Friday, March 8, 2002

Shadowy Prophecy

By Linda

Prophecies from the Shadow

Dark Prophecy

Four verses written in Trolloc script by a Myrddraal (see TOR Question of the Week article) on the dungeon wall of Fal Dara keep may have been prophecy mixed with propaganda. It was probably designed to mislead as much as to instruct in a threatening manner, and its usefulness may be unintentional. Verin said it "has the form of some of the few Dark prophecies we know" and Siuan thinks that:

Prophecies from the Shadow, dark prophecies, had an unfortunate way of being fulfilled as well as prophecies from the Light.

- The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

The fact that Verin made a serious attempt to interpret it and use it to guide Moiraine and Siuan is telling: after all, Verin told Egwene that she had recorded prophecies of the Shadow in her book (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai)—a book that Egwene regrettably never referred to much after The Gathering Storm. Nevertheless, it’s quite possible to use a real prophecy to alarm people. Or to change genuine prophecy a little to make it more threatening.

Daughter of the Night, she walks again.
The ancient war, she yet fights.
Her new lover she seeks, who shall serve her and die, yet serve still.
Who shall stand against her coming?
The Shining Walls shall kneel.
Blood feeds blood.
Blood calls blood.
Blood is, and blood was, and blood shall ever be.

- The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

Lanfear, the Daughter of the Night, was out and about as of The Great Hunt, mainly in her Selene persona. She still sought to enslave or kill Lews Therin for the Shadow in "the ancient war" against the Light. "Her new lover" is preferentially Rand, and she might have killed him literally, or just killed his current personality (Rand) leaving the Lews Therin memories, if Moiraine hadn’t acted:

There were three branches from the docks, but if you are reading this, I am gone, and so is Lanfear. The other two paths were much worse. Down one, Lanfear killed you. Down the other, she carried you away, and when next we saw you, you called yourself Lews Therin Telamon and were her devoted lover.

- The Fires of Heaven, Fading Words

She also had a secondary new lover in Perrin, whom she Compelled to serve her until he broke free of it in Tel’aran’rhiod in A Memory of Light.

"The Shining Walls" refers to the White Tower, which didn’t stand but crumbled, thanks to Mesaana’s efforts to prevent it from contributing to the war against the Shadow. It finally got up off its knees at the end of The Gathering Storm with Egwene at the helm.

Some of its members literally knelt too, but to the Dragon Reborn, not Lanfear, as in the Karaethon Cycle verse “the unstained tower bends knee to the forgotten sign” (Lord of Chaos, closing epigram). The Shadow implies that it will be to them, not to Rand, that the White Tower bends knee—whether for real or for subterfuge. If Rand became Lanfear’s slave then any of his tame Aes Sedai would be hers too. It’s the verse of the “writing on the wall” that Moiraine, at least, found most alarming and bravely prevented. Since this verse, the first verse, is all about Lanfear and how great she is, perhaps she arranged for the Myrddraal to write the dark ‘prophecy’ on the wall.

The refrain of “blood feeds blood, blood calls blood” is often over looked. It seems just nastiness and surely was intended so. The Shadow makes it a threat and surety of loss, but many in the Last Battle accepted the requirement of sacrifice. Giving their blood to the battle and the Land, they mirrored and enhanced the effect of Rand’s blood at Shayol Ghul because the Land is one with the Dragon as surely as he is one with the Land. This ensured the Dark One’s defeat. The redness of blood is essential; it is symbolic of the final stage of purification in alchemical symbolism without which the Great Work—in this case of sealing the Dark One away—is not complete. This is why blood “shall ever be”.

The man who channels stands alone.
He gives his friends for sacrifice.
Two roads before him, one to death beyond dying, one to life eternal.
Which will he choose? Which will he choose?
What hand shelters? What hand slays?
Blood feeds blood.
Blood calls blood.
Blood is, and blood was, and blood shall ever be.

- The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

Rand, "the man who channels", repeatedly expressed his feelings of isolation (even while consciously driving people away or cutting them off, making it worse) and of being forced to use his friends and himself up in the war against the Shadow. His supposed choice between death and eternal life was a gambit of the Shadow in the early books: Ishamael repeatedly tried to tempt Rand to his side by saying that if Rand serves the Dark One he could live forever, whereas if he fights the Dark One he’ll lose and the Dark One will annihilate him and he’ll never be born again. This verse was part of that temptation of Rand, but it can of course be read the opposite way: Rand’s sacrifice will prevent the Dark One from annihilating everything and the Pattern can continue to reincarnate souls, including Rand’s. While Moiraine found the first verse to be a potent warning, Rand took this second verse very much to heart—the feelings of isolation, the guilt over using his friends, and his prophesied death of body, and maybe soul. Proof of this is in The Gathering Storm, where he feels upset at how he has hardened and muses on his hands while referring to the last line of this verse:

Two hands. One to destroy, the other to save. Which had he lost?

