Dragonsteel Mini-Con 2021

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Name
Name Dragonsteel Mini-Con 2021
Date
Date Nov. 22, 2021
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Entries 97
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#2 Copy

Double

Rayse (Odium) was very methodical with the order in which he went after other Shards. Hypothetically if he'd visited the Rosharan system all those years ago but managed to avoid being trapped and was able to continue his mission right away, which of the known Shards would've been next up on Rayse's hit list?

Brandon Sanderson

He expected Ruin to implode. So he might have gone for Autonomy, double crossing them.

#8 Copy

Mojonero

Back before the Final Ascension, if you had a full Feruchemist and a Mistborn, both with access and knowledge of all 16 metals, could they make medallions without the use of Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

If they knew what to do maybe. Much easier with Hemalurgy - but it would be possible.

#9 Copy

Questioner

Lightweavers, you're saying that they're gonna be able to do lasers and things in space era. Could a Lightweaver conceivably make a kugelblitz? It's when compressing enough light into one space that it makes a black hole.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm gonna say that that's beyond the power level of your average Lightweaver. But who knows? Good question. I've never heard that term before, that's kind of cool. That'd take a lot of Light.

Questioner

Isn't Hoid a Lightweaver now?

Brandon Sanderson

Hoid is a Lightweaver now, yes. But Hoid does like playing with fire. He should not be a Lightweaver. Hoid is too close to various things that happened with Dawnshards, he is playing with fire.

#10 Copy

Dirigible

In Secret History, we orbs of Connection that Kelsier uses, and it draws lines between him and other objects. If Vin were to, in the Well of Ascension era, use that orb and also pull the mists in, would she be able to steelpush or ironpull on non-metal objects?

Brandon Sanderson

There are ways to steelpush on non-metal objects, but that's not the method.

Dirigible

Atium alloy?

Brandon Sanderson

What do you mean by atium alloy?

Dirigible

Atium-steel alloy, or atium-iron?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm, we're straying into RAFO territory. Let's just say that it is possible.

#11 Copy

Questioner

In The Way of Kings, there's a Death Rattle that reads, "He must pick it up, the fallen title! The tower, the crown, and the spear!" Have the events alluded to in this Death Rattle occurred, on or off screen, by the end of Rhythm of War?

Brandon Sanderson

No. *evil laughter*

Questioner

Could the tower, the crown, and the spear possibly be referring to Renarin?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO, RAFO, RAFO!

#17 (not searchable) Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Long time ago now, years and years ago, I, with my family, went to Fiji. And I always like to just write something inspired by a place I visit. And on Fiji, we went and visited one of the local villages. And that's how they describe them, with a chief; even though it's very modern, they still maintain that structure and society. And one of the cool things that the guide who toured us around this, his title was the Kingmaker. And he explained to us his job was to be the person who picked the next king. The king, or the chief, does not get to pick his successor; the Kingmaker, who is a different family line, picks the successor to the king. Which I thought was so cool. It's like it's a check and balance upon the monarchy that I had never heard of before; it's a really sophisticated system that I just thought was awesome. And so I said, "I'm gonna write a book using that idea at some point." And I only managed to get a few chapters of the way into it. I did set it on First of the Sun, the planet where Sixth of the Dusk takes place.

So I am going to read to you from the prologue and a bit of the first chapter (I didn't get much beyond this) of a book I called Kingmaker.

Brandon Sanderson

Prologue

It begins when the dying man takes his last breath. Death is not uncommon; indeed, it's one of the few universal experiences humans share. It's a pity that we often come to it underprepared, considering it's the singular thing for which, by definition, we have the most time to prepare.

In this story, fortunately, the man was well-prepared. He'd asked all the questions he could think to ask, and gotten all the answers he'd thought he could get out of life. That was preparation for him, being ready to get answers to the questions he couldn't answer. He'd known for years that he would die; and not as everyone knows death is eventually coming. Rather, he knew death was coming for him in a way you might know to expect the 9:14 train. Yes, it could arrive a little later; but you'll be leaving the station before noon, one way or another. Malignant, they called the infestation growing inside of him. Terminal. How odd, to be killed by growth; not decay, not blood loss, not (as he'd assumed would someday be his lot) by being taken during an ocean hunt. But of something growing, living, just doing a little of too much of both. It felt so very modern to be dying of something called colorectal adenocarcinoma. He'd been born in a time when they'd used simpler terms; but modern science had brought more than steam engines and telegraph machines. It had granted many diseases honored promotions, so chiefs no longer had to die in their own filth, but instead could fall prey to gastroenteritus. And he was a chief, our soon-to-be corpse.

Ah, but you must know the scene before we continue. I shall describe it as he would have; for it had been years since he'd seen anything other than a milky white haze. Fortunately, if you were wise, you do not need to be able to see in order to tell people where to go.

He could hear the ocean, first and foremost. Like many of his people, the chief hated places where you couldn't hear the ocean. When he'd been young, he'd worked on the inland <taro> fields by his father's orders. Those were far from the ocean; it took an hour by canoe up the river, away. It had been the worst year of his life, and that counted the ones dying of cancer.

Today, he could smell the sea. Tradition on the island of <Amore> saying that the chiefs never rotted after death. How could they, when they'd been steeped in brine for so long? The chiefs were the mediators between island and sea, and they bled salty blood. The ocean was in their veins, the crusty lava rock in their bones. He thought fondly of laying in the mausoleum near his father, on a slate block of stone quarried from the rim of a dormant volcano. He'd lay there, smiling as corpses do, baked for all eternity by the sallow candles, massaged by the songs played for the dead, just like the chiefs before him.

Chief. Now, that was an interesting term these days. But the Home Isles had always had chiefs; that would never change. Now they also had representatives, elected by direct voice of the people. These traveled to the distant government seat and made policy, while the chiefs remained on their islands. For what was a chief when away from his people, his soil, his seed? Not that the chiefs were impotent; they set island policy and grumbled at the need for interference from the government. The chief represented the tribe, which, in this story, meant all the people living on one small island, some six hundred in total, all related. The representatives led the country, but the chiefs led the families; each one, a tiny king. They were the guardians of tradition and executors of modern policy all at once. As such, the term nestled comfortably between the new and the old, like that spoon that slid off the counter and jammed itself in the spot between wood and wall: stuck, stubborn, and somehow still a perfect fit.

He nestled there now, right between the old and the new. A breeze blew in through the open parlor doors. They built their homes for years in such a way as to invite the breeze in, as an honored guest. But he also felt the blowing fan overhead, rhythmically clicking from its spidery place in the ceiling. A modern convenience the chief's home had, as it needed power to work the telegraph machine. It was the only place in the entire island that was electric, powered by some very large chemical batteries that you'd have called primitive. But here, they were the utmost leading edge of technology, developed proudly by scholars without the help of the Ones Above.

There. Can you feel it? Soft sheets beneath your back, cool breeze on your cheeks, fan counting off the last seconds of your life? Ocean calling to your soul? No pain; but also, few deep thoughts. The drugs prevented both.

Now, add footsteps. They made the rug creak; it was woven of beachfront frond leaves given to him by the chief of <Luma> island, the next one in the chain. The steps didn't click; they sounded from feet unshod, so it wasn't the nurse.

"Coral?" the chief asked. Was it his first son? "Squall?" The second, perhaps. No response. "I need a drink," the chief said, reaching limply toward his nightstand. "It no longer hurts to drink. It no longer hurts at all."

No response. The chief had to wonder if he'd hallucinated the sounds. His brain seemed to be floating in soup these days. He drew in a long, ragged breath.

That's the one. His last. This is where it begins. Because, before the chief could release that breath, a pair of gloved hands locked around his throat and squeezed.

Strangely, it didn't hurt, either. Someone is killing me! The thought reached his brain slowly, as if by a bird messenger, rather than telegraph. Someone is killing me... before I can die. He fought, because he was a chief, and because he didn't like someone taking what the gods had claimed. But he couldn't even relieve himself these days without help, so fighting back an attacker was impossible. Those hands just squeezed tighter. The white that was his world began to grow dark, and he realized, prepared though he thought he was, one more question had shown up last minute. Demanding. Confusing.

Who murders a man that has days, maybe mere hours, left to live?

