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The Eye of the World Synopsis Part 3: Saidin and Saidar

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In Part 3 of my The Eye of the World synopsis, we’re racing from the Two Rivers and hoping to cross the Taren River before the Myrddraal finds us. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to check out the first two parts of my synopsis before you continue.

Part 1: Winternight

Part 2: The Dark One’s Reach

Part 3: Saidin and Saidar [you are here]

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SPOILER WARNING: The Eye of the World Synopsis Part 3, Saidin and Saidar, has full spoilers up to the end of Chapter 12, Across the Taren.

The Eye of the World Synopsis Part 3

Saidin and Saidar

Weapons

Rand follows Lan and Mat into the stable, and Perrin leaps up from a pile of straw. The blacksmith assures the Warder that no one else is here but for the five horses that stand, saddled and bridled, in the barn. The Warder’s is a black stallion, and Moiraine’s a white mare. The others are for the boys.

Mat notices Rand’s heron-marked sword and mocks him as a want-to-be Warder while Perrin adjusts his cloak to cover something bulky. The stocky boy’s movement doesn’t go unnoticed, and Perrin admits to an axe. Not made as a tool, Rand thinks, seeing the half-moon blade and curved spike.

Mat, who carries a longbow, admits having a “real” weapon might be helpful. The Warder looks up from checking the horses when he hears this. A bow is just as much a weapon, Lan says coldly. The slings used in the Two Rivers to hunt rabbits and warn off predators are, too. He tells them anything can be a weapon, and the boys must learn that to be true if they want to live to see Tar Valon.

Lan’s gravity sours any thirst for adventure the boys still harbored. Mat grumbles that it’s not much like the stories. Except for Trollocs, a Warder, and an Aes Sedai, Perrin reminds him. Rand lets on that Tam knows about them leaving, which shocks the others. They can’t believe Rand told his father when the Aes Sedai had sworn them to secrecy.

Moiraine arrives just in time to hear this, so Perrin and Mat raise a clamor, assuring the Aes Sedai they haven’t been equally loose with their tongues and left notes for their families as instructed. Moiraine only sighs. Rand’s transgression is woven into the Pattern now, she believes.

Egwene and the Hayloft Hideaway

Lan suggests they leave immediately, but Egwene al’Vere suddenly slinks through the stable door. The Warder draws his broadsword instantly but sheaves it again when he recognizes the mayor’s daughter.

Egwene rumbled the boys quickly enough, having spotted Perrin absurdly trying to hide his axe and Mat tiptoeing about the village like all sorts of mischief. When she also discovered that Lan was buying horses, it wasn’t hard to figure things out. The girl has her own supplies wrapped in a shawl and won’t let them go without her. She wants to share in this adventure.

Rand tells Egwene it’s too dangerous because of the Trollocs, but that doesn’t faze the brown-eyed girl. She scoffs when Rand suggests the Trollocs are after the three boys. She understands they want to see the world, but so does she.

Moiraine ends the squabbling and agrees to Egwene’s company, though her Warder objects. It is the Pattern, the Aes Sedai observes, and Egwene is a part of it now. She must take the gleeman’s horse, Lan insists, prepared to leave some coin in compensation.

A voice from the hayloft declares that won’t be possible, and Thom Merrilin emerges. Perrin’s face reddens as he hadn’t thought to look up there. The gleeman throws his belongings to the floor, wearing his harp and flute strapped to his back. He will go with them to Tar Valon since he’s not played there before, and, given the events of Winternight, their company will be welcome for once.

Lan asks if this is also a part of the Pattern and doesn’t like Moiraine’s answer. He sheathes his sword for a second time.

Bela and Cloud

Rand suggests that Egwene can ride Bela. The mare from the al’Thor farm is strong, if not fast, and Lan admits that she may be the best of the horses stabled here. Rand sets about saddling her.

The mare doesn’t balk at the strange harnessing despite being used to Rand riding her bareback. He passes the horse over and promises Egwene he will take care of her. Egwene quips back that she may need to take care of him.

As the last to choose a horse, Rand finds himself with Cloud, a tall gray with a black mane that prances and tosses its head as Rand clambers aboard. Bred to race by its former owner, the gray is hard to handle. The erratic dancing makes it seem that Cloud wants to run now, or perhaps he wants to unseat Rand from the saddle.

