By Linda This article discusses all Aiel prophecy including the Prophecy of Rhuidean, the Aiel Dreamwalkers’ dreams and Aviendha's visions in the glass columns ter'angreal. The Prophecy of Rhuidean
It is prophesied that a child born of a Maiden will unite the clans and return to the Aiel to [sic.] the greatness they knew during the Age of Legends. -The Eye Of The World: Glossary, Far Dareis MaiRand is the child of a Maiden, Shaiel of the Chumai Taardad, he has united the clans apart from the Shaido, and the Aiel are certainly very well-known in the lands he holds. In the Age of Legends, the Da’shain Aiel were revered; now as Aiel, they are feared. What the Aiel were known for in the Age of Legends, when public service was highly valued, was the purity of their service to the Aes Sedai. Aviendha’s trips through the glass columns showed her that the Aiel need to do something other than fight after the Last Battle, and the Aiel Wise Ones insisted Rand include them in his peace treaty. They will be the peace-keeping force, a new take on the Way of the Leaf, which the Age of Legends Aes Sedai asked them to keep.
"When the Trollocs come out of the Blight again, we will leave the Three-fold Land and take back our places of old…One of the old prophecies says that if ever we fail the Aes Sedai again, they will slay us…We will know him when we see him, for he will be marked. He will come from the west, beyond the Spine of the World, but be of our blood. He will go to Rhuidean, and lead us out of the Three-fold Land. Under this sign [the ancient Aes Sedai symbol] he will conquer." -The Great Hunt, A New Thread In The PatternThe Trollocs came out of the Blight to attack the Two Rivers in the first few chapters of the series, and the Aiel followed not so long afterwards. "Take back our places of old" is an indication that the Children of the Dragon will continue to serve the Dragon just as they once served all Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends. This time it will be by upholding his peace treaty. Rand is of their blood, his father being an Aiel clan chief, although he was brought up west of the Spine of the World. He did go to Rhuidean and led the Aiel out of the Waste. In an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, he adopted the ancient symbol of Aes Sedai knowing prophecy said he would conquer under it:
Under that sign he would conquer, the Prophecy of Rhuidean said, and perhaps it would not frighten the world so much as the Dragon Banner - The Fires of Heaven, Jangai PassIt was the two dragon markings that proved to the Aiel that Rand was He Who Comes With the Dawn.
"Prophecy says when the Stone of Tear falls, we will leave the Three-fold Land at last. It says we will be changed, and find again what was ours, and was lost." -The Dragon Reborn, A Different DanceAfter Rand took the Stone and went to Rhuidean, large forces from all the clans left the Waste, some with Rand, some ahead of him. The Aiel were changed by the discovery of their true history and by the bleakness, and a lot of their customs have been changed also: by Rand, by Sevanna, by being out of the Waste and by events. They will change still further. "What was ours, and was lost" is the honour the Da’shain Aiel had in the Age of Legends due to their service. The Aiel will again have places among the nations, tasked as peace-keepers and arbiters of disputes arising from Rand’s treaty.
Aiel prophecy says he was born of Far Dareis Mai. "Blood of our blood mixed with the old blood, raised by an ancient blood not ours. -The Dragon Reborn, Threads In The PatternRand was the child of a Maiden. His father was an Aiel ("blood of our blood"), and his mother an Andoran (old blood) Far Dareis Mai and he was raised by descendants of the people of Manetheren ("raised by an ancient blood not ours").
"The stone that never falls will fall to announce his coming. Of the blood, but not raised by the blood, he will come from Rhuidean at dawn, and tie you together with bonds you cannot break. He will take you back and he will destroy you." -The Shadow Rising, The Road to the SpearThe Stone of Tear, which had never been taken before, fell to Rand and the Aiel. He is half-Aiel by blood, and his mother was adopted Aiel, but he was raised by Tam and Kari al’Thor in the Two Rivers. He came back from Rhuidean at dawn, and brought the Aiel clans together. The "bonds you cannot break" are perhaps those they take to serve as keepers of Rand’s peace treaty; plus clans that had blood feud have now sworn water oath: for instance, due to his presence Jheric of the Shaarad and Bael of the Goshien settled their blood feud and made water oath, which is a pretty unbreakable bond. Rand has taken the Aiel back to the wetlands, to work with the nations to win the Last Battle and keep his treaty. He also destroyed the Aiel: the Shaido are renegades, many Aiel were taken by the bleakness and many died in battle, and he changed their purpose as well as their customs. Rand performed a Moses-like role in leading the Aiel out of the Waste (see Rand essay). One of the many parallels the Aiel have to the Israelites (see The Age of Legends article) is that their ancestors the Da’shain were in service to the Aes Sedai, just as the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and they made their first exodus at the onset of the Breaking at the behest of Aes Sedai (whom they failed when they abandoned their Covenants). They have wandered since those times, not just until they found the Waste, but in the Waste too, since they led a semi-nomadic life there. The Aiel are prophesied to take back their places of old, a parallel of the Israelites being promised fertile lands in Canaan. After following Rand out of the Waste into the Wetlands, their “Promised Land,” some Aiel want to return to the Waste, just as many of the Israelites following Moses on the Exodus wanted to return to Egypt, even though they had been slaves there. Those Aiel who don’t follow Rand will not be saved, just as God told Moses that the Israelites would have to wander the wilderness for forty years until all those who refused to enter Canaan had died and then their children would settle there:
