Winter's Heart

Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan

Book: Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Jordan
airs, it was not a garment anyone would expect to see on the Dragon Reborn. The golden-maned Dragon’s head on the back of his hand glittered metallically; it presented no danger here. His boot touched the leather scrip sitting below the window as he leaned forward to look out.
    In the stableyard, the paving stones had been swept clear of snow, and a large wagon stood surrounded by buckets like mushrooms in a clearing. Half a dozen men in heavy coats and scarves and caps seemed to be working on the wagon’s odd cargo, mechanical devices crowded around a fat metal cylinder that took up more than half the wagon bed. Even stranger, the wagon-shafts were missing. One of the men was moving split firewood from a large wheelbarrow into the side of a metal box fastened below one end of the big cylinder. The open door in the box glowed with the red of fire inside, and smoke rose from a tall, narrow chimney. Another fellow danced around the wagon, bearded, capless and bald-headed, gesturing and apparently shouting orders that did not seem to make the others move any faster. Their breath made faint white plumes. It was almost warm inside; the Academy had large furnaces in the cellars and an extensive system of vents. The half-healed, never healing wounds in his side were hot.
    He could not make out Min’s curses—he was sure they were curses—but her tone was enough to say they would not be leaving yet unless he dragged her away. There were one or two items he might ask about still. “What are people saying? About the Palace?”
    “What you might expect,” Lord Dobraine answered behind him withlevel patience, as he had answered all the other questions. Even when he admitted a lack of knowledge, his tone had not changed. “Some say the Forsaken attacked you, or that Aes Sedai did. Those who think you swore fealty to the Amyrlin Seat favor the Forsaken. Either way, there is considerable debate on whether you are dead or kidnapped or fled. Most believe you live, wherever you are, or say they do. Some, a good many I fear, think . . .” His voice faded to silence.
    “That I’ve gone mad,” Rand finished for him in the same level tone. Not a matter for concern, or anger. “That I destroyed part of the Palace myself?” He would not speak of the dead. Fewer than other times, other places, but enough, and some of their names appeared whenever he closed his eyes. One of the men below climbed down from the wagon, but the bald fellow caught his arm and dragged him back up, making him show what he had done. A man on the other side jumped to the pavement carelessly, skidding, and the capless man abandoned the first to chase around the wagon and make that one climb back up with him. What in the Light could they be doing? Rand glanced over his shoulder. “They’re not far wrong.”
    Dobraine Taborwin, a short man with the front of his head shaved and formally powdered and the rest of his hair nearly all gray, looked back with dark impassive eyes. Not a handsome man, but steady. Blue-and-white stripes marched down the front of his dark velvet coat from his neck almost to his knees. His signet ring was a carved ruby, and he wore another at his collar, not much larger yet flamboyant for a Cairhienin. He was High Seat of his House, with more battles behind him than most, and not much frightened him. He had proved that at Dumai’s Wells.
    But then, the stocky, graying woman patiently waiting her turn at his shoulder appeared just as unafraid. In sharp contrast to Dobraine’s noble elegance, Idrien Tarsin’s sensible brown woolens were plain enough for a shopkeeper, yet she had her own well of authority and dignity. Idrien was Headmistress of the Academy, the title she had given herself since most of the scholars and mechanics called themselves master of this or mistress of that. She ran the school with a strong hand and believed in practical things, new methods of surfacing roads or making dyes, improvements to foundries and mills. She

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