“Artur Hawkwing!” Egwene exclaimed. “You're joking with me. It isn't an eye at all. Why would somebody carve Artur Hawkwing's eye on a rock out here?”

Elyas glanced over his shoulder at her, muttering, “What do they teach you village whelps?” He snorted and straightened back to his watching, but he went on talking. “Artur Paendrag Tanreall, Artur Hawkwing, the High King, united all the lands from the Great Blight to the Sea of Storms, from the Aryth Ocean to the Aiel Waste, and even some beyond the Waste. He even sent armies the other side of the Aryth Ocean. The stories say he ruled the whole world, but what he really did rule was enough for any man outside of a story. And he brought peace and justice to the land.”


“All stood equal before the law,” Egwene said, “and no man raised his hand against another.”

“So you've heard the stories, at least.” Elyas chuckled, a dry sound. “Artur Hawkwing brought peace and justice, but he did it with fire and sword. A child could ride alone with a bag of gold from the Aryth Ocean to the Spine of the World and never have a moment's fear, but the High King's justice was as hard as that rock there for anyone who challenged his power, even if it was just by being who they were, or by people thinking they were a challenge. The common folk had peace, and justice, and full bellies, but he laid a twentyyear siege to Tar Valon and put a price of a thousand gold crowns on the head of every Aes Sedai.”

“I thought you didn't like Aes Sedai,” Egwene said.

Elyas gave a wry smile. “Doesn't matter what I like, girl. Artur Hawkwing was a proud fool. An Aes Sedai healer could have saved him when he took sick — or was poisoned, as some say — but every Aes Sedai still alive was penned up behind the Shining Walls, using all their Power to hold off an army that lit up the night with their campfires. He wouldn't have let one near him, anyway. He hated Aes Sedai as much as he hated the Dark One.”

Egwene's mouth tightened, but when she spoke, all she said was, “What does all that have to do with whether that's Artur Hawkwing's eye?”

“Just this, girl. With peace except for what was going on across the ocean, with the people cheering him wherever he went — they really loved him, you see; he was a harsh man, but never with the common folk — well, with all of that, he decided it was time to build himself a capital. A new city, not connected in any man's mind with any old cause or faction or rivalry. Here, he'd build it, at the very center of the land bordered by the seas and the Waste and the Blight. Here, where no Aes Sedai would ever come willing, or could use the Power if they did. A capital from which, one day, the whole world would receive peace and justice. When they heard the proclamation, the common people subscribed enough money to build a monument to him. Most of them looked on him as only a step below the Creator. A short step. It took five years to carve and build. A statue of Hawkwing, himself, a hundred times bigger than the man. They raised it right here, and the city was to rise around it.”

“There was never any city here,” Egwene scoffed. “There would have to be something left if there was. Something.”

Elyas nodded, still keeping his watch. "Indeed there was not. Artur Hawkwing died the very day the statue was finished, and his sons and the rest of his blood fought over who would sit on Hawkwing's throne. The statue stood alone in the midst of these hills. The sons and the nephews and the cousins died, and the last of the Hawkwing's blood vanished from the earth — except maybe for some of those who went over the Aryth Ocean. There were those who would have erased even the memory of him, if they could. Books were burned just because they mentioned his name. In the end there was nothing left of him but the stories, and most of them wrong. That's what his glory came to.

“The fighting didn't stop, of course, just because the Hawkwing and his kin were dead. There was still a throne to be won, and every lord and lady who could muster fighting men wanted it. It was the beginning of the War of the Hundred Years. Lasted a hundred and twentythree, really, and most of the history of that time is lost in the smoke of burning towns. Many got a part of the land, but none got the whole, and sometime during those years the statue was pulled down. Maybe they couldn't stand measuring themselves against it any longer.”

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“First you sound as if you despise him,” Egwene said, “and now you sound as if you admire him.” She shook her head.

Elyas turned to look at her, a flat, unblinking stare. “Get some more tea now, if you want any. I want the fire out before dark.”

