The Shadow Rising: Chapter 58
From Tar Valon Library
Author: Atarah al'Norahn
The Traps of Rhuidean
Chapter Icon: Wheel and Serpent
Point of View: Rand
Setting: Rhuidean, Alcair Dal
The gateway/portal that Rand has opened leads into a darkness that is devoid of any sensation. He finds steps of pale, gray stone leading ever upwards. He starts to run up the stairs, and notices that as his feet leaves each step, it fades out of existence. As he climbs, he wonders if he created them with the power, or if they had already existed; with this thought the stairs beneath his feet begin to fade, and the ones ahead of him start to shimmer. Desperate, he concentrates on solid gray stone, and they reappear, but polished and engraved this time. Before his thoughts can lead to the deterioration of the steps again, he begins to run as fast as he can. He knows that they will lead him to where he wants to go, but can't help but wonder how long it will take. Eventually, he sees a figure ahead, standing on a platform of silver that slides through the darkness, and Rand knows that it is Asmodean. Rand stops, and thinks of a silver platform for himself; one materializes beneath his feet and begins to glide forward.
As Rand begins to catch up to Asmodean, he notices what seems to be black threads, like fine steel wires, that run off from the man and disappear into the surrounding darkness. When Asmodean turns his head, Rand is astounded to see the face of Jasin Natael; he had been certain that the Forsaken would have taken on the identity of Hadnan Kadere. When Asmodean sees him, he is surprised, and a huge sheet of fire appears and sweeps towards Rand, who channels at it and causes it to vanish. As they continue moving forwards, Rand and Asmodean try to attack each other several times, but neither succeeds.
Finally, the platforms stop, and Rand is thrown through the doorway by his momentum. He finds that he has been deposited not fifty steps from Rhuidean. Once again, both of the men channel at each other, but again, neither succeeds in harming the other. The attacks soon become a race to see who can reach the city first. When they reach the plaza containing all of the ter'angreal, Asmodean leaps towards a small, white stone figurine of a man holding a crystal sphere in one upraised hand. He lets out an exultant cry, but Rand's hands latch onto it a heartbeat later. They both reach through the ter'angreal, drawing saidin through it. Rand is faintly aware of the half-buried statue of the same figurine, only many, many times larger, pulsing with the One Power in Cairhien. Both Rand and Asmodean are attempting to wield saidin through the strongest male sa'angreal ever created.
They struggle back and forth, both trying to gain an advantage over the other. While holding onto the ter'angreal, they continue their battle, trying to kill each other with saidin, but they are equally matched. Finally, in desperation, Rand reaches for the fat little man angreal. He knows that compared to the great sa'angreal it is insignificant, but he hopes that it might give him a slight advantage over Asmodean.
Rand can still sense the black steel wires around Asmodean, and he suddenly becomes calm. He reaches through the angreal, and forms a sword of Power, of Light, and strikes at the wires.
Asmodean screams, and for an instant it looks as if there are two of him, shivering away from each other and then sliding back together. He falls over, and his eyes look lost.
Rand finally lets go of saidin, and looks around. The plaza is a mess, with palaces and towers lying in heaps of rubble. He also notices that the fog that had surrounded Rhuidean for centuries has begun to dissipate. "I destroy. Always I destroy! Light, will it ever end?"
Asmodean pushes himself to his hands and knees and begins to crawl towards Rand. Rand threatens him, and Asmodean stops.
Lanfear appears. She comments on the ter'angreal that Rand is still holding, saying that she had thought that it, and all like it, were destroyed. She tells him that he has just used one of the two sa'angreal that she had told him about, the ones that they could use to rule the world together. "With those, together, we can displace the Great Lord of the Dark himself. We can, Lews Therin! Together."
Asmodean cries out to Lanfear for help, and begins to crawl towards her. Rand tells her that he has cut Asmodean off from the Dark One, and her eyes widen in shock as she says that she had not thought it possible. Asmodean pleads for Lanfear's help, but she refuses. She says that instead, she will tell all the other Forsaken that he has gone over to Rand's side, and he cries out in denial. When Asmodean calls out to Lanfear, using her real name of Mierin, she becomes enraged and Rand is afraid that she will kill him. He pulls in as much of saidin as he can...not much, considering how exhausted he is...and throws a weave between the two; the weave turns out to be balefire.
Rand asks Lanfear if she means to harm anyone in Alcair Dal, and Lanfear wants to know whom he thinks she might kill. "I thought you had realized you did not love that little farmgirl. Or is it the Aiel jade?" Rand tells her that he simply doesn't want anyone to get hurt, as he can still use them. It is painful for him to say this, but he knows that he must if he doesn't want Lanfear to kill anyone. She just laughs. Rand asks her which one she was, meaning which disguise did she use to get into the Aiel Waste? She ends up telling him that she was Keille Shaogi. She then tells him to learn quickly, and leaves.
Rand approaches Asmodean, and finds another figurine just like his, only female. Asmodean tells Rand that Lanfear would rip his heart out to put her hands on it. They start back for Alcair Dal, using the same method to leave Rhuidean as they did to arrive. Rand tells Asmodean that he needs a name that he can call him by; he had decided a while ago that he would use Asmodean as his teacher. They settle on just referring to Asmodean as Jasin Natael, Gleeman to the Dragon Reborn, and Rand tells him that the first thing he wants to learn is how to guard his dreams. Eventually, they arrive back at Alcair Dal.
The rain has stopped, and Rand notices that there are approximately a fourth fewer Aiel than were there before. Moiraine, Egwene, Aviendha, the Wise Ones and Lan have joined the Clan Chiefs and Maidens on the ledge. He is told that the Shaido have left, as have many other Aiel who couldn't handle the revelation of the history of the Aiel. All that are left are the ones who will follow Rand.