 

Chapter One

The steamship cut across the ocean like a hunting knife crossed the skin of a beast: straight, unconcerned, leaving a scar behind in the waves. <Tulaku>, the Kingmaker, loved standing at the ship's rail, feeling the wind beat her face, watching the impotent waves break against the hull. It felt so modern to be able to impose human will upon both wind and wave. It had been an eternity since she'd enjoyed modern conveniences like this. They were so uncommon out here in the Scattered Isles, the backwaters of a land with, admittedly, quite a lot of water. But her time here was done; the ship steamed inward with clocklike precision. The Kingmaker had duties at <Tory>, the grand island where the government and corporations were run. So the steamship would carry her there. It wouldn't wait until the tide turned; it wouldn't wait for favorable winds. It would go now.

She was a young woman, this Kingmaker, and if you'd been from her world, you'd immediately have noticed something off about her. Something unusual, other than the youth. That, at least, was evident only when you looked at her face. Everything about her served as an intentional distraction from her youthful figures. The traditional clothing, shrouding her in a cloak of Aviar feathers. The posture, so carefully cultivated to project strength, confidence, and authority. The ceremonial oar, held like a staff with its arrowhead-shaped paddle toward the sky, crowned with the jagged teeth of a mature ocean shadow beast. Everything about her proclaimed aged wisdom.

But the face. That embarrassingly youthful face. <Tulaku> had learned to deal with the looks. She no longer glanced down in embarrassment when introducing herself, no longer winced visibly when people expressed surprise at her age. Yet there was something about her expression; the way she'd meet her eyes, then draw her lips to a line. The gesture seemed to admit: "We apologize for the inconvenience of sending a teen in the place of your expected wizened elder. Please wait while we remedy the situation. Note: this process may take forty years." She hoped, as she put the Splintered Isles behind her, she'd also escape those experiences. She'd rarely felt them at home; senators and company presidents there could be young and vibrant, so why not Kingmakers? There, you wouldn't be judged by your age, but by your ambition, and perhaps the quality of the names in your personal address book.

As she contemplated this, a large man shuffled down the steps from the bridge, his Aviar flapping wings to balance on his shoulder. The captain didn't wear a uniform; he was a company man, not a soldier. Though the distinction and authority between those two roles was subtle, the distinction in costumes was not. Captain <Hatchi> wore a thick woolen coat, a scarf, and a captain's hat. He rested hands on rail, fingers wrapped in thick workman's gloves. His Aviar, Chipper, had plumage of radiant green and red: one of the species that protected a ship and its crew from the questing minds of beasts that lived beneath the waves. Those had been exterminated from these populated shallows, of course, but it was a lucky Aviar breed nonetheless, one you often found accompanying sailors.

"Do you ever feel like a god out here, Captain," <Tulaku> said, "cutting across the waves, unencumbered by mortal concerns like current or wind?"

"Once in a while," he said, "until a storm comes. Then, well, I remember my mortality right fast, Kingmaker. Right fast." He kissed his fingers and held them to the wind, which was blowing in from the east. The direction to the Pantheon islands and the gods they represented.

"But surely," <Tulaku> said, "we can weather even storms, now? Only modern society has designed machines that can ignore the wind. We go where we want!"

"Yes, yes," he said, "but doesn't that make the machines the gods, Kingmaker? I'm not stronger than my ancestors. They crossed the seas, too, against the waves and in canoes. Doesn't take steam to manage it; just power." He glanced at the puffs coming from the boiler. "One type or another. But now, I shouldn't contradict you, wise one. Forgive me."

The ship continued through the ocean, belching confident black smoke, undaunted by both still wind and storm. Steered by compass, not by the lapping of waves. Indeed, the captain often thought about his father, who'd been a captain during a different time. His father's ship had once run aground on a deserted island, but the crew had patched it up and then been on their way. If the steamship were to break down, <Hatchi> knew he wouldn't be able to repair it. Then again, there were specialists for that sort of thing. And so, the more men progressed collectively, the less it seemed like the individual had anything to know. Ignorance was its own kind of luxury.

The Kingmaker frowned, consumed by her own thoughts, which sailed a different direction from <Hatchi>. As she got to more cosmopolitan areas, she'd gladly put behind the questioning eyes, the doubts that her age caused. Yet she'd also leave behind some of the reverence that people like <Hatchi> showed her. That had been one nice aspect of these rural islands and those who sailed them.

"You should know, Kingmaker," the captain said, "that a telegraph is arriving for you. It should be ready and interpreted shortly. That's why I came looking for you."

A telegraph. Now there was a modern innovation, and one all their own, not a gift from those Ones Above. Messages traveled the islands invisibly though the air, almost like a bird.

The Kingmaker winced, looking down at the ocean. If you'd known the people of this land, you'd likely have been surprised at the sudden pain she felt, thinking of birds. Then you'd look at her shoulder, see what was missing, and realize at last what had seemed off about her all along.

"The telegraph will be my mentor," she said to the captain, "with some words of encouragement." Please let it be that, she thought. And only that.

There had been a time when every island had its own Kingmaker. Someone to watch the chief and act as a balance to his ambition. The Kingmaker couldn't, of course, unseat a chief. The gods had placed the chief where he was, after all, and mortals should not intervene. Yet everyone agreed there should be some check upon the chief's power. Even the chiefs themselves tended to agree, something you might find curious. This is likely because you're familiar with large kings of nations, rather than the small kings of the islands. Large kings tend to be gluttons. Give them a mansion, and they'll want two; pay them some taxes, and they'll wonder how high they can get. Grant them a taste of absolute authority, and they'll chug the whole bottle. But, like a remarkable number of things when it comes to human society, monarchy tends to work far better on the small scale. A mansion doesn't feel so necessary when your brother has a hut. Taxes feel different when squeezed out of the man who taught you to fish. And absolute power doesn't feel so absolute when your mother chides you for abusing it. So generally, yes, the chiefs themselves liked having someone to watch over them. You wouldn't believe it, from the way the two offices tended to squabble.

Ah, but I still haven't explained: what is a Kingmaker? Well, it is as it sounds. The Kingmaker chooses the next ruler. They couldn't unseat the current chief, as I said, but they could do something nearly as bad. They could end his dynasty, choosing someone outside his lineage to take the throne. Every chief had to live with a certain fear of that possibility. Rule poorly, and you'll suffer patrimonial emasculation in the form of a rival son being given charge of your throne, and in many ways your legacy, once you were gone. Most Kingmaker interventions in <Tulaku>'s bold, oh-so-modern times, were just for show. Chiefs had to work alongside elected officials, and dynasties were usually preserved in the name of tradition. Chiefs represented tradition; upheld it. It was actually one of the few remaining powers in this day of senates, corporations, and individual suffrage. Because of this, the Kingmaker's job had changed over the years. They watched the kings, not just as it related to their successions. If the king were to break the law, for example, what did one do? In the past, nothing. These days, the king was not the law; indeed, the law carried a ceremonial oar, and sometimes wore too young a face for her station.

These days, there was often just one Kingmaker serving a dozen or more islands, and she didn't even have to attend or even sanction every coronation. If a ruler was liked, and a clear heir existed, the change of power could be sealed by telegraph. But if a succession was disputed, then one would be assigned to see to the matter personally. If one was already in attendance nearby, it would be her job. And if none were in attendance... well, it would fall upon the nearest passing Kingmaker. A tradition that <Tulaku> was now coming to find extremely inconvenient.

Brandon Sanderson

So you can probably tell from that, I was experimenting with some omniscient voice in that. It got really tell-y; I apologize for that. That was me just being whimsical and figuring out the worldbuilding as I wrote. You do that in first drafts, sometimes. I'm still very fond of that piece; I'm not sure if I will ever use it for anything in the future. There was definitely some awkwardness about the voice, but also it had some nice turns of phrases, which were fun.

#18 Copy

Use the Falchion

Are Soulburner and Starburner the same project? And can you give us an update on either one of those, if they aren't? 

Brandon Sanderson

They are the same project, yes. It's still going and going very well. I am not allowed to say what it actually is, because it's not up to me. You can infer what you want from that, and try to read between the lines, but I am not contractually allowed to say what it is right now.

#19 Copy

Use the Falchion (paraphrased)

I asked Steven Bohls if he and Brandon have any cool ideas for the next Lux book in terms of cool settings or cities.

