A Memory of Light Page 82

She looked down. There was a hole in the floor of the tent, and she had nearly stepped into it.

It was a gateway. The other side appeared to open into the air itself, looking down on the Trolloc army, which was crossing the hills. The recent week had involved many skirmishes, with Egwene’s archers and riders slaughtering Trollocs who marched, in force, toward the hills and the border into Arafel.

Egwene peered through this gateway in the floor. It was high up, well outside of bow range, but looking down through it at the Trollocs made her dizzy.

"I’m not sure if this is brilliant", she said to Bryne, "or incredibly foolhardy".

Bryne smiled, turning back to his maps. "Winning wars is about information, Mother. If I can see exactly what they are doing—where they are trying to envelop us and how they are bringing in reserves—I can prepare. This is better than a battle tower. I should have thought of it ages ago".

"The Shadow has Dreadlords who can channel, General", Egwene said. "Peeking through this gateway could get you burned to a crisp. That’s not to mention Draghkar. If a flock of them tried to fly through this—"

"Draghkar are Shadowspawn", Bryne said. "I’ve been told that they’d die passing through the gateway".

"I guess that’s true", Egwene said, "but you’d have a flock of dead Draghkar in here. Regardless, channelers can still attack through it".

"I will take that chance. The advantage offered is incredible".

"I’d still rather you use scouts to look through the gateway", Egwene said, "not your own eyes. You are a resource. One of our most valuable. Risks are unavoidable, but please take care to minimize them".

"Yes, Mother", he said.

She inspected the weaves, then eyed Yukiri.

"I volunteered, Mother", Yukiri said before Egwene could ask how a Sitter ended up doing simple gateway duty. "He sent to us, asking if forming a gateway like this—horizontal, instead of vertical—was possible. I thought it an interesting puzzle".

She was not surprised he had sent to the Grays. There was a growing sentiment among them that, just as the Yellows specialized in Healing weaves and the Greens specialized in Battle weaves, the Grays should take particular interest in weaves for Traveling. They seemed to consider travel part of their calling as mediators and ambassadors.

"Can you show me our own lines?" Egwene asked.

"Certainly, Mother", Yukiri said, closing the gateway. She opened another, letting Egwene look down on the battle lines of her army as they formed up in defensive positions on the hills.

This was more efficient than maps. No map could completely convey the lay of a land, the way that troops moved. Egwene felt as if she were looking at an exact replica of the landscape in miniature.

Vertigo hit her suddenly. She was standing at the edge of a drop of hundreds of feet. Her mind reeled, and she stepped back, taking a deep breath.

"You need to put a rope up around this thing", Egwene said. "Someone could step right off". Or pitch headfirst while staring down . . .

Bryne grunted. "I sent Siuan for something like that". He hesitated. "She didn’t much like being sent, though, so she might come back with something completely useless".

"I keep wondering", Yukiri said. "Shouldn’t there be a way to create a gateway like this, but make it so it can only let light through? Like a window. You could stand on it and look down, without fearing that you could slip through. With the right weaves, you might be able to make it invisible from the other side . . ".

Stand on it? Light. You’d have to be mad.

"Lord Bryne", Egwene said, "your battle lines seem very solid".

"Thank you, Mother".

"They are also lacking".

Bryne raised his head. Other men might have risen to the challenge, but he did not. Perhaps it was all of that practice in dealing with Morgase. "How so?"

"You form up the troops as usual", Egwene said. "Archers at the front and on the hills to slow the enemy advance, heavy cavalry to charge and hit, then withdraw. Pikes to hold the line, light cavalry to protect our flanks and keep us from being surrounded".

"The soundest battle strategies are often those that are time-tested", Bryne said. "We may have a large force, with all of those Dragonsworn, but we’re still outnumbered. We can’t be more aggressive than I’ve been here".

"Yes, you can be", Egwene said calmly. She met his eyes. "This is unlike any battle you’ve ever fought, and your army is not like any you’ve ever led, General. You have a major advantage that you are not taking into account".

"You mean the Aes Sedai?"

Bloody right I do, she thought. Light, she’d been spending too much time around Elayne.

"I did account for you, Mother", Bryne said. "I had planned for the Aes Sedai to be a reserve force to aid companies in disengaging so we can rotate in fresh troops".

"Pardon, Lord Bryne", Egwene said. "Your plans are wise, and certainly some of the Aes Sedai should be used that way. However, the White Tower did not prepare and train for thousands of years to sit out the Last Battle as a reserve force".

Bryne nodded, slipping a new set of documents out from underneath his pile. "I did consider other more . . . dynamic possibilities, but I did not want to overstep my authority". He handed her the documents.

Egwene scanned them, raising an eyebrow. Then she smiled.

Mat had not remembered so many Tinkers around Ebou Dar. Brilliantly colored wagons grew like vibrant mushrooms on an otherwise dun field. There were enough of them to make a bloody city. A city of Tinkers? That would be like . . . like a city of Aiel. It was just wrong.

Mat trotted Pips along the roadway. Of course, there was an Aiel city. Maybe there would be a Tinker city someday, too. They would buy up all of the colored dye, and everyone else in the world would have to wear brown. There would be no fighting in the city, so it would be downright boring, but there also would not be a single bloody pot with a hole in the bottom for thirty leagues!

Mat smiled, patting Pips. He had covered over his ashandarei as best he could to make it look like a walking pole strapped to the side of the horse. His hat lay inside the pack he had hung from the saddlebags, along with all of his nice coats. He had ripped the lace off the one he wore. It was a shame, but he did n

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