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ain: Shadowspawn Thief

by terez: 2010-08-08 | 9.11 out of 10 (9 votes)

Recent Categories: Plans of Fain/Ordeith/Mordeth

Warning: longtheory is long. However, if you are familiar with the passages that I have quoted from the books, then the theory itself isn't all that long. For those who are less familiar with those passages, I have bolded what I think are some particularly important bits for easy skimming. I do recommend reading all of the quotes in full, though...there are good tidbits in all of them. I will give my interpretation of the quotes, but for the most part, I like to let RJ's words speak for themselves. And Brandon's too, of course. I feel a bit like I am going great lengths to state the obvious here; I have been surprised since Knife of Dreams that the old hats of the fandom are in general so resistant to this idea. Since The Gathering Storm, that resistance is even more surprising. I still think it's obvious, but Tamyrlin convinced me that a theory needed to be written, so I figured I should probably be as thorough as possible.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Fain and Slayer: Hounds of the Dark One

Padan Fain: Master of the Ways

The Ways: Timeline and Maps

Padan Fain: Stealer of Shadowspawn

Mordeth: Counselor to the Mighty

Conclusion

Introduction

In many ways it seems that a whole host of individuals might have been responsible for the Shadowspawn attack on Algarin's manor, or the Shadowspawn that attacked Tylee's army in Altara, for that matter. And indeed, the surviving Forsaken have all been put forth as suspects by Moridin - only Aran'gar has exonerated herself, and only for the attack at Algarin's; Graendal declined to exonerate herself in her recent POV - and even Moridin himself has been suggested by some fans. After all, who else but one of the Forsaken could impersonate Sammael and order 100,000 Shadowspawn into the Ways?

I believe a strong case can be made for Padan Fain being the only individual that was capable of moving so many Shadowspawn through the Ways successfully, because he is the only character capable of influencing Machin Shin. Verin does not believe that one of the Forsaken could move even ten thousand, and based on what we have seen in the series so far, this seems to be true:

TITLE - The Shadow Rising
CHAPTER: 44 - The Breaking Storm

"They had to know," he muttered. Faile looked at him questioningly. "The Halfmen had to know this wouldn't work. Look out there. Even I can see it, now; they must have from the start. If this was all they had, why did they try? And if there are more Trollocs out there, why didn't they all come? Twice as many, and we'd have had to fight them at the stakes. Twice that, and they might have broken through to the village."

"You've a good natural eye," Tomas said, reining in beside them. "This was a test. To see if you would break at the sight of a charge, perhaps to see how quickly you could react, or how your defenses are organized, or maybe something I've not thought of, but still a test. Now they see." He pointed to the sky, where a lone raven winged over the field. A natural raven would have lighted to feast among the dead. The bird completed a last circle and peeled off toward the forest. "The next attack will not come right away. I saw two or three Trollocs reach the forest, so word of this will spread. The Halfmen will have to make them remember they're more afraid of Myrddraal than of dying. That attack will come, however, and it will certainly be stronger than this. How strong depends on how many the Faceless have brought through the Ways."

Perrin grimaced. "Light! What if there are ten thousand of them?"

"Not likely," Verin said, walking up to pat Tomas's mount on the neck. The warhorse allowed her touch as meekly as a pony. "At least, not yet. Not even a Forsaken could move a large party through the Ways safely, I think. One man alone risks death or madness between the closest Waygates, but. . . say... a thousand men, or a thousand Trollocs, would very likely draw Machin Shin within minutes, a monstrous wasp to a bowl of honey. It is much more probable that they travel no more than ten or twenty together, fifty at most, and the groups spaced out. Of course, the questions remain of how many groups they are bringing, and how much time they allow to elapse between. And they would lose some anyway. It might be that Shadowspawn attract Machin Shin less than humankind, but... Hmmm. Fascinating thought. I wonder..." Patting Tomas on the leg much in the manner she had patted his horse, she turned away, already lost in study. The Warder heeled his horse after her.

*~*~*~*~*

Verin thinks that even ten thousand Shadowspawn is an unlikely number to be in the Two Rivers, depending on how long they had been bringing them, and indeed, we never saw a large number of Shadowspawn go through the Ways all at once until the two recent attacks. There were about ten thousand that attacked Emond's Field, but they were brought into the Two Rivers over a period of weeks. A hundred thousand at once should be impossible even for one of the Forsaken, not that any of the Forsaken would likely accompany Shadowspawn through the Ways. When Fain was in the Two Rivers, he was not accompanying those Shadowspawn through the Ways. He was a renegade; he did not have the authority to get Shadowspawn from the magic Shadowspawn tree in the Blight. So, he made do with what Slayer was bringing through the Ways (initially for the purpose of dealing with Fain and his Whitecloaks).

But if there is anyone in the series that is capable of moving so many Shadowspawn through the Ways unharmed, it is Fain. Since Fain is a renegade without anything resembling permission to order Shadowspawn, there are some difficulties of course, but I believe that a strong case can be made for Padan Fain being quite capable of overcoming those difficulties, if only because he is insane enough to take mad risks when he is desperate. A hundred thousand - surely too many to make it through the Ways without assistance - attacked Algarin's manor, and I'm not exactly sure how many Tylee had, but she took heavy casualties against the Shadowspawn that attacked her. That makes not just one party of thousands of Shadowspawn that were sent through the Ways, but two.

But perhaps even more important than Fain's relationship with Machin Shin is the fact that he seems to have been scripted for this role since the beginning of the series. Take this quote from RJ (given when he was nearly done writing book 11):

TOR Questions of the Week, August 2004-January 2005

Week 10 Question: Now that Shadar Logoth is gone, (cool way to get rid of it by the way), has the evil power in Padan Fain/Mordeth/the Ruby Dagger decreased any? Has it driven him even more insane? Or since the next book is called Knife of Dreams, will all these questions be answered in it?

Robert Jordan Answers: The evil power in Padan Fain has neither decreased nor increased, nor has that in the dagger. The corruption in him was partly caused by the taint on Shadar Logoth, but it didn't constitute a real connection to the city. Remember that it was because he was Padan Fain, the Hound of the Shadow, that he was able to leave Shadar Logoth in his new condition after he merged with/absorbed Mordeth. (By the way, any other artifacts that might be lying around from Shadar Logoth would have the same long-term corrupting effect as the dagger. Fortunately, or unfortunately, any such thing would need to be metal or stone. The wood and fabric had decayed. It wouldn't have been pleasant to get a splinter from, say, a chair from Shadar Logoth.)

The destruction of Shadar Logoth has not driven Fain any more insane. I'm not certain he'd be able to function at all if he were any madder than he already is. But being insane doesn't make him any less dangerous, only less predictable. He no longer responds to situations or events in any sort of sane, logical manner. His abiding concerns are hatred of Rand al'Thor (and to a lesser degree Mat and Perrin) because he blames them for what the Dark One did to him in order to turn him into the Shadow's Hound, and hatred for the Dark One because of what the Dark One did to him. He goes after Rand because Rand is the easiest target in his mind, but if he can take a swipe at the Dark One or the Dark One's minions in some way that he felt would cause real harm, he'd leap at it.

*~*~*~*~*

Fain has the most perfect motive for the attack on Algarin's manor because for Fain, it's killing two birds with one stone, in a sense. He takes a swipe at the Shadow by doing what he does best (stealing Shadowspawn), and he takes a swipe at Rand. We can't say for certain what Fain's motive was for attacking Tylee's troops, but we do know that Fain has a habit of trying to use fear of the Shadow to influence the most powerful individuals in Randland against Rand. He has gone for the Amyrlin Seat, the Lord Captain Commander of the Whitecloaks (more powerful than even a strong queen such as Morgase), the the High Lord of Seanchan that controlled the Return, and it was here that Fain learned that Seanchan is free of Shadowspawn:

TITLE - The Great Hunt
CHAPTER: 34 - The Wheel Weaves

Turak looked from Fain to the Horn as placidly as if he had seen nothing. "Perhaps I will give you to the Empress along with the Horn of Valere. She might find you amusing, a man who claims his family held true where all others broke their oaths or forgot them."

Fain hid his sudden elation in the act of climbing back to his feet. He had not even known of the existence of an Empress until Turak mentioned her, but access to a ruler again ... that opened new paths, new plans. Access to a ruler with the might of the Seanchan beneath her and the Horn of Valere in her hands. Much better than making this Turak a Great King, He could wait for some parts of his plan. Softly. Mustn't let him know how much you want it. After so long, a little more patience will not hurt. "As the High Lord wishes," he said, trying to sound like a man who only wanted to serve.

...

"High Lord," Fain said. The man with the braid, Huan, took hold of his arm, but he pulled loose. Huan's mouth tightened angrily as Fain made his deepest bow yet. I will kill him slowly, yes. "High Lord, there are those who follow me. They mean to take the Horn of Valere. Darkfriends and worse, High Lord, and they cannot be more than a day or two behind me."

Turak took a sip of black liquid from the thin cup balanced on longnailed fingertips. "Few Darkfriends remain in Seanchan. Those who survive the Seekers for Truth meet the axe of the headsman. It might be amusing to meet a Darkfriend."

"High Lord, they are dangerous. They have Trollocs with them. They are led by one who calls himself Rand al'Thor. A young man, but vile in the Shadow beyond belief, with a lying, devious tongue. In many places he has claimed to be many things, but always the Trollocs come when he is there, High Lord. Always the Trollocs come ... and kill."

"Trollocs," Turak mused. "There were no Trollocs in Seanchan. But the Armies of the Night had other allies. Other things. I have often wondered if a grolm could kill a Trolloc. I will have watch kept for your Trollocs and your Darkfriends, if they are not another lie. This land wearies me with boredom." He sighed and inhaled the fumes from his cup.

Fain let the grimacing Huan pull him out of the room, hardly even listening to the snarled lecture on what would happen if he ever again failed to leave Lord Turak's presence when given permission to do so. He barely noticed when he was pushed into the street with a coin and instructions to return on the morrow. Rand al'Thor was his, now. I will see him dead at last. And then the world will pay for what was done to me.

Fain might well have sent the Shadowspawn as a stunt to gain the attention of the Empress. We know that he seeks the most powerful, we know that he uses the tactics of the Shadow to fight the Shadow, and now also Rand, Perrin and Mat, and we also know from RJ that the methods of the Seanchan appeal to Fain:

TOR Questions of the Week, February 2005-July 2005

Week 10 Question: In The Great Hunt, who wrote the Dark Prophecy on the dungeon wall in Fal Dara? And why, after Ingtar released Padan Fain from the dungeon, did Fain decide to go to Toman Head? We know he was rebelling against Ishamael's orders (he was supposed to follow the Myrddraal to Shayol Ghul) but why did Fain go to Cairhien and then to Toman Head?

Robert Jordan Answers: A Myrddraal wrote the Dark Prophecy on orders, as a threat. I might want to use some of the reasons, so the rest on that is RAFO.

Fain (now amalgamated with Mordeth) was seeking his own power base, something he would try again with Pedron Niall and Toram Riatin. He wanted enough power to be able to kill Rand, Mat and Perrin, though most especially Rand, and to protect himself against agents of the Shadow. Because of Darkfriend reports, the Myrddraal who wrote the prophecy already knew who the strangers on Toman Head were, or claimed to be: Artur Hawkwing's armies returned to reclaim the lands stolen from Hawkwing's heirs. He knew that they collared women who could channel, which appealed to Fain/Mordeth, since one disliked Aes Sedai at best and the other purely hated them. The Myrddraal didn't simply give this up to Fain, you understand. Fain is one of the few people who could successfully torture information out of one of the Eyeless. As for why he went to Cairhien first, he knew the location of the Waygate there (along with several others and how to read the guidings in the Ways, this last from Mordeth) and preferred to use the Ways rather than make the longer cross-country journey from Fal Dara to Toman Head.

*~*~*~*~*

And of course, we know that Fain has the ability to torture Myrddraal. He appears to have gotten what he wanted out of this one in a matter of minutes, as he wrote the message to Rand about Toman Head shortly after the Fade came for him.

But perhaps the most important part of Fain's motive is that, aside from what the Shadowspawn were used for, stealing them is a blow to the Shadow and a motive in itself.

I don't think it is an accident that we have not have a Fain POV since Lord of Chaos, or that we have only seen him twice since then, in books 7 and 9. If RJ had given us any information beyond then, Fain's actions in the last two books (11-12) might have been somewhat predictable, and RJ is telling us here that this is not what he's going for, and he states it in a different way here:

The Path of Daggers book tour 15 November 1998, Dayton, OH - Scott Cantor reporting

He also mentioned the fact that Fain is essentially his wild card, a character that is outside the structure of the work and can therefore act totally unpredictably.

*~*~*~*~*

And he stated it in yet another way, here:

Wotmania/Dragonmount Q&A - 9 December 2002

Q: Has the Padan Fain/Mordeth character been present in previous Ages, or is he unique to this particular Age?

RJ: He is unique to this particular Age. A very unique fellow, indeed. In some ways, you might say he has unwittingly side-stepped the Pattern.

*~*~*~*~*

In a way, Fain's actions were somewhat predictable from the info given in the earlier books. In fact, RJ has said before that we should pretty much be able to figure him out (after the release of Lord of Chaos, which has the last Fain POV we were given):

Second AOL chat October 1994

Q: What is Padan Fain's overall role in the Wheel of Time (besides hating Rand with a passion)?

RJ: Read and find out...except you should be able to figure out most of it by now. Think a little bit - it's all there, really.

*~*~*~*~*

...but to predict those actions would have required us to make large leaps of logic based on what we last saw of Fain, quite aside from his insane whims.

Perhaps most interesting of all is a clue that RJ gave us through the TOR Questions of the Week as he was wrapping up Knife of Dreams:

TOR Questions of the Week, August 2004-January 2005

Week 6 Question: How were the gholams made? Were they created or bred like the Trollocs? How exactly are they controlled if they are immune to the One Power?

Robert Jordan Answers: The gholam---singular and plural are the same---were created, not bred. Supposedly their creation involved making them so that they would be obedient to the Chosen, whoever they might be at any given time. This was an attempt at copying something that had turned up in Myrddraal, which seem incapable of disobeying one of the Chosen, possibly because of the use of the True Power in creation of the Trollocs, the parent stock of the Myrddraal. Even Aginor, who created the Trollocs, and thus indirectly the Myrddraal, was uncertain about the actual cause. (Becoming one of the Forsaken involves receiving a mark from the Dark One in return for your oaths; this mark is invisible and cannot be sensed by another human being, even another of the Forsaken, but it can be [seen] by certain non-human creatures, including Myrddraal and draghkar among others. This may play a part in the Myrddraal's obedience but doesn't explain it completely.) This element in gholam has some flaws, however, as we have seen in a small measure. In any case, if I were you, I wouldn't try giving orders to a gholam unless I were one of the Forsaken.

*~*~*~*~*

I find this quote to be particularly interesting for a few reasons. First, as RJ was writing Knife of Dreams at the time of this question (it was released in October 2005), if Fain has the ability to order Shadowspawn, then RJ surely had that fact in mind. Second, this is one of those nice opportunities where RJ had some time to think about his response (as opposed to tour reports and chats), and it's direct from him, so it's also a good opportunity for him to give a nicely-worded Aes Sedai response that also contains a clue to something that the questioner did not ask about. Perhaps something that is coming up in the next book.

Third, RJ did not say that Myrddraal would only obey one of the Chosen. He did clarify in another answer that they would not obey Alviarin - her mark is different, and would merely cause Shadowspawn to recognize that she belonged to the Dark One - but he did not say they would only obey one of the Forsaken. He also said in another interview that the Dreadlords of the Trolloc Wars did not have this mark; they had to negotiate with the Myrddraal to get them to obey. In fact, RJ made it rather clear that the phenomenon was something that even Aginor did not understand; Myrddraal are simply born that way.

Fain tells his pet Fade, "I know how to hurt your kind." And indeed, we have seen the evidence of that from early in the series. Could it be that Fain understands Fades better than Aginor himself? Perhaps the understanding is something innate, rather than something Fain truly comprehends. And finally, RJ says that the mark of the Chosen may explain the obedience of the Shadowspawn, but does not explain it completely. He seems to have rather purposefully left the possibility open that someone else could order them. And who better to do that than Fain?

Fain would absolutely delight in wasting the Shadow's resources, and as much as he wants to kill Rand with his own hands, there is an example of him having ordered others to do it before: he sent his Whitecloaks to attack Rand in Caemlyn:

TITLE - Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 26 - Connecting Lines

That last one jolted him whenever he heard it, and he heard it more than once. He had to find Elayne. He could feel his teeth grinding. He could not look at the people in the street; he wanted to smash them to their knees, roar at them that Elayne was their queen. Trying not to hear, he studied the sky, the rooftops, anything but the crowd. And that was why he saw the man in a white cloak rise up on a red-tiled rooftop and lift a crossbow.

Everything happened in heartbeats. Rand seized saidin and channeled as the bolt flew toward him; it struck Air, a silvery blue mass hanging above the street, with a clang as of metal against metal. A ball of fire leaped from Rand's hand, struck the crossbowman in the chest as the bolt was bouncing away from the shield of Air. Flames engulfed the man, and he fell shrieking from the rooftop. And someone leaped into Rand, carrying him out of the saddle.

He hit the paving stones hard with a weight atop him; breath and saidin left him together. Struggling for air, he wrestled with the weight, wrenched it off - and found himself holding Desora by the arms. She smiled at him, a beautiful smile; then her head slumped sideways. Sightless blue eyes stared at him, already glazing. The crossbow bolt standing out from her ribs pressed against his wrist. Why had she ever wanted to hide such a beautiful smile?

*~*~*~*~*

Those men clearly had orders to kill Rand, though Fain claims he would have been quite unhappy if any of them had been successful. That is probably true, but Fain is hardly the most psychologically stable of individuals. Furthermore, in Far Madding, we discover that Fain has the power of illusion:

TITLE - Winter's Heart
CHAPTER: 33 - Blue Carp Street

"I want him to know who is killing him," Fain whined petulantly. He was glaring straight at Rand, but he seemed to talking to himself. "I want him to know! But if he's dead, then he will stop haunting my dreams. Yes. He will stop, then." With a smile, he raised his free hand.

Torval and Gedwyn came up the stairs with their cloaks over their arms.

"I say we aren't going near him until I know where the others are," Gedwyn growled. "The M'Hael will kill us if. . . ."

Without thought, Rand twisted his wrists in Cutting the Wind and immediately followed with Unfolding the Fan.

The illusion of dead men come back to life vanished, and Fain leaped back with a shriek, blood streaming down the side of his face. Suddenly he tilted his head as though listening, and a moment later, aiming a scream of wordless fury at Rand, he fled down the stairs.

*~*~*~*~*

With this, it is possible to make a case that Fain could have posed as Sammael. However, this is not even a necessary condition for Fain's capability. There are a few things to consider:

1. Moridin's information was almost certainly second-hand. If he had gotten the information from a Fade that had actually witnessed Sammael giving the orders, then he would know what the orders were. Therefore, the bit about Sammael might not be true at all.

2. RJ said that Myrddraal seem incapable of disobeying the Forsaken, but he did use the word 'seem'. He leaves open the possibility, but also gives reason that Moridin might not consider the possibility that a Fade could lie to him. It could be that Fain only subverted 10-20 Fades, and that the orders were then passed on to other Fades, who did not see 'Sammael' until they were in the Ways. It would fit with Moridin's false assurance that only the Chosen could have ordered them, if he also believed that the Fade network was incorruptible. So far as we know, none of Fain's stolen Shadowspawn have ever escaped to tell the tale.

3. Fain has an agenda against the Shadow, and it is not difficult at all to believe that he could have gone through the Ways after Far Madding in order to subvert more Fades. He might have even done so before Far Madding. It does not take him all that long to break a Fade, and it is theoretically possible that he broke all 100 of them. He was near a Waygate in Caemlyn when we last had a POV from him (the first one he used); he was near a Waygate when he was with the Cairhienin rebel camp (the one at Barthanes' manor), and there is also a Waygate outside of Far Madding. There is a Waygate near where the Darkhounds were searching, and another that is probably near Lugard.

But aside from these possibilities, I believe that it is entirely possible that Fain is actually able to command Myrddraal outright now that his powers have become more mature. A reminder from Brandon:

The Gathering Storm Book Tour, Books and Co., Dayton, OH 11 November 2009 - Tim Kington reporting

Q: Will Fain be in the next book?

A: Padan Fain will be seen again. He's a mixture of two things - Mordeths power, which he got by seeking out all of the evil things that [were] related to the Shadow, and the Dark One's Hound. Brandon said that Fain's number one goal is to kill Rand, and a close second is to kill the Dark One. Now that Shadar Logoth has been destroyed, all of the Mordeth power that remains in the world is in Fain.

*~*~*~*~*

It is impossible to establish with certainty that Fain was capable of ordering so many Shadowspawn outright, but it can definitely be established that there are many possibilities for how he might have pulled it off. That, along with Fain's unique dual motive and the fact that only he can control Machin Shin, makes him the most logical culprit for these attacks. We are still in the dark on what Fain has been up to...but now we have these Shadowspawn attacks. And now all the clues from the earlier books should be slapping us in the face.

