Those bits of wood were for making a litter, though Rand is still forced to drag Tam behind him, which seems like it should leave a big trail. A large part of the chapter just focuses on how hard it is to keep moving in the dark and cold, not knowing if the Trollocs are nearby with their heightened hearing and smell. And once he gets to the road, he sees the Black Rider leading twenty of them away from Emondís Field, which doesnít look good. So, I guess that makes him the Fade, though Rand doesnít make the connection.
After a quite suspenseful bit where he almost catches Rand, Tam starts babbling as the fever from his wound gets worse, revealing that he used to be a soldier, in a war fought over a guy cutting down a tree that was a symbol of peace for 500 years. Shades of Babylon 5
there. And more importantly, Rand was actually a baby he found with a dead woman from the other side after a battle, which he took as his wife couldnít have children herself. The way he spills the whole story is pretty hokey, but thatís made up for with Randís quite moving reaction, first trying to convince himself that itís just nonsense from the fever, then making a Survival Mantra
of telling himself heís Tamís son.
This chapterís really just a bunch of buildup to the reveal, but itís still pretty engaging for that. The descriptions of the elementsí effects on Rand during the trip really lets you feel what heís going through, and then when the reveal comes itís kind of a clichť, but Randís reaction still sells it. Itís really a bridge chapter, hopefully building us up for more engaging material once he actually gets to help.