“And this is where you picked for us to hide?” Rand said in disbelief. “We'd be safer out there trying to outrun them.”
“If you had not gone running off,” Moiraine said patiently, “you would know that I set wards around this building. A Myrddraal would not even know these wards were there, for it is a different kind of evil they are meant to stop, but what resides in Shadar Logoth will not cross them, or even come too near. In the morning it will be safe for us to go; these things cannot stand the light of the sun. They will be hiding deep in the earth.”
“Shadar Logoth?” Egwene said uncertainly. “I thought you said this city was called Aridhol.”
“Once it was called Aridhol,” Moiraine replied, “and was one of the Ten Nations, the lands that made the Second Covenant, the lands that stood against the Dark One from the first days after the Breaking of the World. In the days when Thorin al Toren al Ban was King of Manetheren, the King of Aridhol was Balwen Mayel, Balwen Ironhand. In a twilight of despair during the Trolloc Wars, when it seemed the Father of Lies must surely conquer, the man called Mordeth came to Balwen's court.”
“The same man?” Rand exclaimed, and Mat said, “It couldn't be!” A glance from Moiraine silenced them. Stillness filled the room except for the Aes Sedai's voice.
"Before Mordeth had been long in the city he had Balwen's ear, and soon he was second only to the King. Mordeth whispered poison in Balwen's ear, and Aridhol began to change. Aridhol drew in on itself, hardened. It was said that some would rather see Trollocs come than the men of Aridhol. The victory of the Light is all. That was the battlecry Mordeth gave them, and the men of Aridhol shouted it while their deeds abandoned the Light.
"The story is too long to tell in full, and too grim, and only fragments are known, even in Tar Valon. How Thorin's son, Caar, came to win Aridhol back to the Second Covenant, and Balwen sat his throne, a withered shell with the light of madness in his eyes, laughing while Mordeth smiled at his side and ordered the deaths of Caar and the embassy as Friends of the Dark. How Prince Caar came to be called Caar OneHand. How he escaped the dungeons of Aridhol and fled alone to the Borderlands with Mordeth's unnatural assassins at his heels. How there he met Rhea, who did not know who he was, and married her, and set the skein in the Pattern that led to his death at her hands, and hers by her own hand before his tomb, and the fall of Alethloriel. How the armies of Manetheren came to avenge Caar and found the gates of Aridhol torn down, no living thing inside the walls, but something worse than death. No enemy had come to Aridhol but Aridhol. Suspicion and hate had given birth to something that fed on that which created it, something locked in the bedrock on which the city stood. Mashadar waits still, hungering. Men spoke of Aridhol no more. They named it Shadar Logoth, the Place Where the Shadow Waits, or more simply, Shadow's Waiting.
“Mordeth alone was not consumed by Mashadar, but he was snared by it, and he, too, has waited within these walls through the long centuries. Others have seen him. Some he has influenced through gifts that twist the mind and taint the spirit, the taint waxing and waning until it rules ... or kills. If ever he convinces someone to accompany him to the walls, to the boundary of Mashadar's power, he will be able to consume the soul of that person. Mordeth will leave, wearing the body of the one he worse than killed, to wreak his evil on the world again.”
“The treasure,” Perrin mumbled when she stopped. “He wanted us to help carry the treasure to his horses.” His face was haggard. “I'll bet they were supposed to be outside the city somewhere.” Rand shivered.
“But we are safe, now, aren't we?” Mat asked. “He didn't give us anything, and he didn't touch us, we're safe, aren't we, with the wards you set?”
“We are safe,” Moiraine agreed. “He cannot cross the ward line, nor can any other denizen of this place. And they must hide from the sunlight, so we can leave safely once it is day. Now, try to sleep. The wards will protect us until Lan returns.”
“He has been gone a long time.” Nynaeve looked worriedly at the night outside. Full dark had fallen, as black as pitch.
“Lan will be well,” Moiraine said soothingly, and spread her blankets beside the fire while she spoke. “He, was pledged to fight the Dark One before he left the cradle, a sword placed in his infant hands. Besides, I would know the minute of his death and the way of it, just as he would know mine. Rest, Nynaeve. All will be well.” But as she was rolling herself into her blankets, she paused, staring at the street as if she, too, would have liked to know what kept the Warder.
