From Tar Valon Library
Author: Toral Delvar
From the time the Bore into the Dark One's prison was created, there have been people who have thought they could gain from his freedom. In the Age of Legends, they were known as Friends of the Dark, but in the Third Age, they are more commonly known as Darkfriends. They seek power and immortality in the world the Dark One will remake and generally fear the Dark One and their other masters (TGH, Prologue). Not all Darkfriends turn to the Shadow out of a desire for power or immortality. Some, such as Ingtar, do so because they feel there is no other way; “Better the Shadow, I thought, than useless oblivion” (Ingtar, TGH, Ch. 46).
During the three and a half thousand years since the Age of Legends, many have come to think of Ishamael (or “Ba'alzamon” as he was known) as the Dark One, something he did little to discourage. They do not refer to the Dark One as “The Dark One”, or by any of his many monikers, or even by his name, instead calling him “The Great Lord,” or more formally “The Great Lord of the Dark”, believing that to call him “Shai'tan”, or even “Ba'alzamon”, would be blasphemy (TGH, Prologue; TSR, Ch. 9). It is perhaps worth noting here that “Ba'alzamon” was forbidden, as even Darkfriends believed this to be the Trolloc name for the Dark One and were unaware that it was actually Ishamael (TGH, Prologue).
There are Darkfriends in all nations, people and communities (TFoH, Ch. 29), even those dedicated to fighting the Dark One, such as the Borderlands, Aes Sedai and Whitecloaks and those sworn to a life of pacifism, such as the Tuatha'an (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 6; TEotW, Ch. 46; TGH, Prologue). It is also possible to forcibly turn a person to the Shadow, as long as they can channel, in a complex procedure with thirteen Dreadlords weaving the flows through thirteen Myrddraal (TGH, Ch. 22). Being forcibly turned twists the personality, removing the positive traits like altruism and compassion and leaving only negative ones such as anger, though those that can be either such as ambition and courage will remain (Robert Jordan Question of the Week, Week 15).
The Age of Legends
After the failed experiment which resulted in the Bore, the Dark One began to touch the world, influencing and enhancing people's more negative feelings. Those who felt dissatisfied, passed by, or poorly treated had such attitudes amplified. During this period, some chose to swear themselves to the Dark One. They organised amongst themselves while the rest of the world was barely aware of what was happening, and helped push society towards its collapse (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3). During the War that followed, Friends of the Dark, as they were known, were common, and at least in the Shadow held territories they were highly visible (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 6). Many Aes Sedai during that age served the Dark One; the most powerful and influential were known as the Forsaken, of whom only thirteen survived to be sealed in with the Dark One at the end of the War of the Shadow.
- Main article: Shadar Logoth
It was fear of Darkfriends that led to the fall of Aridhol into Shadar Logoth (TEotW, Ch. 19). The evil of Shadar Logoth and the Dark One could be considered positive and negative poles. They attract, but contact is more like positive and negative poles of a battery and results in “sparks” (Robert Jordan's blog, Tuesday, October 4th, 2005, ((cot|24}}; ACoS, Ch. 36)
Darkfriends can sense the evil of Shadar Logoth, including Mat’s dagger. “Some Darkfriends could probably feel it, too. Those who have truly given away their souls. There could not help but be those who would wonder at suddenly feeling this, as if the very air around them itched. They would be compelled to seek it. It should have drawn them as a magnet draws iron filings (Moiraine, TEotW, Ch. 41). While travelling to Caemlyn, a Myrddraal (TEotW, Ch. 26), Howal Gode (TEotW, Ch. 31), Paitr Conel and Mili Skane (TEotW, Ch. 33) approach Rand and Mat. The Forsaken are also able to sense the same evil and it is this which draws Aginor and Balthamel to the Eye of the World once they are freed. “An old thing. An old friend, an old enemy” (Aginor, TEotW, Ch. 50).
The Modern Age
In the modern age it is estimated that, in large cities at least, 0.5-1% of the population are likely to be Darkfriends (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 6). People in many small villages believe that Darkfriends are only found in towns (TEotW, Ch. 33).
Many Darkfriends are said to only dabble in evil, though given the rites expected of them, and the penalties for abandoning the Shadow, it is hard to see how this can be the case. It is true, however, that to a sniffer, they don't smell any different from other men, even though sniffers can track murderers (TGH, Ch. 9). Others, however, are truly committed and such people may even feel uncomfortable in a stedding (TEOTW, Glossary). Very few Darkfriends, even amongst the worst, are so far gone into the Shadow that Aes Sedai or Warders can sense them (TDR, Ch. 34).
