From Tar Valon Library
Author: Kyria d'Oreyn
Unless stated otherwise, all information herein is taken from TSR, Ch. 24.
The Eelfinn are a race of beings who combine human appearance with foxlike characteristics. They will grant three wishes to anyone who visits them, although they want something in return, even if they do not ask straight out. If no price is negotiated, the Eelfinn will choose one, which is death in most cases (KoD, Glossary).
They are linked with the Aelfinn in some way. Cyndane states that she was being held by both the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn (WH, Ch. 35). Looking at the pattern of the game Snakes and Foxes, which is "a web of lines" (LoC, Ch. 33), it can be suggested that each of their worlds are seperate, yet interwoven, like a spiderweb. The two have a strange relationship (ToM, Ch. 22),
Male and female alike they are very tall and sinewy, despite shoulders that are too for their narrow waists. They have white skin, deep-set, almost colorless eyes too big for a human face, sharp teeth and a narrow jaw. Their pale reddish hair stands up stiffly and their ears lie flat against their faces and have a hint of a point at the top.
Mat's guide wears pale leather straps made out of human skin and studded with silver crisscrossing his bare arms and chest and a black kilt hanging to his knees.
Those who grant the wishes wear long white skirts that hide their feet, their hair rising stiffly in a crest before spilling down their backs. The men bear even more and wider straps than the guide, studded with gold. The women's attire aside from the skirts consists of white, waist-length blouses with high lace necks and pale ruffles at their wrists.
They carry bronze lances (ToM, Ch. 54)
The realm of the Eelfinn is made up entirely of straight lines and the air has "the smell of a wild animal's lair." Its true location is unknown, though there are two ways to reach it, one being the redstone doorframe ter'angreal in Rhuidean, the other the Tower of Ghenjei.
In the middle of a huge, star-shaped chamber, the twisted doorframe ter'angreal stands on a dull white floor that looks like glass, but feels like dusty stone. The walls are lined with thick, glossy black columns, "each deeply fluted with eight ridges, the sharp edges yellow and glowing softly," rising into the murky gloom overhead.
At either end of the chambers a five-sided doorway leads into a corridor that is "exactly the same size and shape as before, with those softly glowing yellow strips running along the bends, edging the floor and ceiling. It seemed to stretch ahead forever, fading into a murky distance, broken only at intervals by more of the great five-sided doorways."
This world does not follow the rules of physics as the real world does; when Mat looks back at the first of the doorways, expecting to see the twisted ter'angreal in the middle of the white-floored chamber, what he actually sees is the mirror image of what lies ahead of him, the hallway running as far as he can see. In every room, he sees the "black columns, the redstone ter'angreal, his footprints and his guide's in the dust."
The chamber that contains those who grant the wishes is smaller than the ones before, without the columns but with smooth gray walls and a glassy black pedestal standing at each of the eight points of the star-shaped room. Here, glowing yellow strips run up the sharp edges, too. Once entered, the doorway leading into the chamber will disappear when not looked at. The only way to leave the world, then, will have to be sacrificing a wish for that very purpose.
Moiraine says that the world is twisted in some way that allows the Eelfinn to rummage through the experiences of the ones who enter their realm. If true, it may be that they got the memories they gave Mat from men who came to them to have their wishes granted.
When using the ter'angreal, one steps through "a sheet of brilliant white light" and a "roaring […]; all the sounds of the world gathered at once." Upon entering the new surroundings, one is greeted by a Guide, who will ask: "Do you abide by the treaties and agreements? Do you carry iron, or instruments of music, or devices for making light?" It is not known what will happen if you do.
If you don't, you will proceed to a chamber where four female and four male Eelfinn stand atop black pedestals, one in each of the eight corners of the room.
- "Speak. By the ancient treaty, here is agreement made. What is your need? Speak," a woman will address you.
They will say nothing until you state your wishes and even then they will only say "Done" after each request. It is not known if they talk more when you set terms before making agreements, which you should do or else the Eelfinn decide on a price. They say as much to Mat:
- "Yet fool not to first agree on price."
