Monday, March 25, 2002

The Black Ajah


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR A MEMORY OF LIGHT



By Linda and Moridin_2000


The Black Ajah has killed monarchs, even an Amyrlin; it has broken Amyrlins, blackmailed an Amyrlin and even induced other non-Black sisters to carry out its will. If the Black Ajah can manipulate the White Tower, it can manipulate anyone the White Tower has attached strings to, be that a simple soldier or a powerful King or Queen.

This article discusses the origins of the Black Ajah and explains how the Ajah works. It includes a list of all known Black Ajah and their deeds.


Dark Beginnings

The origin of the Black Ajah dates back to the times of the Trolloc Wars. Ishamael, in the guise of Baalzamon, claims the credit for its creation:

"Two thousand years ago I took my Trollocs across the world, and even among Aes Sedai I found those who knew despair, who knew the world could not stand before Shai'tan. For two thousand years the Black Ajah has dwelt among the others, unseen in the shadows. Perhaps even those who claim to help you."

- The Eye of the World, Dreams and Apparitions

How does the Black Ajah work?

The Black Ajah had a number of security measures to ensure it was not discovered and destroyed. The clandestine organisation was split up into cells that are known as ‘Hearts’. Each Heart consists of three Black sisters who work in isolation from the rest of their Ajah. In addition to the two other sisters in their Heart, most Black sisters have an additional contact who the other two sisters in her Heart do not know. By this method information can be passed from Heart to Heart quite quickly. It might also be noted that members of the Supreme Council are anonymous at the Heart level. Evidence for this is given by Talene, who mentions that Galina is part of her Heart, but yet does not know the names of any Council members, and Alviarin, who says that the other sisters in her Heart have no idea she is anything but a rank and file Black sister (Knife of Dreams, Prologue). Since the Black Ajah was exposed in The Gathering Storm, hearts are no longer necessary.

Here is a list of the hearts and links between hearts (the ‘one more’) we know:

Talene – Galina – Temaile (Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue)
|
Atuan – Marris – Karale (Knife of Dreams Prologue)

Amico – Chesmal - Rianna
|
Liandrin

Amico said she knew Liandrin, Chesmal and Rianna before she left the Tower (The Shadow Rising, Questioners). Two would be in her heart, the other a link. Liandrin knew only one of the group prior to leaving the Tower (The Fires of Heaven, A Hound of Darkness). This must have been Amico, since Amico knew her. Therefore she is Amico’s extra and Amico – Chesmal - Rianna are/were a heart.

Katerine knew only two women, not three:

Of necessity Black sisters kept themselves hidden, even from each other. Their rare gatherings were held with faces covered and voices disguised. Before Galina, Katerine had known only two to recognize.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

These two would be the other members of her heart and therefore Katerine’s heart is on the edge of the network, since she did not know an extra woman.

As far as other Black Ajah contacts go, most of them are as a result of accidental discovery, such as Katerine and Galina, and Elza and Fera. Although Marillin (Brown) knew Careane (Green) was Black, we don’t know how she knew. We do know that the Black Ajah has a hand gesture with which they can identify each other, even in public:

The woman held her hands at her sides, but with thumbs thrust hard between the first two fingers.

- Lord of Chaos, To Heal Again

If this gesture were used too often, however, it would be a security risk. Speculation: non-Black Aes Sedai have accidentally given this sign or copied this gesture in the past and found themselves in contact with a Black sister. Perhaps Verin did this over 70 years ago, when she last made a serious mistake (The Path of Daggers, Prologue), which resulted in her having to choose between death or joining the Shadow. I don’t think mistakes come more serious than that.

Sarene claimed there is a difference between Black sisters and Dreadlords (A Memory of Light, At The Edge Of Time). At JordanCon 2013 I asked Maria if Sarene was hair-splitting and she said there isn’t really a difference. It’s sophistry, really; the Black Ajah was secret and always denied, while Dreadlords are undeniable.


The Vexed Issue of Warders

While many Black sisters don’t have Warders (glaringly strange in a Green such as Talene) due to the obvious danger of exposure through sharing emotions, some do. There are three ways they manage to avoid the security risk:

1. Their Warders are also Darkfriends. Four Aes Sedai – Asne, Elza, Verin and Karale – had a Warder who is/was a Darkfriend (although Verin’s Tomas was regretting his allegiance):

Asne let herself feel her four Warders, coming ever closer… Only Powl was a Friend of the Dark…

- Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds

“Yes, yes, enough,” she [Elza] broke in finally. “You did the right thing, Fearil. It would have been taken as odd if you were the only one to refuse to find your Aes Sedai.…I think a few people are going to have to die soon.” As soon as she decided which ones. Fearil bowed his head, and a jolt of pleasure came through the bond. He did like killing.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

Only Karale among them had a Warder, though he had turned out to be a Darkfriend, too.

- Knife of Dreams, Prologue

"He was a Darkfriend himself, child," Verin said. "Wanting a way out. Well, there really isn't a way out, not once the Great Lord has his claws in you. But there was a way to fight, to make up for a little of what you've done. I offered that chance to Tomas, and I believe he was quite grateful to me for it."

- The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai

Foolproof, although a Darkfriend Warder is more liable to be punished with the Power as Elza showed:

Punishment only required her to mask the bond so she did not share his pain. That, and a ward to muffle his screams.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm

2. The Aes Sedai blocks or masks the bond. Elza only masked her bond when she punished Fearil, but we know of two Black Sisters, Asne and Eldrith, who were masking their bonds to hide from their Warders:

Asne let herself feel her four Warders, coming ever closer. She had stopped masking herself when they left Samara.

- Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds

“Oh. Were you afraid Kennit had found me again? I assure you, since Samara I [Eldrith Jhondar] have been quite careful at keeping the bond masked."

… On the other hand, she had been unfocused enough to let the masking slip more than once before they reached Samara, enough for her Warder to track her…

- Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds

The disadvantage is that this requires constant concentration.

3. Their Warders are na├»ve or besotted with their Aes Sedai: Asne had three Warders who “would do whatever she said, believe whatever she told them” (Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds).

Fairly foolproof, and the least pain all round, until the Warder’s eyes are opened…

Careane had three Warders but we never found out to which category/s they belonged.

The large numbers of Warders in custody after the Aes Sedai executed many of the Black sisters among them had to be sorted out:

They would have to be sorted through at a later date, when attention could be given to separating those who were really Black from those who were just enraged by the loss of their Aes Sedai. Most of them would seek death, even the innocent ones. Perhaps the innocent could be convinced to remain alive long enough to throw themselves into the Last Battle.

- The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands

Elza said she wouldn’t kill Fearil rather than could not. If necessary, Black sisters could release the bond before killing a troublesome Warder, thus avoiding the grieving due to death breaking the Bond. Releasing the Bond takes longer than Bonding a Warder in the first place and requires the Warder to be present, which is why the Black sisters that fled with Liandrin have not done so and killed their Warders.

Many sisters would join the Black Ajah soon after being raised Aes Sedai, ie prior to bonding a Warder:

In the White Tower, Black sisters watch novices and Accepted closely for any indication that they might be leaning toward the Shadow or susceptible to the promises of the Shadow. They also watch other sisters, since people do change. Not every Black sister was recruited on the day she gained the shawl nor soon after. Merean had a fine position for watching novices and Accepted, but many sisters teach. Some do little else, but others take turns at it for various periods, so Merean was not necessarily the primary recruiter during her time as Mistress of Novices, not even among those in her charge.

-Tor Questions of the Week

However some Aes Sedai become Darkfriends later when they already have a Warder. These Warders could be killed with or without the Aes Sedai’s agreement if they are likely to be a security risk.

Nevertheless it is far easier and safer to not have a Warder at all. The Red Ajah, which happens to be the largest, has an obvious attraction, as far as the Black Ajah is concerned, by not Bonding Warders (until now!) and one would expect a higher percentage of Black sisters among them than in other Ajahs, and this was probably the case (see below). Whites and Browns also often don’t bond Warders.


Who is Black Ajah?


Alviarin Freidhen: White ex Keeper, Head of the Black Ajah

Scene of Operations: White Tower, plus running errands for Mesaana, Last Battle

Major Deeds: - Was on the Great Council of the Black Ajah by the events of New Spring and was promoted to head of the Black Ajah by Ishamael after he killed Jarna Malari (A Crown of Swords, Prologue).
- Went to Fal Dara as part of Siuan’s entourage.
- Met Lanfear and Graendal in the Tower and took orders from each (A Crown of Swords, Prologue).
- Be’lal visited Alviarin in her dreams and gave her orders (A Crown of Swords, Prologue), presumably regarding the 13 Black sisters who subsequently went to Tear.
- Encouraged Elaida to overthrow Siuan, brought the support of Black Sitters to raise Elaida as Amyrlin and was made Keeper as reward. (Elaida thought Alviarin brought the White Ajah’s support, but one White Sitter was not informed, and another left the Tower with the rebels.)
- Let Padan Fain escape with the ruby dagger because she thought him a high-up Darkfriend after he mentioned seeing Thakan’dar and the Pit of Doom.
- Wrote Rand a letter offering him her support and informing him of other supporters in the Tower.
- Blackmailed Elaida to obey her, countermanded her orders and wrote her official publications and forced her to sign them, including a proclamation that no one can approach Rand save through the Tower.
- Sowed dissension in the White Tower.
- Withheld a lot of agents’ information from Elaida.
- Was ordered by Mesaana to find out why Ajah Heads are meeting privately.
- Went to Shadar Logoth after the Cleansing (her own idea).
- Went to Tremalking, presumably to check on the status of the female Choedan Kal.
- Her authority extended beyond what was appropriate for a Keeper but the Sitters did not find out why (Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark).
- Believed Talene was acting suspiciously, panicked that Elaida knows something of her allegiance and summoned Mesaana with a ter’angreal emergency signal.
- Told Shaidar Haran and Mesaana that there is a threat to the Black Ajah and was ordered to search for it.
- Let information of the disasters at Dumai’s Wells and the Black Tower spread through the White Tower to undermine Elaida and sow discord and chaos.
- Commanded Talene to be found and returned for interrogation, punishment and execution and for Doesine and Yukiri to be closely watched.
- Tried to lure Egwene with the promise of escape.
- Fled the White Tower before Egwene and the rebels arrived (The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light).
- Attacked Aes Sedai in Tel'aran'rhiod.
- Accidentally killed Talva with a weave of Fire intended for Egwene (Towers of Midnight, A Vow).
- With Ramola, probably killed Nicola (Towers of Midnight, Wounds).
- Was ordered by Mesaana to get the Black sisters in Tel’aran’rhiod to withdraw (Towers of Midnight, Wounds).
- Bonded Nensen (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities).
-Led a group of Dreadlords that Taim ordered to track down the dragons and destroy them.
- Tried to kill “Rand” but was led into a stedding (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities).

Current Status: Trapped in Stedding Sholoon (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities)


Has been marked by Shaidar Haran as a creature of the Dark One (NOT as a Forsaken) and not to be killed by Shadowspawn according to Jordan:

The mark that Alviarin received from Shaidar Haran was not the same as that given to the Forsaken, though it shares one function: Shadowspawn will recognize her as belonging to the Dark One. They will not obey her as they will the Forsaken, however, but she doesn't have to worry about one trying to kill her, either. She is not any sort of lesser Chosen. You might think of it more like the tattoo some people get put inside the ear of their dog, an identification so others will know who the dog belongs to as soon as they see it.

