A Memory of Light Page 239

Tiny spiderweb cracks spread out on the ground from him. Cracks into nothingness.

He walked up to M’Hael. The man began to have a seizure, froth dripping from his lips.

"You will listen to me, M’Hael", Demandred said softly. "I am not as the other Chosen. I do not care one whit for your political games. I don’t care which of you the Great Lord favors, which of you Moridin pats on the head. I care only for Lews Therin.

"This is my fight. You are mine. I brought you to the Shadow, and I can destroy you. If you interfere with what I do here, I will snuff you out like a candle. I realize you think yourself strong, with your stolen Dreadlords and untrained channelers. You are a child, an infant. Take your men, create what chaos you wish, but stay out of my way. And stay away from my prize. The enemy general is mine".

M’Hael’s eyes, though his body betrayed him with trembles, were full of hatred, not fear. Yes, this one always had shown promise.

Demandred turned his hand and launched a stream of balefire with the gathered True Power. The white-hot line of liquid destruction burned through the armies at the river below, vaporizing each man or woman it touched. Their forms became points of light, then dust, hundreds of them vanishing. He left a long line of burned ground, like a furrow cut by an enormous cleaver.

"Release him", Demandred said, allowing the True Power shield to unravel.

M’Hael stumbled back, keeping his feet, sweat dripping from his face. He gasped, hand raised to his chest.

"Stay alive through this battle", Demandred said to him, turning away and beginning a weave to summon his falcon back. "If you do so, perhaps I will show you how to do as I just did. You may think you wish to kill me now, but know that the Great Lord watches. Beyond that, consider this. You may have a hundred pet Asha’man. I have over four hundred of my Ayyad. I am this world’s savior".

When he looked back, M’Hael was gone, having Traveled away with the True Power. It was amazing that he could summon the strength, after what Demandred had just done. He hoped he wouldn’t have to kill the man. He should prove useful.

I WILL WIN EVENTUALLY.

Rand stood before the blowing winds, stood strong, though his eyes watered as he stared into the darkness. How long had he been in this place? A thousand years? Ten thousand?

For the moment, he concerned himself only with defiance. He would not bend before this wind. He could not give in for a fraction of a heartbeat. THE TIME HAS COME, FINALLY.

"Time is nothing to you", Rand said.

It was true, and it was not. Rand could see the threads swirling around him, forming the Pattern. As it formed, he saw the battlefields below him. Those he loved fighting for their lives. These were not possibilities; this was the truth, what was actually happening.

The Dark One wrapped around the Pattern, unable to take it and destroy it, but able to touch it. Tendrils of darkness, spines, touched the world at points all along its length. The Dark One lay like shadow upon the Pattern.

When the Dark One touched the Pattern, time existed for him. And so, while time was nothing to the Dark One, he—or it, as the Dark One had no gender—could only work within its bounds. Like . . . like a sculptor who had marvelous visions and dreams but was still bound by the reality of the materials he worked with.

Rand stared at the Pattern, resisting the Dark Ones attack. He did not move or breathe. Breath wasn’t needed here.

People died below. Rand heard their screams. So many fell.

I WILL WIN EVENTUALLY, ADVERSARY. WATCH THEM SCREAM. WATCH THEM DIE.

THE DEAD ARE MINE.

"Lies", Rand said.

NO. I WILL SHOW YOU.

The Dark One spun possibility again, gathering up what could be, and thrust Rand into another vision.

Juilin Sandar was not a commander. He was a thief-catcher, not some nobleman. Certainly not a nobleman. He worked on his own.

Except, apparently, when he ended up on a battlefield, put in charge of a squad of men because he had successfully captured dangerous men as a thief-catcher. The Sharans pressed against his men, aiming for the Aes Sedai. They fought on the western side of the Heights, and his squad’s job was to protect the Aes Sedai from Sharan infantry.

Aes Sedai. How had he ever gotten tangled up with Aes Sedai? Him, a good Tairen.

"Hold!" Juilin yelled to his men. "Hold!" He yelled it for his own benefit, too. His squad held to their spears and pikes, forcing the Sharan infantry backward up the slope. He wasn’t sure why he was here, or why they were fighting in this sector. He just wanted to stay alive!

The Sharans shouted and cursed in an unfamiliar tongue. They had a lot of those channelers, but the outfit he faced was made up of regular troops who used a variety of hand weapons, mostly swords and shields. Corpses littered the ground, and that made it difficult for both sides as Juilin and his men followed orders, pushing against the Sharan troops while the Aes Sedai and enemy channelers traded weaves.

Juilin wielded a spear, a weapon he was only mildly familiar with. An armored Sharan squad forced its way between Myk and Charn’s pikes. The officers wore breastplates, strangely wrapped in cloth of a variety of colors, while the common rank and file wore leather fitted with strips of metal. They all had their backs painted with strange patterns.

The leader of the Sharan troop wielded a wicked mace, smashing one pikeman, then the other. The man shouted at Juilin, curses he didn’t understand.

Juilin feinted, and the Sharan raised his shield, so Juilin rammed his spear into the man’s armor at the gap between breastplate and arm. Light, he didn’t even flinch! He smashed his shield into Juilin, forcing him back.

The spear slipped from Juilin’s sweaty fingers. He cursed, reaching for his sword breaker, a weapon he knew well. Myk and the others fought nearby, engaging the rest of this Sharan squad. Charn tried to help Juilin, but the crazed Sharan brought his mace down on Charn’s head—splitting it in two like a cracked walnut.

"Die, you bloody monster!" Juilin cried, leaping forward and ramming his sword breaker into the man’s neck just above the gorget. Other Sharans were moving quickly toward his position. Juilin fell back as the man in front of him collapsed and died. Just in time, as a Sharan to his left tried to take his head off with a broad swing of his sword. The tip of the sword went by his ear, and Juilin instinctively raised his own blade. His opponent’s weapon broke in two, and he quickly dispatched the man with a backhand slice t

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