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The Gathering Storm/Chapter 20

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"My mouth makes me impudent, Joline. The medallion just makes me truthful."
   —Mat Cauthon

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Setting: near Hinderstap

Point of view: Matrim Cauthon

Mat Cauthon complains to Talmanes Delovinde about how women are hard to understand. They are traveling northeast of the Damona Mountain range in Murandy with seven thousand mounted soldiers of the Band of the Red Hand. They are also two hundred leagues from Caemlyn. Mat intends to go to Caemlyn first to meet up with Estean Andiama and Daerid Ondin for news and provisions before accompanying Thom Merrilin to the Tower of Ghenjei.

Mat had entrusted Chel Vanin to get them out of Murandy. Vanin consults a map made by cartographer Master Roidelle. Vanin points out Blinder's Peak, but thinks it could very well be Mount Sardlen. Vanin thinks that if it is Mount Sardlen, then they are near a village called Hinderstap, an hour or so away. After rechecking the map, he thinks it could be Favlend Mountain, instead. Vanin leaves the party to scout ahead.

Talmanes tells Mat not to worry about the thousand soldiers who perished in their recent battle against the Seanchan. However, Talmanes clues in that Mat is not on edge about the soldiers.

Mat tries not to keep in mind the fact that he is now a Seanchan prince. Instead, he tries to focus on feeding the troops. Mat also worries about Tuon. Mat takes offense when Talmanes jokes about Mat worrying about her like a husband. Mat wonders if there is a connection between not seeing the sun in as long as he has not seen Tuon. Mat wishes Tuon had not completed the wedding ceremony in public, because he did not want people to find out. Mat declares that just because he got married, it doesn't mean that he will stop his gambling or drinking. Mat does not want to be seen as soft because he got married. Talmanes reminds him that some of the Great Captains such as Davram Bashere and Rodel Ituralde are married.

Mat overhears Olver recounting to Noal Charin another theory as to how to enter the Tower of Ghenjei.

Vanin returns and confirms that not only is the nearby hill Mount Sarden, but that Master Roidelle is an excellent mapmaker. Vanin also says that Hinderstap should be up ahead. Upon hearing news about a village coming up, Joline Sedai comes riding up with Edesina Sedai and Teslyn Sedai. Vanin tells Joline that he could get to Caemlyn by himself in a little over a week and that it would take the entire Band 20 days or longer.

Sensing that Joline would want them to travel separately without the Band, Mat opposes that idea. Instead he suggests that she and the other Aes Sedai travel on their own. Joline asks Mat for 20 horses: two each for herself, Edesina, Teslyn, Setalle Anan, and the two former sul'dam, and eight to carry their belongings. She also requests feed for the horses, money for lodging, and some soldiers. Mat denies the request and offers one horse each, and one horse for belongings. Joline declines the offer.

Mat orders Vanin to inform Mandevwin that the Band will be making camp soon, but only a few are going into the village.

Talmanes said that it was unlike Mat not to take up an offer to be rid of Aes Sedai. Talmanes thinks it was a deal to part with 20 horses and Aes Sedai. Talmanes notices Mat is still edgy and assures him that Tuon is in good hands.

When told by Talmanes that the Band was low on food as well as low on tabac, Mat thinks that the gold King Roedran had given them should be enough to buy food to feed all of them. Talmanes reminds Mat that many villages they have encountered have been unwilling to part with a dwindling food supply. Mat decides he needs to relax and urges Talmanes to go drinking and gambling with him in Hinderstap.

Mat knows that if Egwene al'Vere or Nynaeve al'Meara or even Tuon ever find out about how he continues to relax by drinking and gambling, they would not like it.

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