- TOR Question of the Week

Other Comments: Had many cipher books in a chest beside her table; too many ciphers to remember but she can reproduce the cipher books if necessary (Knife of Dreams, Prologue) (more below). Knows the name and heart of every Black sister.


Amico Nagoyin: Yellow according to Jordan

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear

Major Deeds: - Captured and guarded 3 girls in Tear.
- Told of the plot to find something in Tanchico dangerous to Rand that will bind him (male a’dam).

Current Status: Stilled by Egwene and killed by Slayer in Tear (Winter’s Heart, Out of Thin Air) as punishment for failure and for divulging information.


Asne Zeramene: Green

When Joined: When she gained the shawl or soon after. She had “lost track of how often she had killed or tortured in the 130-odd years since she had gained the shawl” (Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds).

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Caemlyn

Major Deeds: - Had killed and tortured so often she didn’t remember them all.
- Was ordered by Moghedien to hunt for Nynaeve.
- Stole the balefire rod from Moghedien (Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds) and used it outside Caemlyn to kill soldiers.
- Used the Age of Legends weapon given by Moghedien against Elayne, Vandene, Sareitha and Careane to capture them.
- Hit Shiaine when she asked if Moridin sent them.

Current Status: Was killed by lightning Windfinders channelled outside Caemlyn. Her four Warders are Elayne’s captives.


Atuan Larisett: Yellow

Major Deeds: - Divulged the other 3 Black Ajah she knew.

Current Status: Was found by the Black Ajah hunters, broken with the Chair of Remorse and bound to obey them with the Oath Rod. Probably executed when Egwene cleansed the White Tower, but not confirmed.


Berylla Naron: Blue by default

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia

Current Status: Unknown


Birlen Pena:

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Current Status: Unknown, escaped the White Tower (The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light).


Careane Fransi: Green

Scene of Operations: Rebel Aes Sedai, Ebou Dar, Caemlyn

Major Deeds: - Killed Adeleas and Ispan (Knife of Dreams, The House on Full Moon Street).
- Killed 10 Kinswomen including Reanne (Knife of Dreams, A Bronze Bear and The House on Full Moon Street).

Current Status: Was killed by Vandene as revenge for Adeleas. Her Warders were killed by Chesmal, Falion, Marillin, Eldrith, Temaile and Asne.


Chai Rugan:

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Current Status: Unknown, rscaped the White Tower (The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light).


Chesmal Emry: Yellow

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Caemlyn

Major Deeds: - Participated in putting Tamra to the question.
- Announced Meilyn’s death by natural causes to Aes Sedai.
- Said she induced Reds to murder Sierin, who she believed was about to order Chesmal’s arrest (Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds).
- Ordered by Moghedien to hunt for Nynaeve.
- Healed Moghedien after she was shot by Birgitte.
- Killed Sareitha and Vandene.
- Took Elayne outside Caemlyn.
- Was captured and held by Elayne in Caemlyn and fooled by Elayne into divulging that the Shadow was hunting Mat and that there will be an invasion of Andor soon.
- Was persuaded by Daved Hanlon to Heal Elayne.

Current Status: Killed by Elayne.


Dagdara Finchey: Yellow

Scene of Operations: White Tower, rebel Aes Sedai

Major Deeds: - Discouraged Nynaeve from examining Siuan and Leane. Witnessed her Healing them.
- Was Romanda’s recommendation for Sitter.

Current Status: Unknown


Delana Mosalaine: Grey, former rebel Sitter

Scene of Operations: Rebel Aes Sedai

Major Deeds: - Was given instructions in her dreams (Lord of Chaos, To Heal Again).
- Was forced to obey Halima.
- Was the first to stand for Egwene as Amyrlin.
- Was ordered by Halima to press the Hall to gentle or kill Logain.
- Was commanded by Halima to support every faction (a clumsy political move on Aran’gar’s part, since she thus ensured the Hall would not take Delana’s subsequent suggestions as seriously).
- Voted for declaring war on Elaida, and felt sickened doing so, so she was ordered to by Halima.
- Was the last to stand in favour of agreement with Black Tower, and must have been ordered to do so by Halima, since she was reluctant.
- Suggested to Egwene that there should be negotiations with the Tower and was appalled when Egwene agreed. Actually wanted to sow dissension between rebel Ajah Heads and Sitters and between Ajahs.
- Left the rebel camp with Halima.
- At Graendal’s instigation, wove Compulsion on Ramshalan to fool Rand and/or Nynaeve.

Current Status: Shielded by Graendal and balefired by Rand at Natrin’s Barrow.


Duhara Basaheen: Red Sitter in Elaida’s Hall

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Caemlyn, Thakan’dar

Major Deeds: - Was Sierin Vayu’s Keeper.
- One of the Sitters meeting with Elaida when Alviarin returned.
- Sent secretly by Elaida to be Elayne’s advisor. Tried threats on Elayne and the Kin.
- Tried to gain an audience with Elayne by bullying palace staff.
- Wanted to be seen by Elayne’s spies visiting Ellorien as a warning to Elayne that she means trouble. May have helped Ellorien write a letter demanding that Naean, Arymilla and Elenia be freed Towers of Midnight, An Unexpected Letter).
- Left Caemlyn when the Shadowspawn attacked or helped the attack and then left.
-Attacked channellers and forces at Thakandar with Graendal and Falion (A Memory of Light, At The Edge of Time)

Current Status: Killed by Aviendha (A Memory of Light, At The Edge of Time)



Eldrith Jhondar: Brown

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Caemlyn

Major Deeds: - Killed Marillin Gemalphin’s cats.
- Was ordered by Moghedien to hunt for Nynaeve.
- Suggested they go to Caemlyn to get Nynaeve and Elayne to buy their way out of trouble with Moghedien.
- Took Elayne outside Caemlyn.
- Was captured and held by Elayne in Caemlyn and was not fooled by Elayne’s disguise.

Current Status: Killed by Daved Hanlon, who had been ordered to free the Black sisters or kill them (Towers of Midnight, Foxheads).

Other Comments: Her Warder Kennit was not a Darkfriend and was prepared to die to kill her (Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds).


Elza Penfell: Green

Scene of Operations: Cairhien, Cleansing, Far Madding, Tear

Major Deeds: - Was part of Elaida’s embassy to Rand.
- Swore fealty to Rand.
- Killed Dashiva/Osan’gar at the Cleansing.
- Ordered her Black Warder Fearil to kill anyone who might threaten Rand.
- Gave the Domination Band to Semirhage.
- Was ordered to tell Semirhage to remove Verin’s Compulsion and was dazed after Semirhage did so.
- With Semirhage, used the male a’dam on Rand.
- Suggested to Semirhage they take Rand rather than toy with him (The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could be Done).

Current Status: Killed by True Power balefire by Rand in Arad Doman (The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could be Done).

Other Comments: Was fervent in her aim to keep Rand alive to be defeated by the Dark One. Prepared to kill people for this aim, just couldn’t decide who.


Evanellein: Grey Tower Sitter

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Deposed Siuan and raised Elaida.
- Was with Elaida when she took Siuan into custody.
- Was part of Elaida’s council in The Fires of Heaven and reported that Amathera had disappeared.
- Wanted to bring down Elaida for the failure at the Black Tower (Knife of Dreams, Prologue).
- Fled the Tower after the Seanchan raid and before Egwene arrived (The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light).
- Attacked Aes Sedai in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Current Status: Killed by Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod (Towers of Midnight, Wounds).


Falion Bhoda: White

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Ebou Dar, Caemlyn, Thakan’dar

Major Deeds: - Was ordered by Moghedien to find the ter’angreal cache.
- Killed Kinswoman Callie getting information in Ebou Dar.
- Linked with Ispan and attacked Nynaeve in the Rahad for the cache.
- Brought nearly 2 dozen men with them.
- Planned to capture Nynaeve for Moghedien.
- Was shielded and given to Shiaine by Moridin to be punished for her failure.
- Made an agreement with Hanlon to exchange information (Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness).
- Was forced to have sex with Murellin as an extra part of her punishment devised by Shiaine once Falion’s shield was removed. Falion asked Hanlon for something to drug Murellin with to make him sleep through the night (Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness).
-Took Elayne outside Caemlyn.
- Was captured and held by Elayne in Caemlyn and was going to be interrogated by Jaq Lounalt.
- Attacked channellers and forces at Thakan’dar with Graendal and Duhara.

Current Status: Killed by Aviendha (A Memory of Light, At The Edge Of Time)


Other Comments: Noal spied on Falion and Ispan in Ebou Dar.


Fera: White

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Cairhien

Major Deeds: - Was part of Elaida’s embassy to Rand.
- Swore fealty to Rand.

Current Status: Unknown. Sworn to Rand.


Galina Casban: Red, former Ajah Head, second in command of Black Ajah

When Joined: Less than 85 years ago (5 years after reaching shawl) (A Crown of Swords, Spears).

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Cairhien, Shaido

Major Deeds: - Was involved in the deaths of a king and a queen, helped break two Amyrlins (Siuan and Tamra) (A Crown of Swords, Spears).
- Head of the Red Ajah for 18 years.
- Enjoyed leading the circle that stilled Siuan.
- Was second in command of the Black Ajah.
- Was part of Elaida’s embassy to Rand, led it once Rand was captured.
- Had the idea of using the Shaido Aiel to divert the attention of Rand’s Aiel (A Crown of Swords, Sealed to the Flame).
- Beat Rand.
- Blackmailed Faile into getting the Oath Rod/binder for Galina.
- Informed Sevanna that Faile had a hidden knife.
- Lied to Perrin and decided to kill Faile and co.
- Trapped Faile’s group in Malden.

Current Status: Bound on Oath Rod/binder to obey Shaido Wise Ones, recaptured by Therava and heading for the Aiel Waste as Therava’s sadomasochistic slave.

Other Comments: Is forced to beg Therava to embrace saidar but never allowed to channel. Stayed because she wanted to use the Shaido Oath Rod/binder to free herself from her oath in case an oath can only be removed using the same rod it was sworn on. Can’t pick it up.


Ispan Shefar: Blue

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Ebou Dar

Major Deeds: - Was ordered by Moghedien to find ter’angreal cache.
- Recognised that Darkfriends were hunting for the cache for other Forsaken.
- Linked with Falion and attacked Nynaeve in the Rahad for the cache.
- Brought nearly 2 dozen men with them.
- Was captured and drugged.

Current Status: Was killed by Careane as punishment for failure and for divulging information.

Other Comments: Ispan and Falion were spied on in Ebou Dar by Noal (A Crown of Swords, The Triumph of Logic).


Jarna Malari: Grey Sitter, former Black Ajah Head

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Head of the Black Ajah during the events of New Spring.
- Tortured Tamra to find out what orders she gave to senior Aes Sedai.
- Gave order to kill Tamra’s searchers and any lucky men or boys.

