The Dragon Reborn: Chapter 24
Chapter 24: Scouting and Discoveries
Mat wakes up, realizing he has failed to come up with a plan for escaping Tar Valon. He notices that he is beginning to look better already in the mirror. Mat dresses and decides to abandon his spare clothes, but takes his dice. He seems surprised that there is no guard on his room, and looks for a way outside. He finds a way out and walks over to a group of guardsmen. Mat begins talking with one of the bridge guards, asking casually about conditions across the river. The guard informs him that there are Whitecloaks on both sides of the river, but it doesn't matter because a sister had come to the bridges the night before and drilled Mat's description into them and told them he was not to leave the city, let alone the island.
Mat leaves the guard and begins wondering the Tower grounds. He runs into a novice and recognizes her as Else Grinwell. She knows about his healing and tries to avoid him, thinking he may be contagious, and runs off to her work. As he tries and fails to follow her, he catches the sounds of the practice and yard and curiously decides to investigate.
Mat comes upon Warders watching over their students spar with practice swords, and notices a crowd of Aes Sedai and Accepted watching two particular students spar. Mat realizes that the women are watching Gawyn and Galad practice just as the Warder decides to give them a quick break. Gawyn and Galad catch sight of Mat, and ask him if he's here to learn the sword. Mat replies that he is not and Gawyn that everyone could do with knowledge of the sword. Mat says the he doesn't need the sword, that he could do fine against both of them with his quarterstaff.
Mat bets Galad and Gawyn that he could beat them both at the same time with a quarterstaff, and they refuse, thinking they would have an advantage because Mat had been sick. The Warder training them, however, takes interest and orders them to the Yard. Mat selects a staff and says "Luck, time to toss the dice." The Warder seems interested that Mat can speak Old tongue, and Mat realizes he unknowingly spoke it again. Within minutes of commencing the fight, Mat whacks Gawyn on the head and knocks him into a bleeding heap as Aes Sedai rush to attend him, giving Mat angry stares. Mat notes that Galad is better, almost as good at the Warders, but eventually knocks him to the ground and poses for a killing blow, barely stopping himself when he realized what he had been about to do.
The Warder then tells them that the greatest Blademaster of all time had been defeated only once, by a farmer with a quarterstaff and that they would do well to remember it. Mat collects his wager from Galad and decides to keep the staff. When the Warder asks, Mat first tells him he's from Manetheren, before correcting himself by saying the Two Rivers. He then hobbles back to the Tower.