Traveling is a method that uses the One Power to transport people and things near instantaneously over vast distances through a portal called a Gateway. Traveling is also related to Skimming, a simpler but slower way to travel faster than any previously known method not using the One Power. Travelling is considered one of the strategically most important and useful Weaves discovered at the end of the Third Age.
The weave was considered lost since the Breaking of the World, the name known only via references in ancient texts. How it became lost is uncertain. Moiraine stated that there had "not been an Aes Sedai powerful enough to Travel since the Time of Madness, but this is obviously not true and this may have been one reason why it had never been rediscovered as it was generally thought impossible.
In reality, the loss may have been because of the geographic turmoil caused by the rampant violence of mad male channelers, something so pervasive that no permanent settlements from the Age of Legends survived the cataclysm. It may also have been because any channeler that remembered the wonders of the Age of Legends was dead before the end of the Breaking and were unable to pass on even a once-commonplace weave such as Travelling. By the time the White Tower was founded, those who called themselves Aes Sedai were likely self-taught wilders and it is almost certain that no woman who remembered the previous Age was part of this new group.
Rediscovery and Spread
The first instance of Travelling in the Third Age occurred when Aviendha unknowingly created a Gateway to Seanchan. She was, however, unable to repeat the Weave and so it was not yet rediscovered in the true sense.
Although Asmodean told Rand al'Thor of Travelling, he claimed that Lanfear's shield on him left him unable to form the weave. Later, Rand realises that, like Aviendha, he had unknowingly Travelled in Tear after he is able to read the residue of Rahvin's Gateway in Caemlyn. After this point, Rand is able to create Gateways at will.
He later taught the Weave to Mazrim Taim. Taim in turn taught it to the Asha'man as a whole. This is part of the general training of anyone at the Black Tower, taught to any man as soon as he is strong enough rather than a secret kept by Taim or one taught only to Dedicated or full Asha'man.
The female version of the Talent was rediscovered by Egwene al'Vere. She may have had some hints from Moghedien, but she largely pieced together the knowledge herself. Some of this intuition came from her experience of using Tel'aran'rhiod to fast travel from Cairhien to Salidar by entering in the flesh. Moghedien did not show her how to weave a Gateway.
Alviarin Freidhen was also taught the weave by Mesaana. For a long while, only the Salidar faction had access to Travelling, giving the rebels a very real strategic advantage. This advantage was negated when Beonin Marinye taught the weave to Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan, who passed the knowledge on to selected sisters of her own choosing. This allowed the White Tower to collect taxes and supplies from far afield - a fact first discovered by Ashmanaille when it was discovered that an Aes Sedai from the loyalist faction, Nesita, had already gathered the tribute from the Aesdaishar Palace in Kandor before Ashmainaille herself was due to collect it on behalf of the rebel Aes Sedai.
After the reunification of the White Tower, Travelling was adopted wholeheartedly by the Gray Ajah as something that would be of most use in their domain as their very purpose requires long-distance travel. Although some Gray sisters may feel an ownership of the Talent, it is unlikely they could have a monopoly on Travelling, even if they could manage to take control of the protocols concerning using the weave.
Travelling remained a strategic advantage as something that was in possession of the forces of the Westlands, but remained unknown to the Seanchan. Aviendha uses her Talent of Unweaving to prevent the residues from being read by them. After Elaida was made damane, she is forced to show the Empress Fortuona the secret of Travelling. Mat later has a damane make a Gateway on the floor that opens high in the air in order to observe the battle at the Field of Merrilor.
It is unknown if Travelling for either male and female channelers is known by the Sharans.[verify] They appear on the Field of Merrilor using a massive Gateway, but this may have been performed alone by Demandred using Sakarnen. While Egwene sees "hundreds" of women embracing the source, it is not possible for them all to be creating the Gateway due to the limitations on the size of a circle.
Minimum Strength and Talents
Like many Weaves, a minimum level of strength is required for it to work. A woman who is too weak to Travel can still form the weave, if not make it "active". This is evident when Cadsuane learns it from Sorilea. The exact level of strength needed to successfully make a Gateway is not known. Mesaana tells Alviarin her strength is "not much, but enough", but this does not give us a very accurate measurement other than Alviarin's strength of 17(5) is above that needed to Travel.
Unlike Skimming, Travelling is a Talent. This fact presents itself in the size of Gateway a person can make relative to their strength in the One Power or, for weaker channelers, if they can make the Weave work at all.
Androl Genhald shows one extreme of this Talent. His weakness in the One Power makes it surprising that his Gateways are functional at all. Not only do they work, he can weave gateways many times larger and much more deftly than anyone channeler except perhaps Rand al'Thor. Similarly, Berisha Terakuni is able to weave a Gateway large enough for Faile to pass through riding atop a wagon, whereas Elayne cannot weave one tall enough for Mat to pass through while mounted, despite Elayne being significantly stronger.
At the opposite end of the scale, we have channelers who are relatively strong but who can only produce small Gateways or require aid to make them work at all. Damer Flinn, whilst stronger than almost all living Aes Sedai, finds it difficult to weave large Gateways or ones with accurate positioning. Similarly, Lelaine Akashi and Kinswoman Julanya Fote both can only weave small gateways that are disproportionate to their comparative strength in the Power.
