The Shadow Rising Page 36

Rand had not a clue to what he had made, or how it worked. He could only stand there, quivering with the Power that filled him with the need to use it. Even if it destroyed him. He could feel Trollocs and Myrddraal dying, feel the lightnings strike and kill. He could kill them everywhere, everywhere in the world. He knew it. With Callandor he could do anything. And he knew trying would kill him just as surely.

The lightnings faded and died with the last Shadowspawn; the spinning mass imploded with a loud clap of inrushing air. But Callandor still shone like the sun; he shook with the Power.

Moiraine was there, a dozen paces away, staring at him. Her dress was neat, every fold of blue silk in place, but wisps of her hair were disarrayed. She looked tired — and shocked. “How... ? What you have done, I would not have believed possible.” Lan appeared, halftrotting up the hall, sword in hand, face bloodied, coat torn. Without taking her eyes from Rand, Moiraine flung out a hand, halting the Warder short of her. Well short of Rand. As if he were too dangerous for even Lan to approach. “Are you... well, Rand?”

Rand pulled his gaze away from her, and it fell on the body of a darkhaired girl, little more than a child. She lay sprawled on her back, eyes wide and fixed on the ceiling, blood blackening the bosom of her dress. Sadly, he bent to brush strands of hair from her face. Light, she is only a child. I was too late. Why didn't I do it sooner? A child!

“I will see that someone takes care of her, Rand,” Moiraine said gently. “You cannot help her now.”

His hand shook so hard on Callandor that he could barely hold on. “With this, I can do anything.” His voice was harsh in his own ears. “Anything!”

“Rand!” Moiraine said urgently.

He would not listen. The Power was in him. Callandor blazed, and he was the Power. He channeled, directing flows into the child's body, searching, trying, fumbling; she lurched to her feet, arms and legs unnaturally rigid and jerky.

“Rand, you cannot do this. Not this!”

Breathe. She has to breathe. The girl's chest rose and fell. Heart. Has to beat. Blood already thick and dark oozed from the wound in her chest. Live. Live, burn you! I didn't mean to be too late. Her eyes stared at him, filmed. Lifeless. Tears trickled unheeded down his cheeks. “She has to live! Heal her, Moiraine. I don't know how. Heal her!”

“Death cannot be Healed, Rand. You are not the Creator.”

Staring into those dead eyes, Rand slowly withdrew the flows. The body fell stiffly. The body. He threw back his head and howled, as wild as any Trolloc. Braided fire sizzled into walls and ceiling as he lashed out in frustration and pain.

Sagging, he released saidin, pushed it away; it was like pushing away a boulder, like pushing away life. Strength drained out of him with the Power. The taint remained, though, a stain weighing him down with darkness. He had to ground Callandor on the floor tiles and lean on it to stay on his feet.

“The others.” It was hard to speak; his throat hurt. “Elayne, Perrin, the rest? Was I too late for them, too?”

“You were not too late,” Moiraine said calmly. But she had come no closer, and Lan looked ready to dart between her and Rand. “You must not —”

“Are they still alive?” Rand shouted.

“They are,” she assured him.

He nodded in weary relief. He tried not to look at the girl's body. Three days waiting, so he could enjoy a few stolen kisses. If he had moved three days ago... But he had learned things in those three days, things he might be able to use if he could put them together. If. Not too late for his friends, at least. Not too late for them. “How did the Trollocs get in? I don't think they climbed the walls like Aiel, not with the sun still up. Is it still up?” He shook his head to dispel some of the fog. “No matter. The Trollocs. How?”

Lan was the one who answered. “Eight large grain barges tied up at the Stone's docks late this afternoon. Apparently no one thought to question why laden grain barges would be coming downriver” — his voice was heavy with contempt —“or why they'd dock at the Stone, or why the crews left the hatches shut until nearly sunfall. Also, a train of wagons arrived — about two hours ago, now — thirty of them, supposedly bringing some lord or other's things from the country for his return to the Stone. When the canvas was thrown back, they were packed with Halfmen and Trollocs, too. If they came in any other way, I don't know of it, yet.”

Rand nodded again, and the effort buckled his knees. Suddenly Lan was there, pulling Rand's arm over his shoulder to hold him up. Moiraine took his face in her hands. A chill rippled through him, not the blasting cold of full Healing, but a chill that pushed weariness out as it passed. Most of the weariness. A seed remained, as if he had worked a day hoeing tabac. He moved away from the support he no longer needed. Lan watched him warily, to see if he could really stand alone, or perhaps because the Warder was not certain how dangerous he was, how sane.

“I left some apurpose,” Moiraine told him. “You need to sleep tonight.”

Sleep. There was too much to do to sleep. But he gave another nod. He did not want her shadowing him. Yet what he said was “Lanfear was here. This was not her doing. She said so, and I believe her. You don't seem surprised, Moiraine.” Would Lanfear's offer surprise her? Would anything? “Lanfear was here, and I talked with her. She didn't try to kill me, and I didn't try to kill her. And you are not surprised.”

