Tarmon Gai'don, (pronounced: TAHR-mohn GAY-dohn) also called the Last Battle and The Time of Return by Darkfriends, is the apocalyptic confrontation between the Dragon Reborn, Rand al'Thor, and the Dark One that was prophesied to end the Third Age of the Wheel of Time. It was fought in 1000 NE in multiple fronts, mainly in the Borderlands, Shayol Ghul, Andor and Cairhien. All nations of the world took part, as did many non-national military organizations, such as the Children of the Light, and even non-militaristic such as the Tuatha'an, Ogier and the wolves. The end result was the destruction of the Shadow's forces by the forces of the Light through heavy loses by the former, and the complete restoration of the Dark One's prison.
The Last Battle was prophesied in several accounts of many people, the most central one being the Karaethon Cycle (The Prophecies of the Dragon), though other prophecies by different societies included their perspectives.
According to prophecy, if the Dark One had prevailed he would have escaped from his prison and remade all of time and space in his image. The forces of the prophecies did not include a clear, specific outcome to the Last Battle, specifics of this eventuality, and it has proven a subject of some debate between philosophers.
According to the Prophecies of the Dragon there are certain signs that will proclaim the imminence of the Last Battle. The rebirth of the Dragon is the earliest such sign, and others include the breaking of the Aiel and their return to the Westlands and the splitting of the Aes Sedai. It is also prophesied that the Seanchan and the Dragon Reborn will come to an accord, but the Prophecies are unclear in this regard: some have the Dragon Reborn kneeling in subjugation to the Crystal Throne, others say that he will bind the Nine Moons (the sigil of the Seanchan Imperial Court) to him; it is possible these conditions are not exclusive of one another. It is also possible that Ishamael may have tampered with the Seanchan version of the prophecies, or that Seanchans turned them into propaganda themselves.
However, the Prophecies specifically state that the clearest sign of the Last Battle will be the return of the dead to plague the living. Early in 1000 NE inhabitants of the Westlands, possibly the whole world, began to see images of people long dead, sometimes just individuals but sometimes entire long-destroyed cities or towns that appear and then vanish. Around this time 'ripples' in the fabric of reality were detected, suggesting that the entire Pattern could unravel if the Dark One broke free of his prison altogether.
Something that most of the prophecies and legends agree on is that the Dragon Reborn's blood must be on the slopes of Shayol Ghul and that the Dragon Reborn will break the world a second time, even if he is victorious.
Theorizing about the Last Battle
The nature of the Last Battle has been debated. Some have suggested a new version of the Trolloc Wars, with hordes of Shadowspawn pouring out of the Great Blight to overrun the world, along with the emergence in force of Darkfriends and Dreadlords to lead them. It is believed that wolves will fight alongside men and the dead heroes will return when the Horn of Valere is blown.
Philosophers such as Herid Fel have debated an essential conundrum of the Last Battle, namely that the Dragon Reborn cannot simply re-patch the Bore because the Dark One's prison must be whole once more when the Wheel of Time turns and the Age of Legends comes again, when the Aes Sedai of that Age create the Bore in the first place. Herid Fel was investigating how this conundrum may be solved and had apparently come to an important conclusion involving 'clearing the rubble'; however, he was killed by the gholam before he could alert Rand al'Thor, suggesting the Shadow considered his conclusion to be highly dangerous. Both Min and Rand have taken his cryptic note to mean that the remaining seals must be destroyed before the re-sealing can proceed.
Factions and Armies
Forces of the Light
The forces of the Light included almost all factions active on the westlands. The commander and chief of the armies was Elayne Trakand, and main general was Mat Cauthon. Other generals included Gareth Bryne, Rodel Ituralde, Agelmar Jagad, Davram Bashere, Lunal Galgan, Lan Mandragoran and the clan chiefs of the Aiel.
- Aiel - technically all tribes were represented, though from the Shaido only those who have broke clan and detached themselves from the main clan, as there are no evidence of it taking part of the fighting in any of the fronts. The aiel fought both as part of the Siswai'aman and as separate clans. Wise Ones were also used as part of the Forces of the Light's channelers, and Gai'shain were used to help to treat wounded. The Aiel were spread out on almost all fronts, and were generally led by their clan chiefs.
- Seanchan - though initially absent from the fighting, Empress Fortuona ordered the Seanchan armies to join the battle. The Seanchan committed large forces of foot, cavalry and air troops, as well as female channelers and special forces such as hordes of Corlm. The Seanchan forces were first led by Lunal Galgan, but the command was later on passed to Prince of the Ravens, Mat Cauthon, who passed it back to Galgan as he was put in command of all the forces of the Light.
- The White Tower under the command of the Amyrlin Seat Egwene al'Vere committed both female channelers and a vast army under the command of Gareth Bryne, bolstered by Warders and the Tower Guard, led by Jimar Chubain.
