Age of Legends

From Tar Valon Library
Jump to: navigation, search

A similar entry appears in the Wheel of Time Companion confirming the information available in the main story arc.

Author: Myriam Drendi

Introduction

The Age of Legends, also known as the Second Age, was a glorious time; it was a time before the Breaking, when there were no wars, miracles were common things, and the world was a wonderful and prosperous place. Men and women channeled side by side, and saidin was clean. The Dark One was unheard of. This was a period of time when crime was almost non-existent, material wealth was not what everyone strove for, and all was at peace. All in all, it would have been an ideal Age to live in. Today, there is not much information on the Age of Legends, as it has been over three thousand years since that Age ended. What little information can be gleaned comes from bits and pieces of records. These provide us with a basic understanding of that Age (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Physical Geography

The basic physical geography during the Age of Legends was completely different than it is in the Third Age. When the Breaking occurred, the land changed drastically. Land became sea, and sea became land. The land folded; what was far away became close together, and what was close together became far away. The entire geography of the world shifted drastically (LoC, Ch. 20).

Shayol Ghul, the current location of the Dark One’s prison, was an idyllic island in a cool sea, a favorite spot of those who enjoyed the rustic (LoC, Prologue).

Before the Breaking, the Sand Hills, which are located in the Two Rivers, were once the shore of a great ocean (TEotW, Ch. 1).

Today, those mountain ranges that existed during the Age of Legends are easy to travel through, as they have passes all over; in contrast, the ranges that rose during the Breaking of the World are difficult to cross. The Damona Mountains, which were formed during the Breaking, are still jagged, with no easy passes (KoD, Ch. 25).

The area where Tar Valon and Dragonmount are now situated was once a flat plain with a single broad river flowing through it. This river has now split into two branches to create the island of Tar Valon (TEotW, Prologue).

Society

In this Age, status and honor took precedence over any sort of material wealth. Everyone wished to serve the community as best they could, and a person’s name reflected their status and honor. Everyone hoped to be able to use their gifts in a way that best served the community, and to be found worthy of that service (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

The General Public

Daily life for everyone was very different in those times. It was possible to “live” stories in one's home, entertainment was brought directly to people's houses through a three-dimensional imaging process, and live or pre-recorded programs took on a lifelike form and quality. View-walls, which displayed various images, were also used for entertainment. If you needed to talk to someone, it was possible to contact anyone who had a call unit, and to then see that person or their logo as a three-dimensional figure. All that was needed was a code.

Even though people were born with two names, a person could earn a third name through accomplishment in a myriad of fields. Aes Sedai were given the most status and honor, because of their ability to channel the One Power, which also meant they could offer the greatest service to the community. Aes Sedai, in turn, were served by the Da'shain Aiel of that time (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

The Aes Sedai

Aes Sedai were rare during the Age of Legends, though they are rarer now. Since the ability to channel is recessive, only two or three percent of the population possessed it. This made their services even more sought after and unique. Even so, Aes Sedai still had to earn their third name. To this day, their symbol still remains the same: a circle, half white and half black, with the colors separated by a sinuous line down the middle (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Oddly enough, most Aes Sedai chose professions that often had little or nothing to do with the One Power at all. However, there were certain professions that were dominated by Aes Sedai. Healing, for example, was done much more efficiently with the One Power, as no herb cure or surgery could match its efficiency. In the Age of Legends, only severing and death were incurable, and when people died from other causes other than old age, it was because they were not able to reach an Aes Sedai Restorer in time. The average life expectancy for a person was between 150-200 years. For Aes Sedai, it was considerably longer (since the One Power enhanced the channeler’s body), and some were even recorded as having lived seven hundred years or more. Mining was another profession that was for those Aes Sedai who were strong in Earth. They were able to find and extract pure ores from the earth without damaging the land or changing its structure. They were also able to create much stronger alloys (substances made of two or more metals, or a mix of a metal and a nonmetal) than those constructed otherwise, which were then used for various purposes (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 2; TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