Fain and Slayer: Hounds of the Dark One

Any of the Forsaken might want Rand dead, but the Forsaken also know that Rand has an entourage of some of the most powerful channelers from the Third Age - Logain and his group, Alivia, Nynaeve, Cadsuane, etc., all of whom can sense Shadowspawn - and the Forsaken also know all about their toys, from the Choedan Kal and Callandor to their collection of ter'angreal. It seems difficult to believe that any of the Forsaken would have thought that such an attack had the slightest chance of success, and whether or not you believe that Taim is one of them, even he has got to know that such an attack would be doomed to fail, and we have little reason to believe that anything has changed since Logain told Rand that Taim was ignorant of his whereabouts and itching to find him. But more to the point, why would any of them waste the Shadow's resources on it?

The question becomes further complicated when the Shadowspawn in Altara are thrown into the mix. If we can convince ourselves that one of the Forsaken thought that the chance of killing Rand was worth the resources dedicated to the attack at Algarin's, then we still have to contend with the fact that Rand was not in Altara at the time that Tylee's troops were attacked. It was about a month after the meeting in Tel'aran'rhiod at which Moridin accused all of his Chosen and ordered all Shadowspawn activity outside the Blight to be reported to him immediately, and the way in which he ordered it seems to imply that, according to his plans, there would be no Shadowspawn activity outside the Blight:

TITLE - Knife of Dreams
CHAPTER: 3 - At the Gardens

“Sammael appears to have resurfaced,” Moridin announced, crossing the floor to take a seat. He was a big man, and he made the ornate high-backed chair seem a throne. Moghedien and Cyndane sat down to either side of him, but interestingly, not until he had. Zomaran in snowy white were there instantly with wine, yet Moridin received his first. Whatever was at work there, the zomaran sensed it.

“That hardly seems possible,” Graendal said as they all moved to take chairs. Her gown was dark gray now, concealing everything. “He must be dead.” No one moved quickly, though. Moridin was Nae'blis, yet no one except Moghedien and Cyndane was willing to display any hint of subservience. Aran'gar certainly was not.

She took a seat across from Moridin, where she could watch him without seeming to. And Moghedien and Cyndane. Moghedien was so still she would have faded into the chair except for her bright dress. Cyndane was a queen, her face chiseled from ice. Trying to pull down the Nae'blis was dangerous, yet those two might hold the key. If she could figure out how to turn it. Graendal sat down beside her, and the chair was suddenly closer. Aran'gar could have laid her hand on the other woman's wrist but refrained from anything more than a slow smile. It was best to keep her mind centered right then.

“He could never have borne staying hidden this long," Demandred put in, lounging into his chair between Semirhage and Mesaana, legs crossed as though perfectly at ease. That seemed doubtful. He was another who was unreconciled, she was sure. “Sammael needed to have every eye directed at him.”

“Nevertheless, Sammael, or someone disguised as him, gave orders to Myrddraal, and they obeyed, so it was one of the Chosen.” Moridin scanned around the chairs as though he could detect who it had been. Black saa trickled across his blue eyes in a continuous stream. She had no regrets that the True Power was limited to his use alone, now. The price was much too high. Ishamael had certainly been at least half insane, and he still was as Moridin. How long before she could remove him?

“Are you going to tell us what these orders were?" Semirhage's tone was cool, and she sipped her wine calmly, watching Moridin over the goblet's rim. She sat very erect, but she always did. She too appeared completely at ease, yet that was unlikely.

Moridin's jaw tightened. “I don't know," he said at last, reluctantly. He never liked saying that. “But they sent a hundred Myrddraal and thousands of Trollocs into the Ways.”

“That sounds like Sammael,” Demandred said thoughtfully, twisting his goblet and studying the swirling wine. “Perhaps I was mistaken.” A remarkable admission, coming from him. Or an attempt to hide being the one who had worn Sammael as a disguise. She would like very much to know who had begun playing her own game. Or whether Sammael really was alive.

Moridin grunted sourly. “Pass orders to your Friends of the Dark. Any report of Trollocs or Myrddraal outside the Blight is to be handed to me as soon as you receive it. The Time of Return is coming soon. No one is allowed to go adventuring on their own any longer.” He studied them again, each in turn save for Moghedien and Cyndane. With a smile even more languorous than Graendal's, Aran'gar met his gaze. Mesaana shrank back from it.

*~*~*~*~*

It fits with info from The Gathering Storm that Moridin is planning a huge hammer out of the Borderlands. It may be that he plans on sending some through the Ways at that point, but Brandon has indicated that there is an event at the end of Towers of Midnight that will 'launch Tarmon Gai'don'. I would expect that indicates a coordinated attack, and the Shadowspawn in Altara were ahead of the game. And so far as we know, none of the Forsaken has the capability of protecting large amounts of Shadowspawn from Machin Shin. No one has that capability but Padan Fain.

Demandred calls suspicion on himself by his about-face on Sammael, but in my opinion, he is way too obvious, and the least likely of all of them to think that such an attack would be successful. It seems more likely to me that Demandred suspects that one of his followers did this. It was the mention of Shadowspawn and the Ways that caused him to second-guess, which would seem to indicate Fain or Slayer. That Demandred has ordered Slayer is likely; someone ordered him into the Two Rivers after Fain, after all, and Fain did not bring the Whitecloaks to the Two Rivers until after Ishamael was dead. It might have been the Dark One himself, but it might have been Demandred. There is also a theory floating around (a Felix/Dida theory, no less) that Fain is advising Roedran of Murandy since he was forced to flee Cairhien, and that idea has some merit to it; the theory that Demandred is Roedran also has some merit to it. (I don't believe either one particularly; I just think they are good possibilities.) It may be that Demandred thought he could make some use of Fain, and it may be that Demandred is most susceptible of all the Forsaken to Fain's power because of his hatred for Lews Therin. It may even be that Demandred's reconsideration was genuine:

TITLE - The Fires of Heaven
CHAPTER: 22 - Birdcalls By Night

"It was Sammael who sent the attack tonight. The Trollocs and Darkfriends, anyway."

"It is not like Sammael to throw men away," Asmodean said slowly. "But he'll see ten thousand dead, or ten times that, if it gains him what he thinks is worth the cost. Maybe one of the others wants you to think it was him. Even if the Aiel took prisoners... Trollocs do not think of much besides killing, and Darkfriends believe what they are told."

"It was him. He tried to bait me into attacking him once in the same way, at Serendahar." Oh, Light! The thought drifted across the surface of the Void. I said "me." He did not know where Serendahar had been, or anything but what he had said. The words had just come out.

After a long silence, Asmodean said quietly, "I never knew that."

Demandred probably considers it foolish to use the Ways to transport Shadowspawn because it is not possible to move great numbers through the Ways without losing most of them to Machin Shin, and it may simply be that Demandred thought such a foolish action would be characteristic of Sammael. But in any case, it seems most likely that Demandred had no direct knowledge of this attack.

Furthermore, Tylee was near Ebou Dar rather than in northern Altara where Mat and Perrin might have been found, and the Shadowspawn that attacked her clearly had to come from the Waygate at Barashta, now called Ebou Dar:

TITLE - The Gathering Storm
PROLOGUE - What the Storm Means

An ambush, she thought, raising her blade. And we walked right into it! Where are the scouts? What happened? She launched herself at the man who had tried to kill her. He spun, snorting.

And for the first time, she saw just what he was. Not quite a man - instead, some creature with twisted features, the head covered in coarse brown hair, the too-wide forehead wrinkled with thick skin. Those eyes were disturbingly human-like, but the nose below was flattened like that of a boar and the mouth jutted with two prominent tusks. The creature roared at her, spittle spraying from its nearly human lips.

Blood of my Fathers Forgotten, she thought. What have we stumbled into? The monster was a nightmare, given a body and let loose to kill. It was a thing she had always dismissed as superstition.

She charged the creature, knocking aside its thick sword as it tried to attack. She spun, falling into Beat the Brushes, and separated the beast's arm from its shoulder. She struck again, and its head followed the arm to the ground, severed free. It stumbled, somehow still walking three steps, before collapsing.

The trees rustled, more branches snapping. Just down from her hillside, Tylee saw that hundreds of the creatures had broken out of the underbrush, attacking the line of her men near the middle, causing chaos. More and more of the monsters poured between the trees.

How had this happened? How had these things gotten so close to Ebou Dar! They were well inside the Seanchan defensive perimeter, only a day's march from the capital.

*~*~*~*~*

There were not enough to do any serious damage; only enough to create some confusion and chaos. And sure, the Shadow has that motive, but it is hardly necessary for them to waste Shadowspawn on creating some penny-ante chaos when the Pattern is falling apart. Why would any of them risk being mindtrapped like Moghedien and Cyndane, or perhaps raped by Shaidar Haran like Moghedien and Mesaana were, just to attack Tylee's troops? There is at least one believable motive for Fain to have done it - the aforementioned stunt to gain the attention of the Empress - and he has a talent for 'sniffing things out', so he might know of Tylee's involvement with Perrin. He might even be part of what influences Tuon to attack Caemlyn, as I've theorized elsewhere that she will (though my first instinct is to say that she is not all that vulnerable to Fain's tactics). That possibility has the potential to make a full circle for Mat's relationship with the evil of Shadar Logoth.

And finally, Moridin's arrogant assurance that it was impossible for someone other than one of the Chosen to order Shadowspawn practically screams false assurance. He is too arrogant to consider that someone like Fain could pull it off, to the point that he would rather admit to all of his subordinate Chosen that he suspects one of them has flouted his authority. But at the same time, Moridin's frustration along with his willingness to publicly accuse his subordinates might actually indicate that Moridin suspects Fain. At the previous Forsaken Coffee Hour, Moridin indicated that Slayer was still in charge of hunting Fain down:

TITLE - Winter's Heart
CHAPTER: 13 - Wonderful News

"Why have you called us here?" Demandred demanded. "I have much to do, and no time for idle talk." Unconsciously he tried to stand taller, to match the other man.

"Mesaana is absent again?" Moridin said instead of answering. "A pity. She should hear what I have to say." Plucking the rat from his shoulder by its tail, he watched the animal wave its legs futilely. Nothing except the rat seemed to exist for him. "Small, apparently unimportant matters can become very important," he murmured. "This rat. Whether Isam succeeds in finding and killing that other vermin, Fain. A word whispered in the wrong ear, or not spoken to the right. A butterfly stirs its wings on a branch, and on the other side of the world a mountain collapses." Suddenly the rat twisted, trying to sink its teeth into his wrist. Casually, he flung the creature away. In midair, there was a burst of flame, something hotter than flame, and the rat was gone. Moridin smiled.

*~*~*~*~*

It seems unlikely that Moridin is unaware of Fain's activities in the Two Rivers, if Moridin is ordering Slayer. Could it be that Moridin is simply unaware that Fain has absorbed Mordeth? It is possible, since Verin was not present when Moiraine told Rand and Co. what she had reasoned out about Fain, and no one appears to have told her. If Moridin was aware, then surely he would suspect Fain of stealing his Shadowspawn. The tactics of Aridhol were well-known:

TITLE - The Great Hunt
CHAPTER: 49 - What Was Meant To Be

"I did not send Verin." Moiraine frowned. "She did that on her own. You are of interest to a great many people, Rand. Did Fain find you, or you him?"

The sudden change of topic took him by surprise. "Fain? No. A fine hero I make. I tried to rescue Egwene, and Min did it before me. Fain said he would hurt Emond's Field if I didn't face him, and I never laid eyes on him. Did he go with the Seanchan, too?"

Moiraine shook her head. "I do not know. I wish I did. But it is as well you did not find him, not until you know what he is, at least."

"He's a Darkfriend."

"More than that. Worse than that. Padan Fain was the Dark One's creature to the depths of his soul, but I believe that in Shadar Logoth he fell afoul of Mordeth, who was as vile in fighting the Shadow as ever the Shadow itself was. Mordeth tried to consume Fain's soul, to have a human body again, but found a soul that had been touched directly by the Dark One, and what resulted ... What resulted was neither Padan Fain nor Mordeth, but something far more evil, a blend of the two. Fain – let us call him that – is more dangerous than you can believe. You might not have survived such a meeting, and if you had, you might have been worse than turned to the Shadow."

*~*~*~*~*

If no Darkfriends were told, then it is quite likely that Moridin has no idea of the true nature of Fain. None of the Shadowspawn that Fain has stolen has escaped to tell the tale of the dagger. In any case, we have seen evidence that Slayer is indeed hunting for something...and that his Darkhounds passed over one of the ta'veren, in search of something else:

TITLE - Crossroads of Twilight
CHAPTER: 6 - The Scent of a Dream

Stepper caught scents almost as easily as Perrin, and sometimes noticed what they were sooner, but whenever the dun balked, Per­rin forced him forward. There were plenty of tracks scattered in the snow, hoofprints of the mounted patrols going out and coming back, occasional sign of rabbits and foxes, but the only marks left by the Darkhounds were where stone stuck up out of the snow. The burnt sulphur smell was always strongest there, yet enough trace lingered in between to lead him to the next place where their tracks showed. The huge pawprints overlapped one another, and there was no way to tell how many Darkhounds there had been, but whether a pace wide or six, every rock surface they had crossed was smothered in tracks from one side to the other. A larger pack than the ten he had seen outside Illian. Much larger. Was that why there were no wolves in the area? He was sure that the certainty of death he had felt in the dream was something real, and he had been a wolf in the dream.

As the trail began to curve to the west, he felt a growing suspi­cion that firmed into certainty as it continued to bend. The Darkhounds had circled the camp completely, running right across the place north of the camp where several huge trees lay half toppled and propped by their neighbors, each with a tall chunk sliced cleanly out of its splintered trunk. The tracks covered a stone out­crop as smooth and flat as a polished marble floor except for one hair-thin gouge cut through it straight as a plumb line. Nothing resisted the opening of an Asha'man's gateway, and two had opened here. A thick pine that had fallen blocking one had a sec­tion four paces wide burned out of it, but the charred ends were as neat as if they had come from a sawmill. It seemed that evidence of the One Power did not interest Darkhounds, however. The pack had not paused there any more than anywhere else, or even slowed that he could tell. Darkhounds could run faster than horses, and for longer, and the stench of them hardly seemed to have faded more in one place than another. At two points in that circuit he had picked up a forking in the trail, but that was only the pack coming from the north and departing south. Once around the camp, and then on their way after whatever or whoever they were hunting.

Plainly, that was not him. Perhaps the pack had circled because they sensed him, sensed someone who was ta'veren, yet he doubted that Darkhounds would have hesitated one instant at coming into the camp, had they been after him. The pack he had faced before had entered the city of Illian, though it had not tried to kill him till later. But did Darkhounds report what they saw, the way rats and ravens did? The thought made his jaw clench. The Shadow's attention was something any sane man feared, the Shadow's atten­tion might interfere with freeing Faile. That concerned him more than anything else. Yet there were ways to fight Shadowspawn, ways to fight the Forsaken, if it came to that. Whatever came between him and Faile, Darkhounds or the Forsaken or anything else, he would find a way to go around or through, whichever was necessary. A man could only have so much fear in him at one time, and all of his fear was centered on Faile. There just was no room for any more.

...

Masuri's face reddened, but she spoke up immediately, her eyes on Berelain. She could not like being called down in public, no matter what anyone knew of her relationship with the Wise Ones. “Relatively little is known of Darkhounds, but I've made some­thing of a study of them, in a small way. Over the years, I have crossed the paths of seven packs, five of them twice and two others three times.” The color began to fade from her cheeks, and slowly she began to sound as if she were lecturing. “Some ancient writers say there are only seven packs, others say nine, or thirteen, or some other number they believed had special significance, but during the Trolloc Wars, Sorelana Alsahhan wrote of ‘the hundred packs the Shadow's hounds that hunt the night,' and even earlier, Ivonell Bharatiya supposedly wrote of ‘hounds born of the Shadow, in numbers like unto the nightmares of mankind.' Though in truth, Ivonell herself may be apocryphal. In any case, the – ” She gestured as if groping for a word. “Smell is not the right word, and neither is flavor. The sense of each pack is unique, and I can say with cer­tainty that I have never encountered this one before, so we know the number seven is wrong. Whether the correct number is nine or thirteen or something else, tales of Darkhounds are much more common than Darkhounds themselves, and they are extremely rare this far south of the Blight. A second rarity: there may have been as many as fifty in this pack. Ten or twelve is the usual limit. A useful maxim: two rarities combined call for close attention.” Pausing, she raised a finger to emphasize the point, then nodded when she thought Berelain had taken it, and folded her hands again. A gusting breeze pushed her yellowish-brown cloak off one shoulder, yet she did not appear to notice the loss of warmth.

There is always a feel of urgency about Darkhounds' trails, but it varies according to a number of factors, not all of which I can be certain of. This one has an intense admixture of...I suppose you could call it impatience. That isn't really strong enough, by far – as well call a stabwound a pinprick – but it will do. I would say their hunt has been going on for some time, and their prey is eluding them somehow. No matter what the stories say – by the way, Lord Gallenne, salt doesn't harm Darkhounds in the least.” So she had not been entirely lost in thought after all. “Despite the stories, they never hunt at random, though they will kill if the opportunity presents itself and doesn't interfere with the hunt. With Darkhounds, the hunt is paramount. Their quarry is always important to the Shadow, though at times we cannot see why. They have been known to bypass the great and mighty to slay a farmwife or a craftsman, or to enter a town or village and leave without killing, though clearly they came for some reason. My first thought for what brought them here had to be discarded, since they moved on.” Her gaze flickered toward Perrin, so quickly he was not sure anyone else noticed. “Given that, I strongly doubt they will return. Oh, yes; and they are an hour or more gone. That, I'm afraid, is really all I can tell you.” Nevarin and the other Wise Ones nodded their approval as she finished, and a touch of color returned to her cheeks, though it vanished quickly as she assumed a mask of Aes Sedai serenity. A shift in the breeze brought her scent to Perrin, surprised and pleased, and upset at being pleased.

*~*~*~*~*

Perrin assumed that they were after Rand, but I think it more likely they were searching for Fain, and this might be an indication that Fain was in Altara before he went after Rand in Far Madding, if the Darkhounds had his scent. In case the connection between the Darkhounds and Slayer is not obvious...he has been killing wolves in Tel'aran'rhiod, and he seems to have been given the power to make Darkhounds there. This would explain the strange new breed that Rand encountered in Rhuidean - the breed that is invincible to any attack save balefire; the breed that defies reality in a way that is strangely similar to the properties of Tel'aran'rhiod - and it would also explain the extraordinarily large pack. If Slayer is creating these Darkhounds, then it would make sense that he has some power over them, and though Fain has been called the Dark One's Hound, Slayer is called the same in the Dark Prophecy, in a way that seems to connect him to the Shadowbrothers.

Padan Fain notoriously wants to kill Rand, but Fain hates the Shadow nearly as much as he hates Rand, and I believe that this fact is the root of why Fain's motive makes the most sense. He does not like to waste his resources, but the simple act of wasting Shadowspawn is a blow against his ancient foe, Mordeth's ancient foe: The Shadow. This is the reason why Mordeth went seeking his dark powers in the first place:

Driving Mr. Sanderson (from Half Moon Bay to San Jose), 21 November 2009 - Matt Hatch reporting

Matt: Ok. You mentioned that Mordeth was a man that had "power". You are reported as saying that his power was that "which he got by seeking out all of the evil things that weren't related to the Shadow"...

Brandon: He was seeking things that were related to the Shadow. I think that that might be a misquote. He was looking into the power of the Shadow in order to defeat it, was his goal. He was looking into everything. He was looking into things that were not necessarily related to the Dark One as well. He was looking for everything that he could get.

Matt: Previous to him arriving to Aridhol?

Brandon: Yeah.

Matt: Before he went to the king and became the counselor, Mordeth was this guy that went around searching for power?

Brandon: Yeah, he wanted to defeat the Dark One and he felt that he could find other ways to do it. He originally was good. He did not...he wasn't this terrible person to begin with, but he was looking to defeat the Dark One, to find a way to defeat the Shadow. And he looked into a lot of things he shouldn't have looked into. There are evils that are not necessarily directly related to the Dark One, though everything evil kind of has...just as there are goods that are not related necessarily to the One Power...we are talking much as Perrin runs with wolves. This is a thing older than...there are other evil things that are old in a similar way.

Matt: Is the assumption then that he found one of these?

Brandon: He did.

Matt: He found one or multiple?

Brandon: He found many things of darkness. There is one in specific that is driving him, but he knew too much. He found things he should not have gotten into and that is what turned him into...when he got there he was already corrupt. He still thought he was doing a good work. He still thought, 'We are going to raise this kingdom up and it is going to become this bastion against the Shadow', but he was already by then corrupted.

Matt: Is this same corrupting influence what corrupts everyone through the dagger itself?

