The Great Hunt: Prologue
Author: Atarah al'Norahn
In the Shadow
Chapter Icon: Wheel and Serpent
Point of View: Bors
Setting: Near Shayol Ghul
A man calling himself Bors is given instructions at a strange meeting of Darkfriends.
Bors is standing in a vaulted chamber, with a hundred other people wandering around. He has no idea where the chamber is. As he looks around the room, a serving girl clad in white offers him a drink; Bors, afraid both of seeming untrusting and of poison, accepts without any intention of drinking.
Everyone in the chamber, including Bors, is wearing a black mask, although a quarter of them have not bothered with disguises beyond the masks. As Bors studies the other people, he marks out a woman from Illian, and another from Arad Doman. There is a Shienaran man, and people from Kandor, Cairhien, Saldaea and Ghealdan. Merchants, warriors, commoners, nobles...all are represented in this crowd, and Bors even spots a Tinker. As he continues to look around, he finds that even though others are disguised more thoroughly, he can still tell who they are. He sees a High Lord of Tear, an Andoran Queen's Guard and an Atha'an Miere. And then, suddenly, his eyes catch sight of something surprising; an Aes Sedai, or at least a woman who has been trained in the White Tower, wearing a gold serpent ring. He quickly looks away, only to find himself looking upon another, and he silently curses them.
A chime sounds, and the tall door at the far end of the chamber swings open, allowing two Trollocs to enter. They ignore the humans, and simply turn towards the door, bowing and cringing. They are followed by a Myrddraal. Everyone is shying away in fear, and for a time, the creature does not speak. Finally he announces: "Your master comes. To your bellies, worms! Grovel, lest his brilliance blind and burn you!" Bors is overwhelmed with rage, more so at the tone of the Myrddraal's voice than its words, until the air above the Myrddraal's head begins to shimmer.
Bors immediately drops to the ground as the import hits him. "It can't be!" he thinks to himself. He notices that the Trollocs were on the ground even before he was.
"The Great Lord of the Dark is my Master, and most heartily do I serve him to the last shred of my very soul," the Myrddraal tells them. Meanwhile, Bors is frightened nearly to death, and keeps reminding himself that the Dark One and the Forsaken are bound in Shayol Ghul. "The hand of the Creator shelters us all, and the Light protects us from the Shadow," he thinks to himself, before he reminds himself that he now serves a different master.
A mellifluous voice tells the humans to rise, and Bors looks up in shock, only to see the figure of a man floating in the air above the Myrddraal. He is masked in blood red. Bors wonders why the Great Lord of the Dark would appear to them as a man, and masked. Yet the Myrddraal is cowering, so Bors thinks that perhaps it is one of the Forsaken. The figure tells them to call him by the name of Ba'alzamon, striking great fear into everyone in the room.
Ba'alzamon informs them that the chamber they are in stands in the shadow of Shayol Ghul, and several people moan at this pronouncement. He continues on, almost mockingly, telling them not to fear, as the day of their Master's rising is near at hand and that the Day of Return draws near. He says that soon the Wheel of Time will be broken and that the Great Serpent will die, and that the Great Lord will remake the world in his own image. "And those who serve me, faithful and steadfast, will sit at my feet above the stars in the sky and rule the world of men forever. So have I promised, and so shall it be, without end. You shall live and rule forever."
The air to the left of Ba'alzamon begins to shimmer, and the figure of a young countryman appears, mischief in his brown eyes and the hint of a smile on his lips. The air to Ba'alzamon's right shimmers, and another countryman appears, a curly-haired, yellow-eyed youth with heavy muscles and a battle-axe hanging at his side. A third figure appears, directly under Ba'alzamon's eye, almost at his feet. This one is tall, with dark, reddish hair, and a heron-marked sword hangs at his side. Ba'alzamon tells them that one who walks the world will become the Dragon Reborn. The Shienaran man asks eagerly if they are to kill him and Ba'alzamon tells him perhaps yes, perhaps no. He informs them that he wishes to have the Dragon Reborn turned over to his side. He tells them all to study the images before them so that they can recognize the three men.
Everyone begins to shift uneasily, except, Bors notices, for the Illianer woman; she is acting as if she is speaking to someone in front of her, though he cannot see whom and cannot hear what she says. She nods, her eyes half terrified, half ecstatic. Then she arches her back and rises to her toes, as if some unseen hand is holding her up; when she settles back to her feet, she is shivering, nodding and bowing. As she straightens, the woman next to her...one of the Aes Sedai...begins nodding as if she is now being spoken to.
Eventually, the red-masked face of Ba'azalmon fills Bors' vision. Ba'alzamon asks him if he is faithful, and Bors swears that he is. Ba'alzamon then gives Bors his instructions. He is to return to Tarabon to continue his work there and is told to redouble his efforts. He is also to watch out for the three young men. Thirdly, he is to speak to no one of those who have landed at Toman Head. Ba'alzamon continues giving instructions, and they make no sense to Bors. He then feels hands grasping his head, and images flash through his mind. A sky of striated clouds, red, yellow and black, driven by a mighty wind; a woman dressed in white who recedes into blackness; a raven staring him in the eye; a man in armor with a helm shaped like an insect; a curled, golden horn; a wolf ripping out his throat; the skies raining fire, and the moon and stars falling; rivers running in blood, and the dead walking; the earth splitting open and fountains of molten rock...
Suddenly, the images are over and Bors finds himself half-crouching in the chamber while Ba'alzamon moves on to speak to a Tairen lord. Bors is then led away to his room by another white-clad servant.
This section contains Notes on this Chapter which may contain spoilers. Please expand to view.
- Who are the servants?
They are Zomara, a type of Shadowspawn.
- What is the bend in the Pattern where Rand can be turned?
- Who is Bors and what good works is he performing?
- Who have landed at Toman Head?
- Who are the other Darkfriends?
- Ingtar is the Shienaran (This passage needs a reference).
- One of the characters is identified as a Tairen High Lord wearing silver lined boots. A similar description is given about Weiramon, a known Darkfriend, so it is likely he is at the meeting (This passage needs a reference).
- First Appearance
Ba'alzamon seems to have survived his encounter with Rand, though he appears injured.