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datatime: 2022-09-29 03:43:12 Author:sXXUMhhu

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.

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.

"We are linked." Still not paying attention, Nynaeve gave her braid a sharp pull. No way to tell which direction they had gone. And no warning of anything until she saw them. Somehow it still seemed unfair that they could channel without her being able to see or feel the flows. A stand-lamp that had been sliced in two was suddenly whole again, then not, just as quickly. That white fire must be incredibly powerful. Tel'aran'rhiod usually healed itself rapidly whatever you did to it.

Nynaeve hurled herself flat and scrambled along the hall floor as something slashed through the nearest wall. Moghedien slithered as fast as she, but if the woman had not, she would have hauled her by the a'dam. Had that been Rand, or Rahvin? She had seen bars of white fire, liquid light, like that in Tanchico, and she had no wish to be anywhere near one again. She did not know what it was, and she did not want to know. I want to Heal, burn both of these fool men, not learn a fancy way to kill

"We must go," Moghedien insisted, but she did lower her voice. She got to her feet, sullen defiance twisting her mouth. Fear and anger writhed inside her, first one stronger, then the other. "Why should I help you any further? This is madness"

"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.

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.

Stepping through quickly, he loosed the weave and hurried away across the courtyard as the gateway vanished. Rahvin would have felt that gate if he was close enough and trying. The fat little stone man did not mean he could stand and wait to be attacked.

"You brainless fool," Moghedien sobbed, shaking Nynaeve's skirt with both hands as if wanting to shake Nynaeve. "It does not matter how brave you are. We are linked, but you contribute nothing the way you are. Not a shred. It is my strength, and your madness. They are here in the flesh, not dreaming They will destroy us if we stay"

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.

"Why will you not understand what I tell you? Even if they had only dreamed themselves here, either would be stronger than we. Here in the flesh, they could crush us without blinking. In the flesh they can draw saidin more deeply than we can draw saidar dreaming."

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.

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 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.

"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.

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.

"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.

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.

"We must go," Moghedien insisted, but she did lower her voice. She got to her feet, sullen defiance twisting her mouth. Fear and anger writhed inside her, first one stronger, then the other. "Why should I help you any further? This is madness"

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.

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 -

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.

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.

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.

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