“What can we do?” he asked. “There has to be something.”
“Staying close by me,” Moiraine replied, “will help. Some. The protection from touching the True Source extends around me a little, remember. But you cannot always remain close to me. You can defend yourself, if you have the strength for it, but you must find the strength and will within yourself. I cannot give it to you.”
“I think I've already found my protection,” Perrin said, sounding resigned rather than happy.
“Yes,” Moiraine said, “I suppose you have.” She looked at him until he dropped his eyes, and even then she stood considering. Finally she turned to the others. “There are limits to the Dark One's power inside you. Yield even for an instant and he will have a string tied to your heart, a string you may never be able to cut. Surrender, and you will be his. Deny him, and his power fails. It is not easy when he touches your dreams, but it can be done. He can still send Halfmen against you, and Trollocs, and Draghkar, and other things, but he cannot make you his unless you let him.”
“Fades are bad enough,” Perrin said.
“I don't want him inside my head again,” Mat growled. “Isn't there any way to keep him out?”
Moiraine shook her head. “Loial has nothing to fear, nor Egwene, nor Nynaeve. Out of the mass of humanity, the Dark One can touch an individual only by chance, unless that person seeks it. But for a time, at least, you three are central to the Pattern. A Web of Destiny is being woven, and every thread leads straight to you. What else did the Dark One say to you?”
“I don't remember it all that well,” Perrin said. “There was something about one of us being chosen, something like that. I remember him laughing,” he finished bleakly, “about who we were chosen by. He said I — we could serve him or die. And then we'd still serve him.”
“He said the Amyrlin Seat would try to use us,” Mat added, his voice fading as he remembered to whom he was speaking. He swallowed and went on. “He said just like Tar Valon used — he had some names. Davian, I think. I can't remember very well, either.”
“Raolin Darksbane,” Perrin said.
“Yes,” Rand said, frowning. He had tried to forget everything about those dreams. It was unpleasant bringing them back. “Yurian Stonebow was another, and Guaire Amalasan.” He stopped suddenly, hoping Moiraine had not noticed how suddenly. “I don't recognize any of them.”
But he had recognized one, now that he dredged them from the depths of memory. The name he had barely stopped himself from saying. Logain. The false Dragon. Light! Thom said they were dangerous names. Is that what Ba'alzamon meant? Moiraine wants to use one of us as a false Dragon? Aes Sedai hunt down false Dragons, they don't rule them. Do they? Light help me, do they?
Moiraine was looking at him, but he could not read her face. “Do you know them?” he asked her. “Do they mean anything?”
“The Father of Lies is a good name for the Dark One,” Moiraine replied. “It was always his way to seed the worm of doubt wherever he could. It eats at men's minds like a canker. When you believe the Father of Lies, it is the first step toward surrender. Remember, if you surrender to the Dark One, he will make you his.”
An Aes Sedai never lies, but the truth she speaks may not be the truth you think you hear. That was what Tam had said, and she had not really answered his question. He kept his face expressionless and held his hands still on his knees, trying not to scrub the sweat off them on his breeches.
Egwene was crying softly. Nynaeve had her arms around her, but she looked as if she wanted to cry, too. Rand almost wished he could.
“They are all ta'veren,” Loial said abruptly. He seemed brightened by the prospect, looking forward to watching from close by as the Pattern wove itself around them. Rand looked at him incredulously, and the Ogier gave an abashed shrug, but it was not enough to dim his eagerness.
“So they are,” Moiraine said. “Three of them, when I expected one. A great many things have happened that I did not expect. This news concerning the Eye of the World changes much.” She paused, frowning. "For a time the Pattern does seem to be swirling around all three of you, just as Loial says, and the swirl will grow greater before it becomes less. Sometimes being ta'veren means the Pattern is forced to bend to you, and sometimes it means the Pattern forces you to the needed path. The Web can still be woven many ways, and some of those designs would be disastrous. For you, for the world.
“We cannot remain in Caemlyn, but by any road, Myrddraal and Trollocs will be on us before we have gone ten miles. And just at this point we hear of a threat to the Eye of the World, not from one source, but three, each seeming independent of the others. The Pattern is forcing our path. The Pattern still weaves itself around you three, but what hand now sets the warp, and what hand controls the shuttle? Has the Dark One's prison weakened enough for him to exert that much control?”
