A Memory of Light Page 139

Heartseeker reached her hands forward and pressed them against the light. She was muttering to herself. Feeling he needed to hear what she was saying, Perrin dared move closer, though he suspected that the pounding of his heart was so loud it would give him away.

" . . .take it from me?" she said. "You think I care? Give me a face of broken stone. What do I care? That’s not me. I will have your place, Moridin. It will be mine. This face will just make them underestimate me. Burn you". Perrin frowned. He couldn’t make much sense of what she was saying. "Go ahead and throw your armies at them, you fools", she continued to herself. "I’ll have the greater victory. An insect can have a thousand legs, but only one head. Destroy the head, and the day is yours. All you’re doing is cutting off the legs, stupid fool. Stupid, arrogant, insufferable fool. I’ll have what is due me, I’ll . . ".

She hesitated, then pivoted. Perrin, spooked, immediately sent himself back to the ground. It worked, thankfully—he hadn’t known if it would, up in that place of lights. Gaul jumped, and Perrin took a deep breath. "Let’s—"

A ball of blazing fire crashed into the ground beside him. Perrin cursed and rolled, cooling himself with a gust of wind, imagining his hammer up into his hand.

Heartseeker dropped to the ground in a wave of energy, power rippling around her. "Who are you?" she demanded. "Where are you? I—"

She focused suddenly on Perrin, seeing him completely for the first time, the blackness having faded from his clothing. "You!" she screeched. "You are to blame for this!"

She raised her hands; her eyes almost seemed to glow with hatred. Perrin could smell the emotion in spite of the blowing wind. She released a white-hot bar of light, but Perrin bent it around himself.

The woman started. They always did that. Didn’t they realize that nothing was real here except what you thought to be real? Perrin vanished, appearing behind her, raising his hammer. Then he hesitated. A woman?

She spun about, screaming and ripping the earth beneath him. He jumped up into the sky, and the air around him tried to seize him—but he did what he’d done before, creating a wall of nothingness. There was no air to grab him. Holding his breath, he vanished and appeared back on the ground, summoning banks of earth in front of him to block the balls of fire that hurtled his way.

"I want you dead!" the woman screamed. "You should be dead. My plans were perfect!"

Perrin vanished, leaving behind a statue of himself. He appeared beside the tent, where Gaul watched carefully, spear raised. Perrin put a wall between them and the woman, coloring it to hide them, and made a barrier to block the sound.

"She can’t hear us now", Perrin said.

"You are strong here", Gaul said thoughtfully. "Very strong. Do the Wise Ones know of this?"

"I’m still a pup compared to them", Perrin said.

"Perhaps", Gaul said. "I have not seen them, and they do not speak of this place to men". He shook his head. "Much honor, Perrin Aybara. You have much honor".

"I should have just struck her down", Perrin said as Heartseeker destroyed the statue of him, then stepped up to it, looking confused. She turned about, searching frantically.

"Yes", Gaul agreed. "A warrior who will not strike a Maiden is a warrior who refuses her honor. Of course, the greater honor for you . . "

Would be to take her captive. Could he do it? Perrin took a breath, then sent himself behind her, imagining vines reaching around her to hold her in place. The woman howled curses at him, slicing the vines with unseen blades. She reached her hand toward Perrin, and he shifted to the side.

His feet crunched on bits of frost on the ground that he hadn’t noticed, and she immediately spun on him and released another weave of balefire. Clever, Perrin thought, barely managing to bend the light away. It struck the hillside behind, drilling a hole straight through it.

Heartseeker continued the weave, snarling, hideous face distorted. The weave bent back toward Perrin, and he gritted his teeth, keeping it at bay. She was strong. She pushed hard, but finally, she released it, panting. "How . . . how can you possibly . . ".

Perrin filled her mouth with forkroot. It was difficult to do; changing anything directly about a person was always harder. However, this was much easier than trying to transform her into an animal or the like. She raised a hand to her mouth, eyes adopting a look of panic. She began to spit and hack, then desperately opened a gateway beside her.

Perrin growled, imagining ropes reaching for her, but she destroyed them with a weave of Fire—she must have gotten the forkroot out. She hurled herself through the gateway, and he shifted himself to be right in front of it, preparing to leap through. He froze when he saw her entering the middle of an enormous army of Trollocs and Fades at night. Many faced the gateway, eager.

Perrin stepped back as Heartseeker raised a hand to her mouth, looking aghast and coughing out more forkroot. The gateway closed.

"You should have killed her", Lanfear said.

Perrin turned to find the woman standing nearby, her arms folded. Her hair had changed from silver to dark brown. In fact, her face had changed, too, becoming slightly more like it had been before, when he’d first seen her nearly two years ago.

Perrin said nothing, returning his hammer to its straps.

"This is a weakness, Perrin", Lanfear said. "I found it charming in Lews Therin at one point, but that doesn’t make it any less a weakness. You need to overcome it".

"I will", he snapped. "What was she doing, up there with the balls of light?"

"Invading dreams", Lanfear said. "She was here in the flesh. That affords one certain advantages, particularly when playing with dreams. That hussy. She thinks she knows this place, but it has always been mine. It would have been best if you’d killed her".

"That was Graendal, wasn’t it?" Perrin asked. "Or was it Moghedien?"

"Graendal", Lanfear said. "Though, again, we are not to use that name for her. She’s been renamed Hessalam".

"Hessalam", Perrin said, trying the word out in his mouth. "I don’t know it".

"It means ‘without forgiveness.’ "

"And what is your new name, the one we’re supposed to call you, now?"

That actually pulled a blush out of her. "Never mind", she said. "You are skilled here in Tel’aran’rhiod. Much better than Lews Therin ever was. I always thought I would rule at his side, that only a man who could channel would be worthy of me. But the power you display here . . . I think I may accept

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