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aCoS 13-16 (FRR-2012)

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Lord of the Morning

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Location: Shanaine, Manetheren

PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:34 am
Post subject: aCoS 13-16 (FRR-2012)
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aCoS Ch 13 "The Bowl of the Winds"

I think Aviendha is the only main character to not have any point of views in the series up to this point. Oh, she's had some, but single scenes, not entire chapters where she was the main one. You might argue that only the Two Riversians count as the "main main" characters, but the amount of real estate Elayne gets, on stage, would belay that argument. I think "The Bowl of the Winds" is RJ trying to transition Aviendha into having a larger role in the series. She is tied to Elayne's coat tails for a long time, but in Towers of Midnight, she does some quite amazing things on her own.

It is somewhat hard to wrap my head around just how slowly this book is moving. Well, maybe that's the wrong way to phrase it--how little time is passing chronologically--many things are happening, all at once. It is only three days since Dumai's Wells. Many of Nynaeve's and Elayne's Ebou Dar initiatives are first suggested by Aviendha. She is the one who suggests they go to the Sea Folk, since they cannot return to Egwene until further notice. She also suggests using Mat, since he is [ta'veren], to help find the [Bowl of the Winds]. Aviendha and Birgitte both think it best to end Nicola and Areina. What can I say? The wondergirls are just too soft.

"How could sister-wives manage a husband if they did not talk of him in detail? That was what the older women told her, anyway, and the Wise Ones. They were not always so forthcoming, of course. When she complained to Amys and Bair that she must be ill because she felt as though Rand al'Thor was carrying some part of her around with him, they had fallen down laughing. [You will learn], they cackled at her, and, [You would have learned sooner had you grown up in skirts.]"

No wonder the Wise Ones knew that Rand and Avi were gettin' biblical!

They arrive at the Sea Folk ship and Nynaeve and Elayne are worried about the hired hands looking up their skirts, but Aviendha has a more effective expedient:

"Aviendha's belt knife was small, with a blade not half a foot long, but the oarsmen frowned worriedly when she drew it. Her arm went back, and they fell sprawling to the deck as the knife whirled over their heads to sink with a solid [thunk] into the tick wooden post at the front of the boat. Looping the cloak over her arms like a shawl, she hoisted her skirts well above her knees so she could climb over the oars and retrieve her blade, then took her place on the dangling board. She did not replace the knife in its sheath. For some reason the two men exchanged confused looks, but they kept their eyes down as she was lifted up. Perhaps she was beginning to get a feel for wetlander customs."

Oh yeah, she's got wetlander custom down pat. *chortle*

The girls have come to the largest ship in the harbor to ask in aid in using the [Bowl of the Winds]. It just so happens , on this ship, is Nesta din Reas Two Moons--the Mistress of the Ships to the Atha'an Miere. The Mistress of the Ships is like unto a ruler of the Sea Folk. She is elected for life by the First Twelve--the twelve most senior Clan Wavemistresses (similar to clan chiefs among the Aiel). Nesta is one of those Cadsuane or Sorilea type characters -- strong of will and extremely rich in life experience. There’s no two ways about it, Elayne and Nynaeve get fleeced. Part of my likes Nesta and part of me curses her, because we’re saddled with her retched “bargain” from now, until eternity--well, until Knife of Dreams, at least.

RJ gives us a little lesson in multi-cultural-ism while the girls are getting fleeced. Aviendha thinks that when she read that the Sea Folk ate their dead, it was far fetched, but since men wear jewelry, anything is possible. And later, the Sea Folk Windfinder asks about the Aiel women killing one man every day and why they, ahem, tie men down during the, you know---deed. Also, we have a political cameo! Nesta’s Master of the Blades is named “Baroc.” Ok, this book came out in 1996, so it’s not really a cameo, but it is fun to pretend, is it not?

aCoS Ch 14 “White Plumes”

“The Silver Circuit was misnamed at first glance, but Ebou Dar liked grand names, and sometimes it seemed that the worse they fit, the better. The grimiest tavern Mat had ever seen in the city, smelling of very old fish, bore the name of The Queen’s Glory in Radiance, while The Golden Crown of Heaven graced a dim hole across the river in the Rahad with only a blue door to mark it, where black stains from old knife fights splotched the grimy floor. The Silver Circuit was for racing horses.”