Darkfriend Beliefs and Practices
Perhaps surprisingly, Darkfriends do not give up their prejudices on swearing to the Shadow; for instance, a Whitecloak Darkfriend may despise Aes Sedai (TGH, Prologue) or a member of the Red and Black Ajah all men (TFoH, Ch. 18), in both cases blaming them for the Breaking of the World, rather than laying the blame with their master. Similarly, Ingtar seems to display genuine anger on discovering that Changu and Nidao were Darkfriends and Suroth believes that all Aes Sedai, including the Black Ajah, will one day be taken as damane (TGH, Ch. 40).
It is often said that “no one can walk in the Shadow so long that they cannot walk in the Light,” but very few choose such redemption. Not only is the punishment from the Shadow for breaking the oaths severe, they will still be punished for whatever crimes they committed while loyal to the Shadow (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 6). Despite this, Hadnan Kadere frequently dropped hints to Rand about the value of knowledge and what could be forgiven in those who supplied it (TSR, Ch. 37}, TFoH, Ch. 48).
When Pevara was a novice, a Darkfriend uprising occurred in Kandor, led by those who were convinced that the Dark One was about to break free. During this uprising, her entire family was murdered (ACoS, Ch. 32).
“The Great Lord of the Dark is my Master, and most heartily do I serve him to the last shred of my very soul. Lo, my Master is death's Master. Asking nothing do I serve against the Day of his coming, yet do I serve in the sure and certain hope of life everlasting. Surely the faithful shall be exalted in the land, exalted above the unbelievers, exalted above thrones, yet do I serve humbly against the Day of his Return. Swift come the Day of Return. Swift come the Great Lord of the Dark to guide us and rule the world for ever and ever” (TGH, Prologue).
During their meetings, Darkfriends chant a catechism to the Shadow (LoC, Ch. 31).
Darkfriends feel like an oppressed minority; they are always trying to increase their numbers and recruit. They operate in cells and recruit people carefully by studying them and sounding them out slowly. Once they make a genuine approach, the candidate either accepts or is killed. Someone who shows themselves willing to kill, for example, may be considered a good candidate, but they might not always be one, as even the most vicious thug might be horrified by the idea.
For people looking to be a Darkfriend, they may drop hints, such as saying that prayer doesn't seem to do much good, or the Light isn't that great. If the wrong people hear, this may result in a warning, or a flogging, or even, in some really rough areas a knifing, but for the most part, it is relatively safe. Simply claiming not to believe in the Light would, of course, not work, as Darkfriends accept the existence of the Creator, they just oppose him.
(Reference: Robert Jordan Question of the Week, Week 4).
In addition to the oaths that they swear, and the frequent requirement to kill, there are often other rites and rituals they must perform. “He has been a Darkfriend for more than forty years and what he has done for that, in blood and pain and death would freeze your heart to hear. Fain abased himself and performed rites that would strike you deaf to hear the half of them. He was promised great rewards, power over kingdoms after Ba'alzamon's victory” (Moiraine on Padan Fain TEotW, Ch. 47).
The Black Ajah
- Main article: The Black Ajah
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 and approach those who they think are good candidates
Darkfriends organise in circles, each with its own leader (ACoS, Ch. 15). There are also various ranks of Darkfriend, and even Darkfriend councils, with some standing higher than others. Though for the most part Darkfriends accept that they stand well below the Forsaken , they do believe that mere Darkfriends can reach great heights, only a step below them (TFoH, Ch. 29), Robert Jordan Question of the Week, Week 4.
Attitudes Towards Them
The General population
Darkfriends are feared and despised everywhere, though many smaller towns and villages believe they only exist in far off cities; for example, Ackley Farren did not believe that there had been Darkfriends in Market Sheran when he heard of the incident where Mat hit Paitr. Another man Mat and Rand meet claimed to believe, but exaggerated the story and claimed he saw twenty of them from a distance and that they were in dirty rags and had twisted bodies. He said that the Children of the Light should do something if the Queen will not (TEotW, Ch. 33). Even Pedron Niall thought it unlikely that Darkfriends would come from the Two Rivers; “Strange to think of Darkfriends coming from a place like that, but truly they are everywhere” (Niall, TDR, Prologue). When the Whitecloaks arrive there, the Taren Ferry people say that they have no Darkfriends, but that the folk further south are the Darkfriend kind (TSR, Ch. 1). The Two Rivers folk themselves do not believe they have any Darkfriends amongst them (TSR, Ch. 30) or that Perrin became one after he left (TSR, Ch. 32).
