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datatime: 2022-09-29 03:40:47 Author:zUmaOWry

Balconies and windows overlooked the garden, in some places four stories high. Rahvin had tried to unmake him. He drew on the raging torrent of saidin through the angreal. Lightnings flashed from the sky, a hundred forking silver bolts, more, stabbing at every window, every balcony. Thunder filled the garden, erupting chunks of stone. The air itself crackled, and the hair on his arms and chest tried to stand under his shirt. Even the hair on his head began to lift. He let the lightnings die. Here and there bits of shattered stone window frame and balcony broke loose, the crash of their fall muted by the echoes of thunder still ringing in his ears.

It came to him, as he trotted along another colonnade, sensing for Rahvin, that he had not heard the voice crying over Ilyena since he channeled balefire. Perhaps he had somehow chased Lews Therin out of his head.

Balconies and windows overlooked the garden, in some places four stories high. Rahvin had tried to unmake him. He drew on the raging torrent of saidin through the angreal. Lightnings flashed from the sky, a hundred forking silver bolts, more, stabbing at every window, every balcony. Thunder filled the garden, erupting chunks of stone. The air itself crackled, and the hair on his arms and chest tried to stand under his shirt. Even the hair on his head began to lift. He let the lightnings die. Here and there bits of shattered stone window frame and balcony broke loose, the crash of their fall muted by the echoes of thunder still ringing in his ears.

Moghedien was hunched over on her knees, dry retching. Nynaeve's mouth tightened. The woman had tried to remove the a'dam again. Her cooperation had faded quickly when they discovered Rand and Rahvin actually here in Tel'aran'rhiod. Well, trying to unfasten that collar when it was around your neck was its own punishment. At least Moghedien did not have anything left in her stomach this time.

She levered herself up to a crouch, peered back the way they had come. Nothing. An empty palace hallway. With a ten-foot long gash through both walls, as neat as any stoneworker could have done, and bits of tapestry lying on the floor. No sign of either man. She had not had a glimpse of either so far. Only their handiwork. Sometimes that handiwork had almost been her. A good thing that she could draw on Moghedien's anger, filter it out of the terror clawing to escape and let it seep into her. Her own was a pitiful thing that would scarcely have allowed her to sense the True Source, much less channel the flow of Spirit that kept her in Tel'aran'rhiod.

He felt odd. Insubstantial. He raised his arm, and stared. He could see the garden through coatsleeve and arm as through a mist. A mist that was thinning. When he glanced down, he could see the walk's paving stones through himself.

I am Rand al'Thor, Rand broke in. He did not know what was happening, but the faint Dragon was beginning to fade from the misty arm held in front of his face. The arm began to look darker, the fingers on his hand longer. I am me. That echoed in the Void. I am Rand al'Thor.

He wove another now. A gateway, an opening at least, a hole in reality. It was not blackness on the other side. In fact, if he had not known the way was there, if he could not have seen the weave of it, he might not have known. There before him were the same arches opening onto the same courtyard and fountain, the same columned walk. For an instant the neatly rounded holes his balefire had made in arch and column wavered, filled, then were holes again. Wherever that gateway led, it was to somewhere else, a reflection of the Royal palace as once it had been a reflection of the Stone of Tear. Vaguely he regretted not talking to Asmodean about it while he had the chance, but he had never been able to speak of that day to anyone. It did not matter. On that day he had carried Callandor, but the angreal in his pocket had already proved enough to harry Rahvin.

"Please." Moghedien caught at Nynaeve's skirt. "I tell you, we must get away." Stark panic made her voice painful. Moghedien's clawing terror mirrored itself on her face. "They are here in the flesh. The flesh"

He wove another now. A gateway, an opening at least, a hole in reality. It was not blackness on the other side. In fact, if he had not known the way was there, if he could not have seen the weave of it, he might not have known. There before him were the same arches opening onto the same courtyard and fountain, the same columned walk. For an instant the neatly rounded holes his balefire had made in arch and column wavered, filled, then were holes again. Wherever that gateway led, it was to somewhere else, a reflection of the Royal palace as once it had been a reflection of the Stone of Tear. Vaguely he regretted not talking to Asmodean about it while he had the chance, but he had never been able to speak of that day to anyone. It did not matter. On that day he had carried Callandor, but the angreal in his pocket had already proved enough to harry Rahvin.

Rand nodded coldly. It had limits, then. There were always limits and rules, and he did not know them here. But he knew the Power, as much as Asmodean had taught him and he had taught himself, and saidin was still in him, all the sweetness of life, all the corruption of death. Rahvin had to have seen him to attack. With the Power you had to see something to affect it, or know exactly where it was in relation to you down to a hair. Perhaps it was different here, but he did not think so. He almost wished Lews Therin had not gone silent again. The man might know this place and its rules.

