I thought it might be instructive to see what some of the more active members of the Black Ajah were doing in Crossroads of Twilight, especially in hindsight now that we know far more members of the Black Ajah after The Gathering Storm than we did.
Elza tried to prevent Erian and Sarene from informing Rand that someone was using their Warders to track them down and would meet up with them soon. She also tried to limit Cadsuane’s access to Rand, but she wanted to stay in Rand’s favour more and that wasn’t the way to do so (Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments).
Elza revealed to the reader that she is Black Ajah and that she knows of a Black Sister, Fera, who is a captive in Cairhien. She commanded her Darkfriend Warder Fearil to kill anyone who threatens Rand and was deciding who else he has to kill (Crossroads of Twilight, A Strengthening Storm).
Verin took Harine and her small retinue to Tear, picked up information on what is going on there and reported to Cadsuane. Then she got sucked into a conversation with Nesune on snakes (Crossroads of Twilight, Ornaments).
With the Rebels
Sheriam became upset when Egwene talked with anyone privately because she had to pass on what goes on to Aran’gar and the more she knew the better Aran'gar would be pleased. She found Delana’s raising of the subject of negotiations with the Tower Hall frightening; Aran’gar wouldn’t want the negotiations to succeed. Sheriam didn’t realise Delana’s aim was to prevent them succeeding by getting Egwene to interfere. (It didn’t work.)
Sheriam was against Moria’s suggestion of making an agreement with the Black Tower and wept when the Hall voted yes.
It was Sheriam who presented the rebel Mistress of Novices Tiana’s report on runaway novices to Egwene. Sheriam was amused that Nicola’s group covered for her and that it was not certain when Nicola ran away. She tried to erode Egwene’s credibility by suggesting she show favouritism to the Emond’s Field novices. Neither reaction is appropriate for a former Mistress of the Novices.
Delana was acting more positively than Sheriam. She bestowed her support in such a way as to cause more division, offense or fear:
One day she could be the very image of a Gray negotiator seeking consensus, and the next so strident in her arguments that every Sitter within hearing got her back up. She had been known to set the cat among the pigeons in other ways, too. No fewer than three times now, she had demanded the Hall make a formal declaration that Elaida was Black Ajah, which inevitably led to an awkward silence until someone called for the sitting to be adjourned. Few were willing to discuss the Black Ajah openly.What seemed like incompetent behaviour for a Grey was designed to have the effect it did. She deliberately annoyed Egwene by telling her that people are gossiping over who will be her Warder and raising the subject of Egwene Bonding Bryne and telling her he wouldn’t be a good idea. It’s all perfect stuff for annoying a young woman.
Delana would discuss anything, from how they were to find proper clothes for nine hundred and eighty seven novices to whether Elaida had secret supporters among the sisters, another topic that gave most sisters a case of the prickles.
- Crossroads of Twilight, The Subject of Negotiations
Delana tried to prevent negotiations between the rebel and Tower Sitters by getting Egwene to interfere. She told her that the rank and file Aes Sedai and the rebel Ajah Heads will support Egwene if she forbids talks and offered Egwene her support in the Hall, hers and enough others to stop the negotiations. Her aim was to sow dissension between the rebel Ajah Heads and Sitters and between Ajahs, and to tie the rebels up in conflict so they don’t negotiate with the Tower. This is why Delana was appalled when Egwene agreed with Beonin that negotiations should start.
Delana arrived late to the Sitting of Hall on negotiations with the Black Tower, probably because Aran’gar was giving her orders. She reluctantly voted in favour of negotiations so her vote reflects Aran’gar’s command, not her own wishes.
Anaiya’s assessment of Moria was prescient:
A hard woman, harder than Lelaine in some ways. Tougher, anyway. She won’t scruple at things that might make Lelaine balk. I’m very much afraid she will press for an assault on the city as soon as possible. If the Forsaken are moving so openly, on such a scale, then better a wounded Tower that’s whole than a Tower divided.Moria said she wants Elaida executed. This was calculated to stymie negotiations with the Tower or put rebel Sitters off suggesting them.
- Crossroads of Twilight, Surprises
Moria, along with Escaralde and Malin, called a Sitting to hear about the expedition to Shadar Logoth. She deliberately allowed the belief that their circles were inadequate without the inclusion of men to become known to the rank and file Aes Sedai:
“I do fear it be too late for that,” Moria said loudly. She had to speak loudly, to be heard over the murmur of sisters talking excitedly behind the benches, a hum like a huge beehive. “What has been said has been said, and heard by too many sisters for anyone to try shutting the words away now.” Her bosom rose as she pulled in a deep breath, and she raised her voice a notch louder. “I do put before the Hall the proposal that we do enter into an agreement with the Black Tower, that we may bring men into our circles at need.”Such a controversial resolution would sow more division among the rebels and between the rebels and the White Tower. There is also considerable danger to the Aes Sedai going to the Black Tower while Darkfriend Taim is in charge there.