"In this case, the whole truth, the truth known only to Wise Ones and clan chiefs before this, is that you are our doom. Our doom, and our salvation. Without you, no one of our people will live beyond the Last Battle., Perhaps not even until the Last Battle. That is prophecy, and truth. With you...'He shall spill out the blood of those who call themselves Aiel as water on sand, and he shall break them as dried twigs, yet the remnant of a remnant shall he save, and they shall live.’” -The Shadow Rising, He Who Comes With The DawnBair paraphrases part of the Rhuidean prophecy in which Rand is crucial for the Aiel’s survival, and then quotes the next part. Aiel will be killed in great numbers – though so probably will all peoples. If they do re-adopt Da’shain vows and swear to do no violence, they will be very vulnerable and they won’t be able to save themselves. Hence Rand doing so. The Aiel themselves are a remnant – of the Da’shain. The Wise Ones tried to make the remnant of a remnant as large as possible. Wise Ones’ Dreams Just as Egwene does, the Dreamwalker Wise Ones have prophetic Dreams, and a few of them are mentioned. They can also read Tel’aran’rhiod to determine what is happening now, or may in the future.
"We did not see Egwene or Mat Cauthon at all. It was no more than an even chance that the young man who calls himself Rand al'Thor would come. If he did not, it was certain that he would die, and the Aiel too. Yet he has come, and if he survives Rhuidean, some of the Aiel at least will survive. This we know. If you (Moiraine) had not come, he would have died. If Aan'allein had not come, you would have died. If you did not go through the rings... -The Shadow Rising, Beyond the StoneSo if Rand had not come to the Waste, and had not gotten the Aiel to follow him and guard him, he would have died. By going to Rhuidean he obtained the access key to the Choedan Kal with which he cleansed saidin, thus also preventing his early death. The Aiel would have been wiped out, as well, perhaps by famine due to the seasons remaining fixed when Rand’s friends did not find or use the Bowl. Rand survived Rhuidean, so some of the Aiel will survive – a "remnant of a remnant" as it has been put. If Moiraine had not come, then Rand would have died on the docks in Cairhien or become Lanfear’s slave. If Lan hadn’t come, Moiraine would have died at some point, perhaps in one of the Shadowspawn attacks. If Moiraine hadn’t gone through the rings, then she wouldn’t have known how to remove the threat of Lanfear and Rand would be enslaved or dead. Nor would she have known how to get aid from Mat and Thom.
"Melaine and Bair dreamed of you [Rand] on a boat with three women whose faces they could not see and a scale tilting first one way and then the other. Melaine and Amys dreamed of a man standing by your side with a dagger to your throat, but you did not see him. Bair and Amys dreamed of you cutting the wetlands in two with a sword. All three had this dream, which makes it especially significant. Rain, coming from a bowl. There are snares and pitfalls around the bowl. If the right hands pick it up, they will find a treasure perhaps as great as the bowl. If the wrong hands, the world is doomed. The key to finding the bowl is to find the one who is no longer." -Lord Of Chaos, Matters of TohRand on a boat is almost certainly related to the "three on the boat, and he who is dead yet lives" of Nicola’s Foretelling. The three women are Elayne, Aviendha and Min. The scale refers to the uncertainty about whether Rand wins against the Dark One and therefore whether this dream occurs. It is of events after the Last Battle. The man with a dagger could be Taim, whom Rand long discounted the threat of, or Isam, who tried to kill Rand while he fought the Dark One. This might fit with a part of the Karaethon cycle mentioning "serpents nestle in the bosom". Rand cutting the wetlands in two with a sword refers to Rand holding the east and north, and the Seanchan the west and south. This would fit again with Nicola’s Foretelling of "the land divided by the return", and the Karaethon Cycle’s "the north shall he tie to the east, and the west shall be bound to the south." The bowl with the rain is, of course, the Bowl of the Winds, which brought the weather back to a more normal state. The "snares and pitfalls" probably refer to the difficulty Elayne and Nynaeve had getting aid from the Kin, Sea Folk and Aes Sedai, the two lots of Darkfriends also after the cache and the threat of the Seanchan invasion. The right hands are them, naturally, and the treasure they found with the Bowl was the Kin’s stash of angreal and ter’angreal, and the Kin themselves (see Ebou Dar cache article). The wrong hands were presumably Moridin, Moghedien and Sammael. Even with the seasons restored, famine and pestilence were widespread. If the Forsaken had gotten hold of the Bowl, and the seasons had remained as they were, the death toll would have been much worse and there would have been no defense against the Dark One’s storms in the Last Battle (A Memory of Light, To Ignore the Omens). Plus the Forsaken would have gotten hold of some other very useful items: the angreal, the jewellery defense systems, the Shadow-warding knife, the Age of Legends library, and the communications devices. As for ‘the one who is no longer’, this is Setalle Anan, who is no longer an Aes Sedai (see Importance of Setalle Anan article): Setalle has admitted she was an Aes Sedai, which is why she believed she could be a sul’dam, knew too much about slowing, and her voice was recognised by Joline Maza; and the Kin themselves who are no longer Accepted and novices.