Steven Bohls (paraphrased)

He mentioned that Book 5 will most likely be set in the New Orleans bayou/deep swamp area. (Or at least that's what he'd like.) It will most likely be a shorter book, at around 100k words overall; and there's a good chance that Mizzy will be a major POV character in the next book. Fun fact - Mizzy was supposed to show up in Lux, as Jax was supposed to go from Boston through New York, meet Mizzy and see Regalia flood the city, and then end up in Texas. This part ended up being cut as it was too tangential to the story. (Wingflare's original gimmick was going to be sound and a sound effect, but this was cut - as were most sound effects - as it felt too much like a gimmick.) Brandon currently wants Lux to be a trilogy, and the second book in that trilogy may be released sometime next November. (The two have ideas, but they were waiting on some sales reports and contract stuff first, and that may have just arrived this past week.)  

#25 Copy

Questioner

I think Hemalurgy is one of the most interesting systems you've really come up with, especially for the future of the cosmere. Can you give us anything new that we do not know about Hemalurgy?

Brandon Sanderson

There will be something new in Lost Metal.

#27 Copy

Questioner

The word "fluting" comes up a lot in the Skyward books. I was wondering, if there is ever a TV show or movie, would you like actual flutes to be used, concerning that?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe, good question. When I hear fluting... If you don't know, I like parrots as pets. And some parrots are good at vocalizing; other ones aren't. And if you know what they're saying, you can understand the word. But sometimes, to an outsider, it just sounds like a squawk. And that's the fluting; I imagine it mostly being pronounced, but if you weren't paying close attention, you might just hear a flute noise. But if you know that the animal is imitating what you're saying, you can pick out what they're saying.

I imagine it would be synthesized. But maybe there's a flutist out there that can make their fluting sound like the tone and what-not, and it would be appropriate if the repetition was just kind of an evocation of the word.

#28 Copy

Questioner

With the recent release of the Magic: The Gathering Forgotten Realms set, has Wizards floated the idea of a Cosmere type set?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm obviously in pretty regular contact with Wizards, having written a story for them, and things like that. There's a lot of fans in house. So I think that probably we will do these someday. But at the same time, they are still figuring out how to make with their fanbase not rioting at them. Some of the fanbase does not like other IPs getting mixed in to Magic: The Gathering, and so Wizards is figuring out how to do that. We have talked to them. Nothing's come of it yet, but I think it's probably inevitable. I don't know. They know how much I love their game, and a lot of them read my books, so I would imagine that someday, we'll do it. At the very least, we'll do one of these Secret Lair things or something like that, but maybe something more. Like, I would hold out for a full set, like they're doing with Lord of the Rings. But they also are doing Commander decks themed to certain properties, which would be another really cool thing.

I imagine we would, but I can't... All I can say right now is, we've all been like, "Hey wouldn't that be cool?" And that's as far as it's gone.

#29 Copy

Questioner

You have talked about writing a book about Ashyn, the first planet in the Rosharan system. You said that they have a magic system based on disease, but they are currently without a Shard. Can you tell us what the source of that magic system is?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of the magic systems in the cosmere, I kind of in my head differentiate kind of the primary worlds and the secondary worlds. And even on the secondary worlds, there is magic. And any place that a Shard has been in presence is gonna leave behind an aftereffect, but it's not always that. I would call most of the magic on Ashyn Cultivation-based, most likely. And Cultivation's in the system, but has only briefly been to that planet. But it doesn't mean that... basically, it's kind of the level of Investiture. If you go to Scadrial, on Scadrial, you're gonna have a high percentage of the population, cosmereologically, that are gonna have access to one of the Hemalurgic [Metallic] arts, right? Same thing on Roshar. And indeed, the people are going to be Invested on a level that is beyond the others. This is my in-world canon reason that people just don't come down with colds very often or have tooth decay very often, and things like that. On the primary Shardworlds, we're talking about people who are just naturally, highly Invested.

All the other worlds, though, you're still gonna have the occasional pop-up of magic, here and there. You're still gonna have effects of being in the cosmere, and things like that. Just much smaller chances. And the magic's probably going to be less likely to be planet-destroying potential, and things like that, like happened on Ashyn.

#30 Copy

Questioner

Do you believe that Preservation is inherently good and that Ruin is inherently evil?

Brandon Sanderson

No, good question! I would say no. I don't think any of the Shards are inherently good or inherently evil. I think that Ruin can be (and was for many years) in the cosmere presented as the necessary force of progress, right? Things need to decay in order for life to exist. And I think entropy is just a necessary aspect of life. And Ruin doesn't have to be evil; but Ruin is hard to control. And Odium is even harder to control. And because of that, there is a higher likelihood that Ruin or Odium are going to, if left unchecked, be very dangeorus.

#33 Copy

Questioner

One of my favorite things about the cosmere is the mixture of science with magic. I was theorizing on ways you could do the space travel with spaceships between planets. My theory is that you could... we know ways that you could store Investiture in things, we know ways you can shield that as well. I was thinking if you put, like, a super-Invested object at the front of your ship and opened it up, you're basically creating a perpendicularity, put the whole ship into the Cognitive Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Very interesting theory. RAFO.

I really like that you can theorize along these lines. Not to say too much, but people have been able to figure out how I'm going to do it, because the fundamentals of the magic are there. And that just tickles me. It makes me excited.

#35 Copy

Questioner

Galactic monopolies on faster-than-light travel and the societal implications of instantaneous transportation are major thematic elements of both the Skyward series and Howard Tayler's Schlock Mercenary.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, I was gonna say Dune.

Questioner

I know that you're friends with Howard; did his work have any influence on how you view this?

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, definitely, yes. I hadn't thought of that, but I bet that there's some of that in there. But I bet we're both influenced by Dune, just like everyone else. I can directly say a monopoly on intergalactic travel is a question that I found really interesting and is something that I'm deeply influenced by Dune by. But yes, I would say that there's definitely some Howard in there, influencing me. I mean, his is the space opera that I probably spent the longest amount of my life reading, Schlock Mercenary.

#36 Copy

Questioner

I believe that you can reasonably assume that humans and Parshendi at some time mixed, resulting in Horneaters with their red hair and hearty stomachs, Herdazians with their fingernails, and Thaylens with their eyebrows (maybe; I don't know about that one). However, Aimians, like Axies the Collector, have blue changeable skin, and this doesn't seem like a Parshendi trait at all.

Brandon Sanderson

It is not.

Questioner

Is it possible that there was another race welcomed onto the planet like humans were?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

#37 Copy

Questioner

If you've been having success writing books with other authors, as you've had, is that a strategy you might write sequels to Rithmatist?

Brandon Sanderson

It is something we've considered with Rithmatist, yeah. What would be really nice is, if I'm adding a coauthor, getting somebody who has Aztec heritage (because I wanted to write the next one taking place and dealing with kind of some Aztec lore and things like that) would be really cool. So that's kind of what we've been looking for, if we can find somebody who at least has some understanding of some Mexican heritage and things like that, or a scholar of that. That is probably where we're gonna go, when we do it; we just have to find the right person. So that's what we're looking out for. If you know writers that you really like, you can send me emails about who I should look into.

#38 Copy

Questioner

How do you think pushing and pulling on liquid metals would work?

Brandon Sanderson

It would work, but it'd be messy. It would definitely work; you could do it. In fact, you can find all kinds of things with ferrofluids that would show you kind of how it'd work. I visualize it working similar to some of those things, where you get some of those pretty cool patterns of the liquid. Though not exactly the same, because they're gonna work exactly like ferrofluids, because ferrofluids gonna have suspended particles. Anyways, it's different. But things like that, I think will be very fun. And I imagine trying to find ways to use that more in the future.

#39 Copy

Questioner

How do the people on Detritus breathe?

Brandon Sanderson

How did the oxygen get recycled, is that what you're asking?

Questioner

Yes; they have no plants.

Brandon Sanderson

They do. Here's the thing: it has lots of alien fungus that works like an algae. This is what the rats are living on; this is what the slugs are living on, and things like that. And so the air is recycled naturally. But we don't see most of the plants that are creating oxygen on our planet; it's the same way with them. Even the lichen and things that she is mistaking for dust and what-not is helping the planet to maintain an oxygen cycle. Good question.