- The Gathering Storm, The One He Lost

The chapter is even named after this self-questioning as emphasis.

So which of his hands did Rand lose? The sheltering one or the killing one? Hands are symbols of one’s humanity as well as one’s power. Rand’s growing appetite for using vast sources of power—the Choedan Kal, the True Power—was accelerating his loss of humanity. In a way, losing his hand marked both his loss of humanity and also the necessary sacrifice of power he would make.

Right up until the climax of his duel with the Dark One Rand intended to kill Shai’tan—using the killing hand, if you like—until he realised that this would destroy the most vital quality of humanity: the capacity of choice. His choice to not kill the Dark One and to allow humanity choice was the world’s salvation.

Luc came to the Mountains of Dhoom.
Isam waited in the high passes.
The hunt is now begun. The Shadow's hounds now course, and kill.
One did live, and one did die, but both are.
The Time of Change has come.
Blood feeds blood.
Blood calls blood.
Blood is, and blood was, and blood shall ever be.

- The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

Luc is Tigraine’s brother and Rand’s uncle who disappeared into the Blight at Gitara Moroso’s urging because his fame or his fate lay there (Lord of Chaos, Tellings of the Wheel). Isam, who vanished along with his mother Breyam when the Trollocs overran Malkier (The Great Hunt Blood Calls Blood), is Lan’s cousin. In The Shadow Rising, The Tinker’s Sword, Luc told Perrin that he knew

“something of taking an enemy into your bosom. His blade goes in quicker when he is close"

perhaps a reference to his fight with Isam.

Luc and Isam share the one body—both souls exist—but we don’t know whose body it was that survived the fight and in a way it’s irrelevant, since the appearance of their body can be changed when they enter or leave Tel’aran’rhiod:

He could not use Tel'aran'rhiod the way the Chosen could, but here was where he felt most free. Here, he could be who he wanted to be. He chuckled at the thought.
Stopping beside the bed, he carefully unsheathed the two poisoned daggers and stepped out of the Unseen World into the waking. As he did, he became Luc. It seemed appropriate.

- Winter’s Heart, Out Of Thin Air

Slayer just chooses who he will be when he steps into or out of Tel'aran'rhiod.

- Robert Jordan on his blog

As Slayer, they tried to kill Rand more than once, including at Shayol Ghul, and also Perrin, but unintentionally honed Perrin’s skills in Tel’aran’rhiod to the point where he could throw off Lanfear’s Compulsion and kill her.

It is probably not coincidence that Isam and Luc were evenly matched, since physically moving in and out of the World of Dreams requires:

a soul to be melded with something else. Like what happened with you, Aybara.

A Memory of Light, Tendrils of Mist

A person double-souled in some way is the prerequisite for being able to physically enter or leave Tel’aran’rhiod without channelling.

However, Slayer is not the only hound of the Shadow. Grey Men also have had their targets, and the Darkhounds have coursed in ever larger packs throughout the series.
The verse is correct that the “Time of Change,” the end of an Age or possible end of Time, really had come.

The Watchers wait on Toman Head.
The seed of the Hammer burns the ancient tree.
Death shall sow, and summer burn, before the Great Lord comes.
Death shall reap, and bodies fail, before the Great Lord comes.
Again the seed slays ancient wrong, before the Great Lord comes.
Now the Great Lord comes. Now the Great Lord comes.
Blood feeds blood.
Blood calls blood.
Blood is, and blood was, and blood shall ever be.
Now the Great Lord comes."

- The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

The "Watchers" are the Do Miere A’vron, the Watchers Over the Waves, who wait on Toman Head for the return of Artur Hawkwing’s armies. Artur Hawkwing was known as “the Hammer of the Light," and so the "seed of the Hammer" refers to the Seanchan, led by descendants of his armies sent to invade that continent.

The "ancient tree" is the Toman Head/Arad Doman/Tarabon region. All three areas claim or claimed links to the Tree of Life, and this was indeed the part of the mainland that the Seanchan first invaded upon their Return.

The "summer burn" with its attendant drought was induced by the Dark One. "Bodies fail" refers to bodies turning to tar and spontaneously combusting, or being consumed from within by insects, or other weird and unnatural deaths. Plants are rotting before they grow or can be harvested. Death sowing in summer and then reaping would be famine caused by drought and then by seed failing and food rotting. Pestilence, too, spreads most rapidly in summer. “Neither shall anything stand nor abide” as the Prophecies of the Dragon describe (The Great Hunt, Opening prophecy).

