This theory explains how the Seanchan will finally be able to use Aes Sedai damane as weapons.
Egwene had a dream of a long line of women wearing Great Serpent rings using the One Power against the White Tower:
She had dreamed of the Seanchan, too, of women in dresses with lightning bolts woven on their breasts, collaring a long line of women who wore Great Serpent rings, forcing them to call lightning against the White Tower.Women wearing such rings are Accepted or Aes Sedai. While an Accepted is not bound by the Three Oaths against using the One Power as a weapon, and thus could easily fulfil this dream, there aren’t a great many of them. The Seanchan would have to get hold of them all and then some. Since Egwene dreamt of a lot of ring-wearing damane, Aes Sedai damane must be participating also. There are many Aes Sedai out of the Tower, two thirds of the Aes Sedai, in fact - Cadsuane’s and Rand’s factions, captives from the Tower, rebels and complete independents - that the Seanchan could collar before they need raid the Tower itself.
- The Dragon Reborn, Questions
Readers have expressed doubts this dream could be fulfilled by Aes Sedai damane due to the Oath against using the Power as a weapon apparently overriding the a’dam, but it is quite possible. After all, the Oath makes exceptions: the One Power can be used as a weapon against Shadowspawn, or if the life of the Aes Sedai, her Warder's life or that of another sister is in very great danger.
The Seanchan know almost nothing about the Oaths Aes Sedai swear, but they do know that they have been unable to make Aes Sedai damane lie, or to use the One Power as a weapon. So far the Seanchan have found the few Aes Sedai damane to be useless as weapons, as is spoken of openly among Deathwatch Guards such as Karede, and der’suldam.
Still, she [Mylen, an Aes Sedai damane] could do nothing without Melitene, and she was useless as a weapon, a fact that had made her hang her head when he [Karede] pointed it out to the der’sul'dam.This is about to change.
- Knife of Dreams, Under an Oak
Unlike on the mainland, all the Seanchan military analyse battles and discuss possible improvements in tactics:
“They call their army the Ever Victorious Army for a reason. It’s never lost a war. Battles, yes, but never a war. When they lose a battle, they sit down and work out what they did wrong, or what the enemy did right. Then they change what needs changing for them to win… The Seanchan all do it. That’s been their way for a thousand years. They change what they have to change, but they don’t give up.”The inability of Aes Sedai damane to be used as weapons is a weakness as the Seanchan see it. But thanks to a tongue-flapping Aes Sedai, that is about to change. Musenge, Karede’s second, was present when three Aes Sedai were part of Mat’s forces which wiped out a large number of rabble:
- Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments
"You could join in any time, Joline," he [Mat] said. "Third rank! Loose!"This battle will surely be much discussed by the Seanchan: the Prince of the Ravens, Tylin’s Toy, in command and winning against large numbers, the use of shrapnel grenades, and Aes Sedai using the One Power as a weapon. Of their own will. Something the Seanchan want to get them to do.
The Aes Sedai shook her head irritably. "I must be in danger. I don't feel in danger yet." Teslyn nodded. She was watching the charge as if it were a parade, and a not very interesting one at that…
"I think," Joline said slowly. "Yes. I feel in danger, now." Teslyn simply drew back her hand and threw a sphere of fire larger than a horse's head. The explosion hurled dirt and pieces of men and horses into the air. It was about bloody time! Facing in three directions, the Aes Sedai began hurling fireballs as fast as they could swing their arms, but the devastation they wrought did nothing to slow the attack.
- Knife of Dreams, Prince of the Ravens
So now the Seanchan have the secret: the Aes Sedai can use the Power as a weapon, if they feel in personal danger, if they feel their lives depend on it. The first testing of this would be putting an Aes Sedai damane and her sul’dam right in the front line of battle – with the sul’dam’s fear magnified through the a’dam and added to her own sense of danger, the Aes Sedai damane will be able to fight. However, this is limiting Aes Sedai damane to the climax of the battle or to defence. According to Egwene’s dream, Aes Sedai are going to be forced to call lightning against the Tower, forced to attack it, strike first. How? They will be made afraid enough of their personal safety to do so. Just as Musenge heard Joline say.
When Egwene was first captured, she was frightened and coerced with horror stories of mutilation of damane who were not obedient:
Damane are too valuable to be killed out of hand, but you might find yourself not only soundly punished, but absent a tongue to speak or hands to write. Damane can do what they must without these things.As a reminder, this maltreatment surfaced again in the later books. In Crossroads of Twilight, mutilations were passed off as rare, but it was reluctantly admitted they do happen:
- The Great Hunt, Damane
“Are you certain about the Windfinders who were caught? I’ve heard talk about cutting off hands, or feet.” Mat swallowed a sour taste…Mat was right, mutilations might be rare, but they happen. If a couple of Aes Sedai damane were mutilated in front of the others, all the Aes Sedai damane would be very afraid for themselves. And of all damane, those who are/were Aes Sedai would be the ones most likely to be maltreated by the Seanchan because the Seanchan all fear Aes Sedai and fear incites violence and cruelty. Cruelty out of necessity is an unpleasant and persistent undercurrent in the books. Even the good guys are prepared to mutilate: Perrin did so trying to get information from an Aiel. (And the moral issues involved in interrogating Darkfriends are becoming important in Elayne’s and Cadsuane’s groups.) If dire threats of mutilation are carried out on Aes Sedai damane for disobedience, then from the Aes Sedai damane’s point of view, their lives will depend on obeying their sul’dam and disobeying them becomes very dangerous. So much so that when their sul’dam say: “Attack or we will kill you”, when a knife is literally or figuratively held at their throats, they will believe and fear for their lives enough to overcome the Oath and attack with the Power.
Egeanin’s head jerked, and for a moment he thought she would ignore his question. “Talk from Renna, I’ll wager,” she said, with a dismissive gesture. “Some sul’dam talk about that nonsense to frighten recalcitrant damane when they’re new-leashed, but nobody’s done it in, oh, six or seven hundred years. Not many, anyway, and people who can’t control their property without...mutilation...are sei’mosiev to start.” …
“Shamed or not, they do it,” he snapped.
- Crossroads of Twilight, Time To Be Gone
Aes Sedai damane will be forced to use the One Power against the Tower. Just as Egwene dreamt.