The Aes Sedai during this time had a very general sort of organization. They had their own governing structure through the Hall of the Servants, which was the core of the guild that regulated everyone who could channel. The Hall mainly set and enforced rules pertaining to channelers. There were very detailed rules of conduct and procedures, as Aes Sedai commonly worked in groups. Any law or punishment for Aes Sedai was dealt with strictly inside the guild. Not much more is known, other than the fact that the head of the guild was usually given the title “First Among Servants”, and sat on the High Seat. Lews Therin Telamon, toward the end of the Age, wore the Ring of Tamyrlin, and summoned the Nine Rods of Dominion. Detailed descriptions of the Ring and the Rods have been lost, but it is clear that they held great power. Some believe that the current Oath Rod may have been one of the original Nine Rods of Dominion, although it is not a known fact. The Aes Sedai during this time had great power, and were given much prestige and respect. Their guild had branches everywhere that Aes Sedai resided. In large cities, they congregated in an impressive building, but in smaller towns and villages, they met in a house that was dedicated to that purpose. The main Hall of the Servants, which was located in the capital city, Paaran Disen, was truly a sight to behold. It was once described as having “massive columned entrances, large ornate doorways, and polished floors of glowing white elstone” (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

The Da’shain Aiel

The Da’shain Aiel served the Aes Sedai during the Age of Legends. They were sworn to a covenant that bound them to serve the “servants of all” and to uphold the Way of the Leaf, a pacifistic code of honor. Each Aiel was pledged to serve a particular Aes Sedai, though some Aes Sedai were served by more than one Aiel. Their service and loyalty earned these Aiel a certain respect, second only to that commanded by the Aes Sedai. The Da’shain Aiel wore their hair short, except for a ponytail in the back. They usually wore plain coats, breeches, and soft-laced boots, in shades of brown or gray. Even though it is not certain if the Da’shain Aiel could channel or not, it’s clear that they could often enhance the channeling of others (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Culture

Clothing

Fabrics during that time consisted mostly of natural fibres, but some materials like streith and fancloth were entirely artificial. Streith was a shimmering material, normally white, that was able to change its color and opacity to suit the mood of the wearer. Fancloth was used to create a camouflage effect, and was able to duplicate its surroundings so accurately as to make the wearer appear invisible. Both were used in high-fashion garments. While these fabrics still exist today, they are quite rare, and fancloth is only used for very practical applications, such as a fancloak, which Warders now use (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Architecture

The architecture during the Age of Legends showed how the people during that time intertwined aesthetics and functionality, especially in the major cities. The city of V'saine was best known as being the home of the great university, Collam Daan. The university itself was bested only by the Sharom (a great white sphere 1,000 feet in diameter) that floated above it. Together, these two places were the world’s foremost center for research and development. It may seem impractical to suspend a giant library high in the air, but the designers did it because they could, and the Sharom celebrated the triumph of their art (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

The immense glass, crystal, and metal structures in the coastal city of Comelle clung to the steep rock, and looked like flowers bursting from stone. The city of Adanza was described as “thriving with a vitality matched only by the vitality of its people.” Even the smallest of the major cities, Tzora, was known for its glittering, multihued glass towers, which were made in a variety of geometric shapes (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Paaran Disen, the crown jewel of all the cities and the central seat of government, contained pieces of architectural genius within its spires and towers, and also the Hall of Servants with it columns and shimmering elstone (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Select use of the One Power in each city allowed every artistic whim to be satisfied and left no artist wanting. Variations on geometric and organic shapes were favored, with gardens, trees, and fountains woven in between. Silvery towers that stretched so high, they seemed to be touching the sky, were interrupted every so often with domes and arches that had inset colored glass and glowed rainbow colors. Between the structures, ribbonlike monorails and walkways hung suspended in the air, delicate and beautiful at the same time. It was as if someone had made an effort to lace the structures together. Every city was a wonder to behold, and pleasing to the eye (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

The Arts

Little is known about the arts in the Age of Legends, but artists such as Ceran Tol (LoC, Ch. 23) and Cormalinde Masoon (KoD, Ch. 3) are known. Likewise, nothing is known of Daien dancers, other than they had appealing bodies ({prol6}}).

Government and Economy

This entire society was supported by a stable, worldwide economy - one that gave the greatest rewards for the greatest service. The Aes Sedai played important roles, but since their numbers were so few, the majority of the jobs were left open to non-channelers. Even though financial gain was not hard to come by, it mattered very little, since most material things were plentiful. Individuals gained financial reward based on their work and how it contributed to society. Every single person earned enough to ensure a comfortable living, even in the least-valued positions. There was no poverty, and everyone had a place to serve. There was a worldwide parliament, or council, which was made up of democratically elected officials. Aes Sedai were often elected to this council, and very influential, but not necessarily in charge (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Even though crime and violence levels were very low, they were not unheard of. Society at the time did not believe in putting restraints of any type unless it was absolutely necessary. When someone was caught who was committing or had committed a violent act, they were constrained in some form, which made it impossible for them to repeat the offense. Since there was no poverty, extreme financial inequality, or starvation, there was no motive for conflict. Greed and jealously were eliminated, as status was more important than financial gain anyway. The Aes Sedai during this time seldom used the One Power for personal gain, because they knew that serving others would give them greater rewards. Conflicts rarely went beyond arguments, and even those were quickly solved by mediation. Everyone lived in a state of harmony. War was unheard of until the very end of the Age (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3)