Current Status: Placed in a ter’angreal as punishment by Ishamael where she died 10 days later. He was furious she killed an Amyrlin and set in motion the deaths of many sisters (and of course, men) since these actions risked exposing the Black Ajah.


Jeaine Caide: Green

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Thakan’dar

Major Deeds: - Tried to use the balefire rod on Nynaeve.
-Disguised herself as Cadsuane and tried to go into Shayol Ghul.

Current Status: Killedby Thom Merrilin (A Memory of Light, Two Craftsmen).



Joiya Byir: White, later renamed as Grey when Jordan discovered he had three Whites in Liandrin’s group instead of two.

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear

Major Deeds: - Captured the three girls in Tear, and beat Egwene savagely for trying to avoid capture.
- Told of supposed plot to free Taim and set him up as an evil Dragon so that the world would unite against the Dragon and crush him before the Dark One breaks free (The Shadow Rising, Questioners).

Current Status: Was shielded by Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod, captured and interrogated and then killed by Slayer in Tear (Winter’s Heart, Out of Thin Air) as punishment for failure and for divulging information.


Karale Sanghir: Grey

Major Deeds: - Divulged other Black Ajah she knew.

Current Status: Was found by the Black Ajah hunters, broken with the Chair of Remorse and bound to obey them with the Oath Rod. Probably executed when Egwene cleansed the White Tower, but not confirmed.

Other Comments: Had a Darkfriend Warder who poisoned himself when captured.


Katerine Alruddin: Red, Mistress of Novices

When Joined: 12 years ago, 5 years after gaining the shawl

Scene of Operations: Cairhien, White Tower

Major Deeds: - Was part of Elaida’s embassy to Rand, involved in beating him.
- Captured at Dumai’s Wells and held by Aiel until freed before Verin questioned her. A Wise One and 2 warriors were poisoned, and the gai’shain who bought them drink had his throat cut (may have poisoned them and been killed by Katerine or other Darkfriend to prevent him being questioned) (The Path of Daggers, Prologue).
- Was ordered to spread news of Dumai’s Wells (despite Tsutama’s commands otherwise) (Knife of Dreams, Prologue).
- Was involved in Egwene’s capture and confinement.
- After Tarna left, curried favour with Elaida (The Gathering Storm, In the White Tower) and was promoted to Mistress of the Novices.
- Tried to take over Tower command from Saerin during Seanchan raid.
- Fled White Tower after Seanchan raid but before Egwene arrived (Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower).
- Reported to Mesaana that the Black sisters couldn’t find the dreamspike.
- Was disguised as Mesaana as a decoy, while the real Mesaana put an a’dam on Egwene.

Current Status: Speared by Egwene in the neck in Tel’aran’rhiod, and probably died.


Larissa Lyndel: Yellow

Scene of Operations: White Tower, rebel Aes Sedai

Major Deeds: - Did not witness Nynaeve’s Healing of stilling and so demanded a demonstration.

Current Status: Unknown


Liandrin: Red

When Joined: As a teenager, since she was a Darkfriend before she went to the Tower, and she sought the Black Ajah from the day she knew she could channel (and she was channelling a year before she went to the Tower (The Fires of Heaven, A Hound of Darkness)). However, she would not have joined the Black Ajah until she was Aes Sedai and swore on the Oath Rod.

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amador, Ebou Dar

Major Deeds: - Attended Ishamael’s Darkfriend meeting.
- Blackmailed Lady Amalisa to search for the 3 ta’veren and tried to find them herself.
- Attacked Rand in Fal Dara dungeon.
- Made arrangements for Elayne and Min to be ‘taken care of’ in the Tower.
- Was ordered to bring Egwene and Nynaeve to the Seanchan on Toman Head where they would be shipped to Seanchan as damane.
- Led a group of 13 Aes Sedai who left the Tower with 13 dream ter’angreal and other ter’angreal and killed 3 Aes Sedai, 2 Warders, 7 guards and 9 servants to hide their thieving and flight (The Dragon Reborn, Punishments).
- Captured Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve in Tear by Compelling Juilin to show her where they were.
- Told Temaile that there was something important that could control Rand in Tanchico and was overheard by Amico.
- Told Carridin to move Whitecloak forces to hold the Panarch’s Palace and send the Panarch’s legion away.
- Killed Whitecloak guard.
- Searched for the male a’dam in Tanchico.
- Was ordered by Moghedien to hunt for Nynaeve.
- Tried to compel Moghedien and was shielded by her and left to be a servant to Darkfriends. Was found by the Seanchan and made Suroth’s da’covale.
- Killed Alwhin by poison to please Suroth.

Current Status: Shielded and with the Seanchan as either a da’covale formerly owned by Suroth, or a damane, since Suroth decided in Knife of Dreams Prologue that she would have her collared and held by a Darkfriend sul’dam.


Marillin Gemalphin: Brown

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Caemlyn

Major Deeds: - Was sent to Shiaine by Moghedien.
- Contacted Careane to carry out Moridin’s order to kill the Kin with the Power to spread fear (Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds).
- Took Elayne outside Caemlyn.
- Was captured and held by Elayne in Caemlyn.

Current Status: Freed by Daved Hanlon and Jac Lounalt.


Marris Thornhill: Brown

Major Deeds: - Divulged the other Black Ajah she knew.

Current Status: Was found by the Black Ajah hunters, broken with the Chair of Remorse and bound to obey them with the Oath Rod. Probably executed when Egwene cleansed the White Tower, but not confirmed.


Melvara:

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Current Status: Unknown


Merean Redhill: Blue, former Mistress of Novices

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Borderlands

Major Deeds: - Disciplined Elaida for assisting Siuan and Moiraine too much for their test for the shawl.
- Arranged deaths of lucky men.
- Ordered Ryne to kill Bukama and Lan and tried to kill Lan herself.
- Killed Brys, Diryk and Iselle.
- Tried to kill Moiraine and intended to interrogate Moiraine and kill her.

Current Status: Was killed by Moiraine in self-defence.


Mestra:

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Fled the Tower after the Seanchan raid and before Egwene arrived (Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower).
- Attacked Aes Sedai in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Current Status: Killed by Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod (Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower).


Miyasi: White

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Guarded Leane’s cell.

Current Status: Unknown


Moria Karentanis: Blue, former rebel Sitter

Scene of Operations: White Tower, rebel Aes Sedai

Major Deeds: - Voted to raise Egwene Amyrlin.
- Submitted a stupid suggestion to Egwene on how to save money, namely stop paying the soldiers, which would ensure the army disbanded.
- Voted in favour of declaring war on Elaida.
- Called Hall to meet to hear what those Aes Sedai who went to Shadar Logoth found there.
- Proposed an alliance with the Black Tower.
- Introduced Merise and Narishma to the Hall to announce that the rebels have permission to bond 47 Asha’man. Voted in favour.

Current Status: Executed (The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands).


Nacelle Kayama: Green

Scene of Operations: White Tower, rebel Aes Sedai

Major Deeds: - Developed weave for detecting men’s channelling.

Current Status: Unknown


Nalaene Forrell:

Major Deeds: - Was part of Elaida’s embassy to Rand.
- Swore fealty to Rand.

Current Status: Unknown. Sworn to Rand.


Nesita : Red

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Was one of the Reds who gave Egwene forkroot. Forced it down her neck once when Egwene refused to drink it.
- Collected tribute from Kandor for the Tower. Travelling was used.

Current Status: Unknown


Notori:

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Fled the Tower after the Seanchan raid and before Egwene arrived (Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower).
- Attacked Aes Sedai in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Current Status: Killed by Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod (Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower).


Ramola:

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Attacked Aes Sedai in Tel’aran’rhiod.
- With Alviarin, probably killed Nicola (Towers of Midnight, Wounds).

Current Status: Unknown. Escaped the battle in Tel’aran’rhiod in Towers of Midnight.


Rianna Andomeran: White

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Last Battle

Major Deeds: - Was involved in the capture of Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve in Tear.
- Wanted to kill Alhuin.
- In a group of Dreadlords that Taim ordered to track down the dragons and destroy them.
- Tried to kill “Rand” but was led into a stedding by Androl (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities).

Current Status: Trapped in Stedding Sholoon (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities)



Sedore Dajenna: Yellow Tower Sitter

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Deposed Siuan and raised Elaida.
- Was one of the Sitters meeting with Elaida when Alviarin returned.
- Fled the Tower after the Seanchan raid and before Egwene arrived (The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light).
- Attacked Aes Sedai in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Current Status: Killed by Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod (Towers of Midnight, Darkness in the Tower).


Sheriam Byanar: Blue, former Mistress of Novices under Siuan, former rebel Keeper

Scene of Operations: White Tower, rebel Aes Sedai

Major Deeds: - Told Egwene that channellers can be turned to the Shadow, something very few Aes Sedai know, and fewer would tell a novice.
- Told other Aes Sedai (eg Elaida) that Min had been summoned to Tar Valon by Moiraine.
- Was first on the scene after Grey Man attacked Egwene and Nynaeve. Told them to keep quiet about it.
- Took charge with a council of 5 others in Salidar and was going to negotiate the terms of the rebels’ return with White Tower until Siuan lied to them about Logain.
- Refused to let Elayne go with the Embassy to Rand.
- Refused to let Elayne and Nynaeve go to Ebou Dar to get a ter’angreal to fix the weather.
- Was on Supreme Council (The Gathering Storm, Sealed To The Flame). May have been one of the three who knew Alviarin’s identity.
- Was ordered to raise Egwene Amyrlin (The Gathering Storm,) In Darkness).
- Delayed giving Egwene Merana’s letter about how the rebel embassy was getting on.
- Contended with Romanda and Lelaine for power among the rebels.
- Wanted Logain gentled again after he was Healed by Nynaeve.
- Sent ferrets to undermine Elaida in the White Tower.
- Tried to delay the movement of the rebel army.
- Was abused by Halima to obtain information about Egwene’s plans.
- Was very upset when the Hall proposed an alliance with the Black Tower.
- Stole 18 dream ter’angreal and gave them to Mesaana. Lost a finger because failed to get one ter’angreal.
- Was ordered by Mesaana to depose Egwene.
- Knew the identities of more than the sisters in her own heart, since she asked which Black sister betrayed them and knew Verin was Black (The Gathering Storm, Sealed To The Flame.)
- Confessed to some of her crimes to try and stay her execution (The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands).
- Told Egwene a Forsaken is impersonating an Aes Sedai in the White Tower (The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands).

Current Status: Executed (The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands).

Other Comments: Joined to gain power and rise high in Aes Sedai. Didn’t want to be involved in Day of Return or with Chosen.

At times, she wished she'd kept her mouth closed, not asked questions. But she had, and here she was.

- The Gathering storm, In Darkness

So it seems that her hints and questions led to her recruitment.


Talene Minly: Green Tower Sitter

Major Deeds: - Divulged the 3 Black Ajah she knew.
- Told the Black Ajah hunters that Tamra was killed by the Black Ajah: “The world and most sisters still believed that Tamra Ospenya had died in her bed. She [Yukiri] had believed it” (Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue).
- Gave information on the Black Ajah.
- Was ordered to appear before the Supreme Council and went into hiding because she was probably going to be interrogated and killed.