The ancient wrong the Seanchan want to slay or redress is how the Aes Sedai treated Artur Hawkwing. For justice, the Seanchan want to collar all Aes Sedai, and were preparing to invade the Tower (Towers of Midnight, A Teaching Chamber) until Mat and Rand convinced Fortuona to sign the treaty. The Seanchan regard the nobles of the mainland as having stolen their lands from Artur Hawkwing’s descendants, even though Artur Hawkwing left very few descendants because they all went off to invade other continents, thanks to Ishamael… Tuon tells us on her arrival that “she had come to reclaim what had been stolen from her ancestor” (Winter’s Heart, What A Veil Hides). This is another ancient wrong she wants to kill: not the nobles’ bodies, but their authority over the land. She wants them to swear fealty to her as their liege. The Shadow set the Seanchan up to prevent the Light from uniting and fighting the war and this verse is consistent with that, painting the Seanchan as a threat. The Seanchan and the Return were to be a problem right up until the Last Moment, when the Dark One is freed. Or that was the Shadow’s plan, anyway.

More Dark prophecy

The Darkfriend Howal Gode tells us:

"It is written that when he (the Dark One) awakes, the new Dreadlords will be there to praise him."

- The Eye Of The World, Four Kings in Shadow

The new Dreadlords are members of the Black Ajah—Alviarin and her ilk—and Darkfriend Asha’man like Taim and the Asha’man that took his special classes, plus channellers that they turned to the Shadow. It also brings up the question of how many of the old Dreadlords were left when the Bore is opened: Moridin, Demandred, Cyndane, Hessalam, and Moghedien plus Mesaana in body, at least.

Verin collected the prophecies that the Darkfriends believe in her book, so there are more than those quoted above (The Gathering Storm, A Visit From Verin Sedai).

In fact, Moridin has a thick book of them:

From a table, he picked up a thick tome wrapped in pale tan skin. He flipped to a certain page and studied it for a moment.

- Towers of Midnight, Writings

and showed it to Graendal.

The pale skin cover of the book may allude to the human leather covering on Himmler’s copy of Mein Kampf (the author, Hitler, being a major parallel of the Dark One and a minor parallel of Ishamael) that Martin Borman’s son (Martin Borman being a parallel of Moridin) saw in Himmler’s attic (Anthony Read, The Devil’s Disciples) and the strong parallels between the Shadow and the Nazis (see Three Strands Common to the Forsaken essay). One of Graendal’s parallels, Ilse Koch, also had books covered in human leather (see Graendal essay).

Ishamael/Moridin kept the book and its contents secret. Graendal and Moridin believed that one of its Prophecies foretells that the Shadow will succeed in killing Perrin. Moridin qualified this by pointing out that the imagery in prophecies can have more than one interpretation (he wrote a book on Analysis of Perceived Meaning in the Age of Legends). Moreover, he chose the prophecy that Graendal read. Earlier in the chapter he told Graendal that she would not succeed in killing Perrin, and he was right. This may have been his opinion or it could be that the details of the prophecy he thinks predicts Perrin’s death are obviously nothing to do with Graendal’s plot.

The following passage may have been the one Graendal read:

Lo, it shall come upon the world that the prison of the Greatest One shall grow weak, like the limbs of those who crafted it. Once again, His glorious cloak shall smother the Pattern of all things, and the Great Lord shall stretch forth His hand to claim what is His. The rebellious nations shall be laid barren, their children caused to weep. There shall be none but Him, and those who have turned their eyes to His majesty.

In that day, when the One-Eyed Fool travels the halls of mourning, and the First Among Vermin lifts his hand to bring freedom to Him who will Destroy, the last days of the Fallen Blacksmith's pride shall come. Yea, and the Broken Wolf, the one whom Death has known, shall fall and be consumed by the Midnight Towers. And his destruction shall bring fear and sorrow to the hearts of men, and shall shake their very will itself.

And then, shall the Lord of the Evening come. And He shall take our eyes, for our souls shall bow before Him, and He shall take our skin, for our flesh shall serve Him, and He shall take our lips, for only Him will we praise. And the Lord of the Evening shall face the Broken Champion, and shall spill his blood and bring us the Darkness so beautiful. Let the screams begin, O followers of the Shadow. Beg for your destruction!

- from The Prophecies of the Shadow, closing passage of Towers of Midnight

The Seals have weakened and the Dark One certainly has been corrupting and laying waste to the world. "There shall he none but Him and those who have turned their eyes to His majesty" is a threat that the Dark One kills everything that doesn’t worship him. (Moridin hopes that the Dark One just kills everything).