Technology

Technology during the Age of Legends, both mechanical and agricultural, was very advanced. Since Aes Sedai were so rare, the One Power had to be used wisely. They spent most of their energy designing and creating the technology, and then technicians constructed and repaired it. From them it went straight to the customers. Power-based technology created a clean and non-polluted environment. There was no pollution from refining, transport, or industry, as waste-by-products could be dispersed on a sub molecular level (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Mechanical Technology

Most people preferred to walk, probably because of the nice state of the environment, except when locations were too far apart or burdens too heavy. Or, as in the case of the Sharom, special transportation was needed (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Large multi-passenger vehicles that used a special kind of antigravity technology handled most short-range mass transport. Jo-cars, jumpers, and hoverflies had a smaller passenger and cargo capacity. Jo-cars either had a nice, efficient four-wheel design, or a type of hovercraft technology if it was designed to float. Jumpers and hovercrafts could float suspended above the ground at various distances, and the smooth, paved roads made travel easy for everyone (TSR, Ch. 26;TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

The sho-wing (an airborne vehicle available in different types and sizes) handled most long-range transport. However, the sho-wing was capable of both long and short distance flights, sometimes at high speeds. The craft model was derived from a basic delta-wing pattern, which was varied to fit the needs of each individual purpose. Some sho-wings were very large, carrying many passengers, and some were quite small, designed for personal use only. All over-seas travel of any kind was done by sho-wings (TSR, Ch. 26; WH, Ch. 13; TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Hovercrafts had the ability to hover in place for an extended period of time. They could only hold two people, so they didn’t carry passengers all that often. Hovercrafts probably acted as a support unit in the military. In turn, they could probably perform deft manoeuvres that a sho-wing could not, most notably, fly backwards or any other direction (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

For those who could channel, mechanical means of transportation were unnecessary. They used Traveling, which was a process that opened a doorway to allow the channeler to step from one location to another using the One Power. Traveling is different for men and women. Men use the Power to bore a hole through the Pattern from their location to their destination, whereas women create a similarity in the Pattern from their location to their destination. When the two places have become similar enough at one spot, the places become one, and the woman can simply step through. Attempting to Travel using the method of the other gender leads to tragic results. Once a gateway was formed, anyone could pass through the opening created, but only an Aes Sedai could make it and hold the doorway. It was convenient but impractical for the general public. Those who were less adept often used Skimming. Skimming involved the use of platforms or steps in the void outside the pattern to transfer a person from location to location. Some people in the Age even traveled to other worlds - both in the stars, and on other dimensions. Portal Stones allowed traveling to other worlds, but it is doubtful that any other than Aes Sedai used them, as both skill and strength in the Power are needed to activate them. There are even some indications that Portal Stones may pre-date the Age of Legends (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Heat exchangers indoors maintained a constant temperature in the room, no matter what the weather was like. Glowbulbs provided light without need of recharging or replacement (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3). Another light source was the sar-light, but it is one that was apparently very fragile (TFoH, Prologue).

The energy that was needed to propel vehicles and operate devices was dispersed through a broadcast process that made the energy available to anyone who had the proper receiving equipment (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Artifacts and extremely perishable items were stored and preserved in a stasis box. Time ceased to pass for objects within the box once it was activated (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Weapons were very different during this time. The basic weapon was the shocklance, which was a long-range weapon firing energy to disrupt the target. There were most likely different forms of this weapon. The shocklance was a very precise weapon, and could kill an unarmored person in one shot (WH, Ch. 13; TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 4).