- The Black Tower - under the command of Logain Ablar, committed many male channelers. However, many Asha'man left the tower for the Shadow before the Last Battle and during its early stages.
- Borderlands - though first committing only a small force of Malkieri and supporters, all the borderlands armies later joined under the flag of Malkier. The army was led by Lan Mandragoran, which turn over strategy and tactical command to Agelmar Jagad, only later to replace him.
- Southern Kingdoms - led by Andor, the southren kingdoms of Cairhien (now united with Andor under queen Elayne), Ghealdan (sworn to the lord of the Two Rivers, and thus to Andor), Illian, Tear, Murandy and Mayene all sent forces to the Last Battle. Mayene was also recruited as a remote hospital for the injured, due to its long distance from the fighting. The forces Andor, Cairhien, Mayen and Ghealdan were under the command of Davram Bashere, and later under the command of Birgitte Silverbow, before submerged to the command of Mat Cauthon during the final conflict. The armies of Illian, Tear and Murandy were under the command of Rodel Ituralde, and later on the command of their respective kings.
- Children of the Light - led by the Lord Commander, Galadedrid Damodred, the Children of the Light joined the armies of Andor.
- Atha'an Miere - committed both female channelers (Windfinders) and fighting forces.
- The Kin - part of Andoran forces, the Kin committed many female channelers, though of varied strength. The kin were presumably led by Sumeko Karistovan.
- Band of the Red Hand - led by Talmanes Delovinde joined the armies of Andor. The Band supplied both elite regular fighting forces and firearms provided by Aludra (dragons, dragons' teeth and so on).
- Wolf Guard and Two Rivers forces - led by Tam al'Thor, the Two rivers forces and the army of mercenaries and refugees called the Wolf Guard joined the forces of Andor.
- Ogier - initially joined the forces of Andor, and later on deployed in the Field of Merrilor.
- Legion of the Dragon
- Tuatha'an - though not a fighting force, the Tuatha'an helped the forces of the Light by searching for wounded on the battle field.
- Wolves - though not led by anyone, the wolves led an attack on both Tel'aran'rhiod and Shayol Ghul against the forces of the Shadow. At least two Wolfbrothers were involved - Perrin Aybara and Elyas Machera.
- Dragonsworn - complementing the forces of the Light were many people of varied origin who were 'drawn' to the battle. These included villagers and other non-military folks, though also some aiel, soldiers, mercenaries, guards, nobles and even a few channelers of both sexes.
- Rand al'Thor - the champion of the Light, fought the Dark One and Moridin at the Pit of Doom, with the aid of Moiraine Damodred and Nynaeve al'Meara.
Forces of the Shadow
The forces of the Shadow were comprised of a mixture of mainly shadowspawn and Sharans, with a heavy aid of Dreadlords. Some Darkfriends also infiltrated the forces of the Light and interrupted their plans. The forces of the Shadow were led by Demandred, and later by the Myrddraal and very shortly - by Moghedien.
- Shadowspawn - the main force of the Shadow, which included of Trollocs, Myrddraal, Draghkar and (in Shayol Ghul) Darkhounds. At least five separate shadowspawn armies took part in the fighting on different fronts, but mostly in the Blight and the borderlands. Other shadowspawn was left in the Blight and did not engage in the main battles.
- Shara - Sharan forces, led by Demandred, committed both large regular forces as well as male and female channelers.
- Dreadlords - male and female channelers, of the black tower and Black Ajah respectively. The male channelers were led by M'Hael, though it is unclear how much control he had on the Black Ajah.
- Samma N'Sei - including both regular forces and channelers. It is unclear who was in command of the Samma N'Sei, but it is possible that Graendal was at least partly in charge, as she was the Forsaken acting in Shayol Ghul, where the Samma N'Sei were used.
- Darkfriends - infiltrating the forces of the Light, betraying them and disrupting their plans. Some, as the small force led by Daved Hanlon, were used as infiltrating force wearing false colors, while others were used in key events to sabotage the Light efforts.
- Slayer - used in attempts to assassinate Rand from Tel'aran'rhiod.
- Forsaken - each forsaken was a force unto itself, and deployed in various battle fronts. Moghedien was used to spy on the forces of the Light; M'Hael to lead the dreadlords (or, at least, the male ones) and fight the Light channelers who were not in Shayol Ghul; Graendal to fight in Shayol Ghul and influence the forces of the Light through tel'aran'rhiod; and Demandred as the general of the forces of the Shadow and commander of the Sharan forces. Moridin fought Rand in the Pit of Doom.
Other forces in play
Lanfear, though active during the Last Battle, seemed to be acting on her own through Tel'aran'rhiod. Though her intentions were to interfere in favor of the Shadow, she first acted to bring the Shadow very close to losing, in order to allow herself to 'save' it.
Another force, acting against both Light and Shadow, was Shaisam - the entity that took over Padan Fain. Using Mashadar to kill and then resurrect his enemies as minions, it attacked both armies at Shayol Ghul. However, it ultimately had very little influence on the course or outcome of the conflict.
Scope of the Last Battle
The definition of the Last Battle in terms of time and place and agents involved is open for debate.
In a broader sense one might say that the Trollocs army in Tarwin's Gap during 998 NE (which was destroyed by Rand al'Thor during his visit to the Eye of the World) was a skirmish heralding the main events of the Last Battles. This would mean the the Last Battle was fought for at least 2 years. However, that engagement seems too detached from the other assaults by the Shadow to be part of the Last Battle, as no other significant Trolloc armies came out of the Blight for two years after this skirmish.
Another problem is which theaters of war to include. For instance, the Trollocs who ambushed Tylee Khirgan and her Seanchan force in Altara after the Battle of Malden seems to be too far south, as no other major engagements with the Shadow occurred near by (the closest being the trap set for Perin in Ghealdan, foiled by the destruction of the Dreamspike). However, it is evident the Trollocs sent to invade Andor were part of the Shadow's forces in the Last Battle, even though they were separate from any other forces of the Shadow.
The final question is the agents involved in the Last Battle, or, to be more precised, since when did they started taking part of the Last Battle. Logain Ablar, for example, was taken captive some time prior to the major conflicts, and released only after some of the fighting already have begun. The struggle in The Black Tower clearly had a great influence on the outcome of the Last Battle, but it is unclear if it was indeed a part of it, or 'just' something that happened during the same time. One might consider that struggle against with the one of Perrin and Gaul in Tel'aran'rhiod against Slayer - Perrin's struggle had a much clearer and direct connection to the outcome of the Last Battle.
Since no precise answer can be found to any of these question, this article will include all 4 major invasions by Trollocs (and Sharans) and their paths as part of the Last Battle, as well as Perin's fight in Tel'aran'rhiod and the fighting in Shayol Ghul. This means that in the south the Last Battle started with the invasion of Caemlyn, and in the north with the attacks on Kandor and Saldaea. Events in the Blight and Mayene which have a clear and direct connection to the Last Battle will also be dealt with in this article. However, the struggle within the Black Tower will be seen as a separate occurrence, and will not be delved into. The battle between the Trollocs and the Children of the Light and Perin's forces, as well as Perin's struggle with Slayer just prior will also be excluded.
The Last Battle
Early manoeuvres by the Shadow
The Shadow had consolidated its forces in the Blight before the Last Battle, readying a huge force of Shadowspawn. The Shadow sent trollocs to invade the lands of mankind in 4 different points. All invasions were independent from the others, and designed to occupy the forces of the Light on multiple fronts at the same time.
The first invasion was in Kandor - the first point of invasion. Kandor was weak due to the stripping of many of its armed forces by queen Ethenielle, who marched them southwards to meet the Dragon Reborn. Trollocs began overwhelming and besieging the border towers, such as Rena Tower and later Heeth Tower. It seems the attack was so overwhelming that some towers could not signal a proper warning before falling, though messengers had been sent from Heeth Tower to warn Chachin. However, the land of Kandor soon fell, and by the time armies of the Light have gathered themselves it was already considered to be lost.
The second invasion, which took place while the invasion of Kandor was ongoing, occurred in Saldaea, whose armies were also sent south to meet the Dragon Reborn by queen Tenobia. The Dragon Reborn still refused to meet the Borderlanders at this point, but have sent the great captain Rodel Ituralde with a great force of his own Domani, bolstered by some Taraboners who fought alongside him against the Seanchan. The Dragon Reborn also sent Ituralde 100 Asha'man and some Saldaean officers from Davram Bashere's army to help and advise him on useful tactics against shadowspawn.
The Trolloc army advanced toward Maradon, and Ituralde's army met them in the Battle of Maradon. After a very successful holding action at the fortifications outside the city, Ituralde's force was eventually overwhelmed and forced to retreat to the city. Unfortunately, it was commanded by a Darkfriend who refused to allow them in, citing that they were forigners. After a revolt by the remaining Saldaean forces in the city the army was let inside the walls. However, after a short siege the walls were breached with help of male Dreadlords in the Shadow's forces. Ituralde took to street fighting inside the city, stalling the trollocs as he hoped for reinforcements from the Dragon Reborn. Ituralde's tactics were brilliently successful and the Trollocs fell in droves, but their sheer numbers allowed them to pressure Ituralde's forces and whittle them away.
After suffering grievous loss, Ituralde's forces were rescued by reinforcements sent by the Dragon Reborn. With the help of Davram Bashere's army and a number of Asha'man, the Trollocs were driven from the burned remains of the city. Shortly thereafter the Dragon Reborn destroyed the entire Trolloc army with the One Power, but it was only a slight reprieve.