The passage refers to people, or entities, in images. Some of these entities appear to have more than one title: Greatest One, He who will Destroy and Lord of the Evening apparently all refer to the Dark One. However, there is less doubling up of titles than a first reading would suggest.

The One-Eyed Fool is the most straightforward—Mat is a parallel of the Fool figure and of the one-eyed tricky god Odin—but the halls of mourning are much less so. They could be the corridors of the Tower of Ghenjei after Jain Farstrider’s sacrifice, but few knew of it until long after Mat left them. Another possibility is the White Tower after the Seanchan attacked it for the second time, as they planned to do, but, if so, this did not happen.

The First Among Vermin lifting his hand to bring freedom to Him who will Destroy probably refers to Rand intending to break the Seals on the Dark One’s prison. First Among Vermin may be a scornful title for Rand and a reference to Lews Therin Telamon being First Among Servants in the Age of Legends. The Darkfriends believe, to one degree or another, that the Dark One does intend to destroy time/the world.

The Fallen Blacksmith is Perrin, and the passage says the last days of his pride will come, not his last days (ie death). In this case ‘fallen’ didn’t mean dead, but Compelled by Lanfear to help her kill Rand and save the Dark One, until Perrin managed to break free of it. Moridin seems to believe the Broken Wolf which falls is also Perrin, but this isn’t so, since death hasn’t known Perrin any more than anyone else.

The Broken Wolf is Hopper, whose shade was killed by Slayer in Tel’aran’rhiod during the battle which freed the White Tower from the dark grip of Mesaana. Death “knew” Hopper because he had already died.

“His destruction” that was foretold to bring fear is not Hopper’s:

Note that the "he" in the next sentence does not refer to the same creature.

Brandon Sanderson on Twitter, January 2013

It was somebody else's. Rand’s destruction was much dreaded, as was the Last Battle itself. However it is Demandred’s destruction that actually brought fear—to the Shadow. Mind you, the destruction the Dark One wrought to try and break Rand’s will also broke the land—which mirrors Rand—and messed up both sides.

The prophecy appears to call Rand the Broken Champion, implying that his new-found enlightened state wouldn’t last. Lanfear did her best to destabilise it in the Towers of Midnight Epilogue and A Memory of Light, and the Dark One tried hard to destroy it. As it turned out, it was the Dark One’s champion, the Naeblis, who broke and longed for death, and who contributed to sealing the Dark One away, and provided the body for the Dragon’s transmigration.

The passage seems to predict the nothingness that Ishamael/Moridin, but none of the other Darkfriends, looks forward to when the Dark One is freed. The Darkfriends begging for their own destruction becomes the sort of mockery that Ishamael indulged in with Darkfriends in The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt, Prologue. In this case they are to be blinded, flayed and silenced. Not exactly a fun time.

Note that none of the Forsaken (except the Broken Champion) are mentioned in the passage and are apparently not there to support their master when he is freed.

Dark Signs

Even before A Memory of Light there were copious signs of the Dark One touching the world to the extent that reality unravelled. Past and present (and future?) impinged on each other at times. The dead were seen and there were many horrible events and bubbles of evil.

Bubbles of Evil

These were the first manifestations of the Dark One’s touch on the Pattern as he began to loosen it. Rand was the target of the very first bubble of evil:

The wind howled across the tower . . . and trapped him. It was as if the air had suddenly jelled, holding him in a cocoon. Pushing him forward. Time and motion slowed; horrified, he watched Lan's practice sword drift toward his chest. There was nothing slow or soft about the impact. His ribs creaked as if he had been struck with a hammer. He grunted, but the wind would not allow him to give way; it still carried him forward, instead. The lathes of Lan's practice sword flexed and bent—ever so slowly, it seemed to Rand—then shattered, sharp points oozing toward his heart, jagged lathes piercing his skin. Pain lanced through his body; his whole skin felt slashed. He burned as though the sun had flared to crisp him like bacon in a pan.

- The Great Hunt, The Flame of Tar Valon

The wind held Rand so that Lan would hit him very hard. It foreshadows that Rand will be struck in the torso again, by Ishamael at Falme and then by Fain in Cairhien, unremittingly painful wounds that will taint him.

The second bubble of evil affected all three ta’veren simultaneously in front of witnesses in The Shadow Rising, Whirlpools in the Pattern. A cock crows in the middle of the night—a sign of a false dawn, and believed by all to be an omen that someone is going to die—and, as the chapter title says, a whirlpool forms in the Pattern.

Perrin was attacked by his axe. Its murderous fury goes when Perrin 'disarms' his axe by burying it in the door.

