1.4.12 Who Ordered the Attack on Algarin's Manor? --New
In Knife of Dreams Rand and company come under attack by a gigantic army of Trollocs and Myrdraal at the manor of Lord Algarin in Tear, seemingly at Sammael's behest. None of the Forsaken seem to know who really ordered that army of Shadowspawn out of the Blight or how they got there. Who ordered the attack? How did 100,000 Trollocs get all the way to Tear without detection?
The first issue here is that the order was not obeyed because the man who ordered it looked like Sammael. It was obeyed because the one who gave the order had the Chosen Mark. Moridin says: "Sammael, or someone disguised as him, gave orders to the Myrdraal, and they obeyed, so it was one of the Chosen.' [KoD 3: At the Gardens] For clarity, the Chosen Mark is a sort of imprint the Dark One puts on the souls of his high chosen. RJ describes it thus:
Week 2 Question: Is the mark that Alviarin received from Shaidar Haran the same as that the Forsaken received from the Dark One? If so, is she now a Forsaken, or some sort of lesser Chosen?
Robert Jordan Answers: 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.
Moridin's point is clear--despite the fact that he looked like Sammael, the fact that he was obeyed means he was one of the Chosen (and thus had the mark). Had he not had the mark, even looking like Sammael would not have helped.
But What of Fain?
We’ve seen Fain command Myrdraal in the past, without the Mark, so couldn’t he have used his tricks again? And Fain has a lot more going for him; he has the ability to create illusions, and thus could make himself look like Sammael, he’s got an ability to control or command Machin Shin, thus providing for the way a hundred thousand Trollocs passed through the Way’s safely.
But it is the very first point, the commanding of Myrdraal, where we run into trouble. Consider the way Fain gains the obedience of the Myrdraal.
With a sigh, he seated himself on the edge of his bed. The lamps were already lit, more than a dozen, leaving no shadow anywhere. The tent was as bright inside as noonday. "Have you thought over my proposal? Accept, and you walk free. Refuse.... I know how to hurt your sort., I can make you scream through endless dying. Forever dying, forever screaming."
The chains hummed at a jerk; the stakes driven deep into the ground creaked. "Very well. The Myrddraal's voice was dried snakeskin crumbling. "I accept. Release me."
Ordeith smiled. It thought him a fool. It would learn. They all would. "First, the matter of ... shall we say, agreements and accord?" As he talked, the Myrddraal began to sweat.
Essentially, yes, he does use his abilities to gain obedience from the Myrdraal, but only in the form of giving it pain. As flashy as his methods are, they are still just a way of performing torture. It takes time for the Myrdraal to break—it even pretends to break, intending to later go back on its word.The ‘Sammael’ did not torture hundreds of Myrdraal into obeying him. He commanded, they obeyed. Fain, for all that he had going for him, could not have done that. As Moridin states that means the Chosen and their Mark.
Troop Movement; The Machin Shin Problem
If it wasn’t Fain, with his ability to command Machin Shin, then how did one hundred thousand Trollocs move through the waves unmolested by the Black Wind? Based on Moiraine and Rand’s fights with Machin Shin channelling does not provide the answer—the strongest channeler on earth could not have protected and shielded that many Trollocs for the time it took them to move through the Ways—and that many all at once should have attracted the Wind immediately upon entering.
When Was The Attack Launched?
One of the suggested answers for the Machin Shin problem is that the movement was staggered. Sent bit by bit and built up in Tear before initiating the attack, much like how Isam gathered forces in the Two Rivers. Unfortunately this suggestion is just as problematic as the issue it is attempting to solve. Consider;-
According to the Steven Cooper Timeline, Rand has been at the manor in Tear for 28 days. Even sending the Trollocs through the ways in small groups, to have gathered a hundred thousand in twenty-eight days they would need to send at least 7100 through at a time, which given Machin Shin's nature is as impossible as the hundred thousand. Furthermore we know pretty much every Trolloc that was sent made it to the manor in tear, or rather every Myrdraal which amounts to the same thing in a group scenario. Even sending them in groups shouldn't be possible if Machin Shin were doing its job properly.
So Is Machin Shin Doing Its Job?
Perhaps not. This provides the most viable answer to the Machin Shin problem—that rather than someone figuring out a way to get around it, it simply wasn’t there to cause a problem to begin with. Specifically I’m talking of its changing nature--ever since it encountered Fain in tEotW we have seen its behaviour change--waiting at Waygates, trying to force its way out and at times appearing as if it might succeed. These changes occurred within a six month period, and it has been a further year and half since then for it to continue to change.