Current Status: Was found by the Black Ajah hunters, broken with the Chair of Remorse and bound to obey them with the Oath Rod. Fled the White Tower in Knife of Dreams.


Talva: Yellow

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Fled the White Tower before Egwene and the rebels arrived (Towers of Midnight, A Vow).
- Tried to attack Egwene when Egwene discovered her eavesdropping on her meeting with Nynaeve and Elayne in Tel’arah’rhiod.

Current Status: Was accidentally killed by Alviarin with a weave of Fire intended for Egwene (Towers of Midnight, A Vow).


Temaille Kinderode: Grey

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Tear, Tanchico, Amadicia, Caemlyn

Major Deeds: - Liked spreading pain and did so.
- Tortured Amathera in the waking world and in Tel’aran’rhiod.
- Tortured Darkfriend Jorin Arene because he was unwilling to aid Liandrin’s group fully and acknowledge their high standing.
- Was ordered by Moghedien to hunt for Nynaeve.
- ‘Broke’ Liandrin.
- Spied on Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod.
- Took Elayne outside Caemlyn.
- Was captured and held by Elayne in Caemlyn and was fooled into believing Elayne was a Forsaken in disguise.

Current Status: Killed by Daved Hanlon, who had orders to free the Black sisters or kill them (Towers of Midnight, Foxheads).


Velina Behar: White Tower Sitter

Scene of Operations: White Tower

Major Deeds: - Deposed Siuan and raised Elaida.
- One of the Sitters meeting with Elaida when Alviarin returned. Flinched when saw Alviarin.
- Insisted to Elaida that a’dam did not exist.

Current Status: Escaped the White Tower (The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light).


Verin Mathwin: Brown

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Shienar, Cairhien, Falme, Two Rivers, Caemlyn, Rand’s group

Major Deeds: - Was faced with either swearing oaths to Dark One or execution perhaps about 70 years ago. Saw opportunity to study Black Ajah from within and joined up.
- Compiled a report on:

"Names, locations, explanations," Verin said. "Everything I learned about them. About the leaders among the Darkfriends, about the Black Ajah. The prophecies they believe, the goals and motivations of the separate factions. Along with a list, at the back, of every Black Ajah sister I could identify."

- The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai

- Found Corianin Nedeal’s notes and twisted ring dream ter’angreal. Kept them secret.
- Obtained or found an angreal and kept it secret.
- Offered Darkfriend Tomas a chance to redeem himself by working with her to gather information about the Shadow.
- May have been one of two Aes Sedai (the other being Liandrin) who attended Ishamael’s Darkfriend Social.
- Was part of Siuan’s entourage to Fal Dara.
- Wrote down Dark Prophecy. Challenged Siuan and Moiraine so could influence them over Rand.
- Lied to Perrin and Mat that Moiraine sent her. Was disturbed Rand was not with the posse hunting for the Horn. Aided quest for Horn.
- Returned Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve and brought Mat and the Horn to the Tower. - Was ordered by Siuan to collate information on Liandrin’s group for the three girls. Told the Black Ajah leadership, who reluctantly permitted Verin to give the information (otherwise she couldn’t have violated her Oath against betraying.)
- Gave Corianin Nedeal’s twisted ring dream ter’angreal to Egwene and told her how to use it.
- Met Mesaana twice, probably at this time. Mesaana was disguised.
- Went to Two Rivers and aided Perrin. Realised Perrin is Wolf King.
- Took Two Rivers novices to Caemlyn with Alanna. Manipulated her and then rebel Embassy. Swore fealty to Rand at Dumai’s Wells.
- Used own version of Compulsion to get embassy Aes Sedai to swear fealty to Rand.
- Was going to kill Cadsuane until was assured she means to aid Rand to reach the Last Battle.
- Helped defend Rand during Cleansing.
- Transported Mat to Caemlyn. Left a letter for him and distributed letters for others eg Rand, Alanna, Galad (see Verin and her Letters article).
- Gave Egwene her report on the Shadow.
- Told Egwene Messana is in the Tower, but only met her twice and could not determine her alias.

Current Status: Dead. Poisoned herself (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai). She doubted she could use the Oath Rod to unbind herself, but we know from Talene that she would have been able to do so.

Other Comments: Missed only a few Black Ajah – three among the rebels and three or four in the White Tower and probably an unknown few of those outside these two groups. Probably got 92-95% of them.


Zanica:

Scene of Operations: White Tower, rebel Aes Sedai

Major Deeds: - Captured Leane at Northharbour and brought her to the Tower.

Current Status: Unknown


Strongly Suspected Black Ajah

Javindhra Doraille: Red Sitter

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Black Tower

Major Deeds: - Was one of Elaida’s supporters who arrested Siuan (The Shadow Rising, The Truth of a Viewing).
- Was promoted to Red Sitter.
- Was a member of Elaida’s council and reported that a newly raised Red sister had been sent to Caemlyn to spy on Morgase (The Fires of Heaven, Prologue). This sister was identified to Rahvin and Compelled by him to report what he wanted.
- At a meeting with Tsutama and Pevara, smirked as she said that news of Elaida’s failures would get out no matter how hard they worked to suppress it (Knife of Dreams Prollogue).
- Was one of 6 Reds who went to the Black Tower to ask Taim for permission to bond Asha’man as Warders. Did not wish to go but was sent by Tsutama.
- Repeatedly asked Taim for permission to Bond full Asha’man even though he says he won’t allow it (Towers of Midnight, Gateways).
- Claimed she has learned much in their weeks at the Black Tower and wanted to stay on at the Black Tower and learn even if the others leave.
- Was insubordinate to Pevara, the leader of the expedition, and was offhand about the danger they were in.

Current Status: Unknown

Other Comments: Does not have the dead eyes look that those who have definitely been Turned to the Shadow do.

All the Reds seeking to Bond Asha’aman except Pevara participated in Turning others to the Shadow (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot). Javindhra may have been Black and this is why she wanted to stay at the Black Tower. She may have treacherously brought her trusting co-members of the expedition to the place where they are turned.


Turned Black Ajah

Ayako Norsoni: White

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Black Tower, Last Battle

Major Deeds: Before she was turned:
-Was the sole White in Elaida’s expedition to the Black Tower to gentle and hang the male channellers and destroy the Black Tower.
-Captured and bonded by Donalo Sandomere
-Sent a report on the failure of the expedition to the White Tower (Knife of Dreams, Prologue)
- Linked with Donalo to burn Shadowspawn at Lord Algarin’s manor in Tear (Knife of Dreams, The Golden Crane)
-Waited some distance away when Rand had his meeting with the fake Daughter of Nine Moons (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box)
After she was turned:
-Was part of a group ordered by Taim to track down the dragons and destroy them
- Tried to kill “Rand” and was lured into a stedding by Androl (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities)

Current Status: Trapped in Stedding Sholoon (A Memory of Light, Impossibilities)



Desala Nevanche: Red

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Black Tower

Major Deeds: Before she was turned:
-Helped capture Leane at the harbour and took her to the Tower (Knife of Dreams, Prologue)
-Beat Leane in the cells because she thought she was lying about her identity
- Was one of 6 Reds who went to the Black Tower to ask Taim for permission to bond Asha’man as Warders
After she was turned:
- Participated in Turning Asha’man to the Shadow (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot)

Current Status: Unknown

All the Reds seeking to Bond Asha’aman except Pevara participated in Turning others to the Shadow and therefore were already Black or were Turned to the Shadow by Asha’man (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot). Desala may have been a Black sister and not Turned to the Shadow, since she has a very bad temper.



Jenare: Red

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Black Tower

Major Deeds: Before she was turned:
-Was in Elaida’s expedition to the Black Tower to gentle and hang the male channellers and destroy the Black Tower.
-Was captured and bonded by Welyn Kajima (Winter’s Heart, Prologue)
-Was in the forces that went with Rand to his meeting with the fake Daughter of Nine Moons (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box)
After she was turned:
-Was with Welyn as he falsely reassured Logain’s faction at the Black Tower that Logain is reconciled with Taim (A Memory of Light, A Dangerous Place).

Current Status: Possibly killed in the Black Tower when Logain’s faction freed themselves since only a few Dreadlords escaped.



Jezrail Red

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Black Tower

Major Deeds: Before she was turned:
-Almost married before deciding to go to the White Tower
-Is one of Egwene’s guards when she was demoted to novice by Elaida and kept her dosed with forkroot (Knife of Dreams, Honey in the Tea)
- Was one of 6 Reds who went to the Black Tower to ask Taim for permission to bond Asha’man as Warders
After she was turned:
- Participated in Turning Asha’man to the Shadow (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot)

Current Status: Unknown.

All the Reds seeking to Bond Asha’aman except Pevara participated in Turning others to the Shadow and therefore were already Black or were Turned to the Shadow by Asha’man (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot).



Melare Red

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Black Tower

Major Deeds: Before she was turned:
- Sent money to Andor to pay for her grandnephews’ education
-Helped capture Leane at the harbour and took her to the Tower (Knife of Dreams, Prologue)
-Tried to keep Desala’s abuse of Leane under control (Knife of Dreams, Prologue and Honey in the Tea)
-Questioned Leane and reported to Silviana that Leane did not lie about her identity
-Was one of 6 Reds who went to the Black Tower to ask Taim for permission to bond Asha’man as Warders
After she was turned:
- Participated in Turning Asha’man to the Shadow (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot)

Current Status: Unknown.

All the Reds seeking to Bond Asha’aman except Pevara participated in Turning others to the Shadow and therefore were already Black or were Turned to the Shadow by Asha’man (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot).



Tarna Feir: Red, former Keeper

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Salidar, Black Tower

Major Deeds: Before she was turned:
- Told Siuan and Moiraine that Gitara Moroso had died and Tamra wanted to speak to all the Accepted in the Lecture Hall.
- Participated in collecting mothers’ and babies’ names for the White Tower bounty.
- Declined Galina’s sexual advances when she gained the shawl.
- Was sent to the rebels in Salidar as Elaida’s emissary and spoke with the rebel Hall and with Sheriam’s six.
- Tried to persuade Elayne and Nynaeve to return to the White Tower with her.
- Sent a report on ahead to Elaida. Rushed back herself in alarm at what she saw in Salidar and encountered an Asha’man recruiting party in Murandy (Crossroads of Twilight, One Answer).
- Became Elaida’s Keeper when returned to the Tower. Wanted Elaida to take notice of Egwene’s dreams of a Seanchan threat to the Tower (Knife of Dreams, The Dark One’s Touch), whereas Black sisters have downplayed this threat.
- Personally checked the Tower’s wards against rats (Knife of Dreams, Attending Elaida) and reported that the ones on the walls against ravens and crows needed re-doing.
- Suggested to Pevara that Red sisters should Bond Asha’man, but had not thought which should do so.
- Was one of 6 Reds who went to the Black Tower to ask Taim for permission to bond Asha’man as Warders.
- Agreed to help Pevara convince Javindhra to bond some Dedicated and leave the Black Tower (Towers of Midnight, Gateways).
After she was turned:
- Was offhand about Taim stopping them from leaving the Black Tower and said she now wants to stay.
- Said that if they left the rebels would Bond Ash’aman and that would never do. - Participated in Turning Asha’man to the Shadow (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot)

Current Status: Unknown

Other Comments: Her eyes look dead, so she was turned to the Shadow by 13 Dreadlords and 13 Myrddraal:

There was something different in Tarna’s eyes, something cold. She’d always been a distant one, but this was worse.
Tarna smiled, a grimace that looked completely unnatural on her face. Like the smile on the lips of a corpse...The coldness – almost lifelessness – she’d seen in Tarna’s eyes still chilled her.