Perrin could make out the eye clearly now, despite the failing light. It was bigger than a man's head, and the shadows falling across it made it seem like a raven's eye, hard and black and without pity. He wished they were sleeping somewhere else.

Chapter 30

Children of Shadow

Egwene sat by the fire, staring up at the fragment of statue, but Perrin went down by the pool to be alone. Day was fading, and the night wind was already rising out of the east, ruffling the surface of the water. He took the axe from the loop on his belt and turned it over in his hands. The ashwood haft was as long as his arm, and smooth and cool to the touch. He hated it. He was ashamed of how proud he had been of the axe back in Emond's Field. Before he knew what he might be willing to do with it.

“You hate her that much?” Elyas said behind him.

Startled, he jumped and half raised the axe before he saw who it was. “Can... Can you read my mind, too? Like the wolves?”

Elyas cocked his head to one side and eyed him quizzically. “A blind man could read your face, boy. Well, speak up. Do you hate the girl? Despise her? That's it. You were ready to kill her because you despise her, always dragging her feet, holding you back with her womanish ways.”

“Egwene never dragged her feet in her life,” he protested. “She always does her share. I don't despise her, I love her.” He glared at Elyas, daring him to laugh. “Not like that. I mean, she isn't like a sister, but she and Rand ... Blood and ashes! If the ravens caught us ... If ... I don't know. ”

“Yes, you do. If she had to choose her way of dying, which do you think she'd pick? One clean blow of your axe, or the way the animals we saw today died? I know which I'd take.”

“I don't have any right to choose for her. You won't tell her, will you? About...” His hands tightened on the axe haft; the muscles in his arms corded, heavy muscles for his age, built by long hours swinging the hammer at Master Luhhan's forge. For an instant he thought the thick wooden shaft would snap. “I hate this bloody thing,” he growled. “I don't know what I'm doing with it, strutting around like some kind of fool. I couldn't have done it, you know. When it was all pretend and maybe, I could swagger, and play as if I ...” He sighed, his voice fading. “It's different, now. I don't ever want to use it again.”

“You'll use it.”

Perrin raised the axe to throw it in the pool, but Elyas caught his wrist.

“You'll use it, boy, and as long as you hate using it, you will use it more wisely than most men would. Wait. If ever you don't hate it any longer, then will be the time to throw it as far as you can and run the other way.”

Perrin hefted the axe in his hands, still tempted to leave it in the pool. Easy for him to say wait. What if I wait and then can't throw it away?

He opened his mouth to ask Elyas, but no words came out. A sending from the wolves, so urgent that his eyes glazed over. For an instant he forgot what he had been going to say, forgot he had been going to say anything, forgot even how to speak, how to breathe. Elyas's face sagged, too, and his eyes seemed to peer inward and far away. Then it was gone, as quickly as it had come. It had only lasted a heartbeat, but that was enough.

Perrin shook himself and filled his lungs deeply. Elyas did not pause; as soon as the veil lifted from his eyes, he sped toward the fire without any hesitation. Perrin ran wordlessly behind him.

“Douse the fire!” Elyas called hoarsely to Egwene. He gestured urgently, and he seemed to be trying to shout in a whisper. “Get it out!”

She rose to her feet, staring at him uncertainly, then stepped closer to the fire, but slowly, clearly not understanding what was happening.

Elyas pushed roughly past her and snatched up the tea kettle, cursing when it burned him. Juggling the hot pot, he upended it over the fire just the same. A step behind him, Perrin arrived in time to start kicking dirt over the hissing coals as the last of the tea splashed into the fire, hissing and rising in tendrils of steam. He did not stop until the last vestige of the fire was buried.

Elyas tossed the kettle to Perrin, who immediately let it fall with a chokedoff yell. Perrin blew on his hands, frowning at Elyas, but the furclad man was too busy giving their campsite a hasty look to pay any attention.

“No chance to hide that somebody's been here,” Elyas said. “We'll just have to hurry and hope. Maybe they won't bother. Blood and ashes, but I was sure it was the ravens.”

Hurriedly Perrin tossed the saddle on Bela, propping the axe against his thigh while he

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