Either way, whatever is going on with Machin Shin it did not attack the Trollocs, and that doesn’t stand as evidence that a plan was put in place by the person who ordered this attack for sending the Trollocs through in small groups. As such Moridin's comments indicate a certain degree of immediacy--he learned of it, and summoned the meeting in TAR straight away to issue his commands that the missing Trollocs be watched for. Likely within the last three or four days.
The Nature of the Attack
Ok, so send a hundred thousand Trollocs to kill Rand. Seems a simple enough plan, no? And indeed, as Logain states it was a close run thing. Without his Asha'men reinforcements they might have lost. Only pause for a moment a consider that--Rand had the male Choedan Kal and Callandor, and the Trollocs attacked in a neat little group that would have been right for the plucking. By all rights it should never have come to be as close as it did, only Rand's lack of foresight allowed for that.
Some point out that Rand may not have had the Choedan Kal or Callandor on him—that he had hidden them, or that Cadsuane had retained possession of them—but that’s irrelevant here. What we are discussing is the effects of the presence of these two sa’angreal would play to someone planning the attack.
The Forsaken knew Rand had the two sa’angreal with him. More importantly they had just walked away from getting spanked around by Rand and his followers due in large part to the superior preparation Cadsuane had put in place. In effect they had reason to not only be aware of the presence of those sa’angreal, they had reason to expect that Rand and those with him would be prepared to use them in the event of an attack. That Rand wasn’t is irrelevant, as is the fact that it didn’t occur to him when the attack was initiated.
From that point we have the fact that the Forsaken lived through the war known as THE war of the power. They knew what the power could do against an army unprotected by their own channelers. Effectively they had no reason to expect Rand to be an idiot, and from their perspective launching such an attack serves no purpose but to bring Rand's attention back onto the Shadow, which seems counter-productive after all their hard work on spreading dissension and causing drama amongst the light, whilst keeping the Blight as quiet as a lamb. It certainly did with Lan's.
Cyndane or Moghedien
So, for the majority of the Forsaken this attack would be an adventure in stupidity, or at the least short sightedness. Cyndane and Moghedien are the exception to this. Due to their enslavement to Moridin their resources are limited, and both have a deep obsessive hatred for one of the people present at Algarin’s manor. Cyndane also knows the trick of finding Rand through his ta’maral’ailen. So, they each have a specific motive—revenge—and both are limited in how they can enact that revenge, therefore explaining the easy ‘hit-or-miss’ nature of the Shadowspawn attack.
Moridin certainly seems concerned about letting Cyndane too close to Rand—saying that she would ‘accidentally’ kill him, and we’ve seen Moghedien detour from Moridin’s orders to try and kill Nynaeve in the past. That being said, Moridin still remains the big problem in this. When Moghedien makes her small diversion to try and kill Nynaeve she’s nearly out of her mind with fear that Moridin will know. She states “Moridin's instructions had been explicit, the price of disobedience made excruciatingly clear,” and the same again at the Cleansing—this time reinforced by Cyndane who made a similar comment about disobedience.
Moghedien’s fear at a small detour essentially rules her out—she literally is out of her mind with fear, even with her babbling to herself that he had never forbidden this. He had forbidden Shadowspawn involvement with the Light, and blatant act like subverting a hundred thousand Trollocs is a hundred fold the risk her trying to kill Nynaeve was. Cyndane likely faces the same restrictions though she has been willing to risk herself in her obsession with Rand in the past. Still, disobeying Moridin in such an open way bears such risk to either woman as to by itself make this theory unlikely.
So, without the limited resources and desperation Moghedien and Cyndane provide us with we are left wondering why the Forsaken used such a desperate plan. This leads to three options.
1. The attack was incidental.
2. They really did wish to draw Rand's attention to the North.
3. It wasn't the Forsaken.
The Attack Was Incidental
This suggestion is that the attack itself wasn't the point--if it killed Rand, hey great, but if not who cares. The issue here is what was the real intention? If it was simply to draw suspicion on one of their fellow Chosen why wear the Sammael mask? That straight up screams disguise, and given the Chosen all clearly thought he was dead (which he is) why would any be aiming for him. Why not appear as one of the alive and active Chosen? Unless of course there was no Sammael at all, as Dominic of the Thirteenth Depository points out. Or in other words, what if Moridin was lying?
