Gholam and Power Resistant Ter'angreal
Author: Guiyall Rithmaire
Aginor, one of the Forsaken, was a respected biological scientist at the University of Collam Daan. He was often disciplined for experimentation on animals and chafed heavily under the constriction that there was nothing left to learn. In the first days of the Collapse, he furthered his unethical tests under the command of the Dark One, creating first Trollocs, then Myrddraal (an unintended throwback to the Trollocs' human ancestry, occasionally created through Trolloc breeding) and lastly gholam. My theory is that in a quest for victory for the Dark One, Aginor was trying to create a Shadowspawn that could channel but be easily controlled. The theory is related to the idea that a gene exists that controls whether or not a person can channel and to what extent. Aginor was trying to maximize the inborn potential of the gene. Using other-worldly embryonic tissues, thus explaining the clay-like nature, Aginor spliced the gene representing the One Power potential in his attempts. In order to do this, Aginor needed a large amount of the power to be channeled at the gene. This resulted unknowingly in a Shadowspawn being created that was so filled with the power, that it was almost power resistant.
The gholam appears throughout the War of Power, although it is now used for a different purpose. The gholam was used to assassinate those who could channel. Of what has been gathered it appears that only two gholam survived the Breaking, most likely kept alive in a stasis box (AcoS, Ch. 39). The gholam was, and is, an excellent assassin, using its ability to flow through any crack and also the ability to nullify channeling. When being channeled at, the gholam soaks up the Power, dissipating the weaves. The gholam's power gene seems to have been inverted, changing the function of the gene itself. The gene seems to now, instead of creating a source of the One Power, create a well to feed the One Power into. The idea that Aginor created the gholam is founded upon the information found in "Lord of Chaos", for Graendal thinks only a mad man like Aginor would have made the gholam (LoC, Ch. 23).
The physical attributes of the gholam are found within "The Path of Daggers." Gholam live on fresh blood. The can feel the One Power and even the True Power as an itch somewhat like Myrddraal do. They can detect the usage of the One Power over enormous distance - several miles (TPoD, Ch. 2).
This is very much like Matrim Cauthon's medallion as well as other ter'angreal, one known to be in the possession of Cadsuane Sedai. The medallion dissipates flows channeled at the bearer and at the medallion itself and it grows cold when dissipating flows of the power. This could be an inherent flaw or to allow the bearer to detect channeling. I believe that it is a reaction to the dissipation of the One Power flows. The medallion acts as a grounded capacitor of the One Power. It takes flows and puts them into a buffer to dissipate into the surroundings.
Dissipation of the Power
Both gholam and ter'angreal dissipate flows of the Power, the ter'angreal dissipating into its surroundings, the gholam, into itself. The extreme similarity of the two acts much like two ter'angreal reacting to each other. When two similar ter'angreal are in the same room, a resonance can be felt. The resonance creates a field of energy between the two objects. This energy is evident between the gholam and the ter'angreal, in that when the two come into contact the molecules of the weaker one is broken down. (**In technical terms, the activation energy of the carbon chains and rings that are the make up of the molecular structure of carbon based flesh is lowered and the energy of the subatomic particles is raised. In doing so, it allows for the separation of bonds, usually H20 and C2. The most often occurrences of this form of separation are usually burning or freezing.)
This accounts for when the medallion comes in contact with the gholam; the gholam is burned. The medallion is trying to force a dissipation of the Power built up within the gholam. The resonance and the dissipation work in conjunction to break down the cellular structure of the gholam. The main point of this is to show the weak points of each. The medallion draws the flows into a buffer and by doing so gets cold. As all capacitors work there is a limit to how much can be drawn into the buffer. Once that point is reached anything further can harm the capacitor, in this case ter'angreal, to the point of destruction. The gholam acts as a well, pulling the One Power into its self or its buffer until its buffer is full. Any further addition to the well will weaken its structure and its ability to dissipate, and will make it more susceptible to the possibility of it being destroyed using the One Power it draws in.
Cadsuane Sedai has been known to hold a power-resistant ter'angreal: “'If you wish to be truly foolish.’ Cadsuane smiled, a cold smile. She made no move to embrace the Source herself. One of her dangling hair ornaments, intertwined golden crescents, was cool on her temple.” Cadsuane's hair ornament grows cool when Alanna holds saidar (TPoD, Ch. 12).
Matrim Cauthon, after receiving the Foxhead medallion (TSR, Ch. 24), eventually finds out its use, as Moiraine is shocked when she tries to Heal Mat and nothing happens. She asks him to remove the Foxhead medallion then Heals him (TFoH, Ch. 6).
The physical evidence of the effect of the medallion on the gholam can be seen later in "A Crown of Swords." When Mat's foxhead medallion falls against the gholam's face, the medallion burns it severely (ACoS, Ch. 38).