The Fires of Heaven: Chapter 42
Before the Arrow
Chapter Icon: Five dice, arranged in a ring
Mat's Point of View:
Setting: Near Cairhien
Mat is drinking wine in the tent he shares with Melindhra. He has had several days now to think about the battle ahead. He is not a soldier no matter what the memories in his head say. It is time to leave. Maybe he'll go to Caemlyn or Lugard. Mat gets up and goes to the tent Rand uses. He finds no one there except Rand's bard Natael. Mat doesn't like the man. He asks if Rand will be back soon but Natael doesn't seem to know.
Mat looks at the maps in the tent displaying Cairhien and the forces around it. Apparently the Shaido have as much as a hundred and sixty thousand spears around Cairhien. And the four clans that haven't chosen sides yet about as much. Together their forces number about the same as Rand's. It looks like he can take on one or the other, but not both. Lan walks in and asks Mat if he thinks Rand should try and crush the Shaido now. Caught up in the military planning Mat replies without thinking.
He says no for two reasons. First they might push the Shaido over the city wall into Cairhien. That would surely mean a bloody battle inside the city. The best thing to do is to try and shove them away. With the right positioning of forces they can push Couladin across the river. Lan asks what the second reason is and Mat says the four other clans might decide to join the battle on the Shaido side. That would mean Rand has an enemy at his back. According to Lan, Rhuarc doesn't know which way they will go yet. The Warder nods at Mat's explanation and Mat calls himself a fool for letting himself go like that.
Rand arrives and Mat blurts out he means to leave. Rand doesn't try to stop him. He wishes him a safe journey and good luck until they meet again. Mat feels relieved when he leaves the tent, in his head he hears the dice rattling.
Rand's Point of View:
Setting: Near Cairhien
Rand asks Lan if it was all like the last phrases Rand caught before coming in. The Warder replies Mat laid out their basic battle plan with a few glances at the map. The Warder doesn't ask any questions. They are not Rand's to give anyway. Rand knows he will draw Mat in again and he will use the new military skills his friend has. But right now there is another battle that needs his attention. The clan chiefs enter followed by Weiramon. That man will cause problems. Rand will have to set him straight. Bael opens the meeting announcing that as he sees it the plan only needs minor changes.