A Memory of Light Page 213

Uno grumbled, but pocketed the wax. A fist of Trollocs had pushed through the blast, about a hundred strong, and he didn’t have time to bother with his ears. Uno grabbed a pike, leveling it and signaling for his men to do the same. They all wore the white of the Tower; Uno himself wore a white tabard.

He shouted orders, readying his pike by standing sideways near the top of the slope, the heel of its shaft raised. One hand gripped the shaft in front of him to guide and reinforce the thrust; the other hand, palm down, gripping it an arm’s length from the heel, would drive home the thrust as the Trollocs came into range. Several ranks of pikemen behind Uno stood ready to advance following the initial impact.

"Steady with the pikes, you flaming sheepherders!" Uno bellowed. "Steady!"

The Trollocs scrambled up the hill, crashing into the line of pikes. The beasts in the vanguard tried to knock the pikes aside with sweeps of their weapons, but Uno’s men stepped forward, skewering Trollocs, often two pikes per beast. Uno grunted, pulling his pike back into line to catch a Trolloc through the throat.

"First rank, back!" Uno yelled, pulling his pike backward to free it from the Trolloc he’d killed. His companions did the same, pulling their weapons free and leaving the corpses to roll down the slope.

The pikemen in the front rank fell back as those in the second rank came forward between them, ramming pikes into snarling Trollocs. Each rank rotated up front in succession until, minutes later, the entire group of Trollocs was dead. "Nice work", Uno said, raising his pike to the upright position, a trickle of rancid Trolloc blood winding down the shaft from the pike head. "Nice work".

He glanced toward the dragoners, who were feeding more eggs down those tubes. He hastily pulled the wax out of his pocket. Yes, they could hold this flaming position. They could hold it well. They just needed to—A cry from above stopped him from putting the wax in. Something thumped to the ground beside Uno. A lead ball with streamers dropped from high up. "Flaming Seanchan goat!" Uno yelled, looking up and shaking his fist. "That nearly took me in the crown, you lover of rotting worms!" The raken flew off, probably without its rider hearing a word of what Uno had shouted. Bloody Seanchan. He stooped down, removing the letter from the ball.

Retreat down the southwestern slope of the Heights.

"You’re bloody kicking me", Uno muttered. "Kicking me in the head while I’m sleeping. Allin, you bloody fool, can you read this?"

Allin, a dark-haired Andorman, wore a half-beard, shaved at the sides. Uno had always thought those looked flaming ridiculous.

"Retreat?" Allin said. "Now?"

"They’ve flaming lost their minds", Uno said.

Nearby, Talmanes and the Taraboner woman were receiving a messenger—and she was relaying the same news, by the looks of the Taraboner woman’s scowl. Retreat.

"Cauthon had better bloody know what he’s doing", Uno said, shaking his head. He still didn’t understand why anyone would put Cauthon in charge of anything. He remembered that boy, always snapping at people, eyes sunken in his head. Half-dead, half-spoiled. Uno shook his head.

But he’d do it. He’d sworn to the bloody White Tower. So he’d do it. "Pass the word", he said to Allin, stuffing the wax in his ears as Aludra, at the dragons, prepared a last volley before leaving. "We’re pulling back from the bloody Heights, and—"

A clap of sound hit Uno physically, vibrating through him, bloody near stopping his heart. His head hit the ground before he realized he’d fallen.

He blinked dust from his eyes, groaning and rolling over as another flash, then another, struck the Heights where the dragons were. Lightning! His soldiers were down on their knees, eyes shut, hands over ears. Talmanes was already up, however, shouting orders that Uno could barely hear, waving for his men to pull back.

A dozen fireballs, enormous and incredibly fast, rose from the Sharan army behind the Trollocs. Uno cursed and threw himself in a depression for cover, rolling into place moments before the entire hill shook like an earthquake. Clods of earth fell upon him, almost burying him.

Everything was coming at them. Everything. Every bloody Sharan channeler in the army seemed to focus on the Heights at once. His people had Aes Sedai, placed to protect the dragons, but from the look of things they would be hard-pressed to fight back against that\

The attack lasted for what seemed an eternity. When it subsided, Uno crawled free. Some of the flaming dragons were in pieces, and Aludra was working with the dragoners to salvage those and protect the rest. Talmanes, holding a bloody hand to his head, was shouting. Uno pried the wax from one of his ears—that had probably saved his hearing—and scrambled toward Talmanes.

"Where are your bloody Aes Sedai?" Uno shouted. "They’re bloody supposed to be stopping this!"

They had four dozen of them, ordered to cut weaves from the air or knock them aside to protect the dragons. They had claimed to be able to keep the Heights safe from anything but the coming of the Dark One. Now they were in shambles, the lightning strikes having fallen in their midst.

Trollocs were advancing up the hill again. Uno ordered Allin to form the pikewall and hold the creatures back, then ran toward the Aes Sedai with a few guards. He joined Warders, helping the women up, looking for their leader.

"Kwamesa Sedai?" Uno asked, finding the Aes Sedai in charge who was dusting herself off. The slender, dark-skinned Arafellin was muttering softly under her breath.

"What was that?" she demanded.

"Uh . . ". Uno said.

"That question wasn’t intended for you", she said, scanning the sky. "Einar! Why didn’t you spot those weaves?"

An Asha’man rushed over. "They came so quickly. They were upon us before I had time to give warning. And . . . Light! Whoever sent them was strong. Stronger than I’ve ever seen, stronger than—"

A line of light split the air behind them. It was enormous, as long as the keep of Fal Dara. It rotated upon itself, opening a vast gateway that split the ground at the center of the Heights. Standing on the other side was a man in brilliant armor made of silver, coinlike rings, his helmetless head bearing dark hair and a strong nose. He held before him a scepter of gold, the top shaped like an hourglass or a fine goblet.

Kwamesa reacted immediately, raising her hand and releasing a stream of fire. The man waved his hand, and the stream of fire deflected; then he pointed—almost indifferently—and something thin, hot and white connected him to Kwamesa. Her form glowed, and then she was gone, motes dr

Prev Next