Brandon: Yeah. Through him, yes. And even through his presence.

*~*~*~*~*

So, what was it that Mordeth was looking for, way back in the Trolloc Wars?

We know that he was looking for a way to defeat the Shadow, and at the time, certainly Shadowspawn were the main threat of the Shadow to the world aside from dreadlords. We know that Mordeth got into some things that he should not have gotten into, and we know that Fain's ability to control Shadowspawn manifested after the merge with Mordeth, and we also know that Fain's powers have manifested slowly over time. By Lord of Chaos, Fain has the ability to tell Darkfriends on sight, even those who had only thought of swearing to the Shadow, 'as if they had a sooty mark on their foreheads'. That was the last POV that we got from Fain; the Shadowspawn were ordered to attack Rand more than 100 days later. Who knows what sort of abilities Fain has since developed? Even the Chosen do not have the ability to recognize Darkfriends on sight; Semirhage was surprised that Elza was Black Ajah.

I believe that whatever it was that Mordeth found, it has combined with Fain, the Dark One's Hound, and has given Fain the ability to control Shadowspawn. We know that Fain's powers have only grown over time, and that even he does not understand them, so I believe that it is something he didn't quite figure out until after his last POV in Lord of Chaos.

Padan Fain: Master of the Ways

With the first indication of Fain's special relationship with Machin Shin, there is another possibility for how Fain might know of Sammael, and how he might have eventually developed the ability to command Myrddraal outright:

TITLE - The Eye of the World
CHAPTER: 47 - More Tales of the Wheel

"If Fain was half mad by the time he reached Caemlyn, he sank even further when he realized that only two of those he sought were there. He was compelled to find all of you, but he could do no other than follow the two who were there, either. He spoke of screaming when the Waygate opened in Caemlyn. The knowledge of how to do it was in his mind; he does not know how it came there; his hands moved of their own accord, burning with the fires of Ba'alzamon when he tried to stop them. The owner of the shop, who came to investigate the noise, Fain murdered. Not because he had to, but out of envy that the man could walk freely out of the cellar while his feet carried him inexorably into the Ways."

"Then Fain was the one you sensed following us," Egwene said. Lan nodded. "How did he escape the ... the Black Wind?" Her voice shook; she stopped to swallow. "It was right behind us at the Waygate."

"He escaped, and he did not," Moiraine said. "The Black Wind caught him - and he claimed to understand the voices. Some greeted him as like to them; others feared him. No sooner did the Wind envelop Fain than it fled."

"The Light preserve us." Loial's whisper rumbled like a giant bumblebee.

"Pray that it does," Moiraine said. "There is much yet hidden about Padan Fain, much I must learn. The evil goes deeper in him, and stronger, than in any man I have yet seen. It may be that the Dark One, in doing what he did to Fain, impressed some part of himself on the man, perhaps even, unknowing, some part of his intent. When I mentioned the Eye of the World, Fain clamped his jaws shut, but I felt something knowing behind the silence. If only I had the time now. But we cannot wait."

*~*~*~*~*

Moiraine is not yet aware that Fain has absorbed Mordeth, but the quotes from RJ and Brandon above emphasize the fact that Fain is what he is not just because of Mordeth's powers, but also because of his distilling at Shayol Ghul. So perhaps the Dark One did impress some part of himself on Padan Fain, and perhaps that has something to do with Fain's ability to control Darkfriends and Shadowspawn, which he is able to do even without the dagger, as he did in the Two Rivers. But as the series goes on, it at least becomes clear that Fain has impressed some part of himself on Machin Shin.

When Rand traveled the Ways with the others to Fal Dara, Machin Shin did not find them until they were almost at the Waygate. Fain was right behind them, and he had his first meeting with Machin Shin there, causing it to flee. But when they try to follow Fain through the Ways in Cairhien, Machin Shin is waiting...and in addition to the usual mindless violence, Machin Shin now also chants Rand's name:

TITLE - The Great Hunt
CHAPTER: 33 - A Message From the Dark

In an instant the illusion of living plants seemed suddenly real. Stone leaves appeared to stir with a breeze, flowers appeared to have color even in the dark. Down the center of the mass a line appeared, and the two halves of the slab swung slowly toward Rand. He stepped back to let them open. He did not find himself looking at the other side of the walled square, but neither did he see the dull silver reflection he remembered. The space between the opening gates was a black so dark it seemed to make the night around it lighter. The pitch-blackness oozed out between the still-moving gates.

Rand leaped back with a shout, dropping the Avendesora leaf in his haste, and Loial cried out, "Machin Shin. The Black Wind."

The sound of wind filled their ears; the grass stirred in ripples toward the walls, and dirt swirled up, sucked into the air. And in the wind a thousand insane voices seemed to cry, ten thousand, overlapping, drowning each other. Rand could make out some of them, though he tried not to.

... blood so sweet, so sweet to drink the blood, the blood that drips, drips, drops so red; pretty eyes, fine eyes, I have no eyes, pluck the eyes from out of your head; grind your bones, split your bones inside your flesh, suck your marrow while you scream; scream, scream, singing screams, sing your screams... And worst of all, a whispering thread through all the rest. Al'Thor. Al'Thor. Al'Thor.

Rand found the void around him and embraced it, never minding the tantalizing, sickening glow of saidin just out of his sight. Greatest of all the dangers along the Ways was the Black Wind that took the souls of those it killed, and drove mad those it let live, but Machin Shin was a part of the Ways; it could not leave them. Only it was flowing into the night, and the Black Wind called his name.

The Waygate was not yet fully open. If they could only put the Avendesora leaf back ... He saw Loial scrambling on his hands and knees, fumbling and searching the grass in the darkness.

Saidin filled him. He felt as if his bones were vibrating, felt the red-hot, ice-cold flow of the One Power, felt truly alive as he never was without it, felt the oil-slick taint ... No! And silently he screamed back at himself from beyond the emptiness, It's coming for you! It'll kill all of us! He hurled it all at the black bulge, standing out a full span from the Waygate, now. He did not know what it was that he hurled, or how, but in the heart of that darkness bloomed a coruscating fountain of light.

The Black Wind shrieked, ten thousand wordless howls of agony. Slowly, giving way inch by reluctant inch, the bulge lessened; slowly the oozing reversed, back into the still-open Waygate.

*~*~*~*~*

It not only calls Rand's name, but it is apparently also so compelled to seek Rand that it can escape the Ways if he is nearby. Some think that Fain has set Machin Shin guard, as Rand assumed, but since Machin Shin is mindless, it is more likely that Fain has simply impressed a part of his character upon Machin Shin. This could be because Machin Shin eats the memories of the people it catches:

A Crown of Swords book tour 24 August 1996, Vancouver - Lara Beaton reporting

Everyone in Shadar Logoth killed each other. Mashadar occurred after everyone in Shadar Logoth was dead.

Machin Shin eats the souls and memories of the people it catches.

*~*~*~*~*

But that doesn't account for everything. Verin thinks that it is impossible to control the Black Wind:

TITLE - The Great Hunt
CHAPTER: 33 - A Message From the Dark

"Hurin followed them right to it." Rand wearily threw himself into a chair. I have to follow more than ever, now. But how? "I opened it to show him he could still follow the trail wherever they went, and the Black Wind was there. It tried to reach us, but Loial managed to close the gates before it could come all the way out." He colored a little at that, but Loial had closed the gates, and for all he knew Machin Shin might have made it out without that. "It was standing guard."

"The Black Wind," Mat breathed, frozen halfway into a chair. Perrin was staring at Rand, too. So were Verin and Ingtar. Mat dropped into the chair with a thump.

"You must be mistaken," Verin said at last. "Machin Shin could not be used as a guard. No one can constrain the Black Wind to do anything."

"It's a creature of the Dark One," Mat said numbly. "They're Darkfriends. Maybe they knew how to ask it for help, or make it help."

"No one knows exactly what Machin Shin is," Verin said, "unless, perhaps, it is the essence of madness and cruelty. It cannot be reasoned with, Mat, or bargained with, or talked to. It cannot even be forced, not by any Aes Sedai living today, and perhaps not by any who ever lived. "Do you really think Padan Fain could do what ten Aes Sedai could not?" Mat shook his head.

*~*~*~*~*

But even Verin is somewhat convinced when they find Machin Shin waiting outside Stedding Tsofu:

TITLE - The Great Hunt
CHAPTER: 36 - Among the Elders

Verin plucked the Avendesora leaf, and Rand leaned forward intently. He knew an urge to assume the void, to be where he could reach saidin if he needed to.

The greenery carved across the Waygate stirred in an unfelt breeze, leaves fluttering as a gap opened down the center of the mass and the two halves began to swing open.

Rand stared at the first crack. There was no dull, silvery reflection behind it, only blackness blacker than pitch. "Close it!" he shouted. "The Black Wind! Close it!"

Verin took one startled look and thrust the three-pointed leaf back in among all the varied leaves already there; it stayed when she took her hand away and backed toward the coping. As soon as the Avendesora leaf was back in its place, the Waygate immediately began to close. The crack disappeared, vines and leaves merging, hiding the blackness of Machin Shin, and the Waygate was only stone again, if stone carved in a nearer semblance of life than seemed possible.

Alar let out a shuddering breath. "Machin Shin. So close."

"It didn't try to come out," Rand said. Juin made a strangled sound.

"I have told you," Verin said, "the Black Wind is a creature of the Ways. It cannot leave them." She sounded calm, but she still wiped her hands on her skirt. Rand opened his mouth, then gave it up. "And yet," she went on, "I wonder at it being here. First in Cairhien, now here. I wonder." She gave Rand a sidelong glance that made him jump. The look was so quick that he did not think anyone else noticed it, but to Rand it seemed to connect him with the Black Wind.

"I have never heard of this," Alar said slowly, "Machin Shin waiting when a Waygate was opened. It always roamed the Ways. But it has been long, and perhaps the Black Wind hungers, and hopes to catch some unwary one entering a gate. Verin, assuredly you cannot use this Waygate. And however great your need, I cannot say I am sorry. The Ways belong to the Shadow, now."

Rand frowned at the Waygate. Could it be following me? There were too many questions. Had Fain somehow ordered the Black Wind? Verin said it could not be done. And why would Fain demand that he follow, then try to stop him? He only knew that he believed the message. He had to go to Toman Head. If they found the Horn of Valere and Mat's dagger under a bush tomorrow, he still had to go.

Verin stood with eyes unfocused in thought. Mat was sitting on the coping with his head in his hands, and Perrin watched him worriedly. Loial seemed relieved that they could not use the Waygate, and ashamed at being relieved.

"We are done for here," Ingtar announced. "Verin Sedai, I followed you here against my better judgment, but I can no longer follow. I mean to return to Cairhien. Barthanes can tell me where the Darkfriends went, and somehow I will make him do it."

"Fain went to Toman Head," Rand said wearily. "And where he went, that's where the Horn is, and the dagger."

"I suppose ... " Perrin shrugged reluctantly. "I suppose we could try another Waygate. At another stedding?"

Loial stroked his chin and spoke quickly, as if to make up for his relief at the failure here. "Stedding Cantoine lies just above the River Iralell, and Stedding Taijing is east of it in the Spine of the World. But the Waygate in Caemlyn, where the grove was, is closer, and the gate in the grove at Tar Valon is closest of all."

"Whichever Waygate we try to use," Verin said absently, "I fear we will find Machin Shin waiting." Alar looked at her questioningly, but the Aes Sedai said no more that anyone could hear. She muttered to herself instead, shaking her head as if arguing with herself.

*~*~*~*~*

Verin obviously fears that Machin Shin can sense Rand, and she is probably correct. There is a possibility that it sensed Mat instead, but Mat did not have the dagger at the time, and Machin Shin did not chant Mat's name. Even though Fain is also compelled to seek Mat and Perrin, Machin Shin did not find Perrin until he was nearly at the Manetheren Waygate. However, Machin Shin was able to reach outside the Manetheren Gate, even though Rand was not there. It seems that Padan Fain has somehow given Machin Shin this power. Verin seems to believe that Rand is solely responsible for this phenomenon, but she does not seem to be aware of Fain's nature, and she does not know that Machin Shin was able to breach the Manetheren gate.

RJ was asked about this strange phenomenon:

DragonCon 3 September 2005 - Emma reporting

Q: In The Great Hunt, when Rand, Mat and Perrin are trying to enter the Ways, Machin Shin is waiting there for them. It seems like Padan Fain has it waiting there for them. Is Machin Shin in any way related to the evil of Shadar Logoth?

RJ: In some ways. Machin Shin is linked, or you might say drawn, to that. Its not a matter of linked, but more attracted by, in much the same ways as I spoke about the evils being attracted to one another due to opposite polarities. (Shadar Logoth and the taint)

In the same way there is an attraction because Machin Shin was created in effect by the taint. It grew out. You can see it as a fungus that was constructed with the wrong type of materials. If you think about it as that way you get a better idea about its true nature.

*~*~*~*~*

Another question seems to clarify the matter even further:

Winter's Heart book tour 11 November 2000, San Jose - Brandon Downey reporting

Q: Is Machin Shin a result of the Dark One's taint on saidin being used in the creation of the Ways, or a result of some portion of the corruption of Shadar Logoth creeping into the Ways via the Waygate there? Or is it something completely orthogonal to both these powers, merely being a parasite that showed up once the place began to grow dim?

RJ: Machin Shin is a function of the Dark One's taint on the male side of the force.. er.. source. [we all chuckled, and he mentioned how much he'd been traveling. :)] The corruption on Shadar Logoth is a result of an evil specifically designed to combat the Dark One's taint. This is why Rand experiences a resonance while channeling in Shadar Logoth -- the Dark One's taint is reacting to the corruption of Shadar Logoth.

*~*~*~*~*

Not only does Fain have the power of Mordeth, but he has the power granted to him by the Dark One, and it seems to be the combination of these two things that gives him the strange powers that he has. Padan Fain was not all that great at keeping himself out of Trolloc cookpots, but RJ said that it was specifically because he was Padan Fain, Hound of the Shadow, that he was able to escape Shadar Logoth with his soul (what little there was left of it at that point). Mordeth should have been able to consume Fain, but he could not, because of the nature of Padan Fain. It is apparent that this transformation has given Fain some powers that even Ishamael did not anticipate.

Timeline

Using Steven Cooper's chronology, it might be possible to get an idea of what Fain has been up to, and how often he has been using the Ways (bold numbers are days which are numbered from the beginning of the series (Winternight 998):

11 - Fain absorbs Mordeth.

45 - Fain makes friends with Machin Shin, and then he is captured in Fal Dara.

78 - Fain is freed from Fal Dara, and he immediately takes control of the Shadowspawn and Darkfriends with them, leading them south (the Fade wanted to go north). Over the next several days, they struggle for control.

85 - Fain kills the Fade, taking complete control.

91 - Rand steals the dagger and Horn from Fain.

100 - Fain steals the dagger and the Horn back.

101 - Rand discovers that Fain has gone into the Ways, and has apparently set Machin Shin to guard the gates.

102 - Fain arrives in Falme and presents the chest to Turak.

243 - Mat steals the Horn and the dagger from Turak.

312 - Approximate date of Fain's arrival in Amador.

425 - Approximate date of Fain's arrival in the Two Rivers.

448 - Fain is seen with his captured Fade.

455 - Fain's Fade leads the attack on Taren Ferry.

464 - Fain leaves the Two Rivers, riding north through the Westwood with the intention of beating Bornhald to the ferry, and also with the intention of going to Caemlyn to spread the news of the 'rebellion' in the Two Rivers.

494 - This is the approximate date of Fain's arrival in Tar Valon.

517 - This is the approximate date of Fain's departure from Tar Valon. It is also the day that Tallanvor informed Morgase of the 'rebellion' in the Two Rivers. From the dates, it is clear that Fain used the Ways, though he does not appear to have used the Waygate in Tar Valon, since he clearly left his followers outside the city and left the city by the gates rather than by the Ogier Grove. There are other Waygates that are close enough to Tar Valon, including one in Kinslayer's Dagger and in the Black Hills. It is certain he must have used the Ways because it took nearly 40 days of travel altogether for Rand and Mat to reach Caemlyn, including a river jaunt...yet somehow, Fain managed to reach Tar Valon in a shorter amount of time, stopping in Caemlyn along the way. (Randland map, for perspective) He must have used them in his haste to get the dagger; it's clear he traveled overland when he returned to Caemlyn.

602 - Fain's Whitecloaks attack Rand in Caemlyn.

604 - Fain muses on the failed Whitecloak attack, and learns that a man has gotten past Rand's Aiel, which Fain considers impossible enough to immediately deduce that it had been a Gray Man.

617 - Demira Sedai is attacked by pretend Aiel that suspiciously resemble Fain's Whitecloaks (one of them uses the word 'witches'). Perhaps an attempt to turn Rand against the Aiel (which are preventing Fain from being able to get close to Rand), and certainly intended to turn the Aes Sedai against Rand.

657 - Rand encounters Fain in the camp of Toram Riatin outside Cairhien. Fain has been there for some time; again, it's likely he used the Ways to go to Cairhien, though in this case, it's not necessary. On this same day, of course, the rebels are dispersed and Fain is forced to flee with Toram Riatin.

675 - Talmanes tells Egwene that he has been approached by King Roedran. This is the first mention of Roedran acting out of character, and the first indication that Roedran (whom Norry says has always been 'unambitious') intends to be Murandy's first real king.

678-684 - Rand is in Altara, using his Asha'man in a campaign against the Seanchan. Mat is in Ebou Dar and injured; Perrin is in Ghealdan, as are Masema and the Shaido.

688 - Rand is attacked by the renegade Asha'man in Cairhien. He beings laying false trails, and hints to lead the renegades to Far Madding.

696 - Moridin tells his Forsaken that Isam is attempting to track down Fain, and he implies that this could be more important than it might seem on the surface. Demandred mentions that Rand has been seen in a dozen or more places since the attack.

701 - Fain kills Kisman, the first confirmation of Fain's presence in Far Madding. It is almost certain that Fain used the Ways to reach Far Madding; the only other option is that he was already there, and that seems highly unlikely.

715 - Rand faces off with Fain, wounding him (and Lan kills Toram Riatin). Fain creates a walking and talking illusion of Torval and Gedwyn.

716 - Perrin wakes to the scent of Darkhounds. He discovers an unnaturally large pack of them has circled his camp, and not finding what they were looking for, moved on. They came from the north and continued south. Since it is almost certain that these Darkhounds are created and led by Slayer, then it is likely that the Darkhounds were searching for Fain. Perrin is camped not too terribly far from a Waygate at Londaren Cor (see Ten Nations map and Dominic's detailed map of Altara). This is also the day of the Cleansing.

739 - Moridin announces the return of Sammael at the Forsaken Garden Club meeting, with no indication of how long it has been since the Shadowspawn were ordered into the Ways.

745 - 100,000 Shadowspawn attack Algarin's manor, in Tear near the Spine of the World (there are several stedding in the Spine).

769 - Tylee's troops are attacked by Shadowspawn near Ebou Dar.

There is a possibility that Fain fled Cairhien with Toram Riatin to Lugard. This is supported by the timing in relation to the theory that Fain is advising Roedran. If Fain was in the area, then the Darkhounds might have actually had his scent, though the Waygate at Loranden Cor is nearly as far from Lugard as Far Madding is. Perhaps Fain was simply in Altara; that would explain a few things. Also, there was an Ogier-built city named Shaemal in the nation of Coremanda (see Ten Nations map). According to Mat, he danced with an emissary of the Atha'an Miere there, so it was likely a riverport, which would make its most likely location somewhere in southern Coremanda near Lugard.

In any case, it is clear enough that Fain has been using the Ways regularly through the series.

Padan Fain: Stealer of Shadowspawn

The case for Fain's capability to subvert enough Shadowspawn to pull off this attack is relatively simple. We know that he can sense all of the ta'veren, and especially Rand; he can find them if he is close enough, and tell the difference between Rand and the others:

TITLE - The Shadow Rising
CHAPTER: 31 - Assurances

He could feel one of those he hated out there somewhere, south, toward Emond's Field. Which one? It did not matter. Rand al'Thor was the only really important one. He would have known if it was al'Thor. Rumor had not drawn him yet, but it would. Ordeith shivered with desire. It had to be so. More tales must be gotten past Bornhald's guards at Taren Ferry, more reports of the scouring of the Two Rivers, to drift to Rand al'Thor's ears and sear his brain. First al'Thor, then the Tower, for what they had taken from him. He would have all that was his by right.

*~*~*~*~*

We know that he has dealt with Shadowspawn being sent through the Ways; in fact, he is the only individual besides Slayer that is known to have done so, and it seems clear enough that Slayer is a faithful servant of the Shadow and would not do so without orders:

TITLE - Winter's Heart
CHAPTER: 22 - Out of Thin Air

His patron of the moment was waiting for him. A man, he was sure of that much, but Luc could not look at him. It was not as it was with those slimy Gray Men, whom you just did not notice. He had killed one of them, once, in the White Tower itself. They felt cold and empty to the touch. It had been like killing a corpse. No, this man had done something with the Power so Luc's eyes slid away from him like water sliding down glass. Even seen at the corner of the eye, he was a blur.

