A Crown of Swords Chapter 1


Wheel of Time



Elaida looks out the window of her office in the White Tower, noting the unseasonably warm weather for midwinter. She has been spending much time in cooler rooms near the top of the tower, rather than in the Amyrlin's rooms further down, mostly so she can oversee the construction of her new palace on the White Tower grounds. She wishes she could have had Ogier masons like the Tower itself, but Stedding Jentoine has refused her. She wonders if the One Power could be used to speed the construction; few sisters are strong in channeling Earth, but not that much should be required, and she resolves to order it done.

She rereads a message brought by pigeon from Cairhien. It says that "the ring has been placed in the bull's nose". It is from Galina, who is thus assuring that she has captured Rand al'Thor and has him shielded. Rand's habit of Traveling means his disappearance may go unnoticed, and in at most two weeks he will be safe in the Tower. Elaida hopes that there is time to undo the damage that Rand has done to the world before the Last Battle, and to keep him safe until then.

She is startled to hear Alviarin speak behind her, saying she has news from the Ajahs. Elaida thinks with annoyance how her predecessor escaped before she could pass on the Amyrlin's own network of spies, so Elaida herself only has access to her contacts in Andor. Elaida asks if Teslyn and Joline have sent word of their arrival in Ebou Dar yet. Alviarin says not yet, though some Gray sisters send word that Elayne and Nynaeve have been seen there, posing as full sisters. Alviarin dismisses this as unlikely, noting that Tarna says they are in Salidar, and doubting anyone would let them pretend to be other than Accepted. Alviarin counters by showing sketches of Elayne and Nynaeve sent by the Gray Ajah's spy. Elaida angrily orders the two women captured and brought to her. Elaida had once Foretold that the Royal House of Andor held the key to winning the Last Battle, and Elayne is probably that key, somehow.

Alviarin agrees that all will be as she commands, but in a tone which causes Elaida to remember that Alviarin probably controls as many Sitters as she does herself, and has too much power over the Hall of The Tower. Elaida next turns her attention to the Black Tower, telling Alviarin that she wants them rooted out. She says Toveine Gazal will bring fifty sisters and two hundred of the Guard, which should be more than enough for the paltry few men that will be there. Alviarin says that one of the Green Ajah's agents says there may be four hundred men at the Black Tower, but Elaida says that there can be only two or three who can really channel, given how few the Red Ajah has been able to find over the years. She also doubts that Mazrim Taim is really there serving the Dragon Reborn, after having been a False Dragon himself. Elaida also orders that Toveine should gentle and hang any man they find who can channel, even though this flouts Tower law.

Alviarin acknowledges the order, though she mentions that the rebels have left Salidar, and may have reached as far as Murandy. She says they have named Egwene al'Vere as their Amyrlin Seat, which causes Elaida to throw back her head and laugh. Alviarin fails to see what is so amusing about three hundred rebel Aes Sedai marching on Tar Valon with Gareth Bryne at the head of as many as twenty thousand men. Elaida points out that Tarna Feir says that a hundred of those sisters may be at the point of breaking. She asks Alviarin to recall the penalties for the leaders of the rebellion. The leaders will be stilled, and many of the rest, but for certain any woman claiming falsely to be the Amyrlin Seat must be stilled. The fact that they have named a nonentity like Egwene--a mere Accepted--as Amyrlin Seat shows that anyone else who wanted the position was all but sure of failure. Elaida also dismisses Gareth Bryne's armies as rabble scared of the Shining Walls of Tar Valon.

Suddenly the Foretelling comes upon Elaida. She says, "The White Tower will be whole again, except for remnants cast out and scorned, whole and stronger than ever. Rand al'Thor shall face the Amyrlin Seat and know her anger. The Black Tower will be rent in blood and fire, and sisters will walk its grounds." Elaida comes out of the trance trembling, but Alviarin is completely stupefied. Elaida returns to business, dictating messages to Alviarin and revelling in her coming role in history.


Sevanna is standing among Shaido Aiel, guarded by Maidens of The Spear and the leaders of the Shaido warrior societies. She knows that some of the men hope to go to Rhuidean and try to become the Shaido clan chief, but Sevanna herself plans to retain her power, and if possible increase it by marrying the Car'a'carn. She glances at the Shaido Wise Ones, over two hundred of them, only to see that they are somehow nervous about the coming battle.

