Matrim Cauthon had had enough of the wine provided by The Stag and Lion to sate five men, and was seated at a table, roaring drunk. Fortunately, one did not have to be sober to be lucky. He had a beautiful (to his impaired vision) woman on his lap, and he hadn’t lost a roll in seven tosses straight. Life was good, almost good enough to forget... Mat shuddered in memory.
Two Days Previous:
“Perrin! Ewin!” Mat called, fruitlessly. Perrin’s disappearance had been brought up in a meeting of the village council, and the women’s circle, and both had agreed that finding him necessitated a search party. Ewin had overheard and run off in search of his hero, and now Mat was among several given the task of finding the two. “When I bring Perrin back I am going to rub this in Egwene’s face so much she’ll smell it when she’s thirty. Perrin! Ewin!” Mat was tired, and who could blame him, he’d been searching for the pair into the evening now. “RRRRR” Mat’s attention was draw down and to his left, to a large grey wolf. Mat whirled, his small knife flashing out of his pocket, regardless of how useless it would undoubtedly prove against the large wolf. Another growl came from the path behind him. Mat took off running. As he streamed through the trees, Mat reflected briefly that they should have caught him and torn him apart by now. They were right behind him, teeth always falling just short of his heels. Just as Mat realized, filled with dread, that they were chasing him away from the village, the wolves peeled off, and Mat ended his sprint in a clearing, a clearing with two human bodies on the floor, one large and one small. Mat’s first though was that he had found them too late, and that the wolves had killed his fellows. Hope bloomed anew as Perrin’s head shot up facing Mat. “Perrin, Ewin! You’re ok! Perrin, you look like hell. Let’s go, before-“ “RRRRR” Perrin growled at him. “Perrin, come on,” Mat took a step forward. Simultaneous growls from several wolves entering the clearing made him freeze in his tracks. Perrin rose to all-fours and slunk towards the wolves. “Per-“ Another growl cut Mat off, and seemed to wake Ewin. The poor boy took one look at Perrin and the wolves and bolted into Mat’s arms. The wolves stayed silent. “Perrin, just talk to me, please.” Mat had descended into hysterics. Perrin let out only a soft growl in response. Mat was about to speak again, when one wolf raised its head and howled. The other wolves joined in, and so did Perrin. Even with Ewin’s added weight, Mat had never run so fast in his life.
Mat descended the inn’s stairs with a terrible, roaring headache to get his breakfast. He ate with great fervor, pausing only every twelfth bite to breathe and look up. Every time he did, he saw the same young woman starting at him with wide, dark eyes. Mat’s mood improved instantaneously as he hopped from his seat and approached her table, “I know, I know. I am a dream to view, aren’t I?” The woman actually seemed startled that he addressed her, “Wha- No, it’s just- Never mind, you wouldn’t believe it,” She finished bitterly. Mat sighed and sat, “There is very little I wouldn’t believe at this point. Try me.” The woman considered him for a moment, “I have a unique ability.” As Mat recoiled she hastened to explain, “Not the One Power, I mean truly unique. I can see... images... when I look at people, that sometimes represent the future.” She looked like she was waiting for Mat to run. When he didn’t, she continued, “You are in great danger, I see you surrounded in sparks. If you are to survive what is to come, you must go to the white tower, to Tar Valon.” Mat’s mouth hung open. “I’m leaving in the morning, will you come with me?” Somehow, Mat felt a pull. He nodded.
In his room deep in the Stone of Tear, Rand had a similarly surprising, but far more pleasant awakening. Moiraine came bursting into his room without preamble, Lan following closely in tow. Rand sat bolt upright in the chair he occupied, while Lanfear, still appearing as Selene, sat up on the bed. Moiraine came to an abrupt halt, forcing Lan to adjust quickly to avoid running into her. “Rand, who is this?” Rand, to his credit, improvised quickly, “Moiraine, this is Selene. She’s to be my guide through Tear. Selene, nodded, confirming his story, “My Lord Dragon had questions last night, and I’m afraid I must have fallen asleep while explaining a few things. I can be going now, if my Lord Dragon wills it.” “ ‘Rand’ is just fine, Selene.” She nodded, gratefully, “Thank you my Lor- Rand.” She really was a brilliant actor, Rand noticed. She seemed nothing like herself, and it made him inexplicably sad. Moiraine broke into his reverie with a burst of Saidar that stilled the air in a circle around her and Rand, effectively cutting Selene out of their conversation, “You have been disciplined, focused, and strong-willed as long as I have know you, Rand. I sincerely hope that you will continue that policy.” Rand could understand her concern. It was a rather sudden relationship to develop. They had had a plan, but it had required time, and Lanfear was only staying that one night before she integrated herself into the Tarian structure the next day. Well, that plan was shot now. “Our relationship is purely professional, Moiraine. Really, if it was that easy to affect me I never would have survived the Tower.” She nodded slowly, “Just be careful, Rand, and remember I am also here to guide you.” He nodded, “I’m working on a plan right now. I’ll let you know.” The ward fell. “Goodbye Rand, Selene.”