In this section, the heroines keep one step ahead of the villains.
The group makes a stealthy escape from Ebou Dar, except for Moridin secretly watching from a balcony, undetected. Moridin reminds us that he has agents in every significant locale. He foolishly leaves Ebou Dar before the Bowl of the Winds is used, or he would have been able to travel right to their location when he saw the weave. Aviendha wisely considers the possibility that someone can trace their location from the weave’s residue and unweaves the Gateway. While Elayne, Nyaneve, or some other character could have thought of this flaw in their escape plan, it makes the most sense coming from the person who is most used to thinking of tactics and scouting. The ability to successfully unweave the gateway is an exception to the rule that it can’t be done.
Elayne has to deal with the politics of who will be included in the circle that uses the Bowl of the Winds. Once again, it makes sense coming from the character best suited to understanding and dealing with political situations. Several descriptions of the fifty or a hundred coloured birds act as a metaphor for this strange column of travelers. All of the Sea Folk politics serve to inform the reader about the strict hierarchy they follow. Although all Sea Folk could be summed up in a sentence based on rank, a few tags are used that will later serve to establish the exceptions to the rules.
Elayne concedes the captive Black Ajah must be questioned. She is forced to this decision because the Kin and Aes Sedai have conspired to turn Ispan over to the Aes Sedai as soon as Elayne’s back was turned. Adeleas and Vandene take the questioning upon themselves after seeing that Elayne and her friends were ready to break the law. If the law is going to be broken, let it be by a pair of Aes Sedai who have little to lose when the punishments are doled out. This book is about the snake in your midst waiting to strike, so introducing the Black Ajah as a key story element shows an example of the agents that Moridin employs. Hidden agents like the Black Ajah are themselves exceptions to the supposed relationship with their leader.
Elayne finds enough ter’angreal and angreal to give to her friends and boost their power levels significantly. Elayne receives a powerful reminder of the dangers of experimenting with what you don’t understand, which in combination with Aviendha’s unweaving, sets up a great action sequence in the next section.
An example of how the author uses descriptions as metaphor: Elayne is angrily berating Merilille for suggesting the Kin cannot be trusted. It dawned on her that she was shouting. Some sort of gray-and-white birds went flittering past overhead in a broad band, and she was drowning out their cries.
Merilille is Gray Ajah, and described later in the paragraph as having her Cairhienin paleness turn dead white. She is gray-and-white. The only relevant reason to include information about the birds and their cries here is to elaborate the point through metaphor.
Don’t waste a simple description on a single purpose, make it do more through symbolism and metaphor.