Earlier, Mat the trickster is tricked by Rhuarc into asking the Maidens how to play Maiden's Kiss. The gamester was outplayed for once. In an Alice in Wonderland scene, the rulers on Mat’s playing cards come to life. How appropriate that Mat, who fears the One Power so, is attacked first by the Amyrlin card. Mat knifes the three animated cards to stop their attack.

Rand is attacked by images of himself. They step out of mirrors and polished silver; anything that reflects. The three reflections don't cooperate, each wants to take over Rand's body for itself, a sure sign the Shadow is involved, or that the reflections bear the essence of the Shadow, since the Shadow is always uncooperative. One tries to suck Rand’s life force, but he absorbs it and then draws up the life of his remaining reflections.

Moiraine suggests the attack was caused by evil leaking from the Dark One's prison as the Seals weaken:

“As the seals holding the Dark One’s prison weaken,” she said after a time, “it may be inevitable that a ... miasma ... will escape even while he is still held. Like bubbles rising from the things rotting on the bottom of a pond. But these bubbles will drift through the Pattern until they attach to a thread and burst.”

- The Shadow Rising, Reflection

The effects of the bubble are similar to a trap in Tel'aran'rhiod: each of the men fights what they each hate or fear, yet depend on most.

Rand is afraid of his role as doomed saviour/Dragon and of his destiny to break the world. He is afraid of himself and what he could do to those around him. As he was confronted by reflections of himself that try to harm him, so he will be troubled by his split-off personality, Lews Therin, who competes with him for saidin. He nearly destroys the world before he becomes reconciled to his rebirth and his role in the Pattern, and reabsorbs the Lews Therin aspect of his personality. Rand plays many roles and tries to satisfy many conflicting expectations at tremendous cost to himself.

Perrin is afraid of his berserker tendencies and lust to kill. The destructive side of his nature is represented by his axe and this is what he eventually ends up casting aside lest it corrupt him. At this stage he barely manages to control it; as we saw in first his mental struggles, and then, as the bubble hit and the axe turned on him, literal struggle.

Mat, whose fears seem almost trivial beside those of Rand and Perrin, is afraid of the One Power (represented by the Amyrlin) and of his luck not being there (the cards), and he really dislikes nobility (rulers of the suits). He will marry a potential channeller who takes the name of Fortune when she becomes Empress, thus becoming ennobled himself. Occasionally he will win the game by appearing to lose it.

Incidentally, the omen was wrong: no one died.

The bubble of evil that hit Perrin’s forces soon after Malden was of venomous snakes (Towers of Midnight, Prologue). Snakes are associated with the Shadow (see Animal Symbolism LINK article) so this foreshadowed the attack of Shadowspawn arranged by Graendal. The second one of weapons turning on their owners in Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling symbolises the Shadow manipulating the Light’s forces to turn on each other.

The major bubble of evil in A Memory of Light was the forest of knives that stabbed Berisha and the wagon train taking the Horn of Valere to Merrilor. Berisha was knifed by a Darkfriend before the bubble of evil was over, and the Darkfriend, Aravine, turned on Faile’s group in the Blight until she and her Black Ajah ally were knifed.

Other evil signs also occurred.

Unquiet Dead

The dead walking is a sign that Tarmon Gai’don is near according to Tuon (Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota). Verin agrees:

"Taim very likely will have to wait on the Last Battle, whatever he's about," Verin said suddenly. Her knitting, a shapeless lump that might have been anything, sat in her lap. "It will come soon. According to everything I've read on the subject, the signs are quite clear. Half the servants have recognized dead people in the halls, people they knew alive. It's happened often enough that they aren't frightened by it any longer. And a dozen men moving the cattle to spring pasture watched a considerable town melt into mist just a few miles to the north."

- Knife of Dreams, News for the Dragon

They have been appearing since Crossroads of Twilight, and are caused by the Dark One loosening the Pattern and changing reality. As Lord of the Grave, he has influence over the dead. He aims to break the Pattern, so everyone will be dead.

In the Tower:

Women were seen walking out of walls, or into them, often in dresses of old-fashioned cut, sometimes in bizarre garb, dresses that seemed simply lengths of brightly colored cloth folded around the body, embroidered ankle-length tabards worn over wide trousers, stranger things still. Light, when could any woman have wanted to wear a dress that left her bosom completely exposed? Egwene was able to discuss it with Siuan in Tel'aran'rhiod, so she knew that these things were signs of the approach of Tarmon Gai'don. An unpleasant thought, yet there was nothing to be done about it. What was, was, and it was not as if Rand himself was not a herald of the Last Battle.

