Knife of Dreams

CONTENTS

MAPS

PROLOGUE: Embers Falling on Dry Grass

1 When Last Sounds

2 The Dark One’s Touch

3 At the Gardens

4 A Deal

5 Something . . . Strange

6 A Stave and a Razor

7 A Cold Medallion

8 Dragons’ Eggs

9 A Short Path

10 A Village in Shiota

11 A Hell in Maderin

12 A Manufactory

13 Siege

14 Wet Things

15 A Different Skill

16 The New Follower

17 A Bronze Bear

18 News for the Dragon

19 Vows

20 The Golden Crane

21 Within the Stone

22 To Make an Anchor Weep

23 Call to a Sitting

24 Honey in the Tea

25 Attending Elaida

26 As If the World Were Fog

27 A Plain Wooden Box

28 In Malden

29 The Last Knot

30 Outside the Gates

31 The House on Full Moon Street

32 To Keep the Bargain

33 Nine Out of Ten

34 A Cup of Kaf

35 The Importance of Dyelin

36 Under an Oak

37 Prince of the Ravens

EPILOGUE: Remember the Old Saying

GLOSSARY

The sweetness of victory and the bitterness of defeat are alike a knife of dreams.

—From Fog and Steel by Madoc Comadrin

KNIFE OF DREAMS

PROLOGUE

Embers Falling on Dry Grass

The sun, climbing toward midmorning, stretched Galad’s shadow and those of his three armored companions ahead of them as they trotted their mounts down the road that ran straight through the forest, dense with oak and leatherleaf, pine and sourgum, most showing the red of spring growth. He tried to keep his mind empty, still, but small things kept intruding. The day was silent save for the thud of their horses’ hooves. No bird sang on a branch, no squirrel chittered. Too quiet for the time of year, as though the forest held its breath. This had been a major trade route once, long before Amadicia and Tarabon came into being, and bits of ancient paving stone sometimes studded the hard-packed surface of yellowish clay. A single farm cart far ahead behind a plodding ox was the only sign of human life now besides themselves. Trade had shifted far north, farms and villages in the region dwindled, and the fabled lost mines of Aelgar remained lost in the tangled mountain ranges that began only a few miles to the south. Dark clouds massing in that direction promised rain by afternoon if their slow advance continued. A red-winged hawk quartered back and forth along the border of the trees, hunting the fringes. As he himself was hunting. But at the heart, not on the fringes.

The manor house that the Seanchan had given Eamon Valda came into view, and he drew rein, wishing he had a helmet strap to tighten for excuse. Instead he had to be content with re-buckling his sword belt, pretending that it had been sitting wrong. There had been no point to wearing armor. If the morning went as he hoped, he would have had to remove breastplate and mail in any case, and if it went badly, armor would have provided little more protection than his white coat.

Formerly a deep-country lodge of the King of Amadicia, the building was a huge, blue-roofed structure studded with red-painted balconies, a wooden palace with wooden spires at the corners atop a stone foundation like a low, steep-sided hill. The outbuildings, stables and barns, workmen’s small houses and craftsfolks’ workshops, all hugged the ground in the wide clearing that surrounded the main house, but they were nearly as resplendent in their blue-and-red paint. A handful of men and women moved around them, tiny figures yet at this distance, and children were playing under their elders’ eyes. An image of normality where nothing was normal. His companions sat their saddles in their burnished helmets and breastplates, watching him without expression. Their mounts stamped impatiently, the animals’ morning freshness not yet worn off by