It may be assumed that the average strength needed to weave a gateway is 22(10). Kinswoman Sabeine Ocalin, at level 21(9), is significantly weaker than Alviarin, but can weave a Gateway unaided. This is also true of Ashamanaille at level 22(10). In contrast, Merilille Ceandevin finds it a source of shame that she must depend on Reanne Corly to weave a Gateway for her, despite Merilille being the same strength as Ashmanaille. Sibella, another Kinswoman, is also at level 22(10) and unable to Travel.
The main way Aes Sedai can get around not being strong enough to Travel is to link with another woman. Note that this option is not available to the Seanchan as they do not know how to create circles. Usually a pair of linked Aes Sedai each with an average strength can provide enough power to open a suitable gateway. In Towers of Midnight, four weak Kinswomen (such as Alise at strength level of 46(34) link to make a gateway of a similar size to those of a linked pair of average-strength Aes Sedai.[verify]
Gateways and their behaviour
Traveling is done through the use of Gateways. They initially appear as a thin vertical light line in the air, which then expands into a rectangular portal. One cannot create a gateway within a gateway. If two gateways are created to the same location, the second gateway will open beside the first, with a small gap between the two.
The edges of a Gateway are razor sharp and can cut through anything except perhaps Cuendillar. While it is generally impossible to open a Gateway inside a solid object, it is possible for it to open in a position where the edges cut into an adjacent object or person. For this reason, the Rebel Aes Sedai, and later the White Tower, have designated Travelling grounds to prevent accidents from happening.
In the Age of Legends, it was etiquette to make a chiming sound with the Power to announce your arrival by Gateway, much as we ring a doorbell to announce we have arrived at somebody's house.
Gateways can be opened horizontally, an innovation developed and used notably by Yukiri Haruna and the Gray Ajah for the chief purpose of spying of gaining a bird's eye view of the battlefield. This allowed Gareth Bryne and others to have a real-time and comprehensive overview of both his troops and those of the enemy, thereby being of immense strategic value. Mat also uses this when he commands the overall forces of the Light.
Male channelers describe the forming of a gateway with saidin as "boring a hole in the Pattern" to the channeler's destination. Instead, forming a gateway with saidar is done by creating a similarity in the Pattern, then stepping through the gateway to the channeler's destination.
As a weapon
Gateways can be used as a weapon is a couple of different ways. Firstly, by deliberately creating the Gateway to slice into the victim (as Sammael does to one of Graendal's servants). Secondly, it can be used against Shadowspawn in the form of Deathgates - rapidly opening and closing horizontal Gateways which spin and move over an area. All Shadowspawn except Gholam die when they pass through a Gateway.
For instance a very talented but weak as Androl can open gateways in few seconds, in vertical and horizontal position, large and short, without the need to "learn" for a while the starting point. All with a precision at the millimeter (he has showed that can cut and shape a piece of leather in his hands, using little gateways. Or open a great horizontal gateway on the floor of a room so all the people in that area fall into it). On the contrary the not very talented people, even if very strong, have difficulties to open a Gateway where it is needed, they have difficulties to locate the starting point (needing more time to "learn" it) and difficulties to open the gateway in the right position of the arriving point.
The weave holding the gateway open can then be tied off temporarily, after which the portal can be used by anybody in the area until it dissipates. If the weaves are left to dissipate, the gateway will shrink back to a single vertical light line and eventually disappear. Using the One Power, it is possible, though difficult, to stop this process after it has started. Asmodean claims that of the ancient Aes Sedai, only Demandred, Semirhage, and Lews Therin Telamon could prevent a gateway from closing.
As was described above it is very important to first memorize/"learn" the location from where you wish to open a gateway and to quicken this process a channeler can hold the source for a while.
It is later revealed there is a trick to elude the need to know very well the starting point of Traveling: in fact a channeler can create a gateway traveling to a very short distance (within eye sight, for instance) without needing to know an area. Then, once he has opened that gateway, he automatically "learns" the area well enough to make a second new gateway to go anywhere.
Shadowspawn cannot survive Travel through a gateway, and are killed upon passing through one. This fact was used by Lews Therin when he seized control of the One Power from Rand al'Thor when he was channeling. Lews Therin used a weave he called Deathgates, moving gateways which open and close rapidly, trapping Shadowspawn.
Limitations, Variations and Exceptions
The chief limitation other than strength is that a channeler needs to know their starting location well to be able to open a Gateway from that location (this is the reverse of Skimming). It is for this reason that Verin Mathwin is stranded for a few days in Trustair until she could learn the location well enough to Travel.
It is also possible to disable the ability for anyone to open a Gateway to or from a defined area. There may be more than one way to do so, but one we see in the books is through the use of a Dreamspike.
True Power Traveling
Traveling with the True Power is described as ripping a hole in the Pattern and stepping outside it entirely, and seems to be inherently destructive, possibly damaging the Pattern permanently. To Moridin's ears, 'the world screamed' as he did it. It does not use gateways; the air seems to warp and distort around users and then they simply vanish. Users of this technique can take others with them by touching them, as Hessalam did with her "pets" at Thakan'dar.
- The Eye of the World, Chapter 21
- The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 31
- The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 6
- The Fires of Heaven, Chapter 55
- Lord of Chaos, Chapter 3
- A Crown of Swords, Chapter 2
- Lord of Chaos, Chapter 37
- A Crown of Swords, Chapter 1
- Towers of Midnight, Chapter 47
- A Memory of Light, Chapter 32
- The Wheel of Time Companion
- A Memory of Light, Chapter 1
- Towers of Midnight, Chapter 31
- A Crown of Swords, Chapter 20