Gaping holes peered down now where windows had. They looked like sockets in some monstrous skull, the ruined balconies like a dozen splintered mouths. If Rahvin had been at any of them, he was surely dead. Rand would not believe it until he saw the corpse. He wanted to see Rahvin dead.

Balconies and windows overlooked the garden, in some places four stories high. Rahvin had tried to unmake him. He drew on the raging torrent of saidin through the angreal. Lightnings flashed from the sky, a hundred forking silver bolts, more, stabbing at every window, every balcony. Thunder filled the garden, erupting chunks of stone. The air itself crackled, and the hair on his arms and chest tried to stand under his shirt. Even the hair on his head began to lift. He let the lightnings die. Here and there bits of shattered stone window frame and balcony broke loose, the crash of their fall muted by the echoes of thunder still ringing in his ears.

No sign of life, except for himself and one fly. That was the way it had been in Tear, too. Stand-lamps in the hallways stood unlit, with pale wicks that had never seen a flame, yet even in what should have been the dimmest hall there was light, seemingly coming from everywhere and nowhere. Sometimes those lamps moved, too, and other things as well. Between one glance and the next a tall lamp might have moved a foot, a vase in a niche an inch. Little things, as if someone had shifted them in the time his eyes were away. Wherever this was, it was a strange place.

I am Rand al'Thor, Rand broke in. He did not know what was happening, but the faint Dragon was beginning to fade from the misty arm held in front of his face. The arm began to look darker, the fingers on his hand longer. I am me. That echoed in the Void. I am Rand al'Thor.

"Be quiet," Nynaeve said absently. "Unless you've lied to me, that is an advantage. For me." The other woman claimed that being in the World of Dreams physically limited your control of the Dream. Or rather, she admitted it, after letting a bit of the knowledge slip. She had admitted, too, that Rahvin did not know Tel'aran'rhiod as well as she. Nynaeve hoped that meant he did not know it as well as she did. That he knew more than Rand, she did not doubt. That wool-headed man Whatever his reason for coming after Rahvin, he should never have let the man lead him here, where he did not know the rules, where thoughts could kill.

Gaping holes peered down now where windows had. They looked like sockets in some monstrous skull, the ruined balconies like a dozen splintered mouths. If Rahvin had been at any of them, he was surely dead. Rand would not believe it until he saw the corpse. He wanted to see Rahvin dead.

Wearing a snarl he did not know was there, he stalked back into the palace. He had wanted to see Rahvin die.

Good. He stopped at the edge of one of the palace gardens. The roses and whitestar bushes looked as drought bedraggled as they would have in the real palace. On some of the white spires rising above the rooftops, the White Lion banner rippled, but which spire could change in the blink of an eye. Good, if I don't have to share my head with -

Wearing a snarl he did not know was there, he stalked back into the palace. He had wanted to see Rahvin die.

"Keep your voice down," Nynaeve snapped. "Do you want to bring one of them down on us?" She looked both ways hurriedly, but the hallway was still empty. Had that been footsteps, boots? Rand or Rahvin? One had to be approached as carefully as the other. A man in a fight for his life could strike out before he saw they were friends. Well, that she was, anyway.

He fought to picture himself in his own mind, struggled to make the image of what he saw in the mirror every day shaving, what he saw in a stand-mirror dressing. It was a frantic fight. He had never really looked at himself. The two images waxed and waned, the older dark-eyed man and the younger with blue-gray eyes. Slowly the younger image firmed, the older faded. Slowly his arm grew more solid. His arm, with the Dragon twined around it and the heron branded into his palm. There had been times he hated those marks, but now, even enclosed within the emotionless Void, he almost grinned to see them.

He focused on the nearest rosebush, a thing a span high, and imagined it growing thin, foggy. Obediently, it melted away to nothing, but as soon as the picture in his mind was nothing, the rosebush was suddenly back, just as it had been.

Why had Lews Therin tried to take him over? To make him into Lews Therin. He was sure that was who that dark-eyed man with the suffering face had been. Why now? Because he could in this place, whatever it was? Wait. It had been Lews Therin who shouted that adamant "no." Not an attack by Lews Therin. By Rahvin, and not using the Power. If the man had been able to do this back in Caemlyn, the real Caemlyn, he would have. It had to be some ability he had gained here. And if Rahvin had gained it, perhaps he had too. The image of himself had been what held him, brought him back.

Rahvin had not gone that way, though, and he had not died in that blast of balefire. A residue hung in the air, a fading remnant of woven saidin. Rand recognized it. Different from the gateway he had made to Skim to Caemlyn, or the one to Travel - he knew now that was what he had done - into the throne room. But he had seen one like this in Tear, had made one himself.

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