A scout returns to say that one of the wetlander scouts escaped, wounded but still ahorse. Sevanna orders loudly that they should attack their targets, Aes Sedai with all the spears before they ready themselves, overriding objections by pointing out that the Aes Sedai must be overwhelmed immediately. She reminds the warriors that she is the clan chief, and that they are avenging Desaine. The warriors immediately turn and run towards their quarry, though unfortunately Sevanna's Maiden escort follows them.

Sevanna turns again to the Wise Ones. Most of them are nervous about the coming confrontation, especially about facing Aes Sedai. She reminds them that they are also there to rescue the Car'a'carn from his captors. There is another, hidden reminder for the thirteen Wise Ones who secretly helped Sevanna kill Desaine in the first place.

The women watch the battle from the crest of a hill, and see that the Aes Sedai have formed a shield around their wagons, blocking the Aiel spears and arrows. Sevanna gloats that by the time the Aes Sedai turn their power from defense to offense, it will be too late. She divides the Wise Ones between herself and Therava, to strike from opposite directions. She orders half of them to disrupt the Aes Sedai shield, and half to attack. Fireballs begin to arch towards the wagons from both sides, passing through the disrupted barriers and setting the wagons aflame.

The Aes Sedai finally begin to fight back with fire and lightning against the algai'd'siswai. Sevanna and her group are struck with lightning; Sevanna survives, but some of the Wise Ones are killed. Sevanna grabs a spear, wishing briefly that she had been a Maiden, but knowing she would never have gained any power that way. She turns to see another Wise One being killed by a wolf, and she stabs it with her spear, but more wolves come, attacking the algai'd'siswai from behind.

When she turns back to the battle, she sees a group of wetlander cavalry has appeared as if out of nowhere. Rhiale tells Sevanna that some siswai'aman, Aiel allied to Rand, and other Wise Ones, have appeared as well. Sevanna says that they must attack, but even Rhiale, who countenanced Desaine's death, cannot bring herself to fight other Wise Ones. Sevanna returns to watching the battle, seeing how the new wetlander allies still do not seem to be prevailing against the Shaido.

Suddenly she hears a hollow boom from near the Aes Sedai wagons. She wonders if one of the Wise Ones has tried something different without telling her. They seem to be on the verge of victory, but then she notices that the dome has reformed over the wagons. She angrily asks the Wise Ones why they allowed the Aes Sedai to resume their shield, but they tell her that it is not Aes Sedai--it is not women at all. Sevanna looks and sees, inside the shield, a banner with the ancient Aes Sedai symbol on it, a symbol used by Rand himself. Sevanna refuses to give up, confident that even the power of the Car'a'carn will be unable to resist her.

There is a great roaring from the ground, and Sevanna maneuvers herself until she can see what is going on. The ground is exploding in an expanding ring around the wagons, until the Shaido begin to flee. Sevanna tries to convince them to stand and fight, even killing one as she flees, but even the other Wise Ones abandon her. She fingers a cube of carved stone in her pouch--an opportunity for another day--then turns and joins the retreat.


Alviarin leaves Elaida's apartments, feeling wrung out. She passes several sisters; some ignore her, but most are courteous. They are afraid of Elaida, and most try to steer clear of the Amyrlin, but they hope that Alviarin might be persuaded to intercede for them if necessary. What has unsettled Alviarin was the Foretelling.

She returns to her chambers, hoping that Elaida has not found out that she is Black Ajah. In her rooms, the light fades, and she turns and kneels when she sees Mesaana there. Alviarin tells her everything that happened in Elaida's chambers, though she suspects that Mesaana has eavesdropped and knows everything anyway. She had met others of the Chosen, including Ishamael, who had placed her at the head of the Black Ajah. Mesaana, though conceals her true features and her strength in the One Power by some weave that Alviarin cannot even perceive, which means that she must be someone from the White Tower itself--someone that Alviarin would recognize if she saw her.

Mesaana muses over the Foretelling. Alviarin says that Elaida might be too dangerous, but Mesaana says she still has her uses. She tells Alviarin to write out Elaida's orders and have them implemented, because they are amusing and harmless, even the orders to kidnap the King of Illian and the Queen of Saldaea.