"The pair sleeping in this room will sleep forever," Luc said, "but the man was bald, the woman gray."

"A pity," the man said, and the voice seemed to melt in Luc's ears. He would not be able to recognize it if he heard it without the disguise. The man had to be one of the Chosen. Few save the Chosen knew how to reach him, and none of the men among those few could channel, or would have dared trying to command him. His services were always begged, except by the Great Lord himself, and more recently by the Chosen, but none of the Chosen Luc had met had ever taken such precautions as this.

"Do you want me to try again?" Luc asked.

"Perhaps. When I tell you. Not before. Remember, not a word of this to anyone."

"As you command," Luc replied, bowing, but the man was already making a gateway, a hole that opened into a snowy forest glade. He was gone before Luc straightened.

It really was a pity. He had rather looked forward to killing his nephew and the wench. But if there was time to pass, hunting was always a pleasure. He became Isam. Isam liked killing wolves even more than Luc did.

*~*~*~*~*

This might have been Aran'gar, Osan'gar, Demandred, or Taim - considering the circumstances, Taim seems likely - but whichever one it was, Slayer's thoughts seem to indicate that he would not attempt to kill Rand on his own. It also seems that if this person were going to use Slayer again, that this method would have a far greater chance of success than the Shadowspawn method.

In The Eye of the World, Fain was abused by the Trollocs that he brought after his quarry, but after he absorbed Mordeth, he became much more dangerous. In The Great Hunt, after he steals the dagger from Mat, he is even more dangerous, and here we have the first example of Fain torturing a Fade for information:

Fain immediately took control of the party, leading them south rather than to the Blight as the Fade wanted, but each morning, in a moment of weakness, the Fade wrested back control of the party, taking them toward the Blight, and each day, Fain quickly overcame that weakness, until the day that he nailed the Fade to a door:

TITLE - The Great Hunt
CHAPTER: 11 - Glimmers of the Pattern

Fain drew a deep breath and fingered the ruby-hilted dagger at his belt. That had come from Shadar Logoth, too. It was the only weapon he carried, the only one he needed; it felt like a part of him. He was whole within himself, now. That was all that mattered.

He cast a glance to either side of his fire. The twelve Darkfriends who were left, their once-fine clothes now rumpled and dirty, huddled in the darkness to one side, staring not at the fire, but at him. On the other squatted his Trollocs, twenty in number, the all-too-human eyes in those animal-twisted men's faces following his every move like mice watching a cat.

It had been a struggle at first, waking each morning to find himself not completely whole, to find the Myrddraal back in command, raging and demanding they go north, to the Blight, to Shayol Ghul. But bit by bit those mornings of weakness grew shorter, until ... He remembered the feel of the hammer in his hand, driving the spikes in, and he smiled; this time it did touch his eyes, with the joy of sweet memory.

Weeping from the dark caught his ear, and his smile faded. I should never have let the Trollocs take so many. An entire village to slow them down. If those few houses at the ferry had not been deserted, perhaps ... But Trollocs were greedy by nature, and in the euphoria of watching the Myrddraal die, he had not paid attention as he should.

He glanced at the Trollocs. Any one of them was nearly twice as tall as he, strong enough to break him to flinders with one hand, yet they edged back, still crouching. "Kill them. All. You may feed, but then make a pile of everything that remains - for our friends to find. Put the heads on top. Neatly, now." He laughed, and cut it off short. "Go!"

The Trollocs scrambled away, drawing scythe-like swords and raising spiked axes. In moments shrieks and bellows rose from where the villagers were bound. Pleas for mercy and children's screams were cut off by solid thuds and unpleasant squishing noises, like melons being broken.

Fain turned his back on the cacophony to look at his Darkfriends. They were his, too, body and soul. Such souls as they had left. Every one of them was mired as deeply as he had been, before he found his way out. Every one with nowhere to go except to follow him. Their eyes clung to him, fearful, pleading. "You think they will grow hungry again before we find another village or a farm? They may. You think I will be letting them have some more of you? Well, perhaps one or two. There aren't any more horses to spare."

*~*~*~*~*

It is clear enough that Fain's control over these Darkfriends and Shadowspawn was absolute. He did not have absolute control over the Fade in the mornings because the Fade would steal the dagger while he slept, but he still managed to regain the dagger every day, and also control over the Fade, until he finally killed the Fade to prevent his dagger being stolen again. The process was detailed further in Rand's POV:

TITLE - The Great Hunt
CHAPTER: 10 - The Hunt Begins

"They are not going south any longer, my Lord," Hurin said. That took everyone's attention. He pointed back, to the northeast. "Maybe they've decided to break for the Blight after all. Go around us. Maybe they were just trying to put us off by coming south." He did not sound as if he believed it. He sounded puzzled.

"Whatever they were trying," Ingtar snarled, "I'll have them now. Mount!"

Little more than an hour later, though, Hurin drew rein. "They changed again, my Lord. South again. And they killed someone else here."

There were no ashes there, in the gap between two hills, but a few minutes' search found the body. A man curled up and stuffed under some bushes. The back of his head was smashed in, and his eyes still bulged with the force of the blow. No one recognized him, though he was wearing Shienaran clothes.

"We'll waste no time burying Darkfriends," Ingtar growled. "We ride south." He suited his own words almost before they were out of his mouth.

The day was the same as the day before had been, though. Uno studied tracks and droppings, and said they had gained a little ground on their quarry. Twilight came with no sight of Trollocs or Darkfriends, and the next morning there was another abandoned camp - and another murder done, so Hurin said - and another change of direction, this time to the northwest. Less than two hours on that track found another body, a man with his skull split open by an axe, and another change of direction. South again. Again gaining ground, by Uno's reading of the tracks. Again seeing nothing but distant farms until nightfall. And the next day was the same, changes in direction, murders and all. And the next.

*~*~*~*~*

That Fain was able to command the Trollocs in particular so easily is remarkable; they supposedly serve the Shadow absolutely, and a Fade generally has to link with its Trollocs to get this much control.

In The Shadow Rising, Fain brought the Whitecloaks to the Two Rivers, hoping to draw the ta'veren there, especially Rand. Slayer had been ordered (by whom, we have no idea) to bring Shadowspawn to the Two Rivers specifically to hunt out Fain, 'the renegade':

TITLE - The Shadow Rising
CHAPTER: 42 - A Missing Leaf

"If you knew how many of the Shadowwrought died trying to get out of the Ways there, it would lift your heart. Machin Shin feasted at that gate, Goldeneyes. But not a good enough trick. You saw: the gate is open now."

There, off to the right. Perrin slipped through the trees as silently as he had when he had hunted here."It was only a few hundred to begin, Goldeneyes. Just enough to keep those fool Whitecloaks off balance and see that the renegade died." Slayer's voice became angry. "The Shadow consume me if that man does not have more luck than the White Tower." Abruptly he chuckled. "But you, Goldeneyes. Your presence was a surprise. There are those who want your head on a pike. Your precious Two Rivers will be harrowed from end to end, now, to root you out. What do you say to that, Goldeneyes?"

*~*~*~*~*

It appears as though Fain began subverting Slayer's Trollocs almost as soon as he arrived in the Two Rivers; this is a little over two WoT weeks after he brought the Whitecloaks there:

TITLE - The Shadow Rising
CHAPTER: 31 - Assurances

Dain Bornhald held himself straight in his saddle as the hundred he had taken on patrol approached Watch Hill. Fewer than a hundred, now. Eleven saddles had cloak-wrapped bodies tied across them, and twenty-three more men nursed wounds. The Trollocs had laid a neat ambush; it might have succeeded against soldiers less well trained, less tough than the Children. What troubled him was that this was his third patrol to be attacked in force. Not a chance encounter, not happening on Trollocs killing and burning, but meeting a planned attack. And only patrols he led personally. The Trollocs tried to avoid the others. The fact presented worrisome questions, and the answers he came up with gave no solutions.

. . .

When he dismounted in front of his tent, Byar was there to meet him, stiff and gaunt as a scarecrow. Bornhald glanced distastefully toward a much smaller collection of tents apart from the rest. The wind was from that direction, and he could smell the other camp. They did not keep their picket lines clean, or themselves. "Ordeith is back, it seems, yes?"

"Yes, my Lord Bornhald. " Byar stopped, and Bornhald looked at him questioningly. "They report a skirmish with Trollocs to the south. Two dead. Six wounded, they claim.

"And who are the dead?" Bornhald asked quietly.

"Child Joelin and Child Gomanes, my Lord Bornhald." Byar's hollow-cheeked expression never changed.

Bornhald drew off his steel-backed gauntlets slowly. The two he had sent off to accompany Ordeith, to see what he did on his forays south. Carefully, he did not raise his voice. "My compliments to Master Ordeith, Byar, and - No! No compliments. Tell him, in these words, that I will have his scrawny bones before me now. Tell him, Byar, and bring him if you must arrest him and those filthy wretches who disgrace the Children. Go."

Bornhald held his anger until he was inside his tent, flap lowered, then swept maps and writing case from his camp table with a snarl. Ordeith must think him an imbecile. Twice he had sent men with the fellow, and twice they had been the only deaths in "a skirmish with Trollocs" that left no wounded to show among the rest. Always to the south. The man was obsessed with Emond's Field. Well, he himself might have had his camp there, if not for... No point to it now. He had the Luhhans here. They would give him Perrin Aybara, one way or another. Watch Hill was a much better site if he had to move to Taren Ferry quickly. Military considerations before personal.

*~*~*~*~*

The men sent with Fain were most likely killed by Fain himself, but Bornhald himself was probably ambushed by Trollocs that had been subverted by Fain; Fain believed that Byar would be easier to control than Bornhald. In the same chapter, we see that Fain has, at the very least, already captured a Fade:

Twitching aside his tent flap, Ordeith went in to examine his prisoner, stretched out between two pegs thick enough to hold a wagon team. Good steel chain quivered as he checked it, but he had calculated how much was needed, then doubled it. As well he had. One loop less, and those stout steel links would have broken.

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.

*~*~*~*~*

The bolded bit might just be a general comment directed at the world, but he might have meant all Fades. Especially interesting is that Fain was able to do this before he regained the dagger from the White Tower. And apparently, Fain's proposal to the Fade was that it lead an attack on Taren Ferry, and allow word to escape the Two Rivers. Fain was trying to draw Rand to the Two Rivers, and Fain was starting to worry that Rand simply didn't know about the Trollocs and Whitecloaks ravaging his home.

TITLE - The Shadow Rising
CHAPTER: 45 - The Tinker's Sword

Bornhald's hot-eyed hate took them all in, but Byar danced his bay gelding forward with a snarl. "Do you farmers think you know battle?" he roared. "Last night one of your villages was all but wiped out by Trollocs! Wait until they come at you in numbers, and you will wish your mother had never kissed your father!" He fell silent at a weary gesture from Bornhald, a fierce-trained dog obeying his master, but his words had quieted the Two Rivers people.

"Which village?" Bran's voice was dignified and troubled both. "We all know people in Watch Hill, and Deven Ride."

"Watch Hill has not been troubled," Bornhald replied, "and I know nothing of Deven Ride. This morning a rider brought me word that Taren Ferry hardly exists any longer. If you have friends there, many people did escape across the river. Across the river." His face tightened momentarily. "I myself lost nearly fifty good soldiers."

The news produced a few queasy murmurs; no one liked to hear that sort of thing, but on the other hand, no one here knew anyone in Taren Ferry. Likely none of them had ever been that far.

Luc pushed his horse forward, the stallion snapping at Stepper. Perrin reined his own mount tightly before the two began fighting, but Luc appeared not to notice or care. "Taren Ferry?" he said in a flat voice. "Trollocs attacked Taren Ferry last night?"

Bornhald shrugged. "I said it, did I not? It seems that the Trollocs have at last decided to raid the villages. How providential that you here were warned in time to prepare these fine defenses." His stare ran over the pointed hedge and the men behind it before settling on Perrin.

"Was the man called Ordeith at Taren Ferry last night?" Luc asked.

Perrin stared at him. He had not known Luc even knew of Padan Fain, or the name he used now. But people did talk, especially when someone they knew as a peddler came back with authority among Whitecloaks.Bornhald's reaction was as strange as the question. His eyes glittered a hate as strong as he had shown for Perrin, but his face went pale, and he scrubbed at slack lips with the back of his hand as though he had forgotten he wore steel-backed gauntlets. "You know Ordeith?" he said, leaning toward Luc in his saddle.

It was Luc's turn to shrug casually. "I have seen him here and there since coming to the Two Rivers. A disreputable-looking man, and those who follow him no less. The sort who might have been careless enough to allow a Trolloc attack to succeed. Was he there? If so, one can hope he died for his folly. If not, one hopes you have him here with you, close under your eye."

"I do not know where he is," Bornhald snapped. "Or care! I did not come here to talk of Ordeith!" His horse pranced nervously as Bornhald flung out a hand, pointing at Perrin. "I arrest you as a Darkfriend. You will be taken to Amador, and there tried under the Dome of Truth."

*~*~*~*~*

This was Fain's first subversion of Shadowspawn for an attack. We don't know how many Trollocs were involved, but it was enough to completely destroy Taren Ferry and to kill fifty of Bornhald's Whitecloaks. And Fain did it way back in book 4 - by Steven Cooper's reckoning, almost an entire year before the attack on Algarin's manor - and also, he did it without the dagger, and before his talents were fully mature. There is also a hint that Fain might have subverted other Fades, perhaps for attacks on Slayer himself:

TITLE - The Shadow Rising
CHAPTER: 53 - The Price of a Departure

The Ogier pulled himself up with an obvious effort, swaying for a moment like a tree about to fall. His ears still hung limp. "No, I am not hurt, Perrin. Only tired. Do not worry yourself about me. A long time out of the stedding. Visits are not enough." He shook his head as if his thoughts had wandered. His wide hand engulfed Perrin's shoulder. "I will be fine after a little sleep." He lowered his voice. For an Ogier, he did; it was still a huge bumblebee rumble. "It is very bad out there, Perrin. We followed the last bands down, for the most part. We locked the gate, but I think there must be several thousand Trollocs in the Two Rivers already, and maybe as many as fifty Myrddraal."

"Not so," Luc announced loudly. He had galloped up along the edge of the houses from the direction of the North Road. He reined his rearing black stallion to a flashy halt, forehooves pawing. "You are no doubt fine at singing to trees, Ogier, but fighting Trollocs is something different. I estimate less than a thousand now. A formidable force to be sure, but nothing these stout defenses and brave men cannot hold at bay. Another trophy for you, Lord Perrin Goldeneyes." Laughing, he tossed a bulging cloth bag at Perrin. The bottom gleamed darkly wet in the moonlight.

Perrin caught it out of the air and hurled it well over the stakes despite its weight. Four or five Trolloc heads, no doubt, and perhaps a Myrddraal. The man brought in his trophies every night, still seeming to expect them to be put up for everyone to admire. A bunch of the Coplins and Congars had given him a feast the night he came in with a pair of Fades' heads.

*~*~*~*~*

Slayer might well kill Shadowspawn just for the fun of it, but it seems to defeat the purpose somewhat. But we know that Fain was subverting Trollocs at this point, at least, and what better reason for Slayer to kill his own Shadowspawn than that they had been subverted by the renegade? The Fade that we are sure of stayed with Fain after the attack on Taren Ferry, because it feared Isam would find it. Perhaps because of the others Slayer had killed?

TITLE - The Shadow Rising
CHAPTER: 56 - Goldeneyes

From the thick branch of a leafy oak on the edge of the Westwood, Ordeith stared at Emond's Field, a mile to the south. It was impossible. Scourge them. Flay them. Everything had been going according to plan. Even Isam had played into his hands. Why did the fool stop bringing Trollocs? He should have brought in enough to turn the Two Rivers black with them! Spittle dripped from his lips, but he did not notice, any more than he realized that his hand was fumbling at his belt. Harry them till their hearts burst! Harrow them into the ground screaming! All planned to pull Rand al'Thor to him, and it came to this! The Two Rivers had not even been scratched. A few farms burned did not count, nor a few farmers butchered alive for Trolloc cookpots. I want the Two Rivers to burn, burn so the fire lives in men's memories for a thousand years!

He studied the banner waving over the village, and the one not that far below him. A scarlet wolfhead on scarlet-bordered white, and a red eagle. Red for the blood the Two Rivers must shed to make Rand al'Thor howl. Manetheren. That's meant to be Manetheren's banner. Someone had told them of Manetheren, had they? What did these fools know of the glories of Manetheren? Manetheren. Yes. There was more than one way to scourge them. He laughed so hard he nearly fell out of the oak before he realized that he was not holding on with both hands, that one gripped his belt where a dagger should have hung. The laugh twisted into a snarl as he stared at that hand. The White Tower held what had been stolen from him. What was his by right as old as the Trolloc Wars.

He let himself drop to the ground, and scrambled onto his horse before looking at his companions. His hounds. The thirty or so Whitecloaks remaining no longer wore their white cloaks, of course. Rust spotted their dull plate-and-mail, and Bornhald would never have recognized those sullen, suspicious faces, dirty and unshaven. The humans watched Ordeith, distrustful yet afraid, not even glancing at the Myrddraal in their midst, its slug-pale, eyeless face as bleakly wooden as theirs. The Halfman feared Isam would find it; Isam had not at all been pleased when that raid on Taren Ferry let so many escape to carry away word of what was happening in the Two Rivers. Ordeith giggled at the thought of Isam discomforted. The man was a problem for another time, if he still lived.

"We ride for Tar Valon," he snapped. Hard riding, to beat Bornhald to the ferry. Manetheren's banner, raised again in the Two Rivers after all these centuries. How the Red Eagle had harried him, so long ago. "But Caemlyn first!" Scourge them and flay them! Let the Two Rivers pay first, and then Rand al'Thor, and then...

Laughing, he galloped north through the forest, not looking back to see if the others followed. They would. They had nowhere else to go now.

*~*~*~*~*

Fain went to Caemlyn to bring news of the 'rebellion' in the Two Rivers, and the flag of Manetheren being raised, thinking to bring the wrath of Morgase down on them. Let the Two Rivers pay, and then Rand al'Thor, and then the Shadow.

Mordeth: Counselor to the Mighty

The next time we see Fain is in the Tower, once not long after he arrives, and then again when he retrieves the dagger. When he meets with Elaida, we get more hints of his new powers, of the transformation that he underwent when he absorbed Mordeth:

TITLE - he Fires of Heaven
PROLOGUE: - The First Sparks Fall

Finally they realized he was there, the Amyrlin frowning slightly at being taken by surprise, the Keeper of the Chronicles unchanging. "You may go now, daughter," Elaida said firmly, a slight but definite emphasis on "now." Oh, yes. The tensions, the cracks in power. Cracks where seeds could be planted. Fain caught himself on the point of giggling.

Alviarin hesitated before giving the briefest of curtsies. As she swept out of the room, her eyes brushed across him, expressionless yet disconcerting. Unconsciously he huddled, bunching his shoulders protectively; his upper lip fluttered in a half-snarl at her slim back. On occasion he had the feeling, just for an instant, that she knew too much about him, but he could not have said why. Her cool face, cool eyes, they never changed. At those times he wanted to make them change. Fear. Agony. Pleading. He nearly laughed at the thought. No point, of course. She could know nothing. Patience, and he could be done with her and her never-changing eyes.

The Tower held things worth a little patience in its strong rooms. The Horn of Valere was there, the fabled Horn made to call dead heroes back from the grave for the Last Battle. Even most of the Aes Sedai were ignorant of that, but he knew how to sniff out things. The dagger was there. He felt its pull where he stood. He could have pointed to it. It was his, a part of him, stolen and mired away here by these Aes Sedai. Having the dagger would make up for so much lost; he was not sure how, but he was sure it would. For Aridhol lost. Too dangerous to return to Aridhol, perchance to be trapped there again. He shivered. So long trapped. Not again.

Of course, no one called it Aridhol any longer, but Shadar Logoth. Where the Shadow Waits. An apt name. So much had changed. Even himself. Padan Fain. Mordeth. Ordeith. Sometimes he was uncertain which name was really his, who he really was. One thing was sure. He was not what anyone thought. Those who believed they knew him were badly mistaken. He was transfigured, now. A force unto himself, and beyond any other power. They would all learn, eventually.

*~*~*~*~*

Fain realizes later on that this feeling that he got from Alviarin is a talent for knowing Darkfriends on sight. The nature of those that serve the Shadow, whether Darkfriends or Shadowspawn, seems to give Fain a certain power over them, in as-yet-unexplained ways. When he meets Alviarin again later, he reasons out that she is Black Ajah because she does not seem to care about the dead Accepted:

TITLE - The Fires of Heaven
CHAPTER: 19 - Memories

Night was when Padan Fain felt most comfortable. As he padded through the tapestry-bedecked corridors of the White Tower, it seemed as though the darkness outside made a cloak to hide him from his enemies, despite the stand-lamps, gilded and mirrored, burning along his way. A false feeling, he knew; his enemies were many and everywhere. Right that moment, as in every waking hour, he could feel Rand al'Thor. Not where he was, but that he was still alive, somewhere. Still alive. It was a gift received at Shayol Ghul, in the Pit of Doom, that awareness of al'Thor.

