Battle of Merrilor
|Schematic of the Field of Merrilor|
During the Last Battle, while Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn struggled against the Dark One, two battles were fought. One, outside the Pit of Doom in the Valley of Thakan'dar, to prevent interference and the second on the southern border of Shienar and Arafel, at the Field of Merrilor. This battle pitched the armies of the Westlands and the Aiel, led by Matrim Cauthon against the combined forces of the Shadow with a large contingent of Sharans led by Demandred. The battle begins with the forces of the Light holding the field and waiting for the arrival of their enemy. Sharans travel to the top the the Polov Heights, forcing the soldiers there to retreat. The forces of the light are split into two main groups, one, those of the Aes Sedai on the western slope of the Polov Heights, to occupy the Ayyad, with the second group in Shienar holding Hawal Ford. A third force under the command of Tam al'Thor is sent north of the Ford, to prevent the Trollocs crossing the river, with the Borderland cavalry under the command of Lan mobile.
The forces of the Shadow have greater numbers and threaten to wear down the forces of the Light, especially with Demandred and Taim's casual use of balefire. Mat and Tuon fake an argument so that the Seanchan leave the battle site. Taim is killed by Egwene, who dies herself, taking all the Sharan chanellers with her and Demandred is killed by Lan. In the confusion that follows, the Horn of Valere is blown and the Seanchan return. The Sharan's return to Shara, leaving the Trollocs in two main groups one packed into a corridor between the Heights and impassible bogs to the South and the second attacking the armies at Howal Ford. The Seanchan destroy the Trollocs in the corridor and the other armies defeat the rest.
Initially, the Last Battle was intended to be fought on three fronts, plus a fourth at Shayol Ghul to prevent interference with Rand. Each battle was to be led by one of the Great Captains (AMoL, Ch. 7), but Hessalam was able to use compulsion on them to force them to make mistakes, with the result that at Tarwin's Gap, two thirds of the Borderlanders were killed (AMoL, Ch. 32 and overall, the forces of the Light lost over a third of their number (AMoL, Ch. 33). As a result of this, it was decided to consolidate the remaining forces at the Field of Merrilor under the command of Mat Cauthon, who was immune to compulsion because of his ter'angreal medallion (AMoL, Ch. 31).
Mat sets his command tent at Dashar Knob, as it would allow them to watch the entire battle unfold and is not reachable other than by gateway. Mat's first action is to send a hundred of the Band to Hinderstap so that they can get caught in the trap there and to bring as many of the villagers as possible with them. He then sends them to a narrow canyon a few leagues northeast of Dashar Knob which he judges to be the only good place to block the Mora. He looks at the Heights and realizes he will lose if he tries to hold them, but that they cannot afford to retreat from the battlesite. The Sharans arrive from Kandor, to the West, with the Trollocs not far behind (AMoL, Ch. 36), coming from Cairhien to the south and Tarwin's Gap to the northeast. Mat immediately throws out all the battle plans he had made over the previous week as there is too much chance that the Shadow will know them.
Lan leads a cavalry charge against the Sharans and Trollocs to the west of the Heights, with cover from archers, crossbowmen and Dragoners. The Trollocs charge up the slope of the Heights into the pikemen of the White Tower army, forcing them back. They receive instructions telling them to retreat down the southwestern slope and while they are preparing to do so, the Ayyad focus on them, overwhelming the Aes Sedai sent there to help the defence. A gateway opens and Demandred attacks through it. Most of the forces of the Light manage to retreat, though some groups of Tower Guard disobey orders and fight on.
Northeast of Dashar Knob, Tam leads a force of Two Rivers archers to prevent Trollocs crossing on raft bridges they had built. He has Perrin's wolf guard, the Whitecloaks, Ghealdan and a number of Dragonsworn as well as and other mercenaries to provide support. Tam receives a message that they are to hold the river no matter what and that Mat is sending infantry banners from the Legion of the Dragon as reinforcements.