- Crossroads of Twilight, Surprises
The way these three Sitters worked together is suggestive. Escaralde and Malin may not have been present in the Hall in The Gathering Storm when the rebel Sitters used the Oath Rod to prove they were not Darkfriends.
In the White Tower
Alviarin kept Meidani away from Elaida at the beginning of Crossroads of Twilight – perhaps she had news from Sheriam as to which sisters were sent as ferrets (Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue).
Mesaana sent Alviarin out of the Tower for almost a month. In that time Alviarin met with Darkfriends that were commanded by other Forsaken. She visited Shadar Logoth for her own knowledge (Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark). Her last stop was to see what condition the female sa’angreal on Tremalking was in after the Cleansing. Had it been usable, there was no chance Alviarin would seize it for herself. She can’t channel strongly enough to use it safely:
I [Verin] can think of few women strong enough to survive the flows through the sa’angreal in Tremalking. The Amyrlin, of course, Moiraine and Elaida. Perhaps one or two others. And three still in training.While she was away, Elaida freed herself from Alviarin’s clutches despite being bound to obey Alviarin’s will. Elaida called a Sitting of selected Sitters and got Alviarin deposed from the Keeper’s position. When Elaida threatened Alviarin with execution for treason, Alviarin panicked and summoned Mesaana with a ter’angreal emergency signal.
- The Great Hunt, On the Scent
Shaidar Haran also responded to it as well as Mesaana. Alviarin witnessed the start of Mesaana’s punishment and was marked by Shaidar Haran as a creature of the Shadow as Jordan explained:
“You are marked as mine,” the Great Lord rasped. “Mesaana will not harm you, now. Unless I give her permission.”Alviarin noticed Talene behaving suspiciously and will try to find out why she looked at Doesine and Yukiri and didn’t speak up to Elaida. She has been commanded by Shaidar Haran to find the threat to the Black Ajah and thinks Talene will be her starting point.
- Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark
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
Katerine arrived at the hamlet of Dorlan and refused to explain to the other returned Aes Sedai what happened to her after Dumai’s Wells (Crossroads of Twilight, Prologue). Once she heard of the boatman Narenwhin used to go downriver to Dorlan, Katerine went off to be rowed to Tar Valon and condescended to take Tarna with her. Katerine took an interesting the Younglings while in Dorlan.
At the end of Crossroads of Twilight, she was part of the group that captured Egwene and Leane as they changed the harbour chain to cuendillar.
Talene was bound to obey the Black Ajah hunters but otherwise moved about the Tower.
Atuan was under surveillance while the Black Ajah hunters awaited an opportunity to interrogate her.
Careane suggested they be prepared to flee Caemlyn if the huge usage of Power moves closer and that they take the Kin with them (Crossroads of Twilight, Talk of Debts). She was encouraging Elayne to leave Caemlyn. Careane had been ordered to kill some of the Kin (at Marillin’s suggestion) and might have preferred to get out of it since it was a risky task likely to end in exposure.
Marillin went out on errands often. She was apparently as much under Shiaine’s orders as Falion (Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness).
Falion was worked extremely hard as a maid:
Her maid’s dress was simple truth; she did the work of four or five women by herself, maids and scullions and spit-girl, sleeping when she could and truckling whenever Shiaine frowned.Hanlon pretended to be forcing himself on Falion as part of her punishment, but whenever they weren’t being worked or watched they exchanged information in her room. Falion asked Hanlon about:
- Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness
the Aes Sedai in the palace or those she called the Kin, or about the Sea Folk. Silly questions. Who was friendly with whom, and who unfriendly. Who exchanged private words and who avoided one another. What he had heard them say.Falion was trying to determine the ranking of the female channellers and the political currents. She was also interested in who Careane was talking with because they might be Darkfriends.
- Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness
Falion could channel again now but she was still being punished by Shiaine. In fact, Shiaine increased her punishment by making her sleep with Murellin because Falion suggested her punishments should cease. Falion asked Hanlon for a sleeping draught to put into Murellin’s drink.
With the Shaido
Galina threatened to tell Sevanna who Faile’s husband was unless she stole the Oath Rod from Therava’s tent (Crossroads of Twilight, Traps). She betrayed Faile’s hidden knife to Sevanna so Faile and co couldn’t escape before they got the rod for Galina. Therava used Galina very harshly, humiliating her constantly. Galina slept in Therava’s tent.
The Secret of the Black Ajah
Sisters have come close to revealing the existence of the Black Ajah, but as of Crossroads of Twilight no one had ever made official charges, or had them raised against them:
Since the founding of the Tower, no sister had ever been charged with being Black Ajah. Oh, there had been suspicions by individual sisters, and from time to time Aes Sedai had died to make sure those suspicions never went further, but never had it come to official charges. If Elaida was willing to speak openly of the headsman’s block, she must be close to bringing charges. Very close. Black sisters had been made to disappear, too, when suspicions grew too great. The Black Ajah remained hidden whatever the cost.The fiction that there is no Black Ajah ends in Knife of Dreams so Crossroads of Twilight is the last book in which the Black Ajah is truly secret.
- Crossroads of Twilight, A Mark