- Towers of Midnight, Gateways

All the Reds seeking to Bond Asha’aman except Pevara participated in Turning others to the Shadow (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot).

Toveine Gazal: Red

Scene of Operations: White Tower, Black Tower

Major Deeds: Before she was turned:
- Was a Red Sitter exiled to a farm by Marith Jaen for the Reds’ role in the illegal gentling of male channellers without trial outside the White Tower (A Crown of Swords Prologue).
- Was recalled from exile to lead Elaida’s expedition to the Black Tower to gentle and hang male channellers and destroy the Black Tower.
-Captured and bonded by Logain Ablar (Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit)
- Assaulted by the Aes Sedai on the expedition for leading them to disaster (Winter’s Heart, Prologue).
- Convinced by Gabrelle to give up her leadership of the failed expedition and submit to Desandre and Lemai so the group can be united (Winter’s Heart, Prologue).
-Accompanies Logain when he joins Bashere to track down Rand Crossroads of Twilight,
- Reported to the Red Ajah of the failure of the expedition and blamed it on Elaida (Knife of Dreams, Prologue)
- Exhausted herself burning Shadowspawn at Algarin’s manor in Tear (Knife of Dreams, The Golden Crane)
-Waited some distance away when Rand had his meeting with the fake Daughter of Nine Moons (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box)
After she was turned:
- Participated in Turning Asha’man to the Shadow (A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot)

Current Status: At large well into the Last Battle since Logain intended to kill her if he found her (A Memory of Light, The Last Battle).



How many Black Sisters were there?

Verin identified 203 Aes Sedai (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai). She missed three Black sisters among the rebel Aes Sedai according to Egwene (The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands), and three in the White Tower, plus maybe Evanellein and a couple more (The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light). She may also have missed a few among the third of Aes Sedai outside these two groups. In total there were probably about 215 to 220 Black sisters, which would be 22-3% of the Aes Sedai, there being fewer than one thousand Aes Sedai.

Regarding the proportion of Black sisters from the various Ajahs, the Red and Green are the largest Ajahs:

With a membership encompassing nearly one in five of Aes Sedai, the Red Ajah is certainly the largest. Close behind comes the Green, followed in order by the Grey, the Brown, the Yellow, the Blue, and finally the White Ajah. It seems that these sizes have remained roughly in the same proportions since the Breaking, with seldom a shift of more than one place in the ranking.

- The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time

The breakdown by Ajah of the two hundred or so Black Sisters that Verin identified is: 48 Red, 38 Green, 30 Grey, 28 Brown, 21 Yellow (perhaps slightly less than would be expected), 21 Blue and 17 White. Verin identified 48 Black sisters from the Red Ajah, representing about 24% of the 203 Black sisters she identified, which is about 25% higher than would be expected, considering that Reds represent about 19% of the total Aes Sedai population.

It’s easy to see how influential the Black Ajah is among the Aes Sedai: with over a fifth to a quarter of Aes Sedai membership in any one Ajah, they represent a sizeable voting block, since they are often instructed on how to cast their vote.

After the executions in The Gathering Storm, and those killed in Towers of Midnight, there were less than 150 Black sisters but more were has decreased to but some are being created by a circle of 13 Dreadlords and 13 Myrddraal Turning Aes Sedai to the Shadow.


Location

White Tower: Had well over sixty Black sisters and executed some of them. Egwene says that about sixty escaped before she got there:

Most of the Black Ajah in the Tower had escaped. This report, written in Silviana's careful, flowing script, told that they had managed to seize some of the Blacks in the hours following Egwene's raising, but only the weakest of the lot. The majority of them—some sixty Black sisters—had escaped.

- The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light

Rebels: Had about 70 Black sisters and executed over 50 of them (The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands). Nearly all the Blue Black sisters (barring two, Berylla and Ispan) were located here. So 19 out of the nearly 70 rebel Blacks were Blue. Therefore about 10 Blacks were in each of the other 5 Ajahs present.

Black Tower: Alviarin decided that no Black sisters would go on this doomed expedition (unlike the Tower Embassy to Rand, when at least five Black Sisters went). However both the the White Tower and rebel expeditions to the Black Tower contained Black Ajah. Those in the rebel expedition fled once they received news of Egwene’s purge.

Caemlyn: Five Black sisters, formerly of Liandrin’s group, were held prisoner in Caemlyn. Three, Chesmal, Eldrith, and Temaile, were killed, and two, Falion, and Marillin, were freed by Daved Hanlon and Jaq Lounalt. Duhara left Caemlyn when the Shadowspawn attacked or helped the attack and then left.

Cairhien: Fera, Naelene

Rand’s group: None confirmed

Seanchan: Liandrin. Probably some Tower Black sisters were captured in the raid and are now damane, although it’s hard to tell. Egwene said:

Each of the Black Ajah members on Verin's list had been seen healthy and alive following the Seanchan attack. But most had escaped before Egwene arrived at the Tower to take her seat.

- The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light

which implies that none of the Black Ajah were made damane. But then we have:

Each woman in the White Tower had proven that she was not a Darkfriend. Each woman on Verin's list was accounted for. She'd been executed, she'd been captured, she'd fled the White Tower the day of Egwene's ascension, she'd been taken by the Seanchan or she was out of the Tower at the moment—and had been for some time. The sisters had instructions to watch for those.

- The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light

which shows that some Black sisters were made damane, which is reasonable, considering that at least one in five Aes Sedai are Black Ajah, and that they hung around Elaida a lot.

Shaido: Galina

Unknown: Berylla, Falion, Jeaine, Marillin, Rianna and Talene were at large prior to the Last Battle.

Nearly 20 Black sisters escaped from the rebels (The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands) and about 60, including Alviarin, Birlen, Chai, and Velina fled the White Tower. A few of these died in battle in Tel’aran’rhiod.

Some of the 70 odd Black sisters who fled either the rebels or the White Tower were sent to Taim at the Black Tower to Turn Asha’man to the Shadow. Women can Turn men more easily and vice versa.

Jordan confirms that such a circle is not easy to arrange:

RJ: I have not abandoned this notion about a circle of thirteen Aes Sedai and thirteen Myrddraal can convert someone to the Shadow. It is not an easy situation to set up, in fact it's a very difficult situation to set up. It has to be worth the effort, you don't go to all of this effort to just convert anyone. In fact it might be better for your plans to manipulate someone against their will than as a willing ally.

This is why it did not occur earlier in the books.

Atuan, Karale and Marris were unbound from their Oaths by the Black Ajah hunters. Presumably they have been executed, but we don’t know for certain. We don’t know whether the following Black sisters escaped or were executed: Dagdara, Larissa, Melvara, Miyasi, Nacelle, Nesita, Zanica.

Dead: Amico, Asne, CareaneChesmal, Delana, , Duhara, Eldrith, Elza, Evanellein, Falion, Ispan, Jarna, Jeaine, Jenare (probably), Joiya, Katerine (probably), Merean, Mestra, Moria, Notori, Sedore, Sheriam, Talva, Temaille, Verin and over 50 others.


Why Do They Join?

Verin said that selfishness is the common distinguishing features of those who follow the Shadow (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai). Dissatisfaction must run a close second.

Aes Sedai rank themselves according to strength in the Power (see Saidar Strength Ranking) and then age. This ranking has a huge impact on their careers and their lives. The trouble with rankings is...people comparing themselves against others and being dissatisfied. None of the Black Ajah are satisfied with their position. That's why they join up.

Of course they're still not able to be satisfied even after they're joined, but that's the trap, isn't it? Always something more they could have...

Some Black sisters are weak in the Power and might have genuine cause for discontent due to being rated on something innate and unchanging and never having a chance to better their standing through hard work and achievement. Others are quite strong and just want more.

Does being weak make a sister more likely to turn to the Shadow or does it make them more resigned to their lot? We don’t know the strength of that many Aes Sedai; only about a tenth of them and perhaps not all of these have their true allegiances revealed. Bearing this in mind, there are still some useful indications to be gained from analysis.

  • Of the Tower’s strongest Aes Sedai, none of the eight (or eleven, if you include the three girls) is Black. With one in four or five sisters being Black Ajah, one would expect a couple in this group. They seem content.

  • In the next two levels there are 5 known Black sisters, out of 29 (17%, less than would be expected).

  • In the two levels below that, the slightly strong Aes Sedai, 8 out of 22 sisters are Black. That’s 36%, way more than would be expected.

  • In the average strength levels of Aes Sedai, 5 out of 16 are Black (31%, again more than the expected 20-25%).

  • There is only 1 out of 17 in the bottom two levels of Aes Sedai, as though they realise that they still won't have any better luck with the Shadow. After all, the Black Ajah is still an Aes Sedai-run organisation!

    True to the unjust ranking of Aes Sedai, neither Jordan nor Sanderson revealed that many of the weakest Aes Sedai's names - good or evil! They're just largely beneath notice, unfortunately. And they were the ones selectively executed due to being too weak to Travel (without linking).


The spread - with strengths and allegiances incompletely known, and it is an important predication - indicates that the closer you get to the middle, the higher the percentage that turn to the Shadow.


Joining The Black Ajah

So far we know of when five Black sisters joined. Liandrin knew of the Black Ajah before she even went to Tower, since she was already a Darkfriend and would have encountered them on missions or at meetings. (Black Ajah were at the general Darkfriends’ meeting which Ishamael held.) She was channelling a year before she went to the Tower (The Fires of Heaven, A Hound of Darkness) and was aiming for the Black Ajah from the day she knew she could channel. However, she would not have joined the Black Ajah until she was Aes Sedai and swore on the Oath Rod and would still have had to wait a while until she achieved the ageless look.

Verin joined years after she gained the shawl, when she was believed to have been interested in joining the Shadow. Jordan did say that the Black Ajah were on the watch for sisters changing and that not all joined soon after being raised ( see TOR Questions of the Week).

Of the other three, two, Galina and Katerine, joined five years after gaining shawl:

For seventeen years Katerine had been Aes Sedai, but not until the morning before they departed Tar Valon had she learned that she shared more than the Red Ajah with Galina. Twelve years she had been a member of the Black Ajah, never knowing that Galina had too, for far longer.

- Lord of Chaos, The First Message

She [Galina] had been head of the Red Ajah—called the Highest by other Red sisters, in private; considered by other Reds equal to the Amyrlin Seat — and for all but five of the years she had worn the shawl, she had been of the Black Ajah, in truth.

- A Crown of Swords, Spears

Note that this is when an Aes Sedai is fully trained in the ways of Tower and therefore less likely to bungle, and when the ageless appearance has taken effect, so that there is no confusion for any Black sister over whether a little known sister has sworn the Black Ajah Oaths or not. The remaining Aes Sedai, Asne, appears to have joined relatively soon after gained shawl:

Asne had lost track of how often she had killed or tortured in the 130-odd years since she had gained the shawl

- Winter’s Heart, A Plan Succeeds

She may have also joined a few years after reaching the shawl, but due to having been Aes Sedai for about 130 years, this seems ‘soon’ to her.