Mat sends Ogier in to support the Aiel at Hawal Ford so that the men retreating from the Heights are able to do so. He sends orders to Lan to tell him to swing round the back of the Heights behind the second Trolloc army trying to cross near the ruins. He sees Trollocs moving down the heights towards the bogs and a group of Sharan light cavalry about to ride down and engage with the troops holding Howal Ford and prevent them engaging the Trollocs. He also sees a group of Sharan heavy cavalry preparing to go down the northern slope, to intercept Lan's men, despite Lan not having received the instructions yet and realizes there is a spy in his camp. A message arrives from Talmanes, claiming all the Dragons are destroyed, but this is a feint and there are five or six functional ones to the south of the Ford aimed at the Heights. He tells Elayne he wants her to take the remaining Andoran forces to help out at the Ford, to stop the Trollocs he expects to surge over when Demandred manages to block the river upstream.
Galad leads the Whitecloak cavalry against Trollocs that have made it across the river, while Arganda leads infantry. He notes that the river has stopped flowing entirely, but that with the number of Trollocs killed earlier, the numbers are even. He receives a note from Mat, calling him away from the battle to Elayne's command flag.
The White Tower forces are positioned just south of the Ford. Mat has archers fire flaming arrows across the riverbed at the Heights to burn the undergrowth, driving the Sharans and Trollocs back up the slope and masking troop movements with smoke. They gather on top of the Heights then charge down toward Hawal Ford, while on the other side, the Borderlanders engage with Sharan cavalry. Egwene's forces cross the river and round the bogs, where they split into two groups. The Aes Sedai, with the infantry attack the Sharans from the west, and the cavalry were sent through the corridor between the bogs and Heights to attack the rear flank of the Trollocs that had moved down off the heights to attack Elayne's group defending the Ford. Egwene feels Gawyn injured and that he is dying and decides the Tower forces should follow their previous orders and try and force their way up the slope.
At the Ford, Elayne's forces are preventing the Trollocs, who have crossed into the river bed all up and down the Mora, from entering Shienaran soil. Their left flank is safe because of the bogs, but their right is more vulnerable. They are given some relief from the Trollocs by the White Tower cavalry that is hitting them from behind. On the Heights, the Sharans appear to be readying a charge, but are also having to defend an attack by the Aes Sedai and White Tower infantry. As Galad arrives, Elayne notices that the Trollocs are moving up river, where they would be able to attack her exposed right flank and she sends in six companies of crossbowmen to reinforce the troops up there. A messenger brings a note from Mat, telling Galad to take his men and kill as many of the Sharan channelers as he can. Mat includes his copy of the Foxhead Medallion.
Mat looks at the field of battle through a gateway, Dashar Knob no longer being safe. He sees that Lan is in position behind the Trolloc army crossing the riverbed by the ruins and orders him to strike while Tam and his forces continue their frontal attack. A group of Sharans attack, and though they fail to kill Mat, they disrupt the command center. Mat and Tuon use this as an excuse to fake a falling out between them and she withdraws the Seanchan troops, taking a quarter of the armies of the Light with them.
The battle goes on through the day. By late afternoon, the battle line extends along the Mora, with thousands of men and Trollocs fighting. Gawyn dies, and Egwene feels the loss and has to leave the battlefield as she collapses. She realizes she is needed at the battle and returns as soon as she has recovered. She leads a group of Aes Sedai and Asha'man, hoping to draw out Taim, which she manages to do. She sends them away to keep the other Dreadlords away from her, while she goes after Taim with Narishma, Merise and Leilwin. She is stronger than him and he has to flee. Demandred gives him Sakarnen and he returns, using balefire to kill many of the Aes Sedai, breaking the Aes Sedai who flee apart from Egwene. He weaves balefire at her, but she creates a counter weave, defeating him, but drawing too much of the Power. When she releases it, it takes out most of the Sharan channelers
At Tam's area, his forces are running out of arrows. The crossbow and heavy cavalry of the Legion of the Dragon have stopped the Trollocs downriver. The Whitecloaks and Wolf Guard are fighting on three sides and are about to be boxed in completely as another force of Trollocs has arrived. Tam plans to split his men into two wedges and hit the Trollocs to try and fragment them and free the Whitecloaks. Lan's men arrive and hit the Trollocs from behind and the Trollocs break, but they realize it was a lesser fight, that the Trollocs there were only meant to keep them from the larger battle at the Ford.
