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Whitebridge and the blue flashes


Nooska
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I am hereby copy/pasting my original post in the simple questions/full answers thread as it has sparked more debate than teh thread is up to.

For the first part of teh debate see page 121 (currently) of that thread, and lets continue it here in a dedicated thread.

 

Did Rand channel in Whitebridge when the fade came at Thom them, and is that the cause of the blue flashes?

 

I am currently readin EotW, and being very thorough about it due to spotting when Rand learns about the Black Ajah (will return to that another time). I have just finished the Whitebridge episode, and thought of the mystery of the blue flashes.

 

The following leaped out at me combined with knowing that next time we see Rand (it goes to Perrin for the next chapter) he is having a fever and other bad symptoms.;

The black cowl froze Rand where he stood. He tried to summon up the void, but it was like fumbling after smoke. The Fade's hidden gaze knifed to his bones and turned his marrow to icicles. [...]Rand tore his eyes away - he almost groaned; it felt like tearing a leech off of his face - but even staring at the stones he could still see the Myrddraal coming, [...]

Thom then pushes Rand who is still fixated on the Myrddraal, Thom crashes into the fade "before theblack blade was half drawn, and both went down in a thrashing heap"

Thom yells for them to run and then "the air in the square flashed an eye-searing blue".

From the description the Myrddraal has not gotten its sword out, Rand is fixated on the tableu, and the preceeding pages description of the feeling in his bones parallels the descriptions of Saidin several other places. Rand was reaching for the void and in a state of fear for his life (like the previous - and later - times he channels.

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I don't know why, but I always assumed one of the following:

 

either the flash of blue was a reflection off the blade

or

thom's kniives flashing through the air

or

some "magic show" trickery from thom, involving flash paper, or something like gun powder.

 

 

I think RJ was still discovering his own story at that point, and there might have been several things he intended to develop, but didn't, and they don't make a lot of sense. But, more than likely, I'm just an idiot.

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As to your thoughts 2 and 3;

2) Thom's knives never flashed through the air, he had them in his hands when he barrelled into the fade, the flashes appear after this.

3) Thom has already engaged the myrddraal and yelled for the boys to run when the flashes "appear".

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I thought Whitebridge had anti-shadowspawn measures, being made in the Age of Legends, and that's what did it?

The White Bridge was an artifact from the AoL, but they were fighting in the town and not on the bridge. I don't recall any mention of anti shadowspawn measures related to the White Bridge.

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OK, repost time:

 

Rand channeling is probably the best explanation for the blue flashes at Whitebridge. When Moraine and Co. show up, people refuse to explain what happened, but everyone in town is completely freaked out. A bunch of random buildings are burnt down. People claim someone knocked over a lantern, but not a single burnt building stands next to another. A few women confide in Moiraine that, really, someone was meddling with the Power, and they think it might have been a man.

 

OK, so what about the "Rand couldn't see" thing? Well, look at what happened in aPoD when he didn't have adequate control of saidin: a bunch of lightning nailed a bunch of people behind him. Also, consider what happens just a little while after Whitebridge: Rand is desperate to escape from Howal Gode, and while watching the door begin to open, he calls lightning and it hits the bars of the window he isn't looking at and blows the wall behind him open. Mat had to tell him what had happened.

 

So, I say Rand called some lightning and it just randomly nailed the area he was running from, and set some buildings on fire. And yes, I know the blue flashes are associated with OP-wrought weapons and myrrddraal swords. But not exclusively. That also occurs with lightning, and far, far more often (especially when the Power is involved, though not always). Seriously, it happens a whole lot:

 

tSR:

 

Whirling it hilt uppermost, he drove it down. Into the stone floor. Bluish lightning arced wildly toward the dome above.

 

A bar of white-hot fire ten feet tall streaked between the pair in a blur surrounded by arcing blue lightning...

 

tFoH:

 

Stark silver-blue lightning struck into the Aiel...

 

Lightnings arched silver and blue around the ter'angreal...

 

LoC:

 

Thunder boomed again, and lightning sheeted blue across the sky.

 

aCoS:

 

All save Dashiva, who made blue lightnings crackle in a jagged web above the square.

 

aPoD:

 

On the horizon to the south lightning flashed,dozens of bolts vivid silver-blue against the afternoon sky...

 

Elayne screamed, falling backwards, out of sight of the farmyard, and silver-blue lightning shot through the gateway with a roar that filled her ears...

 

Thunder tolled repeatedly, and lightning writhed in silver-blue snakes...