Ebou Dar reminds me of Venice, glorious from afar, smelly and run down up close. I do love the penchant for exaggeration though. And god bless Nalesean for sneaking Olver to his first horse race and setting this chapter up. The guys have been entering Olver, riding Wind, in horse races, because really, what else do they have to do? They’ve been in Ebou Dar nearly a month and still haven’t managed to crack the girls disguises of Illusion facade. Mat tells Nalesean to put it all on Wind, but Nalesean needs reassurance:

“Mat did not bother to glance toward the ten horses entered in the next race that were parading at one end of the course. He had already taken a good look while putting Olver up on Wind. “All of it. Some idiot clubbed the piebald’s tail; he’s already half mad from the fliers. The dun is showy, but he has a bad angle to his fetlocks. He may have won some in the country, but he’ll finish last today.” Horses were one thing he knew on his own; his father had taught him, and Abell Cauthon had a sharp eye for horseflesh.”

It’s easy to put things down to Mat’s luck or the memories, but there are things that he can do that are completely his own. Though, I guess if a horse suddenly trips and falls on its face, we can be suspicious. I hate to spoil, and I know this will come as a terrible shock to everyone, but Olver wins. Mat sees someone he thinks he recognizes in the stands, across the track, but that’s not surprising. He seems someone who reminds him of someone one-thousand years dead almost daily, but maybe...

“For some reason his eyes drifted back to the sharp-faced woman. She was pretty, if vulpine. About Nynaeve’s age, he estimated; it was hard to tell at the distance, but he could judge women as well as he could horses. Of course, women could fool you faster than any horse. Slim. Why did she make him think of straw? What he could see of her hair beneath the plumed hat was dark. No matter.”


“The fox-faced woman across the way popped into his view again. Not straw; a stable. Which made no more sense. He had fine times in stables with many a young woman and sometimes not so young, but she wore modestly cut blue silk with a high neck right under her chin trimmed in snowy lace, and more spilling over her hands. A lady, and he avoided noblewomen like death. Playing haughty like a harp, expecting a man always to be at their beck and call. Not Mat Cauthon. Strangely, she was fanning herself with a spray of white plumes. Where was her maid? A knife. Why should she make him think of a knife? And...fire? Something burning, anyway.”

Alarm bells should be going off, but just in case not, here’s the clincher:

“Mat’s eyes swept across the sharp-faced woman again...and snapped back . The shouts and screams of the crowd faded. The woman was shaking her fan at the horses and jumping excitedly, but suddenly he saw her in pale green and a rich gray cloak, her hair caught in a frothy net of lace, skirts held up delicately as she picked her way across a stable not far from Caemlyn.

[Rand still lay there moaning in the straw, even if the fever seemed gone; at least he was not shouting anymore at people who were not there. Mat eyed the woman suspiciously as she knelt beside Rand. Maybe she could help as she claimed, but Mat did not trust as he once had. What was a fine lady like this doing in a village stable? Caressing the ruby-tipped hilt of the dagger hidden by his coat, he wondered why he had ever trusted. It never paid. Never.
“ weak as a day-old kitten,” she was saying as she reached beneath her cloak. “I think...”
A knife appeared in her hand so suddenly, streaking for Mat’s throat, that he would have been dead if he had not been ready. Dropping flat, he seized her wrist, just pushing it away from him, the curved Shadar Logoth blade sweeping out to lie against her slim white neck. The woman froze, trying to look down at the sharp edge dimpling her skin. He wanted to slice. Especially when he saw where her own dagger had stabbed into the stable wall. Around the slim blade a black circle of char grew, and a thin gray tendril of smoke rose from wood about to burst into flame.]”