His mind skittered away from memories of what had been done to him in the Pit. He had been distilled there, remade. But later, in Aridhol, he had been reborn. Reborn to smite old enemies and new.

He could feel something else as he stalked the empty night hallways of the Tower, a thing that was his, stolen from him. A sharper desire drew him at this moment than his longing for al'Thor's death, or the Tower's destruction, or even revenge against his ancient foe. A hunger to be whole.

. . .

"You are a fool."

He spun, dagger reaching, but the air around him seemed to turn solid, encasing him from his neck to the sole of his boots. He hung there, on the balls of his feet, dagger extended to stab, staring at Alviarin as she shut the door behind her and leaned against it to study him. There had been no creak this time. The soft scraping of the dying girl's slippers on the floorstones could never have masked it. He blinked away sweat that was suddenly stinging his eyes.

"Did you really think," the Aes Sedai went on, "that there would be no guard on this room, no watch kept? A ward was set on that lock. That young fool's task tonight was to monitor it. Had she done as she was supposed to, you would find a dozen Warders and as many Aes Sedai outside this door now. She is paying the price of her stupidity."

The thrashing behind him stilled, and his eyes narrowed. Alviarin was not Yellow Ajah, but even so she could have made an attempt to Heal the young woman. And she had not raised the alarm the Accepted should have, either, or she would not now be here alone. "You are Black Ajah," he whispered.

"A dangerous accusation," she said calmly. It was not clear to which of them it was dangerous. "Siuan Sanche tried to claim the Black Ajah was real when she was under the question. She begged to tell us of them. Elaida would not hear it, and will not. Tales of the Black Ajah are a vile slander against the Tower."

"You are Black Ajah," he said in a louder voice.

"You want to steal that?" She sounded as though he had not spoken. "The ruby is not worth it, Fain. Or whatever your name is. That blade is tainted so none but a fool would touch it except with tongs, or be near it for a moment longer than necessary. You can see what it did to Verine. So why did you come here and go straight to what you should not have known was here? You cannot have had time for any search."

"I could dispose of Elaida for you. One touch of this, and even Healing will not save her." He tried to gesture with the dagger, but could not budge it a hair, if he could have moved it, Alviarin would be dead by now. "You could be first in the Tower, not second."

She laughed at him, cool contemptuous chimes. "Do you think I would not be first if I had wished it? Second suits me. Let Elaida claim credit for what she calls successes, and sweat for her failures, too. I know where the power lies. Now, answer my questions, or two corpses will be found here in the morning instead of one."

There would be two in any case, whether he answered her with suitable lies or not; she did not mean to let him live. "I have seen Thakan'dar." Saying that hurt; the memories it brought were agony. He refused to whimper, forced the words out. "The great sea of fog, rolling and crashing in silence against the black cliffs, the fires of the forges glowing red beneath, and lightning stabbing up into a sky fit to drive men mad." He did not want to go on, but he made himself. "I have taken the path down to the belly of Shayol Ghul, down the long way with stones like fangs brushing my head, to the shore of a lake of fire and molten rock - " No, not again! " - that holds the Great Lord of the Dark in its endless depths. The heavens above Shayol Ghul are black at noon with his breath."

Alviarin was standing upright now, eyes wide. Not fearful, but impressed. "I have heard of..." she began softly, then shook herself and stared at him piercingly. "Who are you? Why are you here? Did one of the For - the Chosen send you? Why was I not informed?"

He threw back his head and laughed. "Are the tasks given to the likes of me for the likes of you to be knowing?" The accents of his native Lugard were strong again; in a way it was his native city. "Do the Chosen confide everything in you, then?" Something inside seemed to shout that this was not the way, but he hated Aes Sedai, and that something inside him did, too. "Be careful, pretty little Aes Sedai, or they'll be giving you to a Myrddraal for its sport."

Her glare was icicles stabbing his eyes. "We shall see, Master Fain. I will clear away this mess you have made, and then we shall see which of us stands higher with the Chosen." Eyeing the dagger, she backed from the room. The air around him did not soften until she had been gone a full minute.

Silently he snarled at himself. Fool. Playing the Aes Sedai's game, groveling for them; then one moment of anger to ruin all. Sheathing the dagger, he nicked himself, and licked the wound before sticking the weapon under his coat. He was not at all what she thought. He had been a Darkfriend once, but he was beyond that, now. Beyond it, above it. Something different. Something more. If she managed to communicate with one of the Forsaken before he could dispose of her... Better not to try. No time to find the Horn of Valere now. There were followers awaiting him outside the city. They should still be waiting. He had put fear into them. He hoped some of the humans were still alive.

Before the sun rose he was out of the Tower, off the island of Tar Valon. Al'Thor was out there, somewhere. And he was whole again.

*~*~*~*~*

The next time we see Fain, and the last POV we get from Fain, is in Caemlyn, just after the aforementioned attack on Rand by Fain's Whitecloaks.

TITLE - Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 28 - Letters

Padan Fain sat with his feet up on a hassock, studying the beauty of new-breaking sunlight glittering on the curved blade of the dagger that he turned over and over in his hands. Carrying it at his belt was not enough; from time to time he simply had to handle it. The large ruby set in the pommel shone with a deep malevolence. The dagger was part of him, or he of it. The dagger was part of Aridhol, what men called Shadar Logoth, but then, he was part of Aridhol too. Or it was part of him. He was quite mad and knew it very well, but being mad, he did not care. Sunlight gleamed on steel, steel more deadly now than any made at Thakan'dar.

A rustling caught his ear, and he glanced toward where the Myrddraal sat waiting his pleasure on the far side of the room. It did not try to meet his gaze; he had broken it of that long since.

He tried to return to his contemplation of the blade, to the perfect beauty of perfect death, the beauty of what Aridhol had been and would be again, but the Myrddraal had broken his concentration. Spoiled it. He very nearly went over and killed the thing. Halfmen took a long time to die; how long if he used the dagger? As if sensing his thoughts, it stirred again. No, it could be useful still.

. . .

"Someone tried to kill the Dragon Reborn this morning. A man. He's dead now. He got right past all the Aiel and everything, right into the Lord Dragon's rooms."

Fain felt his smile become a snarl. Trying to kill al'Thor? Al'Thor was his! Al'Thor would die by his hand, no other! Wait. The assassin had gotten past the Aiel, into al'Thor's rooms? "A Gray Man!" He did not recognize that grating sound as his own voice. Gray Men meant the Chosen. Would he never be free of their interference?

All that rage had to go somewhere before he burst. Almost casually he brushed his hand across the boy's face. The boy's eyes bulged; he began trembling so hard his teeth rattled.

Fain did not really understand the tricks he could work. A bit of something from the Dark One, perhaps, a bit from Aridhol. It had been after there, after he stopped being just Padan Fain, that the ability began to manifest, slowly. All he knew was that he could do certain things now, as long as he could touch what he worked with.

Nan flung herself to her knees beside his chair, clutching at his coat. "Mercy, Master Mordeth," she panted. "Please, have mercy. He's only a child. Only a child!"

For a moment he studied her curiously, head tilted. She was quite a pretty woman, really. Planting a foot against her chest, he shoved her aside so he could stand. The Myrddraal, peeking furtively, jerked its eyeless face away when it saw him watching. It remembered his... tricks very well.

Fain paced; he had to move. Al'Thor's downfall had to be his doing - his! - not the Chosen's. How could he hurt the man again, hurt to the heart? There were those nattering girls at Culain's Hound, but if al'Thor did not come when the Two Rivers was harrowed, what would he care even if Fain burned the inn down and the chits with it? What did he have to work with? Only a few remained of his onetime Children of the Light. That had only been a test really - he would have made the man who actually managed to kill al'Thor beg to be skinned alive! - yet it had cost him numbers. He had the Myrddraal, a handful of Trollocs hidden outside the city, a few Darkfriends gathered in Caemlyn and on the way from Tar Valon. The pull of al'Thor dragged him on. It was the most remarkable thing about Darkfriends. There should be nothing to single out a Darkfriend from anyone else, but of late he found he could tell one at a glance, even someone who had only thought of swearing to the Shadow, as if they had a sooty mark on their foreheads.

No! He had to concentrate. Concentrate! Clear his mind. His eye fell on the woman, moaning and stroking her gibbering son, talking to him softly as if that would help. Fain had no notion how to stop one of his tricks once it began; the boy should survive, if a trifle the worse for wear, once the thing ground to a conclusion. Fain had not put his whole heart into making it. Clear his mind.

*~*~*~*~*

I underlined that bit because it seems to be something similar to the mark that the Myrddraal see when they are ordered by the Chosen.

At this point, Fain realized that he needed to dedicate his efforts to subverting more of the Shadow's forces. He is next seen in the company of Toram Riatin, and Caraline Damodred tells us of how 'Jeraal Mordeth' corrupted Riatin:

TITLE - A Crown of Swords
CHAPTER: 35 - Into the Woods

"That," Caraline breathed in a tight voice, "is Lord Toram Riatin himself. And his constant companion these past days, Master Jeraal Mordeth. Odious little man. His eyes make me want to take a bath. They both make me feel unclean." She blinked, surprised at what she had said, but recovered quickly. Min had the feeling little put Caraline Damodred off her stride for long. In that, she was very like Moiraine. "I would be careful were I you, Cousin Tomas," she went on. "You may have wrought some miracle or ta'veren-work on me - and perhaps even on Darlin - though I cannot say what it might come to - I make no promises - but Toram hates you with a passion. It was not so bad before Mordeth joined him, yet since... Toram would have us attack the city immediately, in the night. With you dead, he says, the Aiel would go, but I think it is you dead he seeks now even more than he does the throne."

"Mordeth," Rand said. His eyes were locked to Toram Riatin and the skinny fellow. "His name is Padan Fain, and there are one hundred thousand golden crowns on his head."

Caraline nearly dropped her goblet. "Queens have been ransomed for less. What did he do?"

"He ravaged my home because it was my home." Rand's face was frozen, his voice ice. "He brought Trollocs to kill my friends because they were my friends. He is a Darkfriend, and a dead man." Those last words came through clenched teeth. Punch splashed to the carpet as the silver goblet bent in his gloved fist.

*~*~*~*~*

In the next chapter, Fain attacks Rand during the bubble of evil:

TITLE - A Crown of Swords
CHAPTER: 36 - Blades

Padan Fain seemed to leap out of the mists behind Rand, steel gleaming in his fist.

"Behind you!" Min screamed, pointing with the knife in her outstretched right hand as she threw the one in her left. Everything seemed to happen at once, half-seen in wintery fog.

Rand began to turn; twisting aside, and Fain also twisted, to lunge for him. For that twist, her knife missed, but Fain's dagger scored along Rand's left side. It hardly seemed to more than slice his coat, yet he screamed. He screamed, a sound to make Min's heart clench, and clutching his side, he fell against Cadsuane, catching at her to hold himself up, pulling both of them down.

"Move out of my way!" one of the other sisters shouted - Samitsu, Min thought - and suddenly, Min's feet jerked out from under her. She landed heavily, grunting as she hit the slope together with Caraline, who snapped a breathless, "Blood and fire!"

Everything at once.

"Move!" Samitsu shouted again, as Darlin lunged for Fain with his sword. The bony man moved with shocking speed, throwing himself down and rolling beyond Darlin's reach. Strangely, he cackled with laughter as he scampered to his feet and ran off, swallowed in the murk almost immediately.

*~*~*~*~*

Apparently, Fain believed that he had been successful when he got away . . . and why wouldn't he? Usually all it takes is a scratch. But Rand survived, and the next we saw of Fain, he drew Rand into his trap in Far Madding (longer version of the quote given in the introduction):

TITLE - Winter's Heart
CHAPTER: 33 - Blue Carp Street

The black swollen faces were unrecognizable, but the shorter of the pair wore a silver hairclip set with a large red stone.

Dropping soundlessly from the attic, Lan looked at the corpses and raised an eyebrow. That was all. Nothing ever surprised him.

"Fain is here," Rand whispered. As if saying the name were a trigger, the twin wounds in his side began throbbing, the older like a disc of ice, the newer a bar of fire across it. "It was him sent the letter."

Lan gestured toward the trapdoor with his sword, but Rand shook his head. He had wanted to kill the renegades with his own hands, yet now that Torval and Gedwyn were dead - and almost certainly Kisman, too; there was that swollen corpse mentioned by the merchant at The Golden Wheel - now, he realized he did not care who killed them so long as they were dead. If a stranger finished Dashiva, it would not matter. Fain was another matter. Fain had harrowed the Two Rivers with Trollocs, and given him a second wound that would not heal. If Fain was within reach, Rand would not allow him to escape. He motioned for Lan to do as they had in the attic, and set himself in front of the door with his sword in both hands. When the other man pulled the door open, he darted into a large lamplit room with a posted bed against the far wall and a fire crackling in a small fireplace.

Only the speed of his movement saved him. A flicker of movement caught the corner of his eye, something tugged at the cloak billowing behind him, and he spun awkwardly to fend off slashes of a curved dagger. Every movement was an effort of will. The wounds in his side no longer throbbed; they clawed at him, molten iron and the very soul of ice warring to rip him open. Lews Therin howled. It was all Rand could do to think, with the agony.

"I told you he's mine!" the bony man screamed, dancing away from Rand's cut. With his face contorted in fury, his big nose and ears that stuck out made him seem something contrived to frighten children, but his eyes held murder. Teeth bared in a snarl, he looked like a weasel wild with killing fury. A rabid weasel, ready to savage even a leopard. With that dagger, he could kill any number of leopards. "Mine!" Padan Fain shrieked, leaping back again as Lan rushed into the room. "Kill the ugly one!"

Only when Lan turned away from Fain did Rand realize someone else was in the room, a tall pale man who came almost eagerly to meet the Warder blade to blade. Toram Riatin's face was haggard, but he flowed into the dance of swords with the grace of the blademaster he was. Lan met him with an equal grace, a dance of steel and death.

Startled as Rand was to see the man who had tried to claim the throne of Cairhien in a worn coat in Far Madding, he kept his eyes on Fain and his sword toward the one time peddler. Darkfriend and worse, Moiraine had called him long ago. The blinding pain in Rand's side made him stumble as he advanced on Fain, ignoring the stamp of boots and the ring of steel on steel behind him as he ignored Lews Therin's groans in his head. Fain danced and darted, trying to get close enough to use the dagger that had made the never-healing slash in Rand's side, growling curses in a low voice as Rand's blade forced him back. Abruptly he turned and ran, toward the back of the building.

The torment tearing at Rand faded to mere throbbing as Fain vanished from the room, but he followed cautiously even so. At the doorway, though, he saw that Fain was not trying to hide. The man stood waiting for him at the head of stairs leading down, the curved dagger in one hand. The large ruby capping the hilt glittered, catching the light of the lamps set on tables about the windowless room. As soon as Rand stepped into the room, fire and ice raged in his side till he could feel his heart shuddering. Staying upright was an effort of iron will. Taking a step forward made that effort seem pale, but he took that step, and the next.

"I want him to know who is killing him," Fain whined petulantly. He was glaring straight at Rand, but he seemed to talking to himself. "I want him to know! But if he's dead, then he will stop haunting my dreams. Yes. He will stop, then." With a smile, he raised his free hand.

Torval and Gedwyn came up the stairs with their cloaks over their arms.

"I say we aren't going near him until I know where the others are," Gedwyn growled. "The M'Hael will kill us if. . . ."

Without thought, Rand twisted his wrists in Cutting the Wind and immediately followed with Unfolding the Fan.

The illusion of dead men come back to life vanished, and Fain leaped back with a shriek, blood streaming down the side of his face. Suddenly he tilted his head as though listening, and a moment later, aiming a scream of wordless fury at Rand, he fled down the stairs.

Wondering, Rand moved to follow the descending thumps of Fain's boots, but Lan caught his arm.

*~*~*~*~*

This was to be the renegades' last chance: kill Rand, or don't come back. It might not have been Fain's last chance to kill Rand with his own hands, but it was certainly his best chance, in a place where Rand can't channel, at a time when Rand had left his entourage behind, bringing only Lan for protection. But this time, not only did he not succeed, but Rand managed to wound him. Can you feel his desperation growing?

Conclusion

I believe that Fain's main purpose in the series is to provide an unexpected antagonist for both sides of the good vs evil battle. Rand wants to focus all of his energy on defeating the Shadow, but Fain has been just as formidable an enemy as the Shadow since he first disassociated himself from it. Moridin would like to focus all of his effort on Rand and the Day of Return, but Fain is like a biteme that he can't quite manage to squish. Moridin's frustration at the Garden Club meeting seems to be exactly the sort of thing that Fain is going for; taking swipes at the Forsaken is among his main goals:

A Crown of Swords book tour 9 October 1996, Dunwoody, GA - Erica Sadun reporting

Q: What is Fain?

RJ: Mordeth + person. Mordeth is a human-made evil. The Black Wind gets along with Mordeth because of professional courtesy. Fain is anti-Forsaken as well as anti-Rand. He has a lot of skills and abilities outside of channeling. He can not channel.

*~*~*~*~*

The ultimate manifestation of that purpose for Fain - that unexpected antagonst for both sides, in itself something of a paradox - is generally theorized to be a Gollum-type role, and this theory was strengthened at least somewhat when Lews Therin revealed that it was necessary to touch something to the Dark One to seal him away, to close the gap. Some think that is a little too predictable. Knowing RJ, if he's going to use it, he will put some twist on it that surprises all of us.

These renegade Shadowspawn attacks are might not be Fain's ultimate purpose, but I believe they are the opening moves of his Last Battle. He can see the signs as well as anyone else, and he knows his time is running short.

In many ways, we have no idea what Fain has been up to for the last several books, but I think it is clear from Fain's last POV that he was mostly frustrated with his dwindling resources. He has other goals besides defeating Rand, and other means of defeating Rand besides doing it with his own hands. He tried to influence Niall and Elaida against Rand, and he did the same with Toram Riatin. But after he fled Cairhien with Riatin, what did he do?

Knowing Fain, he was doing something to increase his resources, either by trying to influence another ruler - the Seanchan are one possibility, as we know that they appeal to him from RJ, and Roedran is another - or alternatively, he might have been looking into ways to steal the Shadow's resources, as he has done before. He would probably have done so before book 6 if he had not been so obsessed with first getting the dagger (definitely his top priority), and then with finding Rand again. But by the time he found Rand again - the first time he had seen Rand since Fal Dara, not counting when Rand stole back the Horn the first time - Rand had come across the Dragonwall with an army of Aiel; his defenses had already grown to the point that Fain couldn't penetrate them.

Nevertheless, Fain took two opportunities to do so. The first was an unexpected opportunity, when Rand showed up in the Cairhienin rebel camp, and the bubble of evil struck to give Fain the chance to strike at Rand. But it didn't work. Rand didn't die like he should have. This undoubtedly caused Fain a great deal of consternation; the dagger always kills. If he cannot depend on that to kill Rand, then what will do the trick? The second opportunity was in Far Madding. Far Madding was the best opportunity that Fain could hope for, but even that was not enough.

I believe that after these failures that Fain became willing to take more chances. He still has the one Fade hanging around, completely broken to his will, a nearly-unlimited source of information about the Shadow's forces and weaknesses. He had already tried to influence nearly every ruler that was vulnerable, and the results had been in general quite unsatisfactory. This is what led Fain to look into stealing Shadowspawn. And when he traveled the Ways to the Blight, he probably would not have had to go anywhere near Shayol Ghul to get what he needed:

TITLE - The Gathering Storm
CHAPTER: 42 - Before the Stone of Tear

"What news from Ituralde?" Rand asked.

"Nothing good, I'm afraid," Bashere said grimly. "He's had skirmishes with Trollocs, but you knew that already. The Shadowspawn always withdraw quickly, but he warns that something is gathering. His scouts catch glimpses of forces large enough to overrun him. If the Trollocs are gathering there, then they're likely gathering elsewhere as well. Particularly the Gap."

*~*~*~*~*

If the Shadowspawn were all hanging out at Shayol Ghul, then Fain likely wouldn't risk it, but they likely aren't. There are probably too many Shadowspawn to keep them all near enough to Shayol Ghul that Fain couldn't reach them, anyway. This seems to indicate that there are so many Trollocs that they have to import food:

The Gathering Storm Book Tour, Sandy, UT 5 December 2009 - kavorca reporting

Trollocs. Question was how many Trollocs did the Dark One have access to. He stated definitively that there are lots and lots of Trollocs. The Dark One has access to either "orders of magnitudes more" or "an order of magnitude" more Trollocs that can be supported in the Blight (I can't remember whether there was an "s" there. Sorry). He wouldn't comment on how or where, but was very clear that there was going to be a big big Trolloc army.

