“The others?” he said.

“Lan took them into the cavern,” Nynaeve said. “The Eye is gone, but there's something in the middle of the pool, a crystal column, and steps to reach it. Mat and Perrin wanted to look for you first — Loial did, too — but Moiraine said ...” She glanced at the Aes Sedai, troubled. Moiraine returned her look calmly. “She said we mustn't disturb you while you were ...”


His throat constricted until he could hardly breathe. Will they turn their faces the way Egwene did? Will they scream and run away like I'm a Fade? Moiraine spoke as if she did not notice the blood draining from his face.

“There was a vast amount of the One Power in the Eye. Even in the Age of Legends, few could have channeled so much unaided without being destroyed. Very few.”

“You told them?” he said hoarsely. “If everybody knows ...”

“Only Lan,” Moiraine said gently. “He must know. And Nynaeve and Egwene, for what they are and what they will become. The others have no need, yet.”

“Why not?” The rasp in his throat made his voice harsh. “You will be wanting to gentle me, won't you? Isn't that what Aes Sedai do to men who can wield the Power? Change them so they can't? Make them safe? Thom said men who have been gentled die because they stop wanting to live. Why aren't you talking about taking me to Tar Valon to be gentled?”

“You are ta'veren,” Moiraine replied. “Perhaps the Pattern has not finished with you.”

Rand sat up straight. “In the dreams Ba'alzamon said Tar Valon and the Amyrlin Seat would try to use me. He named names, and I remember them, now. Raolin Darksbane and Guaire Amalasan. Yurian Stonebow. Davian. Logain.” The last was the hardest of all to say. Nynaeve went pale and Egwene gasped, but he pressed on angrily. “Every one a false Dragon. Don't try to deny it. Well, I won't be used. I am not a tool you can throw on the midden heap when it's worn out.”

“A tool made for a purpose is not demeaned by being used for that purpose,” Moiraine's voice was as harsh as his own, “but a man who believes the Father of Lies demeans himself. You say you will not be used, and then you let the Dark One set your path like a hound sent after a rabbit by his master.”

His fists clenched, and he turned his head away. It was too close to the things Ba'alzamon had said. “I am no one's hound. Do you hear me? No one's!”

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Loial and the others appeared in the arch, and Rand scrambled to his feet, looking at Moiraine.

“They will not know,” the Aes Sedai said, “until the Pattern makes it so.”

Then his friends were coming close. Lan led the way, looking as hard as ever but still somewhat the worse for wear. He had one of Nynaeve's bandages around his temples, and a stiffbacked way of walking. Behind him, Loial carried a large gold chest, ornately worked and chased with silver. No one but an Ogier could have lifted it unaided. Perrin had his arms wrapped around a big bundle of folded white cloth, and Mat was cupping what appeared to be fragments of pottery in his two hands.

“So you're alive after all.” Mat laughed. His face darkened, and he jerked his head at Moiraine. “She wouldn't let us look for you. Said we had to find out what the Eye was hiding. I'd have gone anyway, but Nynaeve and Egwene sided with her and almost threw me through the arch.”

“You're here, now,” Perrin said, “and not too badly beaten about, by the look of you.” His eyes did not glow, but the irises were all yellow, now. “That's the important thing. You're here, and we're done with what we came for, whatever it was. Moiraine Sedai says we're done, and we can go. Home, Rand. The Light burn me, but I want to go home.”

“Good to see you alive, sheepherder,” Lan said gruffly. “I see you hung onto your sword. Maybe you'll learn to use it, now.” Rand felt a sudden burst of affection for the Warder; Lan knew, but on the surface at least, nothing had changed. He thought that perhaps, for Lan, nothing had changed inside either.

“I must say,” Loial said, setting the chest down, “that traveling with ta'veren has turned out to be even more interesting than I expected.” His ears twitched violently. “If it becomes any more interesting, I will go back to Stedding Shangtai immediately, confess everything to Elder Haman, and never leave my books again.” Suddenly the Ogier grinned, that wide mouth splitting his face in two. “It is so good to see you, Rand al'Thor. The Warder is the only one of these three who cares much at all for books, and he won't talk. What happened to you? We all ran off and hid in the woods until Moiraine Sedai sent Lan to find us, but she would not let us look for you. Why were you gone so long, Rand?”

