The exact nature of Oathgates remains unknown, and they are widely thought to be a myth by the people of Roshar.
In the distant past, Oathgates were located throughout Roshar and were the means by which the Knights Radiant traveled from various locales to Urithiru, where the orders of the Radiants were centered. With their betrayal of humankind on the Day of Recreance, over time, the Oathgates ceased to function. Whether from lack of use or lack of necessity isn't known, though Shallan thinks that they may have been sealed.*
The only known functioning Oathgate on Roshar is capable of transporting massive numbers of people from Stormseat (the former capital of Natanatan), called Narak by the Parshendi, at the center of the Shattered Plains, to Urithiru, which is located within the mountains south of the Purelake in the center of the continent.
Just why this Oathgate is still operational or hasn't been sealed isn't known, but such was suspected by Jasnah, who researched its history and imparted her suppositions to her ward, Shallan. Shallan then followed up on her mentor's research, reclaimed her past and, in so doing, realized that by summoning her living Shardblade and ramming it into the slot of the Oathgate's operating mechanism, she was able to discern the procedure for making the Oathgate 'work'.
Prior to this novel's end, many teleportations of former residents within the various warcamps of the highprinces have taken place and most Alethi, formerly in the Shattered Plains, are now ensconced in Urithiru (though they don't really know this or the legendary city's history). What they know is that they're safe from the Parshendi ... but the Everstorm looms.
Dalinar believes that the Oathgates are the key to fighting the people's mutual enemy on Roshar. In protecting the cities with Oathgates, he believes that the people can be more mobile than the Voidbringers, despite that they are everywhere.
When Navani writes something via spanreed to Thaylen City from the control building of the Oathgate to that city within Urithiru, the building itself flashes a moment later - a ring of Stormlight running around it, like the afterimage of a firebrand being waved in the dark.
She observes that, with the help of a Radiant on either end, paired Oathgates across Roshar will be able to be unlocked and utilized.
When Veil approached it, two guards were dressed as flamespren, with golden and red tassels. Their muscular builds, and the two spears set near the steps, hinted those men might have been soldiers before joining the cult.
Kaladin tells his companions that the Oathgate in Thaylen City is open and working. That he and Shallan saw to that. And that since the Oathgate in Kholinar brought them to Shadesmar, theoretically another - one that isn't corrupted by the Unmade - could get them back.
The Oathgate at Narak is a perfectly circular plateau amongst the jagged and broken plateaus about which it is surrounded, which were created by some sort of disaster. It is obvious to both Shallan and Renarin that this plateau already existed before the disaster and that when it occurred, the plateau remained.
|“||"On the old maps it was a raised section, like a giant pedestal. When the Plains were broken, it remained this way."||”|
–Shallan to Renarin
The control building at the center of the platform of the Oathgate at Urithiru to Thaylen City is described as being shaped like the others - mosaics on the floor, keyhole mechanism in the curved wall. The patterns on the floor, however, are glyphs in the Dawnchant. This building is identical to the one in Thaylen City - and, when engaged, will swap places with that one.
The glyphs on the floor indicate that that it might be possible to transport directly from one city to another without coming to Urithiru first.
The control mechanism to this Oathgate is a keyhole, which is in the center of a ten-pointed star on a metal plate. Navani confirms that it is the same as the one to the Shattered Plains.
In Thaylen City, the platform that surrounds the Oathgate there has been turned into a sculpture garden ... but most of the sculptures lay toppled and broken. Still, it is high up in the city and gives an excellent view.
There is one located in the capital of each of the Silver Kingdoms. There is one in Azimir, the capital of Azir. One hidden in the capital of Shinovar. Another in the capital of Babatharnam, and a fourth in Rall Elorim in Iri. Yet another in Rira, which Jasnah thought was in the city of Kurth. A sixth was lost in Aimia when its island was destroyed. Vedenar in Jah Keved makes seven. Thaylen City in Thaylenah is eight. Then Narak in the Shattered Plains. And the last one is in Kholinar in Alethkar. Ten platforms in Urithiru, ten platforms across the world.