Rand's arms and legs felt like lead and his eyes wanted to slide shut on their own, yet sleep did not come quickly, and once it did, he dreamed, muttering and kicking off his blankets. When he woke, it was suddenly, and he looked around for a moment before he remembered where he was.
The moon was up, the last thin sliver before the new moon, its faint light defeated by the night. Everyone else was still asleep, though not all soundly. Egwene and his two friends twisted and murmured inaudibly. Thom's snores, soft for once, were broken from time to time by halfformed words. There was still no sign of Lan.
Suddenly he felt as if the wards were no protection at all. Anything at all could be out there in the dark. Telling himself he was being foolish, he added wood to the last coals of the fire. The blaze was too small to give much warmth, but it gave more light.
He had no idea what had awakened him from his unpleasant dream. He had been a little boy again, carrying Tam's sword and with a cradle strapped to his back, running through empty streets, pursued by Mordeth, who shouted that he only wanted his hand. And there had been an old man who watched them and cackled with mad laughter the whole time.
He gathered his blankets and lay back, staring at the ceiling. He wanted very much to sleep, even if he had more dreams like the last one, but he could not make his eyes close.
Suddenly the Warder trotted silently out of the darkness into the room. Moiraine came awake and sat up as if he had rung a bell. Lan opened his hand; three small objects fell to the tiles in front of her with the clink of iron. Three bloodred badges in the shape of horned skulls.
“There are Trollocs inside the walls,” Lan said. “They will be here in little more than an hour. And the Dha'vol are the worst of them.” He began waking the others.
Moiraine smoothly began folding her blankets. “How many? Do they know we are here?” She sounded as if there were no urgency at all.
“I don't think they do,” Lan replied. “There are well over a hundred, frightened enough to kill anything that moves, including one another. The Halfmen are having to drive them — four just to handle one fist — and even the Myrddraal seem to want nothing more than to pass through the city and out as quickly as possible. They are not going out of their way to search, and they're so slipshod that if they were not heading nearly straight for us I would say we had nothing to worry about.” He hesitated.
“There is something else?”
“Only this,” Lan said slowly. “The Myrddraal forced the Trollocs into the city. What forced the Myrddraal?”
Everyone had been listening in silence. Now Thom cursed under his breath, and Egwene breathed a question. “The Dark One?”
“Don't be a fool, girl,” Nynaeve snapped. “The Dark One is bound in Shayol Ghul by the Creator.”
“For the time being, at least,” Moiraine agreed. “No, the Father of Lies is not out there, but we must leave in any case.”
Nynaeve eyed her narrowly. “Leave the protection of the wards, and cross Shadar Logoth in the night.”
“Or stay here and face the Trollocs,” Moiraine said. “To hold them off here would require the One Power. It would destroy the wards and attract the very thing the wards are meant to protect against. Besides, as well build a signal fire atop one of those towers for every Halfman within twenty miles. To leave is not what I would choose to do, but we are the hare, and it is the hounds who dictate the chase.”
“What if there are more outside the walls?” Mat asked. “What are we going to do?”
“We will use my original plan,” Moiraine said. Lan looked at her. She held up a hand and added, “Which I was too tired to carry out before. But I am rested, now, thanks to the Wisdom. We will make for the river. There, with our backs guarded by the water, I can raise a smaller ward that will hold the Trollocs and Halfmen back until we can make rafts and cross over. Or better yet, we may even be able to hail a trader's boat coming down from Saldaea.”
The faces of the Emond's Fielders looked blank, Lan noticed.
“Trollocs and Myrddraal loathe deep water, Trollocs are terrified of it. Neither can swim. A Halfman will not wade anything more than waist deep, especially if it's moving. Trollocs won't do even that if they can find any way to avoid it.”
“So once we get across the river we're safe,” Rand said, and the Warder nodded.
“The Myrddraal will find it almost as hard to make the Trollocs build rafts as it was to drive them into Shadar Logoth, and if they try to make them cross the Arinelle that way, half will run away and the r