I never thought I’d see any of the Darkfriends that were hounding Mat and Rand between Whitebridge and Caemlyn, in The Eye of the World, again. I remember it like it was yesterday, probably because we just had a verbatim flashback sequence, but I digress. At the time, Rand was having, as termed by Wot Fandom, his "Power Acquisition Syndrome." Namely, the series of side effects that follow the first time a sparker (ability to channel in-born) touches the True Source without guidance. Rand was delirious with fever, when this young filly, caught up with them. Mat saved his life, though of course, Rand had taken care of him previously, though more than anything, I think they genuinely like each other.

Mat, Nalesean, Wind, and Olver cash in big time (though obviously Olver can't collect-think of Mat and Nales as his management team--besides he's just the jockey) but Mat leaves Nalesean to collect, as said Filly is leaving. Mat follows her without being seen to follow her. In transit, said fox-faced filly stops for some shopping at a bridge shop, and so Mat has to stop too to buy sometime. During that time, he receives a very important symbol: his signet ring: in perhaps the most random and comical way possible, which if you think of it, is the most natural Mat way there is.

" 'My Lord wishes a new signet ring?" the birdlike fellow behind the counter asked, bowing and dry-washing his hands. Skinny as a rail, he had no worry of anyone stealing his goods. Cramped into a corner on a stool sat a one-eyed fellow who might have had trouble standing upright inside the cubicle, with a long cudgel studded with nail heads propped between his massive knees. "I can cut any design, as my Lord can see, and I have try-rings for the size, of course."
"Let me see that one." Mat pointed at random; he needed some reason to stand here until she went on. It might be a good time to decide exactly what he was going to do.
"A fine example of the long style, my Lord, much in favor now. Gold, but I work in silver, as well. Why, I think the size is right. If my Lord would care to try it on? My Lord may wish to examine the fine detail of the carving? Does my Lord prefer gold or silver?"
With a grunt that he hoped might be taken for answer to some of that, Mat shoved the proffered ring onto the second finger of his left hand and pretended to examine the dark oval of carved stone. All he really saw was that it was as long as the joint of his finger. head down, he studied the woman from the corner of his eye the best he could through gaps that opened in the throng. She was holding a wide, flat gold necklace up to the light.
There was a Civil Guard in Ebou Dar, but not a very efficient one, seldom to be seen on the streets If he denounced her, it would be his word against hers, and even if he was believed, a few coins might let her walk free, even on that charge. The Civil Guard was cheaper than a magistrate but either could be bought unless someone powerful was watching, and then if enough gold lay in the offer.
A swirl in the crowd suddenly turned into a Whitecloak, conical helmet and long mail shirt gleaming like silver, snowy cloak with the flaring golden sun billowing as he strode along confident that a path would clear for him. Which it certainly did; few willingly put themselves in the way of the Children of the Light. Yet for every eye that slid away from the stone-faced man, another beamed on him approvingly. The sharp-faced woman not only looked at him openly, she smiled. A charge laid against her might or might not put her in prison, but it could be the spark to ignite a city full of tales about Darkfriends in the Tarasin Palace. Whitecloaks were good at whipping up mobs, and to them, Aes Sedai [were] Darkfriends. As the Child of the Light passed her, she laid down the necklace, apparently regretful, and turned to go.
"Does the style suit my Lord?"
mat gave a start. He had forgotten the skinny man and the ring, too. "No. I don't want--" Frowning, he tugged at the ring again. It would not budge!
"No need to pull; you might crack the stone." Now that he was no longer a potential customer, Mat was no longer m Lord, either. Sniffing, the fellow kept a sharp eye on him lest he try to run. "I have some grease. Deryl, where's that grease-pot?" The guard blinked and scratched his head as if wondering what a grease-pot was. The white-plumed hat was halfway to the end of the bridge already.
"I'll take it," Mat snapped. No time for haggling.. hauling a fistful of coins from his coat pocket, he slapped them down o the counter, mostly gold and a little silver. "Enough?"
The ringmaker's bulged. "A little too much," he quavered uncertainly. His hands hesitated above the coins, then two fingers pushed a pair of silver pennies toward Mat. "So much?"
"Give them to Deryl," mat growled as the bloody ring slipped from his finger. The skinny man was hurriedly raking up the rest of the coins. Too late to try backing out of the purchase. Mat wondered by just how much he had overpaid. Stuffing the ring into his pocket, he hastened after the Darkfriend. The hat was nowhere to be seen."

