Black Ajah

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Author: Kerna Shedrian

Introduction

There is an eighth Ajah whose members reside within the other seven Ajahs. The Black Ajah is rumoured to be dedicated to the Dark One. For this reason, the existence of this Ajah is often hotly denied by Aes Sedai. Many refuse to believe such an Ajah exists (TWoRJTWoT).

Promised immortality and more by the Dark One, the Black Ajah have forsaken the Three Oaths, replacing them with a new trinity (ACoS, Ch. 40). They forsake their own Ajahs too, as they are required to relay every whisper within their supposed Ajah (TPoD, Ch. 25) and all the Ajah secrets (CoT, Ch. 21).

History

The Black Ajah first revealed itself two thousand years ago during the Trolloc Wars when armies of Trollocs commanded by Dreadlords came out of the Blight and ransacked the land. Though not all the Dreadlords were female, it is considered that the majority of the female Dreadlords were Black Ajah (TWoRJTWoT).

Since then, the Black Ajah has dwelt unseen among the others, cloaked in secrecy. In the prelude to Tarmon Gai'don, the Black Ajah has come into the open once more (TGH, Ch. 49).

Destruction

Main article: The Hunt for the Black Ajah

Under Elaida, Seaine mistakenly starts a hunt for the Black Ajah within the White Tower (ACoS, Ch. 32). Doesine, Pevara, Saerin and Yukiri soon join her (ACoS, Ch. 32; TPoD, Prologue). She makes some progress, using the Oath Rod to force people to re-swear the Three Oaths and identifying a handful of members. They discover that Atuan Larisett, Karale Sanghir, Marris Thornhill and Talene Minly are members of the Black Ajah and force them to re-swear the Three Oaths plus an oath to obey the hunters (TPoD, Ch. 26; WH, Prologue; CoT, Prologue; KoD, Prologue). Their progress stalls due to the absence of people named from the Tower.

During her imprisonment, Egwene learns of this, but is unable to make use of it until she is visited in her cell by Verin Mathwin, who brings her a full list of all Black Ajah members and Darkfriends among the novices and Accepted. On her return to the rebel camp, she calls a meeting of the Hall and swears the Oaths, proclaiming herself to not be a Darkfriend. Sheriam seizes the Source and is tricked into telling a lie, identifying her as a Darkfriend. When Egwene tells the Hall that Sitters were identified, Moria tried to flee, but is prevented by the other sisters. She then tells them that they will bring in all the other sisters by Ajah and force them to re-swear the Oaths, being prepared to seize those Verin identified as Black. Egwene cleanses the Rebel Aes Sedai, beheading over fifty of the seventy Black Ajah amongst them (TGS, Ch. 45). When the Tower is unified, a day later, sixty Black sisters in the Tower escape, only the weakest are captured (TGS, Epilogue).

Post Purge

The Black Ajah attacks the White Tower (ToM, Ch. 36). Alviarin and others set fire to walls while Saerin and others were having a fake meeting to lure the Black Ajah to eavesdrop. Shevan and Carlinya are reported as dead. Caught in Tel'aran'rhiod by the dreamspike, Egwene kills Mestra in an inferno and causes Evanellein to be stupid, unable to react or think. Nynaeve kills Notori. The Black Ajah stole nineteen ter'angreal although they are able to channel surprisingly well inside the World of Dreams. Egwene kills Sedore. Katerine tell Mesaana that they cannot find the thing that Mesaana had described. (ToM, Ch. 37) Evanellein dies and Egwene kills Katerine who had been masked as Mesaana. Egwene breaks Mesaana's mind. (ToM, Ch. 38)

Organization

Due to the secrecy of the Black Ajah, not even all of its members know one another. The Ajah is organized into hearts but is ruled by a Supreme Council. A heart has three members; each member of the heart knows the other two members of the heart and one member of another heart that the other two do not (CoT, Prologue).

There are thirteen members on the Supreme Council, and one of these is the head of the Supreme Council. Alviarin is the current head. She was handpicked by Ishamael, replacing Jarna after she had Tamra put to the question. Galina is Alviarin's second (ACoS, Prologue).

Ordinary members of the Black Ajah are brought before the Supreme Council only if they are being honoured, being given a very important assignment or being put to the question (KoD, Prologue).

Known Hearts

Recruitment

In the White Tower, Black sisters watch novices and Accepted closely for any indication that they might be leaning toward the Shadow or susceptible to the promises of the Shadow. They also watch other sisters, since people do change. Not every Black sister was recruited on the day she gained the shawl, nor soon after. Merean had a fine position for watching novices and Accepted, but many sisters teach. Some do little else, but others take turns at it for various periods, so Merean was not necessarily the primary recruiter during her time as Mistress of Novices, not even among those in her charge (Robert Jordan Question of the Week, Week 4).

Secrets

The secret hand signal of the Black Ajah is hands held at the side with both thumbs thrust hard between the first two fingers (LoC, Ch. 30).

The Supreme Council's meetings are held with faces covered and voices disguised (LoC, Prologue). If one of the members are out of the Tower, another member is brought in to make up the numbers (KoD, Prologue).

Orders are left on pillows or in cloaks. The ink vanishes if touched by another hand (LoC, Prologue). Some are ciphered (KoD, Prologue). Each member has a secret place to leave messages (LoC, Prologue), and some messages are marked in a way to tell where the message must be left (KoD, Prologue).

Miscellaneous

  • The process of swearing the new trinity is distinctive. So much so that Verin suspects they cannot be removed using the Oath Rod, only we know this to be an inaccurate assumption. One oath is "I swear not to betray the Great Lord, to keep my secrets until the hour of my death" (TGS, Ch. 39). One is suspected to be an oath against betraying cohorts (TPoD, Ch. 20).
  • To put someone to the question, the Black Ajah forces her into a circle against her will and guides the circle to inflict pain (KoD, Prologue).
  • The Black Ajah put Tamra Ospenya to the question and killed the Aes Sedai she had set to search for the Dragon Reborn (NS, Ch. 18).
  • Many murders took place just after the Aiel War as the Black Ajah killed any male they suspected could channel. They did not know when the Dragon was reborn, they just knew he had been (NS, Epilogue).
  • Verin chooses to study the Black Ajah and becomes a member when given the choice between doing so or dying. She writes all her findings in a book, a culmination of her life's work and entrusts the information to Egwene. It contains a list of Black sisters and other prudent information written in a code known only to Verin. Another book contains the cipher to decode this (TGS, Ch. 39).

Members

Main article: Black Ajah Character List

Head

Two Characters are known to have been Head of the Black Ajah:

Sitters

Other Notable Blacks

Members of the Black Ajah who have held some position of power or responsibility: