A Call to Stand
I am not opposed to questioning the Lord Dragon,
Egwene read from the letter as she sat in her study.
Indeed, the more absolute a man’s power becomes, the more necessary questioning becomes. However, know that I am not a man who gives his loyalty easily, and I have given my loyalty to him. Not because of the throne he provided me, but because of what he has done for Tear. Yes, he grows more erratic by the day. What else are we to expect from the Dragon Reborn? He will break the world. We knew this when we gave him our allegiance, much as a sailor must sometimes give his loyalty to the captain who steers his ship straight for the strand. When an unnavigable tempest rises behind, the strand is the only option. Still, your words bring me concern. The destruction of the seals is not something we should undertake without careful discussion. The Lord Dragon charged me with raising him an army, and I have done so. If you provide the gateways you have promised, I will bring some troops to this meeting place, along with the loyal High Lords and Ladies. Be warned, however, that the Seanchan presence to my west continues to weigh heavily upon my mind. The bulk of my armies must remain behind.
High Lord Darlin Sisnera,
King of Tear beneath the rule of the Dragon Reborn Rand al’Thor
Egwene tapped the sheet with one finger. She was impressed-Darlin had committed his words to paper, rather than sending a messenger with them memorized. If a messenger fell into the wrong hands, his words could always be denied. Convicting a man of treason based on the testimony of one messenger was difficult. Words on paper, however… Bold. By writing them, Darlin said, “I do not care if the Lord Dragon discovers what I have written. I stand by it.”
But leaving behind the bulk of his army? That would not do. Egwene inked her pen.
King Darlin. Your concern for your kingdom is well measured,
as is your loyalty to the man you follow.
I know that the Seanchan are a danger to Tear, but let us not forget that the Dark One, not the Seanchan, is our primary concern during these worst of days. Perhaps it is easy to think yourself safe from the Trollocs when so distant from the battle lines, but how will you feel once the cushions of Andor and Cairhien have fallen? You are separated from the Seanchan by hundreds of miles.
Egwene paused. Tar Valon had been separated from the Seanchan by hundreds of miles, and had nearly been destroyed. He was right to be afraid, and he was a good king for considering it. But she needed his army at the Field of Merrilor. Perhaps she could offer a way for him to both be safe and help with Rand.
Illian holds for now, she wrote. And gives you a buffer between the Seanchan and yourself I will provide you with gateways and a promise. If the Seanchan move against Tear, I will give you gateways so you can return immediately and defend your nation.
She hesitated. Chances were good that the Seanchan had Traveling now. Nobody was safe from them, no matter how far or close they might be. If they decided to strike for Tear, even giving Darlin gateways back might not be enough to help.
She felt a shiver, remembering her own time with the Seanchan, captive as a damane. She loathed them with a hatred that sometimes worried her. But Darlin’s support was essential to her plans. She gritted her teeth and continued writing.
The Dragon Reborn must see our full forces marshaled to oppose his brash intentions. If he sees this as halfhearted, we will never dissuade him from his course.