"This Masema Dagar is a danger to the Car’a’carn. He must die…The dreamwalkers have told us, Perrin Aybara…They have read the dream. The man must die." -The Path of Daggers, TanglesMasema was a tool of a Forsaken, probably Lanfear/Cyndane, and he convinced Aram to kill Perrin. Moridin ordered the Forsaken to kill Mat and Perrin, and Cyndane was very much at Moridin’s mercy, otherwise she would have preferred Perrin be left alone, since Perrin was a tool of hers. If Masema had not been killed, at the least he and his Dragonsworn would have damaged Rand’s standing with the Seanchan, non-aligned groups and even Rand’s allies leading to nations withdrawing their support or attacking Rand. From Knife of Dreams, the Dreamwalkers had trouble reading the dream to determine the likely future of their people and the Dragon:
"Sightblinder is too close to the world now," said Melaine. "The Pattern has been twisted somehow. In the dream we still see many things that may or may not happen, but there are too many possibilities; we cannot tell one from another. The fate of our people is unclear to the dreamwalkers, as is the fate of the Car'a'carn once he spits in Sightblinder's eye on the Last Day. We do not know the truth of what Aviendha saw." A Memory of Light, By Grace and Banners FallenDue to the distortion of reality, the Dreamwalkers could not verify Aviendha’s visions in the glass columns in Rhuidean. Aviendha’s visions Aviendha’s second traverse of the glass columns showed a future for the Aiel. (Her re-setting of the glass columns ter’angreal is discussed in the Ter’angreal article.) Is it the future, one that will definitely happen, and thus like a Foretelling, or a likely future according to attitudes and conditions at the time, as a prophetic dream is? Aviendha fears the former and so does Amys. Bair refuses to believe that the glass columns would do anything so unhelpful, but must be providing a warning (A Memory of Light, By Grace and Banners Fallen). Whichever is the case, all Wise Ones agree that this future must be avoided somehow. When the Dark One touched the world strongly – after Crossroads of Twilight - he was able to alter the Pattern:
The viewings and prophecies that occurred before the loosening of the Pattern are very valid. But those that occurred at, or after, the loosening have a higher chance of not coming true. - Robert Jordan at a Knife of Dreams booksigningHowever after his epiphany, Rand might be able to counter this effect to a degree and keep the Pattern more stable (especially in his near vicinity). Aviendha’s visions occurred before Rand’s epiphany. This alone means that they won’t definitely come true. Bair advises Aviendha to name one of her children differently so that the future shown in the vision is altered:
"Change one of their names," Bair said. "Never speak of the name that child was called in the vision, not even to us. Then you shall know. If one thing is different, then others may be different as well. Will be different. This is not our fate, Aviendha. It is a path we will avoid. Together." Aviendha found herself nodding. Yes. A simple change, a small change, but full of meaning. "Thank you, Bair." A Memory of Light, By Grace and Banners FallenNames have great power, and in this case even more so, since Aviendha’s children play such a crucial role in the future of the Aiel. The visions will be discussed in order of viewing, with the most distant future first. Malidra Malidra is a scavenger following travellers who fossick and trade in the Waste. She and the other Folk will kill unwary merchants for food. A traveller shoots her when she raids their garbage. Malidra’s crawling in darkness is symbolic of literally how low she has become – unenlightened, little more than an animal. She is uncomprehending of technology, which seems like magic to her, and is ignorant and destitute. The Aiel have no society. Malidra doesn’t mention other family besides her dead sisters. Aiel were falsely accused of being savages, but Malidra truly is and there is nothing noble about her to respect, or fear, either. How many generations have passed since Norlesh is unknown; it may only be a couple. Norlesh had knowledge of outside the Waste but Malidra barely believes there is anything beyond the Waste:
Malidra had heard stories of a place beyond the distant mountains, where the land was green and food grew everywhere. She didn't believe those lies. The mountains were just lines in the sky, jagged teeth. Who could climb something so tall? Towers of Midnight, Near AvendesoraNot a people who are starving, that’s for sure. The invaders are building a railway cutting across the continent from Shara:
She had heard-in the hushed, broken communication of Folk-that in the east, the Lightmakers were creating a massive roadway. It would pass directly through the Waste. It was made by laying down strange pieces of metal. Towers of Midnight, Near AvendesoraThe Lightmakers regard the remnant Aiel, the Folk, as vermin raiding the garbage. Norlesh Norlesh and her family approach a group of fossickers to trade some ore for food, but are rejected because trade with Aiel is forbidden by the Seanchan. The group faces starvation. In the time of Norlesh, the second generation after Tava, the Aiel still know what outside the Waste is like, but romanticise it:
How could rocks be so valuable that they would live on this side of the mountains, away from their fabled land of water and food? Away from their buildings where light shone without candles and their carts that moved without horses? Towers of Midnight, Near AvendesoraThe Aiel now know nothing about obtaining metal from ore, or presumably working metal, yet once they prized blacksmiths and silversmiths. The outlanders are allies of the Seanchan:
"The Raven Empress, may she always draw breath, forbids it. No trading with Aiel. We could be stripped of our charter for talking to you...It isn't worth trouble with the Ravens. Go on your way. We don't want an incident." Towers of Midnight, Near AvendesoraThe Seanchan are confining the Aiel, squeezing them dry and letting them decay. They won’t let them cross the mountains and so by Malidra’s time the Aiel will believe the mountains cannot be crossed. The sequence of visions parallels the disastrous and tragic effect that Europeans had on the Amerindian culture as they moved into their lands. The Seanchan from the “American” continent are doing the “return version” of this. Tava Tava’s clan attempted to build a secret hold remote in the Waste but it is destroyed by the Seanchan, who break apart any gathering of Aiel. The clan shatters. The aerial attack has guns, the first seen by the Aiel. It has taken the Seanchan a while to acquire the technology even though they have had cannon (“Andoran war machines”) for a few generations. A few Aiel warrior societies still exist and the Stone Dogs are one of these. Tava wonders how this hold was discovered:
This hold was to have been different, secret, deep within the Waste. How had their enemies found them? Towers of Midnight, Near AvendesoraThis would not be difficult for aerial patrols (something Tava cannot appreciate, not having flown or undergone warrior training) and obviously the Seanchan are using their patrols to locate as well as destroy Aiel groups. Tava’s father is one of the few Aiel keeping traditions and customs, when he could be killed for it:
Tall-even for an Aiel-with striking red hair, he wore the old clothing of brown and tan, boots tied high to his knees. That clothing marked one as Aiel, therefore many had abandoned it. Being known as Aiel meant death. Her father had inherited his clothing from his grandfather, along with a charge. Follow the old ways. Remember ji'e'toh. Fight and maintain honor. Towers of Midnight, Near AvendesoraThe trouble is, the Aiel’s honour was already lost a few generations earlier through fighting. Fighting when everyone else had a pact for peace dishonoured the Aiel. Rowahn’s cry:
"It is a punishment!" her father said. "But we must endure!" Towers of Midnight, Near Avendesoralooks back to the Breaking of the World, when the Da’shain Aiel said that they had to enduring adversity as a test of their faith:
“We must accept what comes. Our sufferings are sent to test our faithfulness. We accept and endure! We do not murder! The Shadow Rising, The Road To The SpearRowahn admits the Aiel deserve punishment. The Aiel are being forced not to fight. They are indeed being punished for inciting others to war and breaking Rand’s peace pact. It seems apt. At the beginning of the Third Age when the entire world was Breaking it was right for some Da’shain to fight and survive so that at the end of the Age they would serve the Dragon, first by protecting him and fighting for him and then perhaps in other ways. (If Rand had not gone to Rhuidean he would have died, as the Wise Ones said above. He needed the Aiel for his own safety). At the beginning of the Fourth Age it is right for the Aiel to stop fighting otherwise they won’t survive. Ladalin Ladalin attends a meeting of the few remaining clan chiefs and Wise Ones – three chiefs and two Wise Ones. Five Aiel clans remain (including the Taardad, Goshien, and Miagoma), and one of those has nearly disintegrated. The Aiel had a Council of 22 comprising the clan chief and senior Wise One of all 11 clans. Rhuidean was recently captured by the Seanchan. The Aiel are losing against the Seanchan in this generation. They refuse to surrender and retreat to the Waste to rebuild. Gone is the arrogance of Oncala’s day. This is the last time in which channelling – and it is the lack of the ability – is mentioned. It is also one generation since there were gai’shain. The term has now come to mean cowardice rather than honourable service. All women fight before they are married. The Aiel have no comforts, only essentials, and within a couple of generations there will be no essentials to carry. Tear was taken by the Seanchan during Ladalin’s adulthood, Illian and Cairhien were razed and the White Tower has just fallen. Mora says:
"We must retreat into the Three-fold Land," Mora said in her soft, matronly voice. "And seek penance for our sins." "What sins?" Takai snapped. "The Dragon wanted peace," she replied. "The Dragon left us!" Takai said. "I refuse to follow the memory of a man my greatfathers barely knew. We made no oaths to follow his foolish pact. We-" Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunTakai denies that staying out of the peace pact was a sin. And it might not have been; Rand was not going to ask them to join it. Nor would they, if they were not the ones to insist on it, spurred by Aviendha’s report of their doom if they don’t. (Breaking the pact was the real sin, if they would but admit it.) The Seanchan’s threat to hunt the Aiel and destroy any place where they gather has been carried out. It is too late for penance. There is now only surrender or extinction. The Aiel still revere the Dragon’s descendants even though they have been disastrous for their people. Of the four lines from each of Aviendha’s children, only one remains and it has few members living. The Dragon Blooded were separate to the Wise Ones:
