A Memory of Light Page 63

Elayne remembered him standing with that same quiet expression behind her mother. Never presuming, always protecting the Queen. That queen had put him out to pasture. That event hadn’t been Elayne’s fault, but she could read the breached trust in Bryne’s face.

Elayne could not change what had come and gone. She could look only to the future. "If you have maps of this area and the potential battlefields presented to us, Lord Bryne, we would love to see them. I would like maps for the area between here and Caemlyn, a detailed map of Kandor and your best maps of the other Borderland areas". To the rulers, she continued, "Gather your commanders and advisors! We must meet immediately with the other great captains to discuss our next course of action".

It didn’t take long, though the confusion was pervasive as two dozen different factions set to work. Servants pulled open the sides of the pavilion, and Elayne ordered Sumeko to gather Kinswomen and guards to fetch tables and some chairs through a gateway from her camp. Elayne also sent for specific reports of what was happening at the Gap, where Rand had asked the bulk of the Borderlander armies to go and rescue Lan. The rulers and great captains had remained behind for the planning.

Shortly, Elayne and Egwene stood surveying Bryne’s detailed maps, which had been spread out across four tables. The rulers stood back and allowed the commanders to deliberate.

"This is good work, Bryne", Lord Agelmar said. The Shienaran was one of the four remaining great captains. Bryne was another. The final two great captains—Davram Bashere and Rodel Ituralde—stood side by side at the end of another table, making corrections to a map of the western Borderlands. Ituralde had bags under his eyes, and his hands sometimes shook. From what Elayne had heard, he had suffered quite an ordeal in Maradon, having been rescued only very recently. She was surprised he was here, actually.

"All right", Elayne said to the assembly. "We must fight. But how? Where?"

"Large forces of Shadowspawn have invaded three locations", Bryne said. "Caemlyn, Kandor and Tarwin’s Gap. The Gap should not be abandoned, assuming our armies are enough to help Lord Mandragoran stabilize there. The likely result of our push there today will be the Shadowspawn pulling back into the pass. Keeping the enemy plugged up there is an unsuitable task for the Malkieri heavy cavalry alone. Perhaps we would best send him some pike companies? If he continues to plug that breach, we can devote the majority of our forces to combat in Andor and Kandor".

Agelmar nodded. "Yes. That should be viable if we give Dai Shan the proper support. But we cannot risk letting Shienar become overrun as Kandor was. If they push out of the Gap . . ".

"We are prepared for an extended battle", Lord Easar said. "Kandor’s resistance and Lan’s fight at the Gap have given us the time we need. Our people are pulling into our fortresses. We can hold, even if we lose the Gap".

"Brave words, Your Majesty", Gareth Bryne said, "but it would be best if we did not have to test the Shienarans in that way. Let us plan to hold the Gap with whatever force it takes to do so".

"And Caemlyn?" Elayne asked.

Ituralde nodded. "An enemy force that deep behind our lines, with a Waygate to use for reinforcements . . . that is trouble".

"Early reports from this morning", Elayne said, "indicate they’re staying put for the time being. They burned large quarters of the city, but left other sections alone—and now that they have the city, the Trollocs have been set to work smothering the flames".

"They will have to leave eventually", Bryne said. "But it will be better if we can flush them out sooner, rather than later".

"Why not consider a siege?" Agelmar asked. "I think the bulk of our armies should go to Kandor. I would not let the Throne of Clouds and the Three Halls of Trade fall as did the Seven Towers".

"Kandor already has fallen", Prince Antol said softly.

The great captains looked at the eldest son of the Kandori queen. A tall man, he had a silent way about him. Now he spoke boldly. "My mother fights for our country", he said, "but it is a fight of vengeance and redemption. Kandor burns, and it rips my heart to know it, but we cannot stop that. Give Andor your greatest attention; it is too tactically important to ignore, and I would not see another land fall as mine has".

The others nodded. "Wise advice, Highness", Bashere said. "Thank you".

Also, do not forget Shayol Ghul", Rhuarc said from the periphery, where he stood alongside Perrin, some Aes Sedai and several other Aiel chiefs. The great captains turned toward Rhuarc, as if having forgotten he was there.

"The Car’a’carn soon will assault Shayol Ghul", Rhuarc said. "He will need spears at his back when he does so".

"He will have them", Elayne said. "Though that means four battle-fronts. Shayol Ghul, Tarwin’s Gap, Kandor and Caemlyn".

"Let us focus on Caemlyn first", Ituralde said. "I don’t like the idea of a siege there. We need to flush the Trollocs out. If we simply besiege them, it gives them more time to reinforce their numbers through that Waygate. We have to take them out now, on our terms".

Agelmar nodded with a grunt, looking at the map of Caemlyn an aide had put on the table. "Can we stanch that flow? Retake the Waygate?"

"I’ve tried", Elayne said. "This morning, we sent three separate forces through a gateway into the basement with the Waygate, but the Shadow is prepared and entrenched. None of the forces returned. I don’t know if we can take the Waygate back, or even destroy it".

"What if we tried from the other side?" Agelmar asked.

"The other side?" Elayne asked. "You mean from inside the Ways?" Agelmar nodded.

"Nobody travels the Ways", Ituralde said, aghast.

"The Trollocs do", Agelmar said.

"I’ve been through them", Perrin said, approaching the table. "And I’m sorry, my Lords, but I don’t think that taking the Waygate from the other side would work. From what I understand, we couldn’t destroy it—even with the One Power. And we couldn’t hold it inside, not with the Black Wind in there. Our best choice is to somehow get those Trollocs out of Caemlyn and then hold this side of the Waygate. If it is properly guarded, the Shadow would never be able to use i

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