The third trollocs invasion had targeted Shienar and was gathered at Tarwin's Gap, where it encountered the Light's strike force heading toward Malkier. The force, the only early attempt by the Light to attack the Shadow, wished to invade the Blight and liberate Malkier. Many Malkieri and other Borderlanders followed Malkieri king Lan Mandragoran as he rode across the borderlands. Lan initially didn't approve of others joining his cause, believing he was marching towards his death and not wishing for others to join that fate, but eventually agreed to lead the force.
The force met the Trollocs just out side the Blight's side of Tarwin's Gap, probably readying for the invasion of Shienar. By Lan's estimates the trollocs outnumbered his 12 thousand men 10 to 1, and maybe more. However, the Gap's topography allowed for a relative small force to defend it. The Trollocs were forced to a grueling slow advance, and gained ground only when helped by channelers.
The Shadow's plan to invade Andor is the only one to be revealed by the Light before hand. Verin Mathwin knew of the plan and formulated a plan of her own to counter the invasion, and Elayne Trakand had received hints of an 'invasion' while interrogating Chesmal Emry of the Black Ajah. However, Elayne and her advisers misinterpret the hints, and Verin miscalculated the risks, trusting her warning to a sealed letter to Mat, thinking that either she will live to stop the invasion herself, or that his curiosity will win over him and open the letter. As Verin died, no agent of the Light knew about the details of the invasion.
The invading force used the The Ways to enter Caemlyn via the Waygate. A great force launched into the city, aided by female channelers. Caemlyn was deprived of most defenders as the bulk of Elayne's army was sent to the Field of Merrilor. Only 4 female channelers were left in the city, at the Royal Palace, but two were assassinated by a darkfriend. Captain Charlz Guybon marshaled the defenses, but was barely able to hold the Palace. Mercenary groups who camped around Caemlyn following the Fourth Succession War and general strife in the area were divided: some fled as they saw the city burning, while others rallied around the Band of the Red Hand, under the command of Talmanes Delovinde.
The battle was soon unmistakably lost, and so began the Fall of Caemlyn. Talmanes and Guybon joined forces to rescue refugees from the city and salvage Aludra's Dragons, who were stored in the city. After reaching them they used the dragons on the city walls, breaching them and allowing them to flee the city.
Aftermath of the invasions
Out of the four invasions, only two had succeeded - Kandor was overrun and Caemlyn fell. If all four would have succeeded, It seems likely that the entire north would have collapsed. The forces of the Shadow could have marched forward, surrounding The White Tower. However, the battle at Tarwin's Gap prevented the Shadow's eastern force to overrun Shienar. The destruction of the Western force at Maradon also freed up the entire western part of the lands south of the Blight, probably saving the Seanchan from directly confronting the Shadow, given that Arad Doman was in a general disarray by that time.
However, the two successful invasion caused some heavy losses to the forces of the Light. The loss of Caemlyn meant a moral blow to one of the most powerful nations, and a loss of a major supply depot for the forces of the Light, given that Caemlyn was under the influence of the Dragon Reborn, guarding it fed the Shadow's taint. It also gave rise to much dread from other nations who had waygates, fearing they would fall too. The most strategic advantage was of course putting a vast army at the heart of mankind's lands, behind their major lines.
The fall of Kandor, though significant, could not achieve its maximum effect due to the failure of the invasion to Saldaea and Shienar. However, it did give the Shadow a foothold at the borderlands, killed many shadowspawn-trained soldiers and captured many human slaves to help the Shadow's support lines.
Other maneuvers by the Shadow
At roughly the same time as the invasions had started, Moridin gathered the remaining Forsaken, except Lanfear who was being punished in a Dreamshard. There he'd instructed them to stop all plots against one another and start marching towards the Last Battle. Demandred was put in charge of the fighting and given the aid of Moghedien to control the Seanchan.
Moridin elevated Mazrim Taim to the rank of Forsaken, giving him the name M'Hael. The M'Hael divided his attention between helping the trollocs force in Tarwin's Gap and completing his mission to Turning all of the Black Tower to the Shadow. He had succeeded in isolating the Black Tower through the use of a Dreamspike, and capturing Logain and his most loyal followers.
The Light gathers
Humanity's situation at the start of the Last Battle
The Last Battle found humanity somewhat allied, yet still fractured. Tear, Illian, Mayene and Arad Doman were firmly at the grasp of the Dragon Reborn, though the first three had their own rulers. The Dragon Reborn also had the loyalty of most of the Aiel clans as well as Andor, which was unified with Cairhien. Through Andor and specifically Perrin Aybara he also gained the loyalty of Ghealdan and the Children of the Light.
