I hate starting from the ending. It's like opening a book you have never read to the last page, just to see how it ends. But, I'm forced to start somewhere.
The end of the books opens a new question. How did Rand Al'Thor light his pipe?
Clearly, the debate ranges on how exactly this occurred. So let me touch on some of the main theories that I have seen put forward so far.
I. The Void
One theory noted that "anything was possible in the Void." That is not the case for Tam Al'Thor, who needs to lite his own tabac starting from the first chapters of the books. If it was indeed that easy, much of humanity wouldn't need strikers (matches) or another form of fire.
So I would put this into the impossible column.
II. Rand was wrong
This theory basically said that Rand was wrong about his inability to channel. He felt he couldn't channel, but really could. Cadsuane, who looked at Rand shortly after he rose from the tent, had upon her the 8 cornered star, which detects male channelers. She needed to see Rand's eyes to determine who he was, which suggests Cadsuane's ter'angrael did not detect a male channeler nearby.
So again, impossible column.
III. The pipe was a ter'angreal
I have to give Frenzy credit. It's a solid theory.
Alivia packs Rand's bags. Rand, in his thoughts, thanks Alivia for packing the pipe and tabac.
"Thank you, Alivia, for that."
Could Alivia have gathered such a unique and remarkable ter'angreal?
a) She was ex-damane, and not trusted much outside Rand himself, and only not until towards the later parts of the series. Other channelers wouldn't even teach other her channeling weaves when she was part of Rand's high council.
b) Such a ter'angreal would be rare, unique, and high in demand - knowing how many people smoke in Wheel of Time.
c) Stealing such a ter'angreal would set off more red flags than stealing coin
d) the audience has not seen this ter'angreal made in the Wheel of Time before
The Age of Legends had plenty of sources of fire - matches, candles, the One Power, probably ter'angreal that constantly stayed lit
But a pipe with the quality built it? That's something new, I believe. I can see this to be very likely going forward in the 4th Age.
While it's true, as of TGS I believe, we see the return of these talents, how likely is it, for a pipe ter'angreal to be made, in time for the Last Battle, only to be stolen by Alivia, and given to Rand?
At best, considering all these factors, I find it hard to believe in sum, the whole thing likely. That doesn't mean it's not possible. I've discounted a possibly too soon before, such was the case with Graendal and Asmodean. I'm willing to admit my own faults.
So, I believe, how you see this depends on how likely you see all these events occuring. For me, I'm not too sure they could. For me, it seems like deus ex machina to solve the problem of lighting the pipe. However, it's a possibility. Frenzy certainly has a point.
IV. Bubble of Evil
Suggested as a possibility because bubbles of evil have been the causes of strange events before. However, since the Dark One was defeated, it's unlikely these would continue. There were no reports of bubbles of evil prior to the Dark One's release, and there is no reason there would be ones after his reimprisonment.
V. Pattern Level Event
A suggestion no one made, that I've seen, yet, I only made it because the concept of Pattern Level Events is a possibility.
Pattern Level Events, or PLE's, were originally suggested by Tamrylin, owner of Theoryland and HCFF himself, to my knowledge. One such event, Falme, started with the blowing of the Horn of Valere. Another PLE, occured once again at the end of the series, again starting with the blowing of the Horn of Valere. Both events somehow allowed for an intersection between the realms of the Real World and the Dream World, Tel'aran'rhoid, to occur. The battle between the main forces, a battle for the larger world.
The PLE's end once the main fight is over, however. Once the Dark One was sealed, the PLE ended.
VI. Rand's not-so-hidden super power
One idea is that Rand had a hidden power. After all, at the end of the books, where Rand walked, the Earth healed itself. Rand, represented life, in a very physical way.
And how one see's life could take on different interpretations. Fire, for instance, gives life, in it's own way. The Native North American tribes, for instance, burned fields of forest to clear underbrush for larger game animals. Or cleared brush in general so there wouldn't be such large, out of control, wildfires. Fire, brought renewal. From the ashes, life was born anew.
But once again, if Rand expected such a power, he should have never needed to grab for the One Power, or the True Power, to light the pipe in the first place.
So again, impossible column. But it's certainly interesting.
VII. Things have changed between Tel'aran'rhiod and Rand's World
The Dark One's touch upon the world was undone, finally, by Rand. One of those effects was upon the world itself, from Shayol Ghul to the edge of the Blight. It was said to be difficult, or rather insane, to enter the Blight in Ter'aran'rhiod.
The "Last" battle between the Dark One and Rand had clearly effected all of Tel'aran'rhiod, unlike say, the battle at Falme.
Example of which would be this scene,
"Everything was dead. In the wolf dream, Perrin stumbled across a
rocky wasteland without plants or soil. The sky had gone black, the dark
clouds themselves vanishing into that nothingness. As he climbed atop a
ridge, an entire section of the ground behind him crumbled—his stone
footing shaking violently—and was pulled into the air.
Beneath that was only emptiness.
In the wolf dream, all was being consumed. Perrin continued forward
toward Shayol Ghul. He could see it, like a beacon, glowing with light.
Strangely, behind, he could make out Dragonmount, though it should have
been far too distant to see. As the land between them crumbled, the
world seemed to be shrinking.
The two peaks, pulling toward one another, all between shattered and broken. "
A Memory of Light, Light and Shadow
Tel'aran'rhiod was collapsing, being consumed, but there is no reason to believe it ended up being so. The scars of the Dark One, upon his defeat and sealing, aided by Rand, seemed to heal. Shayol Ghul was peaceful again, as was the Blight.
But just in the same token as the Age of Legends found the Dark One to begin with, any fix by man would be imperfect. It will always leave some sort of fallibility to later be rediscovered. In a Age, an Age in many future turnings of the Wheel later, an age when the knowledge of the Dark One ceases, the Dark One must be found again (barring mankind somehow remembers it's own history).
So too, was Shayol Ghul a physical location where the Pattern was, and would always be, it's thinnest. It was also a point where the Pattern and Tel'aran'rhiod touched more than elsewhere in the physical world.
"Aviendha held tightly to the One Power. That thrumming sound was him, somehow. The life gorwing was him. As the Dark One ripped the land apart, Rand stitched it back together.
She had to keep moving. She crouched as she ran, using the newly grown plants as cover. They had come right where she needed them to hide her approach. Happenstance? She chose to believe otherwise. She could feel him, in the back of her mind. He fought, a true warrior. His battle lent her strength, and she tried to return the same."
A Memory of Light, Ch 42, Impossibilities
No happenstance. What she needed, happened. Just like in Tel'aran'rhiod, or when the companions needed to find the Eye of the World, or the Bowl of the Winds, it happened. What you think should happen, or be (such as clothing), or need (Bowl of the Winds), happens. There is ample precedent.
And so, when Rand wanted to light his pipe, and he didn't have the One Power or the True Power, he needed a lite.
"He regarded his pipe, riding up a little incline to the side of Thakan dar, now covered in plants. No way to light the tabac. He inspected it for a moment in the darkness, then thought of the pipe being lit. And it was."
Underline emphasis added is my own.
The scene where Rand lit his pipe was the same area Aviendha's plants had grown. An area where the land had been recieving of Aviendha's need during the Last Battle. Aviendha needed cover for her approach. Rand needed a light. Both just happened.
That is, in my opinion, the most possible scenario.
Final thoughts :
Of the scenarios, I only see two really possible ones, Frenzy's ter'angreal concept, and this final one. Everyone knows where I stand, but I like to hear what people think on the subject.
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