An owl hoots and makes the Emond’s Field crew jump before blushing. The Warder tells them it would be better to hear wolves than owls, alarming Perrin. Lan explains that wolves hate Trollocs, and their presence would mean less chance of Shadowspawn waiting for them outside.

Rand rides with Thom at the back of the party as they head to the stable yard. They all pause at the sound of boots on the Wagon Bridge, determined to leave the village unseen. A dim light from the inn shows the miller, Jon Thane, and a small group of Two Rivers men keeping a night patrol. Not a Myrddraal, and not Trollocs.

A Draghkar

Lan’s cloak makes him a shadow in the dark. He leads them through the Winespring Water and onto the northern bank. Rand looks back and tries to lodge the familiar shapes of his village and its beautiful night sky in his memory. Yet Rand knows it’s not a bat he sees when a black figure passes over the silver moon.

The creature must be as large as a man, moving like a bird of prey. Lan growls the name “Draghkar” sourly, and Egwene asks what one is. Thom Merrilin answers. In the wars that ended the Age of Legends, he tells them, they made worse things than Trollocs and Halfmen.

Moiraine must assume the Draghkar will report back to the Myrddraal. It means reaching Taren Ferry, before the Fade and its Trollocs, is their only hope. The Shadowspawn will find it harder to cross the river. Riding through the country will be too slow, so Lan swings his stallion and directs them to the North Road. They all follow in silence and fear.

The party gallops along the North Road, straining to keep pace with Lan’s black stallion. Rand rides behind Thom Merrilin at the back of the party. The gleeman is focused on the road ahead, so Rand takes it upon himself to watch for pursuers coming from another direction. The thought of a Draghkar or Halfman following them terrifies him.

The sheepherder keeps to the rear deliberately, though it’s all he can do to stop Cloud from forging ahead. The gray pushes heavily against any effort to hold him back. It’s as if the horse is in a race and desperate to catch the Warder.

A Need for Speed

Rand’s concern is for Bela and Egwene. He knows Moiraine considers the boys essential but isn’t sure the same holds true for their unexpected companions. For all of Bela’s qualities, the mare is not a racer like Cloud. She travels surprisingly well, but Rand worries about what will happen if she falls behind.

Will the Aes Sedai be patient, or would she consider Bela and Egwene expendable?

Rand isn’t prepared to lose them and resolves to slow down more if needed, no matter Cloud’s frustration. He wills Bela on from his saddle, telling her silently to travel like the wind, praying for her to keep running. He feels cold to the marrow, and his skin crawls from the effort of wanting, and Bela continues to gallop.

The Lights of Watch Hill

At last, Lan comes to a halt, and the others draw reins with him. Cloud is gassed by the effort of coming so far, so fast, and so is Rand. Seeing the lights of Watch Hill dancing in the dark up ahead surprises him. The distance they’ve traveled is wondrous.

The Watch Hill villagers haven’t been troubled by Trollocs, so Bel Tine is still in full swing. Singing and laughter trill the air. Mat fancies joining them to enjoy a mutton pie at the White Boar Inn, but Moiraine has no intention of spending the night here. They’ve stopped so she can recuperate the horses using her magic.

It astonishes Moiraine that Bela is the least weary of their charges before the chilling shriek of the Draghkar disturbs her work. The Draghkar’s wings stir the wind, and Rand feels sick.

Cloud leaps in dismay, carrying Rand with him. He somehow keeps hold of the reins but can’t stop the gray from screaming wildly. The others also struggle to hold their horses, all the mounts fretting bar Lan’s black stallion and Moiraine’s gray mare.

Watch Hill falls silent momentarily, pausing at the scream that pierced the night sky but reverting to merriment soon after. Lan orders the group to mount at once. The Myrddraal must be aware of their position for the Draghkar to be so bold.

Rand doesn’t recall drawing his heron-marked sword or staring at the sky in search of the vile creature circling them. His face blossoms crimson to realize the others have followed the Warder’s instruction, and he hopes the dark has masked his shame.

Moiraine uses the One Power to cover them in a clammy fog as they ride for Taren Ferry. Crossing the river is their only chance, so the gallop continues.

Taren Ferry

Lan sets a demanding pace again. The other horses run on, buoyed by Moiraine’s healing and spooked by the Draghkar. Rand doesn’t know what to think about the power-wrought fog that feels clammy on his skin. He’s very aware that their flight has exhausted his limbs, though.