Those in larger towns, such as Baerlon may believe Darkfriends exist, but think of them as wretches hiding in shadows (TEotW, Ch. 17). Even in a large city like Illian, there are people such as Nieda who do not consider Darkfriends dangerous, even if they acknowledge their existence (TDR, Ch. 42), and Ailhuin Guenna, a Tairen, describes them as “fools, filthy fools” (TDR, Ch. 48). It was said that even the rumour that Barthanes was a Darkfriend would probably have been enough for Galldrian to move against him (TGH, Ch. 31). Some places do, however, acknowledge their existence and even face them on occasion. They are especially unpopular in the Borderlands. Two Darkfriends found trying to saw through the hinges of the horsegate in Fal Dara were ripped to pieces by the citizens before the guards could take them (TEotW, Ch. 46).
Aes Sedai are frequently considered Darkfriends, most often by those who have never met one and there are many stories suggesting as much (TEotW, Ch. 3). The Dragonsworn in Tarabon are also commonly considered Darkfriends, for swearing themselves to a man who can channel (TSR, Ch. 38).
The Children of the Light
- Main article: Children of the Light)
The Children of the Light, or Whitecloaks as they are commonly known, are a military organisation dedicated to seeking out and opposing Darkfriends. They were formed in 1021 FY, during the chaos of the War of the Hundred Years, as a priesthood dedicated to proselytising against Darkfriends. They initially took up arms to defend themselves, but as the war went on and the perceived need for military intervention increased, they turned from preaching to fighting such that by FY1111, they were a fully military organisation (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 25). By definition, according to the Fortress of the Light, a Whitecloak Inquisitor cannot be a Darkfriend (ACoS, Ch. 21). Accusing a Whitecloak of a crime may be enough to have them regard a person as a Darkfriend, or for a Whitecloak, accusing a superior officer (KoD, Prologue).
Whitecloaks and many others believe Aes Sedai to be Darkfriends (TEotW, Ch. 3; TDR, Ch. 10). Despite their long-standing association with Tar Valon, some houses in Andor share the Whitecloak view (TGH, Ch. 5). The Whitecloaks also assumed that the Seanchan must be Darkfriends (TGH, Ch. 44; TSR, Ch. 45)). They also have such a firm belief in the rightness of their cause that they tend to assume that anyone who questions them, fails to obey them or even fails to show them the respect they think they deserve, is likely a Darkfriend (TEotW, Ch. 15). Despite their fervour, Whitecloaks may have their limits; for example, Dain Bornhald was not willing to let Farran torture Mat's sisters, even if he did think they were Darkfriends (TSR, Ch. 31). They also believe wolves to be creatures of the Dark One and that therefore, Wolfbrothers are Darkfriends (TEotW, Ch. 30), though Geofram Bornhald wasn't an absolutist regarding this (TGH, Ch. 44). Even learning that Trollocs were chasing a person would be enough for the Children to consider that person a Darkfriend (TEotW, Ch. 14).
One of the advantages the Whitecloaks have in their favour, in addition to being one of the few standing armies outside of the Borderlands, is that people will use them as an excuse to get rid of undesirables in their own villages. The Whitecloaks believe that true Darkfriends will inevitably be swept up in this. This technique works almost everywhere, though in The Two Rivers, only the Taren Ferry folk showed any enthusiasm for getting rid of people, or paid any attention to the Dragon's Fang, the symbol of evil, scrawled on doors (TSR, Ch. 31).
The Prophet's Mobs
- Main article: Masema Dagar
When Masema learns that Rand is the Dragon Reborn, he becomes fanatically dedicated to him. After Perrin calls wolves to fight Shadowspawn and Rand leaves for Tear, he becomes convinced it is his duty to spread the word of The Dragon's rebirth. Over time, he becomes ever more extreme and unstable, tainting the minds of those he calls to follow him. Although they make no particular effort to seek out Darkfriends, Masema and his followers are of the view that only Darkfriends would refuse to join them. (TFoH, Ch. 29; TPoD, Ch. 10. Masema also considers killing Aiel to be doing the Light's work (ACoS, Ch. 7).
Among the Aiel, any Darkfriend who is found is killed as soon as they are discovered. No one from sept, clan or society will try to save him or her, not even a first sibling (ACoS, Ch. 21).