It's pretty bad when the merchant tells you, you've overpaid, and I'm sure Mat overpaid by a lot more than two silver pennies. The Pattern sure works in mysterious ways, I wonder if the man just thought, hey today I'll carve ravens, foxes, and moons on this, oh so perfectly sized, ring. Mat continues to track fox-face hither and yon to a small Palace, that must belong to a member of the nobility. She is greeted with familiarity, and Mat is at a loss, or at least he is until he starts speaking his thoughts out loud:

"For a while after the doors closed, he stood there studying the palace. Not the richest in the city by far, but only a noble would dare build its like. "but who in the Pit of Doom lives there?" he muttered finally, plucking off his at to fan himself. not her, not when she had to walk A few questions in the taverns along the street would tell him. And word of his queries would seep to the palace, sure as dirt soiled your hands.
Someone said, "Carridin." It was a scrawny, white-haired fellow lounging nearby in the shade. mat looked at him questioningly, and he grinned, showing gaps in his teeth. His stooped shoulders and sad weathered face did not fit his fine gray coat. Despite a bit of lace at his neck, he was the very picture of hard times. "You asked who lived there. The Chelsaine Palace is let to Jaichim Carridin."
Mat's hat paused. "You mean the Whitecloak ambassador?"
"Aye. And Inquisitor of the Hand of the Light." The old man tapped a gnarled finger against the side of his beak of a nose. Both looked to have been broken several times. "Not a man to bother unless you must, and then I'd think three times."
Unconsciously mat hummed a bit of "Storm from the Mountains." Not a man to bother indeed. Questioners were the nastiest of the Whitecloaks. A Whitecloak Inquisitor who had a Darkfriend come to call.
"Thank you--" Mat gave a start. The fellow was gone, swallowed up in the crowd. Strange, but he had looked familiar. Maybe another long-dead acquaintance drifting out of those old memories. Maybe...it hit him like an Illuminator's nightflower exploding inside his head. A white-haired man with a hooked nose. That old man had been at the Silver Circuit, standing not far from the woman who had just gone into Carridin's rented palace. Turning his hat in his hands, he frowned uneasily at the palace. The Mire never held a bog like this one. He could feel the dice tumbling in his head suddenly, and that was always a bad sign."

Robert Jordan likes to weave a tangled web. Our mystery Darkfriend from book one has entered the palace belonging to our old friend "Bors" from book two. And who is the mystery old man. Of course, we know who he is now, but then? It's a bad thing to believe in coincidence with RJ, and when it comes to Mat, such a thing, exists not. At the time I was extremely curious, but extremely clueless The princess, as they say, is in another castle.

aCoS Ch 15 "Insects"

“Carridin did not look up immediately from the letter he was writing when the Lady Shiaine, as she called herself, was shown in. Three ants struggled futilely in the wet ink, trapped. Everything else might be dying, but ants and sweetcheeks and every sort of vermin seemed to thrive. Carefully he pressed the blotter down. He was not about to begin again for a few ants. A failure to send this report, or a report of failure, might doom him as surely as those mired insects, yet it was fear of a different failure that tightened his guts.”

Jaichim Carridin is writing a report to Pedron Niall, though he does not no him dead, and ruminating on insects vermin, but there is more than one type of vermin.

“So many bands of “Dragonsworn” at work, each stiffened by a core of his most trusted men, so many more who might be bandits or even truly sworn to that filth, al’Thor. Pedron Niall might not like that last, but his command had been to plunge Altar and Murandy into blood and chaos from which only Niall and the Children of the Light could rescue them, a madness clearly to be laid at the feet of this so-called Dragon Reborn, and that he had done. Fear held both countries by the throat. Tales that the witches marched across the same country were an added reward. Tar Valon witches and Dragonsworn, Aes Sedai carrying off young women and setting up false Dragons, villages in flames and men nailed to the doors of their barns--it was all one in half the street rumors, now. Niall would be pleased. And send more orders. How he expected Carridin to snatch Elayne Trakand out of the Tarasin Palace was beyond reason.”

