Lord of chaos

CONTENTS

MAPS

PROLOGUE: The First Message

1 Lion on the Hill

2 A New Arrival

3 A Woman’s Eyes

4 A Sense of Humor

5 A Different Dance

6 Threads Woven of Shadow

7 A Matter of Thought

8 The Storm Gathers

9 Plans

10 A Saying in the Borderlands

11 Lessons and Teachers

12 Questions and Answers

13 Under the Dust

14 Dreams and Nightmares

15 A Pile of Sand

16 Tellings of the Wheel

17 The Wheel of a Life

18 A Taste of Solitude

19 Matters of Toh

20 From the Stedding

21 To Shadar Logoth

22 Heading South

23 To Understand a Message

24 An Embassy

25 Like Lightning and Rain

26 Connecting Lines

27 Gifts

28 Letters

29 Fire and Spirit

30 To Heal Again

31 Red Wax

32 Summoned in Haste

33 Courage to Strengthen

34 Journey to Salidar

35 In the Hall of the Sitters

36 The Amyrlin Is Raised

37 When Battle Begins

38 A Sudden Chill

39 Possibilities

40 Unexpected Laughter

41 A Threat

42 The Black Tower

43 The Crown of Roses

44 The Color of Trust

45 A Bitter Thought

46 Beyond the Gate

47 The Wandering Woman

48 Leaning on the Knife

49 The Mirror of Mists

50 Thorns

51 The Taking

52 Weaves of the Power

53 The Feast of Lights

54 The Sending

55 Dumai’s Wells

EPILOGUE: The Answer

GLOSSARY

The lions sing and the hills take flight.

The moon by day, and the sun by night.

Blind woman, deaf man, jackdaw fool.

Let the Lord of Chaos rule.

—chant from a children’s game

heard in Great Arvalon,

the Fourth Age

PROLOGUE

The First Message

Demandred stepped out onto the black slopes of Shayol Ghul, and the gateway, a hole in reality’s fabric, winked out of existence. Above, roiling gray clouds hid the sky, an inverted sea of sluggish ashen waves crashing around the mountain’s hidden peak. Below, odd lights flashed across the barren valley, washed-out blues and reds, failing to dispel the dusky murk that shrouded their source. Lightning streaked up at the clouds, and slow thunder rolled. Across the slope steam and smoke rose from scattered vents, some holes as small as a man’s hand and some large enough to swallow ten men.

He released the One Power immediately, and with the vanished sweetness went the heightened senses that made everything sharper, clearer. The absence of saidin left him hollow, yet here only a fool would even appear ready to channel. Besides, here only a fool would want to see or smell or feel too clearly.

In what was now called the Age of Legends, this had been an idyllic island in a cool sea, a favorite of those who enjoyed the rustic. Despite the steam it was bitter cold, now; he did not allow himself to feel it, but instinct made him pull his fur-lined velvet cloak closer. Feathery mist marked his breath, barely visible before the air drank it. A few hundred leagues north the world was pure ice, but Thakan’dar was always dry as any desert, though always wrapped in winter.

There was water, of a sort, an inky rivulet oozing down the rocky slope beside a gray-roofed forge. Hammers rang inside, and with every ring, white light flared in the cramped windows. A ragged woman crouched in a hopeless heap against the forge’s rough stone wall, clutching a babe in her arms, and a spindly girl buried her face in the woman’s skirts. Prisoners from a raid down into the Borderlands, no doubt. But so few; the Myrddraal must be gnashing their teeth. Their blades failed after a time and had to be replaced, no matter that raids into the Borderlands had been curtailed.

One of the forgers emerged, a thick slow-moving man shape that seemed hacked out of the mountain. The forgers were not truly alive; carried any distance from Shayol Ghul, they turned to stone, or dust. Nor were they smiths as such; they made nothing but the swords. This one’s two