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1.4.12 Who will meet Rand in Ebou Dar?

[Leigh Butler]

In the epilogue of COT, Bashere comes to Rand and tells him that the Seanchan are willing to discuss a peace treaty, but only if Rand comes to meet them in person:

"The Seanchan are amenable," Bashere replied. "Crazy as loons, but amenable. They require a meeting with you in person, though... Suroth wants you to meet someone called the Daughter of the Nine Moons."
[COT: Epilogue, An Answer, 680]
So, since we know Tuon is wandering northern Altara with Mat, what does this mean?

Well, it's pretty easy to guess that this meeting is a trap. The question is, who's behind it and what will it entail?

We get a couple of clues about it over the course of COT, most particularly in Chapter 4. Furyk Karede, the leader of Tuon's personal bodyguard, thinks to himself how Tuon had twice before engineered her own disappearance, without even letting her bodyguard know, in order to throw off her enemies [COT: 4, The Tale of a Doll, 155]. The Seeker who's been stalking Egeanin since TSR (Almurat Mor) then comes to Karede and tells him an interesting rumor:

"Supposedly, a girl with a Seandar accent has been extorting gold and jewelry from merchants here in Ebou Dar. The title Daughter of the Nine Moons was mentioned."
[COT: 4, The Tale of a Doll, 158].
He also mentions that the descriptions of the girl are remarkably accurate, and that the rumor suddenly appeared after the battle with the Sea Folk. Suroth is apparently in a (very quiet) fury to find Tuon and Anath has "taken to seclusion".

Both men conclude independently that the "Tuon" seen in Ebou Dar was a fake, and Karede seems to agree with Mor's theory that Suroth, in league with the White Tower (with Thom as their chief operative!), is behind the kidnapping. After the Seeker leaves, Karede decides to take a small force and leave the city to search for Tuon.

Well, Karede and Mor are probably at least half correct. It's a good bet that either Suroth, Anath/Semirhage, or both are behind the fake Tuon, though of course they had nothing to do with the real Tuon's disappearance.

Combine this information with the knowledge that Suroth is in possession of the Sad Bracelets (see section 2.3.02), and the fact that Ronde Macura (the discoverer of forkroot) is with Tuon's entourage [WH: 14, What A Veil Hides, 326], and you have a fine set-up for a trap. The idea is that Suroth and/or Semirhage are going to use this fake Tuon to meet with Rand and, at the opportune moment, slap the Sad Bracelets on him, maybe by slipping him a forkroot mickey first.

It's probable that this was the general plan from the beginning, judging from Anath and Tuon's conversation on the ship in WH. The difference is that Tuon thought the trap was for the benefit of the Seanchan rather than the Shadow (the whole "kneeling to the Crystal Throne" bit), and that now Semi is short one DotNM and has to improvise. (And by "beginning", it's likely that means as far back as TGH, when Liandrin and Suroth were first shown to be working together, and Liandrin's Thirteen went off to hunt for the Sad Bracelets [Bill Woolsey].)

The fake Tuon could be Semirhage herself; with her alter ego Anath safely in retreat, Semi could use the Mask of Mirrors to pretend to be Tuon. The problem with this theory is that from all descriptions Semi is at least a foot taller than Tuon, which should present a few difficulties with creating a convincing Illusion disguise.

Feisal Schlee points out that it's not like Rand or anyone else in his party would know what Tuon looked like anyway, so as long as the meeting is a private audience, pretty much anyone besides Suroth herself could pretend to be Tuon. However, this does not address the fact that the fake "Tuon" in Ebou Dar apparently bears a very close resemblance to the real Tuon.

Another problem is the question of the Sad Bracelets' flaw: any man contained by them is under the holder's control, true, but eventually he also gains a measure of control over his captor, as well. It doesn't seem likely that Semi would put herself in that position, nor would she want anyone besides her minion Suroth to know that she can channel, anyway. So who would she get to wear the bracelets for her, now that Tuon is unavailable?

One possible candidate is Liandrin, who is currently a da'covale in Suroth's entourage [TPOD: 24, A Time for Iron, 460]. Liandrin is (as far as we know) still bound by Moggy's labyrinthine shield, but if anyone could untie it Semirhage could. Of course, it's probably a very bad idea to entrust Liandrin with control of a captive channeler of Rand's strength, but again, if anyone could ensure instant and total obedience from someone, Semi could. Another idea is that Semi could rotate the duty among various sul'dam [Ben Goodman].

Other scenarios

The "Suroth and Anath set Rand up with fake Tuon" scenario is probably the most popular (and intuitive) theory for what will happen in Ebou Dar; however, it is not the only one.

