|No Word That Is Not True
A study in logic, logical debate, and the fun that can be had from people who take it too seriously...
Jedar swung himself into the saddle and set down the road to the docks at an easy canter. The rest of the Hunters had left Tar Valon long since, save for a few who’d decided to stay and train as Warders. He’d been tempted, but not strongly enough to give up on finding the Horn this soon. Rather, he’d lingered in the hope that one of the Aes Sedai might be persuaded to divulge even a scrap of information regarding its whereabouts, and for all his persistence, trickery and charm had learned absolutely nothing.
Such was life. At any rate, it was time to leave if he wanted to get anywhere before winter, so at the docks he asked about boats travelling north. The Borderlands were as good a place as any to look, and he was pleased to find a captain sailing for Arafel that very afternoon. He paid passage at once and settled into his cabin.
Later on, he began to wish he’d waited.
There was an Aes Sedai travelling on the same ship, a sister of the White Ajah. In itself that wasn’t so bad. He’d had many stimulating discussions with White sisters during his stay in Tar Valon. This one, however, cornered him almost as soon as they set sail and started arguing, loudly and logically, against Hunters of the Horn in general and him in particular.
“Surely you can see how foolish it is. The Horn will not be found until the Pattern is ready for it, and so your quest is merely a waste of time and effort...”
“But who can tell when the Pattern will be ready?” Jedar gave her a bland smile. He was no newcomer to debate and logic, and he strongly disliked being talked down to. “Who can say it is not ready now? And somebody must be the one into whose hands it will place the Horn, and why should that somebody not be me?”
The White sister scoffed at that. “What is and what is to be are already woven into the Pattern, and all your efforts and posturings will not make it one whit more likely that you will be the one.” She gave him a disparaging look. “I think it highly unlikely, myself.”
“If everything that will be is already determined then so must my efforts and posturings be, and then perhaps you should be criticizing the Pattern and not me.” He bowed and left for his own cabin. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the barrage of logic, merely postponed it until the next morning.
By the time they reached Arafel, Jedar was heartily sick of the argument. He did, however, stop by her cabin before disembarking.
“Well,” she demanded, “have you decided to give up your pointless Hunt, then?”
“Not at all. I was merely curious about something. Would you be so kind as to tell me, what is the exact wording of the First Oath that you swear?”
“To speak no word that is not true.” Everyone knew that, her tone implied.
“Yes, I thought that was it. But if you take a literal interpretation of that Oath, then logically, aren’t you prevented from saying anything that isn’t the word ‘true’?”
She opened her mouth, then closed it again, a troubled expression appearing on her face. “That’s - true.”
“Then the Oath Rod stops you from saying any other word, doesn’t it?”
“I’ll leave you to think about that then, shall I?” Jedar bowed. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Aes Sedai.”
He kept a sober face all the way off the ship.
Then he whooped with laughter, swung into the saddle and rode off.