But that is also why there's rats in the caverns. And a lot of these are surviving geothermally. It's alien; it works, but because I say so.

#40 Copy

Questioner

When you were writing Skyward, did you ever change Spensa's name? And if so, what were some of her previous names?

Brandon Sanderson

You know, I kind of just started with Spensa. And so I don't imagine that there was anything. I'm trying to remember; I don't think there was anyting else before that. It was just nebulous, and I was using nicknames for her.

#41 Copy

Questioner

In your books, you have some pretty powerful healing magics, and we've also seen some characters sustain some pretty traumatic brain injuries. The human brain stores information as electrical connections, right? So if you blew a part of it out, you could grow it all back, but those connections wouldn't really be there. Have you considered that?

Brandon Sanderson

I have. This is why you will see memory... So, Cognitive Shadows maintain a person's memory. And your Cognitive aspect, your Invested self, maintains your memory in the cosmere. This is why you will also see people's memory being edited by accessing some of the Investiture. You'll see this in Warbreaker; you saw this in the end of Rhythm of War. Your Cognitive self, your Invested self, keeps a duplicate of all your memories. So this allows very significant trauma to the Physical sense; as long as the Cognitive sense is still attached to that body, those memories will be reimplanted in the Physical self, or will be accessed. And this was just necessary for me to even have things like what happened with Raoden in the beginning of Elantris, and for ghosts to exist, and things like that. It actually works pretty well, because it lets me use it to edit people's memories by accessing their Investiture.

And one of the other things that's going on here is: if you have more Investiture, you can remember more, and better. But then that's dangerous, because it's a lot easier to access that Investiture. And it's a lot harder to notice when it has been edited. Hmm.

#42 Copy

Questioner

You've written about a lot of cultures that have some parallels to the real world. Do you have any culture or magic system you've kicked around that's inspired by the Indian subcontinent?

Brandon Sanderson

I do, actually. Thank you for this question. You should be very interested to read The Lost Metal. There's a worldhopper on The Lost Metal from a planet with a culture inspired by the Indian subcontinent.

#43 Copy

Questioner

Should Stormlight ever reach the film stage or TV series, would you consider using the Black Piper Kaladin album as its soundtrack?

Brandon Sanderson

I would consider it. It would really be up to the people who were making it, but that's definitely something to consider. It's a very good album.

#44 Copy

Questioner

Is the reason a Rithmatist can draw Mark's Cross because the lines of forbiddance become two-dimensional and become part of the circle?

Brandon Sanderson

That's kind of it, but kind of not at the same time. So, yes and no.

#45 Copy

Questioner

What gave you the inspiration for cytonic slugs?

Brandon Sanderson

The cytonic slugs came into existence when I started writing a short story I called The Eyes. This was a much later derivation of Defending Elysium, where I wanted to tell a story about human refugees in space who were fixing a hyperdrive that turned out to be a living thing. And most people didn't understand that the hyperdrive was a living thing, it was a secret.

I started writing this short story, and the lore was not clicking quite right. In that one, they were these glowing things. They looked like a power source, so people didn't know they were alive. The whole story didn't work, it wasn't the right rebuild of things from Defending Elysium. So I shelved that story. Sometime I'll let you guys read it. I may have put it out, I can't remember, but if I haven't I'll-- I only got two or three pages into it.

But that idea kept going in the back of my head. And eventually, when I was writing and building Skyward, I knew what I wanted was something that would look innocent, that Spensa would mistake for being the ship's hyperdrive. That would just look like it was something that's there, I like to hide things in plain sight. So putting a cute slug in... Why a slug? I don't know. I like underwater sea slugs, that just look cool. That's a cute thing I'd like to have as a pet. They're really something you can't, in our world, have as a pet. You could have it in a fish tank, but you can't get it out and play with it. What if you had one you could? So I built that as the hyperdrive and started having her teleport around, so that when you found out about the hyperdrives, you're like "it's been there all along, that makes sense!" The only thing I had to tweak from my original draft is, I realized eventually M-Bot was gonna have to have been crashed there for a long long time, so Doomslug had to be the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of the hyperdrive for that ship, rather than the actual hyperdrive.

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Questioner

My question is about squires. You've confirmed that Bondsmiths, Windrunners, Skybreakers, Dustbringers, and Lightweavers all have squires. You've also said that not every Order will have them. Could you confirm whether or not another Order has them?

Brandon Sanderson

Does another Order have squires? Is there an Order we have seen that we don't know-- Yes, there is another Order that has squires.

Questioner

You can't get more specific?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, the Stonewards do have squires, usually.

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Questioner

If there's a Forger like Shai who plausibly had an opportunity to ingest lerasium and become Mistborn, but she passed it up, could she create a stamp that makes her temporarily a Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

She would have to have access to enough Investiture to make that happen. The stamp saying, "Hey, I'm a Mistborn!" doesn't actually give her the Investiture to do that. She could rewrite her past so that she took that bead. She would not actually be able to use the power, until she got an infusion of Investiture, which could be done with a stamp in the right manner, but most of the time you're gonna have to have some external source. Basically you're gonna have to take a hit of Investiture, a large amount of it, and then use the stamp, and then it will feed on that to change you into basically any of the other magics.

Questioner 2

Stormlight?

Brandon Sanderson

If you could get a hit of Stormlight, that'd work. The problem is, Stormlight's not easy to get off of Roshar, and it still is technically keyed. You could get it a lot more easily-- Stormlight would work fairly well, but what you really want is some pure, unkeyed Dor. That stuff, you could do all kinds of things with. But, you know, it's kinda dangerous. But that's the stuff you're gonna want, or something like unto it.

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Questioner

Nightblood has more Investiture than any other being, right?

Brandon Sanderson

Not every other being, but definitely one of the most highly Invested individuals that we have seen.

Questioner

So Nightblood, he was used to wound Odium. Is Odium now weaker than he was before?

Brandon Sanderson

Not in a relevant way. Technically, yes. Not in a relevant way. The amount taken, compared to how much there is, is pretty small. And a whole bunch of what happened there was focused on the Vessel, not on Odium itself.

Questioner

Could Nightblood consume Odium?

Brandon Sanderson

Nightblood would get full before consuming even the smallest fraction amount of Odium. As you saw, Nightblood kind of got full in that instance. Actually, it was with the perpendicularity, it would be similar to that. So for those who are wondering, no, you can't stab Nightblood into the planet and absorb the planet. Nightblood is really dangerous, as we've seen, but we're not talking "absorb planets" dangerous.

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Questioner

Szeth references birds other than chickens. When he's training with the Skybreakers, he uses an analogy that they scattered like sparrows before a hawk. So there are other non-chickens in Shinovar. Are they going to end up... Probably not being like Aviar, but are we going to see more of them in book 5?

Brandon Sanderson

You will see birds in book 5, most likely. Whether or not they are like Aviar or the weird fish, I will leave as a RAFO. But the two Aviar you have seen are not native.

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Questioner

Are the Ghostbloods on Roshar the same organization as the Set on Scadrial? And if not, is the--

Brandon Sanderson

*immediately hands him RAFO card*

I will tell you this. The Lord of Scars is Kelsier. Not hiding something there. I'm not being tricksy like I was with the Sovereign. You can trust that. More about that will be forthcoming in a book that might be released about one year from now!

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Questioner

There are two Shards that aren't confirmed. One I call "Concealment", which we haven't figured out about because it conceals itself from the rest of the cosmere. The other one I call Unity, that might be two different Shards later, like Harmony, that Dalinar gets. Do either of these Shards exist, or will they exist?

Brandon Sanderson

Plausible existence of one of the Shards you have talked about. The ways you are theorizing, in some of the things you're saying here, are intentional on my part, and you're following correct paths.

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LeftImBorn

We have this WoB that says you can split ettmetal into atium and lerasium, but not through normal means. In Rhythm of War, we see Navani changing the forms of Light by removing the Connection to other Shards and introducing new ones. Is that the same way that you would turn ettmetal into atium and lerasium, or similar means?

Brandon Sanderson

That sort of science would possibly lead to the proper method. It is a good way to be going, but it's not exactly... Let's say there are multiple ways to do this. Some are less dangerous than others. The way you're theorizing could lead to a less dangerous way.