 

Lightning flashes filled the entrance with blue-white light...

 

Lightning flashed out of the sky, blue-white bolts shattering earth and men alike.

 

Lightning streaked down into the forest not far from where the tall flames had bloomed, single slashes like jagged blue-white lances.

 

A hundred bolts at once, hundreds, forked blue-white shafts stabbing down as far as he could see.

 

WH:

 

Lightnings such as Cadsuane had never seen streaked down from the cloudless sky, not jagged bolts but lances of silver-blue that struck at the hilltop where she stood...

 

CoT:

 

...the black sky split with more lightning than any storm had ever birthed, silver-blue streaks stabbing down inside the walls.

 

Lightning lit up the wagon's windows with a blue flash...

 

Lightning forked silver-blue across the sky...

 

KoD:

 

That silver-blue lightning, three-tined, five-tined, was striking inside Caemlyn, causing damage and maybe deaths.

 

Lightning began flashing down out of a clear sky, silver-blue bolts that struck the ground...

 

Silver-blue bolts struck continuously so close to the house that the hair on Rand's arms and chest tried to lift, the hair on his head.

 

Silver-blue lightning bolts forked down, and most of those struck too.

 

Lightning began flashing down out of a clear sky, silver-blue bolts that struck the ground with thunderous crashes and threw men and horses like splashed mud.

 

 

And now look at one of the similes for the blue weapon flashes RJ used in tEotW:

 

...a flash of blue light filling the air like sheet lightning.

 

And again in tDR:

 

The night air flashed actinic blue, like sheet lightning...

 

In tSR:

 

...light flashed like sheet lightning in the room, a sharp bluish-white that hurt the eyes

 

...black blades meeting his raven-marked steel with flashes of blue light like sheet lightning...

 

tFoH:

 

...blue light flashed around them, a crackle of sheet lightning...

 

Like sheet lightning, eh?

 

Sheet lightning is an informally applied name to cloud-to-cloud lightning that exhibits a diffuse brightening of the surface of a cloud caused by the actual discharge path being hidden. Also it can be applied when the lightning itself cannot be seen by the spectator, so it appears as only a flash, or a sheet of light.

 

Now add in the fact that lightning is just about the most common offensive use of the OP throughout the entire series. Hell, it's the official symbol for sul'dam, and the Asha'man use it in their recruiting slogan ("Wield the lightnings"). So, someone either channeled lightning in Whitebridge, someone else besides Thom showed up with Power-wrought steel and started fighting the Fade, or something totally unknown happened for unknown reasons and it just so happened to mimic the flashes of OP-steel and lightning.

 

The best fit to the facts and the simplest explanation is that Rand did it.

 

 

And:

 

but it is a simpler explanation than Thom channeling sheet lightning or a rogue male channeler saving the day or Rand channeling without a later reaction.

 

As far as Rand goes: what exactly, like in detail, happens after Whitebridge and before the Howal Gode incident? I don't know. Why? 'Cause it's not really covered when we finally come back to a Rand POV. It just sort of glosses over their initial days on the road by themselves, and the timeline is less than clear (and I'm not talking about the scarves thing, either. It's all very vague: "few days" this, "one afternoon" that, etc.) And what reaction was he supposed to have? Because there wasn't any great consistency: in Baerlon he got a headache and all foggy and detached, almost like he was drunk. On the river, he went a bit manic and was suicidally reckless. After Four Kings, he had a full on flu-like illness with fever and delerium. Point being, with all the Whitbridge craziness and post-Whitebridge fear and paranoia (on top of Mat's supernaturally-enhanced issues, that is), would Rand have necessarily noticed if he felt a bit off mentally, or even somewhat physically (i.e. something like that headache in Baerlon)? What's "off" in those circumstances anyway?

 

Oh yeah, BTW, we've all overlooked something rather obvious: Rand watched Thom attack the Fade. That chapter was his POV: there's absolutely no way to have the description of Thom crashing into it in that chapter unless Rand saw the whole thing. He just stands there frozen during all that, including when the flashes occurred, with Mat trying to drag him away. It wasn't until Thom's last scream of "RUN!" that he finally turned and fled the square. So, that really eliminates a lot of explanatory options. Basically, anything Rand should have been able to see is out. Unless we're talking something that could fit in his peripheral vision. It's easy to not notice that stuff if you're intent on something else in direct view.

