Egwene glanced at the collected Seanchan nobility. Fortuona seemed to be addressing one man in particular, a man in rich black and golden clothing, trimmed with white lace. He had an eyepatch over one eye, black to match, and the fingernails on both hands were lacquered to a dark—
“Mat?” Egwene sputtered.
He gave a kind of half-wave, looking embarrassed.
Oh, Light, she thought. What has he thrown himself into? She galloped through plans in her mind. Mat was imitating a Seanchan nobleman. They must not know who he really was. Could she trade something to save him?
“Approach,” Fortuona said.
“This man is not— ” Egwene began, but Fortuona spoke over her.
“Knotai,” she said, “did you know that this woman was an escaped damane? You knew her as a child, I believe.”
“You know who he is?” Egwene asked.
Of course I do,” Fortuona said. “He is named Knotai, but once was called Matrim Cauthon. Do not think he will serve you, marath’damane, though you did grow up together. He is the Prince of the Ravens now, a position he earned by his marriage to me. He serves the Seanchan, the Crystal Throne, and the Empress.”
“May she live forever,” Mat noted. “Hello, Egwene. Glad to hear you escaped those Sharans. How’s the White Tower? Still … white, I guess?”
Egwene looked from Mat to the Seanchan Empress, then back at him again. Finally, unable to do anything else, she burst out laughing. “You married Matrim Cauthon?”
Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light: Chapter 26 - Considerations
When he turned back, the quarterstaff in both hands before him, Gawyn and Galad were already waiting out where they had been practicing. I have to win. “Luck,” he muttered. “Time to toss the dice.”
Hammar gave him an odd look. “You speak the Old Tongue, lad?”
Mat stared back at him for a moment, not speaking. He felt cold to the bone. With an effort, he made his feet start out onto the practice yard. “Remember the wager,” he said loudly. “Two silver marks from each of you against two from me.”
A buzz rose from the Accepted as they realized what was happening. The Aes Sedai watched in silence. Disapproving silence.
Gawyn and Galad split apart, one to either side of him, keeping their distance, neither with his sword more than half-raised.
“No wager,” Gawyn said. “There’s no wager.”
At the same time, Galad said, “I’ll not take your money like this.”
“I mean to take yours,” Mat said.
“Done!” Hammar roared. “If they have not the nerve to cover your wager, lad, I’ll pay the score myself.”
“Very well,” Gawyn said. “If you insist on it - done!”
Galad hesitated a moment more before growling, “Done, then. Let us put an end to this farce.”
The moment’s warning was all Mat needed. As Galad rushed at him, he slid his hands along the quarterstaff and pivoted. The end of the staff thudded into the tall man’s ribs, bringing a grunt and a stumble. Mat let the staff bounce off Galad and spun, carrying it on around just as Gawyn came within range. The staff dipped, darted under Gawyn’s practice sword, and clipped his ankle out from under him. As Gawyn fell, Mat completed the spin in time to catch Galad across his upraised wrist, sending his practice sword flying. As if his wrist did not pain him at all, Galad threw himself into a smooth, rolling dive and came up with his sword in both hands.
Ignoring him for the moment, Mat half turned, twisting his wrists to whip the length of the staff back beside him. Gawyn, just starting to rise, took the blow on the side of his head with a loud thump only partly softened by the padding of hair. He went down in a heap.
Mat was only vaguely aware of an Aes Sedai rushing out to tend Elayne’s fallen brother. I hope he’s all right. He should be. I’ve hit myself harder than that falling off a fence. He still had Galad to deal with, and from the way Galad was poised on the balls of his feet, sword raised precisely, he had begun to take Mat seriously.
Mat’s legs chose that moment to tremble. Light, I can’t weaken now. But he could feel it creeping back in, the wobbly feeling, the hunger as if he had not eaten for days. If I wait for him to come to me, I’ll fall on my face. It was hard to keep his knees straight as he started forward. Luck, stay with me.
From the first blow, he knew that luck, or skill, or whatever had brought him this far, was still there. Galad managed to turn that one with a sharp clack, and the next, and the next, and the next, but strain stiffened his face. That smooth swordsman, almost as good as the Warders, fought with every ounce of his skill to keep Mat’s staff from him. He did not attack; it was all he could do to defend. He moved continually to the side, trying not to be forced back, and Mat pressed him, staff a blur. And Galad stepped back, stepped back again, wooden blade a thin shield against the quarterstaff.
Hunger gnawed at Mat as if he had swallowed weasels. Sweat rolled down into his eyes, and his strength began to fade as if it leached out with the sweat. Not yet. I can’t fall yet. I have to win. Now. With a roar, he threw all his reserves into one last surge.
The quarterstaff flickered past Galad’s sword and in quick succession struck knee, wrist, and ribs and finally thrust into Galad’s stomach like a spear. With a groan, Galad folded over, fighting not to fall. The staff quivered in Mat’s hands, on the point of a final crushing thrust to the throat. Galad sank to the ground.
Mat almost dropped the quarterstaff when he realized what he had been about to do. Win, not kill. Light, what was I thinking? Reflexively he grounded the butt of the staff, and as soon he did, he had to clutch at it to hold himself erect. Hunger hollowed him like a knife reaming marrow from a bone. Suddenly he realized that not only the Aes Sedai and Accepted were watching. All practice, all learning, had stopped. Warders and students alike stood watching him.
Hammar moved to stand beside Galad, still groaning on the ground and trying to push himself up. The Warder raised his voice to shout, “Who was the greatest blademaster of all time?”
From the throats of dozens of students came a massed bellow. “Jearom, Gaidin!”
“Yes!” Hammar shouted, turning to make sure all heard. “During his lifetime, Jearom fought over ten thousand times, in battle and single combat. He was defeated once. By a farmer with a quarterstaff. Remember that. Remember what you just saw.”
Robert Jordan, The Dragon Reborn: Chapter 24 - Scouting and Discoveries