LeftImBorn

If you were to do that to a live, living Shardblade, which you said could be called Honor's God Metal, what would that do to the spren?

Brandon Sanderson

If what happened to... Oh, remove the Connection for a Blade like that?

LeftImBorn

And like, gave it Ruin's connections?

Brandon Sanderson

You would have a really hard time doing that, because it's an actual individual. It'd be the same as cutting off a person, which is possible, but you're talking about stuff like what a Shardblade does to a soul. So you'd have a hard time, and it would have not-happy effects on a living individual that that happened to.

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Questioner

So, the Diagram was basically created to help Taravangian figure out if he was having a bad day or a good day, kind of?

Brandon Sanderson

That's not one of the reasons they were founded, but that is certainly one of their duties.

Questioner

And we found out it was because Odium helped Taravangian figure out the Diagram. Now that Todium exists, will he still have to use the Diagram and go forth with the Diagram? And how will that shape what this contest of champions is gonna be?

Brandon Sanderson

I won't tell you how it's gonna shape, but he now has access to what Odium could do, which is limited ability to see the future, and a little bit better than a lot of the Shards are at that. He could see what the Diagram was an inferior version of making, in a lot of ways. In other words, the physical print thing, the Diagram, is no longer necessary to him.

Questioner

Now that it's Todium, will he have problems with having his good days and bad days?

Brandon Sanderson

RAFO.

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Questioner

In the first epigraphs in Rhythm of War, we get Navani's lecture on the different metals, and it talks about how the different metals can do different things to fabrials. Have all of the 16 metals in Allomancy been tried in relation to fabrials?

Brandon Sanderson

No.

Questioner

Have they discovered any others with different effects?

Brandon Sanderson

Any others that she didn't talk about? I don't know. I'm gonna say no, but it's possible that there's one I'm not thinking of. Let's just say that certain people in the cosmere are very aware of this now, and are very quickly experimenting with the metals Navani is not able to get a hold of easily.

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Questioner

Have you turned a person's theory into something in the book?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm sure that I have at some point... No, I know that I have. Someone asked me, for instance, they were getting some bisexual vibes from Shallan. They asked me on Twitter. I'm like "You know, I feel like I'm writing that without realizing it." So yes, I leaned into that a little bit more in the more recent book, because it felt really realistic and natural to her character. Sometimes people will ask me things like that, and I'll be like "I feel like I am doing that, or that's a direction I am going", and it happens with plots and things too. Yeah, fan interactions do influence the books, on occasion.

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Questioner

Teft is one of my husband's and my favorite characters.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm sorry.

Questioner

I was wondering if we would get to see him again.

Brandon Sanderson

Well, you can read the books again! If I write the Lopen story that's supposed to go between books 1 and 2, then he would appear in that book. So it is possible that you will see more of Teft, but you are not going to see, you know.

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Questioner

Why didn't TenSoon and Vin ever meet up before she died?

Brandon Sanderson

I just could not get it into the story. I did consider trying to make it happen, and there are just too many things narratively that I was doing, and it just didn't end up working out. I don't feel terribly bad about that, because in some ways loss requires... you don't always know, and things like that. I do regret not being able to get Mat and Perrin and Rand back together, one last time in the book series. That's one I think I should've tried to stretch. I tried to go to Team Jordan and be like, "Hey we could do it like this," and they said you just can't do that logistically. But I think if I'd pushed harder, I could've found a way to make it happen. So that's one of my regrets there. I don't think I would change TenSoon and Vin, because of the nature of loss for those books, and I did try, and artistically I felt it didn't work.

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Questioner

Most of the time, for Nightblood, from the point of view he is seen as male. But for the short time when Lift is talking to him, it says "she". Is that important, or is that up to perception?

Brandon Sanderson

It is up to the perception of the individual, and Lift perceived Nightblood as a she, and Nightblood doesn't care.

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Questioner

Is Vasher aware of Vivenna's sword?

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher is aware of Vivenna's sword by now.

Questioner

And does he approve of it?

Brandon Sanderson

Vasher needs more information. I'm going to say his initial response is, "That's stupid, never do things like that." But I haven't written the Nightblood book yet, so when I write the book, it might turn out that I need to accelerate some of that, so he might actually have known by then. Right now, in the timelines, he didn't know, it happened after. Big asterisk on book that's not written yet, that the outlines could change on.

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Kyrroti

Shards can't break oaths, and new Vessels have to follow previous Shards' deals. Ruin and Preservation made a deal. Does Harmony have to follow that deal?

Brandon Sanderson

The Ruin and Preservation deal is considered fulfilled. There's a lot of things going on in here. The way that oaths work, perception is still important. And Shards can break deals, it gives others a way to get at them. Odium could break his deal, but if he did, that's very dangerous to those who would seek to have advantage against him. I think fulfilled is the wrong term, the deal between Ruin and Preservation is broken, and no longer in force because it was broken. This does leave Ruin with more advantage in this situation, but they're the same individual, so I'm sure that's just fine! No problems at all! Everybody's doing just great.

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Questioner

Is Nightblood more or less susceptible to damage and/or death when he's satiated on Investiture?

Brandon Sanderson

Satiated, he's much less dangerous. More susceptible, I would say by technicality, yes. When he's full, it's gonna be harder for him to pull in things, so all sorts of things could happen. So yes. But it's not that he's weaker, it's not like the metal is easier to break or bend, it's more that he's not as likely to suck your soul.

Questioner

So he behaves more like a regular sword.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, a little bit more. Still, for human levels of Investiture, still really dangerous to touch him. He's satiated, but if he's at 100%, and the amount of you he could eat represents 0.001%, the moment a little of that wears off, you're gone. So still would not be picking him up in most cases, just out of that, "Oh! He got a little hungry again!" But in terms of larger, grand scale Shard stuff, much safer to handle.

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Questioner

I believe Trell is a vessel [avatar] of Autonomy, due to there being a character named Trell in White Sand, and Autonomy being there. I believe Kelsier gets the idea from Trell to use [avatars], and that's what he goes on to use as the leader of the Ghostbloods.

Brandon Sanderson

I think you're theorizing in interesting directions, and I would not squish that theory.

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Failsafe

If one were to Riot or Soothe out of a cadmium bubble or a bendalloy bubble, would the emotional Allomancy be effectual? If so, how would it be affected by the speed bubble, and how would that work in reverse?

Brandon Sanderson

If you were to... Someone's inside a bubble, and you're shooting Allomancy into it from outside, would it have an effect? The answer to that would be yes. Shooting out of it should work also. It is going to be affected though. I think depending on the speed of it, you're gonna end up with a stretching or condensing of it. If you're doing it from inside a bubble, you could probably effectively get something like a duralumin hit. And if you're doing it from outside in, and they're moving very fast, you're gonna have a lesser effect.

Questioner

Would it have some randomness, like a bullet?

Brandon Sanderson

You probably wouldn't be able to target... No, you would be able to. You would be fine. You can do kind of a cone, and things like that. It might be hard to hit the specific individual, but it wouldn't be as much trouble as a bullet.

Questioner

What about with duralumin?

Brandon Sanderson

The thing about duralumin is, if you wanted to extra duralumin it, what you'd have to do is eat some within a speed bubble, use it, then eat some more, then use it. You could therefore kind of multiply up, but yeah. So yes, you could do that, but you'd have to do it multiple times.

spectral.limina

Just to confirm, is that a fast bubble or slow bubble?

Brandon Sanderson

That'd be a fast bubble, cause you're piling it up. More time is passing for you than people outside. Basically, you're doing five times duralumin push in one burst. It could probably get pretty dangerous, some people's emotions.

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Questioner

Obviously the Shards are the top dogs in terms of power and stuff, but Hoid seems to be his own level of dangerous. Are there any other characters as sort of rivals to his ambition or power?

Brandon Sanderson

Depends on how you want to express it. Some of the dragons from Yolen are as old and are very crafty. You could argue that the aethers, the actual core aethers, are as ancient and potentially powerful. I wouldn't put them by raw power at Shard level, but they would claim that they are. Depends on what you would think there. There are some other individuals of a similar, not as dangerous as Hoid, but on a similar level. Been around for thousands of years, investigated a lot of the magics, and these sorts of things.