We can note there were already mind-games being played in the organisation of the room in the form of the additional chairs, so is it a far bet to suggest that this entire thing is some sort of game Moridin is playing to keep the Chosen off guard? Under this idea the attack being sent would serve the purpose of making the Chosen think they were being considered for treason, and given the Dark One’s treatment of treasonous Chosen thereby make them toe the line extra carefully.
In support of this idea, one may note that it wasn’t a stretch to figure out who the focus of the attack would be—and given Moridin can track Rand, yet makes no effort to place people at the Waygates near Rand’s position it would seem to indicate that Moridin did not care to make much of an effort to thwart the attack.
However, this idea is problematic. For one thing it seems overkill. The Forsaken had already been reined in by Shaidar Haren, and to directly underline that reining in Mesaana had been tortured for disobeying Moridin’s command to go and fight at the cleansing. Furthermore the Forsaken, those worth Moridin’s effort, anyway, were hardly cowards. They weren’t going to step back for the idea that they might be suspected of treason—especially given they all probably were contemplating treason. Aran’gar certainly was and she doesn’t bat an eye at this.
In effect the Forsaken had all been reined in as far as cheap theatrics were going to be able to achieve. Furthermore this attack serves no purpose but to refocus Rand on the north again—certainly it serves the trick with Lan. Given that keeping the light’s focus on the South and away from the Shadow is Moridin’s pet plan it seems unlikely he’d risk it for such a cheap trick.
Another point against Moridin is in the link between himself and Rand—note that he re-issues the no-kill order at the exact time the link grows strong enough to reveal itself for what it is—a link between his and Rand’s souls, as opposed to a channelling sickness side-effect of crossing balefire streams with Rand. That makes sense given what occurs to warders when their bond is broken. The bond and the link may be two distinct things, but Moridin must be at least concerned. That makes it less likely that he would wilfully risk Rand’s life before finding a way to safely break the connection.
Counter-point: Dominic of the Thirteenth Depository points out that the attack may not have been directed at Rand at all, but rather at his companions. Rand has assembled a very dangerous group and a worrying arsenal – sufficient to drive back an attack by all the Chosen but Mesaana and Moridin, without Rand himself , or the CK, even involved. Moridin may very well have qualms about letting such a group around Rand survive long enough to fight TG at his side. The real purpose of the attack may have been to destroy Rand’s “Companions”, possibly with commands issued to keep the Shadowspawn from killing Rand.
This idea would presumably imply that the effort with the Forsaken was simply a bonus. That Moridin took advantage of a pre-existing situation to serve a second purpose. However if the attack were officially sponsored by the Shadow to kill Rand’s coterie, why use Trollocs? If winnowing out Rand’s ranks was the purpose why not send the Gholam? Or even just a bunch of Grey Men? Rand may be well guarded, but his guards aren’t.
Sending a large force on the off chance of success against an enemy who could sweep them all aside like flotsam in a flood seems stupid and blunt. Moridin prides himself on the subtlety of his planning.
It can be noted that with the exception of Graendal and Aran’gar the other six Chosen have seemingly formed alliances of three. Demandred, Mesaana and Semirhage, and the apparent alliance between Cyndane, Moghedien and Moridin (remember the Forsaken don't know of the cour'souvra, though Aran'gar guesses that that might be the case). This leaves Graendal and Aran'gar in a loose position. We know Aran'gar wasn't at fault (she wonders openly if Demandred is trying to hide that he did it), but it could be Graendal.
Under this theory Graendal caused the attack, intentionally blaming it on someone others would see through in order that everyone would suspect everyone else. People acting on their own causes division in alliances—‘if they’ve done this, what else may they be doing without my knowledge?’
Still this is problematic. Moridin’s control of Cyndane and Moghedien is openly authoritative, and that makes attempting to cause dissension between them pointless. Graendal could easily guess that both women would already be scheming against Moridin, and that Moridin would be aware of it. No one likes being forced to be openly submissive, much less one of the Chosen. As for Demandred, Semirhage and Mesaana—their alliance is constantly reinforced as weak. They do not tell each other their plans; they just hold a loose agreement not to move against each other until all the rest are out of the way. Graendal’s pretty cluey, and probably picked that up.
Graendal is also no fool. There are less self-destructive ways of causing dissension without risking the cause of the Shadow itself, much less disobeying the Dark One openly, especially given the Dark One only just cracked down on disobedience. Graendal’s shown herself to be too subtle for this sort of open movement.