However, these loyalties were not quite cemented in all cases. The White Tower, led by Egwene al'Vere, stood in opposition of the Dragon Reborn, and defied him over his plan to break the Seven Seals to the Dark One's prison. The White Tower succeeded in convincing some rulers, most notably Elayne Trakand, to oppose this plan.
Furthermore the Seanchan still stood in opposition to all other kingdoms, and engaged in open hostilities with the Atha'an Miere, Arad Doman, and the White Tower. The Seanchan empire itself was in shambles, as civil war wracked their homeland, leaving only the forces of The Return united under the empress.
The Light's Summit at the Field of Merrilor
However - the very same opposition by the White Tower shoved the various nations and factions, all but the Seanchan, to gather at the Field of Merrilor, where the Dragon Reborn met them and issued his demands in return for him fighting the Dark One. His demands were that the White Tower allow him to break the Seals, that the armies of mankind commit fully to the Last Battle and the all nations will sign The Dragon's Peace - cementing the borders, outlawing war and placing the Aiel as enforcers of the treaty.
The White Tower opposed Rand's plan for the Seals, but eventually relented, on the terms that the Amyrlin Seat will be in charge of judging when to break them. The nation's were also reluctant to commit all of their forces to the Last Battle, but were persuaded by Moiraine Damodred, quoting the Prophecies of the Dragon. The same argument helped persuade them to sign the Dragon's Peace treaty, but only on the terms that the Dragon Reborn will persuade the Seanchan to sign it as well. With his promise to do so, the nations agreed and the terms set by the Dragon Reborn were met.
Response to the Shadow
The Light's Summit took place one day after the last invasion - that of Caemlyn. By that time there were three active battle fronts - Andor, Kandor (which was already overrun) and Tarwin's Gap - where Lan's forces were being pushed back into Shienar. Also, they needed to plan to attack Shayol Ghul in order to allow the Dragon Reborn to confront the Dark One at the Pit of Doom.
The nations had decided to rally around Queen Elayne as their commander and chief. Elayne, advised by the four Great Captains, the Aiel clan chiefs and the Wise Ones, decided to split their forces four-ways:
- In Shienar - the borderlanders would send help to Lan's force at Tarwin's Gap, led by Agelmar Jagad.
- On the border between Kandor and Arafel - the White Tower's army, led by Gareth Bryne, and the Aes Sedai would attempt to stop the advancement of the Trollocs from Kandor. Kandor itself was considered lost.
- In Andor - the forces of Andor, Cairhien, those loyal to Perin and the Ogier, led by Davram Bashere, would attempt to destroy the trollocs occupying Caemlyn.
- In Shayol Ghul - the Aiel and the forces of Tear and Illian, led by Rodel Ituralde, would divert the Shadow in order to allow Rand to confront the Dark One in the Pit of Doom. This strike force would be delayed until Rand gave the word.
A hospital was to be established in Mayene, and the Field of Merrilor itself was to be a supply depot.
The Seanchan join
As the fighting started on the three defensive fronts Rand visited Ebou Dar, and with the help of Mat, succeeded in convincing Empress Fortuona to sign the Dragon's Peace and join the forces of the Light. The Seanchan forces were soon ready to march under the command of Lunal Galgan, and joined the White Tower forces in the Kandor-Arafelian front.
The hunt for Slayer
At first, Perrin joins the battle at the Andoran front, leading his forces, which included the Wolf Guard, the Two Rivers men, and Ghealdanin and Mayene troops. However, as the battle draws on he begins to feel that he is needed someplace else - fighting alongside the wolves against Slayer. He asks Rand to weave a gateway to allow Perrin to enter Tel'aran'rhiod in the flesh in order to hunt Slayer more efficiently. Rand reluctantly agrees, and promises Perrin he will have an Asha'men forming another gateway at the Field of Merrilor each day so he can exit. Perrin takes supplies and is joined by Gaul.
As they enter Tel'aran'rhiod they find a great tempest. The winds of the great storm can be felt everywhere around Tel'aran'rhiod, and they seem to wear the terrain down. At first, it just seems a form of 'erosion at high speed', but soon, as the Last battle rages on, the effects are much more intense. Perrin also notes that the world is breaking apart in other ways, such as the ground erupting, sending chunks to the air.
Perrin's first target is the Black Tower, after he learned gateways cannot be opened there, deducing the use of a Dreamspike, which he last saw Slayer use. As he and Gaul arrive at the Black Tower he encounters Lanfear, who helped him retrieve the dreamspike. By doing so Perrin inadvertently helped Logain's followers escape the clutches of M'Hael and reclaim the Black Tower for the Light. However, he finds no sign of Slayer.
