he Lion's Paw

The Lure of Prophecy
Posted Wed, Dec 1, 2004 by Sha'mad Conde

Koreauras didn’t particularly like Quahlen’s plan. The Warder thought too much like a wetlander, and was knowingly walking into a trap set by wetlanders. He understood the Warder’s reasoning, but felt that there was a better way than the plan that Quahlen had described. The very idea of knowingly walking into a trap made him itch, as though there was an unseen dagger mere inches away from his throat. He was a Thunder Walker, but you didn’t attack a lion by jumping down its throat and hoping that the lion choked on you before you died.

They were heading for an inn apparently named The Lion’s Paw, if the sign hanging above the door was any indication. The inn was a surprisingly nice place on the edge of Caemlyn. It was larger than its neighboring buildings, and quite well maintained. It was a white two story building with a large sloping tile roof and numerous chimneys. The inn had a sprawling look that made Koreauras believe that people had made numerous additions to it over the years. The building was strange to him; the Three Fold Land had nothing even remotely like it.

They had left Cueraina and Amahra behind at the inn that Mallah was staying at, but Koreauras could tell that neither of the women liked that decision. Mallah had declared that they would stay behind. Amahra did not argue, but looked like she wanted to, and Cueraina openly fought the decision. Mallah had remained firm, and her cool Aes Sedai gaze ensured cooperation. Mallah then took her apprentice -Accepted, Mallah had called her- aside and spoke with her for several minutes out of earshot of everyone else, including her Warder.

Koreauras could not hear their words, even though he was fairly close to the two of them. They seemed to be talking normally, but the sound simply did not travel to his ears. He could only assume the lack of sound was an Aes Sedai trick of the one power, and concentrated on their posturing and reactions. Mallah seemed to be giving orders to Amahra. Judging from Amahra’s reaction, she was surprised by the nature of the orders, but resigned to follow them, however reluctantly.

The five of them left the two young women behind with a feeling of grim determination. Koreauras wondered how many of them would still be walking at the end of the day. He was prepared to awake from this dream called life, but he preferred knowing what he was getting into and why. Despite his attempts to gather information, he was walking into a battle and did not know why, other than the vague reason of “opposing the shadow.” His brother Tornasan was better at gathering information like this than he was, but he doubted that in this case Tornasan would have done any better. You only went so far when dealing with an Aes Sedai before pushing your luck too much.

As they approached the Lion’s Paw, Mallah seemed to be distracted by something on the second floor of the inn. Her gaze repeatedly returned to one specific window on the second floor. The shutters of the window were open, but Koreauras could see nothing out of the ordinary about that window that would attract Mallah’s attention more than the others. Her distractedness only reaffirmed Koreauras’ belief that she knew much more than she was admitting to anyone. Her Aes Sedai features did not show signs of worry, but something about her demeanor told Koreauras that she was agitated. Aiel didn’t display their emotions on their faces for all to see; as a result he had learned how to judge a person’s emotional state using much more subtle clues. Something behind that window was a cause for Mallah to become worried, no matter how much her serene Aes Sedai features tried to hide it.

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