Some new Black sisters would fill a space in a heart caused by the death of a Black sister. Others may be added as a new heart, with a delay in adding a new sister until others to fill the new heart have been recruited. A new heart of three would only be added in periods of growth for the Black Ajah; at other times they will only be maintaining numbers.

The Black Ajah can never truly be defeated short of using the Oath Rod to test each sister on a regular basis in the same manner used by the Black Ajah hunters in the Tower and now Egwene. There will always be women who change and turn to the Shadow even years after they gain the shawl or since they last swore they weren’t Darkfriends.

The Oaths should not be left however, but should be unsworn immediately. That way the Shadow cannot use multiple Oaths on the Oath Rod to bind the Black Ajah to them. Aes Sedai should learn to be trustworthy without Oaths. The drastic shortening of lifespan resulting from swearing even one Oath on the rod should now make sisters think twice about wearing to the Shadow on the Oath Rod.

New members of the Black Ajah unswear the three Aes Sedai Oaths on the Oath Rod and immediately swear three new Oaths to the Shadow:

She [Galina] had been broken free of the Three Oaths on joining the Black Ajah, replacing them with a new trinity

- A Crown of Swords, Spears

More than a simple swearing on the Oath Rod is involved in joining the Black Ajah. Verin said:

"The process of making those oaths to the Great Lord was . . . distinctive.

- The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai

A reference to some Black Mass-like rituals, probably, as occurred when Padan Fain bound himself more tightly to the Shadow (The Eye of the World, More Tales of the Wheel).

The Black Ajah usually (always?) has at least one Black Sitter, and Sitters are allowed to use any ter'angreal, so access to the Oath Rod would be reasonably easy to arrange (The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit).

The three Black Ajah oaths are:

1) I shall obey all commands given by those placed above me in service to the Great Lord. 2) I shall prepare for the day of the Great Lord’s return. 3) I swear not to betray the Great Lord, to keep my secrets until the hour of my death. It should be noted that these were taken straight from Robert Jordan’s notes, where he had added “May vary the wording a little.”

Maria Simmons in answer to a Waygate fundraiser Q&A


We have heard of Black sisters giving away plans no longer considered valid (Joiya and Ispan, for instance) because they believe it is not a betrayal, and if it doesn’t involve them it’s not their secret. The oath isn't a blanket ban on giving away anything at all. In The Shadow Rising, Joiya told Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve that Liandrin's group were to break Taim free and set him up as an evil Dragon blackening Rand's name with his actions. This plan may have been a lie (even if, judging by Taim’s actions since, it was unwittingly near the mark), or it may have been an old plan dropped by their Forsaken instructor or countermanded by another Forsaken and Liandrin's group was sent to Tanchico. The group could not hope to fulfil both orders simultaneously. (I personally think it was a genuine plan that was assigned to other Darkfriends and Liandrin was told it was off.) Either way, Joiya felt free to speak of it, just as Ispan later revealed old plots of the Shadow to Vandene and Adeleas (The Path of Daggers, Into Andor).

It’s a matter of how each sister interprets the Oath against betraying the Dark One. Obviously plans no longer valid can be revealed, but there is also some leeway for getting rid of rivals, or betraying others to save her neck provided the Aes Sedai doesn’t believe that in doing so she is betraying the Dark One. Verin says:

You can double-cross other Darkfriends, you can turn against the Chosen if you can justify it. Selfishness must be preserved. But you can never betray him. You can never betray the order itself to outsiders. But the oaths are specific. Very specific."

- The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai

If a Black sister can justify in her mind that identifying other Darkfriends to her captors is not betraying the Dark One she could do so.

In the Lord of Chaos Prologue, Galina told Katerine that "questions are dangerous for one sworn to obey without." Katerine had been wondering why they had to keep Rand alive, even if they deliver him into Elaida's hands. She was following her orders, but was still able to wonder why she had been given them because she did not regard such wondering as disobedience.


The Supreme Council

The complex network that is the Black Ajah is headed by the Supreme Council of the Black Ajah, also known as the Great Council of Thirteen. From Galina’s PoV in A Crown Of Swords, Spears, and Alviarin’s thoughts in Knife of Dreams (quoted below) we know that the Head of the Black Ajah is at the very top and that the next level down consists of three sisters who know the identity of this woman. The third level would consist of the other nine members of the Supreme Council, followed presumably by a fourth level consisting of the network of Black Ajah Hearts. Members of the Supreme Council are anonymous at the Heart level. Galina is a member of Talene’s Heart, yet Talene does not know that Galina is a member of the Supreme Council. This is likewise for the Black Ajah Head:

Even the sisters of her own Heart believed her no more than they. Only three on the Supreme Council knew who she was, and she would have avoided that had it been possible. There could never be too many precautions, especially now.

- Knife of Dreams, Prologue

Alviarin comments that this is unavoidable, so it is undoubtedly fundamental in how the Black Ajah is run. We also know that the Supreme Council are all hooded during their meetings. This nominally means that they do not know each other’s identity, though we already know that there are three women who know the identity of the Head of the Black. However, these three women may not know each others’ identity. The Supreme Council is a leadership structure separate from the Hearts. Alviarin didn’t change Heart when she became leader (if she had, this would reveal to the others in her Heart that she had been promoted).

As far as the function of the Supreme Council goes, it performs a number of tasks. The main one is that they discuss the activities of the seven legitimate Ajahs and set Black Ajah policy based on what they hear:

The great "secret" of who headed the Ajahs was none to her. Every Black sister was required to relay to the Supreme Council every whisper inside her supposed Ajah.

- The Path of Daggers, An Unwelcome Return

Yukiri also mentions that there are only three reasons why a sister would actually be called to appear before the Supreme Council.

“Last night, Talene received an order to appear tonight before their ‘Supreme Council.’” Her mouth twisted around the words in distaste. “It seems that happens only if you’re being honoured or given a very, very important assignment. Or if you’re to be put to the question.”

- Knife of Dreams, Prologue

What kind of ‘honours’ are received is uncertain. Perhaps this is reserved for being raised to the Supreme Council itself or for certain Darkfriend rewards we have heard of, but not really seen demonstrated. We also find out in Knife of Dreams that the Supreme Council and probably the Black Ajah at large can put people to the question using a technique that is not known to other Aes Sedai:

What they had learned about the Black Ajah’s means of putting someone to the question was as nauseating as it was incredible. Forcing a woman into a circle against her will? Guiding a circle to inflict pain?

- Knife of Dreams, Prologue

This may be similar to the way the adam is used to compel female channellers to the will of the sul’dam, though exactly how isn’t certain.

Another interesting security risk for the Supreme Council is the inability of Aes Sedai to mask or disguise their strength in the Power. Therefore if any Black sister who is strong (or very weak) was on the Supreme Council, such as Sheriam, who is a known member of the Black Ajah leadership ( The Gathering Storm Sealed to the Flame), in time other members could figure out who she is by her atypical strength (or lack of it). For example, there are only a few Aes Sedai at the strong levels (eg level 11 on the saidar strength ranking LINK) and sometimes non Black sisters of that level would be out of the Tower while the Council was meeting. This is a real weakness of this system.

While Alviarin thinks she is the only Black sister to know the identities of all Black sisters, Sheriam (also on the Supreme Council) expected to recognise (and did) the name of the Black sister who betrayed the Black Ajah to Egwene. So other members of the Supreme Council (certainly the three just below Alviarin, but perhaps all 13 of them) had some knowledge of the Black sisters extending beyond their own hearts.

The Supreme Council appears to have ranks: Galina was second in command of the Black Ajah:

Her place on the Supreme Council of the Black Ajah was next to that of Alviarin herself

- A Crown of Swords, Spears

The Head of The Black Ajah

In some Ajahs, the Ajah Head has the final say on Ajah policy and other sisters, even Sitters, are forced to obey. In the Black Ajah, Alviarin enjoyed nothing less than total power. As far as we know, she alone knows the identity of every single Black Sister, as well as how to contact each of them:

She sat at the head of the Supreme Council and knew the names of every Black sister in every heart, which was more than Mesaana could say.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark

The fact that she knows far more than the average Black sister is well emphasised in Knife of Dreams, Embers Fall on Dry Grass, where she personally picks up messages that, to any other sister, would not appear to have reached their final destination. She also has a chest full of books containing the many ciphers used by the Black. It is speculated that each of these volumes would correspond to an identical cipher book owned by the woman who enciphered the message.

How the Head of the Black Ajah is selected is uncertain. There are some indications that she is chosen personally by Ishamael, but Ishamael’s presence is not always dependable and so it would be logical if the Supreme Council also has the ability to choose their own leader. If this occurs, it isn’t known how the information is transferred from the old Black Ajah head to the new one, unless some members of the Supreme Council are also privy to extra information, as Sheriam’s knowledge seems to indicate.

Maintaining Secrets and Passing Along Orders

The passing of commands goes along hearts and links between hearts even for something as potentially urgent as a summons to interrogation for a suspected security breach:

She tried to trace the route any message would have taken from heart to heart before it reached Talene.

- Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark

This is a wise security precaution because there is always someone who wants more knowledge, and therefore power, and dares to look, despite dire threats, to see who picks up the message. If it is always a Black sister that she knows anyway, she has risked a great deal and learned nothing new. Alviarin never considered cutting the chain short and personally delivering a Black sister a ciphered order at her designated secret place. Alviarin believes that now more than ever, she should be security conscious.

Orders therefore start at Alviarin’s heart, which is why the number of links in the chain between Alviarin and her contacts is disguised by the presence of fake directions:

Quickly she stripped off the thin strips of paper wrapping the message recovered from behind the tapestry, held them to a lamp flame and dropped them into the bowl to burn. They were only directions as to where the message was to be left, one meant for each woman in the chain, the extra strips merely a way of disguising how many links the message had to go through to reach its recipient.

- Knife of Dreams, Prologue

Orders apparently go down the chain to the ultimate recipient and back with direction labels left around the message. By keeping the direction strips with the message it ensures they are not left in someone’s room (where they could be discovered) except for the ultimate receiver of the order, who therefore must either carry out the order and send her report back up the chain with the direction strips to get rid of these potentially incriminating messages as soon as possible or destroy them all, which would be a death sentence.

Each direction for passing on the message probably says in each receiver’s personal cipher: “leave these messages in place X (the usual place for the designated person in her heart or her ‘one more’) and when they return put them back in this place you found them”.

The drop off points we know of are: on the recipient’s pillow (according to Katerine (Lord of Chaos, Prologue) and Alviarin (Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark)); in the pocket of the recipient’s cloak (according to Katerine (Lord of Chaos, Prologue)); or in a secret place (according to Katerine (Lord of Chaos, Prologue) and Alviarin (Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark)), such as behind a particular tapestry (Knife of Dreams, Prologue). Dire warnings are given to never try and see who comes to take the message (Lord of Chaos, Prologue), orders Verin probably ignored.