Indeed, the Dreamspike was most probably not used by Slayer, but by M'Hael. Slayer was tasked with killing Rand as he was confronting the Dark One. Perrin is unaware of this, but deduces that Slayer will show-up somewhere along the various battle fronts anyway. He asks the wolves to keep a watch and notify him if they see Slayer. However, the first sighting reported to him is not of Slayer but of Graendal, as she skulks around the Tel'aran'rhiod site of Davram Bashere's camp. Perrin follows her and later to the 'in between place' where he sees her spying and influencing a dream, supposedly of Davram Bashere. Though he ultimately loses Graendal, he learns from Lanfear that the tent she was spying on was that of Davram Bashere and his wife. He also learns that a week has passed in the waking world, and much of the damage has already occurred.
Confrontations at the Pit of Doom
Later on, Perrin is sent a warning from the wolves that Slayer was seen around Shayol Ghul. Perrin arrives and finds that in the Pit of Doom the worlds have drawn near each other and he can see Rand, as he walks in the waking world. Perrin manages to deflect an arrow sent by Slayer and confronts him. However, Slayer brought with him several Samma N'Sei, some of them channelers. As the wolves and Gaul distract the channelers, Perrin confronts Slayer, and proves himself a worthy match - his control on the the dreamworld amplified by him being there in the flesh. Perrin manages to wound Slayer, who travels back to the waking world, leaving Perrin unable to pursue.
Perrin helps finish off the remaining Samma N'Sei. Lanfear shows up again and Heals him from his wounds. He persuades her to Heal Gaul as well. He installs the dreamspike in the Pit of Doom, preventing Slayer from trying to teleport there again, and puts the wolves on watch, as he circuits the other battlegrounds' reflections in the dreamworld.
Later on, the wolves alert him to a sighting of Graendal at the White Tower's camp. By this point, he notices that all armies, save the one in Shayol Ghul, are retreating towards the Field of Merrilor. He also sent three warnings of attempts by Slayer to penetrate the wolves defenses around the Pit of Doom, but each time as Perrin arrives Slayer quickly retreats. Perrin surmises that he is testing his 'prey'. He is then sent by a grizzled old wolf a sighting of Grandael in Rodel Ituralde's camp at Shayol Ghul. She escapes again, but now Perrin realizes what she is doing - corrupting the four Great Captains.
The grizzled old wolf reveals himself to be Long Tooth - Elyas Machera, who had decided to enter the wolf dream for the Last Hunt. Perrin asks him to send warning to the waking world, as Slayer attacks the pit once more, this time in earnest. Elyas wakes and Perrin confronts Slayer once again, but his mind is tired from his long stay in the dreamworld. Slayer manages to critically wound Perrin.
Lanfear finds him once more but refuses to help him. Desperate, dazed, and confused; he seeks to return to Faile, thinking that she must be at the Field of Merrilor. He teleports there in hope of finding the promised gateway out of the dreamworld, but blacks out. Finally, he is able to will himself awake and shifts back to the waking world, where he is found by Haral Luhhan, and delivered to the Mayene hospital. Wise ones Heal Perrin, but his wounds and fatigue are too great and he is forced to sleep and gather strength. All the while, only Gaul and the wolves are left to defend the Pit of Doom against Slayer.
The Andoran front
The task at hand for the Andoran front was to destroy the trollocs occupying Caemlyn. The forces sent there included those of Andor and Cairhien and those of the Band of the Red Hand, along with all those loyal to Perrin Aybara - the Two Rivers, the Wolf Guard and troops from Ghealdan and Mayene - bolstered by the Children of the Light, the Legion of the Dragon, the Ogier and some aiel and female channelers from the Kin.
Queen Elayne led the forces, as tactical command was given to Davram Bashere. Other officers included Perrin himself and Tam al'Thor in charge of the Two Rivers men, the Ghealdanin (led by Queen Alliandre and Captain Gerard Arganda) and the Mayene (led by Bertain Gallenne); Talmanes Delovinde in charge of the Band of the Red Hand, Galadedrid Damodred in charge of the Children; Bael in charge of the aiel; and Birgitte Silverbow in charge of the Andoran forces.
Although with a strong army, the Light's forces were still outnumbered by the Trollocs inhabiting Caemlyn, which numbered by the tens of thousands. Moreover, the Shadow had access to reinforcements via the Ways, and have fortified the Waygate inside Caemlyn against attacks by Traveling. Caemlyn itself was a good defensive position for the Shadow. After the initial invasions the Fades reined in the Trollocs, and half of the city still stood, as well as its walls (excepting the part destroyed by the Band during the invasion).
Besieging it was not an option, as the trollocs could feast on many of the human occupants still in Caemlyn or get supplies through Traveling, and the Light's forces were needed elsewhere, as the Kandori and Shienarian fronts were only to hold until they were finished. It was also not possible to just leave them, since from that position the trollocs could send armies to threaten all of the southern kingdoms and destroy the Light's supply centers, such as Baerlon. Alternatively, the Shadow could launch an army at the back of the defenders at the Borderlands, trapping them. And so it became clear that the Trollocs army in Andor must be defeated and destroyed.