The only thing going for Demandred is his military background, and that in some ways stands against him, because he more than most would appreciate the stupidity of attacking Rand with a force that had no channelers. Dominic of the Thirteenth Depository also points out that his reaction to learning of the ‘Sammael’ speaks of his innocence—specifically, he blurts out that Sammael must be dead, realises that means one of them must be responsible, and backtracks to keep the idea of Sammael being alive open.
Counter-point: That could simply be good acting. Aran’gar considers that possibility.
Given her recent abuse for disobeying it would be strange for her to act now. Also no explanation for the stupidity of such an attack.
Given her plan to leash Rand, it is unlikely she would launch this attack anyway. And again there is no explanation for her to launch so stupid an attack.
The Attack Was Meant To Draw Rand's Attention North
I'm putting this up because I have seen it suggested, and more or less so that we can rule it out. The method of it would be that maybe one of the Forsaken was a double agent or has since decided to turn on the Shadow. Straight up it's unlikely, but as a source for this attack it’s impossible--there are better ways to warn Rand than to send an army to attack him, even if you feel certain it’s impossible that army would succeed. Some suggested Cyndane and Moghedian may fit here too, acting self-destructively out of a desire to get revenge on the Shadow for their soulbinding, but aside from the reasons above that stand against them disobeying Moridin, their obsessive hatred of Rand and Nynaeve respectively stop them trying to help Rand in anyway.
Nope. Looney bin with this one.
It Wasn't The Forsaken
Or rather, it wasn't one of the old Forsaken. Firstly, we know that around book ten the Dark One was feeling remarkably dissatisfied with his Chosen. He was forced to rely on them because they were irreplaceable in their knowledge and ability, yet they were fractious and self-serving, and the previous threat of their utter annihilation was no longer available.
He responded to this in a number of ways. Reining them in tightly under Moridin, Soulbinding Cyndane and Moghedien, having Shaidar Haren go over their heads to directly interact with darkfriends like Alviarin and so on.
It's in that last one that I believe the key is, specifically Shaidar Haren marks Alviarin with a weaker version of the Chosen Mark as a sign of favour. Now, that doesn't instantly mean that he's also raising new chosen, however it does show that Shaidar Haren is elevating Third Agers, and marking them--effectively it shows that the Dark One is attempting to create methods of accessing power without having to rely on the current Chosen too heavily.
Now Alviarin only gets a weak mark, which makes sense. She is not overly strong in the power, and her education is that of a Third Ager, and we know that the Dark One values these things in his Chosen. RJ stated it thus...
The Dark One, who believes that his people from the age of Legends are in all practical ways better -- for which read better trained, more capable, and thus better able to serve him efficiently and effectively -- than the people of the present time. And he is right. In a way. They are certainly better trained, with a much wider knowledge.
So, the Dark One clearly places value on knowledge and strength, yet he can't (and doesn't) like having to rely on his current Chosen, who in recent days have caused problems with disobedience. The answer is Taim.
Firstly according to RJ he is 28 years of age in LoC, and the earliest a man can spark is 18*. This means that currently Taim has been channeling a minimum of 6 years and a maximum of around 11 years (a year has passed since LoC).
We also know something of what he was doing during the time prior to his announcing himself Dragon 2 years ago--he says that he found five men over the years who could channel, though the only one who had the courage to go beyond the training went mad after 2 years. That two years, along with the comment of 'over the years' plus the 2 years after he announced himself Dragon is why I set up the 6 year minimum, though in truth I believe it to be longer.
Now even 6 years is a long time for Taim not to be showing signs of the Taint--both the mental instability, and the physical rotting. It’s not impossible of course, and some suggest that Taim's emotional instability and hubris might be a form of highly functional insanity, but even so, it seems a long time.
This is what I suggest. Around fifteen or sixteen years ago we know that Ishamael was in one of his free cycles (he personally physically forced Jarna Milari into the ter'angreal that killed her) and that he knew at the time that the Dragon Reborn had been born, and that Tarmon Gai'don was fast approaching. At this time I believe that he set out to gather channelers--beginning by testing and training men himself directly (and probably having women trained as well, Liandrin certainly infers as much in tFoH), and then setting them to go out and train men.