They draw their reins at last beneath the tall, red stone houses of Taren Ferry. The only sounds are the clip of their horses’ hooves and a lone dog barking. Rand tries to remember what he knows about Taren Ferry folk other than the general distrust afforded them in the Two Rivers.

He knows they don’t travel beyond their village much, turning their noses up at Emond’s Field, Watch Hill, and Deven Ride. They have odd names, too.

Lan jumps from his warhorse and raps on the door of one of the tall buildings. A man with a pointy face answers with a grunt, stepping away from the tendrils of fog that begin to wisp into his house. The Warder calls him Master Hightower, which Mat finds funny. Never seen a high tower, Mat taunts under his breath.

The Warder tells this Master Hightower that they want to cross the river on his ferry, but the man refuses to grant passage at night, especially when the air is cloaked by damp mist. The ferryman’s resistance quickly falters as Lan counts gold coins into his palm. The Warder promises more once they’ve crossed the Taren River, so Master Hightower goes to wake his haulers.

Keeping Up Appearances

Rand is sore from the breakneck riding and wonders if walking the rest of the way to Tar Valon might be better. Moiraine and Lan are conversing in private as they go to the ferry, covered by the fog. The streets are empty, but the Aes Sedai doesn’t want Master Hightower to remember her, so she tasks Lan with handling the wily ferry master. Thom is muttering to himself about hot food and wine.

Rand finds himself at the ferry landing and holds Cloud back. He’s heard the Taren River has strong currents, and even the most gifted swimmers can be pulled under.

Lan approaches Perrin and pulls the blacksmith’s cloak aside so his axe gleams in the night. Rand takes the hint and adjusts his own attire to reveal his sword. The Warder has a hand on his broadsword when the straggly ferrymen appear, carrying torches. Master Hightower eyes them all with suspicion.

Matrim grips his bow while Thom Merrilin’s hand somehow reveals a knife. The gleeman tidies his fingernails with the blade, but the torchlight has told the strangers that their passengers aren’t traveling unarmed.

To avoid any thoughts of robbery, Master Hightower mentions that the gold he was given is not on his person. Lan affirms that the remaining coin won’t be paid until they are safely on the other side.

Across the Taren

The haulers launch the ferry sluggishly, Master Hightower barking orders but lacking any sense of urgency. Nonetheless, the men tug on the ferry’s rope, drag it to the stern, and the boat moves.

This unfamiliar crossing has Rand on edge, so he finds Lan and asks if they were ever at risk of being mugged by these people. Maybe, Lan thinks, which appalls Rand. He hoped for at least a degree of exaggeration in the rumors about Taren Ferry folk.

Rand is worried they might betray them to the Fade, but the Warder says there’s a big difference between being an opportunistic thief and a Darkfriend. He thinks Rand shouldn’t concern himself about that, not here, but warns him to stay alert.

They see Master Hightower watching them suspiciously, so Lan beckons Rand to silence. The boy frets silently about Darkfriends instead. Thralls to the Dark One and, unlike Trollocs, no way of knowing that they were.

Master Hightower quickly asks for the rest of his money when they reach the far side of the river. Moiraine ruffles him by offering a silver mark for each of the men. He’s even more unhappy that his haulers have overheard this promise. Lan counts out the coins.

Suddenly, the ferry landing shudders and its wooden planks groan noisily. Master Hightower looks behind him in horror as the ferryboat breaks free and the splintering sounds grow louder and faster. The fog circles the gushing water, though Master Hightower exclaims that whirlpools are unheard of on the Taren.

This one, however, leaves his broken ferry in pieces, and Moiraine expresses sympathy for the misfortune. Lan offers another purse in recompense, which Master Hightower, dumbstruck and shaken, takes. He takes off at a run with his haulers following.

A Diversion

Rand needs more time to determine whether the whirlpool was a natural event or something else. The rest of the party is already on their way, though.

Moiraine used fog to cover their tracks, and now she uses an extraordinary amount of the One Power to make it cling to the river downstream. When Thom Merrilin questions her choice of direction, the Aes Sedai answers for once.

The Draghkar are not intelligent creatures and will tell the Myrddraal that this riverside is clear. Since the fog extends downriver, the Fade will most likely pursue them in that direction. It will buy them more time, and they need it.

