Winter's Heart: Chapter 27
Author: Atarah al'Norahn
To Surprise Queens and Kings
Chapter Icon: The Lion of Andor
Point of View: Elayne
Elayne meets with the Borderland rulers and tells them Rand is in Murandy in exchange for them leaving in a week. Back in Caemlyn Elayne finds out that four small armies approach the city and starts preparing for a siege.
After Elayne announces that she will meet the Borderland rulers immediately, Merilille scurries off to freshen herself before going back to Braem Wood to tell the rulers that Elayne will soon be there to meet with them. Aviendha and Birgitte try to talk Elayne out of going, but she persists. Birgitte wants to take a full bodyguard with them, but Elayne says that it will only be her, Birgitte and Aviendha. She does not want to be seen as the Daughter Heir of Andor, but as an Aes Sedai with her Warder. Surprisingly, Captain Mellar makes no objection to staying behind.
Elayne quickly eats her midday meal, and arranges to have Careane teach the Windfinders that night. She also asks Vandene a few questions about the Borderlands. She dresses, and they go down to the Traveling yard, where Reanne makes a gateway for them, since she knows roughly where the camp is. Elayne, Aviendha and Birgitte follow Merilille's tracks, with Birgitte and Aviendha worrying over Elayne's pregnant condition.
When they reach the Shienaran camp, there are soldiers waiting for them, among them Kayen Yokata, one of King Easar's advisors and the Lord of Fal Eisen. He swears to Elayne that no harm will come to her. Elayne, Birgitte and Aviendha are led to a tent where Merilille is waiting with Easar, Ethenielle, Paitar and Tenobia, and everyone is introduced.
Elayne tells the rulers that she knows they are there because of Rand, and she wants to know exactly what they want. Ethenielle tells her that they have marched all this way only to find that no one knows where the Dragon Reborn is to be found. They want to know if Elayne knows where he is. Easar says that the war against the Shadow is fought along the Blight, and yet Rand does not concern himself with the Borderlands.
Elayne tells them that she does not know exactly where Rand is, but that apparently he intends to remain where he is for some time. She says that she can give them a general idea, but only if they march south within a week. They puzzle out that Elayne wants them to move south into Andor because the Andorans will see them as an invading army and will hopefully band together behind Elayne. When the Borderlanders reach Caemlyn, Elayne will "negotiate" them into leaving Andor without any fighting. They all agree, Tenobia adding the condition that she gets to see her uncle, Davram Bashere, who is with Rand. Elayne tells them that a search in Murandy will be profitable. Rand is actually in Tear, but Elayne's words are true; a search in Murandy will be profitable for her. Elayne hopes that it will force Arathelle, Luan and Pelivar to support her. None of the rulers seem overly exultant at receiving information on Rand.
With only a few hours of daylight remaining, Elayne, Birgitte, Aviendha and Merilille make their goodbyes and ride back to where they arrived through the gateway. Elayne weaves a gateway, and they all ride through it and make their way towards the palace. Elayne is exhausted and nearly falls asleep on the saddle. Birgitte begins to carry her into the palace, but Halwin Norry arrives with news for Elayne. There are four small armies approaching from the east, with twenty or thirty thousand men. He does not yet know who is leading them. Although Elayne is still exhausted, she leaps into defence mode, giving out orders. Master Norry is to begin buying as much food as possible at first light; Birgitte is to announce that the mercenaries have four days to either leave the city or sign up with the Guards; Master Norry is to announce to the people that they may leave the city before the siege begins; Merilille is to let the Kinswomen and Atha'an Miere know, so that they can leave if they want to as well; and Birgitte is to bring maps to her apartments. She thinks to herself that there is no time for sleep, for she has a city to defend.