It was touched on before, but confirmation that the core of those “Dragonsworn” that worry and infuriate Egwene and Myrelle so are the work of the Children of the Light. I suppose Niall thinks to abduct Elayne and use her as a goad on Morgase. Though by this time, Morgase has already signed the treaty, so perhaps the thought is to set her up as the Children’s puppet on the throne of Andor. I am sure neither Carridin or Niall suspects how strongly she can channel.

“Most people would have been unsettled by the sight of Jaichim Carridin, even cleaning a pen nib, with his steely face and deep-set eyes, the white tabard over his coat bearing the golden sunburst of the Children of the Light impressed upon the crimson shepherd’s crook of the Hand. Not Mili Skane. That was her real name, though she did not know he knew. A saddler’s daughter from a village near Whitebridge, she had gone to the White Tower at fifteen, another thing she thought secret. it was hardly the best start, becoming a Friend of the Dark because the witches told her she could not learn to channel, but before that year was out she had not only found a circle in Caemlyn but made her first kill. In the seven years since, she had added nineteen more. She was one of the best assassins available, and a hunter who could find anyone or anything.”

One of finest assassin’s available and she couldn’t even stop too hayseed country boys on the run and at the end of their leash. Oh Pathetic. Though I suppose the Prince of Ravens and the Lord of the Morning aren’t your average everyday bears. Mili is insignificant, and her very insignificance highlights how unimportant Friends of the Dark are. Carridin knows enough to bury her, but that won’t save him. She obeys orders, but that won’t save her.

“Trash, all of them. Grubbers for gold and Hunters for the Horn, thieves, refugees, even Tinkers. Scum. Rots would be easy to start, a purge for all this filth. Outlanders were always the first targets, always to blame for whatever was wrong, along with neighbors who had the misfortune to be on the wrong side of grudges, women who peddled herbs ad cures, and folk with no friends, especially if they lived alone. Properly guided, as carefully as such things could be, a good riot might well burn the Tarasin Palace down around that useless jade Tylin and the witches as well. He glared at the swarm below. Riots did tend to get out of hand; the Civil Guard might stir itself, and inevitably a handful of true Friends would be snapped up. He could not afford the chance that some of those might be from the circles he had hunting. For that matter, even a few days of rioting would disrupt their work. Tylin was not important enough for that; she did not matter at all, in truth. No, not yet. Niall, he could afford to disappoint, but not his true master.”

Since the beginning you always hear how Whitecloaks are rabble rousers. If they are true zealots and believe what they are preaching, in Darkfriends, in the people they are rousing the mob against, that is scary enough--extremists are always dangerous, but Carridin’s brand is more chilling. He knows all these people are innocent, yet he destroys them anyway, just because he can. I don’t think all Whitecloaks are that way--as distasteful as the organization is. Carridin is likely the worst of the worst. Whitecloak. Questioner. Darkfriend.

“He started to turn, to put her down hard--he needed success, not excuses, not questions!--but her voice dwindled to nothing as his eyes fell on a young man standing diagonally across the street, in a blue coat with enough red-and-gold embroidery on the sleeves and lapels for two nobles. Taller than most, he was fanning himself with a broad-brimmed black hat and adjusting his neck scarf as he spoke to a stooped, white-haired man. Carridin recognized the young man.
Suddenly he felt as though a knotted rope had been fastened around his head and was being drawn ever tighter. For an instant a face hidden behind a red mask filled his vision. Night-dark eyes stared at him, and then were endless caverns of flame, and still staring. Within his head, the world exploded in fire, cascading images that battered him and swept him beyond screaming. The forms of three young men stood unsupported in air, and one of them began to glow, the form of the man in the street, brighter and brighter til it must have seared any living eyes to ash, brighter still, burning. A curled golden horn sped toward him, its cry pulling his soul, then flashed into a ring of golden light, swallowing him, chilling him until the last fragment of him that recalled his name was sure his bones must splinter. A ruby-tipped dagger hurdled straight at him, curved blade striking him between the eyes and sinking in, in, until gold-wrapped hilt and all was gone, and he knew agony that washed away all thought that what had gone before was pain. He would have prayed to a Creator he had long abandoned if he remembered how. He would have shrieked if he remembered how, if he remembered that humans shrieked, that he was human. On and on, more and more....”

