The Great Hunt: Chapter 34
Author: Estyrien al'Halien
Chapter Icon: Wheel and Serpent
Thom's lover is murdered by Galldrian's men and he swears revenge. Fain ingratiates himself with Turak.
Thom's Point of View:
Thom returns to the inn early in the morning after performing at Barthanes' manor. He had told stories such as "How Susa tamed Jain Farstrider" and "Mara and the Three Foolish Kings" to make fun of the nobles. The nobles listened to the stories but "they had laughed in the wrong places" and at him too, as though the money prevented him from hearing. The nobles had also asked about Rand and Thom "was not sure his answers had been clever enough". Before returning to his inn, Thom visits the inn that Rand was staying but Rand had already left and Thom had "a feeling of something not done".
When he returns to his inn, he goes straight to his room only to find Dena lying on the bed with a "gash across her throat". A creaking door gives Thom a warning that he is not alone in the room and so he turns and throws his knives, killing one man and injuring the other. The second assassin tries to run but Thom grabs him "and thrust the blade to within an inch of the man's dark eye". Before Thom kills the man, he wants to know why two assassins were in his room. The answer is one that is extremely common in Cairhien, Daes Dae'mar; "Nothing against you personal". The man explains that he was sent by Barthanes to find out about "this Andoran lord" but Thom doesn't quite believe him since he was at Barthanes' manor that morning. The man offers money in return for information on Rand, "We could both fill our pockets", but Thom admits that Rand is just "a shepherd in a fancy coat". Then he tells the assassin that "You've made one real mistake in it all" and that was killing Dena; he then kills the assassin.
Zera walks in to Thom's room soon after and tells him "that two of Barthanes's men were asking after you" but sees that she is too late. Zera tells him that he must leave Cairhien but Thom explains that he has "another man to kill". Zera explains that he can't kill Barthanes; news of his death has already spread throughout the city. His body was "torn to pieces in his bedchamber" and the only way that he could be identified "was his head stuck on a spike". She explains that his murder and that of the two assassins will link it to Thom and so he must leave Cairhien before he is charged with murder. Thom suggests that he might go to Caemlyn but Zera points out that "Caemlyn is as bad as Cairhien, for you". Thom then gives her money for Dena's funeral; although he is too sad to say what it is actually for.
When Zera looks at the bodies, she tells Thom that they aren't Barthanes' men, "at least, that one isn't"; he worked for Galldrian so the King must have caused Dena's death. Zera warns him that he can't possibly try to kill the King, "you'll be dead before you get within a hundred spans of him", but their conversation is cut short by a commotion coming from the city walls. Thom sees that there is a fire in the distance and knows that "someone is firing the granaries". He suggests that Zera leave Cairhien as well, but she refuses, "I have lived through riots before". Thom leaves but not before Zera warns him again to be careful to which Thom replies "Who could I possibly be dangerous to?"
Fain's Point of View:
The point of view changes now to that of Fain who is nearing Falme. The horse that carries the Horn belonged to a Darkfriend who was killed and then eaten by the Trollocs. Fain rides towards Falme thinking about how "the soldiers did not seem to be watching the armed men they had supposedly conquered" and about local people he has 'asked' about the Seanchan. Some of the information "he had discarded as rumours" but as he rides towards Falme, he sees that some of it is true. He looked at a group of soldiers riding creatures "that were certainly not horses" and then continued towards the town where he senses tension despite the fact that "it all seemed peaceful on the surface".
Fain rides to the house of the High Lord Turak and asks to see him, saying that he has "something here that will interest your Great Lord", which is in fact the Horn of Valere. When asked if he has sworn the oaths, he replies, "I obey, await, and will serve" before letting the guards see the chest that contains the Horn and the dagger. The guards are suitably impressed, "A gift fit for the Empress herself", and let Fain into the house after they have searched him. The soldier on the door frowns when Fain doesn't react to the strange Seanchan creatures but Fain considers them to be "certainly no worse than Trollocs".
Fain is shown in to the room where Turak is and he sees that the man standing beside him, Huon, is only a servant but obviously a very important one. There he presents the chest to Turak who wants to know where he found "a chest many lesser lords could not afford". Fain explains that his shabby state "allowed me to bring this to you unmolested" and that the contents of the box would allow Turak "to take this land, as far as you wish"; as leader of the Hailene, this is what Turak should want. Turak has known similar chests and so he is able to open it, which displeases Fain because "it lessened his bargaining position". Fain tells Turak that it is the Horn of Valere but Turak doesn't seem too surprised and leads Fain into another room.
Servants bring in a stand and a table to rest the Horn on, "under the direction of the man with the braid". Losing his patience, Fain reaches for the dagger, "the dagger was a part of him", but is hit by Huon for touching Turak's property. Fain tells them that the dagger is his but Turak doesn't quite believe him, "Inside a chest you could not open", but tells Fain that if his story interests him, "I may give you the dagger". Fain suggests that Turak could sound the Horn but Turak needs more convincing on why he would "give your land to me". Fain then tells Turak his supposed family history.
He claims that his family "served the High King, Artur Paendrag Tanreall" and they did not abandon their oaths when he died. The oaths require his family to "await the return of Artur Hawkwing's blood", the Seanchan, and when they do return, they are to "serve and advise, as we did the High King". Since the Seanchan are the descendants of Artur Hawkwing's armies, this requires Fain to serve the Seanchan, which he claims that he will do, "I only wish to serve and advise". Turak still wants to know where Fain found the Horn and Fain explains that too. He claims that "The Horn was found by an ancestor of mine" and it has been passed down from generation to generation. Turak is still not quite convinced of his story but is convinced of the Horn's authenticity and tells Fain that he will "present it to the Empress as the chiefest of my trophies". Fain tries to protest but Huon hits him because "some words are never used to the High Lord".
Turak explains why he won't sound the Horn himself; "whoever blows the Horn of Valere is linked to it thereafter" so if he blew it, he could not present it to the Empress. He is twelfth in line for the throne but the heir most favoured by the Empress is Tuon, her second daughter. The Empress would see the Horn as a threat to Tuon and herself, which would not reflect well on Turak. He also explains that the Listeners of Seanchan can be anyone and everywhere and how Fain could be killed "for a misspoken word, for a whim" and asks him if he is still willing to serve. Fain accepts this knowledge and is told to come back tomorrow to entertain Turak with "tales of your family and its tradition". Before he leaves, Fain tells Turak that Darkfriends are still trying to find the Horn, led by Rand al'Thor, which is a trap for Rand that will result in Rand being killed and his story having more credibility.
- Who killed Barthanes and why?
- Is Thom really going to try and kill Galldrian?
- First Mentioned
This section contains Notes on this Chapter which may contain spoilers. Please expand to view.
- Who killed Barthanes and why?
The way he was ripped apart suggests the gholam, which would indicate Sammael was responsible.
- Is Thom really going to try and kill Galldrian?
Yes, and he succeeds, plunging Cairhien into civil war.