Chapter 25 (Like Lightning and Rain): Well, it would seem that Gawyn has fallen completely for the rumor that Rand has killed Morgase and Elayne that he heard back in the prologue. Now Egwene knows why he hates Rand. Egwene realizes that she has dreamed of bonding him, and tells him she will do so when she is raised. She swears Gawyn to secrecy on her presence in Cairhien. Can he keep the secret, or will it be written all over his face so the Tower Aes Sedai weasel it out of him? She also makes him promise to take no revenge against Rand till she can find a way to prove that he didn't kill Morgase. He accepts her claim that Elayne is alive. But how can she prove that Morgase wasn't killed by Rand? My guess would be finding Mat and getting him to testify to Gawyn that Rand was in Cairhien when Morgase supposedly died. Mat was the one to inform Rand of her death, after all.The Aes Sedai embassy are playing power games in Cairhien, promising both Cairhienin and Tairens that they would be the new ruler if Rand should be out of the picture. Sounds like they plan to remove him from Cairhien whether he goes willingly or not. Meantime, the Sisters know someone besides them who can channel is in the city. They never suspect it is Egwene. They even think it could be Moiraine, refusing to believe she is dead. Well, the circumstances of her death were a bit hard to believe if you weren't there to witness it.
Chapter 26 (Connecting Lines): Rand finally inspcts Bashere's troops, which he has been meaning to get around to for quite some time. Most of the book, in fact. He watches the entire Saldean force ride in a long line past him, all between two white stones four paces apart, which Bashere placed there in the dead of night secretly. Now I have no idea what the significance of the two stones may be, but I'm sure it will come back later. Most likely whenever Rand launches the main thrust of his attack on Sammael, whatever it is that Mat and the Band are supposed to be a diversion from. I'm hoping RJ gets to that soon, he seems to be dragging it out an awful lot. Rand watches Bashere's horsemen ride standing on their saddles, some of them standing upside-down. Some are standing with one foot on each saddle; some have a man on their shoulders. Now, come on. Is this an army or a circus troupe? Nine thousand cavalry soldiers may be an imposing army, but I have doubts that any of them will need to ride while standing upside-down on their saddles in the midst of a battle. Best I can figure is that Rand wants Sammael, or any Illianer spies to see this display and think it's frivolous, when in reality there is some valuable purpose being covered up. Practice for when riding between two stones is really needed? Assorted Whitecloaks attack on the way back to Caemlyn. Rand leaves one alive to take the message back to Pedron Niall that everyone else will be executed. But did Nial actually send them? Fain has his own corrupted Whitecloaks, and I'm not so sure Niall is in firm control of the Children of the Light anyway. Some of his underlings don't seem all that happy with his decisions. Rand puts off meeting with the Sea Folk and goes back to Cairhien instead. Too bad, cause I really wanna know what the Sea Folk are doing this far inland from... you know, the sea.
Chapter 27 (Gifts): Egwene is well and truly besotted. She and Gawyn begin spending their morning in the private dining room of an inn in Cairhien city. He warns her that the Tar Valon Aes Sedai he came with are on the lookout for "a woman like you." Not her specifically, most likely they're just looking to catch whoever was channeling in their direction the other day. Who just happens to be Egwene. But so far, we haven't seen any sign that they are aware of who it is. She learns from her fellow apprentices that Rand is back in Cairhien and plans to meet with the emissaries that afternoon. So she dashes off to see him, hoping to warn him about them. Rand mentions that something seemed to be bothering Berelain; I wonder if this is from the Aes Sedai working on her to cause more dissension under Rand. Egwene and Rand are both still under the impression that Alviarin is his friend in the White Tower. She warns him, and while he fails to fully heed her warning, he doesn't challenge her basic assumption that Elaida and Alviarin are on different sides:
Even if you think Alviarin will kneel at your feet, these were sent by Elaida. You can't think she means anything but to try putting a leash on you.
The Aes Sedai (three of them) arrive earlier than expected, and Rand has to hide Egwene. So he spends a good deal of time talking to Lews Therin (Egwene thinks he is talking to himself, and wonders if the taint is driving him nuts Then he channels, and turns her invisible. She looks in a mirror and has no reflection. So Rand has changed her to a vampire? She stands there in the corner of the room, not making a noise since the weave hides her from view but doesn't block sound, and observes the meeting with the Aes Sedai. They enter linked and channeling... trying to shield him right then and there? Rand says they won't channel or embrace the Source around him, and refuses to begin discussion until they let it go. I think it's interesting that he knows they were in contact with saidar at all, Neither sex is supposed to be even aware of the other side of the One Power, and can't sense the other sex embracing..They offer the backing of the Tower and an invite to Tar Valon to meet with Elaida. They offer a gift of several chests of gold and jewels, and engage in more prattle before the meeting breaks up. Egwene asks Rand how his Traveling works. He tries to explain it to her, but I don't think she fully gets it. Then he starts talking to Lews Therin again, and Egwene lets herself out.
Cut to Nesune's viewpoint as the Aes Sedai contingent is going back to Arilyn's house. They're stunned at the possibility that Rand can sense when a woman is channeling. Nesune shows she knows there was a female channeler of some sort in the room, possibly Aiel but maybe not. The other two Sisters are shocked and had fallen for the invisibility trick, but Nesune sensed the presence of a woman who could channel. I think that Nesune could be dangerous in events to come,