Among the Atha'an Miere, when a Darkfriend is found, as soon as they have been proven guilty they are stripped of all their names before they are tied to ballast stones and thrown over the side of the ship (TPoD, Ch. 20).
In Seanchan, darkfriends are known as atha'an shadar and the mere suspicion that a person is one would be enough to hand them over to the Seekers for Truth, who also root out Darkfriends as well as traitors (KoD, Prologue). They are much better organised than any search for Darkfriends on the main continent, but this does not seem to have decreased the number of Darkfriends there (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 17).
Relationship to the Other Servants of the Dark One
Social rank has little meaning within Darkfriend circles and a groom or beggar might give orders to a lady or magistrate (TFoH, Ch. 29); indeed, one of the highest ranked is a beggar known only as “Old Cully” (ACoS, Ch. 15). Amongst themselves, they can form strong bonds and Darkfriend couples can show the same concern for each other's welfare as normal couples (TFoH, Ch. 18}). In general though, loyalty and friendship are minimal and they feel little compunction in killing family who discover their secret, or colleagues who fail them (TFoH, Ch. 29; TPoD, Ch. 28).
For example, when Daved Hanlon worms his way into Elayne's confidence, he does so by killing people who are trying to kill her. Whilst they were almost certainly dupes, it is possible they were also Darkfriends (WH, Ch. 9).
The Forsaken are contemptuous of Darkfriends (TDR, Ch. 20)) and have no hesitation in killing them if they fail them (TDR, Ch. 36; TPoD, Ch. 2), have annoyed them in some way (TFoH, Ch. 52) or even are just inconvenient (WH, Ch. 35). Darkfriends also receive no respect from Shadowspawn; Trollocs are quite happy to put them in their cook pots (TEotW, Ch. 47; TGH, Ch. 10; Ch. 11).
The Black Ajah
The Black Ajah, in contrast to the Forsaken and Shadowspawn, will obey a highly ranked Darkfriend if they are instructed to (TPoD, Ch. 28, or if they know the correct signs (LoC, Ch. 30, though generally, the Black Ajah believes that none stand higher than Aes Sedai (LoC, Ch. 30)). When they are placed over the Black Ajah, Darkfriends can be given total authority, even to kill them (WH, Ch. 11; KoD, Ch. 31). Few Darkfriends are foolish enough to do this however, as, should the conditions change, they know they would be at risk of being murdered, though not all show such caution (CoT, Ch. 15). Those Darkfriends that do stand below the Black Ajah, risk violence or death if they should offend one of them (TFoH, Ch. 18). The Black Ajah often have Darkfriends as Warders (WH, Ch. 10; CoT, Ch. 24; KoD, Prologue), but this is not always the case (WH, Ch. 10). Such Darkfriend Warders can live in fear of displeasing their Aes Sedai (CoT, Ch. 24).
Timeline of Encounters
This list does not include Slayer, the Forsaken or the Black Ajah, except when they are dealing with other Darkfriends. For more information on their timelines, see the relevant articles.
- Howal Gode tries to apprehend Rand and Mat (TEotW, Ch. 32.
- Paitr Conel tries to talk to Rand and Mat (TEotW, Ch. 33).
- Mili Skane tries to capture Rand and Mat (TEotW, Ch. 33).
- Howal Gode apparently visits Rand in a dream after his death (TEotW, Ch. 33).
- Padan Fain is apprehended in Fal Dara, following the group (TEotW, Ch. 46).
- Ba'alzamon organises a meeting of Darkfriends near Shayol Ghul. Ingtar, Carridin, Liandrin, and several others attend (TGH, Prologue).
- Ingtar frees Fain from the Fal Dara dungeons (TGH, Ch. 5).
- Barthanes is found dead, ripped apart (TGH, Ch. 34).
- Perrin sees Ishamael kill a Darkfriend for letting Mat escape Tar Valon (TSR, Ch. 36).
- Mat encounters and kills Comar in Tear (TDR, Ch. 49).
- Liandrin and the Black Ajah stay at the house of Darkfriends (TFoH, Ch. 18).
- Darkfriends and Trollocs attack Rand in the Waste (TFoH, Ch. 22).
- Kadere receives a message that there are Darkfriends amongst the Aiel (TFoH, Ch. 29).
- Melindhra tries to kill Mat when she learns that Rand is going after Rahvin. She has an Illianer dagger on her. Mat kills her instead (TFoH, Ch. 52).