Alviarin asks Mesaana, daringly, if it will be safe to send the fifty sisters to the Black Tower. Mesaana mildly reprimands Alviarin for her curiosity, and Alviarin withdraws the question, but determines not to send any Black sisters with the group. Mesaana reminds Alviarin to obey only her, not Semirhage or Demandred. Mesaana says she will teach Alviarin a few things, but that Alviarin should not pass them on without her orders. Then she shows Alviarin a gateway.

Pedron NiallEdit

Pedron Niall and Queen Morgase Trakand are playing stones in the Fortress of The Light, which Morgase wins. She is a virtual prisoner there, and Niall plans to use her for as much advantage as he can. She has already been forced to sign documents granting the Whitecloaks wide powers in Andor. He regrets that he can't risk becoming attached to her, with her being White Tower-trained.

Morgase asks with calculated diffidence if it would be possible for Galad to be reassigned to Amador, but Niall says that Galad's duties keep him in the north. He doesn't want Galad to be too near where his stepmother is a captive. Her response is unexpectedly meek, but is interrupted by the arrival of Abdel Omerna.

When they are alone, Omerna says that he has not found Elayne or Gawyn, though Sebban Balwer has already reported Elayne to be in Ebou Dar and Gawyn in Tar Valon. Niall asks irritably if that is the only news, and Omerna hands him a message recently arrived by pigeon, which Niall has been waiting for. Omerna continues, saying that the Black Ajah has seized Tar Valon, which Niall dismisses as rubbish, since Balwer started those rumours himself.

The message whith Niall opens is from a Whitecloak agent in Tarabon, confirming earlier reports which had seemed madness. Omerna continues spouting ridiculous rumours, but when Niall turns to tell him of the message, Omerna stabs him under the ribs. Omerna weeps, saying that it had to be done, he'd let the Aes Sedai witches stay in Salidar too long.

Niall falls to the floor. Eamon Valda enters and stabs Omerna for his treason. Niall tries to grab the message, hoping that Valda will notice it and act on it, as he dies.

Eamon ValdaEdit

Eamon Valda clean his blade, and realizes that Pedron Niall is not quite dead yet. He goes to finish him cleanly, but Rhadam Asunawa stays his hand, saying that he would not want to attest that Eamon Valda was the one to kill Niall, if Valda wants to be the Lord Captain Commander. Asunawa also warns him about not giving the witch Morgase to the Questioners, but Valda says that she will be needed to give them Andor, and they will need to deal with the Prophet first.

Asunawa is not concerned; there are hundreds of Questioners in the Fortress of The Light. Asunawa says that Lord Captain Canvele will wish the law to be obeyed, but Valda has already swayed Canvele to his side. He agrees that the Questioners may have Morgase, but only after the Lion Throne is secure.

Just then, Sebban Balwer appears. Asunawa tells him how Omerna killed Niall and was himself slain. Valda treats him as nothing more than the secretary he appears, sending him out to notify the other Lords Captain of Niall's death so they may gather to appoint a successor. Valda resolves to get rid of the useless Balwer at the earliest opportunity. He notes the piece of paper in Niall's hand, but it is wine-soaked and illegible.


Gawyn looks back at the smoke still rising from the disaster that was Dumai's Wells. He fled with his Younglings after the men who could channel arrived. He wishes he could have killed Rand, for having killed his mother, and to spare Elayne the pain of being in love with him. But he had promised Egwene that he wouldn't.

He sees a woman on horseback riding into the open--probably an Aes Sedai. Her horse pitches over and she falls to the ground, and Gawyn sees an arrow in its side and two dozen Aiel nearby. He turns to gather some of his Younglings to come to her aid. He still suspects that the Younglings sent to accompany Galina and other sisters were not intended to return to the White Tower.

Before he can rally the Younglings, a troop of Aiel come over the hill, surprised to find them there. The battle is joined, and Gawyn, the only one of his band afoot, is attacked by three Aiel. Gawyn takes out two of them, but the third is a more formidable opponent, wounding Gawyn in the leg before being jostled by a horse, which gives Gawyn an opportunity to kill him. By then the Aiel are in flight, and Gawyn orders the Younglings not to pursue. When he brings them to where the Aes Sedai fell, though, all they find is the dead horse and a dress on the ground.

Character ListEdit



Terms MentionedEdit



Plot PointsEdit

  1. The message Pedron Niall receives is likely about the Seanchan arrival in Tarabon.
  2. The Aes Sedai that Gawyn sees is probably Galina, captured and made gai'shain by the Shaido.
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