In Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota, Mat agreed to go with Thom (and another man - probably Noal, since he volunteered) to the world of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn to rescue Moiraine. Moiraine emphasised in her letter that this would be a very risky venture, and that the game Foxes and Snakes will be useful in indicating the way to successfully beat the ‘Finns.
Foxes and Snakes is actually an account of dealings with the Aelfinn and Eelfinn and shows players that the only way to beat the ‘Finns is to cheat. The game is started by chanting: "Courage to strengthen, fire to blind, music to daze, iron to bind" and making the sign of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn: the triangle and the wavy line through it. When Mat went into the doorway ter’angreals, he was asked:
"You have brought no lamps, no torches, as the agreement was, and is, and ever will be. You have no iron? No instruments of music?"The Finns appear to be vulnerable to these things: when Rand felt threatened in the realm of the Aelfinn he made a sword of fire, which they could not bear to look at (The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway). Since these four items are prohibited in the agreement, smuggling them in - or the materials for creating them - would be the way to beat the Aelfinn and Eelfinn; to cheat them.
- The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway
Courage they already have, since they dare to go at all, knowing the risks. Music, too; Thom’s bard’s voice is a musical instrument. Or he could construct a simple instrument such as a flute or pan-pipes 'on the run' from a wooden tube taken into their world. It can be cut to length/s and/or finger holes carved in it. (I notice that the cover of Towers of Midnight shows Noal carrying a rod.) Another instrument that could be made in Finnland is a mouth harp. Being a drone instrument it has been used as an aid to induce trances and is associated with magic ("music to daze"). Melodies can be made by changing the shape of the mouth to create different overtones.
For fire there are Aludra’s "firesticks," or ‘strikers’, matches by any other name:
"Aludra had everyone trying out her strikers, or firesticks . . . They certainly would light a fire or a lamp. They could also burst into flame if the blue-gray heads rubbed against each other or anything else rough."Mat is familiar with these and could take some to make fire at will.
- The Fires of Heaven, A Question of Crimson
Iron is more problematic. Some have suggested Mat’s ashanderei for iron, but Mat actually acquired the ashanderei from the Eelfinn, so presumably it doesn’t intimidate them too much. Iron would be the trickiest thing to smuggle in. Cuendillar is a possibility, since it starts out as iron, but they currently don’t have access to any. Another possibility could be blood. It contains iron. The Finns themselves are always described as very pale – as though they don’t have iron-rich blood like us.
Egwene had a Dream which seems to describe Moiraine’s rescue:
Mat throwing dice with blood streaming down his face, while Thom Merrilyn put his hand into a fire to draw out the small blue stone that now dangled on Moiraine’s forehead.The kesiera is something personal of Moiraine’s and is therefore symbolic of her. The dream shows the dangers: Mat is injured in the face, but he still rolls the dice. I.e. He is relying on his luck while bravely playing the game against the ‘Finns. Thom is putting his hand into a fire – knowingly risking death or injury – to save Moiraine.
- The Fires of Heaven, What Can Be Learned In Dreams
The dream seems to contain the four prohibited items of courage (Thom’s and Mat’s actions), music (Thom himself), fire (matches) and iron (the blood on Mat’s face). According to the rhyme, the iron is to ‘bind’ in some way. In our world, blood was often used to make agreements binding. I don’t think the three men will think of this; I think that it will be one of Mat’s ‘lucky’ rolls of the dice; he is injured in the face (eg by losing an eye) and the resulting blood turns events in their favour.
The dice in the dream may refer to the game of Foxes and Snakes and that they need to use their knowledge of this game to effect a rescue. It could also mean they rely on Mat’s luck to succeed. Even with luck, knowledge, cunning and determination, the venture is still very risky and any one of them could die or become a captive of the Finns.
Egwene’s dream appears to be a very neat precognitive summary of what is needed. Alas that a time for iron involves blood-letting for Mat, even if it does get Moiraine back.