The Great Hunt: Chapter 29
Chapter 29: Seanchan
Characters: Bornhald, Muadh, Byar, Jeral, Domon, Yarin, sailors on the Spray, Egeanin, Caban, sul'dame, damane, High Lord Turak, Seanchan Lord, Seanchan.
Setting: Almoth Plain and Falme
Bornhald leads his guard of Whitecloaks into another village on the Almoth Plain. The sight of a "long gibbet marring the village green" from which thirty bodies hang greets him. His asks Muadh who's work it is and he replies that the villagers describe a man "that sounds twin to Child Earwin" and a man that "sounds almost like Child Wuan". Bornhald identifies them as Questioners but can do nothing about it since "his orders had been explicit: Obey the Questioners". He orders the dead to be cut down and for Muadh to "make sure the villagers know there will be no more killing". Bornhald then orders Muadh to "pick one out for me" so that he can find out what happened.
Bornhald thinks of the invaders he has heard of all over the Almoth Plain. They are called the Seanchan, the Rhyagelle, Those Who Come Home, or Hailene, Those Who Come Before. They "spoke of Correne, The Return", and how many people think that they are Artur Hawking's armies returned from over the seas. Bornhald doesn't know where the Seanchan come from and "requests for information from the Sea Folk had been met with silence". Survivors of the Seanchan invasion had spoken "of men who came in to battle riding monsters? and brought Aes Sedai to rend the earth".
Byar interrupts Bornhald's train of thought by announcing that "Child Jeral has just ridden in with a message". The message is from "Jaichim Carridin? who guides the Hand of the Light" who commands that Bornhald stop his advance on Falme and concentrate on rooting out Darkfriends on the Almoth Plain. Bornhald disagrees with the orders as he has "seen nothing in any village he has ordered taken" except farmers and craftsmen. Bornhald is critical of the Questioners' plan because he thinks that the Darkfriends "are in Falme, not on the plain". He tells Byar that he means "to take the legion onto Toman Head". A prisoner of the village is then brought in to explain what happened in the village.
The chapter then changes point of view to Bayle Domon, who is captain of the Spray. He is sailing near Toman Head and is being followed by another ship that turns out to belong to the Seanchan. He orders the helmsman to "take her closer in" since "that ship will no dare enter the shallow waters". He thinks of the reports he has of the Seanchan; how villagers "were rent by lightning from the sky? and the earth erupted in fire". At first he was sceptical but after he saw the blackened ground in many villages, he began to believe it. The people in Tanchico had believed that their army would take care of it but the people in the coastal towns didn't.
"The Seanchan told astonished people they must swear again oaths" and young women were examined and some of them were taken away. "New mayors were chosen by the Seanchan" so that they could control the villages and those who protested were gotten rid of. Once people had sworn "to obey the Forerunners, await the Return, and serve Those Who Come Home", the Seanchan left and didn't usually return. Most villages remained as the Seanchan left them, too afraid to return to their old councils.
While they try to reach safer waters, "the surface of the sea broke into fountaining water and flame". Realising that this was a threat that could destroy the ship, Domon orders for the ship to slow down so the Seanchan can catch up. The Seanchan lower a boat and move several people onto the Spray. The first to climb aboard is a woman dressed in armour, which is strange enough. The woman first checks that no woman are present on the ship, there aren't, and then two women climb aboard, "one drawing the other? by a leach of silvery metal". The woman, called Captain Egeanin, catches him looking at the women and tells him that the leached woman is damane and seems proud that she owns one. Domon mistakenly calls her Aes Sedai and Egeanin is displeased about that, "They are only damane, the Leashed Ones".
Egeanin orders that the Spray be sailed to Falme and the Seanchan sail back to their ship, leaving only one man aboard, called Caban. Caban has considerable contempt "for anyone this side of the Aryth Ocean" and Domon wonders if the stories of Artur Hawking's lost armies are true. He also finds out from Caban that damane are "the business of the Blood". In the harbour of Falme, Domon sees more ships in one place than before and he is astounded. Domon looks away from anything too much to do with the Seanchan, "I do be a trader, and it is none of my business".
The crew of the Spray are taken off the boat while it is searched by soldiers and the damane, this time collared by a different woman. Whilst the search occurs, a creature appears that has "a leathery, grey-green hide and a beak of a mouth in a wedge-shaped head". Once the search is finished, Egeanin walks off the boat, carrying something small wrapped in silk and takes Domon to a hall. On the way, Domon notices that some people who are not Seanchan are allowed to carry weapons and Egeanin explains that there is no reason to stop them if they obey their oaths. Soldiers riding by ride "creatures that looked almost like cats the size of horses, but with lizards' scales".
Egeanin leads him to a guarded hall, where she "surrendered her sword and dagger" and then leads him inside. When two men enter the room, Egeanin "dropped to her knees" and then "prostrated herself with her hands at her sides" and Domon follows her example. Once of the men is introduced as "the High Lord Turak? who leads Those Who Come Before, and succors the Return". Egeanin presents the silk wrapped object to the High Lord Turak who seems to be pleased with it, "this is a fine specimen". He tells Egeanin that "I will mention your name to the Empress" which is apparently a very great honour. She then leaves the room.
Turak is holding the cuendillar seal of the Aes Sedai shape that Domon used to own. Turak seems interested as to how Domon found the seal and shows him other cuendillar objects that he owns, "enough to buy a kingdom". Domon tries to give the seal as a gift but apparently Egeanin already has and so the unnamed lord considers it an insult, though Turak cuts him off. Turak tells Domon cannot let him go "in this shadowed land of oath-breakers", instead deciding to keep Domon so he can talk to him about his collection. Turak is brought a cup of kaf and asks Domon "how a simple trader came to possess a piece" of cuendillar. The chapter finishes with Domon trying "to lie his way out of Falme".