A Memory of Light Page 288

"There", Alviarin said to Nensen, pointing toward a flash of light as another explosion from those dragons sounded through gateways across the battlefield. "I think that came from the middle of the plateau. Make a gateway and go there".

"We’re never going to—" Mishraile began.

"Go!" Alviarin said, face red with anger.

Nensen scrambled and did as she said. He liked following orders, feeling that someone was in charge.

I might have to kill her, Mishraile thought. And Nensen as well. Even without much experience of battle, Mishraile could see that this was not going to be an easy fight. The return of the Seanchan, the fall of Demandred and the Trollocs rampaging without any direction . . . Yes, the Shadow still had the numbers, but the fight wasn’t nearly as one-sided as he’d have liked. One of the first rules he’d learned in life was to never fight a man when you had an equal chance of losing.

The six of them piled through the gateway, coming out in the middle of the plateau. The ground burnt by dragons and channelers emitted smoke to mix with the strange fog that had arisen; it was hard to tell what was going on where. Holes in the ground, splayed open by the dragons.

Corpses . . . well, pieces of them . . . scattered about. An unusual scent in the air. It was after sunrise now, but barely any light came through the clouds.

Cries came from above, made by those strange flying creatures the Seanchan had brought. Mishraile shivered. Light. It was like standing in a house without a roof, knowing your enemy had archers positioned above you. He shot one of them down with a weave of Fire, satisfied with the way the wings crumpled and the beast spun about, swirling as it dropped.

Attacking like that exposed him, though. He really would have to kill the other Dreadlords, then escape. He was supposed to be on the winning side!

"To work", Alviarin said. "Do as I said. These are men making the gateways the devices fire through, so we will have to locate where the gateway was and have Donalo read the residue".

The men moved out, inspecting the ground, trying to find the place where the gateway had opened. People fought nearby, uncomfortably close—Sharans and men flying a banner with a wolf on it. If they came back this way . . .

Donalo fell in beside Mishraile as they searched, quickly, both holding to the Power. Donalo was a square-faced Tairen, with his graying beard in a point.

"When Demandred went down", Donalo whispered. "I figured this was a trap all along. We’ve been had".

Mishraile nodded. Perhaps Donalo would be an ally. They could escape together. Of course, then he’d have to kill Donalo. Mishraile wouldn’t want any witnesses who could report back to the Great Lord what he had done.

He couldn’t trust Donalo anyway. The man had joined them only because of that forced trick with the Myrddraal. If a man could change sides that quickly, what was to keep him from changing again? Besides, Mishraile didn’t like the . . . feeling he got when looking at Donalo or the others who had been Turned. It was as if there was something unnatural deep within them, looking out at the world, seeking prey.

"We need to get out of here", Mishraile whispered. "Fighting here now is a fool’s—" He cut off as they encountered someone moving through the smoke.

A tall man, with red-gold hair. A familiar man, scored with cuts, his clothing burned and blackened. Mishraile gaped and Donalo cursed as the Dragon Reborn himself saw them, started, then fled back across the plateau. By the time Mishraile thought to attack, al’Thor had crafted a gateway for himself and escaped through it.

The earth rumbled violently, and some chunks of earth actually broke apart, and a piece of the eastern slope went crashing down on to Trollocs below. This place was growing more and more unstable. Another reason to leave.

"That was the bloody Dragon Reborn!" Donalo said. "Alviarin! The bloody Dragon Reborn is on the battlefield!"

"What nonsense is this?" Alviarin asked, approaching with the others.

"Rand al’Thor was here", Mishraile said, still stunned. "Blood and bloody ashes, Donalo. You were right! That’s the only way Demandred could have fallen".

"He did keep saying that the Dragon was on this battlefield somewhere", Kash noted.

Donalo stepped forward, cocking his head, as if studying something in the air. "I saw exactly where he made the gateway to escape. It was right here. Right here . . . Yes! I can feel the resonance. I know where he went".

"He defeated Demandred", Alviarin said, folding her arms skeptically. "Can we hope to fight him?"

"He looked exhausted", Mishraile said. "More than exhausted. He panicked when he saw us. I think, if he did fight Demandred, it took a lot out of him".

Alviarin regarded the space in the air where al’Thor had vanished. Mishraile could practically see her thoughts. If they killed the Dragon Reborn, M’Hael might not be the only Dreadlord raised to the Chosen. The Great Lord would be grateful to the one who struck down al’Thor. Very grateful.

"I have it!" Donalo cried, opening a gateway.

"I need a circle to fight him", Alviarin said. Then hesitated. "But I will use Rianna and Nensen only. I don’t want to risk us being too inflexible, all in the same circle".

Mishraile snorted, gathering his power and leaping through the opening. What she meant was that she didn’t want one of the men leading the circle, potentially stealing the kill from her. Well, Mishraile would see about that.

He stepped from the battlefield to a clearing he did not recognize. The trees here didn’t look as deeply under the Great Lord’s touch as they did other places. Why was that? Well, the same dark sky thundered above, and the area was so dark that he had to weave a globe of light to make anything out.

Al’Thor rested on a stump nearby. He looked up, saw Mishraile, and cried out, scrambling away. Mishraile wove a fireball that sprouted in the air and flew after him, but al’Thor managed to cut it down with a weave of his own.

Ha! He is weak! Mishraile thought, dashing forward. The others followed him through the gateway, the women linked with Nensen, who trailed after Alviarin like a puppy. Donalo came through last, calling for them to wait for him.

A moment later they stopped running.

It hit Mishraile like a wave of cold water—like running face-first into a waterfall. The One Power vanished. It left him, just like that.

He stumbled, panicked, trying to figure out what had happened. He’d been shielded! No. He sensed no shield.

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