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A fan asked about the versatility of the Royal Locks.
He replied that "they could go to non-natural colors." However, he pointed out that this would require a greater understanding of the power.
Vivenna's Thoughts on Being a Drab
A lot of what happened to Vivenna—how she saw the world and how she acted—was influenced by being a Drab. As I've said before, the Hallandren aren't right when they say losing your Breath does nothing to you. Most Drabs struggle with depression, and the fact that they're almost always sick doesn't help either.
And so, Vivenna's time on the streets was artificially made more dreary and terrible than it truly was. Being a Drab, being sick, the shock of being betrayed—these things combined to give you the person you saw in the previous two chapters. It's a way to cut a corner. I wanted Vivenna to feel like she'd been on the streets for months, but for it only to have been a few weeks.
She is able to make her hair change colors again. This is a representation of the fact that she has started to pull out of the nightmare. She's slightly in control of her world again, and the roughest time for her has passed. There's also a clue in that hair, one that Vasher mentions. Because of it, and her heritage, and something very mysterious in the past, every member of the royal line has a fraction of a divine Returned Breath in them. That makes it much easier for them to learn to Awaken than a normal person.
I wanted a good, strong scene where we could see that Siri made the decision to keep her hair in check. Again, I'm moving her and Vivenna into different roles, but I want it to be natural, an evolution of their characters brought on by who they are and how their surroundings affect them.
In this case, living in the Court of Gods, there is a very good reason to learn to control your hair. If many are like Treledees, who is of the Third Heightening, then even the most minute changes in your hair color will tip them off.
This is one of the interactions of the magic system that was nice to connect, an interaction I didn't expect or anticipate. With a lot of Breath, you can perceive very slight changes in color. With the Royal Locks, your hair responds to even your slightest emotions. Put the two together, and you get this scene. It was, in a way, inevitable from the beginning of the book.
Siri has come a long way. She's still stumbling about and making a lot of mistakes. But she's also winning some victories. There's nothing hidden to learn about this chapter; she really did just one-up Treledees and get what she wanted.
You've said that, AI in the cosmere, creating one is kind of like having a child realmatically. Would that extend to most sapient creations?
So could a created spren from a Returned inherit Royal Locks? Within a reasonable possibility?
*ahhing in a very curious manner* You could make this happen, but I don't think it would happen naturally.
Only Potential Heirs of Idris Have Royal Locks
This is true. It's not a matter of genetics, but lineage. That's a subtle distinction. Only the children of the person who ends up inheriting will have the Royal Locks. (Though there are a couple of notable exceptions to this, they won't show up in this book, as it will take another novel to explain why and how the Royal Locks really work. If I ever write a sequel, that should be in it.)
This factoid about the Royal Locks should be one of several hints about the lineage of the Idrian crown. There is something odd about their heritage.
You've stated before that Denth's ability to change is hair color is independent of him being Returned? So meaning he has the Royal Locks. Are Siri and Vivenna descended from him, or just a separate line of the same family tree?
I will RAFO that. But he does have the Royal Locks, so you can at least assume that they're related, at the very least.
Can male members of the Idrian royal family and or Returned grow out their facial hair at will? If so, can this lead to epic beard competitions?
The hair color, is there a link between the hair color in Warbreaker and the hair color in, with, like the Alethi always have black, and I can't remember the other country that always have gold hair coloring?
Yes. You are noticing something very interesting which was done deliberately.
You said in the Warbreaker annotations that Denth has the Royal Locks separate from being a Returned, as part of the royal line. Does Shashara also have the royal locks?
Um… That would be a valid guess.
I love the concept of the hair changing colors, how did you think of that? How did you get the idea?
So with Warbreaker I knew I wanted color to be a big theme, and so I wanted a way it manifests in some of the characters, if that makes sense. So that's where it began. I eventually settled on the color, because I knew that I was going [to be having some of the characters change shapes,] because the Returned change and transform, and so I used that kind of hair as a metaphor for that.
In the Stormlight Archive we saw the sword from Warbreaker and we also know that the royal line can change more than just their hair, will that come into play?
They can! What’s that?
...will that come into play?
That will come into play, keep your eyes open.
Does Denth have the Royal Locks, independent of his being a Returned?
Yes. (Good question.)
After finishing Oathbringer I started a reread of Warbreaker and noticed something.
Page 427 of Warbreaker:
Susebron: "Didn't you eat before you came to my chambers?"
Siri: "I did, but growing that much hair is draining. It always leaves me hungry."
Sounds similar to our favorite Edgedancer, but I thought she was supposed to be one of a kind on the whole getting Investiture through food? I'm assuming the Royal Locks have something to do with Investiture.
FWIW, i asked this question in my Warbreaker book and got RAFO
So in war beaker Siri is able to convert food directly into hair growth through the Royal Locks, we know that the Royal Locks are somehow related to investiture, so my question is, can Siri/Viv convert food into investiture to use in Awakening (or Surgebinding or any other uses of magic in the cosmere) similar to Lift and her awesomeness.
As far as I know, you were the first to catch on to this. (Or at least ask about it) so that should be a very proud RAFO. There is something here, but it's not as deep as you might assume.