Though the Wise Ones and Dragon Blooded used the One Power in battle, it was not enough. Those cursed a'dam. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunThe a’dam are still used so the knowledge that sul’dam could learn to channel did not shake the Empire as Elayne and co believed it would. Once the Aiel tricked other nations into breaking the peace pact the Seanchan turned on the nations and broke them. Then they used their channellers:
The real turning point in the war had been the entry of the other nations. After that, the Seanchan had been able to seize wetlander peoples and cull more channelers from their ranks. Towers of Midnight, Court of the Sunso the Aiel’s efforts were totally counterproductive. Renegade channellers from conquered nations don’t join the Aiel. The Seanchan got Andoran cannon 20 years earlier, which is before they conquered Andor, because their contingency plan to take Andor in Oncala’s POV included dragons. Some senior Aiel are blaming Rand for their predicament, saying he could have led them to glory:
"This is his fault," Takai said, still looking sullen. "The Car'a'carn could have led us to glory, but he abandoned us." "His fault?" Ladalin said, understanding - perhaps for the first time - why that statement was wrong. "No. Aiel take responsibility for themselves. This is our fault, and not that of my distant greatfather. We have forgotten who we are. We are without honor." "Our honor was taken from us," Takai said, sighing as he stood. "People of the Dragon indeed. What is the good of being his people? We were crafted to be a spear, the legends say, forged in the Three-fold Land. He used us, then cast us away. What is a discarded spear to do, but go to war?" What indeed, Ladalin thought. The Dragon had demanded peace, thinking that it would bring happiness to the Aiel. But how could they be happy, when the Light cursed Seanchan were in the land? Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunNote that they believe Rand need not have died/left them (as he appears to have done). As Ladalin realises, the Aiel are responsible for their own actions and the consequences of these. It is these latter that they are reluctant, understandably, to accept. Takai thinks the Aiel’s honour was taken from them – but in reality they threw it away when they used fraud to incite other nations to break the peace pact. The Aiel are mistaken in their belief about what they were crafted to be – a weapon – and it is this that Aviendha has to realise. Their title of the People of the Dragon signifies they should serve him and follow his wishes. Rand wished for peace… Living so long in the harsh Waste, the Aiel became both aggressive and insular, a dangerous combination. Oncala It is 40 years since the Last Battle, and Aviendha, Elayne, Padra and Tuon are not around. They have been killed or collared with an a’dam. Oncala and Hehyal, full of hatred and arrogance, falsely claim hypothetical Seanchan plans to invade Andor are actual plans in order to incite the Andoran Queen to break the peace pact so she will ally with them to fight the Seanchan:
If Andor entered the war, the other nations would as well, particularly those in the Pact of the Griffin and those in the Court of the Sun. They looked to the Andoran Queen much as the other Aiel clans looked to Oncala. The blood of Rand al'Thor held much weight. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunWe don’t know these alliances. One of these is likely the alliance that Elayne made in Towers of Midnight. A griffin is a mythological creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle; The white lion is the symbol of Andor. On the other hand, Cairhien has the Sun Throne. Maybe Andor is a member of both alliances, which would account for its influence on both. The first indication that the Aiel have changed for the worse is that Oncala has an attendant who carries a banner to mark Oncala as a direct descendent of Rand.
She strode through the streets of Caemlyn, her near-sister carrying the banner of the Dragon to announce her lineage. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunNot an unusual custom for an inherited monarchy but the Aiel have not traditionally been a monarchy or an aristocracy, but a meritocracy:
Aviendha herself found it peculiar; how could strength in the Power, something you were born with as surely as your eyes, weigh more heavily than the honor that years could bring? The Path of Daggers, To Keep the Bargainand who your family is does not necessarily have any bearing on your merit. Aiel have never used banners at all before. Oncala’s guard of honour numbers two thousand. Again, atypical and excessive. For all that Oncala despises Wetlanders she has adopted some of their ways – and not the good ones. Oncala is arrogant:
The banner of the Dragon flew here, too, a reminder that the Andoran royal line also carried the lineage of the Car'a'carn. One more reason for Oncala to hate them. The Andoran nobility thought themselves her equals. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunAnd why would they not be her equals?
