The Great Hunt: Chapter 15
Author: Estyrien al'Halien
Chapter Icon: Heron-Marked Sword
Point of View: Rand
Setting: An unknown land
Rand follows the trail of the Darkfriends and has a dream with Ba'alzamon.
Rand, Loial and Hurin follow the faint trail in the unknown land, wrapped in silence. The strange way that the "distant hills seemed to slide toward Rand" makes him dizzy but the only way to avoid it is to be wrapped in the Void, something he wishes to avoid. Hurin is focused on the trail, "as if he was trying to ignore the land the trail crossed", and Loial has drawn in on himself. The land they ride across is charred and burnt but only in certain places. They all run east to west and are thicker in the middle than at the ends. Rand thinks of Whatley Eldin painting a cart and how the charred patches look as though "someone had streaked it with a monstrous brush of fire". The rest of the land also looks dead, "though grass covered the ground and leaves covered the trees". No birds or animals can be seen or heard and the rivers are empty of life. The water in the land is safe to drink but "it tasted flat, as if it had been boiled". When Rand looks at the sky, he sometimes sees unnatural clouds, "The lines were too straight to be natural", though he does not mention it to the others.
Mid morning, Loial stops riding and walks over to a tree. He begins to sing to it, though not like the Ogier treesongs Rand has heard before. The Talent for Treesinging is fading, Loial "was one of the few who had the ability", and that makes treesung wood even more rare. The song seems like "pure song, music without words" and as he sings, Loial touches the wood of the tree and the branch of the tree seems to respond to the touch. The song seems to be familiar to Rand, "as if he should know it". As Loial finishes singing, he holds "a staff as tall as he was and as thick as Rand's forearm, smooth and polished". Rand is surprised, "I didn't know Ogier carried weapons" but Loial tells him it is though "this land was glad for a weapon to be made".
Rand gives the order for them to start riding again to keep up with the Darkfriends. Later on in the day, Hurin tells them that there is something strange about the trail: "It's like I'm remembering it, Lord Rand, instead of smelling it". There are other trails of violence crossing their own trail, some seem to be so new that there should be some evidence of the violence done there but there isn't. There was one such patch just outside the hollow they had slept in, "I could have sworn there were hundreds slaughtered right under my feet". This sounds suspiciously like the slaughter of the villagers by the Trollocs in the other world.
They make camp in the evening and Rand is the first to stand watch. He thinks of Fain and hears a thin voice on the wind, "It's never over, al'Thor". For a while he forgets the strange land as he practices his sword forms, "Parting the Silk. Hummingbird Kisses the Honeyrose". He sits down again and keeps watch, going over his time so that the others don't have to be woken. He doesn't notice that a fog has rolled in and when he does, a man in black appears, cloaked in shadow. Behind the mask, fire is in place of eyes and Rand recognises him as Ba'alzamon. Rand thinks that he is in a dream, "It has to be. I fell asleep, and...", but Ba'alzamon laughs at him. He knows Rand's name and says that he has known "every name you have used through Age after Age, long before you were even the Kinslayer". He claims that they have been tied together since the First Moment, "we are tied together as surely as two sides of the same coin". Rand denies it, saying that the name Father of Lies is well suited to Ba'alzamon.
Ba'alzamon walks over to Loial and Hurin, saying that "You find odd followers... You always did". He mentions "the girl who tries to watch over you" who is Egwene but Rand confuses her for Moiraine. He claims again that Ba'alzamon is lying; "even when you tell the truth, you twist it to a lie". Ba'alzamon talks of the White Tower and how it "means to use you like a hound on a leash". He claims that he and Rand are so closely linked that they guide each other, though Rand once more denies it. Ba'alzamon says that they two have fought battles since the Creation but the Last Battle is coming and that if Rand dies, it will be finished, "This time the Wheel will be broken whatever you do". Ba'alzamon wants Rand to serve the Dark One but he refuses, "I deny you, and I deny your power".
Ba'alzamon tries to tempt Rand over to the Shadow with promises of immortality and shelter from the madness, "The power can be yours, and you can live forever". Rand refuses once more and Ba'alzamon causes the fog to catch fire and his "sword glowed as if just drawn from the forge". Rand hides in the Void and tries to cling to saidin in an attempt to block the pain from the burning. Suddenly, the fire is gone and so is Ba'alzamon; Loial and Hurin are still asleep and Rand thinks that he imagined it. Pain sears through his hand and he finds that his hand is branded with the heron from his sword. He wraps a kerchief around his hand and thinks to himself that he will not channel; that is what "Ba'alzamon wanted to tempt him" with and what "Moiraine and the Amyrlin Seat wanted him to do".
- What were the burned areas and what pattern were they forming?
- Does Ba’alzamon really know every name Rand has used?
- What was the wispy streak across the sky?
There could be something else still alive.
Rand gets his first Heron Mark. Which would mean he slept holding the sword.
- Hovering lacewing
This section contains Notes on this Chapter which may contain spoilers. Please expand to view.
- Ba'alzamon says "Swords do no good against me, Lews Therin. You should know that"
Rand later kills him with a sword
- Does Ba’alzamon really know every name Rand has used?
This seems unlikely, he is only human after all