Aes Sedai during this time made many ter'angreal, sa'angreal, and angreal, some of which are still in use today. The art for making these has been lost, and none have been made since then except for a'dam, and the ter’angreal Elayne has made (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Agricultural Technology

The One Power was also used in agricultural farming. Using the One Power helped the farmland yield the most it could. Using “seed singing”, Ogier, Nym (the last of which is known as the Green Man) and Da’shain Aiel worked together, focusing the One Power to ensure perfect growth for every field they “sang.” The Da’shain Aiel helped enhance the singing. Crops that had been sung were immune to blight and impervious to insects. Most of the crops that had been sung reached their best possible growth and highest nutritional content. Aes Sedai also used ter’angreal to manipulate the weather to the best advantage. As a result, droughts, floods, and other natural disasters were virtually unknown (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Aes Sedai did a lot of the technology research and development at the time. One avenue of research they went down led them to the development of living constructs made with and/or able to utilize the One Power. Chora trees were made this way. They had large, green trefoil leaves, which gave off an aura of peace and well-being to any who passed beneath them. They lined the pavements of the streets and walkways, giving both shade and contentment. It was said that during the Age a city without chora trees would seem bleak as a wilderness. The Nym were another construct that was created. They were beings that were able to utilize the One Power for the benefit of plants and growing things. Anywhere that a Nym touched, plants and growing things thrived and flourished (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3)


Testing for the One Power

Since only two are three percent of the population in the Age of Legends could channel, Aes Sedai tested young people regularly to find people with the “spark”. The testing they offered was not mandatory, but few people passed up this opportunity, and it required no previous preparation or study. Of course, the male and female halves functioned differently, and manifested themselves at different ages (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Generally speaking, females displayed the ability to learn how to channel earlier than their male counterparts. Females usually displayed the ability anywhere from age twelve or thirteen all the way to twenty-one. After twenty-one, the “spark” would not show if it had not already. Candidates were encouraged to test more than once, since the ability could show up at any time. There were some people who still tested positive, and had never tested before getting their first test during the twenties or much later. However, these were relatively few, and most people who had the “spark” knew at an earlier age. Due to the differences in saidar and saidin, the tester for females had to be female. The tester could feel the inborn ability to channel and relative strength of another female channeler within five or ten feet. It was necessary to establish a resonance to find those who had the ability to learn. The female Aes Sedai drew on the One Power to channel a small flame, but then it was up to the person being tested to try and feel the flow. If she could, that meant that she had the ability to learn. At that point, the tester could also feel the candidate, and immediately known her potential strength (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

For males, the process was a little harder. Males who had the ability to learn gave off a resonance whenever saidin was channeled close enough. Another male channeler could feel this resonance, but only when he himself was also embracing saidin. The candidate himself also usually felt nothing. The tester usually channeled a small flame, and waited to see if he could feel the resonance from the candidate. If the candidate was focused on the flame, it could take ten to twenty minutes. If he was not, it could take as long as thirty minutes for the resonance to be felt. If the candidate was very resistant, it could take up to an hour, but it would eventually be felt (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

In both cases, the tester had to be careful to only use a very small amount of the Power, so the candidate would avoid damage or burnout. If the candidate passed the testing, he or she was sent away to a special school to be trained as Aes Sedai. It was free to those who qualified. At the time, it was a great honor to be sent to the school (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 3).

Characters from the Age of Legends

Main article: Age of Legends Character List

Aside from the Forsaken, we know of a handful of other characters

Legacy

The Age of Legends was a very important time in history, and it left behind a great deal, both in items and knowledge. The city of Rhuidean, where the last surviving chora tree was planted, still stands, although none but the Aiel know its location (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 20). A ter’angreal stands in the city, where all Aiel clan-chiefs and Wise Ones must go (TGH, Ch. 28). In the city of Whitebridge in Andor, the White Bridge has stood since the Age of Legends – another remarkable artifact (TEotW, Ch. 26). The two most powerful sa'angreal ever made, the Choedan Kal, also date back to the Age of Legends. It is said that the two sa’angreal working together can hold enough of the Power to destroy the entire world, and some believed that either one could accomplish the task on its own. One is tuned to saidar, and the other to saidin. The male statue is now located near the village of Tremonsien, and the female statue stands on the island of Tremalking (TGH, Ch. 20; Ch. 31; TSR, Ch. 9). Many talents, such as ter’angreal making and Flying, have been lost, but some are being rediscovered presently (LoC, Prologue; Ch. 30). Cuendillar, also known as Heartstone, was created during this time, and any attempt to break it would be absorbed, making it stronger. The seals on the Dark One’s prison are made of cuendillar, and recently Egwene has learned how to change things to cuendillar, thanks to Moghedien (CoT, Ch. 17).

References

Age of Legends References