- Knife of Dreams, Honey in the Tea

Nynaeve, Cadsuane, Merise and Corele observed a procession of about 200 people walking around the city wall of Bandar Eban carrying a coffin. The apparition occurred nightly after Rand arrived. As it foreshadowed, Rand did bring death to the city, in part due to his deficiencies as a ruler:

Rand certainly was effective at subduing countries, but his kingdoms needed more than just handouts of grain. They needed stability, and they needed something—someone—they could believe in. Rand was getting increasingly bad at offering either one.

- The Gathering Storm, Rivers of Shadow

This is fatal when the ruler is one with the Land, as the Dragon is. If he is tainted by darkness, the Land will likewise be afflicted. After Rand channelled a vast quantity of balefire to kill scores of people, the entire food supply in Bandar Eban became sickening. And soon, as the procession indicated, even more people would die of war, starvation or pestilence.

Death Traps

In The Gathering Storm, Mat went to a town of living dead, Hinderstap.

"We aren't sure if it was something we did, or just a cruel curse by the Dark One himself," the mayor said. "It was a normal day, early this year, just before the Feast of Abram. Nothing really special about it that I can remember. The weather had broken by then, though the snows hadn't come yet. A lot of us went about our normal activities the next morning, thinking nothing of it. "The oddities were small, you see. A broken door here, a rip in someone's clothing they didn't remember. And the nightmares. We all shared them, nightmares of death and killing. A few of the women started talking, and they realized that they couldn't remember turning in the previous evening. They could remember waking, safe and comfortable in their beds, but only a few remembered actually getting into bed. Those who could remember had gone to sleep early, before sunset. For the rest of us, the late evening was just a blur."

- The Gathering Storm, Night in Hinderstap

The town’s inhabitants kill each other and any visitors each night, but are returned to ‘normal’ each morning with the visitors they killed trapped with them. Any inhabitants who leave are returned to the town in the night. Even suicide doesn’t work as an escape route. Objects, however, retain any physical damage and must be repaired. (It’s like the reverse of Tel’aran’rhiod, where objects aren’t affected long term by changes, but beings are totally affected by any change to them. What happens in Tel’aran’rhiod seems real, but what happens in Hinderstap in the night seems like a dream, albeit a very bad one, and fades).

As Thom explains:

"It's just . . . well, it's a sad tale. Something's wrong in the world.
There's a snag in the Pattern here. The town unravels at night, and then the world tries to reset it each morning to make things right again."

- The Gathering Storm, Night in Hinderstap

"It's as if the darkness itself intoxicates them," Thom said while Mat helped Delarn into his saddle. "As if Light itself has forsaken them, leaving them only to the Shadow...."

- The Gathering Storm, Night in Hinderstap

Mat, the King of the Dead (see Mat essay), got his own people out of the town alive and therefore out of the loop.

This wasn’t the first death trap Mat and his companions witnessed: in Knife of Dreams in Altara they encountered a sizeable village without surrounding farms and with inhabitants who ignored the menagerie and a peddler approaching. The animals started screaming in terror.

Hat in hand, the round peddler leaped down to see what was the matter with his horses.
Landing, [the peddlar] lurched awkwardly and looked down toward his feet. His hat fell from his hand, landing on the hardpacked road. That was when he began screaming. The paving stones were gone, and he was ankle-deep in the road, just like his shrieking horses. Ankle deep and sinking into rock-hard clay as if into a bog, just like his horses and his wagon. And the village, houses and people melting slowly into the ground. The people never stopped what they were doing. Women walked along carrying baskets, a line of men carried a large timber on their shoulders, children darted about, the fellow at the grindstone continued sharpening his hatchet, all of them nearly knee-deep in the ground by this time…
Would the man die, or was he being carried to wherever those dead Shiotans were going? That was what had caught him about those buildings. That was how country people had built in Shiota for near enough three hundred years…
When the last of the thatched rooftops and tall chimneys melted away. Mat let out a long breath. Where the village had been was another meadow decked out in cat daisies and jumpups where red and yellow butterflies fluttered from blossom to blossom. So peaceful. He wished he could believe the peddler was dead.

- Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota

This is more than an apparition. It was a horrible trap: ghosts descending into the earth, into the underworld, taking a live man and his horses with them. And it all occurred in front of the King of the Underworld, whose party was safe, thanks to his warning.

Warping of Reality

As well as the dead appearing or trapping people, physical reality changed:

Impossible as it seemed at first, the interior of the Tower sometimes changed. People got lost trying to find rooms they had been to dozens of times.

- Knife of Dreams, Honey in the Tea

The palace in Caemlyn also had corridors and stairs move in Knife of Dreams. In both places the leadership was mired in dispute, their populace uncared for, and the fight against the Shadow set aside. Just as they have lost track of the danger the world is in, so they can’t find their way about physically either.