- "We will set the price."
Once you use your three wishes, whether having agreed on a price or not, their last words will be:
- "What was asked will be given."
- "The price will be paid."
It might be that they will not let you out of their world after you state your requests, unless you either make leaving a part of the bargain or use one wish for that purpose.
Thinking that the Eelfinn are like the Aelfinn and will answer questions, Mat first tries to demand answers. When they do not answer, he begins to make demands, not knowing that they will be granted.
- "I walk around with holes in my memory, holes in my life, and you stare at me like idiots. If I had my way, I would want those holes filled, but at least answers to my questions might fill some in my future."
- "Well, I want a way to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power (...)"
- "(...)and I want to be away from you and back to Rhuidean, if you will not answer me."
Note: In addition, they give Mat the ashandarei in remembrance of their treaty. Ashandarei literally means "sword spear" (ACoS, Ch. 37), which is what it looks like: a long, black-hafted spear with a foot-long "sword blade in place of a spear point, slightly curved and single-edged" and marked with a raven on either side. Along the length of it the words:
- "Thus is our treaty written, thus is our agreement made.
- Thought is the arrow of time; memory never fades.
- What was asked is given. The price is paid."
They are carved in the Old Tongue, bracketed by a pair of ravens "inlaid in metal even darker than the wood" (TSR, Ch. 26). It is a Power-wrought weapon, made by the Aes Sedai during the Age of Legends; "it never needed sharpening, and he [Mat] doubted he could break it if he tried" (LoC, Ch. 5).
It was later revealed that the ashanderei was the third of their gifts, a way out of their realm (ToM, Ch. 54).
Tuon is interested in the ashandarei, asking Mat what it is and how he came to possess it. She wants it and is willing to pay ten times the price he paid, but Mat declines by saying "Only a fool would pay it one time, let alone ten" (WH, Ch. 18).
- The guide seems agitated when Mat speaks of leaving again.
- Their voices are rough, almost like a growl.
- Because Mat did not get answers this time, he tells Rand that "the folk on the other side of that doorway" cheat (TSR, Ch. 26).
- Birgitte tells Perrin that the game Snakes and Foxes is a "remembrance of dealings" with the snakes and the foxes. If you know how to win the game, you know how to win against the Aelfinn and Eelfinn (TSR, Ch. 28).
- Mat thinks that the Eelfinn might know he will be going to rescue Moiraine and might also know about the letter addressed to Thom, because he read it (KoD, Ch. 10).
- Iron holds them, fire scares them and music entrances them (ToM, Ch. 22)
- They built portals out of their realm so that they could feel people's emotions. They especially like Aes Sedai (ToM, Ch. 22)
"Courage to strengthen, fire to blind, music to daze, iron to bind." (A line from the game Snakes and Foxes, stating how to win against the Aelinn and Eelfinn; The Shadow Rising, Chapter 28)
"Suddenly Mat found himself wondering where that pale leather came from. Surely not... Oh, Light, I think it is. He managed to stop himself from swallowing, but only just. 'Lead, you son of a goat. Your hide is not worth silver studding. Take me where I want to go.'" (Mat to the guide; The Shadow Rising, Chapter 24)
"Another gain really had been knowledge, if unwanted knowledge. Slices of other men’s lives packed his head now, thousands of them, sometimes only a few hours, sometimes years altogether though in patches, memories of courts and combats stretching for well over a thousand years, from long before the Trolloc Wars to the final battle of Artur Hawkwing’s rise." (Mat on his memories; Lord of Chaos, Chapter 5).
“How many children's tales do you believe? Do you believe that if you sleep on Old Hob's Hill under a full moon, the snakes will give you true answers to three questions, or that foxes steal people's skins and take the nourishment from food so you can starve to death while eating your fill?” (Tuon asking Mat how superstitious he is; Knife of Dreams, Chapter 10)
""We are the near ancient, the warriors of final regret, the knowers of secrets" (Towers of Midnight, Chapter 54)