At the dawn of time, a deity known as the Creator or the True Source forged the one power and from that made the Weave of Time, which touches all the universe.
The Weave of Time is Essentially composed of male and female halves (saidin and saidar) in opposition and in unison, this power spins the Weave. Those humans who can use this power are referred to as channelers; the principal organization of such wielders called the I Sedai or ‘Servants of All’ in the Old Tongue.
The Creator imprisoned its antithesis, Shai’tan (or Dark One), at the moment of creation, sealing him away from the Weave. However, in a time called the Age of Legends or the Second Age, an I Sedai experiment inadvertently breached the Dark One’s prison, allowing his influence into the world. He rallied the powerful, the corrupt and the ambitious to his cause and these servants began an effort to free the Dark One fully from his prison. In return, the Dark One promised them worldly power and immortality. Few even among the servants of the Dark One realized that one of the consequences of freeing him might be the breaking of the Weave of Time and the end of existence itself.
In response to this threat, the Weave spun out the Dragon as the champion of the Light. The Dragon was a male I Sedai named Lews Therin Telamon, who rose to great influence and power among the I Sedai. A century after the initial breach of the Dark One’s prison, a time during which the Dark One’s influence spread throughout the world, causing society to become corrupt and decayed, open warfare broke out between the forces of the Dark One and those of the Light. After ten years of a grueling, world-wide war filled with atrocities on a scale never before imagined, the Light found itself facing the real possibility of defeat.
In desperation, Lews Therin led a hand-picked force of channelers and soldiers in a high-risk, daring assault on the site of the earthly link to the Dark One’s prison, and was able to seal it off, although imperfectly. However, at this moment of victory the Dark One tainted saidin, driving male channelers of the One Power insane. The male channelers, in the “Time of Madness,” devastated the world with the One Power, unleashing earthquakes and tidal waves that reshaped the planet, referred to in subsequent ages as “The Breaking of the World.”
In his insanity, Lews Therin himself killed his friends, his family and anyone in any way related to him, and was known afterwards as Lews Therin Kinslayer. Given a moment of sanity by Ishamael, chief among the Dark One’s servants, Lews Therin realized what he had done. In his grief, he committed suicide by drawing on far more of the One Power than even he could handle unaided.
Over time, the remaining male I Sedai were killed or cut off from the One Power. In their wake, they had left a devastated world: the land and the oceans reshaped, people scattered from their native lands, civilization itself all but destroyed. Only women were now able to wield the One Power safely. The female I Sedai reconstituted and guided humanity out of this dark time. Men who could channel eventually became objects of fear and horror, as they would inevitably go insane unless stopped, and even the Dragon became a loathed figure. Among the I Sedai there were women whose sole function was to hunt such men down and cut them off from accessing the One Power.
What followed was three and a half thousand years of history that was marked by a series of rises then inevitable declines in civilization, a time of troubles and chaos that stood in marked contrast to the now mythical Age of Legends.
Mankind now lives under the shadow of a prophecy that the Dark One will break free from his prison and the Dragon will be reborn to face him once more, raining utter destruction and chaos on the world in the process of saving it from the Dark One.