1.4.03: Can Slayer Channel?
[John Novak, Pam Korda, Leigh Butler]
Hopper says that Slayer is in T'A'R "in the flesh." Folks have taken this as evidence that Slayer can channel. There is no reason to suppose this. In fact, there are many reasons to think that he cannot channel.
Why Slayer Cannot Channel
First, we will consider the idea that Slayer can channel the TP, but not the OP. Moghedien believes that you have to be able to channel the OP in order to channel the TP. While she may be mistaken, there is no reason to assume so. Of the 30 people Moggy knows who were permitted to use the TP, all 30 were channelers of the OP. Why should Slayer be different?
Now, for the question of whether Slayer can channel at all. If Slayer could channel when he was in the Two Rivers, why didn't he? It would certainly have aided him in his missions to do away with Fain and Perrin. Even if we assume that he didn't because he would rather fail totally than chance anybody getting suspicious, why didn't he channel at Perrin in T'A'R? [TSR: 53, The Price of a Departure, 614] The only person to see would have been Perrin, and Perrin would have been dead. He used a bloody arrow to try to kill Perrin with. That was the best he could manage.
In the big battle at Emond's Field, the AS, of course, were an advantage to Perrin's side, but if Isam could channel, he could have done something to counter that advantage. He clearly didn't (of course, he'd been shot at that point, but if he could channel, he could have left, gotten somebody to heal him, and returned for the fight).
Finally, this question was answered directly by RJ at a signing. From the post-ACOS signing at Vancouver, 24 August 1996, reported by Lara Beaton: "Slayer: Can't channel. ... He has certain 'gifts' granted to him by the DO, but can't channel either the OP or the TP."
This information is corroborated by Slayer's POV in WH, in which he thinks about how "He could not use Tel'aran'rhiod the way the Chosen could..." [WH: 22, Out of Thin Air, 447], and that he had been given "many gifts" [ibid., 448]. Clearly, then, some of these gifts are his body-switching and traveling abilities in T'A'R, which are something equivalent to, but not the same as, entering T'A'R through a Gateway. We don't know yet what other gifts he has been given.
In the Flesh
Why all the confusion about whether Slayer travels via T'A'R in the flesh? Well, firstly because prior to WH we didn't know there was a way to enter T'A'R in the flesh without using a Gateway, but also because of events in TSR. The first time Perrin sees Slayer in TSR Hopper tells him Slayer is there in the flesh, but the last time - when Perrin shot him - Slayer was evidently there in the old-fashioned way, by dreaming. How do we know this?
Well, the sequence of events goes like this: Perrin is sleeping. Perrin dreams the wolf dream, and sees Slayer (looking like Isam). He shoots Slayer with an arrow, producing a wound in the chest. Then: "Slayer faded, him and his cry together, growing misty, transparent, vanishing." (NOT like he stepped out of T'A'R, as he is described doing in WH, but like he woke up.) Perrin then wakes up, hears a commotion, asks what's going on, and finds out that Luc's just run off on his horse, hunched over like he's got a wound. He was NOT wounded earlier. Now, why would he have to escape from town if he was PHYSICALLY in T'A'R? He could just have run someplace else in T'A'R and exited there. Much easier, and safer. The whole scene is consistent with all the stuff we've heard before about people being wounded while dreaming in T'A'R, and having the wounds on their physical bodies.
So the issue was muddy, to say the least. The obvious question to ask here is if Slayer can step in and out of T'A'R wherever he'd like, why didn't he jump back into T'A'R from the inn after waking up, rather than riding off in the real world?
Two reasons: one, his injuries may have made him too weak to jump back into T'A'R; and two, he thought Perrin was still in T'A'R, waiting to finish him off [Scott Spiegelberg].