Moiraine refuses to answer any more questions when Mat wants to know what caused the ferry to sink. There isn’t enough time to explain everything she does. She tells Rand and the others that they only need to know that she plans to keep them safe on their journey to Tar Valon. Right now, they must rest and gather strength.

Lan uncovers a space for them, hidden under a tangle of fallen trees. He stored dry wood there on a previous visit and has started a fire for them. This is all to Egwene’s surprise, but Lan explains they suspected they would need the place when they returned from the Two Rivers.

He sets the men about feeding the horses who need a proper rest despite Moiraine’s intervention. Rand feels uncomfortable about the Aes Sedai possibly using her power on him. No matter what she did for Tam, he’s uneasy at that prospect.

A piercing scream from the Draghkar fills the sky before fading to a distant shrill and then silence as the pursuer heads down the river. Moiraine was right about the Shadowspawn, at least.

Saidin and Saidar

Inside the confinement of their camp, Moiraine and Egwene sit facing each other, legs crossed. They’re talking about the One Power, and Rand can’t help but listen in.

Moiraine explains that the Creator made the True Source so the Wheel of Time can turn, and the One Power comes from the True Source. The male half of the One Power is called saidin, and the female is saidar. Two halves that oppose each other but also work as one.

The Dark One’s taint has corrupted saidin, the Aes Sedai continues. Like a coating of stale oil, a sickening layer of foulness covers the male half. The pure Power lies behind it but can’t be reached without touching the taint. That is why only the female half of the One Power is safe to use.

Rand notices that the others are all listening, too, though Thom Merrilin tries to look busy filling his pipe. The True Source can’t be used up, Moiraine is saying. It flows like a river and returns to itself.

Rand’s love interest and friend, Egwene, asks Moiraine to confirm what she’s told her. Egwene can learn to use the One Power and become an Aes Sedai. The smile and excitement on Egwene’s face make her more beautiful than ever, but Rand leaps in alarm.

The gleeman holds him back. There’s nothing Rand can do, he warns, as the two women continue their conversation.

The Red Ajah

Moiraine speaks softly to her confidante now. She tells her it’s not a case of learning for Egwene because she will channel it eventually, whether she knows it or not. Egwene is one of a few to be born with the gift inherent in them. However, she must learn how to use and control it properly in Tar Valon.

Otherwise, there’s a risk of death, though it’s not like for the men. They always die unless an Aes Sedai from the Red Ajah gentles them first. Something makes Thom snarl at that, and Rand begins thinking about how little he knows about the colored Ajahs of the Aes Sedai.

He’s read that sects within the White Tower quarrel and scheme between themselves, but he is sure of one thing. The purpose of the Red Ajah is to stop another Breaking of the World from happening, and they did that by hunting down men with any notions about using the One Power.

Rand feels out of place and notes that Mat and Perrin look homesick, too.

Moiraine tells Egwene that some women also die if they use the One Power without guidance. Very often, if the White Tower doesn’t find them first, these users become Wisdoms or the like in their towns or villages.

The Old Blood runs strong in the Two Rivers, Moiraine adds. She could tell Egwene had the ability the moment they met, and she was reaching the moment she would spark.

The First Flicker

Moiraine takes a blue gem, fixed to a chain, from her pouch. She has worn it around her head before but now lays it on Egwene’s trembling hands. She tells the girl to clear her mind and drift, to focus on the stone, and to feel nothing but emptiness.

Rand makes a silent prayer for Egwene to fail, but the blue stone brightens with light, once, twice, and then a third time, though weakly. Egwene thinks she has failed, but Moiraine tells her no. The last one was Egwene’s and hers alone, she says.

Egwene looks to Rand excitedly and asks him if he heard. She will be an Aes Sedai, she yelps. Rand’s heart empties.

TO BE CONTINUED

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The Eye of the Word Synopsis Part 4

Watch for the next installment of my The Eye of the World synopsis. We travel to Baerlon, meet Min Farshaw and Whitecloaks, and the Emond’s Field boys are found! It’s all coming soon.

Please put your thoughts and feedback on my The Eye of the World synopsis in the comments section. I’ll reply in all haste and appreciate any input.

Until next time, may the Light shine on you, my friends!

Russell

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