Winter's Heart: Chapter 15

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Author: Val a'Shain

In Need of a Bellfounder


Chapter Icon: Five dice, arranged in a ring

Point of View: Mat

Setting: Luca's circus, camped outside Ebou Dar

Characters: Mat, Aludra, Thom, Beslan, Luca, Olver

Outline

Aludra gives Mat a riddle that he needs to answer if he wants to find out the secrets behind the fireworks. Mat tries to make a plan for leaving Ebou Dar using Luca's show as a cover.

Summary

Mat has spent the last couple of hours trying to convince Aludra to tell him the secret of fireworks. His nearly healed wounds hurt from sitting for so long. Aludra isn't cooperating though. Even the idea that the Seanchan damane can make her fireworks look like sparks up the chimney doesn't seem to bother Aludra. She will not tell him Guild's secrets. Mat points out that she is no longer a member of the Guild and that nobody has come to stop her making nightflowers yet. She is not likely to see another Illuminator again.

Now visibly upset Aludra demands to know what he has heard. Mat tells her the rumor is that that the chapter house in Tanchico is gone as well. Exploded in the fighting that followed a refusal to let the Seanchan in. Fearing the One Power was used the Seanchan proceeded to make the survivors da'covale. Aludra wants to know what he would do with fireworks anyway. Throw them from a catapult perhaps? Mat has other military purposes in mind. She should see it as a way to repay the Seanchan.

Aludra now has had enough of the discussion. She has thought long on the military potential of fireworks. She will set him a riddle and if he can solve it she will tell him all her secrets, even the ones that will make him blush. The riddle is to tell her why she may have use for a bellfounder. Mat doesn't see the answer straight away but Aludra doesn't want one now anyway. She tells him to come back in two or three days and leave her alone to work now. With a comment on Mat's pretty bottom, Light burn Tylin for those ridiculous clothes!

There is nothing to it for Mat but to go find Thom and Beslan to see if his plan to get out of Ebou Dar is going to work. Having sheltered one of the Seanchan after Falme, Luca is one of the few who was allowed to keep his animals. Something Mat will need to get away from Ebou Dar. He could have Vanin steal them of course but he is not quite that desperate yet. Mat reflects that Perrin and Rand are probably in front of some warm fireplace swilling wine at this moment. A faint rush of colors swirls through his head when he thinks of Perrin and Rand lately. Mat doesn't know why and doesn't particularly want to know.

He finds Thom and Beslan with Luca and Olver in the company of a number of women. Not an uncommon sight these days. Some of Olver's uncles are a decidedly bad influence on the boy. After he collects Olver, one of the women has the nerve to pinch his bottom when he leaves, Mat joins Thom and Beslan. Luca excuses himself to prepare a private show for the High Lady Suroth herself. Thom tells Mat Luca has agreed to take them when he leaves, at a very high price, but that he will probably not leave till spring. Mat swallows a curse. At least it'll give him time to get the necessary gold though. Beslan casually observes his mother will not like it if he helps Mat get away. Olver wants to get back the city. He has a reading lesson with Lady Riselle, who lets him use her formidable bosom for a pillow. Mat groans, his leg hurts, Tylin is waiting in the city and the dice just started tumbling in his head. Something very bad is coming his way.

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