They needed these soft wetlanders. And that was the final reason Oncala hated them. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunShe hates them because they are more equal than she wants to admit. Oncala has had too much influence too young. The Seanchan’s capital is Ebou Dar. The Seanchan learn weaves from the channellers they collar. Oncala claims the Seanchan’s attack on Rhuidean is without provocation, but that is not the case. Hehyal has been undermining Seanchan probity for years:
How much could the Seanchan be trusted? Hehyal's agents had spent a great deal of time over the last decade seeding that very question among the great courts of the world. He was a wise man. Even before he had become chief, he had realized that this war could not be won by the Aiel alone. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunThis corrupt pair undermine a world-wide peace pact; that could explain why the Seanchan besieged Rhuidean. The Seanchan have a good spy system and likely were aware of what Hehyal was doing. And they do it again on the Andoran Queen:
"The Dragon's Peace-" "What care do they have for the Dragon?" Hehyal asked. "They are invaders who forced him to bow to their Empress. She is considered above him. They will not keep promises they made to an inferior." Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunRand bowed to the Empress; but it was a courtesy and not that of inferior to superior. Oncala and Hehyal manipulate the Queen with false information and sell out not only their honour but the Aiel’s future and world peace:
Nothing he had said to the Queen had been untrue. Their honor was unsoiled. However, Hehyal had left out one of the sheets they'd discovered. That one had explained that the other sheets were contingency plans. The descriptions of Andor's military forces, suggestions on how to use gateways and dragons to attack Caemlyn, the very plot to assassinate Queen Talana-these had been drawn up only in case Andor entered the war. They were meant as a preemptive study on a potential enemy, not an actual plan to attack. It was virtually the same thing. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunA lie by omission is still a lie. Oncala’s and Hehyal’s corrupt act leads to the corruption of the Aiel, as Aviendha recognises. Oncala disingenuously asks:
Must they be treated like assassins? Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunWell they are killers and assassins in a way. Their treatment was more apt than the Andorans knew. The Aiel leaders attribute their own aggressive ambition to the Seanchan, saying the Seanchan:
would seize Andor eventually, and by then the Aiel might be unable to help. If this war went badly, her people would go to the Three-fold Land and leave the foolish wetlanders to be conquered. The Seanchan would find it impossible to fight the Aiel in their homeland. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunOncala is wrong about all of this. The Aiel are not doing that well, despite Oncala’s claims. There is stalemate until Andor enters the war.
It was a source of constant frustration that, after decades of war, the battle lines remained nearly the same as they had been after her greatfather went to Shayol Ghul. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunThe Aiel have defended Andor and may possibly have been paid for their protection:
It lay safe, basking in the protection the Aiel defense gave them. Well, Andor would see. The Aiel had grown stronger through their fighting. Once, their prowess had been legendary. Now it was greater! When the Aiel had destroyed the Seanchan, the world would see what the Aiel had learned. The wetland rulers would wish they had been more generous. Towers of Midnight, Court of the Sunwhich would make them sell-spears. And what is Oncala’s motivation?
The Seanchan would fall, and the Aiel would take their rightful place. The blood of the Dragon Reborn was in her veins. She deserved to rule. It would not be the Raven Empire that rose at the end of this all, but the Dragon Empire. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunAmbition. It’s also why she is going for a ruthlessly successful man. Oncala leads the Aiel version of the Return; she has the same imperialist and aristocratic attitude as Tuon, believing that because she had an ancestor that ruled these lands, she should rule them also. Padra Padra and her three siblings join a full council of Aiel leaders – the clan chiefs and the senior Wise One of each of the 11 clans - 17 years after the Last Battle. (The Shaido are not even mentioned – completely written off). They decide Rand’s peace pact does not apply to them and they shall go to war with the Seanchan because they have collared Aiel channellers. Aviendha’s four children are indeed odd, as Min foresaw (see Min's Viewings article): their appearance is disparate, they began channelling well before puberty, they hold the One Power continually and the Aiel defer to them purely on the basis of their lineage:
Padra strode across the grass, and Aiel in cadin'sor showed her deference. Padra and her siblings, as children of the Dragon, had become...something to the Aiel. Not lords-that concept made her sick. But she was more than an ordinary algai'd'siswai. The clan chiefs looked to her and her siblings for advice, and the Wise Ones took special interest in them. They allowed her to channel, though she was not one of them. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunThis is the first time the Aiel abandon their careful and prolonged training of leaders and strict meritocracy. Gaining access to the One Power so early – before responsibility has developed – and on a continual basis has also probably been bad for their characters. The combination of the two has been disastrous. Can Aviendha do anything about her children channelling too young? Oncala’s character and actions shows that the parenting skills of at least one of Aviendha’s children were inadequate, hardly surprising since they did not know their father at all, and their mother is not with them now either. This undue influence has led at least one of these teenagers to be arrogant:
She was convinced that no living person understood the One Power as she and her siblings did. She'd been able to weave since she'd been a child, and her brothers and sister were the same. To them, it was natural, and all others who channelled seemed awkward by comparison. She was careful not to speak that way. Aes Sedai and Wise Ones didn't like being reminded of their shortcomings. It was true nonetheless. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunPresumably Aviendha can do something about how her children are treated by the other Aiel. The Aiel not being bound by the Dragon’s Peace allows them to destabilise everything. Including their own nation:
All eleven chiefs were accounted for, including those who had blood oaths against one another. A meeting like this hadn't been seen in years, not since her father had been preparing for the Last Battle. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunAt this meeting the Aiel decide not to fight each other, but the Seanchan. Aviendha lived a while after the Last Battle (in which she fought) and in this future did not solve the problem of the Aiel’s future role:
But that raised a larger problem, one her mother had often spoken of. What was it to be Aiel, now that their duty to the past had been fulfilled, their toh as a people cleansed? Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunThey consider their toh as a people to have been fulfilled with fighting at the Last Battle. Their toh to the Dragon and the Aes Sedai perhaps. However well into the Last Battle the Aiel discover they have toh to the other nations because the male channellers they sent to the Blight became part of the Shadow’s armies. To have made such an error proves they should not hold themselves above the other nations. The council’s comments reveal various recommendations that Aviendha could make to help the Aiel: The Aiel should give up the warrior role. There are other roles they could play. They could serve the Dragon as the Da’shain did.
