas to demand that both of them move. Egwene sees the fox, Perrin is running as fast as he can and stumbles. A lone raven spies them and screams as it turns south. Perrin tries to futilely sling it down but is beaten to it by Egwene who smiles at her success. Elyas uses the opportunity to curse them into motion again. He and Egwene joins Elyas in the trees.
Perrin sees a black mist of ravens rise far to the west, near where the wolves are returning northward. He feels them notice then ignore the ravens as they move. The ravens follow for a bit, then break southward. Egwene seeks assurance that the ravens did not see them. Elyas provides it but also tells Egwene to stop being afraid and start thinking if she wants to survive.
They move westward out of the copse, Elyas setting a tireless pace and they have nothing to do but follow, because after all, Elyas promised a safe place. The tiring pace takes its toll. Ravens are everywhere and they leave evidence of their devastation. Perrin remembers something that Lan told him. All creatures of the Dark One delight in killing, which leads to gruesome imaginings of what the ravens will do to them if they find them.
That image is swept away by the vicarious experience he feels when the ravens attack the wolves. The ravens break off after finding out that wolves are harder to kill than foxes, but not before something happens to one of Hopper's eyes and Dapple's foreleg is punctured. Perrin exchanges a glance with Elyas, who does not show even a hint of expression, but Perrin knows that he feels the same thing; Elyas will not say anything until Perrin admits he feels the wolves. Perrin reluctantly shares his information about ravens behind them, which prompts Egwene to admit that Perrin can talk to the wolves.
The words from Egwene have their effect; he feels despair - he believes he is tainted. Cursed.
After a while, Egwene forces him to ride Bela while she takes a turn at running, but that doesn't last long. Both of them are getting exhausted, but Elyas will not slow down as he moves southward just behind the massive flock of ravens. He taunts them, encourages them, insults them, says anything to keep them going. The ravens behind them are coming closer. Through conversation with the rest of the pack, Perrin determines that they are less than an hour behind them, and there are at least two hours of sunshine ahead of them. He reasons despairingly that they will die with the setting sun, in an hour, and readies his sling for a battle.
Egwene tells Perrin that it is his turn to ride, and Perrin makes a flimsy excuse for not riding, which Egwene accepts without a protest, which lets him know how tired she is. He wonders if he should tell her that she has only an hour to live. He looks at Elyas and convinces himself that he must know. He then wonders if he has the strength to spare Egwene the fox's death--a euphemism for killing her, himself to spare her the pain.
Suddenly, the ravens ahead vanish, though the ravens to the east and to the west are still there. Then Perrin feels like he has jumped into the Winespring in midwinter. He feels different. Some of his fatigue has been removed, some of the ache in his legs as well. He wonders what has happened and stumbles to a halt, afraid. Elyas watches them both with a gleam in his eye, and Perrin does not doubt that he knows what just happened. Egwene's reaction is of having lost something.  Bela's is of smelling freshly-mown hay. Perrin asks what it was and Elyas replies "safety," and explains that they have just crossed into a stedding, where Trollocs and Myrddraal and Aes Sedai will not cross. Perrin notes subtle properties of the land that mark it as different from the rest of the world, nevertheless he protests that steddings are just legends. Elyas encourages them to go deeper into this particular legend. They reluctantly comply, though feeling the great exhaustion from running most of the day. Elyas tries to get them to move faster than a fast walk, but does not succeed.
Still gasping with exhaustion, Perrin asks why they just don't stay in the stedding until it is all over. Elyas debunks the idea with practicalities, and then reminds Perrin that stedding do not keep men out, no matter how evil they may be, then encourages them to continue on for only a mile or so more. They move over boulder-strewn landscape until they come to a welcoming, clear pool of water.
Perrin plunges his head into the water, and finds that it is sputteringly cold. He removes his head, shakes out the water, which splashes Egwene, who splashes back as she smiles. It causes Perrin to remember what he had contemplated for Egwene should the ravens catch up to them, but when Egwene sees the strain in his eyes and looks at him questioningly, he refuses to explain himself.
Elyas calls them over to help prepare dinner. At first Egwene cheerfully enjoys the preparations while Perrin works silently, but by the time they are ready to eat their spare rations of dried meat, cheese and tea, the group has gone silent. Perrin mulls over the fact that if it were not for the stedding they might be dead and he wonders what he would have done if the ravens had caught up to them. His thoughts are painful and half-guilty. He feels something cruel laughing at him, and realizes that it is himself, and not the Dark One, though he wishes it were.
Elyas allows a fire in an obviously often-used spot, next to an oddly-shaped boulder. Egwene notes that a part of it looks like an eye. Elyas confirms that it is. Elyas informs them that they are sitting on a monument that was meant to honor Artur Hawkwing. After Egwene expresses disbelief, Elyas describes who Artur Hawkwing was and some of what he accomplished - it is a mostly approving description.
Egwene joins in with a comment about Hawkwing's justice. Elyas chuckles his pleasure at Egwene having heard the stories. He then admits that the common man had peace and justice, so long as he did not challenge Hawkwing, for whoever did felt his wrath. He also enumerates some of the bad things that happened during his reign, including his war against Tar Valon and the Aes Sedai.
Egwene uses this to remind Elyas that he doesn't like Aes Sedai. Elyas reminds her back that it doesn't matter. He continues by saying that Hawkwing was a proud fool who could have been healed by an Aes Sedai, but who refused such healing. Hawkwing, he says, hated Aes Sedai as much as he hated the Dark One. His words offend her, but all she says is "what does this have to do with that being his eye?" Elyas explains that once Hawkwing had achieved peace and penned the Aes Sedai behind their walls, he wanted a capital which would be a new city in a place where no Aes Sedai would come willingly and from which he could dispense his justice. It and he were so popular with the common people that they donated enough money to build a monument. They raised it where they sat in the stedding, around which the city would be built.
Egwene expresses her disbelief that any city ever stood at their present location. Elyas admits the truth of that, explaining that Hawkwing died on the day the statue was finished, and the empire he built was torn asunder over the succession fight. Now, none of his blood still lives, unless it be some of those who crossed the Aryth Ocean. Some have even burned books that mentioned him in their attempts to blot out his memory. Elyas continued on, explaining that Hawkwing's death sparked the Hundred Years' War, which really lasted 123 years, and during which his statue was pulled down. He ends the story by suggesting that it was pulled down because the living couldn't stand being measured against it any longer. Egwene observes that Elyas sounds first like he despises him, then like he admires him. Elyas answers by simply telling her to drink up more tea if she wants it; he wants the fire put out by dark. Perrin makes out the eye and it disturbs him. He wishes they were sleeping somewhere else that night.
- Aryth Ocean
- Tar Valon
- Winespring Water
- Great Blight
- Sea of Storms
- Aiel Waste
- Spine of the World
- ↑ She can no longer sense the True Source