We were introduced to the concept of Aes Sedai numbers dwindling, which is repeated frequently later in the story, and had just been remedied by Egwene in Crossroads of Twilight. Moiraine estimates 1269 Aes Sedai (423 in the Tower, twice as many out of it), 60 Accepted, and less than 100 novices, fewer than 20 of which will become Accepted. We are also introduced to a number of the current class of Accepted, a number of which will decide to join the Black Ajah in the next 20 years. We haven’t been told the Black Ajah exists yet, and won’t be for a while yet, but their names are in these chapters. Why do they join? Were they friends as Accepted with the top recruiter? How the Black Ajah recruits noobs has got to be tricky. Does everyone who joins just think back to the friends who shared their disgruntlement and pressure them to sign up? I’d be afraid the authority figure I hate and am trying to tear down is actually the head of the Black Ajah. Why else would she behave so destructively to our organization? Oops, real world interlude… sorry.
Speaking of Elaida, another universal experience we can identify with is that of the bully. Even bullies have been bullied, we’ve all been bullied. This is a different approach to how she was introduced in the Eye of the World, as the menace who might gentle Rand. You’re concerned about threats, you don’t despise them like you do with bullies. This is a great setup for her character and her later actions. I can see how my interpretation of the Splitting of the Tower and deposing of a certain Amyrlin will take on a more personal aspect. Funnily, Elaida is under virtually no Dark One influence at any time. The Pattern itself set her up as a bully to be despised so that events could unfold as needed. What a destiny. Thanks Pattern!
How are you setting up your antagonists? Bullies, bosses, threats, minions, overlords and random monsters work because they are built up appropriately.