Ishamael’s original, super-secret, instructions to Carridin at the Darkfriend Social, in the prologue of “The Great Hunt,” reassert themselves as he sees Mat in the street. If these are the original instructions and not just...pieces of the Pattern associated with mat...if the horn is associated with Mat from the original instructions then that is worrisome, since Mat hadn’t blown the Horn yet. That can’t be though because Ishy thought Rand had blown it at Falme. I’m going to assume it’s just linkages to the individual [ta’veren] based on their ties to the Pattern. I mean, Ish didn’t really know who the Dragon was until the end of book one, either. At any rate, it’s pretty cool, and “Bors” is pretty f*cked.

“ ’Ruminating?” Sammael said. “can I at least hope that it is about what you are here to find for me?” He stood only a little taller than average, a muscular solid man in a coat of the high-collared Illianer style, so covered with gold-work it was hard to tell the cloth was green, but more than being one of the Chosen gave him stature. His blue eyes were colder than winter’s heart. A livid scar burned down his face from golden hairline to the edge of golden, square-cut beard, and it seemed a suitable decoration. Whatever got in his way was brushed aside, trampled or obliterated. Carridin knew Sammael would have turned his bowels to water if the man had been just someone met by chance.”

I think RJ just likes the phrase winter’s heart--here we are, the heart of summer and he’s already using it. It is interesting seeing the forsaken from a third-agers point of view. Moghedien cowed and captured doesn’t really count, in my opinion--you can’t really get the same impression when they are having a forsaken coffee hour, or when Rand/LTT is thinking/confronting them....it’s too much the feel of equals where it seems more like demi gods to the “primitives.” As it turns out, Carridin is hunting a cache of [ter’angreal/angreal/sa’angreal] for Sammael. The same stash that it just so happens, Moghedien was looking for before her capture, and the same stash that the [Bowl of the Winds] is part of. It is interesting how they tracked it. Maybe [tel’aran’rhiod]? Regardless, Carridin tries to get Sammael to agree that they should capture or kill Cauthon--because that is what his orders from Bal’alzamon--orders ingrained in his very flesh still tell him to do. Sammael isn’t very worried about Mat though. Much like his death would be a bonus, but a waste of time unless Mat directly interferes. I think the Shadow underestimates the importance and danger of the [ta’veren]. Of course, I’m sure most of them underestimate Rand too--it is not that they think he’s dangerous or has any chance at winning, but rather, are afraid the Great Lord will make him Nae’blis. Sammael tells Carridin to stick to the plan, and taunts him about his family. Ishamael’s original orders about Rand--find him on Almost plain and kill him, came with a caveat--for every month he failed one of his family members would die. His youngest sister was just fed to the Trollocs, so Carridin really doesn’t have much time at all.

“No one survived disobeying the Chosen. He pressed his hands against his temples. His head felt tight to bursting. “there is a man in the city, Mat Cauthon. You will--” She gave a small start, and he frowned. “You know him?”
“I have heard the name,” she said warily. And angrily, he would have said. “Few linked to al’Thor remain unknown for long.” As he stepped closer, she crossed her arms protectively in front of herself, and held her place with an obvious effort. “What is a seedy farmboy doing in Ebou Dar? How did he--?’ “

Something tells me she’s a bit perturbed that Mat escaped her and locked her in the tack room of a stable. I also think she probably doesn’t have any first hand knowledge of him since the early days--though it’s possible, we’ve got people calling the boys farmers and peasants as late as the last few books.

“She broke off with a gasp as he seized her neck. A slim dagger appeared in her hand, but he wrenched it away. she twisted and jerked, but he drove her face down onto the table, her cheek smudging still-damp ink on the discarded letter to Pedron Niall. The dagger, stabbing down just in front of her eyes, froze her. By chance, the blade piercing the paper had caught an ant by the tip of one leg. It struggled as vainly as she had.
“You are an insect, Mili.” The pain in his head made his voice rasp. “It is time you understand that. One insect is much like another, and if one won’t do...” Her eyes followed his thumb down, and when it flattened on the ant, she flinched.
“I live to serve and obey, master,” she breathed. She had said that to Old Cully every time he saw them together, but never before to him.
“And this is how you will obey...” No one survived disobedience. No One.”