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Questioner

Kaladin is now learning how to counsel people on how to balance what they've had to do which is destroying things, and their desire to protect or preserve things. Will he be of some benefit to another individual who is trying to balance those two things together?

Brandon Sanderson

Someone he's been teamed up with? He could potentially be of help, depending on whether or not this individual wants help.

Questioner

Specifically is Harmony...?

Brandon Sanderson

I thought you were talking about Szeth. Could he be of use to Harmony? Maybe, in a theoretical world, I think the more people Harmony had to talk to, the better. I would say yes, but I was thinking Szeth.

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Questioner

Does Demoux know that Kelsier is still around? If so, does he know about the Ghostbloods, and does he still idolize Kelsier?

Brandon Sanderson

I will RAFO that. I will say, you can assume that if he did know, he would not be as idolizing. It would only take getting to know him to destroy some of the way that Demoux views, does that make sense?

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Questioner

Can you compare the kinds of compulsion that are caused by being an Epic with the kinds of compulsion caused by being a Vessel?

Brandon Sanderson

Hmm, crossing the streams here. I'd say that the compulsion of being a Shard is much much stronger, but your capacity as an individual is increased, so your ability to learn how to deal with it is also equally increased.

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Questioner

What would a kandra look like in Shadesmar, and do they have any special abilities in the Cognitive or Spiritual Realm?

Brandon Sanderson

Not sure if I want to canonize what they would look like. I will RAFO what they look like. There is nothing that they would have as a special power over a human being in the Cognitive Realm, except for the fact that they are trained to think of themselves in certain ways. They have mental training, someone else could learn this, but they have over many centuries, this ability. And your ability to perceive yourself in certain ways is very powerful in the cosmere, and the kandra are very good at this.

Questioner

So it would less limiting than in the Physical Realm, where they have to adopt the bones and persona?

Brandon Sanderson

Here's the thing, if they went to the Cognitive Realm, they'd go there Physically, so they'd be under the same rules. There's a theoretical whatever out there that maybe, if they got killed, and their soul, and things like this, but in most cases, a kandra would go like a human would, and they'd be following the same rules. So if you got a kandra who somehow persisted as a Cognitive Shadow, they would have certain advantages over people who had not trained in perception the way they have.

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Questioner

A Spiritweb is composed of a bunch of chunks that are added based on certain circumstances. Could you manufacture Spiritweb patterns out of raw Investiture in such a way that, instead of cutting something from someone and grafting it to someone else, actually manufacture the chunk desired from Investiture and put it on the person?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. They don't know how, but you could. Synthetic meat, synthetic souls, possible.

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Questioner

When the Inquisitors were trying to track down Vin, it said they actually followed Reen's scent. How did they do that, and why didn't they follow Vin's scent, because she was the Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

I believe when I was using "scent" there, I'm using it like, they knew what was going on with Reen, so they were tracking down Reen. Yes, they were trying to find Vin, but their lead was Reen. So what I believe I'm talking about there is, they wanted to get to her through him, and they had a lead on how to find him. But I'm gonna have to look at the specific context of that one, I'm afraid.

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Questioner

You've said before that Tien was on the track to becoming a Lightweaver, before he, you know. What lie was he telling that was attracting a Cryptic?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a very good question. Tien was hiding a lot of belief that he was not a good person. That people didn't want to be around him, and things like this. He was hiding a lot of that, and he knew that people saw him as a burst of sunshine, and he didn't ever want them to not see him that way. That was really hard on him, as it is on a lot of people who are like Tien.

Questioner 2

But did he like rocks?

Brandon Sanderson

He really liked rocks. The fact that he never got to meet Rock is... and throw a bucket of water on him!

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Questioner

Close to the end of Rhythm of War, Dalinar Connects Kaladin to something, which gives him the vision of Tien. Did he Connect him to Tien's dead soul, and if so, does Dalinar know what he did?

Brandon Sanderson

There are two prevailing theories on what happened here among cosmerenauts, in-world Arcanists. You would get two different answers. The most common answer is, Dalinar attached himself to the Spiritual Realm, pulled out possibilities, and showed one of those to Kaladin.

Questioner

If so, where did the horse come from?

Brandon Sanderson

Either pure coincidence, or some sort of matching of Fortune to the moment, that ended up leading Kaladin to the place he needed to be, which is the way a lot of Fortune works. Fortune would be like, "You should go here," and you don't even know why. That's what the Arcanist answer would be, it would be the most common answer. Some people would say he reached into the Beyond and connected Tien to Kaladin via Tien's actual soul. I will leave these both as equally valid theories. As I've said many times, I'm not gonna say whether there is an actual afterlife in the cosmere because it is too foundational to too many characters' beliefs, or lack of beliefs, or worldview in-world to have the author contradict them either way.

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Questioner

Nicrosil and chromium, do those have any interaction with people using Feruchemy, or other Investiture in general? Leechers or Nicrobursts.

Brandon Sanderson

Could you use those on Feruchemists? You should be able to, yes.

Questioner

Would that only work while they're tapping it?

Brandon Sanderson

If it's active Investiture, probably yes. You'd probably need it to be kinetic Investiture in order for them to do anything about it.

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Questioner

Is there any meaning behind the name "Adonalsium", that we could know in the moment or find out?

Brandon Sanderson

Other than the fact that I look to real world languages for inspirations in order to evoke the right feelings... If we technically go into how these names were in the cosmere, they may not actually be those names. I'm picking names that evoke the right things to people in our world.

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Questioner

In Rhythm of War, Nightblood broke off a piece of an Honorblade. Could you technically pulverize an Honorblade to the point it wouldn't exist? If so, what would happen?

Brandon Sanderson

You could pulverize an Honorblade to the point that it wouldn't exist. You would basically need to repair it with Investiture, and if you didn't, it would happen, the same thing that happened to Shardplate. You would be making... basically it's changing form. Either you would end up with a bunch of dust made of a God Metal, which you could do stuff with, or you add Investiture and reconstitute it, or you get it to change back into its other states. Those are all possibilities.

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Questioner

What do you think is the book that you had the most fun writing?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say probably the most fun would be the Wax & Wayne series. If we're just looking at pure fun. It was Alcatraz before that, but it became Wax & Wayne once I started writing those.

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Questioner

It's referenced that on Roshar, a foot is longer than is cosmere standard. I can't find anywhere how long it actually is.

Brandon Sanderson

That's gonna come down to questions for Isaac and Karen. Not that you should go ask them right now. Mainly, what's going on is, we have to have height charts and things like that. Let me talk about the reason for this. I want to be able to say something in world like, "Kaladin's about 6'4." So that people can picture him compared to the people around him. He's probably closer to 7 foot compared to people from Scadrial. But if I say he's 7 foot, you're going to imagine him of the wrong proportions and size compared to the people around him. So I went ahead and said, we will use feet, but scale them different in order-- this is kind of just me fudging for your perception. When you see actual people from Roshar next to people from Scadrial, particularly tall Alethi, they're gonna look like giants.

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Brandon Sanderson

So what are we gonna read? Well, I have draft number two of Wax & Wayne 4, The Lost Metal.

And as I warned you, if anyone came in late, the prologue is available on my YouTube channel with me reading it, or we sent it out as a newsletter. If you're not on the newsletter ask one of your friends, or go hang out in the 17th Shard and ask them. I give permission that they can send it to you so you can read it if you want to. It might be posted, as far as I know, on there as well. I expect when I read these things that they're gonna get around. So we're going to read chapter 1 of The Lost Metal. And I'm just going to kind of read until we hit to 7:30.

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter 1

Marasi had never been in a sewer before, but the experience was exactly as awful as she'd imagined. The stench, of course, was incredible. But worse was the way her booted feet would occasionally slip for a heart-stopping moment, threatening to plunge her down into the "mud" underneath.

It would be bad, but manageable, if the place was slippery in a consistent way. Inconsistent slippage was far worse. At least she'd had the foresight to wear a uniform with trousers today, along with knee high leather work boots. That didn't protect from the scent, the feel, or, unfortunately, the sound. When she stepped, map in one hand, rifle in the other, her boots would pull free with a squelch of mythical proportions. It would have been the worst sound ever if it hadn't been overmatched by Wayne’s complaining.

"Wax never brought me to a rustin’ sewer," he muttered by her side.

