The Path of Daggers: Chapter 21
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Author: Val a'Shain
Chapter Icon: A Dragon
Point of View: Rand
Setting: The Plains of Maredo close to the city of Illian
Characters: Rand, Charl Gedwyn, Weiramon, Narishma, Dashiva, Bashere
Rand gets ready to push the Seanchan westward.
The winter storms have hit Illian with a vengeance, as if to make up for the hot weather earlier. The Asha'man Rand summoned appear quickly. Their leader, Charl Gedwyn, doesn't understand the orders Rand is giving. Rand is not about to explain though. Lews Therin urges Rand to kill the Asha'man, since his reappearance Rand has to force him to be silent.
After the Asha'man arrive, Rand's plan to push the Seanchan westwards starts moving. Rand moves his camp closer to Illian and starts breaking up the forces he has gathered on the Plains of Maredo. Lord Weiramon is also puzzled by Rand's choices. He has noticed some of the people who are allowed to stay close to Rand have been, to put it mildly, less than loyal. Again Rand is not about to explain his choices. Weiramon is right though. Rand is keeping the people he can't trust close to him for this expedition. The ones that would betray him, the ones that have been away from him too long or, in Weiramon's case, the ones too stupid to be left behind.
Near Illian Rand picks up a thousand men of the Legion of the Dragon. He also awaits the return of Narishma. In the meantime his mind works feverishly trying to juggle the situation in Tear, Cairhien, Andor and Illian, as well as developments in Tar Valon and the Tower in exile. Finally Narishma returns with the requested object. He claims to have had trouble getting to it and accuses Rand of almost killing him. Rand thinks this is ridiculous. He did tell the man what he had to know. He isn't about to debate, though.
Rand tells Dashiva to create a gateway to the old Silver Road from Lugard. No need to risk the new sickness associated with saidin just yet. When his small army has relocated, Rand waits for the people he summoned from Tear, Cairhien and Andor to arrive. One by one the small groups appear. The last one to arrive is Davram Bashere, one of the few men Rand really trusts. He asks Rand what he is up to and Rand replies that if someone has to pay the butcher's bill it might as well be those who want him dead. Bashere thinks it is a deadly stew and hopes they aren't the ones who will choke on it.