After the Light's summit at the Field of Merrilor, Bashere had devised a plan - to draw the Trollocs into Braem Wood and then destroy the trollocs using guerrilla tactics. Gareth Bryne noted that he approved of this plan and had often worried about an attacking force establishing itself at the Wood and threatening Caemlyn.
The first step was to flush the trollocs from Caemlym itself. Using the Kin, Bashere's forces planted oil (supplied by Mayene) in many of the still standing buildings' basements via Traveling. Setting it all aflame at once, the trollocs were forced to pour out of the city, where the Light's forces waited to bait the trollocs into giving chase.
However, the trollocs did not take the bait, and camped around the city and on its walls. The Light forces turned to 'hit and run' attacks in order to force them to pursue, and after several attempts succeeded, as the entire trolloc army went after them. The Light forces guided the trolloc army towards Braem Wood, where on the brink of the woods waited a company of Two Rivers archers and two banners of crossbow men from the Legion to break the pursuit.
As the trollocs broke, they split their forces - some making for the woods and others heading east, toward the roadway winding around the Wood. Taking the roadway, the trollocs could surround the Light's forces in the Wood. As the Light forces drew the first force deeper into the woods, the Band's dragons waited at the roadway for the second force. The dragons succeeded in almost completely destroying the trolloc force at the roadway, gaining no casualties themselves. The trollocs were now boxed in the Wood.
Inside the Wood, the aiel and other forces killed many trollocs, using ambushes and guerrilla tactics. However, their efforts proved to be not enough - the trollocs having quickly adapted and avoiding ambushes. As the trollocs gained control of the entire southern section of the Wood, Bashere announced that the operation at the Wood had done all the good it could do, whittling down the numbers of the enemy's forces. Since the dragons were no use in the thick forest, they were now needed to draw the trollocs once more into the open.
Retreat to Cairhien
Bashere suggests a new stratagem - retreating towards Cairhien. The Light's forces will first make for the River Erinin, where there are no bridges. The Band will build bridges and after the army crosses the river - torch them. Dragons will also be used from the far bank to hurt the trollocs approaching the river. They will repeat the process over the River Alguenya, and head towards Cairhien, finding a better position in the hills surrounding the City. Elayne is reluctant, as just moments before she was advised about the hurried retreat at the Shienarian front, but eventually agrees as she has little other choice.
As the Light forces get ready to march, Perrin decides to go hunt for Slayer in Tel'aran'rhiod, suspecting his involvement at the Black Tower. After previously refused by by the Wise Ones to help him enter the dreamworld in the flesh he goes to find Rand, leaving Tam in charge of the Two Rivers, Wolf Guard, Ghealdan and Mayene combined forces, making him a lord and his steward.
The army advances east in the Wood and uses the whitecloaks and the Ogier to cover their retreat. As they cross over the Erinin and march towards the Alguenya, waiting for the bridges to be built there, a vanguard of the trolloc army managed to reach their location. The Light's forces hold against the attack with the aid of Rand, under the disguise of Jur Grady.
However, as they cross the Alguenya, Bashere's scouts discover a trap - a second trolloc army ahead of them, moving on the city of Cairhien. The discovery unsettles Bashere, as he feels he should have anticipated it. He deduces that it isn't a second force sent somehow south of the Blight, but part of the original force that split off from the rest at the Wood, hurrying through rough terrain to beat them to Cairhien. Bashere claims he didn't take into account how far the Fades would push the trollocs, and risk many casualties in the forced march. The result is that Elayne's forces are trapped between two armies - one to the south building rafts to cross over the Alguenya, and one to north threatening the defenseless city (whose defenders are with the army).
Bashere suggests to march towards the northern force before it can take the City. He rejects ideas to Travel into the City, arguing that they must completely destroy the northern force, not wait for it to be joined by the southern force as the Light is besieged. Their only hope is to take it out as quickly as possible, using the fact that the trollocs must be tired from the forced marching, and then wait for the southern force to arrive.
Elayne agrees. The army leaves a company of bowmen and some of the dragons to stall the southern force trying to cross the river with orders to retreat when overwhelmed. Meanwhile, through use of Traveling by the kinswomen, the remainder of the army moves to confront the northern trolloc forces, placing themselves between the trollocs and the City. However, as they are successful at engaging and surrounding the trollocs, Elayne learns that the southern force will shortly arrive, one full day ahead of schedule.
Bashere is baffled, and contemplates several destructive ideas that have no way of succeeding. Tam confronts him and accuses him of knowing about the southern force's push. Elayne confirms this after hearing from Bael that the aiel were not used as scouts, thus deducing that the scout reports were forged by Bashere. Elayne denounces Bashere as a darkfriend and removes him from command. By this time, there is no way to retreat since the kinswomen are too tired from helping the army Travel ahead of the northern force. The army have the northern force surrounded, and is forced to try and destroy it as quickly as possible before the southern force arrives. However, it seems like a lost cause, since Light's forces will be left too tired from the fighting to stand against another army of Trollocs.