Why do I believe Taim is one such? For starters we know that Ishamael did it before, during the Trolloc Wars, so it makes sense that he would do it again. Secondly we have Taim's mannerisms--comments like 'so-called Aiel', the use of the lightning bolt sigil favoured by Sammael and Be'lal, the colouring of the tiles, the use of the Lord of Chaos comment--all of which imply significant long term exposure to the Forsaken and their mannerisms.
Beyond which he actually states it, he says he found five men--he claims only one of those men went beyond the testing, and that man went mad in two years, yet this almost certainly must be a lie because we know Taim is a darkfriend--one way or another he IS a darkfriend. Thirdly, he comments to Rand that if you use too much power in testing a man for the ability, the resonance MIGHT kill him, yet if he learned this through personal experience then one of those five men died, and there is no 'might' about it. His knowledge is too exactly technical.
So that, according to this theory, is Taim's origins. From there I believe he was commanded to announce himself Dragon by Ishamael and perform atrocities to spread and heighten fear of the Dragon. Certainly that’s implied by the few comments we have about his actions in that time, of what he did to Bashere's emissaries.
What Ties Taim to this Attack
1. Timing. We know that less than three days prior to the attack Taim was desperately seeking to learn Rand's location--and yes, he didn't get it from Logain, but even assuming one of Logain's men isn't a plant then there are 51 Aes Sedai who directly stated their intention to play on the rift between Logain and Taim who could have revealed it.
From there, the timing is perfect. Three days, time to go to the Trollocs, command them into the Ways, have them travel the Ways, leave at Stedding Shangtai, and make the trip from there down into northern Tear and the manor.
2. History. Taim is well known for assuming Forsaken characteristics and mannerisms. He copies their language, uses their designs (the fist holding three prongs of lightning) and colours (the use of Moridin's red and black). It would fit with his nature to appear as Sammael.
3. Modus Operendi. Whilst the attack makes no sense from one of the real Forsaken, It fits Taim. His methods are always blunt--this almost exactly matched what he did during the attack on the Sun Palace, throwing force blindly as long as it can't be traced to him with no real pause for thought or planning on the off chance that it succeed. It matches what he did with saving Rand from the Grey Man, the way he set up his inner cadre of darkfriends, the attack on Demira, the way he responded to Pevara....
Taim is blunt, and so was this attack.
Why Would Moridin Let Taim Do This?
Who says he’d know? Shaidar Haren’s presumed reasoning for raising a new Chosen is to provide the Dark One with resources outside the established second age power structure—Moridin may be nae’blis, may even be well trusted by the Dark One, but that doesn’t mean the Dark One will tell him everything that he is doing. Indeed, that would be against everything we’ve observed of his behaviour. Here are Semirhage’s thoughts on the matter.
Asmodean. A traitor, and so doomed, but he really had vanished, and Shaidar Haran's existence and her own orders here combined to remind her that the Great Lord worked in his own ways toward his own goals. The Chosen were no more than pieces on the board; they might be Counselors and Spires, but they were still pieces. If the Great Lord moved her here secretly, might he not be moving Moghedien or Lanfear, or even Asmodean? Might Shaidar Haran not be sent to deliver covert commands to Graendal or Sammael? Or for that matter, to Demandred or Mesaana? Their uneasy alliance—if it could be called by so strong a name—had lasted a long time, but neither would tell her if they received secret orders from the Great Lord, any more than she would ever let them learn of the orders that had brought her here, or those that had had her send Myrddraal and Trollocs to the Stone of Tear to battle those sent by Sammael
[LoC-6-Threads of Woven Shadow]
Moridin may be the greatest of the great pieces, but to the Dark One he is still a piece.
Ok, But Why Hasn’t the Dark One Done Anything?
The question of why the Dark One would let Taim go his own way, or at the least warn Moridin that Taim was about when some unknown Chosen started issuing orders contrary to the Shadow’s game plan is answered by the same answer we gave for Moridin above—who's to say he even knows this is going on, and thus needed to give Moridin this information? As Demandred states "He was never sure how much the Great Lord knew of the world. He had been as startled by ignorance as by knowledge." And as to why Moridin wouldn't have gone to him with this, maybe the Dark One is too busy. He denies access to himself as he chooses. Elaida says that "...the dead appearing was the first sign, a thinning of reality as the Dark One gathered himself."
We haven't seen the Dark One in person since he began to 'gather himself', but whatever he's been doing he's still in the process of doing it.
In the end though, the Mazrim Taim theory fits motive, opportunity, and methodology, but has the weakness of forcing us to assume facts not in evidence—specifically that he has been raised to the level of Chosen.