First of all, it seems that when Returned give their blessing that requires their life, to do so is to give up all of their BioChroma. Well, there was a time where Vivenna can't sense Vasher because he was a drab. Since that would mean he put all of his BioChroma somewhere and is SPOILER one of the Returned, why isn't he dead?
Also, it seems as if only the royal family has the ability to change their hair color. However, when Vasher kills Denth, his hair flashes through a ton of colors before he dies. What are his ties to the family? Is there something I missed? Will there be another book explaining this?
I did mention these things in the annotations, as has been pointed out, but boy--it's been a while. I don't remember what I wrote in the annotations and what I didn't.
All Returned are, in a way, "related" to the royal family in their Investiture. (The magic they hold.) Vasher has some specific and powerful control over his own powers, which I didn't go into much in the book. But if you delve into the annotations, you'll get more.
So I was wondering, can Siri and Vivienna, does their hair change to unnatural colours, like pink and green--
It can. Yes.
What would elicit that?
Well, I would have to go back to look at my notes, honestly. I would expect you could get green by eating something that made you sick, right? They're gonna associate these colors partially with associations that people are putting on them, the same way that spren are acting like the associations that people give them, but I would have to look at the culture, because in their culture, they may not associate green with disgusting the same way we do, right, if that makes sense. So that's why I'd have to look at the notes. These things are partially based on their own interpretation.
Does hair that is still attached to a person's head get cut if a Shardblade passes through it? If not, if that person had the Royal Locks could they change the color of the hair "below" the cut?
Yes, hair gets cut. It counts as dead in my mind--but not to someone who has the Royal Locks. They could only change below, as you state, and wouldn't get their hair chopped off. (I'm not 100% sure on this, but I Think I've mentioned in Stormlight before that you can cut things like shells on living animals with a Shardblade, but then it doesn't cut the flesh.)
With the Royal Locks, the individual would be able to change the color in the bit between the cut and the scalp? (In my original question I had meant "below" to mean the bit between the cut and the end whereas your answer uses it the opposite, I think?)
Distance between scalp and cut, yes you can change that. Otherwise every time you got a haircut, you wouldn't be able to change the hair. Maybe I don't get your question.
So just for clarity's sake is the following correct:
Let's say Siri's hair is two feet long. A shardblade passes through the hair exactly in the middle ("dividing" the hair into two one-foot sections). In your previous answer you said that while usually the shardblade would just sever the hair (leaving only a foot attached to the head) with the Royal locks the entire two feet would remain attached but only the foot on the "head" side of the cut would be able to change color.
Thank you, I just want to make sure there is zero doubt in what is actually going on.
I did misinterpret your original question. As a shardblade cut is likely to be wider than a piece of hair, I doubt you could cut the royal locks lengthwise.
Vasher Explains Some Things, but Leaves Some Things Hidden
I'm worried about leaving Vivenna's two questions unanswered. One is pretty obvious—how Vasher can hide how he looks—but the other is unintuitive. I wish I could explain better in the book, as I said above, but I decided in the end to just leave it hanging. It's a bit of a violation of Sanderson's First Law, but not a big one. The reason I feel I can get away with it is because Vasher didn't use his nature as a Returned to solve any problems. It is more a flavoring for his character than it is important to him getting out of danger or fixing things. He could have done everything he needed to in this book without being Returned. So I feel it's okay not to explain why he can be Returned and not die when he gives away his Breaths.
Can Vivenna change her appearance more? She can indeed. She could actually stoke that fragment of a divine Breath inside of her and start glowing like a Returned. She can't change her physical features to look like someone else, but she can change her age, her height (within reason), and her body shape (to an extent). It takes practice.
And yes, the scraggly miscreant is how Vasher sees himself. Not noble and Returned, which is part of how he suppresses his divine Breath.
Events in the second book may change that.
The Royal Locks
A group of people whose hair changes color based on their emotions is another one of those little story seeds that had been bouncing around in my head for years before I wrote this book. I even did a few test chapters in other settings with characters who had this physical attribute. (Dark One, which I don't know if I'll ever finish, toyed with it. As did a book set in the Aether world.)
Eventually, this attribute slid into Warbreaker. I'm glad I found a good home for it; I love how it adds a little bit of flavor to Siri and Vivenna, making them distinctive in a way that doesn't have much of anything to do with the plot. I always talk about making things connected, and that's very important. But you have to be careful not to make everything too neat. That leads to its own problems, as I mentioned in an earlier annotation.
The Royal Locks do work into the worldbuilding, as you'll find out eventually in the book. However, mostly they're around to give a distinctive feel to the world and the royal line, to show you that there is something unique about the royals. It hopefully enhances your understanding of why Hallandren would work so hard to bring them back into their own line of kings.
In Warbreaker, the royal family's hair can change colors based on their emotions. Why is it only natural colors? Is there a reason for that?
It's only natural colors, they could go further than natural colors. Basically, their perception is what's influencing that. They can actually change more than just the color of their hair, but as in a lot of things in the cosmere, the way you view how your abilities work shapes the actual abilities.
I asked Brandon if Royal Locks are controlled with emotions mentally or willpower regardless of emotion.