Like I was saying at the beginning of the chapter, there are many different kinds of insects. Mili is an insect to Carridin, and he is an insect to Sammael. And Sammael...well I’m pretty sure he’s an insect to the Great Lord. A valuable insect--but one just the same. Despite their great abilities--abilities perhaps unmatched even in the AoL, in other times, when there were many to replace them, many trained and almost as gifted, they would not have been reincarnated or given any second chances. Carridin knows he is damned. He is going to disobey Sammael and carry out Ishamael’s orders. Because he has no choice, but he knows, it is death either way.

aCoS Ch "A Touch on the Cheek"

Mat enters the Tarasin Palace to leave a message for Elayne and Nynaeve about Carridin. Massive pile of marble and plaster. Check. Painted on the inside as if designed by a tinker. Check. Really, things don't get interesting until Mat is ambushed by Teslyn and Joline (Elaida's "Embassy"). Then they get REALLY interesting.

"Joline moved to flank him, laying a hand on his lapel. He would have considered that smile inviting form another woman. She was Green Ajah. "They are on dangerous ground and blind to what lies beneath their feet. I know you are their friend. You might show it by telling them to abandon this nonsense before it is too late. Foolish children who go too far can find themselves punished quite severely."
Mat wanted to back away; even Teslyn stood close enough to be almost touching him. Instead he put on his most insolent grin. It had always landed him in trouble back home, but it seemed appropriate. Those dice in his head could have nothing to do with this pair, or they would have stopped spinning. And he did have the medallion. "They see pretty well, I'd say." Nynaeve badly needed to be snatched down a peg or six, and Elayne even more, but he was not about to stand by and listen to this woman talk Nynaeve down. If that meant defending Elayne too, so be it. "Maybe you should abandon your nonsense." Joline's smile vanished, but Teslyn replaced it with one of her own, a razored smile."

Chivalry is alive and well in Ebou Dar! I love how Mat will try to take Nynaeve down a peg or six, but won't let anyone else do it. That's about when Adeleas, Merilille, and Sareitha arrive and begin to fight over Mat with Joline and Teslyn.

" 'Don't fight over me," he said. Tugging his coat was not making anyone let go. "There's enough to go around' "

Yeah...he probably shouldn't have said that, but if he hadn't he wouldn't be Mat. Before Mat can get himself into too much more trouble, a summons arrives from the queen. Mat finds Tylin to be, quite impressive. While in her presence he pens a letter to Elayne and Nynaeve:

"His hand was awkward and square. He had no love of writing.

I followed a Darkfriend to the palace Jaichim Carridin is renting. She tried to kill me once, and maybe Rand as well. She was greeted like an old friend of the house.

For a moment he studied that, biting the end of the pen before realizing he was scoring the soft gold. Maybe Tylin would not notice. They needed to know about Carridin. What else? He added a few more reasonably worded lines. The last thing he wanted was to put their backs up.

Be sensible. If you have to go traipsing around, let me send a few men along to keep you from having your heads split open. Anyway, isn't it about time I took you back to Egwene? There's nothing here but heat and flies, and we can find plenty of those in Caemlyn.

There. They could not ask for pleasanter than that."

It is amazing how Mat offends the girls more when he's not trying than when he's actually trying. It's a gift.

Tylin corners Mat briefly, and strokes his cheek, while saying some rather disturbing things. The encounter is cut short but the arrival of her son, Beslan. From Mat's point of view, the meeting has gone rapidly downhill and continues to do so.. Before he quite knows what hits him, it's been arranged for Beslan to accompany him during all the festivals and celebrations. I'm not sure how I feel about Tylin. It's reverse sexual harassment/rape...though I suppose you can't rape the willing...or semi willing? On the other hand, it's hilarious.
Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!
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