The Black Tower coup, and rescue
After leaving Elayne's army at the edge of Braem Wood, Perrin Traveled to Rand's camp in the north, and asked him to open a gateway for Perrin and Gaul to enter Tel'aran'rhiod in the flesh and hunt Slayer. In the dreamworld he goes to the Black Tower, suspecting that Slayer is involved with the Dreamspike planted there, preventing gateways from opening there.
Perrin doesn't know it, but at the same time Mazrim Taim, now officially the Forsaken M'Hael, is at the last stages of Turning the entire Black Tower. He holds Logain Ablar and tries to Turn him, but the process is slow due to Logain's willpower. Logain's supporters, led by Androl Genhald, try to free him but are captured themselves. M'Hael brings in the Black Ajah to assist in the Turning, since women channelers can Turn male channelers much quicker. As the Turning begins, the prisoners are made to watch, under guard by M'Hael lackeys.
At that precise moment, Perrin finds the dreamspike, set there by M'Hael to prevent any interference to his efforts. With the help of Lanfear he shuts down the dreamspike, allowing Androl to form gateways again and to fight the M'Hael and his minions. They eventually overcome them and drive them away from the Black Tower. Later, they allow the Aes Sedai waiting outside the Tower to bond Soldiers and Dedicated, thus allowing them to form circles. Logain, now leading the Black Tower, decides to join the Light's battle. They find notes among the M'Hael possesions left behind as he fled the Tower indicating that the Shadow planned to trap Elayne's army at Cairhien for some time.
The Asha'men arrive at the battlefield in Cairhien, as Elayne's army, having finished off the northern force is starting to lose to the southern one. By that time, the cavalry units of the Legion have been dispersed by the trollocs and the pikemen are barely holding, as the trollocs start to surround the army. The Asha'men save the dragons' position from being overrun, and join the battle. However, the battle is too fierce to allow for an orderly retreat.
The Asha'men, Aes Sedai, kinswomen and Elayne herself form a circle of 14 women and 13 men, including Logain. Other Asha'men allow for a small retreat of the front lines while Androl is given control of the circle. He creates a gateway 100 feet tall into the bowels of Dragonmount, unleashing a vast column of lava at the charging trollocs. Other Asha'men, outside the circle, help keep the lava in line, killing many trollocs and boxing in the rest. Elayne regroups her forces, brings in supplies, and crushes the remaining trollocs.
As both the Trollocs armies have been defeated, the Andoran front is secured. Andor and Cairhien can still send supplies and the troops are freed to help on the northern fronts. Baerlon, who supplied the dragons, is also free of danger.
Elayne's army had lost many fighting men, as well as some Ogier. The most severe loss is arguably that of Davram Bashere as a general. Perrin had also left, leaving Tam in charge of his forces. Gallenne had died at the battle in Cairhien, and Arganda was wounded, but could be Healed.
The Shienarian front
The battle at the Shienarian front had started even before the Light's summit, with Lan Mandragoran Malkieri army (along with other borderlanders who joined his cause) invading the Blight in order to reach Malkier. However, they found a massive trolloc army, at least 150 thousand strong, already at Tarwin's Gap. Lan's army numbered 12 thousand. Their initial charge was successful, winning them the Gap and allowing them to form a defensive position.
The topography of the Gap made it easy for a smaller force to hold against much larger numbers. However, after just one day of fighting Lan's army lost half of its forces and began slowly giving ground. Left with an obviously losing battle, Lan orders a retreat from the Gap as the trollocs start to charge. His plan is for a quick retreat to the mouth of the Gap, where his forces will turn and charge at the coming Trollocs, surprising them and taking down as much as they can with them. As the army turns and gets ready to charge, about 100 thousands riders from the Borderlands join in, sent by the Light's summit via Traveling to help Lan. Along with several Asha'man and Aes Sedai, the desperate last stand transforms into a win, as they retake the Gap.
As Lan's forces are taken over by the Light's general effort, he is given his orders - to stall the trollocs as much as he can, until the Andoran front can be resolved. Lan reluctantly agrees, and gives tactical command to Agelmar Jagad. Other officers include the other monarchs of the borderlands: Queen Tenobia si Bashere Kazadi of Saldaea, Queen Ethenielle Cosaru Noramaga of Kandor (along with her grandson, Prince Kaisel Noramaga), King Easar Togita of Shienar and King Paitar Nachiman of Arafel. All of the monarchs had agreed to defer to Lan.
Tarmon Gai'don is phonetically similar to the word and concept of Armageddon.