- Lanfear kills Kadere in a jealous rage after being told that Rand has been bedding Aviendha (TFoH, Ch. 52).
- Paitr Conel offers to help Morgase escape from the Whitecloaks (LoC, Prologue.
- Mat is attacked in The Wandering Woman, likely by a Darkfriend (ACoS, Ch. 18).
- Nynaeve and Elayne are attacked in Ebou Dar, presumably by Darkfriends (ACoS, Ch. 24).
- Darkfriend beggars attack Mat, Beslan, Birgitte and Nalesean on their way to the Kin's house (ACoS, Ch. 29).
- Darkfriends attack the group that goes to take the cache of One Power related items in the Rahad (ACoS, Ch. 38).
- Moridin kills a Darkfriend servant in the Tarasin Palace in a rage at Elayne and company leaving with the Bowl of the Winds (TPoD, Ch. 2).
- Daved Hanlon enters Caemlyn in time to see Mili Skane kill Carridin. He is offered the chance to get his hands on Elayne (TPoD, Ch. 28).
- Hanlon kills a group of people attacking Elayne and is given a position in her bodyguard (WH, Ch. 29; WH, Ch. 30).
- Cyndane kills a Darkfriend to end their meeting when she feels Nynaeve channeling at Shadar Logoth (WH, Ch. 35).
- Hanlon kills a man Elayne has set following him (CoT, Ch. 15).
- Hanlon meets with Mili and Falion to discuss his progress. Mili murders a man who is visiting her (CoT, Ch. 15).
- Samwil Hark is set to following Hanlon after five men have already died in the attempt (KoD, Ch. 16).
- Hanlon is arrested after Hark confirms that he has been meeting with Falion and Marillin (KoD, Ch. 31).
- Hark leads Elayne to Mili Skane's house KoD, Ch. 31).
- Mili is captured with the Black Ajah (KoD, Ch. 33).
For information on which characters are known to be Darkfriends, see the Darkfriend Character List.
- It would be possible for a Darkfriend or Forsaken to be made ta'veren, but it seems unlikely. Ta'veren are part of the Wheel’s self-correcting mechanism. When the Pattern seems to be drifting too quickly, and especially if it is in the wrong direction, one or more ta’veren are created (Robert Jordan's blog, Wednesday, October 5th, 2005).
- When Mat tries to enter the Royal Palace in Caemlyn, Elber orders him seized as a Darkfriend; at first Mat does not think anyone could take such a charge seriously (TDR, Ch. 45).
- No one would ever claim to be a Darkfriend unless they really were (TGH, Ch. 46).
- “By the Light and my hope of salvation and rebirth, I swear to serve you in whatever way you require, or may the creator turn from me forever and darkness consume my soul” (Min thinks that only a Darkfriend would break that oath) (TFoH, Ch. 11).
- When Min fist discovered her gift, there was talk that she might be a Darkfriend until she learned to hide it better (LoC, Ch. 21)
- Sammael finds a stasis box that must have been filled by a Darkfriend as it contains a Zara board (LoC, Ch. 23).
- One of the exceptions to the Three Oaths is to use the Power as a weapon against Darkfriends.
- The Reds also hunt Darkfriends as well as men who can channel (TGH, Ch. 5). Some Reds choose the Ajah because they feel it will give them a chance to hunt Darkfriends (ACoS, Ch. 32).
- As the Black Ajah in Ebou Dar were not told the location of the cache by the Kin, it seems likely that none of the Knitting Circle, at least, are Darkfriends (ACoS, Ch. 17).
- Few Darkfriends know how to contact Slayer and none would dare command him (WH, Ch. 22).
“I don't think we have to worry very much about Darkfriends in Taren Ferry” (Lan; The Eye of the World, Chapter 12).
“Darkfriends know neither border not blood. They are found in every land and are of none” (Moiraine; The Eye of the World, Chapter 46.
“Darkfriends must be destroyed before they pull the whole world under the Shadow!” (Geoffram Bornhald; The Great Hunt, Chapter 5).
“One of those pathetic followers of Ba'alzamon who think he will give them immortality and power?” (Lanfear on Darkfriends; The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 20).
“He was not certain himself, but surely a man who seemed to have wolves fight for him could be nothing else” (Bornhald on Perrin being a Darkfriend; The Great Hunt, Chapter 44).
“Service to the Light never ends, for the Shadow waits everywhere” (Carridin; The Shadow Rising, Chapter 38).