2.2.7: Verin - Black, Brown, or Purple? --Updated

"I don't trust you," Egwene found herself blurting. "I don't think I ever have."

"Very wise," Verin said, sipping her tea. It was not a scent Egwene recognized. "I am, after all, a member of the Black Ajah."

-- [TGS 39: A Visit from Verin Sedai]

With that, a thousand theories died a painful, screaming death. However, as it always is with the Wheel of Time, it's not quite that simple.

Verin goes on to reveal that she became Black Ajah after her investigation into them brought her too close. She had no choice but to swear to the Dark One or die. Rationalizing it as a chance "...to study the beast from within it's heart, to see really what makes the blood flow. To discover where all the little veins and vessels go." she manages to discover the identity of nearly every Black sister and provides Egwene with evidence of Mesaana's infiltration of the Tower. Many of Verin Mathwin's oddness can now be explained, at least partially, by her status as a Darkfriend. As the Light's first, and probably only, double agent in the series, we can afford to spend some time examining a few of these.

   1.  VERINISM: In TGH, Verin tells the boys that Moiraine sent her to look after them: [TGH: 14, Wolfbrother, 195] "Moiraine Sedai sent me, Lord Ingtar," Verin announced with a satisfied smile. "She thought you might need me." Moiraine later says that she did NOT send Verin: [TGH: 49, What was Meant To Be, 572] "I did not send Verin." Moiraine frowned. "She did that on her own." It is pretty obvious that Moiraine is not BA, so that implies that Verin lied, and hence must be BA.

      EXPLANATION: With her new Oaths, Verin is able to lie at will. Like most Black sisters, she probably did not unless necessary, due to the risk of discovery.

   2. VERINISM: Verin does not give Corianin's notes to Egwene along with the dream ring [TDR: 21, A World of Dreams, 187]. Maybe she wanted Egwene to get killed, or caught by some Forsaken?

    EXPLANATION: "The Amyrlin commanded that I give you information to hunt the Black sisters who fled the Tower, so I had to comply, even though the leadership of the Black was frustrated by the order. I wasn't supposed to give you the dreaming ter'angreal, you know. But I've always had a feeling about you."

From this quote, we can infer that Verin gave Egwene the ter'angreal, but not the notes in her attempt to serve two masters. By giving Egwene the ability to access the World of Dreams, the Light gains an important advantage, one the Shadow has been using with impunity. But without the notes, success is not assured and Verin can't be accused of helping Egwene too much. Verin can always lie to the Black Ajah and claim that she gave it to her in the hopes the Wonder Girls would injure themselves with it. Which, for anyone familiar with tel'aran'rhiod, is a likely outcome for anyone accessing it without training.

   3. VERINISM: Her suspicious behavior in the Two Rivers: a) Misleads Perrin as to why she and Alanna are there [TSR: 31, Assurances, 345-346]. b) Tells Perrin not to trust Alanna, perhaps laying a false trail? [TSR: 33, A New Weave in the Pattern, 373]. c) She also knows Luc is the missing Lord Luc, Tigraine's brother who disappeared in the Blight. She knows he is mentioned in the Dark Prophecy, yet she does not warn anyone about him, or tell them who he is?

      EXPLANATION: a) and b) are typical Aes Sedai behavior. Furthermore, since Alanna had recently lost a Warder, Verin may have been worried that she would try to bond Perrin, as she later did to Rand. A new possibility, raised by her actions in TGS, is that she was investigating Alanna as a possible Black sister at that time and hadn't cleared her. As for c) it's probable that she knows about Luc's true nature, but is prevented from revealing it by her orders from the Black Ajah or a Forsaken.

   4. VERINISM: Only three characters have referred to Perrin's choice of hammer or axe: Ishamael, Lanfear and Verin. This puts Verin in very suspicious company.

      EXPLANATION: Verin is Brown Ajah, and thus is likely to know all sorts of obscure things. Perhaps there is a prophecy involving blacksmiths, hammers, and axes; the appearance in COT of a verse referring to Mat in the Karaethon Cycle lends credence to this idea. We also know there are prophecies only known to the Dark. Verin mentions them when she hands her notes over to Egwene. If Mat and Rand both appear in the Karaethon Cycle, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that all three ta'veren appear in a prophecy of the Shadow. (Also note that the above statement is somewhat false: Egwene also knows about the hammer/axe choice. She dreamed it.)

