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In Chapter 10 of book 2 (tGH), there's this really weird scene where Rand goes into a house in a village and the scene changes every time he blinks. It flickers back and forth between the following scene:

A smiling, bald-headed man in rough clothes laid a slice of meat on a plate held by a woman with a worn face. She was smiling, too, though. She added peas and turnips to the plate and passed it to one of the children lining the table. There were half a dozen children, boys and girls, from nearly grown down to barely tall enough to look over the table. The woman said something, and the girl taking the plate from her laughed. The man started to cut another slice.

Suddenly another girl screamed, pointing at the door to the street. The man dropped the carving knife and whirled, then he screamed, too, face tight with horror, and snatched up a child. The woman grabbed another, and motioned desperately to the others, her mouth working frantically, silently. They all scrabbled toward a door in the back of the room.

That door burst open, and-

Blink.

... and a scene where the room is freezing cold, full of congealed food, and crawling with flies. After this happens several times, Rand does something that sounds very much like channeling saidin (though he doesn't know much about it at this time), and finds the room empty with only six dead flies in it.

What does this scene portend, if anything? I've got as far as book 10 and haven't really found anything at all like this - the closest thing is So Habor. Does it link up to anything later on (or earlier on that I missed)? By the Chekhov's gun principle, it should, but in a series as long and intricate as WoT, I could easily imagine this principle being violated by accident! (It's incredibly violated in Jack Vance's Lyonesse books, which are much less complicated.)

Thanks in advance for any answers!

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    I'm not sure it portends anything so much as reflects what happened to put the village into the state he finds it in - those are flashbacks of some sort. But, no, I don't think the mechanism is directly repeated anywhere else. – gowenfawr Aug 7 '14 at 23:03
  • Good question! I'm on book 3 and wondered about this scene as well. I hope you get some answers. – Zoe Aug 8 '14 at 5:22
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As confirmed by Robert Jordan, Padan Fain indeed set up the time loop to trap Rand forever:

Question: Another interesting question was about the scene with all the flies in the house in book two.

Robert Jordan: This scene where Rand sees the same thing over and over again was actually Fain's doing, a trap devised by him to put Rand in a time loop forever.

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  • I don't understand where your first sentence comes from. Is there anything anywhere else to suggest Rand can do this? We know he has power over the Pattern as a ta'veren, but that's very different from being able to influence it at will. – Rand al'Thor Aug 8 '14 at 13:14
  • Also the scene has much more similarity to the illusion Fain creates in Far Madding than to Rand's visions of the past with the Aiel, which were the result of a specific ter'angreal. – Rand al'Thor Aug 8 '14 at 13:16
  • Fain's illusion in Far Madding also looks very much like a scene from the past. Maybe it's not created by Fain, but just another of those weird attacks Rand has? I'm about to create another question relevant to this. – Rand al'Thor Aug 8 '14 at 13:25
  • Why is the scene in that village more likely to have actually happened than the scene in Far Madding?? – Rand al'Thor Aug 8 '14 at 13:31
  • I only just noticed the edited answer. Brilliant - thanks for this! – Rand al'Thor Aug 8 '14 at 15:36
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We never find out what that was, or why, or what it represents.

The most likely explanation for what happened is that someone set a trap for Rand, which he was only able to break because of his channeling. There are two possible candidates for who might have set this trap:

  • Padan Fain. If you're up to book 10 then you know that Fain's the person that murdered the Fade, something he does quite often. We've also learn that he can create illusions (he does so in Winter's Heart) but I'm not sure he had that ability at this point in the story.

  • Lanfear. She makes a brief appearance in this chapter (she is the woman in white that Uno sees). She's more than capable of setting up a trap like this, especially with no women channelers around to detect her. She also has a vested interest in making Rand channel more, which he has to do to escape the trap.

However, neither of those candidates is very compelling, since nothing ever comes of this particular trap and we never see or hear about it ever again. It's equally likely that Jordan just wanted to toss in an example of Rand instinctively learning how to channel and this is what we got. This episode in particular has the kind of "metaphysical" feel that some of the early channeling incidents had, before Jordan seemed to settle completely on the more mechanical weaving analogy we end up with.

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It is a weird occurence, but what is even weirder is this description as Rand channels Saidin:

Suddenly he was tearing at...something. He did not know what or how. Cobwebs made of steel. Moonbeams carved from stone. They crumbled at his touch, but he knew he had not touched anything. They shriveled and melted with the heat that surged through heat, heat like a forge fire, etc...

These cobwebs described here sound like the threads used by a channeler, that Rand seems to destroy using his own Saidin. Could the mind trap be a weave made with Saidin by someone else? That could be an explanation, but then Padan Fain could not have made it. Or maybe I'm misreading things, but it sure sounds like Rand fell into a Saidin weave and unraveled it using his own power to escape it.

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There is something that could be it as well, one of those "bubbles of evil" could have come up.

Bubbles of evil were first described in book 4, The Shadow Rising, but they had already appeared by this time (there was one at the start of book 2, when the air turned solid and forced Rand onto Lan's practice sword). They have similar effects to that described in this question - strange, implausible goings-on with no obvious cause - so perhaps this was one of the earliest appearances of a bubble of evil.

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  • YOU! [blasts balefire] [streams cross] ARGH! – Rand al'Thor Feb 18 '16 at 1:27
  • Yes Al'thor, me! – Moridin Feb 18 '16 at 1:30
  • Our balefire streams have crossed! That is, I've edited your answer to provide a little more detail and backup for your theory. Feel free to rollback my edit if you think I've overstepped the mark :-) – Rand al'Thor Feb 18 '16 at 12:43

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