“I doubt you could kill her. Yet.” Her glance at Callandor was the merest flicker of dark eyes. “Not unaided. And I doubt she will try to kill you. Yet. We know little of any of the Forsaken, and least of all Lanfear, but we do know she loved Lews Therin Telamon. To say you are safe from her is certainly too strong — there is a good deal she can do to harm you short of murder — but I do not think she will try to kill as long as she thinks she might win Lews Therin back again.”

Lanfear wanted him. The Daughter of the Night, used by mothers who only halfbelieved in her to frighten children. She certainly frightened him. It was nearly enough to make him laugh. He had always felt guilty for looking at any woman besides Egwene, and Egwene did not want him, but the DaughterHeir of Andor wanted to kiss him, at least, and one of the Forsaken claimed to love him. Nearly enough for laughter, but not quite. Lanfear seemed jealous of Elayne; that palehaired milksop, she had called her. Madness. All madness.

“Tomorrow.” He started away from them.

“Tomorrow?” Moiraine said.

“Tomorrow, I will tell you what I am going to do.” Some of it, he would. The thought of Moiraine's face if he told her everything made him want to laugh. If he knew everything himself, yet. Lanfear had given him almost the last piece, without knowing it. One more step, tonight. The hand holding Callandor by his side trembled. With that, he could do anything. I am not mad yet. Not mad enough for that. “Tomorrow. A good night to us all, the Light willing.” Tomorrow he would begin to unleash another kind of lightning. Another lightning that might save him. Or kill him. He was not mad yet.

Chapter 11

(Dream Ring)

What Lies Hidden

Clad in her shift, Egwene drew a deep breath and left the stone ring lying beside an open book on her bedside table. All flecked and striped in brown and red and blue, it was slightly too large for a finger ring, and shaped wrong, flattened and twisted so that a fingertip run along the edge would circle both inside and out before coming back to where it had started. There was only one edge, impossible though that seemed. She was not leaving the ring there because she might fail without it, because she wanted to fail. She had to try without the ring sooner or later, or she could never do more than dabble her toes where she dreamed of swimming. It might as well be now. That was the reason. It was.

The thick leather bound book was A Journey to Tarabon, written by Eurian Romavni, from Kandor — fifty three years ago, according to the date the author gave in the first line, but little of any consequence would have changed in Tanchico in that short a time. Besides, it was the only volume she had found with useful drawings. Most of the books only had portraits of kings, or fanciful renderings of battles by men who had not seen them.

Darkness filled both windows, but the lamps gave more than adequate light. One tall beeswax candle burned in a gilded candlestick on the bedside table. She had gone to fetch that herself; this was no night to be sending a maid for a candle. Most of the servants were tending the wounded or weeping over loved ones, or being tended themselves. There had been too many for Healing any but those who would have died without it.

Elayne and Nynaeve waited with high backed chairs pulled to either side of the wide bed with its tall, swallow carved posts; they tried to hide their anxiety with differing degrees of success. Elayne managed a passably stately calm, and only spoiled it by frowning and chewing her underlip when she thought Egwene was not looking. Nynaeve was all brisk confidence, the sort that made you feel comforted when she tucked you into a sickbed, but Egwene recognized the set of her eyes; they said Nynaeve was afraid.

Aviendha sat crosslegged beside the door, her browns and grays standing out sharply against the deep blue of the carpet. This time the Aiel woman had her long bladed knife at one side of her belt, a bristling quiver at the other, and four short spears across her knees. Her round, hide buckler lay close at hand, atop a horn bow in a worked leather case with straps that could hold it on her back. After tonight, Egwene could not fault her for going armed. She still wanted to hold a lightning bolt ready to fling herself.

Light, what was that Rand did? Burn him, he frightened me almost as badly as the Fades did. Maybe worse. It isn't fair he can do something like that and I can't even see the flows.

She climbed onto the bed and took the leatherbound book on her knees, frowning at an engraved map of Tanchico. Little of any use was marked, really. A dozen fortresses, surrounding the harbor, guarding the city on its three hilly peninsulas, the Verana to the east, the Maseta in the center, and the Calpene nearest the sea. Useless. Several large squares, some open areas that seemed to be parks, and a number of monuments to rulers long since dust. All useless. A few palaces, and things that seemed strange. The Great Circle, for instance, on the Calpene. On the map it was just a ring, but Master Romavni described it as a huge gathering place that could hold thousands to watch horse races or displays of fireworks by the Illuminators. There was also a King's Circle, on the Maseta and larger than the Great Circle, and a Panarch's Circle, on the Verana, just a little smaller. The Chapter House of the Guild of Illuminators was marked as well. They were all useless. The text certainly had nothing of use.

“Are you certain you want to try this without the ring?” Nynaeve asked quietly.

“Certain,” Egwene replied as calmly as she could. Her stomach was leaping as badly as it had when she saw that first Trolloc tonight, holding that poor woman by the hair and slitting her throat like a rabbit's. The woman had screamed like a rabbit, too. Killing the Trolloc had done her no good; the woman was as dead as the Trolloc. Only her shrill scream would not go away. “If it doesn't work, I can always try again with the ring.” She leaned over to mark the candle with a thumbnail. “Wake me when it burns down to there. Light, but I w

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