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its flashes off of thoms oiled steel blades, the oil giving the reflection a blue tinge

 

What flashes off his blades? The sun? Why does this create a ridiculous amount of light ("eye-searing")? How does that work? Why is it blue? Why not red or green or whatever, given that oils (and especially light, transparent ones like those used on knives) typically act rather like a prism (but not exactly like) and split light into its multiple component colors? Hell, even motor oil will do that. Go look at a relatively fresh oil stain on a driveway in bright sunlight sometime.

Edited by didymos
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LINK

 

NY, NY: Why was there a blue light flashing when Thom met the Fade in Whitebridge?

RJ: Because Thom's best knives are very special indeed.

 

Malivar: If a Fade's blade will not produce lightning except against other Thakan'dar wrought blades, and power-wrought blades, why do Thom's daggers produce it when he attacks the Fade at Whitebridge?

 

RJ: Thom's daggers did not produce the effect. It was produced before Thom reached the Fade.

 

Ruhira Sedai: You've said before that the blue flashes during the fight with the Myrddraal in Whitebridge were not from Thom's daggers. What were they from?

RJ: RAFO.

 

 

Comment by Sorilea: Wow... I agreed with Ruriha that I really thought we should get an answer to this. Jordan went on to explain that there are three types of ideas that are floating around in his head about the series. Things that he must include, because they are the major turning points for a character, story line, etc; Things he wants to include, because he things they give a little more in depth knowledge about a character, etc; and Things that would be nice to include. Unfortunately he says that the explanation regarding Thom's daggers falls into the last category. But, on the chance that he will get to include it, he doesn't want to give away anything. So hopefully, this means that at some point, we will revisit Whitebridge and find out some more about it, as well as what the flashes were from.

 

I think these quotes imply something happening that none of us can really know, unfortunately. So I don't think its Rand channeling unless its in a very specific manner.

Edited by Elend
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I went and looked where I originally posted my pet theory regarding this phenomena but I haven't been able to find it.

Essentially it goes something like this. We know that blue flashes are caused when a blade from thakan'dar meets a power-wrought blade or another thakan'dar blade. We also know that while Thom's knives were special, they weren't power-wrought. At this point I also dismiss channeling-based theories because we know Thom and Mat can't channel and because Rand's channeling at that point was uncontrolled and based almost entirely on the need to survive as well as always followed by channeling sickness.

This leaves us with two possibilities. On one hand a passing blademaster, who happened to own an ancient blade, came along and attacked the fade, thereby saving Thom's life. On the other hand a passing fade came along and attacked the first fade, thereby saving Thom's life. In my opinion it is the latter rather than the former and there are two reasons why.

Firstly Thom was reluctant to say anything about what happened and secondly we have another example of fades fighting fades during the battle in the Stone of Tear. If it was a passing blademaster then the chances are Thom would have turned it into a grand story rather than staying quiet, which suggests to me that what occurred was something he didn't understand and therefore wasn't confident to speak about.

So to conclude, my hypothesis is that the fade which attacked in Whitebridge was in turn attacked and defeated by one or more fades. I think perhaps the rescuing fades were sent by Lanfear who we know was keeping an eye on Rand around that time.

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At this point I also dismiss channeling-based theories because we know Thom and Mat can't channel and because Rand's channeling at that point was uncontrolled and based almost entirely on the need to survive as well as always followed by channeling sickness.

 

Uh, no. Rand's first channeling was not to help himself, but to help Egwene. I.e. to help someone else survive. At that point, Thom is all he and Mat have got and the only one of them who has any actual experience with the wider world they're stuck in. Now look at how awful Rand feels afterwards about what happened and his sense of loss, and then see how ecstatic he is to find Thom alive in Cairhien. Thom mattered to Rand, as Egwene mattered to Rand. Do you really think his desire to stop what he saw happening was insufficient to trigger him channeling?

 

As for the sickness: again, look at how it actually works and look at how much is glossed over post-Whitebridge. The sickness can be very brief and easy to mistake for just feeling a little under the weather or a strange, transient mood. It's of course not certain Rand channeled, but it can't be dismissed based on what we know, and it does fit with the events in Whitebridge, numerous instances of channeling, and the aftermath we see when Moiraine and Co. get there.

 

As for uncontrolled: yeah, and? Why does that matter? All that matters is something happens which could conceivably help: give Bela some energy, swing a ship's boom, nail a wall with lightning. If anything, and assuming he did channel at Whitebridge, that would be the least controlled example. In fact, the haphazardness suggested by the burnt buildings and the failure to help Thom in any meaningful way is actually a point against a channeling explanation (yes: I am poking holes in my own ideas).