"Are there sewers in the Roughs?"

"Well, no," he admitted. "Pastures smell almost as bad, and he did make me march through those. But Marasi, they didn't have spiders."

"They probably did," she said, holding the map toward his lantern to read it. "You just couldn't see them."

"S’pose," he grumbled, "but it's worse when you can see the webs. Also, there's, you know, the literal sewage."

Marasi nodded to a tunnel to the side, and they started that direction. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"What?" he demanded.

"Your mood."

"Nothing's wrong with my rustin’ mood," he said. "It's exactly the kind of mood you're supposed to have when your partner forces you to stick your front side into a bunch of stuff that comes out the back side."

"And last week," she said, "when we were investigating a perfume shop?"

"Rustin’ perfumers," Wayne said, eyes narrowing. "Never can tell what they’re hiding with those fancy smells. You can't trust a man that doesn't smell like a man should."

"Sweat and booze?"

"Sweat and cheap booze."

"Wayne, how can you complain about someone putting on airs? You put on a different personality every time you change hats."

"Does my smell change?"

"I suppose not."

"Argument won. There are literally no holes in it whatsoever, conversation over." They shared a look. "I should get me some perfumes, eh?" Wayne said. "Someone might be able to spot my disguises if I always smell like sweat and cheap booze."

"You're hopeless."

"What's hopeless," he said, "is my poor shoes."

"Could have worn boots, like I suggested."

"Ain’t got no boots," he said. "Wax stole ‘em."

"Wax stole your boots. Really?"

"Well, they're in his closet," Wayne said, "instead of three pairs of his poshest shoes, which somehow ended up in my closet, completely by happenstance." He glanced at her. "It was a fair trade, I liked those boots."

She just barely kept her balance at another slip. Rusting hell, if she fell, he would never stop talking about it. But this did seem the best way. Construction on citywide underground train tunnels, or just the Tunnels, was ongoing, and two days ago, a demolition man had filed a report warning that he didn't want to blast the next section. 

Apparently, seismic readings had indicated they were near to a cavern of some sort. This area underneath Elendel was peppered with aging caverns, and the seismograph readings the demolition man had found indicated an unknown one was somewhere in this region. The same region where a group of local gang enforcers kept vanishing and reappearing, almost as if they had a hidden exit to an unmarked, unseen lair.

She consulted the map again marked with construction notes and a nearby oddity that the sewer builders had noted years ago which had never been investigated.

"I think MeLaan is going to break up with me," Wayne said softly. "That's why maybe I've been uncharacteristically downbeat in my general disposition as of late."

"What makes you think that?"

"On account of her telling me, 'Wayne, I'm probably going to have to break up with you in a few weeks.'"

"Well, that's polite of her."

"I think she got a new job from the big guy or something," Wayne said, "but it ain't right, how slow it's going. Not the proper way to break up with a fellow at all."

"And what is the proper way?"

"Throw something at his head," Wayne said, "sell his stuff, tell his mates he's a knob."

"You’ve had some interesting relationships."

"Nah, mostly just bad ones," he said. "I asked <Jamie Walls> what she thought I should do. You know her, she's at the tavern most nights."

"I... know her," Marasi said. "She's... a woman of ill repute."

"What?" Wayne said. "Who's been saying that nonsense? <Jamie> has a great reputation! Of all the whores on the block, she gives the best—"

"I do not need to hear that next part, thank you."

"Ill repute," he said, chuckling. "I'm gonna tell <Jamie> what you said about her, Marasi. She worked hard for her reputation. Gets to charge four times what anyone else does! Ill repute indeed."

"And what did she say?"

"Well, she said MeLaan just wanted me to try harder in the relationship," Wayne said, "but I think in this case, Jamie was wrong, because MeLaan doesn't play games. When she says things, she means them. So it's, you know."

"I'm sorry, Wayne," Marasi said, taking him by the arm.

"I knew it couldn't last," he said, "rustin’ knew it, you know? She's like, what, a thousand years old?"

"Roughly half that," Marasi said.

"And I'm not even 40!" Wayne said. "Probably more like 16, if you take count of my spry, youthful physique."

"Or your sense of humor."

"Damn right!" he said, then sighed. "Things have just been rough lately, with Wax being all fancy these last few years, MeLaan being gone for months at a time. Feel like nobody wants me around. Maybe I belong in a sewer, you know?"

"You don't," she said. "You're the best partner I've ever had."

"Only partner."

"Only?" she said. "<Gorglan> doesn't count?"

"Nope, he's not human. I gots papers what prove he's a giraffe in disguise." Regardless, he smiled. "But thanks for asking, thanks for caring." 

She nodded then led the way onward. 

When she'd imagined her life as a top detective and lawwoman, she hadn’t envisioned this part. But at least the smell was getting better, or she was getting used to it. Or maybe the insides of her nose were just dying off. Still, it was extremely gratifying to find, at the exact place marked on the map, an old metal door set in the wall of the sewer. 

She had Wayne hold up the lantern, and one didn't need a keen detective's eye to see the door had been used lately. Silvery scrape marks from the sides of the frame, handle clean from the pervasive filth and cobwebs.

"Nice," Wayne said, leaning in beside her. "Some first rate detectivin', Marasi. Sewer portion notwithstandin'. How many old surveys and building reports did you have to read to find this?"

"Too many," she said. "If I'd known how much of my job would involve searching the documents library..."

"They leave that part out of the stories when they write about us," Wayne said. "All the research."

"You did this sort of thing back in the Roughs?"

"Well, it was the Roughs variety," Wayne said. "Usually involved holding some bloke face down in a trough until he 'remembered' whose old prospecting claim he'd been filching. But it's the same principle really, just with more swearing."

She handed him her rifle and investigated the door. He didn't like her to make a big deal out of him being able to hold guns these days without his hands shaking. She'd never seen him fire one, but he said he could if needed to. He really was getting better.

They'd been working almost six years now, since Wax's retirement following the incident surrounding the Bands of Mourning. Wayne was an official constable, not some strange, barely-inside-the-law deputized citizen. Even wore a uniform once in a while.

Now, this door. It was shut tight, of course, and had no lock on this side. But it seemed the people she was hunting had found it closed too, as there were a bunch of marks on the metal on one side. Looking close, she found that there was just enough room to slip something through the door and frame. "I need something sharp to get through this," she said.

"You can use my razor sharp wit."

"Alas," she said, "you aren't the type of tool that I need at the moment, Wayne."

"Ha!" he said. "I like that one."

He handed her a knife from the backpack, where they kept supplies like rope, along with their metals, just in case they faced an Allomancer. These kinds of gang enforcers shouldn't have access to that sort of thing. They were just your basic "shake down shopkeepers for protection money" types. Yet, she had reports that made her wary. She was increasingly certain this group was funded by the Set, and if she caught them they might finally lead to answers she'd been hunting for years.

With the knife, she managed to undo the bar holding the door closed from the other side. It swung free with a soft clang, and she eased the door open to look at a rough hewn tunnel leading downward. One of the many that dotted this region, dating back to the ancient days before the Catacendre, to the time of myths and heroes, ashfalls and tyrants. Together, she and Wayne slipped inside, then did up the door to leave it as they found it. They dimmed their lantern as a precaution, then started down into the depths.

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter 2

"Cravat?" Steris asked, reading from the list.

"Tied and pinned," Wax said, pulling it tight.

"Shoes?"

"Polished."

"Proof one?"

Wax flipped a silver medallion up in the air, then caught it.

"Proof two?" Steris asked, making a check mark on her list.

He pulled a small folded stack of papers from his pocket. "Right here."

"Proof three?"

Wax reached into his other pocket, then paused looking around the small office, his senator's chamber in the house of proceedings, he'd left that...

"On the desk back home!" he said, smacking his head.

"I brought an extra," Steris said, digging in her bag.

Wax grinned. "Of course you did."

"Two copies, actually," Steris said, handing over another sheet of paper, which he tucked into his other coat pocket. Then she consulted her list again.

Little Maxillium stepped up beside his mother, looking very serious as he scanned his own list, which was mostly just scribbles. At five years old, he knew his letters, but preferred to make up his own.

"Dog picture," Max said, as if reading from his list.

"I could use one of those," Wax said. "Very useful."

