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At the end of Lord of Chaos, Chapter 12: "Questions and Answers":

Neither saw the woman watching them from a second-story window.

Do we ever find out who it was, or what the significance was?

3 Answers 3

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I believe it was Siuan Sanche, as later in the book she says something about Nynaeve spying on people, she wouldn't know that if she hadn't been watching.

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  • This is a pretty thin answer, without even references.
    – Paul
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 17:01
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tl;dr: She's never identified and nothing significant ever appears to come from it. Most likely it was either an unused future plot hook that never went anywhere, or was thrown in to make us suspect sinister motives of other characters in the chapter.

Red Herrings

People that it probably was not despite being seemingly good candidates:

  • Moghedian should have been inside Nynave and Elayne's house, which is never described as having a second story.
  • Aran'gar does not appear officially in Salida for another two weeks of in-universe time.

Good Candidates

  • Tarna. She was an early candidate for being Mesaana. I don't think it was really her in the window, but it's possible that Jordan meant us to think it was her, to throw suspicion onto her and keep us guessing. A hidden Forsaken would have likely been spying on Nynaeve and Elayne. Tarna also fits chronologically, having just left the meeting, and later appears to know that someone was spying. But from a character standpoint it doesn't make any sense to be her -- there's no good Nynaeve/Tarna connection unless she's a Forsaken, which Jordan at least knew she wasn't.

  • Nicola or Areina. There was a sort of on-again-off-again story about those two and their issues towards Elayne and Nynaeve for posing as Aes Sedai when they were not. The two of them have several blackmail plots going on and spying on Nynaeve could have been part of that.

  • Siuan Sanche, As @Ishmael mentions, Siuan later berates Nynaeve for spying, which she could have learned about by seeing it for herself. IMO, Siuan being there makes no sense thematically. I don't see why Jordan would hide Siuan's identity in that sinister-sounding way. And more importantly, why would Siuan be spying on Nynaeve when she's way more worried about what's going on with the Salidar leadership and her own status? It's possible Siuan was spying on the same meeting that Nynaeve was spying on, but the way the chapter is worded implies that the woman was watching Nynaeve and Theodrin specifically. There are also other ways she could have learned about Nynaeve's spying -- perhaps Theodrin snitched, which explains why Theodrin was in that scene at all, or perhaps she overheard Tarna complaining about the spying.

If I really had to pick one I'd say an aborted Arenia plot arc makes the most sense. She appeared to have a particular hatred for Nynaeve. She was also in the scene a bit earlier, pissed at Nynaeve, and had left just before Nynaeve began spying. It seems fully in character for her to have followed Nynaeve and been watching her for potential blackmail fodder, but if so we never hear about it.

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  • It may be a false memory, but I remember reading about some stairs in their house in Salidar. This alludes to, but does not confirm a second story.
    – Anthony
    Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 2:44
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It was Elayne. I am not sure of her motives as I have not read the rest of the series I'm currently halfway through Lord of Chaos. But during the chapter A Pile of Sand in the book Lord of Chaos, the section reads from Elayne's point of view:

Her eyebrows raised when Nynaeve asked them to ward against eavesdropping [...] remembering Nynaeve's excursion [...] Elayne checked to be sure both windows were tightly shut.

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