In a perverted way the changes in the physical environment are reflecting or even commenting on the human situation around them.

In The Gathering Storm, the novices’ rooms in the east wing and majority of the Brown Ajah quarters on the Twenty First and Twenty Second levels changed places, and the Yellow Ajah on the sixth level traded places with the second kitchen in the basement (The Gathering Storm, In Darkness). It’s one way to show that the Aes Sedai need to leave the Tower more…Also with so many novices and perhaps other female channellers and the Asha’man to visit the Tower, the second kitchen is to become more important, hence its rise out of the depths.

Leane’s cell morphed in a most alarming manner freeing her and nearly killing her while it did so (The Gathering Storm, When Iron Melts). And again, the signs were commenting that she was imprisoned unjustly, even if they didn’t regard her personal safety.

As Egwene was being taken to serve Elaida:

The hallway ended abruptly in a stonework wall set with a bright tile mural. The image was that of an ancient Amyrlin, sitting on an ornate golden seat, holding forth her hand in warning to the kings and queens of the land. The plaque at the bottom declared it to be a depiction of Caraighan Maconar, ending the rebellion in Mosadorin. Egwene vaguely recognized the mural; the last she'd seen it, it had been on the wall of the Tower library. But when she'd seen it there, the Amyrlin's face hadn't been a mask of blood. The dead bodies depicted hanging from the eaves hadn't been there either.

- The Gathering Storm, The Nature of Pain

The direct way to Elaida’s rooms is blocked: they have to detour through the Red Ajah’s quarters, just as most initiates can’t approach Elaida, who relies on, or trusts, only her own former Ajah. She no longer uses the traditional apartments for the Amyrlin much lower down in the Tower near the Hall. Elaida can’t be reached promptly, showing the poor communication in the Tower and the way she has set herself apart and above.

Caraighan Maconar was an Amyrlin raised from the Green Ajah who ended a rebellion; and here her face is covered with blood as she raises her hand in warning; Egwene would have chosen the Green Ajah and she bled profusely after Elaida’s beating. The bodies hanging in the picture are a warning to Egwene and the Reds of where division will lead the Tower if a peaceable end to the rebellion is not found—the deaths of Aes Sedai, Warders and servants as happened during the coup, and perhaps executions considering the vengeful nature of Elaida. Deaths do soon happen: people are killed when the Seanchan raid the Tower. There would have been fewer if Elaida and the Hall had heeded Egwene’s warning of the attack, and also if the Tower leadership and communication was functioning correctly. Caraighan’s portrait has moved out of the library, out of history, into the light of the present. It is a timely reminder (or an arrogant taunt, considering how much the Shadow stage-managed the coup) that the Aes Sedai need to end their own rebellion and start working to unite the nations.

Even though the changes to reality are frightening and unpredictable, often nasty, they are not senseless; reality appears to change in response to strong moral issues or important events such as rebellion, injustice, arrogance, or power struggles. It really is the Time of Change and heralds the Dark One’s imminent Return.


Written by Linda, December 2009 and updated March 2013 and July 2017

Contributor: Mark Taglieri


Anonymous said...

When the prophecy says 'What hand shelters? What hand slays?' I wonder if it is also a reference to Mat and Perrin. IIRC there was a reference later that went something like 'the left hand falters and the right hand strays' (sorry - don't have my books here to check!)


Anonymous said...

I always took the "war" in the verse

Daughter of the Night, she walks again / The ancient war, she yet fights. / Her new lover she seeks...

to refer, not to the War of the Shadow, but to Lanfear's desire to make Lews Therin love her. Her "war" has incidental effect on the conflict between the Light and the Dark, because of the sides she and the Dragon have Chosen, but to her personally the fight is against Ilyena and her Third Age counterparts.

I know that Robert Jordan objected to the over-romanticization of Lanfear, but she's shown at several times that she is hardly the most loyal servant of the Shadow: Ishamael berates her in TAR for being too involved in her games, and she confirms in her interior monologue as Cyndane that her offer to use the Choedan Kal to help Rand defeat the Dark One and set the two of them up as demigods was genuine. Her battle is to seduce Lews Therin to her, not to the Great Lord.

Yes, she does have nominal duties to the Shadow, but by all appearances other Chosen had been released at about the same time, and many of them were fighting the ancient War of Power more assiduously than Lanfear. In context I think it's better interpreted as being directly connected to her quest for her lover.

alreadymad said...

The food supply in Bandar Eban did not actually all go bad until Rand abandoned the city. Your argument about it being related to the worsening darkness of his character holds though.

onthemarchfortarmongai'don said...

The food supply in Bandar Eban went bad in the moment Rand decided to abandon Arad Doman and, more proper, the refugees there to civil war and starvation. And in the middle of huge armies of seanchan to the south (the best choice) and trollocs to the north.