In order to illuminate these locations, Shallan places her freehand against a map upon a wall. As Stormlight pours off her, the map becomes vibrant in a swirling tempest of Light. The Stormlight streams off the map upon the wall and passes between her and Dalinar. The Light swirls in the chamber and becomes another, larger map - floating at about table height - in the center of the room. Mountains grow up like furrows in a piece of cloth pressed together. Vast plains shine green from vines and fields of grass. Barren stormward hillsides grow splendid shadows of life on the leeward sides. The topography of the landscape becomes real.
Having seen via Shallan's map, Dalinar determines that since there are ten cities, ten kingdoms, and ten Oathgates connecting them from long ago, that this is how they'll fight the enemy. That this is how they'll begin. That they'll start with the simple step of protecting the cities with Oathgates.
Two enormous spren stand above the Oathgate here as sentinels, standing tall as buildings, reminiscent of statues in armor. One is mother-of-pearl, the other black with a variegated oily shimmer.
|“||"We are the gatekeepers," the two enormous spren said to Shallan, speaking with voices that overlapped, as if one. Though their mouths did not move, the voices reverberated through Shallan. "Lightweaver, you have no permission to use this portal."
"But I need to get through," Shallan cried up to them. "I have Stormlight to pay!"
"Your payment will be refused. We are locked by the word of the parent."
"Your parent? Who?"
"The parent is dead now."
"So ... ."
"We are locked. Travel to and from Shadesmar was prohibited during the parent's last days. We are bound to obey."
–Oathgatespren to Shallan
These spren claimed that they were bound by Honor, by rules which spren cannot break. Yet they state that their portal is closed. When asked why they let others through (i.e., the army that stood there earlier: the souls of the dead), these spren replied that those others did not need their portal. Further, that they were called by the enemy, pulled along ancient paths to waiting hosts. Further still, they stated that the living cannot do the same; that one must seek the perpendicularity to transfer.
These enormous spren then cocked their heads in concert and apologized, indicating that they had been alone a very long time. Still ...
|“||"We would enjoy granting passage to men again. But we cannot do that which was forbidden."||”|
–Oathgatespren to Shallan
The only way to use an Oathgate is to infuse the gemstones located within the center temple of the gate with Stormlight and use a Shardblade to direct where one wants to go. Shardblades bonded to dead spren, however, do not work.
Though those from the warcamps bring recharged spheres, activating the Oathgate takes a great deal of Stormlight, depending on how many people are brought through. Lighting the lamps in the room at the center of the Oathgate is merely the minimum amount needed to start the device - bringing many people partially drains the infused gemstones they carry as well.
Further, each use of the device uses an incredible amount of Stormlight, so teleportations need to be spaced accordingly to accommodate the number of infused gemstones available.
Only an active, full Knight Radiant can work the control buildings at the center of each Oathgate platform, initiating the teleportation.
When Malata inserts her Blade into the keyhole of the gate in Urithiru, the metal of the plate therein shifts and flows, matching the shape of the Blade. As she pushes against the side of the Blade's hilt, the inner wall of the control building rotates. The floor underneath the mosaics glows, illuminating them like stained glass. She then stops her Blade at the proper position, and - a flash of light later - she and Dalinar arrive at the platform in Thaylen City.
It isn't yet known just how it might be possible to transport directly from one city to another without coming to Urithiru first. For now, each gate can swap only with its twin, and they have to first be unlocked from both sides by a Radiant.
Further, the greater the number of people to be teleported in a single attempt, the more Stormlight is required.
|“||"Transferring only the control buildings, instead of the entire platform, should save us Stormlight."||”|
* It is known that nine of the ten Oathgates were sealed, though by what means or by whom remains unknown.
- Oathbringer, 1. Broken And Divided
- The Way of Kings, 19. Starfalls
- The Way of Kings, 52. A Highway to the Sun
- Words of Radiance, 60. Veil Walks
- Words of Radiance, 86. Patterns Of Light
- Oathbringer, 8. A Powerful Lie
- Oathbringer, 58. Burdens
- Oathbringer, 67. Mishim
- Oathbringer, 78. The Revel
- Oathbringer, 83. Crimson To Break
- Oathbringer, 97. Riino
- Words of Radiance, 83. Time's Illusion
- Oathbringer, 116. Alone
- Words of Radiance, 89. The Four