As the sun sets, the corridor between the Heights and the bogs is totally filled with Trollocs and more are attacking the White Tower forces, threatening to overrun them. Elayne realizes that the Trollocs are threatening to surround the Andoran forces. Demandred attacks them directly and she is forced to go into hiding, though Galad arrives to fight him and he is distracted. Mat moves to the back of the Andoran lines and employs sweeps of Andoran cavalry and the Band to prevent the Trollocs from breaking through the Andoran pikes. He sends Davram Bashere to Lan with orders that Lan is to engage the Trollocs trying to move round the Andorans right flank. He rides on, gathering the Ogier, who had just broken the Trollocs they were fighting, to the army of Dragonsworn, where Teslyn is fighting with them. He asks her to open a gateway to the Heights, with the expectation that after the departure of the Seanchan, Demandred will send a force from the northeast of the Heights to hit Elayne's armies from behind. He intends to prevent them. After night has fallen, Arganda moves his men south, where he received orders from Mat, that they are to move back and go up the Heights from the northeastern side. He goes with Tam and their forces, leaving the Andorans, Cairhienens and Aiel. They are joined by Lan who tells them a large Sharan army is moving in their direction and it is their job to stop them. They are attacked by Sharans and Trollocs, who themselves are hit by the Dragonsworn and others that Mat took up onto the Heights.
Mat sets out another trap for Demandred, placing a small army at the Ford, but Demandred doesn't take the bait, sending Trollocs but not Sharans, so that Mat wasn't able to sweep across the Heights and attack them from behind. His forces had been pushing the Sharans back, but Demandred realized and had sent in Trolloc reinforcements. He sees a flash of light destroying Sharans. The rest of the army is continuing to try and push the Sharans back to the southwest, but the Sharans are pushing back hard and the Trolocs manage to eventually break through, just after Egwene's death. Mat is told that Elayne and six of the Aiel Clan Chiefs are dead and that no one is leading the Andoran or Aiel forces. He sends Naeff with instructions for Tuon and Neald with instructions for Talmanes. They see the Trollocs have regrouped and are readying to charge. They also see Lan, riding off on his own. Tam has the Two Rivers men fire at the Trollocs, to give Lan a path to Demandred. He makes it, and kills Demandred (AMoL, Ch. 37).
Mat and his armies fight, outnumbered three to one by the Trollocs while the Sharans are dazed at the loss of Demandred. As Rand's voice is heard announcing that Lan still lives, Lan stands and Olver blows the Horn and the Heroes of the Horn are recalled to join the battle. The sound disorients the Shadow forces and the Trollocs near Lan scramble away from him. Tam has his archers kill the Myrddraal that try to force the Trollocs back into battle. They punch their way through the Trollocs to Lan and then retreat with him. The Heroes join him, as Dannil is holding Rand's banner.
Elayne rides through her disarrayed forces having lost a third of their number and draws the surviving men to her and they march. At the top of the Heights, Mat pushes southwest, trying to push the Sharans and Trollocs off the Heights. He sees that Elayne is holding, but that if he doesn't succeed, she will be overwhelmed quickly. At the Seanchan camp, Min realizes Yulan is under compulsion and manages to unmask Moghedien, who flees. Tuon says they are to return to the battle. Dozens of gateways open in the sky and to'raken]] emerge, attacking the Trollocs in the coridoor between the Heights and the bogs. Half the Seanchan army are to join with Elayne and crush the Trollocs trying to force their way into Shienar and the other to swing round the bokfs and crush the trollocs in the coridoor from behind. He hears thunder, as the Dragons begin firing through gateways at the Sharans, including a group that Moghedien, disguised as Demandred was trying to take over.
Grady returns to Hinderstap and brings back the men who had been killed the previous day. Their return shocks the Dreadlords who had dammed the river and they are killed. Grady destroys the dam and releases the river. Mat rides with the Heroes, helping in the fighting and trusting that the orders he has given are enough that he does not need to command any more. The river returns, splitting the Trolloc army and washing many away. The Sharans flee through gateways and the Trollocs on the heights panic, fleeing to the southwest. Off the Heights, Elayne's army and the Seanchan attack the Trollocs, surrounding them and not allowing any escape. The Trollocs in the corridor between the Heights and the bogs are also under attack from Seanchan to the west, first lopar, then corlm, with the soldiers only role being to prevent the Trollocs escape. With the only option being up the slope, the Trollocs try to run up, but are met by Mat's army on the way down, with Talmanes firing the Dragons into them from behind. It is all over quickly.