"This peace of the Dragon’s will not last long, anyway," Alalved said. "Skirmishes between the nations are common, though none speak of them. The Car'a'carn required promises of the monarchs, but there is no enforcement.” Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunThe Aiel could enforce the peace rather than feel it does not apply to them. The problem is not just with the Aiel. The Seanchan, too, need to make some major changes. Aviendha could reach an understanding with the Empress over the collaring of Aiel channellers:
The old empress, the one who had ruled during the days of the Last Battle, had been considered a woman of honor by Ronam's father. An understanding had nearly been reached with her, so it was said. But many years had passed since her rule. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunThe last few comments in the scene are particularly ironic.
"The Aiel must have a purpose," Janduin said, nodding. "We are useless as we are, and we made no promise not to attack. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunIt is because they attack that the Aiel become utterly useless. They soon incite world war in a vain attempt to beat the Seanchan: by inciting other nations to break their covenant for peace, which is an even worse act than abandoning their own covenant as their ancestors, the Da’shain, did during the Breaking.
She felt as if she had set the clans on a path that would change them forever. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunShe has – to their utter ruin.
"My father called Rand al'Thor a clever man and great leader, but one who did not know what to do with the Aiel. I remember him saying that when the Car'a'carn was among us, he did not feel like one of us. As if we made him uncomfortable." Ronam shook his head. "Everyone else was planned for, but the Aiel were left adrift." "Some say we should have returned to the Three-fold Land," she said. "No," Ronam said. "No, that would have destroyed us. Our fathers knew nothing of steamhorses or dragon tubes. Were the Aiel to return to the Waste, we would have become irrelevant. The world would pass us by, and we would vanish as a people." "But war?" Padra said. "Is it right?" Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunThe Aiel are forced into the Waste where the world does pass them by and they do become irrelevant because of this decision. War is not right.
The Aiel would ride to war again. And there would be much honor in it. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunActually there will be no honour at all. A large part of the problem is that Rand’s children never knew him. This is the greatest sacrifice that Rand and his family make: Rand’s wives know he is alive, but his father and, in these viewings at least, his children, don’t. Bair went to Rhuidean to verify whether Aviendha’s vision of the future appears to all Aiel who have traversed the columns previously:
"I saw it just as she did," Bair was saying. "Though it was my own descendants who lent me their eyes. I think we will all see it now, if we return the third time. It should be required." A Memory of Light, The Choice of a PatchIt is not yet known what first time visitors to the glass columns see – history or future (see Glass Columns ter’angreal article). Nakomi and Aviendha Aviendha regarded the Wetlands as corrupting and dangerous; a place the Aiel should leave in preference for the Waste after their toh is met by fighting at the Last Battle:
Once this was through, her people would need to return to the Three-fold Land. Each day in the wetlands made them weaker; she herself was an excellent example. She had grown soft there. How could one not grow soft in that place? It would have to be abandoned. Soon. She smiled, settling back and closing her eyes for a moment, letting the day's fatigue melt away. Her future seemed so much more clear. She was to visit Rhuidean, pass through the crystal columns, then return and claim her share of Rand's heart. She would fight at the Last Battle. She would help preserve the remnant of the Aiel who survived, then bring them home where they belonged. Towers of Midnight, In The Three-fold LandAt this stage Aviendha is like many Aiel in not wanting to stay in the Wetlands, in their Promised Land and role, that Rand led them to in a Moses-like way. Likewise the Israelites rejected their Promised Land of Canaan, thinking it not worth the risk of fighting for, and wanted to return to Egypt where they had been slaves:
And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would God we had died in this wilderness! Numbers 14: 2The Israelites were advised not to rebel against the Lords’ wishes (Numbers 14:9). The Aiel had the choice of maintaining their warrior society after the Last Battle for no other purpose than custom or working alongside the other nations under the peace treaty Rand worked so hard for. Nakomi plays an important role in Aviendha’s visions in so far as how Aviendha may interpret her visions, or how she may act regarding them. (For Nakomi’s Amerindian parallels see Character Names N article). She nudges Aviendha to think about the wetlands as really dangerous and not as a weakening influence to be fought so the old ways can be kept:
