A Memory of Light Page 224

She wove. All five powers, together, testing at the cracks. Yes . . .

She wasn’t certain exactly what she did, but the fledgling weave covered the cracks like a bandage. The darkness faded, leaving behind only ordinary cracks—and a thin film of crystals.

"Interesting", Yukiri said. "What was that weave?"

"I don’t know", Egwene said. "It felt right. Gawyn, have you . . ". She trailed off.

Gawyn.

Egwene stood up with a start. She vaguely remembered him leaving her command tent for some air. How long ago had it been? She turned around slowly, sensing where he was. The bond let her tell his direction. She stopped when she was pointing toward him.

She was looking toward the riverbed, just up from the ford, where Mat had positioned Elayne’s forces.

Oh, Light . . .

"What?" Silviana asked.

"Gawyn has gone to fight", Egwene said, keeping her voice calm with effort. That wool-headed idiot of a man! Could he not wait an hour or two until her armies were in position? She knew that he was eager to fight, but he should have at least asked!

Bryne groaned softly.

"Send someone to fetch him", Egwene said. Now her voice was cold, angry. She could not make it otherwise. "He has apparently joined the Andoran armies".

I will do it, Bryne said, one hand on his sword, his other arm raised toward one of the grooms. "I cannot be trusted to lead armies. At least I can do this".

It made sense. "Take Yukiri with you", she said. "Once you’ve found my fool Warder, Travel to us west of the bogs".

Bryne bowed, then retreated. Siuan watched him, hesitant.

"You may go with him", Egwene said.

"Is that where you need me?" Siuan asked.

"Actually . . " Egwene lowered her voice. "I want someone to join Mat and the Seanchan Empress and listen with ears accustomed to hearing what is not spoken".

Siuan nodded, approval—even pride—in her expression. Egwene was Amyrlin; she had no need of either emotion from Siuan, and yet it lifted a little of her grinding fatigue.

"You look amused", Egwene said.

"When Moiraine and I set out to find the boy", Siuan said, "I had no idea the Pattern would send you to us as well".

"Your replacement?" Egwene said.

"As a queen ages", Siuan said, "she begins to think about her legacy. Light, every goodwife probably starts to think the same things. Will she have an heir to hold what she has created? As a woman grows in wisdom, she realizes that what she alone can accomplish pales compared to what her legacy can achieve.

"Well, I suppose I cant claim you entirely as my own, and I wasn’t exactly pleased to be succeeded. But it is . . . comforting to know I’ve had a hand in shaping what is to come. And if a woman were to wish for a legacy, she could not dream of greater than one such as you. Thank you. I’ll watch this Seanchan woman for you, maybe help poor Min crawl out of the fang-fish net she’s found herself in".

Siuan moved away, calling for Yukiri to make her a gateway before going with Bryne. Egwene smiled, watching her give the general a kiss. Siuan. Kissing a man in the open.

Silviana channeled, and Egwene climbed into Daishar’s saddle as a gateway opened for them. She embraced the Source, holding Vora’s sa’angreal before her, and trotted through behind a group of Tower Guards. She was immediately assaulted by the scent of smoke.

High Captain Chubain waited for her on the other side. The darkhaired man had always struck her as being too young for his position, but she supposed not every commander had to be silvered like Bryne. After all, they were entrusting this battle to someone only a bit older than she, and she herself was the youngest Amyrlin ever.

Egwene turned toward the Heights and found that she could barely see them through fires that were burning along the slope and the eastern edge of the bogs.

"What happened?" she asked.

"Flaming arrows", Chubain said, "fired by our forces at the river. I thought Cauthon was mad at first, but I can see his reasoning now. He fired at the Trollocs to set the fields alight there on the Heights and at their base to give us cover. The undergrowth over there is dry and brittle as tinder. The fires drove the Trollocs and Sharan cavalry back up the slope for the time being. And I think Cauthon is counting on the smoke masking our movement around the bogs".

The Shadow would know someone was moving over here, but how many troops and in what configuration . . . they would have to rely on scouts, rather than their superior vantage atop the Heights.

"Our orders?" Chubain said.

"He didn’t tell you?" Egwene asked.

He shook his head. "He just put us in position here".

"We continue on up the west side of the bog and come at the Sharans from behind", she said.

Chubain grunted. "This is fragmenting our forces a great deal. And now he assaults them on the Heights after relinquishing it to them?"

She didn’t have an answer to that. Well, she had been the one—essentially—to put Mat in charge. She spared a glance across the bogs again, toward where she sensed Gawyn. He would be fighting at the . . .

Egwene hesitated. Her previous position had let her sense Gawyn in the direction of the river, but after moving through the gateway, she had a better sense of his position. He wasn’t at the river with Elayne’s armies.

Gawyn was on the Heights themselves, where the Shadow held the strongest.

Oh, Light! she thought. Gawyn . . . What are you doing?

Gawyn strode through smoke. Black tendrils of it curled around him, and the heat of smoldering grass warmed his boots, but the fire had mostly burned out here atop the Heights, leaving the ground dark with ash.

Bodies and some broken dragons lay blackened, like heaps of slag or coal. Gawyn knew that sometimes, to renew a field, farmers would burn the previous year’s weeds. The world itself was alight now. As he slipped through the twisting black smoke—his kerchief wetted and tied across his face—he prayed for a renewal.

There were spiderweb cracks all over the ground. The Shadow was destroying this land.

Most of the Trollocs were gathering on the Heights overlooking Hawal Ford, though a handful busied themselves prodding at bodies on the slope. Perhaps they had been drawn by the scent of burning flesh. A Myrddraal emerged from the smoke and began scolding them in a language Gawyn did not understand. It lashed a whip at t

Prev Next