A Memory of Light Page 180

It was a thing of legends.

Elayne had heard of the great works performed by large circles of men and women. Every woman in the White Tower was taught of these feats from the past, stories of different days, better days. Days when one half of the One Power had not been a thing to fear, when two halves of one whole had worked together to create incredible wonders.

She wasn’t sure the days of legend had truly returned. Certainly, the Aes Sedai during those times hadn’t been so worried, so desperate. But what they did now left Elayne in awe.

She joined in the circle, making the total fourteen women and twelve men. She barely had any strength to lend, but her trickle added to the increasingly large stream. More importantly, a circle had to have at least one more woman than it had men—and now that she had joined, Logain could come in last of all and add his considerable strength to the flow.

At the head of this circle was Androl, an odd choice. Now that she was part of the circle, she could feel his relative strength. He was extremely weak, weaker than many women who were turned away from the Tower, refused the shawl because of their lack of innate talent.

Elayne and the others had relocated to the far side of the battlefield. The rest of the Asha’man held back the attacking Trolloc horde as Androl prepared. Whatever he did, it would need to be swift. Elayne still had trouble believing anything could be done. Even with this much power, even with thirteen men and fourteen women working together.

"Light", Androl whispered, standing between her horse and Logain’s. "Is this what it feels like to be one of you people? How do you handle so much of the One Power? How do you keep it from consuming you alive, burning you away?"

Pevara rested her hand on his shoulder in a gesture that was unmistakably tender. Elayne could barely rub two thoughts together amid her fatigue, but she still found herself shocked. She had not expected affection from a Red for a man who could channel.

"Move the soldiers back", Androl said softly.

Elayne gave the order, worried. The man beside her had never held this kind of power before. It could go to someone’s head; she had seen it happen. Light send that he knew what he was doing.

The soldiers and others retreated, passing by Elayne’s group. Several tired Ogier nodded to her in passing, their shoulders slumped, their arms scored with cuts. The Trollocs poured forward, but the Asha’man who weren’t in the circle disrupted their attack with weaves of the One Power.

It wasn’t enough. Though the Asha’man fought well, there were just so many Trollocs. The Asha’man could not stop this tide. What did Logain think could be done?

Androl smiled widely, and held his hands out in front of himself as if pressing against a wall. He closed his eyes. "Three thousand years ago the Lord Dragon created Dragonmount to hide his shame. His rage still burns hot. Today . . . I bring it to you, Your Majesty".

A beam of light split the air, easily a hundred feet tall. Moonshadow shied back and Elayne frowned. Why a column of light? What good would that . . . The beam of light began to twist in the air, rotating upon itself. Only then did Elayne recognize it for the start of a gateway. An enormous gateway, large enough to swallow buildings. She could have moved an entire wing of the Caemlyn palace through that thing!

The air shimmered in front of them, the way a gateway always looked from behind. She couldn’t see where the gateway was leading. Did they have an army waiting on the other side?

She could see the expressions on the slavering Trolloc faces as they looked into the opening. Absolute horror. They broke away, running, and Elayne felt a sudden heat, almost overpowering.

Something exploded out of the gateway, as if pushed by an incredible force. A column of lava a hundred feet in diameter, blazing hot. The column broke apart as the lava crashed down, splashing to the battlefield, gushing forward in a river. The Asha’man outside the circle used weaves of Air to keep it from splashing back on the circle and to shepherd it in the right direction.

The river of fire washed through the foremost Trolloc ranks, consuming them, destroying hundreds in an eyeblink. The lava was under pressure on the other side; that was the only way she could explain the force with which it sprayed from the enormous gateway, turning Trollocs into cinders, burning a large swath through their army.

Androl held the gateway for long minutes as the Shadow’s army pulled back. Asha’man to the sides used gusts of wind to blow the Shadowspawn back into the ever-widening river. By the time Androl finished, he had created a barrier of red-hot death between Elayne’s army and the bulk of the Trollocs, whose backs were against the northern walls of Cairhien.

Androl took a breath, closed the gateway, then pivoted and made two others in quick succession, one pointing southeast, the other southwest.

A second and third column of lava spurted forth—smaller this time, as Androl was obviously weakened. These went tumbling over the land to the east and west of Cairhien, singeing away dead weeds and casting smoke into the air. Some of the Trolloc army had pulled back, but many others had perished, boxed in, with the walled city on one side and lava on others. It would be some time before the Fades could organize the survivors to resume their attacks on Elayne’s forces.

Androl let the gateway close. He slumped, but Pevara caught him.

"One miracle, my Lord", Androl said, voice soft, as if strained. "Delivered as requested. That should hold them back for a few hours. Long enough?"

"Long enough", Elayne said. "We will be able to regroup, bring through supplies for the dragons, and fetch as many Aes Sedai from Mayene as we can get to Heal our men and wash away their fatigue. Then we can sort through who is strong enough to continue and reposition our ranks for a much more effective battle".

"You intend to keep fighting?" Androl asked, surprised.

"Yes", Elayne said. "I can barely stand, but yes. We cannot afford to leave that Trolloc horde here intact. You and your men give us an edge, Logain. We will use it, and everything we have, and we will destroy them".

CHAPTER 31

A Tempest of Water

Egwene looked across the river at the struggle raging between her forces and the Sharan army. She had arrived back at her camp on the Arafellin side of the ford. She was itching to join the battle against the Shadow again, but she also needed to talk with Bryne about what had happened at the hills. She had arrived to find the command tent empty.

The camp continued to fill with Aes Sedai and the surviving archers and pikemen who were coming through gateways from the hilltops to the south. The Aes Sedai were milling about and speaking to each other with some urgency. They all seemed worn out, but it was clear from their frequent glances toward the battle taking place across the river that they were as eager as Egwene was to rejoin the

Prev Next