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So to conclude, my hypothesis is that the fade which attacked in Whitebridge was in turn attacked and defeated by one or more fades. I think perhaps the rescuing fades were sent by Lanfear who we know was keeping an eye on Rand around that time.

 

Rand was watching, and he doesn't stop watching until after the blue flash: it's his POV. Any helper Fade would have had to be right in his line of sight, and he would have seen the clash of swords responsible for the blue flash. Same goes for any wandering swordsman. Or anything else directly and physically interfering with the pursuing Fade.

Edited by didymos
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Something that would relate to an extra plot point that RJ would bring into play at some point, i.e. him activating some kind of Whitebridge Defense Lasers from the Age of Legends or something. He'd not be hiding Rand channeling considering the other points in the story are confirmed. Unless there is something unique about that instance.

 

Ruhira Sedai: You've said before that the blue flashes during the fight with the Myrddraal in Whitebridge were not from Thom's daggers. What were they from?

RJ: RAFO.

 

 

Comment by Sorilea: Wow... I agreed with Ruriha that I really thought we should get an answer to this. Jordan went on to explain that there are three types of ideas that are floating around in his head about the series. Things that he must include, because they are the major turning points for a character, story line, etc; Things he wants to include, because he things they give a little more in depth knowledge about a character, etc; and Things that would be nice to include. Unfortunately he says that the explanation regarding Thom's daggers falls into the last category. But, on the chance that he will get to include it, he doesn't want to give away anything. So hopefully, this means that at some point, we will revisit Whitebridge and find out some more about it, as well as what the flashes were from.

 

This is really the money quote. For starters its suggesting the flashes have to do with Thom as opposed to Rand. I'm not sure if RJ is being sarcastic in this other quote...

 

NY, NY: Why was there a blue light flashing when Thom met the Fade in Whitebridge?

RJ: Because Thom's best knives are very special indeed.

 

considering he's confirmed the flashes don't come from Thom's daggers. But, honestly, I'm not sure. They aren't contradictory- that comes from another quote in which he confirms they aren't contradicting each other somehow. So, who knows? I just think the assembled RJ quotes and him RAFO it at least once suggests that its not just an early showing of Rand's channeling. That'd not be a big deal. If Whitebridge has anti-shadowspawn properties that could be pretty important in Tarmon Gai'don.

 

ETA: I guess they could not contradict if Thom's special daggers are ter'angreal that somehow activated something weird in Whitebridge. It doesn't necessarily matter if they aren't that close to the actual bridge- considering AoL stuff could go for miles, it'd be entirely possible to happen where the confrontation took place.

 

But this really is a wild guess. Rand channeling just is such a weird thing for him to RAFO.

Edited by Elend
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He gave them a push, one hand on the shoulder of each of them, to get them started, and Rand stumbled away in a lurching run with Mat at his side.

"RUN!" Thom sprang into motion, too, with a long, wordless roar. Not after them, but toward the Myrddraal. His hands flourished as if he were performing at his best, and daggers appeared. Rand stopped, but Mat pulled him along.

The Fade was just as startled. Its leisurely pace faltered in mid-stride. Its hand swept toward the hilt of the black sword hanging at its waist, but the gleeman's long legs covered the distance quickly. Thom crashed into the Myrddraal before the black blade was half drawn, and both went down in a thrashing heap. The few people still in the square fled.

"RUN!" The air in the square flashed an eye-searing blue, and Thom began to scream, but even in the middle of the scream he managed a word. "RUN!"

Rand obeyed. The gleeman's screams pursued him.

 

Rand was watching, and he doesn't stop watching until after the blue flash: it's his POV. Any helper Fade would have had to be right in his line of sight, and he would have seen the clash of swords responsible for the blue flash. Same goes for any wandering swordsman. Or anything else directly and physically interfering with the pursuing Fade.

Sure but we know that the blue flash wasn't caused by Thom's daggers or the sword of the fade Thom attacked. My guess is that there were at least two other fades in the square and that Rand couldn't see the others because he was on his way out of town.

 

Rand's first channeling was not to help himself, but to help Egwene. [...] Do you really think his desire to stop what he saw happening was insufficient to trigger him channeling? [...]

I did say 'almost entirely' and I did say 'I dismiss'. I'm aware that I haven't given reasons to abandon channeling-related scenarios completely.

 

Let me re-iterate; this is my own pet theory. There're plenty of reasons why it may not be true but there are also reasons that may support my hunch. I'm not arguing a murder case here, just putting forward the explanation for what I think may have occurred.

Edited by DovienGleeman
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