Portal Stones (Old)
The Portal Stones fascinate me. I think it's a pity RJ hasn't started to use them more, even though Skimming and Travelling has been rediscovered.
All of the stuff here is compiled using only my memories from reading the series once. I'm sorry for any obvious mistakes, but there is only so much information that is able to seep into my peanut-sized tephlon-brain (teflon? you know the kind of stuff that nothing sticks to, used in many cookpots). And, please bare with any spelling errors . . . I'm still not speaking english natively . . . and writing even less . . .
- 5 stones in a circle, standing upright about 7-8 feet tall (Stonehenge-fashion).
1. *Each stone is covered with markings, no two markings the same. These marking are organized in such fashion that the lowest ones are actual locations in this world, while the farther up you get, the more alternate the world you get. I tend to believe each marking are either: separated hexagonal in shape. 2. some sort of chinese-like characters.
In any case, each marking defines one destination each. Furthermore, the lowermost markings represent destinations in this world. While markings further up on the stones, represent locations in other "mirrored" worlds, where things have gone other paths than they have in this world.
For example, the destination "Falme" on Toman's Head, is represented on every Portal Stone EXCEPT on the Stone ON Toman's Head.
- Someplace, most likely in "the Great Hunt", I seem to remember Lanfear or Verin said something about "the nearer to the ground you get, the more alike our own world is the world you go to." and "The lowermost row of sigils represents places in this world"
("The Great Hunt Ch.37 Pg.525 last paragraph (paperback)) Verin sighed. "The symbols at the bottom indicate Stones at other places. If you know the trick of it, you could take us, not to this same Stone in another world, but to one of those others there, or even to one of them here. It was something akin to Traveling, I think, but just as no one remembers how to Travel, no one remembers the trick..." (Thanks alot, Daria al'Falccon, for finding the quote for me.)
As you can see, I wasn't too far off the bullseye. I was actually using me own words, instead of the quote. Verin DID have an idea, though, of how to go from Cairhien to Falme. She might have told the truth, that "noone remembers the trick", but she might have figured out the trick by herself, thereby not lying, only "omitting the full truth", as they are all very good at. How would she know which sigil was the Falme-representative, otherwise? 2. Known Locations:
- The Portal Stones are known to exist in or around these areas in the Known World (not counting the Seanchan continent) Tear - About two hours ride from the capital
- Rhuidean - On the hillside above the city in the Threefold Land
- Cairhien - Just outside the City
- Falme - At the base of the Tomans Head peninsula
- Kinslayer's Dagger - In the foothills
- Miscellaneous - One just a few miles south of the Shienar southern border
- The reason I don't list the known Stones on the Seanchan continent, is simply that I dont know their locations.
- Otherwise, there is very likely to be some Stone in Shara, and on the Island of the Mad, although noone has been to those parts of the world, and returned to tell about the locations of any of their Stones. Not that I've heard about, in any case.
- Exactly how to use these stones, I don't remember seeing any clear description. I believe though, that the user must lay one hand on the marking representing his or her destination point, then channel a bit of Saidin/Saidar into the marking. It seems, though, that the Stones only need Spirit to trigger.
When Rand first used the portal stones, it was by accident, and in his sleep. This incident is described in book two, "The Great Hunt". Rand used a stone for a pillow, or he fell asleep when sitting with his back to one. In any case, he touched the Portal Stone and he ended up in an "alternate world", where things had taken a different path than they had in the "real" world. This does indicate the Portal Stones uses Spirit, as Spirit is the only thread that can be used while sleeping. (I hereby choose to not believe Lanfear was in the area when this happened.)
Rand's next attempt at using the portal stones, was also in "The Great Hunt", when he had to move from Cairhien to Falme. This attempt was a successful failure, even though Rand and his party got to Falme, they lost three months, due to Rand's inexperience with Saidin.
In book four, "The Shadow Rising", Rand again used the portal stones. This time to move a great party from Tear to Rhuidean in the the Aiel Waste. By this time, Rand had got hold of an angreal, and used it to draw (barely) enough power to get the party through.
From all of these examples, it's suggested that the more stuff to be moved from here to there, the more of the One Power must be used. 4. Why were they made?
The portal Stones are old, and it is believed they date from an age before the Age of Legends. But why? Seems to me people at that time needed to travel a lot, and even if they knew Skimming and/or Traveling at the time, there certainly were people not strong enough in the One Power that could use any of those options. By the series, it seems the Portal Stones require very little of the One Power to operate, at least when compared to Travelling and Skimming, and, they might only need Spirit. Rands first conscious attempt at using the Stones, when moving from Cairhien to Falme, was an "unsuccessful success," as he lost three or four months in the doing. Rand had not yet developed the necessary control of Saidin to channel very well, and he might have used all five elements when he channeled into the Portal Stone, instead of only Spirit, which I believe is the answer to the timeloss. In the series, Spirit is the only thread of the One Power you can channel when sleeping. And Rand's first usage of the Portal Stones were in his sleep, AND, at the time, he couldn't even channel very well. He didn't even KNOW he could channel, even though Moiraine had told him he was the Dragon Reborn. This, Rand didn't believe. He thought it was an "Aes Sedai Scam," as just about everything that had to do with the Tower was. (In his mind, that is) So, it seems thePortal Stones were created with people weak in the Power in mind. Why would they bother to create if "everyone" was strong enough to Skim and/or Travel? Or maybe the Stones were created before they discovered Skimming and Traveling? Also, what are those markings? To me, I think of some sort of chinese-like, because each marking is a different destination, and each chinese "letter" is a different word. I belive that the markings were maybe part of the ancient language, they used back in the time when the portal stones were created. 5: What can these Stones be used for?
I believe the Stones can be used for a great deal of things. Like I said in the intro here, "to move troups behind enemy lines". This does indicate, though, that whoever "operates" the Stones, they must know the sigil that represents the destination stone. This can be accomplished, although you need some time (and maybe a White/Brown Sister working together). All we need, is for someone to copy the lowermost row of sigils of each Stone at each location. Then compare with other sigils from other stones.
If there is, on each "set" of stones, one sigil missing, if you find that sigil on another stone, you have the sigil-representation of the first one. Or, said in a better way, the sigil missing on this stone, is present on every other stone.
I can see at least one major advantage by using the Portal Stones instead of Traveling for moving a great army: When Traveling, the Channeler must hold Saidin/Saidar for as long as the Travelling Gate is needed. In my example of Rand moving from Tear to Rhuidean, he'd need to hold Saidin a very long time. By using the Portal Stones, the Channeler can let go the very same same instant he/she has reached the destination, or a just a few seconds after. This will also make them harder to find, as a "flash" like that is gone in a second, while holding the Gate is like a lighthouse for ships.
The Portal Stones could be used to move armies around, and they should be quite easy to spot, if you know what to look for. Rand and CO could use them for an invasion of Seanchan, or the Land of the Madmen, or to move behind enemy lines in the blight. Or even to fetch some s'redit and other creatures for use by themselves, thereby denying the Seanchan that advantage. Say, the Asha'man could use them to move closer to one of the Forsaken, without taking the risk of being detected for their use of the One Power. As opposed to Travelling, where they have to hold on to the One Power for an extended period of time, to get the armies through, by using the Portal Stones, they can release the hold of the One Power, as soon as they're through, AND, they have the whole army there instantly.