A Memory of Light Page 165

Of his entourage, only two guards and one clerk remained in camp. He needed the Seanchan to give him some more cavalry; he was beginning to feel that a great deal depended on keeping those Aes Sedai on the hills safe. After all, the Amyrlin was up there with them.

"Looks like we’re going ourselves", Bryne said, leaving Annah’s corpse. "Siuan, are you strong enough to make a gateway with that angreal?"

She stood, masking her exhaustion, but he could see it. "I can, though it will be so small we’ll have to crawl through. I don’t know this area well enough. We’ll have to move back to the center of camp".

"Burn me!" Bryne said, turning as a series of explosions sounded from the river. "We don’t have time for this".

"I can go find us some more messengers", a guard said. The other was helping the soldier Siuan had Healed. The man stood on wobbly feet.

"I don’t know if there are more messengers to be had", Bryne said. "Let’s just—"

"I'll go".

Bryne saw Min Farshaw rising to her feet nearby and dusting herself off. He d almost forgotten that he’d set her helping as a clerk for one of the supply regiments.

"It doesn’t look like I’ll be clerking here in the near future", Min said, inspecting the fallen supply tent. "I can run as well as any of your messengers. What do you want me to do?"

"Find the Seanchan Empress", Bryne said. "Her camp is a few miles north of here on the Arafellin side. Go to the Traveling ground; they’ll know where to send you. Tell the Empress she needs to send me some cavalry. Our reserves are depleted".

"I'll do it", Min said.

She wasn’t a soldier. Well, it seemed half of his army hadn’t been soldiers until a few weeks back. "Go", he said, then smiled. "I’ll count the day’s work toward what you owe me".

She blushed. Did she think he’d let a woman forget her oath? It didn’t matter to him whose company she kept. An oath was an oath.

Min ran through the army’s back lines. The camp had more tents and carts—brought in from supply dumps in Tar Valon or Tear—to replace the ones lost during the initial Sharan assault. Those proved to be obstacles to weave around as she sought out the Traveling ground.

The ground was a series of roped-off squares, numbered with painted planks shoved in the ground. A quartet of women in gray shawls spoke together in hushed voices as one of their number held open a gateway for a supply cart laden with arrows. The placid oxen didn’t look up as a comet-like ball of fire hit the ground nearby, hurling glowing red stones into the air and across a pile of bedrolls, which began to smolder.

"I need to go to the Seanchan army", Min said to the Grays. "Lord Bryne’s orders".

One of the Gray sisters, Ashmanaille, looked at her. She took in Min’s breeches and curls, then frowned. "Elmindreda? Sweet thing, what are you doing here?"

"Sweet thing?" one of the others asked. "She’s one of the clerks, isn’t she?"

"I need to go to the Seanchan army", Min said, breathing deeply from her run. "Lord Bryne’s orders".

This time, they seemed to hear her. One of the women sighed. "Square four?" she asked the others.

"Three, dear", Ashmanaille said. "A gateway could be opening to four from Illian any moment".

"Three", the first said, waving Min over. A small gateway split the air there. "All messengers crawl", she noted. "We have to conserve strength; gateways need to be made as small as reasonable".

This is reasonable? Min thought with annoyance, running to the small hole. She dropped to her hands and knees and crawled through.

She came out in a ring of grass that had been burned black to mark its location. A pair of Seanchan guards stood with tasseled spears nearby, their faces obscured by insectile helmets. Min started to walk forward, but one held up a hand.

"I’m a messenger from General Bryne", she said.

"New messengers wait here", one of the guards said.

"It’s urgent!"

"New messengers wait here".

She received no further explanation, so she crossed her arms—stepping out of the black circle, in case another gateway opened—and waited. She could see the river from here, and a large military encampment stretched out along its banks. The Seanchan could make a big difference to this battle, Min thought. There are so many of them. She was far from the battle here, a few miles north of Bryne’s camp, but still close enough to see the flashes of light as channelers traded deadly weaves.

She found herself fidgeting, so she forced herself to remain still. Explosions from channeling sounded like dull thumps. The sounds came after the flashes of light, like thunder trailing behind lightning. Why was that?

It doesn’t really matter, Min thought. She needed cavalry for Bryne. At least she was doing something. She had spent the last week pitching in wherever she found that an extra hand was needed. It was surprising how much there was to do in a war camp other than fighting. It wasn’t work that had required her, specifically, but it was better than sitting in Tear and worrying about Rand . . . or being angry at him for forbidding her to go to Shayol Ghul.

You’d have been a liability there, Min told herself. You know it. He couldn’t worry about saving the world and protecting her from the Forsaken at the same time. Sometimes, it was hard not to feel insignificant in a world of channelers like Rand, Elayne and Aviendha.

She glanced at the guards. Only one had an image hovering above his head. A bloodied stone. He’d die by falling from someplace high. It seemed like decades since she’d seen anything hopeful around a person’s head. Death, destruction, symbols of fear and darkness.

"And who is she?" a slurred Seanchan voice asked. A sul’dam had approached, one without a damane. The woman held an a’dam in her hand, tapping the silvery collar against her other palm.

"New messenger", the guard said. "She has not come through the gateways before".

Min took a deep breath. "I was sent by General Bryne—"

"He was supposed to clear all messengers with us", the sul’dam said. She was dark of skin, with curls that came down to her shoulders. "The Empress—may she live forever—must be protected. Our camp will be orderly. Every messenger cleared, no opportuni

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