“I ran and ran,” he said slowly, “until I fell down a hill and hit my head on a rock. I think I hit every rock on the way down.” That should explain his bruises. He tried to watch the Aes Sedai, and Nynaeve and Egwene, too, but their faces never changed. “When I came to, I was lost, and finally I stumbled back here. I think Aginor is dead, burned. I found some ashes, and pieces of his cloak.”

The lies sounded hollow in his ears. He could not understand why they did not laugh with scorn and demand the truth, but his friends nodded, accepting, and made sympathetic sounds as they gathered around the Aes Sedai to show her what they had found.

“Help me up,” Moiraine said. Nynaeve and Egwene lifted her until she was sitting; they had to support her even then.

“How could these things be inside the Eye,” Mat asked, “without being destroyed like that rock?”

“They were not put there to be destroyed,” the Aes Sedai said curtly, and frowned away their questions while she took the pottery fragments, black and white and shiny, from Mat.

They seemed like rubble to Rand, but she fitted them together deftly on the ground beside her, making a perfect circle the size of a man's hand. The ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai, the Flame of Tar Valon joined with the Dragon's Fang, black siding white. For a moment Moiraine only looked at it, her face unreadable, then she took the knife from her belt and handed it to Lan, nodding to the circle.

The Warder separated out the largest piece, then raised the knife high and brought it down with all his might. A spark flew, the fragment leaped with the force of the blow, and the blade snapped with a sharp crack. He examined the stump left attached to the hilt, then tossed it aside. “The best steel from Tear,” he said dryly.

Mat snatched the fragment up and grunted, then showed it around. There was no mark on it.

“Cuendillar,” Moiraine said. “Heartstone. No one has been able to make it since the Age of Legends, and even then it was made only for the greatest purpose. Once made, nothing can break it. Not the One Power itself wielded by the greatest Aes Sedai who ever lived aided by the most powerful sa'angreal ever made. Any power directed against heartstone only makes it stronger.”

“Then how ... ?” Mat's gesture with the piece he held took in the other bits on the ground.

“This was one of the seven seals on the Dark One's prison,” Moiraine said. Mat dropped the piece as if it had become whitehot. For a moment, Perrin's eyes seemed to glow again. The Aes Sedai calmly began gathering the fragments.“It doesn't matter anymore,” Rand said. His friends looked at him oddly, and he wished he had kept his mouth shut.

“Of course,” Moiraine replied. But she carefully put all the pieces into her pouch. “Bring me the chest.” Loial lifted it closer.

The flattened cube of gold and silver appeared to be solid, but the Aes Sedai's fingers felt across the intricate work, pressing, and with a sudden click a top flung back as if on springs. A curled, gold horn nestled within. Despite its gleam, it seemed plain beside the chest that held it. The only markings were a line of silver script inlaid around the mouth of the bell. Moiraine lifted the horn out as if lifting a babe. “This must be carried to Illian,” she said softly.

“Illian!” Perrin growled. “That's almost to the Sea of Storms, nearly as far south of home as we are north now. ”

“Is it ... ?” Loial stopped to catch his breath. “Can it be ... ?”

“You can read the Old Tongue?” Moiraine asked, and when he nodded, she handed him the horn.

The Ogier took it as gently as she had, delicately tracing the script with one broad finger. His eyes went wider and wider, and his ears stood up straight. “Tia mi aven Moridin isainde vadin,” he whispered. “The grave is no bar to my call. ”

“The Horn of Valere.” For once the Warder appeared truly shaken; there was a touch of awe in his voice.

At the same time Nynaeve said in a shaky voice, “To call the heroes of the Ages back from the dead to fight the Dark One.”

“Burn me!” Mat breathed.

Loial reverently laid the horn back in its golden nest.

“I begin to wonder,” Moiraine said. “The Eye of the World was made against the greatest need the world would ever face, but was it made for the use to which... we... put it, or to guard these things? Quickly, the l

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