Beyond the Red Door
Author: Analaiya na'Imrath
At the end of The Fires of Heaven, we saw Moiraine and Lanfear fall through the twisted red doorframe ter'angreal. What happened as a result of this event has been the cause of much discussion and theory. In Winter's Heart, we are told that "the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn held Lanfear", either before or during her transformation into the character of Cyndane who first appears in The Path of Daggers, when she accompanies the Forsaken Moghedien on a visit to Graendal. This indicates that Lanfear could not have possibly died as an immediate consequence of falling through the twisted red doorway, but perhaps at a later date.
Cyndane, whose name translates from the Old Tongue as "last chance", is short and haughty; she is not easily intimidated, and is stronger than Graendal in the One Power. In conjunction with these behavioral similarities to the Daughter of the Night, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence for the Forsaken's reincarnation as this Cyndane.
During the meeting of the remaining Forsaken in Winter's Heart, Demandred muses that mayhap it is not coincidence that Cyndane refers to Rand as Lews Therin, as Lanfear had always done in her affection for the Dragon. However, She then laments that her love had chosen another woman (Nynaeve), to use the other access key, one of the Choeden Kal, "She would have faced the Great Lord - faced the Creator! - with him. She would have shared the power with him, let him rule the world at her side. And he had spurned her love, spurned her!" Despite this, we are informed by Mesaana that Cyndane is weaker in the One Power than the lost Forsaken. There is one feasible explanation for this, gathered from observing Siuan and Leane following their usurping by Elaida; Lanfear was stilled.
The mostly likely reason for this occurrence is the fact that Lanfear had been drawing deeply through her bracelet angreal when she was pushed through the doorway by Moiraine. However, it stills begs the question as to how she was allegedly Healed. There is no one save Nynaeve who is able to Heal stilling, and there is no doubt this did not happened. It is then likely that she has been resurrected by the Dark One, and given a new body.
However, this does not explain the decrease in her channeling strength. It has been considered that the Finn themselves exacted her strength in the One Power as a price; though the small amount lost does not make sense. Perhaps simply being held against her will by these creatures impacted on her strength, perhaps they feed off her in exchange for the answering of her questions. This experience may have been too much, even for Lanfear, and she ended her life, upon which time she was resurrected. There is still too much about these Finn that remains unknown.
Another possibility is that, had she been stilled, it is probable that any wish made by the stricken Forsaken would touch on the restoration of her ability to channel. It is known that the Finn grant wishes with unsuspected and even dire consequences. Perhaps their fulfilling of such a wish would be to place Lanfear in a new body that was able to channel. This body could very well be one of lesser strength, explaining the loss in Cyndane's ability.
Moiraine's fate is slightly more ambiguous than that of Lanfear. In the Glossary entry for Moiraine in Lord of Chaos, a section of the passage reads "She vanished into a ter'angreal in Cairhien while battling Lanfear, apparently killing both herself and the Forsaken." It is the inclusion of apparently that has opened the doors to a number of multifaceted and widely varied theories pertaining to her fate inside the ter'angreal doorway.
One piece of evidence which suggests her possible demise upon falling through the door, is the breaking of her bond with Lan. However, we are told in The Path of Daggers that "being stilled snapped the bond between an Aes Sedai and her Gaidin as surely as her death. This supports the very real possibility that Moiraine has not met her death, but rather, has been stilled, along with the Forsaken. Such an event could also be explained with the intense amount of saidar being drawn upon by Lanfear at the moment they fell through the ter'angreal. It is also very feasible that the actual closing of this door, separating the two worlds could have broken the bond.
Of course, the above is either circumstantial evidence of or conjecture about Moiraine's survival. The real evidence that convinces us Egwene and Min that suggest she will indeed return. Egwene's dream in The Fires of Heaven involving Thom pulling Moiraine's blue jewel out of a fire, and Min's comment in A Crown of Swords, that "Moiraine was the only viewing of hers that had ever failed" indicates that she had one or more viewings about Moiraine that were not fulfilled, and since there is no proof that Min is ever wrong about what she sees, we can safely assume Moiraine will almost certainly return at some point, and that she is indeed alive.
We also know that Moiraine witnessed visions of events on the docks during her time inside the rings of Rhuidean, but nothing following. This would seem to point to an eventual death in the ter'angreal, however there is a possibility that the Rings' prophetic qualities are connected to one's ability to channel. This would then explain the blank after the doorway if Moiraine, as I suspect was indeed severed. It is also viable that the Rings, ter'angreal themselves, do not work across realms, and thus do not reveal proceedings in planes such as the world of the Finn.
All signs indicate that Perrin and seen by Mat. Birgitte comments disconsolately to Perrin in The Shadow Rising, "Once entered, the Tower of Ghenjei is hard enough to leave in the world of men (...) It is a doorway, archer, to the realms of the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn." It seems then a likely portal through which the lost Aes Sedai may be recovered. A number of people are considered likely candidates for her liberation, chief of which is Thom. This is owing to Egwene's dream, which saw "Thom Merrilin put his hand into a fire to draw out the small blue stone that now dangled on Moiraine's forehead." Min also had viewings involving the pair; viewings which have not yet come to light.
Thus there is overwhelming evidence which enables us to extrapolate the dual fates of the two women upon their entering the red doorway. It seems that, both being able to channel, and both deeply connected to the Source at the moment of impact has lead to their being abruptly severed. It then follows that they were held, against their will, by the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn, inside the universe of the ter'angreal. What follows then however, is unclear, only that it is most likely that either Lanfear struck a deal with the creatures, or she later died which saw her restored, though not fully. Moiraine, it appears did not do so, and remains their prisoner until such time as Thom Merrilin and cohorts are able to penetrate the land of the Finn using the portal of the Tower of Ghenjei, and rescue her. Both of the women's outcomes are uncertain, and hence still surrounded by much controversy and speculation.