The man coming out of the inn is Thom Merrilin, a jack of all trades entertainer or gleeman who is quite pissed at the welcome he’s gotten so far. But after venting a bit he notices a crowd has gathered and launches into his act. The scene goes on a bit too long, but then stops when Moiraine stops to watch. There’s hints that they have some history, then Thom goes back inside. There’s more of Nynaeve insulting everyone (I hope we get to see her in a better mood at some point, as this is going to get old soon), including saying the council should be worried about Moiraine. And this includes a bit more exposition that Wisdoms are also doctors. Good to know.
The council lets out, and Bran reveals that there really wasn’t much else to know. It was all about keeping the townspeople from jumping to conclusions about the war’s chances of coming here. Though given that these 14 books have to be filled with something, I’d lay good odds on that. He’s still sending out volunteers to report any military presence at the borders, but Rand is also concerned about the Black Rider, and while he has to go home for the night, he tells Mat and Perrin to find more people who saw him, so they can present a better case in the morning. Except on the road, Tam confides that he believes Rand, having heard several other accounts from young people, leading him to believe they’re the only ones that can see the Black Rider for whatever reason. It actually becomes kind of a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming
as Rand is suddenly much more energized by his father’s faith in him.
Not much really happens in this one; Merrilin’s act is fun on its own but it doesn’t contribute much, and really bogs the story down at a point where we should be getting a better idea of where this is all going. Though the final scene is very nice, and promises that the introduction period is coming to an end. At least, I hope.