For instance, Allen Bryan points out that in COT Mesaana is severely punished for failing to show at either the Coffee Hour or the Cleansing. Semirhage also wasn't at either event, so isn't it logical to think she merited the same kind of smackdown? If so, Anath's "retreat" could have been forced on her, meaning she might have nothing to do with the plan to kidnap Rand and the fake Tuon thing was all Suroth's doing.

Of course, Demandred's thoughts at the Coffee Hour indicate that Semi had established a history of not being able to make appointments because of the nature of her disguise. Also, Moridin's presence in Ebou Dar in TPOD points to the distinct possibility that he and Semi (and Suroth) have been working together specifically on this plan - which certainly makes sense, as Moridin must be dying for a way to control Rand. So Semi's absence at Shadar Logoth may well have been sanctioned, unlike Mesaana's.

(Also, if it's true that Semi was forced out of the picture it's just a terrible waste of a Forsaken.)

Another idea is that the Tuon Rand is going to meet really is the real Tuon. There is no indication in COT of how much time elapsed between Tuon and Mat's last scene (where she gives the letter of amnesty to Luca) and Bashere returning to deliver Suroth's message to Rand. For all we know two weeks or more could have gone by. Therefore, upon hearing Bashere's message, quite a few people assumed that Tuon had taken control of Mat's party in that last scene and had forced him to return her to Ebou Dar, and that they had gotten or will get there before Rand does.

However, this theory is wrong, though the confusing way the Mat and Tuon scene was written makes the misinterpretation understandable.

Tuon and Mat made a deal with each other early on in COT. He promised that she would not be harmed, and that he would return her to Ebou Dar as soon as it was safe for him to do so. In return, Tuon promised that she would not attempt to escape or betray him in any way, and that she would not try to sow dissension among his allies [COT: 3, A Fan of Colors, 142].

Later, the sul'dam Renna stabs Egeanin and attempts to escape back to Ebou Dar, which for obvious reasons would be a disaster for Mat and Co. He takes off after Renna, but before he leaves he orders Thom to pay off Luca, get everyone in their party together (including Tuon) and leave the circus behind. Then, after killing Renna, Mat returns to find that Tuon has convinced Thom to ignore Mat's orders and has given a letter granting amnesty to Luca and his circus.

This is where the confusion comes in. As Evan "Skwid" Langlinais puts it, "[Tuon's] promise was made conditionally on Mat's promise that he send Tuon back to the other Seanchan as soon as he could figure out a way to get away safely. But, given that he was poised to make a safe getaway from the circus, he still told his men to take Tuon with them. At him saying this, she nods [COT: 29, Something Flickers, 646]. I think it's reasonable to assume that Tuon considers their promises to one another void by that action."

So the idea is that she staged a coup of sorts, and made it so Mat had to honor his promise to return her to Ebou Dar by making it "safe" - i.e. granting everyone involved amnesty from Seanchan reprisal.

However, this ignores the last thing Tuon said to Mat:

"I did make specific mention of who is not under my protection, Toy... Can you guess whose name heads that list?" She smiled.
[COT: 29, Something Flickers, 650]
What she meant by that (which was not understood by a lot of people) was that she had deliberately left Mat (and probably all his party) OUT of the grant of amnesty. Therefore, he did not have her protection, and ergo it was still not "safe" for him to return her to Ebou Dar.

Matthew Young explains further: "I don't think that it would have been 'safe' for Mat and his followers to leave Tuon with the circus, if the Seanchan forces were to catch up with the circus immediately afterwards. Tuon and Selucia would be able to lead the Seanchan forces right to Mat, and Selucia for one would not hesitate to. Therefore, I think in both Mat's and Tuon's assessment at that point in the chapter, it is not 'safe' for Mat and his party, or for the circus, really, for Mat to leave Tuon with them. I think Tuon's head nod is an indication that she agrees with Mat's assessment about the danger to his party in that situation." So, then, she didn't usurp Mat's people by countermanding their orders, but merely convinced them that by granting amnesty to the circus folk, she lessened the urgency of their situation considerably and so it was safe to wait until Mat returned.

It makes sense, after all, because every indication is that Tuon is a willing captive. Once you realize what her cryptic question to Mat means, it becomes clear that Tuon purposefully arranged matters so that she and Mat could continue to be together. I don't think she wants to go back to Ebou Dar. Not just yet, anyway.

So, it is extremely unlikely that the "Tuon" Rand will meet in Ebou Dar will be the real one.

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