“The wetlands, corrupting our people. Making them soft." "But the wetlands are part of our destiny, are they not?... But if we had to come here to be forged into something of strength," Nakomi said, "does that not suggest that the tests we were to face-in the wetlands-were as dangerous as the Three-fold-land itself? So dangerous and difficult that we had to come here to prepare for them?" Towers of Midnight, In The Three-fold LandThis danger that tests the Aiel is that of greed and violence (as happened to the Shaido) rather than softness. She also mentions that the Aiel broke their vows to do no violence. She is leading Aviendha to see a) that the Aiel should not return to the Waste:
"And so," Nakomi said, handing over a cup of tea, "the Three-fold Land was our punishment. We came here to grow so that we could meet our toh." "Yes," Aviendha said. It felt clear to her. "So, once we have fought for the Car'a'carn, we will have met that toh. And therefore will have no reason to be punished further. If that is the case, why would we return to this land? Would that not be like seeking more punishment, once toh is met?" Towers of Midnight, In The Three-fold Landb) they should not continue to raid and kill each other:
"And so," Nakomi said softly, "once Sightblinder is defeated, what is left for us? Perhaps this is why so many refused to follow the Car'a'carn. Because they worried at what it meant. Why continue the old ways? How do we find honor in raiding, in killing one another, if we are no longer preparing for such an important task? Why grow harder? For the sake of being hard itself?" Towers of Midnight, In The Three-fold Landc) since they are the people of the Dragon and should serve him:
"People of the Dragon," Nakomi said, sipping her tea. "That is what we are. Serving the Dragon was the point behind everything we did. Our customs, our raids on each other, our harsh training . . . our very way of life." Towers of Midnight, In The Three-fold LandThis fits in with what Aviendha saw in the rings in Rhuidean:
Nakomi's words worried her, unnerved her. They had awakened in her shadows of memories, things from potential futures that Aviendha had seen in the rings during her first visit to Rhuidean, but that her mind could not quite recall, at least not directly. Towers of Midnight, A Reunionalthough she does not remember seeing in the rings the sort of future for the Aiel and her children that she saw in the glass columns:
She sat down in the midst of the dimming columns. Her...children. She remembered their faces from her first visit to Rhuidean. She had not seen this. Not that she remembered, at least. "Is it destined?" she asked. "Can we change it?" Towers of Midnight, Court of the Sun This was not like the events she had seen when passing into the rings during her first visit to Rhuidean. Those had been possibilities. This day's visions seemed more real. She felt almost certain that what she had experienced was not simply one of many possibilities. What she had seen would occur. Step by step, honor drained from her people. Step by step, the Aiel turned from proud to wretched. There had to be more. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunShe believes the visions to be fated, like a Foretelling and not a possible future. Yet Aviendha was not so fatalistic in The Gathering Storm and Rand has never had blind faith in prophecy (see Fate, Free Will and Divining the Pattern article). Fated or no, Aviendha soon decides her descendants’ disastrous choices which will lead to such brutal consequences for her people must be prevented:
"Show me what I did to cause this! It is my lineage that brought us ruin! What is my part in it?" She walked into the pillars again. Nothing. They seemed dead. She reached out and touched one, but there was no life. No hum, no sense of Power. She closed her eyes, squeezing one more tear from the corner of each eye. The tears trailed down her face, leaving a line of cold wetness on her cheeks. "Can I change it?" she asked. If I can't, she thought, will that stop me from trying? The answer was simple. No. She could not live without doing something to avert that fate. She had come to Rhuidean seeking knowledge. Well, she had received it. In more abundance than she had wanted. She opened her eyes and gritted her teeth. Aiel took responsibility. Aiel fought. Aiel stood for honor. If she was the only one who knew the terrors of their future, then it was her duty-as a Wise One-to act. She would save her people. She needed to return, to consult with the other Wise Ones. But first she needed quiet, out in the Three-fold Land. Towers of Midnight, Court of the SunIt is symbolic that Aviendha sees Rhuidean being cleared of the scars of fighting so it can “remain a place of peace.” Aviendha wants Rhuidean to remain the sacred centre for the Aiel. She thinks Rhuidean is meaningless except as a place of peace:
Rhuidean might have been deprived of meaning, but it would remain a place of peace. Towers of Midnight, A ReunionAviendha is realising that the city can no longer serve its traditional purpose:
She worried that Rhuidean would stop mattering very soon. Once, the city's ultimate purpose had been to show Wise Ones and clan chiefs their people's secret past. To prepare them for the day when they'd serve the Dragon. That day had come. Towers of Midnight, A ReunionIt could be argued that Rhuidean’s ultimate purpose was to keep this tradition and knowledge alive until Aviendha traversed the glass columns and mused on the city’s role. She and Rand were its most important visitors. So now it has fulfilled its purpose. Bair is keen for the Aiel leaders to visit the glass columns twice, to see how not participating in the peace treaty would have been disastrous. _________________________________________ Written by Linda, December 2009 and February 2011 and updated May 2013 Contributor: Dominic