*~*~*~*~*

Apparently, Moridin is incapable of keeping an eye on all these Trollocs all the time, or it wouldn't be possible for so many to disappear with none left behind that had witnessed the orders being given. With the Shadowspawn gathering closer and closer to the Waygates in the Blight, Fain will have even more opportunities to steal in the near future. Fain might even be able to use Machin Shin to dispose of any guards set on the Waygates.

I believe that the Darkhounds were obviously following a scent, and that they were intended to give us a hint, along with Moridin's comment about Fain, that Fain was in Altara, probably around the time that Rand was there with his army of Asha'man. If what RJ said is true - that by Lord of Chaos we should be able to figure out what Fain is all about - then we have these things to work with:

1. Fain wants two things above all others: to kill Rand, and to defeat the Dark One. Beyond that, he wants the whole world to pay for what the Dark One did to him.

2. Fain is on the run from the Forsaken because he is a renegade, but he will take any swipe at them that he can, to keep them from interfering with him, and for his revenge.

3. Fain has a number of strange skills and abilities, including the ability to torture Fades and control Shadowspawn and Darkfriends. He has a history of stealing the Shadow's resources from under the Shadow's nose.

4. Fain is part Mordeth, and is predictable in the sense that he will always be putting forth the effort to influence someone powerful, partly to help him achieve his goals, and partly to protect him from those that are hunting him.

With these things in mind, and all the other points in the theory, I think it is clear that Fain is the Shadowspawn-thief.

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Comments

1

Tamyrlin: 2010-08-10

Since I requested the theory, I'll let others speak to its merits regarding his plausibility as the mastermind. However, I like how you've put together all of these quotes that point to Fain's growing powers and abilities. Fain remains one of the least understood characters and the one with the greatest chance to make significant changes to the weaving of this Age of this Turning.

2

cantstandnynaeve: 2010-08-10

A great theory. I have no support for this concept. There is at least one other theory out there that says Fain will become the next Dark One. I see Fain as an unwitting hero. Just as Gollum bit the ring from Frodo's finger and danced into Mt. Doom, I think Fain will unwittingly save the day. The theory on the Dark One as the serpent driving the wheel of time and the basis in Nordic mythology seemed a great concept. Rand will kill the Dark One and risk destroying the world. Fain will be there when it happens to absorb the essence of Shai'Tan and become him. He will unify the old evils to those created by the dark one. This will establish pure evil in its original state to be sealed into a new seamless prison from which it will gradually escape perpetuating the wheel of time's cycle of ages. It is easy to throw these out there when you don't have to prove them.

3

Biskut: 2010-08-10

Fain = Agent Smith. At the Last Battle, Rand will convince the Dark One of Fain's threat, and they will work together to stop him. The DO will agree to go back in his prison and leave the world alone, and Rand will agree to die.

Yeah, I know it probably won't play out that way. But all this talk of Fain just reminds me of the Matrix.

4

Golden God: 2010-08-10

This is a great theory Fain and Slayer are both such wildcard that operate outside of the foresaken politics. I really hope these 2 can face each other at some point

5

Painedwulf: 2010-08-10

Fain is not the only one capable of moving through the ways without fear. First, Verin Sedai let slip that she could lie in The Great Hunt, on pg. 231, "Moiraine Sedia sent me Lord Ingtar," Verin announced with a satisfied smile.

This is proven to be a lie on pg. 675 of The Great Hunt, starting with Rand, "What you could. You sent Verin to shepherd me, but I'm no sheep, Moiraine. You said I could go where I wanted, and I mean to go where you are not."

"I did not send Verin." Moiraine frowned. "She did that on her own. You are of interest to a great many people, Rand. Did Faine find you, or you him?"

This is proof that Verin Sedai is of the Black Ajah. Verin Sedai admits to being of the Black Ajah in The Gathering Storm on pg. 597, "Hmm, Yes," Verin said, taking a calm sip of her tea. "I suspect that you do. By the way, that dress you are wearing is green."

Egwene frowned at the nonsense sentence, glancing down at her dress. Of course it wasn't green. What was Verin saying? Had the woman become- She froze, glancing at Verin. That had been a lie. Verin could speak lies.

"Yes, I thought that might get your attention," Verin said smiling. "You should sit down. We have much to discuss and little time in which to do it."

She goes on to say in the next chapter that she was Black Ajah, and her Warder Thomas was a Darkfriend. She had found herself facing the choice of taking the oaths to the Dark One, or to be executed. The Oaths were very binding, stating that she could not betray the order, or the Dark One until the hour of her death. The Gathering Storm pg. 601, quoted from Verin Sedai. "'I swear not to betray the Great Lord, to keep my secrets until the hour of my death,' That was what I promised. Do you see?"

This shows that if she knew a way to travel the ways, and a way to repel Machin Shin, as Liandrin, posing as Red Ajah, but of the Black Ajah hints at in The Great Hunt, she would not be able to reveal the secret of how it was done until the hour of her death. Liandrin took Nynaeve, Egwene, Elaine, and Min from the White Tower to Falme through the Ways. This might seem a minor point other than, while they were in the Ways, Egwene asks Liandrin about encountering the Black Wind on pg. 560 of The Great Hunt, 'After a time, Egwene said, "Liandrin Sedai, what if we encounter the Black Wind?" Min mouthed the word questioningly, but Elayne gave a sequeak. "Moiraine Sedai said that it could not be killed, or even hurt very much, and I can feel the taint on this place waiting to twist anything we do with the Power."'

"You will not so much as think of the Source unless I tell you to," Liandrin said sharply. "Why, if one such as you tried to channel here, in the Ways, you might well go as mad as a man. You have not the training to deal with the taint of those men who made this. If the Black Wind appears, I will deal with it." She pursed her lips, studying a lump of white cheese. "Moiraine does not know so much as she thinks." She popped the cheese into her mouth with a smile.

This does not directly state that the secret to repelling Machin Shin is one of the secrets known only to the more powerful or Power weilding of The Friends of the Dark, but it strongly supports the theory.

Padan Fain, a.k.a Ordieth, distilled and possibly imprinted with part of the Dark One, merged with Mordeth, able to survive and understand Machin Shin, did not bring the thousands of Trollocs to the Two Rivers in The Shadow Rising, The Trollocs were brought through the ways by Slayer (See note below for thoughts on who Slayer really is). This is supported by the Trollocs right before their final attack on Emond's Field when they yelled "Isam!" twice, and by Ordeith's, thoughts at the end of chapter 56 in The Shadow Rising. Slayer also talks to Perrin about the Waygate being closed while trying to kill him in the dream shortly after Perrin gets shot with a Trolloc arrow in The Shadow Rising, showing knowledge of how the Shadowspawn are being brought into the Two Rivers.

Ordeith's, Padan Fain, thoughts on pg. 653 of The Shadow Rising, "'Scourge them. Flay them. Everything had been going according to plan. Even Isam had played into his hands. Why did the fool stop bringing Trollocs? He should have have brought in enough to turn the Two Rivers Black with them!"

Slayer: a.k.a. Lord Luc of House Mantear brother to , at the time, Tigraine Daughter-Heir of Andor, and or Isam son to Lain, who was brother to al'Akir Mandragoran the last crowned King of Malkieri, making him al'Lan Mandragoran's (Moiraine Sedia's Warder) last remaining blood kin and or blood to Rand al'Thor and Lord Galadedrid Damodred, Galad, through their birth mother Tigraine. This is slightly confusing to make out.

In The Eye Of The World, Lord Agelmar of Fal Dara tells of al'Lan Mandragoran's past and titles. It explains that Isam and his mother,Breyan, both vanished into the Blight never to be seen again and how Lan became the last Lord of the Seven Towers. In The Great Hunt on pg. 105- 106 Verin Sedai reads off a Dark Prophesy that includes, '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.'

Then she goes on to say who Luc was and how he vanished in the Blight. The Prophesy states that one died but they both live and in The Shadow Rising, both Perrin and Nynaeve remark on how much Slayer looks like Lan. Slayer also claims to be a noble with a claim to a throne in the Borderlands. Slayer has the ability to use the Tower of Ghenji, and Perrin thinks Slayer and Lord Luc both smell cold and alien. With Slayer having been injured in the Dream and Lord Luc leaving Emond's Field injured and Fain being distraught about Isam not bringing enough Trollocs it is easy to realize that Lord Luc and Isam merged to become Slayer. Cousin to Lan, uncle to Galad and Rand. (interesting side note, all three of Slayers brothers are Blade Masters of great skill.)

6

terez: 2010-08-10

Hey guys: I noticed by viewing responses on the home page that a couple of you have brought up points that I addressed in the second part of the theory. The whole thing was too long to post, but Tamyrlin is working on fixing it. I'll probably wait to respond until after the rest is posted.

7

terez: 2010-08-11

@Painedwulf - we are all aware that Verin is Black Ajah; I even addressed that in the theory. Her comment is significant because it explains something we already knew: the Shadow can't transport large numbers of Shadowspawn through the Ways. We have never seen them do it, have plenty of reason to believe they can't, and no reason to believe they can. They have to bring them in small parties; we've never seen large parties until the two recent attacks, both of which were clearly not endorsed. We know they aren't immune to Machin Shin. That makes it extremely doubtful that Liandrin has a trick that could protect a large number of Shadowspawn from Machin Shin; she is hardly a top dog, and we are after all talking about the girl who believed her little trick would work on Moghedien.

Also, I went into some detail on the nature of Slayer in the section which bears his name, which you apparently did not read. We are all well aware of his family ties, and they have nothing to do with this theory that I can see. Furthermore, we have no real reason to believe he can enter the Tower of Ghenjei; it seems much more likely that he stepped out of Tel'aran'rhiod there in order to make Perrin believe he had gone in. The scene served the purpose of educating the reader a bit on the 'Finns and Slayer both, and it's also probably a red herring.

8

YouForgotPoland: 2010-08-14

This theory certainly brings to light that Fain will play an important role in the Last Battle, but something you quoted from Moiraine made me wonder, in the end of TGS Min and Cadsuane are talking about prophecies, in particular one about a sword of light and the three becoming one. As you quote in your theory, "It may be that the Dark One, in doing what he did to Fain, impressed some part of himself on the man, perhaps even, unknowing, some part of his intent".

It may be that the three are Padan Fain, Mordeth, and the Dark One? Rand's goal is pretty clearly killing the Dark One, not sealing him. Maybe this will give the Dark One a physical form he needs to die.

9

terez: 2010-08-15

@Poland - can never forget Poland. I have two gods: Bach and Chopin. Also, your idea is interesting, but I can't really think of any evidence to back it up (and obviously, I have a thing for ideas that are heavily supported by evidence). I've decided I'm not touching the three-one prophecy until after TOM; I don't think it will come into play until AMOL, and I feel like we need more clues.

10

Scaw: 2010-08-16

Great theory.

As to the "three becoming one" thing: I think those might be Rand, Moridin and Fain. As Shadar Logoth was necessary as an opposing force against the taint, Fain will be necessary to push the DO back into his prison. Maybe Fain will even achieve both aims this way: strike at the DO and kill Rand.

11

Martin Alvito: 2010-08-19

The theory is interesting. The problem of numbers is suggestive. If Verin is correct that no more than, say, 50 Trollocs can be moved through the Ways without guaranteed loss (in the absence of Fain), then there is simply no way that a Forsaken acting alone could amass an army of this size in time to strike before Rand Traveled away from Tear. If groups were spaced an hour apart, then that's a maximum of 1200 Trollocs per day assuming no losses to Machin Shin. The math doesn't work, as Rand never sits still for three months at a stretch, even before discovering Traveling.

However, there is a logical hole in your theory. We know that it is the nature of Shadowspawn to obey the commands of the Chosen. So if Moridin asks a Fade who sent it into the Ways, the Fade should be compelled to answer truthfully. The only possible exception would be a prior command from another Chosen not to answer truthfully - and even that's questionable due to Moridin's elevation to Nae'blis.

There is no evidence to suggest that Fain can get around this, irrespective of the amount of torture he applies to a Fade. He speaks of "agreements and accord" when dealing with the Fade in his tent in TSR. That's not consistent with the ability to give orders overriding those of the Chosen. It's best to think of a Fade as bound by an oath of fealty sworn on the Oath Rod. Fain can extract what he wants from a Fade, subject to the condition that his desires do not directly contravene orders given by the Chosen. Further, if one of the Chosen later gives an order contradicting Fain, the Fade would have to carry out the Chosen's order.

So when Moridin says that someone disguised as Sammael sent the Trollocs into the Ways, and that this person must have been Chosen, we should believe the statement. However, logic suggests that Fain must have been involved in the incident, because there is no way that an army of this size was put into place by a Chosen acting alone.

The simplest resolution is that Fain is indeed in Murandy advising Roedran, and that Roedran is either Demandred or a Demandred proxy. Murandy is the only Randland country south of the Borderlands without known Shadow involvement. (Only Cairhien and Ghealdan have not played host to a Forsaken, but they had Barthanes and the Prophet, respectively.) Unusual things (unification) are happening in Murandy, there is only one missing Forsaken, and that Forsaken claims to have an army ready for war. Suspicious.

Demandred is probably willing to do just about anything to kill Lews Therin, including work with Fain. The only thing he clearly will not risk is open defiance of the DO. Anything short of that is probably fair game. Since Demandred's interests coincide with one of Fain's, it's reasonable to believe that they would work together in order to achieve that end, then turn on one another. After all, that was precisely the agreement Demandred made with Mesaana and Semirhage.

Other Chosen are possible, but it is unlikely that any other surviving Chosen have access to Fain and also want Rand dead badly enough to work with Fain.

12

terez: 2010-08-21

@Martin Alvito - did you actually read the theory? I addressed your assumptions rather thoroughly in the first two sections.

13

yellowbeard1: 2010-08-21

I believe it was fain/mordeth (referred to hereafter as fain for simplicities sake) that setup the trolloc attack on rand at algarin's manor, but i think there's a simpler explanation.

Sammael was killed by mashadar. mashadar was a thing that had it's power rooted in what is now fain. fain could control mashadar. anyone taken by mashadar was then under fain's dominion. fain was able to "recall" sammael from mashadar and use him to order the shadowspawn into the ways. fain, we've all seen, has a certain understanding w/ machin shin and was also able to keep it from eating his trolloc army.

So the regurgitated sammael, ordered the attack, and protected the army in transit thru the ways in order to setup the attack.

14

terez: 2010-08-23

@Yellowbeard - I considered that possibility, and I've even argued that it was an option for how he could have pulled it off before, but one of the RJ quotes I used in the theory says that Fain had no real connection to the city (the one where RJ says that the destruction of the city didn't really affect Fain), so it's a very weak argument. There is still some possibility for it, but as far as I know, we don't have any evidence that Fain can control Mashadar at all. Mordeth certainly could not - that's why he was trapped in the city, after all - and the fog in Cairhien was a bubble of evil according to RJ, and had nothing to do with Mashadar. Fain simply took advantage of the chaos.

15

yellowbeard1: 2010-08-24

well, fain made the images of the dead ashaman to try to fool rand in their fight in far madding. i figure he can do the same regarding sammael. the problem i saw was an image like that made by fain wouldn't be marked by the DO like the real sammael. so i figured if fain could somehow temporarily regurgitate sammael from mashadar and control him, then that would explain it.

16

terez: 2010-08-24

Perhaps. It pretty much has to be an illusion either way, since Sammael is officially toast, so there's no guarantee that even a Mashadar-created illusion of Sammael would have the mark. But again, no reason to assume Fain has any real connection with Mashadar.

17

Davian93: 2010-08-30

I have no comment other than that I agree as I already thought Fain was behind the attack. Nice writeup though...as usual.

18

Homeschool: 2010-09-01

There's fair evidence that Fain and the Dark One will be sealed away together. This approach was used first on the wounds (one by each, sealed within a shield to neutralize each other) and then on the taints (the taint on Aridhol, the taint on the Source.) It's likely that the latter mirrored the former, and that the same will happen with Fain and the Dark One.

19

fdsaf3: 2010-09-07

I apologize since I didn't have time to read the entire theory before class here in a few minutes. I read the first good chunk, then kind of skimmed parts of the rest. I promise to read more thoroughly later, but for now I just want to ask how Fain would get 100,000 Trollocs. The logistics of this seem to make theft improbable. If you touch on this in your theory, I'll just read the theory more carefully later.

20

terez: 2010-09-08

Yeah, I explain that as best I can in the first two sections.

21

Martin Alvito: 2010-09-08

@Terez: No, you didn't. I'll elaborate.

Show me a scene where Fain gets a Shadowspawn to disobey a direct order from a Forsaken, and I'll buy that Fain can co-opt Shadowspawn with full ability to order them around. But you can't. There is zero evidence conclusively showing that Aginor was mistaken about the nature of Shadowspawn. The closest scene is the segment at the end of TGH 11, but we don't know what the Fade's orders are. Ishamael's phrasing matters, and it is unobserved. Consider the following set of orders, "There is a traitor in Fal Dara dungeon, name of Padan Fain. I want him dead. Also, there is a box in Fal Dara's strongroom that I am interested in. Bring it to me and you shall be richly rewarded." Those orders leave enough wiggle room for Fain to survive the attack (notice that the Fade is not ordered to KILL Fain, which could not be disobeyed) and to acquire the box. The Fade would naturally be inclined to obey Ishamael's orders; dire punishment would be the result of failing to kill Fain, and a reward is offered for returning the box (likely with the unstated implication of dire punishment should the Fade fail). But it is possible for the orders to be disobeyed, should Fain have the ability to punish the Fade now for failure to obey. The possibility of dire punishment later is likely better than dire punishment now, so the Fade complies and disobeys both sets of orders.

None of the other scenes suggest Fain's ability to get Shadowspawn to disobey a direct order from a Forsaken. Fain's phrasing in TSR is inconsistent with that ability; if Fain can break a Myrddraal and then order it around without restriction, why speak of an agreement? Fain's phrasing suggests an X for Y bargain; Fain frees the Fade and ceases tormenting it in return for the Fade engaging in certain activities Fain prefers. The best evidence we have suggests that as long as this does not countermand a clear order from one of the Forsaken, Fain can extract obedience.

But if the Fade has been ordered by Moridin to stay in the Blight, then per Aginor this could not be disobeyed under torture. We know that someone gave such an order because Borderlands raids ceased. The opening of the LoC Prologue provides at least one clear reason for why the Fades raid the Borderlands; left to their own devices, they would raid in order to replenish their swords. So someone, presumably Moridin, gave that order. Further, there is no reason to believe that Moridin would be unambiguous about it. He is intelligent and logical, he has evidence that loose orders can be circumvented, and it is simple and natural to state, "We gather for war. Remain in the Blight until further notice."

So if we observe disobedience, either one of the Forsaken is responsible, Fain can convincingly impersonate one of the Forsaken to a Shadowspawn, or Fain has acquired new abilities but RJ could not be bothered to reveal more about them over the course of six books. The second proposition is not confirmed by WH; Fain's ability to create an illusion that could fool a human proves nothing about Shadowspawn, or about the ability to duplicate the Dark One's "mark". If Fain could see it, he could do so...but the bit about the "sooty mark" he perceives on the foreheads of Darkfriends proves nothing one way or the other there. The third proposition, which has no evidence one way or the other. RJ's innuendo is interesting but inconclusive. The simplest explanation is that Aran'gar's comments in KoD reveal that any of the Forsaken would have contemplated impersonating Sammael given the circumstances of his death; we are clearly meant to believe that Aran'gar was "Sammael" in WH. That lends credence to the first proposition, and Demandred is the most likely suspect. He and Cyndane are the only Forsaken that appear to want Rand dead badly enough to risk the DO's displeasure, and of the two only Demandred would have the opportunity.

Long story short, you have presented an existence proof which shows that your theory could be true, but you have also ignored evidence which tends to disconfirm your theory. Whether Fain can override direct Forsaken orders remains an open question, and the best evidence available to date suggests that he cannot, which in turn implies the involvement of one of the Forsaken in the attack on Rand.

22

terez: 2010-09-08

@Martin Alvito - Yes, I did (look at what I actually said again). I never claimed to have proven that Fain can do it; if I had, then this would be an essay on why we know Fain is the one stealing Shadowspawn rather than a theory about why he's the most logical choice. The fact that RJ leaves it open by saying that Myrddraal 'seem' incapable of disobeying one of the Chosen, and by saying that even Aginor didn't understand why it was so...that is quite enough to establish doubt on the assumption that they cannot disobey one of the Chosen.

You also apparently missed the bit that establishes the fact that Fain's abilities are evolving as time goes on, and all of the other possibilities for how Fain could have pulled it off. It's all in the first two sections. Also, you didn't mention a single thing that 'disconfirms' my theory. You only pointed out the things that make Fain seem unlikely on the surface. These things are common knowledge, and this theory is, among other things, about showing that those assumptions are not so well-supported as people such as yourself pretend.

