The Path of Blaggers, Part 7

The farm was a smouldering ruin, bodies and their possessions scattered around with various pieces missing, and the whole lot was nicely char-grilled. There didn’t seem to be any survivors.

All in all, it made Perrin feel a bit … well, hungry. His inner wolf smelled the body-parts, smelled the fear and madness still thick in the air, and it wanted to make the best of the situation. He knew it wasn’t an appropriate response, but the times being what they were, appropriate responses were hard to come by.

Janica’s response, “you should be investigating the exact same scene somewhere in Ghealdan right now”, also lacked a certain sense of reality.

“And this is the only perpetrator you could find?” he asked, frowning at the Two Rivers soldiers and the bloodied man they held between them.

“I keep telling you,” the prisoner said, “I had nothing to do with this.”

“So what were you doing at the scene? Looting?” Perrin demanded. The man had, after all, been carrying an unnecessary number of swords, at least two of which seemed to be Callandor. Perrin blinked, then looked more closely at the battered figure. “Wait a minute. I know you. The wedding of Rosie Cauthon. You’re Logain Ablar.”

The Two Rivers men scattered, the Aiel whipped their veils up over their faces and the asha’man Grady and Neald stepped forward, faces purposeful and a thick, roiling scent coming off them that Perrin had come to recognise as the smell of a man attempting to keep saidin from destroying him.

“Relax,” Logain said, “if I was going to channel, I would have done it before now. I’m not going to hurt you,” he eyed Perrin up and down. “Especially not you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Uh, you’re Lord Perrin Goldeneyes of New Manetheren, aren’t you?” Logain said quickly. “I, um, I’ve been seeing you on posters and banners for the past few months, especially the closer I got to Andor. Or New Manetheren, whatever you want to call it. Unfortunately I don’t remember you from the Two Rivers. That whole episode is a bit of a blur to me.”

“The only blur I saw that day was you, heading for the hills,” Perrin said, still not entirely sure he liked the smell that was coming off the male channeler. “There are some local lads who were really looking forward to that wedding.”

“Well, ahem, anyway, I mean you no harm. In fact,” Logain staggered to his feet and did his best to straighten his clothes, pretending to ignore the threatening postures of the Aiel and asha’man, “I’ll do you a favour. I would strongly advise against channeling at all. My peaceful intentions are only half of it.”

“What do you mean?” Perrin demanded. Berelain stepped up close beside him.

“There are some … people … after me,” Logain explained. “At least one of them can sense channeling somehow,” he shrugged and smiled apologetically. “Lord Luc, and his friend Smith. They’ve been chasing me ever since I left the Two Rivers.”

“Oh great,” Perrin grumbled, “them again. Are they close behind you?”

“No way of knowing,” Logain shrugged again. “I was trying to lose them along the edges of Shadar Logoth, the evil in the stones there tends to throw off the scent…”

“No need to tell me that,” Perrin grunted. They’d been marching for several days, to give the troops a bit of exercise as well as the channelers a bit of a break from making gateways. He couldn’t have picked a worse place to take a stroll.

“Ah, right. Well, I don’t know if it worked … and what happened here, anyway?”

“I was hoping you could tell us. Some sort of fanatical supporters of the Dragon,” Perrin replied, turning back to survey the carnage. “I don’t know which Dragon, exactly.”

“Well, not me,” Logain said. “I was only ever a false Dragon anyway. And only because they forced me.”

Four days ago, there was a small and extremely confusing war in Illian, after which it became at least semi-clear that Janica and Debs and the glorious forces of the Dragon Reborn had managed to take the city, although there were some ominous details in there that Perrin and Berelain hadn’t quite straightened out. The Wolf Dream was a useful means of communication, but it tended to depend on wolves to do most of the communicating, and when it came to cities and wars and the One Power, wolves tended not to give a short sharp shit. Janica and Debs, Perrin suspected, were beginning to take advantage of that when there were things they didn’t think he needed to know.

Three days before the attack on Illian, the Seanchan had invaded and taken Ebou Dar, but whether that also meant Janica and Debs and the glorious army of the Dragon Reborn, or whether it meant something else entirely, Perrin had no idea. He had long since given up trying to figure these things out.

All he knew was that somebody was taking their worship of the Dragon Reborn a bit too far, and they were doing it right on his doorstep. He’d become used to seeing such atrocities in Ghealdan, but he was supposed to be taking care of this part of the world. From what he could see, the victims here had been feeble and mostly unarmed. One of them looked to be a woman old enough to be his great-grandmother. It was enough to make him-

“Mmm, that’s a big pile of dead Wetlanders.”

Perrin spun to see a pair of annoyingly familiar figures approaching across the burned field.

“What are you two doing here?”

Gaul, and Elyas Machera, stopped in front of Perrin and looked hurt.

“Well, that’s just not very nice,” Elyas said.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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