Chucky and Mister C ran through the streets. They paused in an alleyway to get their breath back.
“It had to be done,” Chucky protested between wheezes. “It had to be done. They were going to put collars on Verin and Egwene and Nynaeve. Those things are evil. I had to do it.”
Mister C of 9 glared at Chucky with his sunglasses. Behind them, there was another round of screams, the barking of grolm, and a crash as some masonry tumbled outwards into the street.
“High Lord Turak was pissed,” Chucky admitted.
“You destroyed his china hutch,” Mister C said. “I’m not surprised he was pissed.”
“It was cuendillar, and I didn’t destroy it,” Chucky snapped. “It’s indestructible. Turak just broke the display case when he collapsed.”
“I thought it was Suroth who collapsed.”
“No, she was the one screaming ‘make it stop, make it stop’,” Chucky disagreed. “Turak was just blundering around with his hands over his ears, and he fell over into the display case. Have you still got the Seal?”
Mister C of 9 pulled the disk out of his black cloak. “Is this the One Seal?”
“No, there’s others.”
“But isn’t there one Seal to rule them all?”
“I don’t think so. But they do have to be destroyed so the Dark One can be defeated. At least, that’s one theory. He has to be free so somebody can kill Him, you see.”
“We’re just lucky your bagpipes didn’t break this one.”
“Shut up. Hey look, there’s Mat and Perrin,” the gleeman and his apprentice crouch-ran over to the two Emond’s Fielders, and ducked behind the deserted merchant’s stall they were hiding in. Perrin peeped out, and handed Chucky a roast chicken leg. “Cheers.”
“Good story, Chucky,” Mat said enthusiastically. “I liked the part where Yoru was fighting the Insect Men. It wasn’t your fault it upset the High Lord so much.”
“Although we probably could have done without the war-horns of the avenging Stone Men, and the last hornpipe of Cotton Eye Joe of the Clan McJoe,” Perrin reflected.
“Yes yes, thank you, everyone’s a critic,” Chucky grumbled. “Have you seen the others?”
“Min escaped with Egwene and Nynaeve,” Mat said, “I don’t know what happened to Verin and Liandrin. But I saw Padan Fain.”
“You did? Where?”
“Oh, he was skulking around with that sailor. Bayle Domon. What a pair,” he laughed. “What do we do now?”
“Where are the Borderlanders? Ingtar and the others?”
Perrin and Mat exchanged a grim glance.
“Ingtar gave up his life so we could get out of the palace,” Perrin said, as if reciting lines of verse painstakingly memorised. “He sacrificed himself so the others could get out. It was a noble death.”
“Boromir?” Mister C said. Chucky grinned.
“Well, he died on the side of the Light,” he went on, and the filthy farmboys nodded, looking relieved. “I’ll make a story to honour him. Later. In the meantime, how about we get out of here? I think the girls will have bolted. They’re sensible. And Masema and Uno and the guys are okay. I think we should go.”
“Look,” Perrin said, and pointed. “Do you think they’re after us, or do you think they’re going to attack those Whitecloaks we snuck past on the way in here?”
At the end of the alley, a huge force of armed Seanchan were marching out of Falme.
The raken were restless, and leapt into the air in great gusts of wind as their riders climbed into the saddles.
“The main force’ll be oot shortly,” the captain said as he tightened the straps on the underside of his own scaly beast. The raken whimpered as tough leather cinched on its privates. “Sorry, laddie. Begorrah. Luke, leashie, we’d give ye a lift, but ye’re tae many. An’ we still danna knae who these jessies are,” he pointed at Vamps and Logain. “Ye should head doon intae Falme an’ join the main team. Another damane‘d be a right treat.”
“We’ll be alreet,” Debs assured the concerned captain. “We canna get involved in this. We’ve got another mission.”
“Aye, the girlies wi’ Lady Suroth,” the captain laughed. “Well, gude luck tae ye! Tell ole spikey-heed tha’ we’ll save ‘er some Weetclooks as soon as she saves us some pess!”
“Pess?” Janica asked as the raken swept into the air.
“Pess,” Debs said. “From the pess-up,” then she turned to Vamps and Logain. “Reet,” she went on in a businesslike manner. “We’ve got tae get oot o’ here. There’s Weetclooks commin’.”
Vamps and Logain exchanged a glance.
“What did she say?” Logain asked Janica.
“We have to go,” Janica translated. “There’s Whitecloaks attacking the town, and we’re right in their path.”
Debs’ shout came a second too late.
It was a clear note, as golden as the Horn was golden. The trees around them seemed to resonate with it, and the ground under their feet, the sky overhead. That one long sound encompassed everything.
Except Janica, swearing like a discharged marine.