   5. VERINISM: She was observed in deep conversation with Barthanes, a known Darkfriend, at the party in [TGH: 33, A Message From the Dark, 397]. When Hurin approached them, Verin waved him away. Perhaps they were discussing "business matters?"

      EXPLANATION: Maybe. It is possible they could have been discussing The Evil Plot to Rule the World. But it seems like an awfully public place to do so, and Verin seems unlikely to have revealed her Darkfriend status unless strictly necessary. It's far more likely, that Verin and Barthanes were speaking of something innocuous and she didn't want to be interrupted.

   6. VERINISM: In [TFOH: 53, Fading Words, 638] Moiraine mentions to Rand in her last letter not to trust Alviarin, who is definitely a Darkfriend, and Verin. Additionally, Siuan mentions that Verin never told her about giving Egwene a ter'angreal.

      EXPLANATION: The former is just an exercise in contrasts. Moiraine is saying: "Don't trust ANYBODY. You are rightly suspicious of Alviarin, but you should be equally suspicious of those you think you can trust, like Verin." Then again, if Moiraine did have an inkling that Verin was Black Ajah, she'll have some explaining to do after Mat rescues her. As for the latter, why should she tell Siuan Sanche?

   7. VERINISM: Draghkar Attack on Moiraine [TGH: 22, Watchers, 278-279] was executed at least with Aes Sedai help (the warding on them so they couldn't be sensed). Moiraine seemed to think that pretty much everyone in the Tower had forgotten about these old hermit Aes Sedai. However, we do know one individual old enough to remember them who could have ordered the attack --Verin.

      EXPLANATION: This is totally wimpy speculation, and wouldn't even be here, except that somebody might bring it up again. Liandrin (known BA) could have easily followed Moiraine there, and one of the sisters may be BA (see section 1.4.9).

   8. VERINISM: Verin and the art of Stedding Channeling: in [TGH: 29, Among the Elders, 435], she inspects an Ogier who lost his mind to Machin Shin in the Ways. For all intents and purposes, it looks like she's Delving him with the OP. However, she is in a stedding, where touching the OP is impossible. Even more, nobody thinks this is weird!

      EXPLANATION: At a post-ACOS signing [Vancouver, 24 August, 1996], RJ told Lara Beaton that "we're going to find out something in the next few books about people without souls and characteristics of them. (he started out saying that we're going to find out something significant about Verin, then stopped)." After Perrin's too-long sojourn in the wolf dream in WH, we learn that Aes Sedai are apparently familiar with these characteristics. Berelain, to Perrin: "'You slept like a man already dead. [Annoura] said you almost felt like someone who had lost his soul, cold no matter how many blankets were piled on you. I felt it, as well, when I touched you'" [WH: 5, Flags, 145]. So evidently, anyone who knows what they're looking for can tell when the soul is gone from a body, and Verin's examination of the Ogier in the stedding didn't have to involve channeling at all.

      Verin could also have used a Well, per WH. Though a rather ex post facto solution to the discrepancy (and superfluous, given the above about soulless bodies), we now know that channeling is possible in a stedding. We have no evidence, however, that Verin actually possesses a Well, though if she did it would be interesting to speculate on how that relates to her arrest warrant in Far Madding...

   9. VERINISM: When Rand is fighting Lord Turak at the end of TGH, he is afraid to use saidin, because: "If he touched saidin, and if he could not stop himself channeling, [the damane] would know, Verin had told him. Know and wonder" [TGH: 45, Blademaster, 539, emphasis mine]. What's more, earlier on Verin tells Rand, "'The only way I could help you would be if I channeled the Power, and that would be no help at all if I brought those down on you. Even if they were not close enough to see, one might well feel a woman - or a man, for that matter - channeling, if care was not taken to keep the Power channeled small'" [TGH: 44, Five Will Ride Forth, 523]. So did Verin conveniently forget that female channelers - which would include all damane - cannot detect either saidin or men who can channel it?

      EXPLANATION:Verin has always known that there were ter'angreals that could detect both men and women channeling. She's from Far Madding, after all (as is Cadsuane, who additionally has a portable version of the Far Madding saidin detector). So it's not unreasonable for Verin to suppose that the mysterious Seanchan, who have come up with a way to chain channelers like dogs, could have also come up with a saidin/saidar detector like her native city did. Thus telling Rand that they might be able to sense him channeling was just erring on the side of caution.