23

CennBuie: 2010-09-13

Could it be possible that since Sammael was killed by mashadar that Fain was able to create a convincing illusion of him (like he did with Rochaid and Kisman)?

24

Zarquan: 2010-09-15

I have to say, I'll be just incredibly disappointed if Fain winds up being Rand's Gollum. It looks like he's being set up to distract, damage or destroy the Dark One just when everything looks lost.

Don't do it, RJ, don't do it!

25

TankSpill: 2010-09-16

Hmm, it's certainly an intriguing theory, with a lot going for it. Glad I took the time to read the whole thing, as long as it was (though it does seem as though a lot of those quotes were much longer than was necessary to convey the points). After reading the comments though, I do think that @painedwulf's comments bear another mention. I don't know where he was going with the whole Luc thing, but his comments about the Black Ajah at least having a possible chance to control Machin Shin seem valid enough - it doesn't seem as though it would be in her best interests to appear some calm and contemptuous about something that could cause her all sorts of problems - it seems to me that the more likely response to Egwene's question, without *actual* knowledge of being able to dispel the Black Wind, would be a sound and stern, "Just hush and let me take care of things." So, all that rambling just to say, I don't think Liandrin's comments about the Black Wind can be dismissed just because it later turns out she's a complete tool.

26

terez: 2010-09-17

Once again, her comments are dismissed because all of the evidence in the series shows that they cannot move large numbers of Shadowspawn through the Ways safely; they have to send them in small groups.

27

Aragon21: 2010-10-25

@Martin Alvito - A direct command maybe not, but an implied command for sure. Terez addressed that, TGH - Glimmers of the Pattern, "It had been a struggle at first, waking each morning to find himself not completely whole, to find the Myrddraal back in command, raging and demanding they go north, to the Blight, to Shayol Ghul. But bit by bit those mornings of weakness grew shorter, until ... He remembered the feel of the hammer in his hand, driving the spikes in, and he smiled; this time it did touch his eyes, with the joy of sweet memory." Who else but a Forsaken could have commanded the Myrddral into Fal Dara and subsequently to return to the Blight?

Side note: Is Padan Fain a Spoonerism for Fadin' Pain?

28

MarieAnz: 2010-11-05

Hi, guys, brand new to the site. I finished the Towers of Midnight this week, and have some pretty scary theories of my own that parallel a lot of what is being said here. When is it not going to be taboo to start posting them?

29

MarieAnz: 2010-11-10

Ok, I've seen spoilers on other topics, so here goes:

My theory is that Fain's power is growing, and he is becoming a serious 3rd contender for domination. In the ToM we see a very disturbing sequence. First, the wording indicates he is no longer completely human (big surprise), but also no longer just Mordeth. "He would need a new name soon". He is wandering around the Blight, chopping up worms (jumara) with a knife (remember in TEotW Lan feared these things and said they required being chopped into pieces with a sword to kill them?). He is tricking trollocs into being killed by the mashadar tentacles that folow him around, and then touching them to reanimate the corpses. He hints that the roiling storm covering the higher latitudes is at least partly his doing.

What's interesting in all of this is that he hates the Dark One as much as the Creator. He plans an elaborate, painful death for Rand... but also is making plans to kill the DO. He is raising an army of undead Shadowspawn, and it isn't for the DO. BTW... how exactly does one KILL a dead trolloc???

Perhaps the most interesting thing we see him doing is walking around cutting himself with his blade and letting his drops of blood fall on the ground. This seems very important to him. He wants to wear gloves to torture Myrddraal (since his touch is now instantly fatal to them), but with gloves on, he cannot cut his fingers. He has gashed his fingers dozens of times with the ruby-hilted dagger. One has to ask... why? What on earth is he doing?

I think we see the answer in the final chapters, as Kandor falls to the Shadow. There has been much speculation on the nature and origin of the "red veiled 'Aiel'" that come to kill and eat the wounded traveler. When he first sees tham, he thinks they are Myrddraal because of the way they move (implying sinewy, snaky, not quite human). Them he sees their garb, and thinks they are Aiel. Then they unveil, and he sees a gaping "maw" of teeth filed to a point, and thinks "These weren't Aiel" They were something far worse".

This implies to me that these creatures are not even human. I think that the clues we got in the scene with Fain gave us the origins of these creatures. He is now able to reanimate the dead, why not create? I think they are created from the earth where drops of blood are spilled by the dagger from Aridhol on the brown gorund in the Blight, with the roiling black sky above. Fain keeps repeating, "Black above, red below" in relation to the drops. What colors are these creatures wearing? Black, red, and brown. Black sky, red blood, brown earth.

Fain is poised, I think, to become a serious problem to both sides. We already know that the evil of Aridhol was based on suspicion and hatred, and was different from the evil of the Dark One. The DO apparently wants to break the wheel and remake the Pattern in his own image. I think Fain just wants to destroy it. We know that chaos increases the DO's power- so what is feeding Fain's? He has progressed from herding trollocs and myrddraal, to killing Myrddraal for sport, to killing them outright with a single touch. His powers are growing. We assume he can feel Rand, and know he can see darkfriends as such.

Would love some feedback on this... tried to discuss it on the ToM spolier thread, with not many takers. Any thoughts?

30

M: 2010-11-11

@Marieanz, Are you suggesting that Fain is becoming the DO of the next turning of the wheel? In seeking to destroy the dragon, Fain actually manages to destroy the DO, but is himself cast and sealed outside of the pattern, for a future Mierin to discover and set loose on the world of the next turning. His shed blood marks a place in the pattern where he can most readily touch the world in the future and thus the cycle of the dragon continues, changed and yet the same. That would be intriguing.

31

MarieAnz: 2010-11-12

@M:
Fain is a complete wild card. As Jordan himself says, "he has sidestepped the Pattern". He could very well be a another entity that was bound outside of the wheel at the beginning of Creation. We don't know what he/it is. The clues given by the wounds in Rand's side, and the cleansing of the taint with the evil of Aridhol, plus the intriguing information provided in the above theory; lend some good thought for speculation. Perhaps the only way to seal the Bore is to let Fain and the DO battle it out for eternity? Perhaps you are right, and he will kill the DO, only to replace him with something just as bad that is selaed away? I had not thought of that... but it is perfectly plausible.

The question to ask is, "what does he/ it WANT?"

32

Flinn Sedai: 2010-11-16

First thing I want to say is WOW. That's very thorough, lots of detail, lots of evidence. Very long, but VERY worth it. When I first started reading it, I was completely against it. I felt there was no way that it could be Fain. Now, I want to agree. There is just one big thing that I'm unsure about.

So, we know that Fain has a thing for stealing Shadowspawn. Manipulating them into doing what he wants. My main concern is how has he amassed so many?

It would be safe to say that he has used no less than 200,000. My guess would be closer to 300,000. While Fain is CLEARLY insane, I think we can all agree that he hasn't already killed off all the troops he had at his disposal. He's insane. Not stupid.

He's had a bit over a year to amass an army, influence (or try to influence) almost every leader in Randland. Assuming he spent half that time on each, we're talking about 200 days of collecting Trollocs. Just collecting Trollocs to serve him, and just counting those that are already dead, we're looking at him getting about 1,000-1,500 per day.

From what we know of Fades, they will link with up to about 2 dozen Trollocs, and lead 1 Fist each. Each Fist consists of 100 Trollocs. That means on a given day, Fain was stealing 10-15 Fists with about as many Fades, for about 200 days solid. Which he managed to keep hidden (possibly in the Ways, which I can buy). Assuming he committed half of his troops to various attacks, we're looking at him stealing 20-30 fists a day, with as many Fades. That means every 2-3 hours, he found and stole another Fist of Trollocs.

I could buy that he could do that, except that it also includes the time needed to find them. How was he able to find 20 Fists of Trollocs each day? We know it wasn't in the Blight. Part of your premise was that he couldn't just steal Trollocs from the Blight. That means he was finding 20 Fists of Trollocs each day for 200 days, outside the Blight, that NOBODY noticed.

That also assumes that he was able to go around, get to Elaida, Toram, Niall, as well as been in Far Madding, Caemlyn and Ebou Dar in all that time, spending half of the time gathering Trollocs.

I want to believe this, since you made such a compelling argument. The logistics are just staggering, though.

33

charlie1970: 2010-11-17

Sounds fair. I also think Fain will become the next Dark One after Rand destroys the current one (or Rand incapacitates the current DO enough to allow Fain to kill it.

34

Dragon Tamer: 2010-11-22

I don't think the DO can be killed, no matter what anyone says. This turning of the wheel isn't any different from any other turning supposedly, and the DO hasn't died in any other turnings so it wouldn't happen in this one. I think Fain is going to be more of a wild card that Rj intended to use at the last battle so that the readers couldn't tell how the ending really was going to turn out.

35

jam1324: 2010-12-14

Red on black, the Dragon’s blood stains the rock of Shayol Ghul.

that line from TGH,Ch26 - The Karaethon Cycle, interest me when thinking of fain.

36

Macster: 2011-03-11

I have to find the lack of support for this idea rather silly, since it makes perfect, clear, 100% sense to me. If the issue is that this seems to be a theory saying Fain will become the Dark One, that really isn't what it's saying at all, just that he is becoming darker, more powerful, and more pure evil, an evil that just so happens to also be opposed to the Dark One. Fain's presence could be the Spanner in the Works that screws things up for the Shadow or Team Light, it could lead to the Dark One actually being killed or to giving Rand a way to touch and seal the Bore, we really don't know. All this theory says in the end, though, is that Fain is getting stronger and darker, nothing about whether he is becoming the Dark One.

And the evidence it gives of that, as well as of him being the Shadowspawn-thief, is very compelling, detailed, and well-supported, so I don't understand why someone could claim this theory was making claims without proof. The only thing which I view as speculation is that Fain can now outright control and command Shadowspawn instead of having to fight with them or bargain with them. And while there is nothing proving he can now do this, there is nothing disproving it either.

Just saying "He couldn't do so in TSR or LoC so he can't now either" is just ridiculous, as well as ignoring the clear evidence that Fain is continually getting stronger and more powerful. It may be true that Jordan didn't show us anything of Fain's POV after LoC and that the scenes where he showed up didn't yet reveal any new powers, but just because he didn't (and you think that Jordan having this power-up happen offscreen is "lame") doesn't mean it didn't happen. Yes, it means the theory can't be definitively proven, but it also means it shouldn't be dismissed just because we haven't seen the evidence of it being true yet--because we haven't seen counter-evidence either.

As a prime example, with the fact that the last time we saw his POV, Fain was able to see the "sooty marks" of the Darkfriends, who is to say this ability couldn't have grown and been augmented since then until it did allow him to see and duplicate the Chosen mark?

And the fact Moridin tells the other Forsaken it was Sammael who ordered the Shadowspawn into the Ways is meaningless. Because it is very clear that we only have Moridin's word on what happened and what he has learned. He claims not to know what orders the Shadowspawn were given, yet he does know it was a Chosen who ordered them? This is a point Martin Altivo and others dismissed without addressing. Those two points can't both be true; if he had spoken to a Fade and ordered it to tell him who ordered it, then he would not only know it was a Chosen, he would know what it was ordered to do. So either it was a Chosen, he knows the orders, and he just told the Forsaken he didn't know what they were (but why would he do that? Admitting to ignorance in front of the Forsaken doesn't seem Moridin's style, even if he was trying to wring an admission or get a reaction out of them)...or he lied about talking to the Fade and is only assuming in his arrogance that it had to be a Chosen.

On top of that, the new evidence from Towers of Midnight suggests this theory is correct. For one thing, Fain's powers have clearly grown incredibly monstrous if he can slay jumara, kill Fades with a touch, raise Shadowspawn from the dead, and (it would seem) combine Aridhol's evil with that of the Blight to create the "red-veiled Aiel" from his blood. If he can do that, it doesn't seem hard to believe he can now completely command Shadowspawn. And for those who still believe he would need a Chosen mark to do so, the fact he can raise the dead suggests to me he could indeed have used either Mashadar or more likely his resurrecting powers to raise Sammael and command the Fades with him. (There was plenty of time, between ACoS and WH, for him or one of his Shadowspawn to go into Shadar Logoth and fetch Sammael's body before it rotted.)

But overall I still think the new powers Fain displayed in Towers of Midnight prove this theory correct. I am with you, Terez. What this means for Fain's role in the Last Battle, I don't know, but I do know he's going to be scarier, more powerful, and more unpredictable than we can probably imagine.

37

Lorcin: 2011-03-12

What if Aridhol's power is linked to the chaos in the world. that would explain this rapid growth. Also his shadow spawn are rotten, maybe their bodies are just vessels for the taint of Aridol. that would explain why the Fades can't be used (or more accuratly their bodies), too much of the dark ones taint to go down without a fight.

38

Eharoni Prince: 2011-03-14

Great theory, you totally convinced me that Fain is the one responsible for the unexplainable attacks. My hope is that Rand seals the bore with Fain in it, leaving the DO and Fain to battle each other in their prison forever, effectively sealing away the DO; just like Flynn did to Rand's wounds in his side.

39

Kamaul: 2011-07-29

For those people thinking Fain will be the next Dark One, I will tell you that that is impossible. The Dark One has no thread at all. Fain has a Thread but it is not controlled by the Wheel. Even with his new powers, I don't think he can sidestep the Pattern that far. As for the taint of Aridhol, Mashadar was human-made evil and so is also part of the Pattern.

40

JOS: 2011-08-01

@KAMAUL: Fain cannot become a new DO? Prove it.

Where did the DO come from? The people of Randland recite: "The Dark One is sealed in Shayol Ghul, sealed by the Creator at the moment of Creation . . ." But does that make it true?

From EotW: "The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again." aMoL will crush many more of the suppositions that the Randlanders and fans take for truth.

I could be wrong, but I could be right.

41

Kamaul: 2011-08-01

@JOS #40
I just explained why.

We know the Dark One has no thread and we know that Fain does. Hmm. Nothing is different about this Age. Good luck getting around that.

"aMoL will crush many more of the suppositions that the Randlanders and fans take for the truth.

Yes, but do you want to destroy the entire mythology of Randland?

42

JOS: 2011-08-01

@KAMAUL
1.Your confidence is commendable, but you back it up with your own words. Provide a quote on the origin of the DO and the impossibility of Fain becoming the DO from RJ, Brandon, books, etc.

2.Read the Mistborn Trilogy.

3.Think about why Brandon was chosen to finish the series.

4.Crush your perception of Randland's mythology.

memories -> legend -> myth -> forgotten. We will see surprises, as well as things that you think are impossible. "Myths" in Randland are not fact, they are fragments of memory from ages past. Therefore, they can be wrong. In fact, the "Father of Lies" very much wants to control the mythology and legends of Randland. Just look at the Whitecloaks.

And yes, I think the entire mythology of Randland with change as a new age dawns in the last book.

43

wantfear: 2011-08-02

@Kamaul #41
Can you provide an author or source for that quote you used?

"aMoL will crush many more of the suppositions that the Randlanders and fans take for the truth." Its just hanging there looking all ominous, and being a hardcore wheel of time fan for several years now i would think i would've seen something that intriguing if it had been posted by RJ or brandon

44

Ashaman Leyrann Gaidin: 2011-08-02

You mean that the Dark One is sealed away at the moment of creation? That is WRONG. He was sealed away by LTT.

45

Kamaul: 2011-08-03

"You mean that the Dark One is sealed away at the moment of creation? That is WRONG. He was sealed away by LTT."

Actually it is correct. The Dark One never escaped his prison in the Age of Legends. The Bore was sealed by LTT, but LTT never put him in his prison.

46

Ashaman Leyrann Gaidin: 2011-08-05

@Kamaul: It is partly correct. The Dark One had influence, so he could partially escape. And if Fain jumps in the Dark One's prison, he would be outside the pattern, so he wouldn't have a thread anymore. Wasn't that what this was about? I also think you can't kill the Dark One. but I think the three powers (the Light, the Shadow and Mashadar) are around equal. So if Fain would be locked away together with the Dark One, he could fulfill the role of the Dragon (holding the Dark One away), but without affecting the world. They would fight forever in that prison.

47

Kamaul: 2011-08-05

Q. What is the Dark One exactly?
A. I like to think of him as the anti-thesis to the Creator. ...

We know that Fain is a combination of the Dark One, Mordeth, and Padan Fain before his distillment.

Mordeth is evil, but in opposition to the Dark One. Note that he served the Light in the Trolloc Wars, just in an evil way. Remember that the battle cry of Aridhol was, "The victory of the Light is all!"

Padan Fain wanted to return to the Light, at least when he was heading to Baerlon. I see no reason that he could have changed his mind. He still hates Rand, Mat, and Perrin, but hates the Dark One nearly as much.

The only part of him that is opposed to the Creator is what remains of the Dark One's power that Fain received in the Pit of Doom 5 years ago.

48

JOS: 2011-08-05

@KAMAUL: "Q. What is the Dark One exactly?"

This is the right question to ask. I like to think of "him" as the anti-thesis to the Wheel (or Light or pattern), but I think there is more to the DO than the simple mythology of Third Age Randlanders.

For instance, if the DO is not on par with the Creator, but is rather a mechanism or by-product of the wheel (this of course would not be what Ishy believes if it is so), the DO would not be an infinite god-like entity and could be "killed" or destroyed as Rand wants to do. If the pattern allowed this to happen, then the pattern would guide another force/being/individual to be removed from the pattern to restore balance. This would lead to a new DO for another turning of the wheel. Moridin is evil enough for such a role, but is infused with the power of the current DO, and if the DO goes down in flames, I think Moridin and co. will follow. Fain is more of an "independent" evil, that has been influenced by the DO, but is powerful and evil unto himself. This makes him an ideal candidate for filling the void if Rand can destroy the DO.

But I digress, the Fain/DO theory balances on the nature and origin of the DO. The more we know about the DO, the more we know about what needs to happen at TG. Is there anyone in Randland that really knows what needs to be done? LLT didn't get it right last time. Moridin seems to believe whatever the DO wants him to. The histories and books of philosophy are unreliable. Dreams, foretellings, prophecies, and reading of the pattern offer insight that is more likely to be reliable, but so far it is pretty patchy. What Rand really needs is access to memories that go back beyond the Age of Legends, beyond the “First Age”, perhaps even back to the last time the "Third Age” came and went.

I can only think of one source for such old memories: the wolves. Is this where we should be looking?

49

Waxer: 2011-08-06

'I can only think of one source for such old memories: the wolves. Is this where we should be looking?'

This is a good idea, like it.

50

Nocterequiem: 2012-09-01

Totally agree. Fain is behind the Shadowspawn going through the Ways. As Slayer said, "If you knew how many of the Shadowwrought died trying to get out of the Ways there, it would lift your heart." Yet Fain, according to RJ, has somewhat of a mutual understanding with Machin Shin.

Fain's 'evolving abilities' are as much of an enigma as he himself. The mist from Toram Riatin's camp was most assuredly Fain's new ability and not merely a well timed bubble of evil.

The three shall become one meaning Fain/Mordeth/DO never actually occurred to me.... Quite possible but also impossible to choose a theory.

Twenty bucks says that Fain is behind the attacks on Caemlyn in ToM. That, or the Shadow considers the massive losses acceptable to launch a surprise attack on Caemlyn.

51

Cabadrin: 2012-09-04

Snafus are part of army life: surely the most likely explanation for the Trollocs in Altara is that troops headed for Tear had lost their way or found their Waygate closed (Loial´s mission).

Would Fain be able to find out that Rand was in Algarin's manor, that Sammael was dead, or where he died? King Roedran might know that "Lord Brand" was dead, but probably not his real identity.

The "Aiel" attack was surely staged by Verin. Worried that the formidable diplomat Merana might deliver Rand into the hands of Sheriam and the Black Ajah, but unable to pull rank (the exhaustive discussion about rank is a clue) she borrowed Fain´s Whitecloaks to create an undiplomatic crisis where she could use her now superior rank to promote a response guaranteed to raise Rand´s hackles.

Would Fain let Verin use his Whitecloaks? Did he know he was recognized as a renegade? Ishamael probably killed Barthanes in a fit of rage after learning of Fain´s message to Rand, but Fain was in the Ways then. Slayer was sent to Two Rivers with troops and orders to kill the renegade, probably after Fain requested assistance, but Fain took control so easily he may never have realized the Trollocs had been sent to kill him. Then Perrin, a far more important target, arrived, and Slayer moved in more troops than Fain could have hoped for - Fain should have been impressed by the response to his request. So when Verin needed his Whitecloaks he would hesitate to sever his connection to the DO by a refusal. Besides, the assassination attempt had convinced him that Rand was too well protected for an attack with the small force he had left, he had no further use for the Whitecloaks.

52

Macster: 2012-09-12

@Nocterequiem: As Cabadrin points out (and so did Terez), it was actually Slayer who brought the Trollocs to the Two Rivers, not Fain. In fact at the end of Perrin's arc in TSR, when Fain is watching from the trees before heading off with his Whitecloaks, he think to himself "Why did Isam stop bringing Trollocs through the Ways?" So clearly he wasn't responsible. Whether his control of Machin Shin did keep the Shadowspawn from dying, who knows, but we do know Slayer was the one bringing them (with Fain taking control of a good portion of them), and it was due to Loial that they stopped coming both times.

