Balefire is a weave of the One Power that is a very dangerous weapon. Although it is very effective and almost impossible to defend against it is rarely used due to the nature of the weave, in that it not only destroys whatever it is used against, it destroys it before it hits “When anything is destroyed with balefire, it ceases to exist before the moment of its destruction, like a thread that burns away from where the flame touched it.” (Moiraine). The amount removed from the pattern depends on the amount used. Moiraine, for example, could only remove a few seconds, Rand, being much stronger could remove minutes (TFoH, Ch. 6). With a sa'angreal like Callandor, entire cities could be destroyed.
The Dark one can not resurrect someone who has been killed by Balefire because he can not step out of time (LoC, Prologue). Balefire does not wipe you from the pattern, it does not destroy your soul. Someone who is balefired goes onto normal rebirth in the circle of life.
Due to the damage it can do, using balefire, or even learning it, is forbidden by the White Tower since the Breaking of the World (TFoH, Ch. 6). Moiraine claims that it is forbidden by vows almost as strong as the Three Oaths and that she might be stilled just for knowing it. Curiously, she states it has not been used in nearly two thousand years, which suggests it was used during the Trolloc Wars (TDR, Ch. 39). She does however use it, claiming that sometimes it is necessary to do things that are forbidden, though Rand sees her blush as she says this (TFoH, Ch. 6). When Cadsuane sees Rand use balefire, she slaps him and tells him never to use it again (ACoS, Ch. 36). This does make him reluctant (ACoS, Ch. 41), but he nevertheless uses it in Shadar Logoth to kill Liah and save her from Mashadar (ACoS, Ch. 41).
The appearance of balefire is distinctive, an intensely hot, intensely bright bar of light (TDR, Ch. 39; Ch. 44; Ch. 55), like molten metal (TDR, Ch. 39; Ch. 44; TSR, Ch. 54; TFoH, Ch. 6) or liquid fire (TFoH, Ch. 6; Ch. 55; KoD, Ch. 22). When balefire strikes an object, it leaves no trace, ceasing to exist as though they had never been (TDR, Ch. 39; TDR, Ch. 55; TSR, Ch. 54). People and creatures that have been balefired react differently, briefly becoming shapes of shimmering motes, specks dancing in the light (TDR, Ch. 55; KoD, Ch. 22), colors reversed and breaking apart to become smaller and smaller until nothing remains (TFoH, Ch. 6; Ch. 22). This may be dependant on the strength of the balefire used as when Rand kills Rahvin, there is none of that, Rahvin simply ceases (TFoH, Ch. 55).
- Some Darkhounds won't die for anything short of balefire, but Rand refuses to teach it to Taim anyway (LoC, Ch. 3).
- The White Tower has a ter'angreal, a fluted rod of black stone a full pace in length that produces balefire. Verin considers this dangerous and almost impossible to control (TDR, Ch. 25).
- The Aiel do not know what balefire is, but they remember it from their legends (TDR, Ch. 38)
- Even balefire cannot destroy cuendillar (TSR, Ch. 54).
- The residue of balefire is very distinct (TFoH, Ch. 6)
- Rand defends himself with Callandor when Ishamael tries to use balefire against him in the Stone
- The Dark One asked Demandred if he would use Balefire for him.(LoC, Prologue)
Useage of Balefire
In the Age of Legends, entire cities were destroyed by balefire. Balefire was used liberally by both sides for an entire year. When its full effects were realised, both sides stopped using it without any formal agreement (TFoH, Ch. 6, TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 4).
Isha'mael tries to balefire Rand, but Callandor saves him (TDR, Ch. 55).
Rahvin tries to balefire Rand (TFoH, Ch. 55).
Rand uses it himself. He finally kills Rahvin with it (TFoH, Ch. 55).
Rand balefires a fog and Cadsuane slaps him, telling him never to use it again (ACoS, Ch. 36).
Rand balefires Liah to save her from Mashadar (ACoS, Ch. 41).
"'That is the weave we must use when fighting Forsaken, Narishma,' al'Thor said, his quiet voice cutting straight through Cadsuane's. 'If we kill them with anything else, they can be reborn. It is a dangerous tool, but still just a tool. Like any other.'" (Rand about balefire; (TGS, Ch. 23)