Moiraine looked at the two swords and sighed. Then she turned to Someshta.
“Well?” she demanded.
The Green Man shuffled and rustled. “Well, they’re both fakes,” he said. “I imagine this is the second fake we saw in the Heart. There may be more. They do perform some sort of One Power function, but they are most certainly not sa’angreal.”
“But it doesn’t matter,” Moiraine said, just a little acidically. “It’s the symbolism of the thing that matters, right?” She’d been annoyed since Nynaeve had shown up, claiming the Black Ajah prisoners had been killed, and waving the second Callandor around as if she were swatting bitemes with it. Moiraine had sent her away in no uncertain terms, and was now attempting to get her story straightened out before she had to face the High Lords.
“Well, yes, but the symbol is effectively diluted when there’s two or three or more of the symbols floating around,” Someshta replied carefully. “That was probably the intent of the enemy.”
“So the Forsaken have the real sword now?”
“How the fuck did they get it?”
Someshta shrugged with a creak. “It doesn’t matter. One could hardly call this the worst obstacle the Prophesies of the Dragon have ever come across.”
“So,” Lan scratched his unshaven cheek with an unsteady finger. “What do we do now?”
Moiraine looked at him scornfully. “We take this False Dragon and we make him as believable as possible,” she said. “I don’t know who these bloody women are who are parading Logain around, but we have to make the most of it. They won’t let me get close to him – I spoke to him a couple of times, but it was always in a very controlled situation. No weapons, not even any scrolls or … ahh, fuck,” she slapped her fist into her palm. “They’re running a better puppet show than Siuan and I ever planned. It’s just a matter of whether it will work. I mean, he’s not even the real Dragon. And the Tairen High Lords know about Logain. Will they believe he’s the Dragon after we bundled him off and gentled him already?”
“They might after he channels for them,” the Green Man suggested.
“Maybe. If we can prove it’s really him and not some Aes Sedai doing the work.”
“And will it matter, even if it is?” Someshta pursued. “I mean, we are already substituting a normal man for the Dragon. Why stop there?”
“Because we have to fucking well stop somewhere,” Moiraine replied curtly. “I’m not going to make a tit of myself in front of the High Lords of Tear and try to tell them that that fat Debs bitch is the Dragon Reborn.”
“So … what do we do?” Lan pursued.
“You are going to have a bath,” Moiraine said firmly. “And then we’re going to find my Warder, and we’re going to get to work uniting the Aiel. Right, Someshta?”
“Right,” the Green Man said as positively as he could. “Speaking of Aiel, where is Contro?”
“I left him down in the wagon when things looked like cooling down in here,” Lan reported. “He seemed happy enough playing with the piles of junk he’s collected from all over the place.”
“Some of that junk happens to be ter’angreal and angreal,” Moiraine pointed out. “What if he sets one of them off?”
“So much the better. He’s a chirpy little cunt who could do with a good ter’angrealing.”
“Well, I have to agree with that,” Moiraine said grudgingly. “Have we got any horses? We might have to ride if we can’t find a better way.”
“Two,” Lan confirmed. “That vicious beast of Contro’s turned up again, with a mare in tow. It’s that one that came from the Two Rivers with us, if I recall. I left them both down there with the wagon. If any Shadowspawn try to steal that junk, they’ll wish they’d never been … well, whatever verb it is that makes new Shadowspawn. Spawned, I guess.”
“Go have a bath,” Moiraine repeated. “And leave that bottle.”
“Alright,” Lan set the bottle on a table, and turned to go.
“The other one too.”
“So basically, I need to re-define my mission parameters.”
Forsaken_1 had understood literally nothing of the explanation Cooper Two had just given out. He exchanged a glance with Mister C of 9 and the four Ogier, and saw that they were as confused as he was. Well, Mister C didn’t look confused, but that was a sure sign that he was confused. He didn’t like to show any sort of weakness to the enemy. And when you were as contrarian and mercurial as Mister C of 9, everybody tended to be your enemy. If they’d spoken to you for long enough.
“Lews Therin Telamon is dead. Rand al’Thor is Lews Therin Telamon Reborn. This means my mission to take out the Dragon is unchanged. But,” Coop raised a long, boneless finger and smiled disturbingly. “Now I hear that Rand al’Thor is also dead. What does this mean?”
“Mission accomplished?” Forsaken_1 hazarded.
“You’d think tho, wouldn’t you?” Coop’s voice raised an octave and he seemed to have developed a lisp for no real reason. Forsaken_1 reminded himself that the gholam was quite mad. “If my mithion ith to kill the Dragon Reborn, and the Dragon Reborn ith dead, then my mithion remainth the thame – kill the Dragon Reborn!”
“Yours is a truly dizzying intellect,” said Mister C who, for all his faults, at least understood the reference.
“I’m jutht getting thtarted! The Dragon will be Reborn all over again, a fact evidenthed by the Horn of Valere’th failure to bring him back on thubthequent blowingth,” he turned to Hoarni, who nodded because it seemed to be expected of him. “Ath thuch, he’th already been Reborn, and now the target ith the newborn baby Lewth Therin!”
“So this baby, wherever it is, is the one you have to kill?” Mister C pursued.
“Not even cloath! If the Dragon ith the one who ith meant to fulfill the Prophethieth, and there are people theeing to it that thomeone elthe fulfillth the Prophethieth, then that man ith the Dragon and he ith the one I mutht kill! But!” Coop squealed, spraying bloody saliva from his lips, “killing him won’t fulfill any but the motht general and non-thpethific guidelineth of my mithion – I’ll have killed who everybody thought wath the Dragon Reborn, even though he wath a Falthe Dragon, and nobody need ever know I didn’t fulfill my actual mithion, which wath to kill the real Dragon Reborn!”
“So what do you do?” Forsaken_1 still didn’t understand, but he was enthralled.
“Say ‘what’s that over there?’ and switch the baby with the False Dragon while nobody’s looking!” Mister C exclaimed.
“What? No,” Cooper Two said quite calmly. He stood up and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “I have to go and kill them both. Come on, we’ll do Logain first, he’s closer.”