Chapter 20: Dust on The Wind
Hey, we’re about a third of the way through this book. It’s going a lot quicker than I expected.
Anyway, Rand and co are on their way out of Evil City when they encounter some scary fog.
A thin tendril of silver-gray fog drifted low across the street ahead of him.
“Stop!” It was a strangled shout from Moiraine, sharp and urgent, but pitched not to carry far.
Turns out the scary fog is Mashadar, and if anyone touches it bad shit will happen. It’s now separating Lan and Moiraine from the rest of the group, so their escape has become rather complicated.
“The evil of Shadar Logoth,” Moiraine replied. “Mashadar. Unseeing, unthinking, moving through the city as aimlessly as a worm burrows through the earth. If it touches you, you will die.”
PRETTY MESSED UP. I like how Mashadar is just this unthinking force rather than a big scary evil thing that’s evil for the sake of being evil (you know, like the Dark One).
Moiraine tells the group to head for a river outside the city (Trollocs and Myrddrall won’t cross deep water, because I guess they can’t swim?) and rendezvous on the other side.
Everyone was still staring, wondering which way to go. He turned Cloud, and the gray broke into a half trot, tugging against the reins to go faster. As if moving first had made him the leader, everyone followed.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this exact scene: suddenly people start following the main character even though he’s displayed zero leadership qualities, and it turns out he’s secretly a Leader Of Men but he doesn’t think he’s worthy of the responsibility and abloo bloo it’s so sad.
Two Trollocs stepped into the street before them, not ten spans away.
For an instant the humans and the Trollocs just stared at one another, each more surprised than the other. Another pair of Trollocs appeared, and another, and another, colliding with the ones in front, folding into a shocked mass at the sight of the humans.
Rand tries to rally his friends, but everyone scatters in different directions. Believe it or not, if I remember correctly this actually marks the point at which the characters all start splintering off into separate groups and following different plot lines. I don’t think they’re all back together again until the end of the second book, and after that they’re barely ever in the same place until the final battle in book 14.
Mashadar kills some Trollocs and lets Rand escape, and he runs into Mat. They leave the city and as they’re approaching the river Thom (I keep forgetting he exists; I really think Jordan should have had Rand and Mat meet him later, at some point after this) comes charging out of the trees with Trollocs in hot pursuit.
Then all of a sudden POV CHANGE (the first in the book apart from the prologue) as we jump mid-chapter over to Perrin. This gives us an excellent chance to see what the difference is between Rand and Perrin: see, while Rand is a boring trepidatious dude who just wants to go home and can be stubborn and lose his temper from time to time, Perrin is a boring trepidatious dude who just wants to go home and can be stubborn and lose his temper from time to time, but he’s somewhat more cautious.
He knew that Mat, and almost everyone else in Emond’s Field, considered him slow of thought. It was partly because he was big and usually moved carefully—he had always been afraid he might accidentally break something or hurt somebody, since he was so much bigger than the boys he grew up with—but he really did prefer to think things all the way through if he could.
I seriously might just start skipping Perrin’s chapters later. Dude is booooring (apart from one particular scene in the third book, where he becomes briefly infuriating).
Perrin is just about to make his departure when Egwene arrives. They leave the city together but are pursued by Trollocs (presumably part of the same group chasing Mat and Rand) and in the ensuing chase Perrin rides his horse off a short drop into the river. He swims to the other side, but can’t find Egwene.
Then BACK OVER TO RAND where he, Met and Thom have escaped for the moment as well. Except actually no, because more Trollocs appear! Man those things are good at being stealthy.
Then thom saves the day by being a huge badass.
Suddenly Thom’s gelding galloped out of the night, hard behind the Trollocs. The Trollocs had only time enough to look back in surprise before the gleeman’s hands whipped back and then forward. Moonlight flashed off steel.
If you’re throwing knives like this you can only use special knives crafted specifically for that purpose (not the daggers that Thom has been wielding until now) and you generally need to use specific throwing techniques depending on the distance to your target. I can accept that Thom is just that good due to him being the party’s thief/bard combo, but surely for someone in his position a bow would be more practical, if only because he could buy or make arrows a lot easier than specially-crafted weapons.
“But Moiraine and the others could be anywhere,” Mat protested. “Any way we choose could just take us further away.”
“So it could.” Clucking to his gelding, Thom turned downriver, heading along the bank. “So it could.”
That Thom is a wily fellow.
A river boat pulls up and Thom suggests they hop on board to escape. Rand insists on looking for the others first, but then some Trollocs come Trollocing up the river bank (how did they get across the river?) and they have to run for it.
Off balance, stumbling, Rand still managed to draw his sword and swing. With a scream the Trolloc dropped away.
Is this Rand’s first non-accidental kill? I think it might be.
I’m going to die! Light help me, I’m going to . . . !
The Trolloc’s arm started forward, driving the splintered shaft, and Rand found the breath for one yell. “No!”
Suddenly the ship lurched, and a boom swung out of the shadows to catch the Trolloc across the chest with a crunch of breaking bones, sweeping it over the side.
For a moment Rand lay panting and staring up at the boom swinging back and forth above him. That has to have used up my luck, he thought. There can’t be any more after that.
Rand sure has been getting “lucky” a lot, huh.
(This is funny because I think later on there’s a character who can literally use luck to make things happen the way he wants)
After the boat takes off Rand meets the captain, Bale Domon. I could have sworn Bale Domon was someone else, possibly because there are a ton of minor side-characters in these books with similar names (this becomes especially frustrating when more Aes Sedai come into the picture, and they all have near-identical names and personalities, in that they sniff derisively and twitch their shawls in irritation all the time).
“Now,” said the captain when they were all seated. “My name be Bayle Domon, captain and owner of the Spray, which be this ship. Now who be you, and where be you going out here in the middle of nowhere, and why should I no throw you over the side for the trouble you’ve brought me?”
Bale Domon also talks like a pirate for some reason.
Thom tells him that Rand and Mat are his apprentices and they’re travelling wherever the wind takes them (like dust on the wind, do you see) and Domon is like YARR BALE DOMON BE BRINGING YOU TO WHITEBRIDGE FOR COIN and that TROLLOCS BE STIRRING IN THE NORTH SO THEY DO and people are starting to get spooked.
This winter past, though, there be farms burning every night. Aye, and whole villages, too, betimes. They even came right up to the city walls. And if that no be bad enough, the people be all saying it meant the Dark One be stirring, that the Last Days be come.
I picture this guy being played by Littlefinger and his wildly oscillating accent.
And his Grinch-like smile.
“I told her I’d take care of her. I should have tried harder.” The creak of the sweeps and the hum of the rigging in the wind made a mournful tune. “I should have tried harder,” he whispered.
Shut up Rand, no one cares.