“There's no need for that kind of talk!” Nynaeve said sharply. “You'll only frighten them.”
“But not you?” Moiraine asked. “It frightens me. Well, perhaps you are right. Fear cannot be allowed to affect our course. Whether this is a trap or a timely warning, we must do what we must, and that is to reach the Eye of the World quickly. The Green Man must know of this threat.”
Rand gave a start. The Green Man? The others stared, too, all but Loial, whose broad face looked worried.
“I cannot even risk stopping in Tar Valon for help,” Moiraine continued. “Time traps us. Even if we could ride out of the city unhindered, it would take many weeks to reach the Blight, and I fear we no longer have weeks.”
“The Blight!” Rand heard himself echoed in a chorus, but Moiraine ignored them all.
“The Pattern presents a crisis, and at the same time a way to surmount it. If I did not know it was impossible, I could almost believe the Creator is taking a hand. There is a way.” She smiled as if at a private joke, and turned to Loial. “There was an Ogier grove here at Caemlyn, and a Waygate. The New City now spreads out over where the grove once stood, so the Waygate must be inside the walls. I know not many Ogier learn the Ways now, but one who has a Talent and learns the old Songs of Growing must be drawn to such knowledge, even if he believes it will never be used. Do you know the Ways, Loial?”
The Ogier shifted his feet uneasily. “I do, Aes Sedai, but — ”
“Can you find the path to Fal Dara along the Ways?”
“I've never heard of Fal Dara,” Loial said, sounding relieved.
“In the days of the Trolloc Wars it was known as Mafal Dadaranell. Do you know that name?”
“I know it,” Loial said reluctantly, “but — ”
“Then you can find the path for us,” Moiraine said. “A curious turn, indeed. When we can neither stay nor leave by any ordinary means, I learn of a threat to the Eye, and in the same place there is one who can take us there in days. Whether it is the Creator, or fate, or even the Dark One, the Pattern has chosen our path for us.”
“No!” Loial said, an emphatic rumble like thunder. Everyone turned to look at him and he blinked under the attention, but there was nothing hesitant about his words. “If we enter the Ways, we will all die — or be swallowed by the Shadow.”
Decisions and Apparitions
The Aes Sedai appeared to know what Loial meant, but she said nothing. Loial peered at the floor, rubbing under his nose with a thick finger, as if he was abashed by his outburst. No one wanted to speak.
“Why?” Rand asked at last. “Why would we die? What are the Ways?”
Loial glanced at Moiraine. She turned away to take a chair in front of the fireplace. The little cat stretched, its claws scratching on the hearthstone, and languidly walked over to butt its head against her ankles. She rubbed behind its ears with one finger. The cat's purring was a strange counterpoint to the Aes Sedai's level voice. “It is your knowledge, Loial. The Ways are the only path to safety for us, the only path to forestalling the Dark One, if only for a time, but the telling is yours.”
The Ogier did not appear comforted by her speech. He shifted awkwardly on his chair before beginning. “During the Time of Madness, while the world was still being broken, the earth was in upheaval, and humankind was being scattered like dust on the wind. We Ogier were scattered, too, driven from the stedding, into the Exile and the Long Wandering, when the Longing was graven on our hearts.” He gave Moiraine another sidelong look. His long eyebrows drew down into two points. “I will try to be brief, but this is not a thing that can be told too briefly. It is of the others I must speak, now, those few Ogier who held in their stedding while around them the world was tearing apart. And of the Aes Sedai” — he avoided looking at Moiraine, now — “the male Aes Sedai who were dying even as they destroyed the world in their madness. It was to those Aes Sedai — those who had so far managed to avoid the madness — that the stedding first made the offer of sanctuary. Many accepted, for in the stedding they were protected from the taint of the Dark One that was killing their kind. But they were cut off from the True Source. It was not just that they could not wield the One Power, or touch the Source; they could no longer even sense that the Source existed. In the end, none could accept that isolation, and one by one they left the stedding, hoping that by that time the taint was