1.2.2: What is the deal with Halima and Egwene's headaches?-- Updated
[Pam Korda, Leigh Butler, Jennifer Liang]
In ACOS, Egwene came down with a spate of nasty headaches. The only way she can manage to get rid of them is for the lovely Halima to give her a massage. Halima just happens to be one of the DO's recycled agents, Aran'gar. Coincidence? I think not.
It's one of the oldest tricks in the book-- cause problems so you can win somebody's confidence. The evidence: Eg's headaches started the day after Logain escaped, and the day Eg and Halima had their first conversation [ACOS: 12, A Morning of Victory, 249]. Aran'gar had been trying very hard to get rid of Logain, either to gentle him again, or to kill him. In [LOC: 52, Weaves of the Power, 651] Egwene says, "They will gentle him, Siuan... That, or someone really will do what Delana has been hinting at. I won't allow murder!" Delana is by now only a pawn, voicing Halima's wishes. To Halima, Logain is dangerous, being the only one around who can sense her ability to channel saidin, or rather, her actual channeling. As soon as Logain is gone, Halima's free to make her move on Egwene.
More direct evidence that Halima is responsible for the headaches is offered in COT, when Egwene sends Halima away against her wishes in [COT: 18, A Chat With Siuan, 439]: "With remarkable timing, a dull throb began behind Egwene's eyes, an all too familiar precursor to a blinding headache..." Remarkable timing, indeed.
So, since it seems unlikely that a Forsaken with direct access to the Amyrlin Seat (or one of them, even) would settle for simply making her head hurt, the obvious question to ask is, what else is she doing? The most logical assumption to make would be that Halima is Compelling Egwene.
Is Halima using Compulsion on Egwene?
1. We see in WH some rather disturbing changes in Egwene's policy, most notably her 180 on the matter of the Oath Rod. Elayne and Nynaeve are understandably startled and dismayed by it, but Egwene seems dead set on the idea. Why the Oaths particularly, if this is Halima's doing? Well, for one thing, Moridin knows that if all the Aes Sedai are released from the Oath Rod, then his Black Ajah will be released from whatever Oaths they swore to the Shadow, as well [John Novak].
Counterargument: The Oath Rod thing is odd, but as a ploy to create chaos and disorder among the Rebel AS, it's pretty pathetic. Why only this? Why not induce Eg to do something actually damaging in the short term, like Alviarin was forcing Elaida to do? Surely there are plenty of things Halima could dream up that wouldn't topple Eg, but still make things worse for her faction? Besides, it is possible that Egwene really was influenced by Siuan's speech about the value of the Oaths, and that nothing sinister is afoot.
2. "...[Aran'gar] laughed throatily. 'My own charge is...' She pressed a thumb down on the edge of the chair as if pinning something and laughed again." [WH: 13, Wonderful News,
Counterargument: This is conveniently vague, and evidence from TPOD, WH, and COT strongly suggests that the "charge" Aran'gar is referring to is actually Sheriam (see section 1.5.4).
3. Practically everyone in the Rebel camp despises Halima, including Siuan, who is one of the few people Egwene trusts fully. Yet Egwene seems unnaturally fond of Halima, continually making excuses for her appearance and manner, and dismisses out of hand reports of Halima's strange behavior (like breaking a man's arm, for instance [COT: 18, A Chat With Siuan, 440]). Egwene's lack of suspicion with regard to Halima seems very strange, considering that she's suspicious of just about everyone else.
Counterargument: Like nobody in this series has made bad character judgments before.
4. Egwene’s headaches seem to arise whenever someone mentions Halima or Delana to her, almost as if something is trying to prevent her from thinking too much about those two. [ACOS: 11, An Oath].
Counterargument: We have no evidence whatsoever that Compulsion can be used like that, or that Aran’gar is skilled enough to do so.
No she isn't
1. Using Compulsion on someone is fraught with difficulties. Unless you are very good at it, you run a continual risk of permanently scrambling the subject's brain. Moggy comments on this in ACOS while running to take a potshot at Nynaeve in [ACOS: 30, The First Cup, 484]: "It was possible the innkeeper might lose the whole day, or wake somewhat slower of wits than she had been - so much in Moghedien's life would have been so much easier had she possessed a better Talent for Compulsion..." Considering how much difficulty all the other Forsaken except Graendal seem to have with it, it's reasonable to think that Halima might not have the finesse required to keep a subject under long-term control without doing damage.
Counterargument: There is no evidence Halima sucks at Compulsion.
Rebuttal: There's no evidence that she doesn't, either.
2. Even if Halima does have sufficient skill to avoid cooking Eg's noodle, there is still the problem of Egwene herself. Rich Boyé points out that as seen with Rahvin vs. Morgase and Moggy vs. Nynaeve, "certain people have an innate resistance to Compulsion. They may be in thrall, but the subject's subconscious instinctively seeks a way out from under the Compulsion... I have no doubt that Egwene would be one of those innately resistant people - she fought off Seanchan programming for months, recall." Additionally, Egwene tells us in [COT: 18, A Chat With Siuan, 451] that she learned the Compulsion weave from Moggy before the latter escaped; while Halima may not be aware of this fact, it still further increases the chance that Egwene would recognize that something similar was being done to her.
Counterargument: It doesn't help Egwene to know the weave if she can't sense the saidin being used to create it. And while it's reasonable to suppose that Egwene might be resistant to Compulsion, that is all it is: supposition.
