— Moiraine Damodred
Balefire is a weapon of the One Power usable by both male and female channelers. Its widespread use during the War of Power began to cause the Pattern to unravel, and it was subsequently banned from use by all wielders of the One Power. Even mad Lews Therin begged Rand al'Thor not to use the weapon, fearing its effects.
When a target is struck with balefire, its thread in the pattern is destroyed, in an amount proportional to the power of the balefire strike. This translates to the target's existence being completely erased, chronologically in reverse. For example, should an Aes Sedai use balefire on an attacking bandit, the bandit's action of attacking the Aes Sedai and anything leading up to the action of the attack would be erased; this would be determined by the power of the balefire attack. The stronger the balefire, the further back in time the object in question will be burned from the pattern. This can have serious consequences on the pattern; the use of an extremely powerful blast of balefire to destroy a great number of lives at once has been shown to produce an effect referred to as a "balescream," the sound of the Pattern itself groaning under the strain of rearranging itself around such a large gap. All events that could have been said to have "happened" before the destruction of an individual's thread are remembered by any other individual, though the physical reality of the situation is now changed; anyone that was witness or party to the "reversal" of time will still remember all the events that were undone as if they had actually happened even if the effects themselves no longer exist.
Examples of useEdit
During the War of the Shadow, the use of balefire had a horrible effect on the pattern. Whole cities were burned out of existence and the pattern was almost destroyed before both sides realized its full effects. Even the Forsaken and Dreadlords were hesitent to use balefire after it was realized how dangerous it is.
Balefire can even bring people back from the dead, or rather, retroactively prevent them from dying in the first place; Aviendha, Asmodean and Matrim Cauthon were brought back to life when Rahvin was hit by balefire with enough force to undo the attack that caused their deaths. In another instance, Mat was saved when the Darkhounds that attacked him were burned away to the point before injuring him.
The Dark One is unable to resurrect any person who is killed by balefire, mentioning himself that he is not capable of "stepping outside of Time." As balefire technically causes a person to die in the past, the Dark One can only resurrect someone within a certain time-span, with balefire exceeding that limit. However, a person that is killed by balefire can be spun out into the Pattern again normally, although it is unknown if the process is altered or the person changed.
In terms of defending against it, balefire appears to be unblockable by any other weaves of the One Power. Cuendillar is the only substance known to withstand balefire's effects, but whether it is capable of blocking or deflecting it is unknown. Callandor, while infused with the Power, was observed on one occasion to have the ability to part a stream of balefire and it is suspected that the crystal sa'angreal is made of a type of cuendillar. The only time the One Power has prevented balefire from reaching its target was during Rand's duel with Sammael: Rand and Moridin's balefire crossed paths, forming an unexplained link between them. During the battle to free Logain, Androl Genhald is able to divert Mazrim Taim's balefire through a coin-sized gateway. These three instances are the only known occurrences of balefire being either blocked or diverted in the waking world. In Tel'aran'rhiod, Perrin is able to block balefire with the palm of his hand, dismissing it as "meaningless."
Typically, when struck with balefire, the target's colors will reverse (a Halfman will appear as white clothes on a black body instead of black clothes on a white body), and the object will fade away. When Rahvin was struck with a very powerful bolt however, he simply vanished without the typical scenario, leaving only what appered to be dust motes. Some speculate that because this bolt of balefire was so powerful that it actually compleatly erased Rahvin from the pattern all the way back to the Age of Legends.
In order for a channeler to create balefire, he or she must be very strong in the Power. There is a ter'angreal (shaped as a long, thick black rod, similar in apperance to the oath rod) capable of producing balefire, allowing this inconvenience to be circumvented, though they are almost impossible to control, for reasons unknown.
During the Last Battle, the forces of the Shadow were ordered to pick up usage of balefire again, which was used frivolously and recklessly upon several battlefields, particularly upon the Field of Merrilor, to the point where existence itself nearly unraveled, much like in the war of the previous Age. Then-Amyrlin Seat, Egwene al'Vere, found, as her last act, a counter-weave of sorts; it patched up the cracks in the land and turned crystalline those who had given themselves to the Shadow. Egwene named it the Flame of Tar Valon.
Balefire is a very complex weave composed by many of the five powers. To weave balefire usually it is necessary a certain amount of ability and strength, so only the most powerful channellers can use it proficiently without the aid of an angreal. Moraine admits to only barely being able to form the weave yet at the time she was among the strongest living Aes Sedai.
There is at least one particular ter'angreal, the fluted black rod, that produces balefire and it can be used even by weak channeller, but it is very difficult to control and extremely dangerous to the wielder. It was stolen from the White Tower by Liandrin's Group of Black Sisters,
Notable people balefiredEdit
- Be'lal (balefired by Moiraine)
- Rahvin (balefired by Rand)
- Semirhage (balefired by Rand)
- Liah (balefired by Rand)
- Elza Penfell (balefired by Rand)
- Aran'gar (balefired by Rand)
- Delana Mosalaine (balefired by Rand)
- Kwamesa (balefired by Demandred)
- Einar (balefired by Demandred)
Notable places damaged or destroyed by balefireEdit
- Panarch's Palace (heavily damaged by the fight between Nynaeve and Jeaine Caide who was using the fluted black rod)
- Royal Palace of Andor (heavily damaged by the fight between Rand and Rahvin)
- Natrin's Barrow (obliterated by Rand)
- Field of Merrilor (heavily damaged by the prolonged use of balefire from Demandred and many Dreadlords)