In the climate of extreme animosity and suspicion between Ajahs under Elaida, only a Black sister of the same Ajah could have delivered a message to a sister’s pillow. The Black Ajah sabotaged part of its own messaging system.

Orders are also apparently protected by a ward attuned to the recipient:

The ink ready to vanish if any hand but hers touched the paper.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

We do not know how this warding scheme works. Alviarin received a report wrapped in its layers of directions for passing it on. None of the messages had been wiped due to being touched by another hand, yet the messages had been passed up the chain. Perhaps only the ultimate message is warded and sealed in a blank strip of paper and all the directions for passing it on are enciphered but unwarded. We also don’t know how reports destined for Alviarin (reports returning up the chain) are warded, since only three sisters know who leads the Black Ajah and that this woman sends and receives all messages. Perhaps messages to Alviarin aren’t warded, or perhaps Alviarin attunes the outbound message to both herself and the recipient, and the recipient writes her answer on the same piece of paper and wraps it up in a blank sheet, so it isn’t touched by others as it returns up the chain with the direction strips around it.

Presumably the direction strips are in different ciphers so that a given woman can only understand the orders that are designated for her. Certainly each message Alviarin receives requires a different book to decipher the message hidden within it:

She produced a key from her pouch, unlocked a brass-banded chest sitting on the floor beside the table, and sorted through the small leather-bound books inside until she found the three she needed, each protected so that the ink on the pages would vanish if any hand but hers touched them. There were far too many ciphers in use for her to keep them in memory. Losing these books would be a painful trial, replacing them arduous, hence the stout chest and the lock. A very good lock.

- Knife of Dreams, Prologue

Any Black sister receiving a message probably tries to decipher all the direction strips around the message with her personal cipher until she deciphers something meaningful. If none are meaningful, she opens the message and deciphers that. If she has got it wrong and it isn’t intended for her, the ink vanishes. We know the Black Ajah messaging system is slow because Alviarin frets about it (Knife of Dreams, Prologue) and this could account for some of that slowness.

The alternative is that the Black sister has a way of recognising her own ciphered instructions – eg they begin with 3 dummy letters unique to her – without trying to decipher all the directions, and without the message including any potentially compromising words such as a name or cipher keyword (see below).

Furthermore, all messages that Alviarin receives are committed to memory and then destroyed:

In turn she touched the ciphered message and the clear copy to the lamp flame and held each by a corner until they had burned nearly to her fingers before dropping them atop the ashes in the bowl. With a smooth black stone that she kept as a paperweight, she crushed the ashes and stirred them about. She doubted that anyone could reconstitute words from ash, but even so….

- Knife of Dreams, Prologue

Lastly, Alviarin seems to write out orders to different women – or at least uses different books to encipher what she is writing. The orders are written on thin sheets of paper (not strips) and can be folded or rolled before direction strips are wrapped around each message.

The Wheel of Time setting corresponds to the 17th to 18th centuries in our world, which was when logicians and people skilled in recognising patterns were employed to make and break ciphers. (The value of mathematicians in cryptanalysis was recognised from the 19th century onwards). Whites, devoted to logic, would be great with ciphers, and we see that under a White Head, the Black Ajah ciphers are more complex and secure than that of Pedron Niall for example, whose cipher did not need pen and paper to decipher.

Niall’s cipher probably used simple substitution, whether the substituted letters were a set number of places in the alphabet from the original letters (shift cipher alphabet) or the mapping between each message letter and cipher letter was random (mixed cipher alphabet), or less likely, transposition (moving rows of letters into columns), since he could work the cipher out in his head.

Simple substitution ciphers in which the same cipher letter is always exchanged for the same message letter date from at least before the fourth century BC.

If the cipher is a mere shifting of the alphabet by the same number of places it is very easy to crack with frequency analysis. In every language, some letters are used on the average more than others, and the percentages of letters used in text in a particular language tend to be constant. By examining the frequency of occurrence of letters in the ciphered message it is easy to crack the cipher. Another drawback to security is that with 26 letters in the Roman/English alphabet, there are only 25 different possible shift cipher alphabets.

A more secure substitution cipher has the mappings between the message and cipher alphabets completely mixed up. The number of substitution ciphers using the English alphabet where no letter remains the same is over 3 billion. That means that if such a mixed cipher alphabet is used, cracking it with frequency analysis is far more laborious. By the 15th and 16th centuries, ciphers had become extremely important for diplomatic communications, and frequency analysis was used to crack them.

The fundamental principle of cryptography, as summarised by the19th-century Dutch cryptographer Auguste Kerckhoffs von Nieuwenhof (1835-1903) is that the security of a cipher should not depend on the enemy's ignorance of the enciphering method, but on their ignorance of the key.

The most secure ciphers available in the 17th century were based on the idea of enciphering a message using multiple cipher alphabets. For example, two substitution cipher alphabets could be used on alternating letters of a message, with all the even-numbered letters enciphered by one cipher alphabet and all the odd-numbered letters enciphered by the other.

This method was refined into the Vigenere cipher, which uses the 25 shift ciphers of the Roman alphabet, plus the standard alphabet, organized into a "Vigenere square". A cipher keyword is used to select different cipher alphabets in succession as letters are enciphered. For example, if a Black sister’s keyword is BREAD, her message ‘KILL TALENE’ would be enciphered as follows:

the first letter of the message, K, is enciphered using the ‘B’ shift alphabet = L,
the second letter of the message, I, is enciphered using the ‘R’ shift alphabet = Z,
the third letter, L, is enciphered using the ‘E’ shift alphabet = P,
the fourth letter, L, is enciphered using the ‘A’ shift alphabet = L,
the fifth letter, T, is enciphered using the ‘D’ shift alphabet = W,
the sixth letter, A is enciphered using the ‘B’ shift alphabet again = B,
the seventh letter, L, is enciphered using the ‘R’ shift alphabet = C,
the eighth letter, E, is enciphered using the ‘E’ shift alphabet = I,
the ninth letter, N, is enciphered using the ‘A’ shift alphabet = N,
the tenth letter, E, is enciphered using the ‘D’ shift alphabet = H.

The enciphered message would read LZPLWBCINH. It would not be susceptible to cracking by frequency analysis.

Alviarin has numerous cipher books in her chest, each book probably containing a keyword and cipher alphabets for that keyword. The simplest and most secure system would be for each Black sister to have her own keyword and corresponding cipher alphabets. As well as her own personal cipher there probably would be a Black Ajah keyword and cipher for instructions to be decipherable by any Black sister. So a Black sister would have 2 keywords, one personal and one Ajah wide, and the shift cipher alphabets that go with them. Because Alviarin is working with so many keywords and corresponding shift ciphers, she has each Black sister’s cipher alphabets and keyword written down in a separate book. Having only the shift cipher alphabets of an individual sister in a separate book reduces the possibility of ‘looking up’ errors. Ciphering errors would have to be a real concern. The ciphers can be reproduced if the books are lost (so long as she remembers the keywords) but it would be laborious, as she says. There could also be a cipher book with a general Black Ajah keyword and the cipher alphabets that go with it and perhaps a separate one for the Supreme Council as well.

Another possibility is that there are keywords and ciphers for each heart as well as each individual sister and that each sister knows the cipher for herself, her heart and her ‘one more’. This is less secure, both within the Black Ajah and from attack outside the Black Ajah, as well as more cumbersome.

There is no hint that the Black Ajah hunters ever asked their captives any questions about the Black Ajah message system, even though Talene received a message just prior to the Knife of Dreams, Prologue, or about the Black sisters’ ciphers, which is a major oversight in their questioning.

The existence of cipher books for the entire Black Ajah in Alviarin’s room was a real security weakness for the Black Ajah. Moreover, if the cipher books are only attuned to the current Black Ajah head, how did she pick up the reins of the Black Ajah cipher and messaging system from the previous head?

We’ll probably never know. We don’t even know what Alviarin took with her when she fled, or whether she left the cipher books and/or rod ter’angreal behind.

------------------------

Written by Linda and Moridin_2000 in 2007 and updated July 2013

Contributors: BobH


22 comments:

Searching For Pericles said...

I think there is an error in this thread, and it is one I made as well when reading tGS.

I had this out on Dragonmount (or maybe it was here?).

I questioned the 3+3 in terms of which BA Verin missed, and was told that Egwene was merely reminiscing about the three Verin missed in Bathed in Light, not saying she missed another three in the BT (not counting Evanellin and the other three).

I originally thought as you did, but I think it was just sloppy writing by BS (along with the indication that some BA may have been carried off).

Now, if one assumes the other three who survived the attack and then disappeared ARE black, then 3+3+Evanellien would be the count.

But it should be:
3 confirmed
4 Suspected.

Searching For Pericles said...

I think you also erred on the number of BA in the Tower.

The quote you used indicated two things:
1) A majority of the BA in the Tower escaped.

2) 60 named BA escaped the Tower.

Therefore, 60 is a majority of the total number of BA in the Tower, not the total number itself.

Therefore, the number is south of 120. And more than 60. I think 90/100 is a good guess, as 60/90 would be two-thirds (still a majority, but an unlikely word choice).

Regardless, we KNOW the total number is more than 60. If 90+ were in the tower, then 30+ were executed + the 50+ outside, so we are down to about 120 total.

Linda said...

Quite a few of the numbers in that chapter were difficult to determine due to ambiguous writing and will remain so until Sanderson explains. Since we have no idea of how many, or if any, BA were made damane, the number is reasonable either way.

I said that the Tower had well over 60 BA. Not 60 total. You misread it.

I'm being conservative with how many remain because I'm giving a firm maximum of how many remain (215-220 minus 50 rebels and at last 10 Tower Black sisters executed = well under 160 remaining) rather than my opinion.

Searching For Pericles said...

Apologies Linda, great work as always.

I read the 160 as 60 in that paragraph.

Still, I think they got well over 10 in the Tower.

Linda said...

:) They probably got 20-25 but I was going for certainty in the article.

Not that long ago, people on Wotmania argued strongly that no way were there more than a hundred Black Ajah...though how that could justify a council of 13 I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Why did Nacelle display her new weave to the hall if she was black?
Odd.

Rurouni_Kenshin

Anonymous said...

Because there's a faction in the Shadow who, faced with the fact saidin was cleansed and Rand's efforts might bring a genuine alliance soon (remember, they had spies near him), wanted to take back control of events, get rid of Aran'gar (recently revealed openly to the Forsaken as being with the rebels) and the Rebels to go try to form an alliance with Mazrim Taim, who will do what he has to do to make sure any further idea of alliance is out of the question, and who gave orders like this to BA like Nacelle, while Aran'gar was giving conflicting orders about this "alliance" to her pawns Sheriam and Delana.

Based on the motive, that "faction" has to include Mesaana, probably Demandred as well unless Mesaana got herself pawns among the Asha'man. Nacelle's weave was rather obviously a nasty double-cross by Mesaana. It made Aran'gar's stay with the Rebels extremely risky - she couldn't channel safely anymore, because the whole camp was freaking out about the murders.
Do you think Aran'gar was as stupid as murdering Anayia and Karen with saidin and leave the bodies behind for the AS to inverstigate? She was far more clever and cautious than this previously. She would have murdered a few random sisters too to confuse things, and leave no body or residues behind. That's not her who killed Anayia and Kairen, it's also something the "trio" organized. Semirhage knew all there was to know about Cabriana. Mesaana had the agents in place in the rebel camp to warn her about opportunities. Demandred had the means to kill that would incriminate Aran'gar (him, or any pawn of the trio at the BT).