3. Finally, there is the fact that Egwene simply doesn't act like someone under Compulsion. Drew Holton observes that Compulsion "really leaves you with no willpower, and also no initiative. Look at how Morgase behaved. I don't think they could keep Egwene on the Amyrlin Seat for long [...] if she was under Compulsion." Nor could someone rendered "slow" expect to hold on to the top spot among AS either.
Counterargument: Again, this hinges on the assumption that Halima doesn't have sufficient skill to Compel Eg without leaving her a drooling mess.
The last point also assumes, of course, that Halima wants to keep Egwene in the power seat. But really, every indication is that this is exactly what Halima wants. Elizabeth Cornwell points out, "given Halima's access to Egwene, I can't imagine that she wants Egwene to fail in her current plans. The proof of this being a negative one: that if Halima wanted to bring Egwene down, she certainly could have already done so in any number of ways. (Two possibilities: direct compulsion during the headache sessions to brainwash Egwene into seeing some other plan as better; having had Delana "reveal" to the SAS Hall that Egwene was Siuan's dupe and that the attack on Elaida was being pursued because of Siuan's influence)." John Novak adds, "Just killing her outright would have sufficed, too. I'm sure Halima could manage something thatwould leave no trace of foul play."
Since neither of those things have happened, we must conclude that (at least some of) Egwene's goals coincide with Halima's, at the moment. One such goal is the AS civil war. Continued conflict between the TAS and the SAS is definitely in the DO's best interest-- the two groups of AS are tied up fighting each other, instead of fighting the Shadow, or aiding the Dragon Reborn. So long as the conflict between the two factions continues, the DO's interest is served. Halima's methods may change if it starts to look like Egwene's plans for reuniting the Tower are coming to fruition, but for now she's doing what Halima wants, so why risk Compulsion if you don't need to?
A third alternative offered by several people is that Halima is only using a very light form of Compulsion on Egwene - not enough to make her actually do anything, but just enough to make her like Halima and dismiss any suspicions about her. This idea seems likely because it eliminates the problem of why Egwene isn't acting brain-fried, while also explaining her complete lack of clue when it comes to Halima's antics. Still, this seems awfully mild. It's hard to accept that Halima is using her unfettered access to Egwene just to make Eg like her.
So what is she doing, then?
When Egwene first appears in [TPOD: 15, Stronger Than Written Law, 308], she's waking from disturbing dreams that she can't recall, even though she's been trained to remember all her dreams. She also indicates this is a recent phenomenon - coinciding with her headaches, perchance? The dreams "left her wanting to run, to escape, never able to recall what from…" Then, in [TPOD: 16, Unexpected Absences, 332], while Halima's busy lugging the corpse of one of Egwene's maids into the woods, she is "thinking idly of tonight's dreams." Hers, or Egwene's?
In CoT, Egwene recovers from a Halima-induced headache without Halima's help, and the immediate result is three new prophetic dreams. Egwene even specifically thinks about how her dreams were always troubled after one of Halima's massages: "Few of her dreams were light, but these were darker than any others, and, strangely, she could never remember anything except that they were dark and troubled" [COT: 20, In the Night, 481].
Even more telling, Egwene doesn’t have any troubles with her Dreams after being taken prisoner by the Tower Aes Sedai and being removed from Aran’gar’s influence. “Strangely, she had not had one of those wretched headaches since being taken prisoner, nor any of those dark dreams that left her disturbed even though she could never remember them, but she thought she might be heading for a fine headache tonight.” [KoD 24: Honey in the Tea]. Given all this, it seems likely that if Halima is not Compelling Eg or only mildly Compelling Eg, then the purpose of the headaches is probably to interfere with Egwene's Dreaming ability. Another possibility is that the headaches are merely to give Halima nighttime access to Egwene, allowing for easier manipulation of her Dreams. “Her abilities [in Tel'aran'rhiod] were not as large as some--she could not find Egwene's dreams without the girl right beside her.” [KOD 3: At the Gardens]
One must ask, of course, how exactly Halima knows that Eg is a Dreamer. Well, Lanfear knew, for one - she was Silvie (see section 1.1.3). Also, Ben Goodman reminds us that Ishamael knew as well - he saw Eg in T'A'R [TGH: 12, Woven in the Pattern, 180], and later comments on her to "You find odd followers," Ba'alzamon mused. "You always did. [...] The girl who tries to watch over you. A poor guardian and weak, Kinslayer. If she had a lifetime to grow, she would never grow strong enough for you to hide behind." [TGH: 15, Kinslayer, 204]
This may also partially explain why Anaiya was one of the two AS Halima murdered in COT - she was one of the few people in the Rebel camp who truly believed Eg was a Dreamer. When Egwene is disappointed that no one seems to be taking her Dream about the Seanchan seriously, Morvrin remarks, "'It might be different if Anaiya were alive [...] Anaiya had a reputation for arcane knowledge. I always thought she should have chosen Brown, myself. If she said you were a Dreamer...'" [COT: 30, What the Oath Rod Can Do, 662].
David Ulaeto comments, "This implies first that the Darkside actually recognizes that Dreaming is one of the major tools of the Lightside/Pattern/Creator for guiding events/characters. And second that the Darkside actually has the intelligence to recognize this, which I never would have dreamed was the case given past performance of the Forsaken et al."
So, maybe Halima's not so useless after all.