WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR A MEMORY OF LIGHT
Mat, Rand and Moiraine separately went through the redstone doorway ter’angreal in Tear to the world of the Aelfinn, mysterious snaky non-humans. They each wanted answers – true answers to questions concerning their future. This article details these questions and the answers where known. For information on the functioning of this ter’angreal, see the Ter’angreal Doorways and Arches article. For information on the Aelfinn, see The Aelfinn and the Eelfinn article.
Usage of this doorway ter’angreal is subject to an agreement with the Aelfinn: the petitioner can ask three questions about past, present, or future and the Aelfinn will always answer them, though perhaps in a way not always understood by the petitioner. Any person can step through the doorway, since channelling is not required, but they can use the ter’angreal only once. When Mat stepped through the doorway a second time, he was not transported; the ter’angreal did not work at all. The petitioner must ask all three questions and hear the answers before they leave because otherwise the agreement cannot be fulfilled, since the petitioner cannot re-enter this ter’angreal. Frivolous questions are punished, though what may be serious for one can be frivolous for another. Most importantly, questions touching the Shadow have dire consequences for the petitioner – they may be killed or injured if they ask them (The Shadow Rising, Doorways). The answers are true so long as they are about the petitioner’s own future.
Moiraine speculated on how the Aelfinn are able to read the future of a petitioner:
That world is . . . folded . . . in strange ways. I cannot be clearer. It may be that that allows them to read the thread of a human life, read the various ways it may yet be woven into the Pattern. Or perhaps it is a talent of the people. The answers are often obscure, however.If the Aelfinn do read the thread of a human life, it may be necessary for that person to be in front of them, or in their world at least. This would explain why their answers to questions about the future of other people are not true. They truly are alien however.
- The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway
In exchange, the Aelfinn savour the petitioner’s experiences and emotions. The petitioner must also abide by the treaties and agreements and carry no iron, instruments of music or devices for making light (The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway). The Old Tongue is the preferred language of trade. Rand and Moiraine needed an Aelfinn translator but Mat already understood the Old Tongue well by this point.
Mat asked the Aelfinn should he go home to help his people. He intended to ask how to get away from Aes Sedai and how to recover the lost parts of his memory, but their answer to his first question so angered him that he forgot them (just as well, since Mat would not have believed their answers, since they would have been identical with their first answer: "Go to Rhuidean") and instead asked three other questions all stemming from their first answer.
With his usual luck, Mat was able to coerce four answers to his questions out of the Aelfinn by refusing to leave. These were:
- 1. He should not go home to help his people, but to Rhuidean.
- 2. If he does not go to Rhuidean he will die.
- 3. He will die because he will have sidestepped his fate and let his thread drift on the winds of time and those that don’t want that fate fulfilled will kill him.
- 4. His fate is to marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons, to die and live again, and live once more a part of what was and to give up half the light of the world to save the world (The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway).
In the end he was thrown bodily out of the doorway.
Mat chose to heed their advice and went to Rhuidean, where he entered the world of the Eelfinn, who gave him memories from past adventurers – memories with which he is living a part of the past. He was killed in Caemlyn, but only temporarily because Rand undid Rahvin’s actions by balefiring Rahvin. Mat married Tuon, then Daughter of the Nine Moons and now Empress. Without his knowledge of war acquired in Rhuidean, he would not have his followers – the Band of the Red Hand – to protect him and help him save Tuon (whose respect he earned with his knowledge) and he would have been killed.
Rand asked how he could win and survive the Last Battle (despite knowing the dangers of asking questions touching the Shadow) and was cryptically told “If you would live, you must die” (Lord of Chaos, Connecting Lines) and “The north and east must be as one. The west and south must be as one. The two must be as one.” (Knife of Dreams, News For the Dragon). Rand thinks the second part of the answer may mean that since the Seanchan hold the west and south, he will hold the north and east and they should make an alliance to fight the Last Battle. This ties in with two of the Prophecies of the Dragon, Rand tying the north to the east and the west to the south (A Crown of Swords, Ta’veren) and Rand binding the Nine Moons to serve him (The Dragon Reborn, The Hunt Begins) and also the Aiel Dreamwalkers’ dream of Rand cutting the wetlands in two with a sword (Lord of Chaos, Matters of Toh). He persuaded Fortuona to sign a peace treaty to this effect, respecting their borders, in exchange for Seanchan participation on the Last Battle (A Memory of Light, Older, More Weathered). This part of the answer covered the military battle only.
As for how to win against the Dark One, Rand said he asked the wrong question. He had been convinced that killing the Dark One was the way to remove evil from the Land, but realised that this was wrong:
He understood, finally, that the Dark One was not the enemy.
It never had been. …
"I see the answer now," he whispered. "I asked the Aelfinn the wrong question. To choose is our fate. If you have no choice, then you aren't a man at all. You're a puppet . . ."
A Memory of Light, Epilogue
Rand also asked how to cleanse saidin, and received a riddle for an answer; a riddle, that according to Herid Fel, stated "sound principles, in both high philosophy and natural philosophy" (The Path of Daggers, Message From the M’Hael). Rand solved it and used saidin’s opposing power, saidar, as a filter and the taint and its opposing power in Shadar Logoth to annihilate each other (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal).
Rand’s last question is unknown, as is the answer he received. We know that the Aelfinn didn’t mention Rhuidean to Rand (The Shadow Rising, Rhuidean). Rand may have asked how to avoid Breaking the World again as he is prophesied to do, since that is a major worry of his:
The idea horrified him. Perhaps he could escape that part, at least…Two of Rand’s answers were riddles which he had to solve, thus resulting in a time delay. The Aelfinn may have done this deliberately, knowing a delay was ‘part of the Pattern’ or it may have been a consequence of their non-human nature and being unable to express themselves clearly in human language. Or they just like to make people sweat!
- The Shadow Rising He Who Comes With he Dawn
It is not known what Moiraine asked, or what answers she received.
Written by Linda, February 2008 and updated June 2013