This, Rand himself saw it as a betrayal to his last bits of humanity (because although he had lost that prejudice about killing women he had preserved the desire of improving the places he conquered) and in that moment he renounced to even that small satisfaction in his search of the means for defeating the Dark One.

Dr J J George said...

Could the 'man who channels' be Moridin?

Linda said...

I don't think so, because Moridin doesn't exactly have friends.

Rand is a much better fit.

Dr J J George said...

Aren't they all Darkfriends? Moridin has definitely sacrificed them.

Anonymous said...

----- TofM Spoiler Warning -----

The Watchers wait on Toman Head.
The seed of the Hammer burns the ancient tree.
Death shall sow, and summer burn, before the Great Lord comes.
Death shall reap, and bodies fail, before the Great Lord comes.
Again the seed slays ancient wrong, before the Great Lord comes.
Now the Great Lord comes. Now the Great Lord comes.
Blood feeds blood.
Blood calls blood.
Blood is, and blood was, and blood shall ever be.
Now the Great Lord comes."

- The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

After reading TofM glossary about the Towers of Midnight i think the line "Again the seed slays ancient wrong, before the Great Lord comes. " could relate to 'Legend has it that in time of dire need, the Imperial family will return to the Towers of Midnight and "right that which is wrong"'.... Just a thought :)


Rew said...

I don't know if you have this anywhere else, or if it would even have place here- but with the venomous snake attack on Perrin, apart from the implications you've drawn here, it really solidified for me Perrin as a Moses figure: leading his people forth out of bondage, spending what seems like 40 years in the wilderness, snake attack although sans Brazen Serpent-on-a-stick (unless you can make a case for his wolfbanner as such- looking to his wolf-ness is what ends up saving them all), his own worries about leadership (=Moses' worries about speaking)...there's probably more, I'll have to keep thinking/looking at it. But I don't think you had that as a source in the Perrin article, but it comes out pretty clearly to me after both tGS and ToM.

On a more personal note, I really love your stuff here. You make so many connections that I wish I could figure out on my own, and makes reading WoT that much more enjoyable. I really prefer 13D over all the other fansites. Thanks so much, Linda (and others).

Anonymous said...

I just read the 'after-ToM' additions. What I thought when I read ToM and turned the last page, finally revealing the Shadow's Prophecy, was this.

- Fallen Blacksmith's pride: the pride (of being a blacksmith and not a useless lord, ) that stopped Perrin from accepting his new place in life;

- the Broken Wolf... fall and be consumed by the Midnight Towers: this seemed to me Hopper. He's known death and Broken (alive only in T'A'R); he takes a long fall in the fight with Slayer; and it's (mid)night in a certain Tower...

t ball said...

I thought about Hopper being the Broken Wolf, too, but I don't think it fits. How would Hopper's death "bring fear and sorrow to the hearts of men?" or "shake their very will itself"? How many people have any idea who Hopper was?

Mister_Random said...

On the Broken Wolf prophecy, while it doesnt gramattically fit I wonder if that final part could actually be referring to Perrin AND Mat with Perrin being the Broken Wolf and Mat being the one whom death has known. The next part could then be referring to Rands death at some point just before the Last battle as his death (destruction) would bring fear and sorrow to the hearts of men.

Another possibility is that this is a failed prophecy of what would have happened if Rand had succombed to the shadow.

L J Tibbs said...

Assuming that the prophecy from the end of ToM is the one that Moridin shows Graendal, then the fact that Graendal thinks of Perrin as the Fallen Blacksmith adds a bit to your theory:
"It had to be done carefully. Aybara was ta'veren, and so strongly one as to be frightening. Arrows fired from afar would miss, and in a time of peaceful contemplation, he would be alerted and escape. She needed a tempest with him at the center of it. And then, the blade would fall. This is not done yet, Fallen Blacksmith. Not by an inch or by a league."
From ToM, Chapter 38, Wounds

Linda said...

LJ Tibbs: That's true, but it could be that the Fallen Blacksmith title is used frequently in the Shadow's prophecies. It's certainly support though, just not conclusive.

Linda said...

Thanks Rew! I have just updated the Perrin essay and included the parallel you suggested. :)

MegaZeroX said...

I agree with T ball that the broken wolf could refer to Hopper. Also, I believe that it would make the most sense if the "Lord of the Evening" was Moridin. Rand's (and Lews Therin's) second biggest title is "Lord of the Morning. The Dragon is a messiah of the Light. Therefore, it would make sense that "Lord of the Evening" would be a messiah of the Shadow or the closest that they had to it. This would be Nae'blis: Moridin.