-Theo-

Voscaia Sedai said...

There's a small error: Evanellein is killed by Egwene in the beginning of Wounds

Grig said...

Might be a dumb question, but how do we know that Duhara is black? I don't recall that.

Also, something that I've been wondering about the 13x13 trick. Why do we assume the 13 people need to be in a circle (which is where the male/female requirements come in)? Was this something that came out in an interview? In TDR, all it says is:

"It took thirteen Dreadlords--Darkfriends who could channel--weaving the flows through thirteen Myrddraal."

It doesn't actually mention them being linked. I must admit that my picture of it was 13 of them channeling, each one filtering their weaves through one Myrddraal (if only because of how the numbers are identical). This would also have the nice effect of making it so you can't simply force (or trick) Light-siders into a circle where they will be party to turning someone against their will, as well as removing the arbitrary need for x number of male or female Dreadlords.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see if Adrielle is mentioned again (the Grey sister bonded to Kurin). It would seem likely that she has either been turned herself already or is next on the list now that Kurin has been turned. If not, she or another sister in a similar position might be able to explain more about the visible changes (eyes, etc) actually mean to Pevara and Androl by the change in the bond - though the bond could be used to prevent her doing that, too, I suppose.

Linda said...

Thanks Voscaia. Fixed it.

Grig: We were told about Duhara in The Gathering Storm, A Visit from Verin Sedai.

The BWB says that Semirhage "discovered that a circle of thirteen, using thirteen Myrddraal as a sort of filter" could turn any channeller to the Shadow.

Anon: I agree with your comments about Adrielle. She may have been done in the same session.

Anonymous said...

Why did Falion and Marillin get to live while Temaile and Eldrith died? Those two were probably the most interesting of the original 13 Blacks. Temaile because she was a torturer and Eldrith because she was intelligent. Falion and Marillin are mud.

Too bad about Tarna..But at least Pevara may survive.

I'm so glad Alviarin survived.

Anonymous said...

While correct, your sentence about the circle of 13 is ambiguous, and has caused some debate in a discussion. Some thought the seven women was something specific to a turning and wondered where you found that exactly seven women must be involved (which, I know, wasn't what you meant).

You should probably be more explicit and state in full that Taim must have a minimum of seven women per circle of 13 he uses to turn channellers, because it's the minimum number of women required in any mixed gender circle of thirteen.

I guess we might have our explanation why Mesaana boasted that more and more joined the Shadow's side each day, implying that for some it was against their will. We also forgot that for someone like Mesaana, Aes Sedai are indifferently male or female.

It sounds like Verin and Egwene have doomed the embassies. It sounds like the Shadow is waiting the last minute because it still fears the WT will come asking for their women before the night of the long knives has taken place, and TG has started.

I'm guessing this is the reason why Pevara hasn't been touched, especially if Javindrah is BA. The Shadow has kept one "clean" ambassador, to show to whoever is coming from the WT for them. I'm guessing it is keeping the rebel embassy "clean" as well, or most of them. Now that the dreamspike is in place, and alas Nynaeve can report the women are quite well and safe, the Shadow must be about to move. I'm guessing the mass turnings have already taken place whn the attack on Caemlyn is launched.

The big question is whether Jordan waited with Pevara because he intended her and that Ash'aman to escape at the last minute and get perhaps to Rand's meeting with devasting news... or because he wanted a beloved sympathetic character as witness, and victim, of the "night of the long knives", when Demandred orders Taim to finish the clean up before he can come to take possession of his dreamspike protected headquarter for the LB, with the rest of his army of dreadlords (and whatever else) who were trained outside the BT and don't even pretend to be Asha'man. Moridin holds the north, Demanded is coming for Rand's territories.

Demandred probably wants Caemlyn to use it as a fortified coral for the biggest Shadowspawn army south of the Blight, with access to a protected Waygate. The revelation about the Portal Stones is ominous.. and may well be an important clue. I think Demandred intends to capture Cairhien, Tear, Caemlyn, Illian, Falme and Rhuidean in the initial strike.

The Ogier and their misplaced sentimentality about the (long useless) Waygates near stedding will have a lot to answer for... Loial might not have such a hard time convincing them they must stay, and atone for the mess they've made. And they're the only ones who can now enter the Ways without getting lost. They'll be badly needed if the Shadow gains a network of bases of operations and staging grounds in the South.

This also seems to fit with the Aelfinn stuff. It would be obvious why Rand needed to make the world as one, literally bring most of the forces of the Light in one spot. Had he not called this meeting, his scattered forces might have been wiped out early.

The first part about south-west (Seanchan lands, now mobilizing as one to strike at TV) and east-north (between Egwene and Elayne, they all come north in one spot) is done, now remains the crucial point of making "the two as one".

Anonymous said...

You might want to consider explaining the 13x13 matter in full in the article.

I find what you said clear enough, but I came here because some people in a thread argued you claimed a turning must be done with exactly 7 women and 6 men rk, and I was wondering what new bit of info had missed in TOM that stated that. It turns out you never wrote any such thing, but some people seem confused by the way you put it.

You might want to state it more plainly: turnings at the BT means that Taim must have a minimum of seven women he can use, because it's the minimal number of women in any mixed gender circle of thirteen. Of course, he could also use anywhere from 7 to 13 per circle.

Though it's unlikely, they don't even have to be DF/BA. The BA can force any woman into a circle. For all we know, Taim may have performed the first turning with a single BA and six prisoners, and enough dreadlords from his forces to immobilize these women.

On a side note, I think we know now why Mesaana was boasting more and more joined the Shadow each day, implying it wasn't all of them who wished it...

The clues are all there in TOM that Taim's faction at the BT is a ( perhaps small) portion of a much larger army of Dreadlords. Demandred left him enough men to perform his mission, but not enough to alarm Rand unduly (though it came close with Logain...)

With the attack on Caemlyn, the plan is becoming clearer and clearer. Demandred is gathering his forces, and about to move them to their new southern headquarters, and probably all of them will have its massive Shadowspawn army, using the city as fortified corals, and the people as food supplies, all with Waygates and some with Portal Stones. Tear, Illian, Cairhien, maybe Rhuidean will all fall or be attacked in the initial assault (the timing of which will be in synch with the breaking of the seals, thanks to Mesaana or others who could forewarn Moridin). My feeling is that the Light's best hope will be to repel the invasion from the Ways at Tar Valon, the other cities will likely fall.

The Ogier Elders who've refused to destroy the Waygates and only put guards on them will have a lot to answer for... and Loial will have a very good argument to convince them it's their duty to stay. It's also a bit obvious now, if the Shadow gains a series of bases with Waygates, that the main purpose of the Ogier wil be to enter the Ways and track and kill the moving armies of the Shadow. Only the Ogier can guide humans in there.

The attack on Caemlyn, while Elayne is gone, also has a very ominous possibility: there appears to be a second Waymaking ter'angreal in Elayne's stash. If the whole thing falls into Demandred's hands...

Linda said...

Anons: That sentence is largely unchanged from what I had in the article before TOM. Obviously no one took any notice of it before. :)

Turning people to the Shadow will be discussed more fully in the Weaves and Talents article (still to be updated).

We know that a circle of women can forcibly bring a woman into it, but a mixed circle may not be able to. Nor could one woman forcibly link with another woman (except using an a'dam).

Linda said...

Reading my Weaves and Talents article again, a mixed circle definitely can't bring a woman into it, and the circle of women forcing snother woman into it must be 'large', but less than 13 (LOC and ACOS Glossaries).

cesare said...

I'm surprised that Egwene did not give to Elayne the Black list, so she can arrest any Black Sister that is or arrives in her kingdom (and among them Duhara).. in fact by the end of the book it is clear that now the communications between the W.Tower and Caemlyn are frequent

cesare said...

I think also that compulsion is less visible and equally effective that 13+13 conversion, so why use one instead of the other?

leylacatherine said...

cesare:
Egwene probably did not give Elayne the Black list for the same reason she does all the other crap she does: she's an arrogant twat who needs about 20 years of "seasoning" to finally be wise enough for her position. Even though she's done some great things (to my mind, frankly, impossible in a real world such as ours, only possible in a true fantasy) at the bottom of it all, from the start RJ has portrayed her as incredibly stubborn and a know-it-all.

Hehe, sorry, I'm having a real "hate Egwene" moment here aren't I...but Linda, this article is brilliant, as they all are.

Kim said...

Can I ask how we know that it was a 13x13 turning that happened to the Asha'Man and Tower Aes Sedai at the BT, and not simple compulsion?

It refers to their blank eyes or something but when I read that I thought simply compulsion - how do we know it's a 13x13 turning instead?

Linda said...

Kim: Because never have we seen anyone under Compulsion have dead eyes, or a feeling of extreme wrongness, or Shadowyness. The Shadow's Influence on the Black Tower article discusses this issue fully.

Vicki said...

RE Delana:

'- Voted for declaring war on Elaida, and felt sickened doing so, so she was ordered to by Halima.
- Was the last to stand in favour of agreement with Black Tower, and must have been ordered to do so by Halima, since she was reluctant.'

Perhaps, conversely, these votes were against Halima/ Arangar's orders and Delana only voted to avoid arousing suspicion but was afraid of Halima's punishment.

Nacelle is described as one of the few (three?) surviving Malkieri Sisters, the others having died trying to avenge the destruction of Malkier. Does this imply that the other surviving Malkieri Sisters are likely Black as well?

RE Black Oaths: As anyone trying to question Black AS without removing their oaths found out, they only couldn't divulge any identities, plans or schemes that were current/ relevant, but didn't have a problem talking about things that had happened in the past or were no longer relevant. I don't think a Black would have a problem identifying a long-dead Black; eg a Black can say, 'Merean Redhill was Black Ajah', or 'Black Ajah poisoned Artur Hawkwing's wife' unless she believes it has an impact on the present BA plans or endangers current BA in some way. I'm not sure if this is included in the oaths mentioned by Verin or the stipulation of the third oath. In TDR, Amico's oaths were removed when she was stilled while Joiya's were still in place, so Amico's information was probably more reliable unless Joiya believed the plan discarded.

RE Anonymous 'Why did Falion and Marillin get to live while Temaile and Eldrith died?...' Could be opportunistic actions by Hanlon and Lounault, or could be that they were too afraid of Temaile and Eldrith to let them live, but felt they could 'manage' Falion and Marillin.

RE cesare and leylacatherine's why Egwene didn't give Elayne the Black list. Two better reasons than Egwene being an 'arrogant twat':
1) A matter of priorities: the Last Battle is coming, and there's already too much to do and not enough time. Egwene would want to destroy the *bulk* of the Black Ajah, but she'll put off hunting down every individual Black until more important matters (Tarmon Gaidon, anyone?) are dealt with.
2) Elayne, along with most of the Andoran army, has left Andor to meet with Rand, and from there, presumably, to Tarmon Gaidon. She's in no position to hunt Blacks in Andor at this time.