I am pretty sure Jordan confirmed the mist was indeed a bubble of evil, not Fain's powers--it says so in the glossary of Path of Daggers, under the Daved Hanlon entry.

As for Caemlyn, it seems hard to believe the Shadowspawn army could be Fain's unless Verin is in the habit of interacting with him and learning his plans, since she warned Mat about it in her letter. Considering he's being hunted by Slayer at Moridin's orders, I don't see why Verin would be working with him, or could get away with doing so. Why would he tell her anything, when she was a servant of the Dark One whom he hates? And if she'd been around him enough to learn that, wouldn't he have tainted her with the seed of Mashadar, considering how close she was to Rand? It also seems like quite the coincidence for Fain to be bringing an army to Caemlyn when we already know plenty of people in the area who could have done so--Demandred if he is Roedran, Taim, Moridin or Moghedien if one of them is who brought the gholam, and the escaped Black Ajah (who, you may also remember, knew about the invasion! Again, how would they know about it if it was Fain's plan?).

All of that said, however, I do agree still with the general consensus that Fain is stealing Shadowspawn, and that specifically he was behind the attack at Algarin's manor. Taim is also a good possibility for that, but Fain is just as convincing to me.

@Cabadrin: If Roedran is Demandred, he would most certainly know that Brend was not only dead, but had been Sammael. And if Fain sent his Shadowspawn into Shadar Logoth to get the body (he could direct Mashadar to leave them alone), he wouldn't need to know who the man was specifically. Rumors could have told him Rand killed Brend in Shadar Logoth, or he sends platoons there periodically, and as soon as he saw the body he would have seen the Chosen mark and known the man's image could be used to command Shadowspawn. At that point which Chosen he was wouldn't matter to Fain one bit.

As for the "Aiel" attack, I am still convinced that was Taim. You make a good case about it being Fain's Whitecloaks, which in my mind has always been the second most likely option, but as I stated above to Nocterequiem, I don't see how or why Verin could have been dealing with Fain, considering his persona non grata status with the Shadow and what his presence would have done to her. Though I suppose since Moiraine knew wards to keep Mashadar away, Verin might too and thus be able to resist Fain's taint.

Anyway, while it is possible Verin staged the attack with Fain's Whitecloaks, I still think it was Taim. This wouldn't necessarily preclude Verin's involvement though, since I am pretty sure that she just took advantage of the attack to take over and manipulate the embassy. Regardless who sent the "Aiel", she could have wished to keep Rand from dealing with Sheriam and other Blacks in Salidar, or (my theory) she wanted the Salidar embassy to learn what they did: that they were in the weak position, needing Rand more than he needed them, so as to ensure they would become the Aes Sedai allies Rand needed.

Side note: your explanation of why Barthanes was killed and why Ishamael put a hit out on Fain has always seemed like the most likely one to me.

Another side note, to Kamaul: While I am not sure the entire mythology of Randland will be crushed, I do think we don't know as much as we think we do about it. Everything we know about the Dark One and the Creator is either from Third Age beliefs (which are clearly flawed if not outright wrong, based on the idea that the Forsaken were also sealed by the Creator at the moment of creation when we know that was done by Lews Therin and the Hundred Companions) or from the Guide, which is also supposed to be written as if based on Third Age sources and thus is suspect. Since the Creator has never interacted with the world and there is no actual religion or holy books, it seems impossible the people of Randland could actually know anything about the Creator and the Dark One, let alone how and when the sealing was done. So I can see AMoL revealing things which completely undermine things we have always taken for granted. Also, in reference to your point about Fain having a thread...does he? When Min views him at Toram Riatin's camp, she sees no images around him at all. Everyone, even non-channelers, have those at one time or another. This could be because of the Dark One's imprint on him, or because of something Mordeth discovered/did to himself but we don't know for sure...with the way Jordan has always said Fain has "sidestepped" fate, that suggests he isn't part of the Pattern any more. So perhaps he doesn't have a thread any longer? Or is outside the Pattern...the same way the Dark One may be?

Finally, to Wantfear: that quote wasn't from Kamaul, he was quoting JOS. Who was making a bold statement of his own about what he thinks will happen in AMoL, not anything Jordan or Sanderson said.

53

Kamaul: 2012-09-12

Now I can settle this once and for all...

"Everything we know about the Dark One and the Creator is either from Third Age beliefs (which are clearly flawed if not outright wrong, based on the idea that the Forsaken were also sealed by the Creator at the moment of creation when we know that was done by Lews Therin and the Hundred Companions) or from the Guide, which is also supposed to be written as if based on Third Age sources and thus is suspect. Since the Creator has never interacted with the world and there is no actual religion or holy books, it seems impossible the people of Randland could actually know anything about the Creator and the Dark One, let alone how and when the sealing was done."

Melbourne Film Festival - Raf Kaplan (paraphrased)

Question: Someone asked him about the Creator.

Robert Jordan: He gave the distinct impression that he wouldn't even contemplate having the Creator step in, nor is there any real Creator worship, because there is no need, the effects of the Creator are all around the citizens of Randland. I believe he's said that much previously. He quoted Terry Pratchett (from Mort, I think) regarding the way belief works.

Budapest Q&A

ROBERT JORDAN: The Creator does not interfere, but there is clear evidence of the theological doctrine.

Happy with these quotes?

"Also, in reference to your point about Fain having a thread...does he?"

Everything has a thread. The stones in Greandal's fortress have threads. I am relatively sure that Jordan has stated that Fain still has one too, however I am unable to find a quote of it at this time. The only known things that do not, are the Creator and the Dark one.

It has been clearly stated that after Fain's contact with the Black Wind, fate no longer applies to him. However, that does not mean that he does not have a thread. The Pattern encompasses all of reality. To not be in the Pattern is to also not be in reality. Saying that Fain is no longer part of the Pattern should mean that Fain is not in reality, which he obviously is.

On a side note to JOS: another reason why Fain cannot become the new Dark One is because Fain is not a constant among all worlds. There would need to be a Fain equivalent in every world for it to happen.

54

Cabadrin: 2012-09-13

@Macster: If Demandred is Roedran AND Fain´s patron, we are in a new game. I just used Roedran as an example to illustrate the level of information likely to be available to Fain. And while Brend´s identity might have reached the streets, Rand´s location certainly would not.

I don´t see male channelers using a derogatory term for channelers, or what Taim could have hoped to gain. It would be risky too, Rand would not have been fooled for a split second, had he been told. And the Aiel disguise is pointless unless you know those diplomats had only a caricature image of the Aiel despite, at least Merana, being old enough to have lived through the Aiel War. They should start to wonder, too, once they got to know the Aiel - Merana has been thinking about what happened, I wonder if she confronted Verin? Why else would Jordan mention her musings?

A brief contact with Fain is unlikely to be harmful. The prison guards in Fal Dara were infected, Egwene, despite frequent visits, were not.

That Fain is branded renegade would not bother Verin, she is hardly the most ardent and loyal disciple of the DO herself. Verin may have had contact with Fain in the Two Rivers, and the assassination attempt would tell her he was in Caemlyn, a potential resource or danger from her perspective, not an outcast to be shunned.

By the way, it occurs to me Jordan may have had a dual purpose with the attack in Altara, to tell the Seanchen that Trollocs are real and to tell us that Waygates were used. You don´t get lost Travelling.

55

Macster: 2012-09-20

@Kamaul: Nope, not happy. Why? All that quote from Jordan says is that "the effects of the Creator are around them". Even setting aside just what these effects may be (that's a very vague statement), that doesn't explain how the people of Randland received the specific knowledge that the Dark One was sealed away by the Creator at the moment of creation, or that he's eternal, or any of the rest. And it certainly doesn't change the fact that one thing the people of Randland believe to be true as strongly as they do the Dark One's sealing and his being eternal, that the Forsaken were also sealed away at the moment of creation, is false. So you have to wonder what else might not be true, or might have more to it that hasn't been revealed yet.

Your comments about threads are much more definitive and believable. However I do still have to wonder: if he has a thread, why are there no images around him for Min to view? If this is because he has sidestepped fate, how did that happen? How could Machin Shin, Mashadar, or whatever Mordeth discovered in his search for a way to stop the Dark One, possibly make a person able to sidestep fate?

As for the Dark One always being a constant, we only have Verin's word on this. If she's just going by what old writings have told the Aes Sedai, again this begs the question of just how whoever wrote that down got that information. Merely observing the effects of the Creator around you wouldn't tell you the Dark One was constant in every world. There's also the possibility that it's by sidestepping fate that a person can lose their thread and become a constant. Or that the Dark One is a title, and the powers to go with it, and the minute someone steps into that vacuum and assumes his power, they become a constant. This is all just speculation but the point is, we don't know enough to completely discount it yet.

@Cabadrin: My point was that Fain wouldn't even need to know who Brend was, if his Whitecloaks or Shadowspawn removed Sammael's body from the city, all he'd need is his image and the knowledge he had a Chosen mark. Voila.

Taim's gain would be obvious I should think: the attack made the embassy go after Rand, which turned him against them. Taim wanted him disassociated with the Aes Sedai anyway, and had been suggesting the Aes Sedai meet with accidents. Also, if he was working for Demandred, he'd have a reason to drive Rand toward the Tower delegation where the kidnapping plot of Mesaana's was arranged. As for Fain being a renegade, my point wasn't whether Verin would care personally, but that his status as a renegade might make her afraid to work with him because of what the Shadow would do to her if they found out about it. And a lot of people think Egwene has actually been tampered with by the Shadow. If so it was likely Halima, but that doesn't mean Fain couldn't have had an effect too.

I do wonder, though, why we never got to see or hear of Merana pursuing that line of thought with Verin. Perhaps she Compelled her too?

56

Cabadrin: 2012-09-21

@macster: Taim could not in his wildest dreams have hoped for this outcome. If Merana had complained to Rand about the attack, he could be in deep trouble, Rand certainly wouldn´t think the attackers were Aiel. Most likely he would blame Niall, though. Still, without Verin there is no reason to think the result would have been worth the risk to Taim.

Verin does not seem to be held in tight reins, beyond the restrictions of the Oaths and, presumably, occasionaly filing reports or being tapped for information. And there is this:

interview: Nov 2nd, 2010
Matt Hatch : Did Verin ever work with Fain?
Brandon Sanderson: No. She's been around him, but working with him is something different.

Being around him should be more than just hello-godbye. Borrowing his Whitecloaks would fit.

57

Kamaul: 2012-09-21

I suppose that it is extremely difficult to argue about how people know, or think they know, about the creation of the Pattern. But, then again, we ourselves have theories on how our universe began; we don't need any embassies from God to tell us that the Big Bang happened. Perhaps philosophers in the Age of Legends were capable of discovering the same thing. It may be possible to figure it out for themselves.

Also, there's definitely the possibility of the Dark One telling the people of the Age of Legends what happened. But most importantly, the best solution to this question is that we must all take for granted what is said in the books, unless it is later contradicted, which in this case, it has not.

"How could Machin Shin, Mashadar, or whatever Mordeth discovered in his search for a way to stop the Dark One, possibly make a person able to sidestep fate?"

You are forgetting the most important thing impressed upon Fain: the Dark One. It was the combination of all four that caused Fain to sidestep fate. But, it was the Dark One that impressed himself upon Fain AND sent Fain to Shadar Logoth to meet Mordeth. If it hadn't been for the Dark One, Fain would not have gone through any of his changes.

"Again this begs the question of just how whoever wrote that down got that information."

I do hope that you know that it is possible to actually enter other worlds. A scientist could go to a few other worlds, study the Dark One, and then come back to write a paper, which a few thousand years later, would be read by Verin.

"This is all just speculation but the point is, we don't know enough to completely discount it yet."

And yet, we have no reason to believe it. There is no evidence for it. Every theory in our world comes as a result of comparing two or more sets of data, and that theory helps make them both consistent.

58

NYCKID: 2012-10-11

About the question on how Fain was able to sidestep fate and the pattern - There is an interview with Brandon where he was asked how Mashadar came to be and Ordeth's presence (ghost, whatever) came to be stuck at Shadar Logoth. Apparently, Ordeth went looking for a way to defeat the DO. This this quest took him to the Finns (and, apparently, other places that have not been mentioned, as far as I know). Who knows what the foresaw. Perhaps, they said to defeat the DO you need to sidestep the pattern and told him how. If that is the case, it probably took form in a way that Ordeth did not foresee, which is normal for gifts from the Finns.

59

Macster: 2012-10-17

@Cabadrin: Why could he not have expected that outcome? If, as I said, he was working for Demandred, Demandred could have told him of Mesaana's kidnapping plan, and the need to drive Rand toward the Tower delegation. (This would also explain why Taim showed up at Dumai's Wells--Demandred learned where Rand would be via Mesaana and the Black Ajah.) And if Verin was involved (say, had been told by the Black to make sure the Salidar embassy scared Rand into going to Cairhien), then Taim would have known his attack would have the desired effect because of Verin's further actions. Or he may not have known anything, just did what he was told, and it was all Demandred and Mesaana with assistance from Verin.

But it could also simply be that Taim did it, not specifically to drive Rand away from Salidar embassy, but simply because he didn't want Rand allied with Aes Sedai, and he was sure his attack would provoke a response from the embassy, one that Rand and/or Taim would be able to defuse with little difficulty, allowing him to then say "I told you so". In which case what happened in Cairhien and at Dumai's Wells would have been just an unforeseen bonus. Because I can't see Verin, even under Shadow orders, doing what she did if she had known for sure it would result in Dumai's Wells.

Also, why would Rand have blamed Niall? For that to happen you'd have to be right that the "Aiel" were the Whitecloaks (which is just speculation, you don't have proof), and there'd have to be a way for Rand to know that's who they were (I can't see them still wearing their Whitecloak uniforms under their Aiel garb).

Lastly, you forget that Verin was in Fal Dara when Fain was (she was the one who deciphered the Shadow prophecy on the dungeon wall after his escape). She could easily have spoken to him at some point before then.

@Kamaul: You have a point, but while in our world we can study the universe and through scientific data to create and prove theories about the Big Bang, we can't do that for God. And in the WOT world, even with the ability to go to parallel worlds, that wouldn't give them anything to study to tell them about how the Pattern works or the Creator or what he did to the Dark One and when. The Creator takes no part so wouldn't have passed on direct information in a parallel world either, and you can't "study the Dark One"--what is there to study unless you go to Shayol Ghul, somehow avoid being killed by Shadowspawn, and can detect anything through the sealed Bore, and even then that still won't tell you the information found in the catechism. Which brings us back to where we started, philosophers studying the world to try and discern how the Pattern works. And you're right, what they concluded seems to match up with what Jordan has told us--but that's what I find so odd, that without any way of knowing the truth (since studying the world wouldn't tell them the Dark One was eternal and constant or that he'd been bound at the moment of creation), they somehow hit on the right answer as Jordan has told it to us.

Do I think everything we've been told is wrong? No, although I suspect some of it may not be right or that there may be more to it than we've been told. But it could be wrong, until we have AMoL in our hands we won't know for sure. As you say, we haven't received any contradiction yet--but we still could. Is it likely? Probably not, but I think we need to keep an open mind, just in case there is more to the story than we've been told. And the very fact there seems to be no reason to believe everything we've been told is true except "Jordan says so" is enough reason in my mind to be at least a little skeptical. He was cagey with the fans on many occasions, and the Guide was written as from the perspective of a Third Age writer, not Jordan himself, so it is still possible he had a big reveal or twist planned.

@NYCKid: Interesting point. And in support of it, recall what the Aelfinn said to Mat when he asked them why he had to go Rhuidean--that if he didn't, he would have "sidestepped your fate, and those who do not want it come to pass would kill you". If the Finn know that Mat could do that, they might know ways for other people to sidestep their fates.

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Cabadrin: 2012-10-21

@Macster:
Look at it from a contrafictional perspective: What would have happened if the embassy had complained to Rand?

Rand would have taken them to meet some Aiel, and they would have realized these were not the attackers. Remember, they had all seen the man who brought the message. What happens next depends on what Demira had observed. Rand's immediate suspicion would fall on Taim, which would be very uncomfortable for him; he had been warned off in no uncertain terms.

If Demira had seen and heard enough to exonerate Taim, Rand's suspicion would fall on Niall. This wasn't long after the assassination attempt, when Rand sent the lone survivor with a message to Niall, or as a message to Niall, ignoring the state of his uniform. Rand knew nothing about Fain's Whitecoats. Which would mean that the men who attacked Rand had now attacked the embassy. A bonding experience, having a common enemy, the relationship between Rand and the embassy would have thawed. Don't think the Shadow would have risked anything to bring Rand to Cairhien, he would have to go there eventually. And they had covered all bases, there were two DA in the leadership at Salidar.

Haven't seen you on the Forums. It's chatty, I know, and you cannot keep the trolls away without a sieve, but Davian93's post after my thread Mervin Poel is Demandred had gone down with all hands alone makes it worthwhile: He warned of the vandal "facts" that swarm all over. These "facts" have killed many beautiful theories.

The Theories is too slow, with less than three months to go, even if it hadn't died: not a single theory after the Prologue. I have come to realize that the prepublication of the Prologue isn't greed, BS wanted to give us time to discover and discuss the clues in the Prologue before the full novel. And one rather sharp prodd; BS is impatient that no one has solved that one.

I hope to finish a new thread, Min to the Rescue, during the week. It begins with a simple solution to the old conundrum, why send the gholam to kill Herid Fel, and goes on to make some startling discoveries. Three theories in one. Don't bother with Mervin Poel - great guy - the resurrected parts are covered in Min. If you have to peek, begin with post #39 page 2, that is a summary of what has survived. Enough for now, I have a date with Min. Well, a class with Master Fel, actually.

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Macster: 2012-11-18

@Cabadrin: And...how would it have been any better for the embassy to complain to Rand about the attack, and have them compare notes, if it had been Fain and/or Verin behind it? In the former case, all that would do is, as you say, cause Rand and the embassy to join ranks as allies, something Fain expressly does not wish, and while it would pit them against Niall if Rand suspected Whitecloak involvement, that also wouldn't help Fain's cause--he'd already planted the seeds of Mashadar to turn Niall against Rand, but what good would that do if Rand then blamed the Whitecloaks for the attack? Between that and him now having Aes Sedai allies around him, that wouldn't leave much chance for Fain to get in close and do him harm. Not to mention once he found out Perrin was in the city, he'd know Perrin could tell Rand about him having been with the Whitecloaks in the Two Rivers and make the connection to the "Aiel" attack. As for Verin, if Rand and the embassy compared notes and found out they weren't Aiel, the fact she had been urging them to confront Rand would have looked rather bad--they wouldn't necessarily figure out she was behind the attack, but her attitude would be suspicious and perhaps cause them to distrust her and reject her counsel. That would be bad from both her perspective and the Shadow's, and while the embassy and Rand uniting would be good in her eyes, I can't see the Shadow allowing her to get away with that.

Basically in the end it seems like no matter who sent the "Aiel"--Taim, Fain, or Verin--the perpetrator was counting on Rand and the embassy not comparing notes or joining forces. And based on the state of affairs in LOC, the lack of trust and honest communication throughout the book, they were absolutely right in concluding it wouldn't happen. So that really doesn't tell us anything about who did it.

Nope, don't go to the forums, and I doubt I ever will--don't really have the time and am not particularly interested. I don't even come here very often. But I'm sure there are some interesting theories there, and I am sorry to hear so little is being discussed because of how close the last book is. I have to hope that, based on Jordan's statement that he didn't want to tie everything up neatly in the last book, there will still be some things left to discuss after it's over. There are likely some things we'll never know the answers to, and barring Word of God, we'll have to believe our own theories based on how we interpret the evidence we've been given. I'm not sure which "facts" you're talking about, or whether you're applying them to this discussion about the "Aiel", but I would say that per usual for Jordan, the facts surrounding Fain and the Whitecloaks (and Verin) are as nebulous as those surrounding Taim. We can guess, we can make conclusions, but we can't ever really know what is true and what is relevant without confirmation. And based on what I said to Kamaul, I think the "facts" we've been told about the Dark One and the Creator are just as amorphous.

I am curious what mystery it is Sanderson is prodding us about in the prologue (other than Demandred), but I'll find out when I see it myself.

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Cabadrin: 2012-11-19

@Macster: The difference between Verin and any other who may have been behind the attack is that as ranking Aes Sedai - there is an exhaustive Merana POV on the subject (LOC ch43) - she was in a position to steer the embassy's response to the attack. I do not believe Verin told Fain why she wanted the Whitecloaks, she requisitioned them and Fain, not having any further use for them, let her have them rather than break with the Shadow, not knowing he was already recognized as a renegade.

No one has seen the Whitecloaks since, I assume Verin disposed of the evidence.

I'm sorry you have decided to stay away from the Forums, but it is of course your choice.