Max solemnly presented it, then said, "Cat picture,"

"Need one of those too."

"I'm bad at cats," Max said, handing him another sheet, "so it looks like a squirrel."

Wax hugged his son, then tucked the sheets away reverently with the others. The boy's sister, Tindwyl—as Steris liked traditional names—babbled in the corner, where <Kath>, the governess, was watching her.

Finally, Steris handed him his pistols one at a time. Long-barrelled and nasty looking, they had been designed by Ranette to look menacing, but had two safeties and were actually unloaded. It had been a while since he'd had to shoot anyone, but he continued to make good use of his reputation as the lawman senator of the Roughs. Cityfolk, particularly politicians, tended to be intimidated by small arms. They preferred to kill people with more modern weapons, like poverty and despair. 

"Is a kiss from my wife on that list?" Wax asked.

"Actually, no," she said, surprised.

"A rare oversight," he said, then kissed her, lingering before pulling back. "You should be the one going out there today, Steris. You did more of the work preparing them than I did."

"You're the house lord."

"I could appoint you as a representative to speak for us."

"Please, no," she said. "You know how I am with people."

"You're very good with the right people."

"And are politicians ever right about anything?"

"I hope so," he said, straightening his suit coat and turning toward the door. "Because I am one now."

He pushed out of his chambers and walked the short walk to the Senate floor. Steris would watch from her seat in the observatory balcony. By now, everyone knew how particular she was about getting the same one. Wax instead stepped into the vast chamber, which buzzed with activity as senators returned from their short recess.

He didn't go to his seat. For the last few days, different senators had been given a chance to debate the current bill, and his was the last speech in line. He had positioned it right after the planned break, as he hoped it would set his argument off, give him a final chance to avert a terrible decision.

It had taken a great deal of trading and promising to get this spot in the debate; and not a few of his political enemies were upset that he'd managed it.

He stood at the side of the speaking platform near the center, waiting for the others to sit, hand on his holster, looming. You learned to get a good loom on in the Roughs when interrogating prisoners, and it still shocked him how many of those skills worked here.

Governor <Varlance> didn't look at him. The man instead adjusted his cravat, then checked his face powder. Ghostly, pale skin was fashionable these days, for some arcane reason. Then he set out his badges on the desk, one at a time, as he always did, making everyone wait.

Rusts, I miss Aradel, Wax thought. It had been novel to have a competent governor for once. Like eating hotel food and finding it wasn't awful. Or spending time with Wayne and discovering you still had your pocket watch.

But the governor's job was the type that chewed up the good ones, the ones who tried to swim deep. It was the same type of job that let the bad ones float blissfully along the surface. Aradel had stepped down two years back, and it did make some kind of sense that the next governor chosen had been a military man, considering the tensions with the Malwish right now. Though Wax did question where <Varlance> had gotten all of those medals. So far as he knew, the army hadn't seen any actual engagements. Were they for, perhaps, excellence in shining your shoes?

<Varlance> finally nodded to his vice governor, a Terriswoman, of course. She had curly, dark hair and a traditional robe. Wax thought he'd known her in the village, but it could have been her sister, and he'd never thought of a good way to ask. Regardless, it always looked good to have a Terris on the staff. Most governors chose one. Made you look respectable. Almost like the Terris were another medal to be shown off.

<Adathwyn> stood up and belted to the room. "The governor recognizes the senator from House Ladrian."

Though he'd been waiting for this, looming and whatnot, Wax now took his time sauntering up onto the podium, which was lit from above by a massive electric spotlight. Funny, how ordinary he thought that all was now. If he walked into a room and there wasn't a light switch on the wall, he'd search for it for an embarrassingly long time before remembering there were some buildings that just weren't wired yet.

He turned around in a slow rotation, inspecting the circular chamber. The spotlight was low enough that he could still make out the faces around him. One side held the elected seats, senators who were voted into office to represent a guild, profession, or historical group. The other held the lords, senators who held their position by benefit of birth. The guild system left many people without a representative. As many as twenty percent of the population worked jobs without a senator's seat, by Marasi's estimate. The lords were supposed to make up for that, representing everyone who lived in their assigned region of the city. But when had a group of nobles ever cared about beggars? Maybe in the Last Emperor's time and just after, but people just weren't like that anymore. They were petty and short-sighted.

"This bill," Wax announced to the room, loud and firm, his voice echoing, "is a fantastically stupid idea."

Once, earlier in his political career, talking so bluntly had earned him ire at best. Now, he caught multiple members of the senate smiling. They expected this from him. Many of them seemed to enjoy it, as if they knew how many problems there were in the city and were glad that one man was willing to call them out, ignoring propriety and political necessities.

"Tensions with the Malwish are at an all time high," Wax said. "This is a time for the entire Basin to unite, not a time to drive wedges between ourselves and those who should be our strongest allies."

"This is about uniting," a voice called to him. The dock worker senator, <Maelstrom>. He was mostly a puppet for Hasting and Erikell nobles, who had been consistently a painful spike in Wax's side. "We need a leader for the whole Basin officially."

"Agreed," Wax said. "But how is elevating the Elendel governor, a position nobody outside the city can vote on, going to unite people, <Maelstrom>?"

"It will give them someone to look toward, a strong capable leader!"

And that, Wax thought, glancing at <Varlance>, is a capable leader? We're lucky he pays attention to these meetings, rather than spending the time going over his appearance schedule, <Varlance> had, so far in his one year tenure, rededicated seventeen parks in the city. He liked the flowers.

Wax didn't say anything to this effect. Steris had warned him not to antagonize the governor. There was bluntness, and then there was stupidity. He had to walk a fine line between them. Instead, he kept to the plan, getting out his medallion and flipping it in the air. 

"Six years ago," Wax said, "I had a little adventure. You all know about it. Finding a wrecked Malwish airship, intervening in a plot by the outer cities to find its secrets and use them against us in Elendel. I stopped that. I brought the Bands of Mourning back to be stored safely."

"And almost started a war!" someone muttered in the reaches of the room.

"You'd rather I let the plot go forward?" Wax called back. When no response came, he flipped the medallion up and caught it again. "I dare anyone in this room to disparage my loyalty to Elendel. We can have a nice little duel. I'll even let you shoot first."

Silence. That was one thing he'd earned. A lot of the people in this room didn't like him, but they did seem to respect him, and they knew he wasn't an agent for the outer cities. He flipped the medallion and Pushed it higher, all the way up to the top of the ceiling high above. He caught it again when it came streaking down, glimmering in the light. As he did, he made certain to cast a glance toward Admiral <Jons>, current ambassador from the Malwish nation. She sat in a special place on the floor of the senate, among where mayors from the other cities were given seats when they visited. None had come to this proceeding, a visible sign they considered even a vote on this topic to be ridiculous.

"I know," Wax said, turning the medallion over in his fingers, "better than anyone the position we're in. You want to make a show of force to the outer cities, prove that they have to have to follow our rules. So you introduce this bill, elevating our governor to a presidential position of the entire Basin.  This ignores the reason everyone outside Elendel is so mad at us. The bad faith actors who are leading some of the outer cities wouldn't have gotten so far without support of their people, if the average person living outside Elendel weren't so damned mad at us for our trade policies and general arrogance. This bill isn't going to placate them. This isn't a show of force. It's a maneuver designed to specifically outrage them. We pass this law, and we're demanding war between ourselves and the outer cities."

He let that sink in. They knew it.

They tried to ignore it.

They wanted so badly to appear strong, and if left unchecked, they'd strong-arm themselves right into a war, never realizing this was precisely what their enemies wanted. An excuse to rebel, a justification for war.

Wax pulled out the stack of papers in his left pocket. He held it up and turned around.

"I have 60 letters here from politicians in the outer cities. These are reasonable people, willing, even eager to work with Elendel on policy, but they are frightened, worried about what their people will do if we continue to impose tyrannical, imperial policies upon them. They're worried about war. It is my proposal that we vote down this silly bill, then work on something better. Something that can actually promote peace and unity. A kind of national assembly with representation for each outer city, and and elected supreme official from that body." 

He'd expected boos, and got a few. But most of the chamber fell silent, watching him hold the letters aloft. They were afraid of what he was proposing. Afraid of letting power leave the capital. Afraid that the political ways of the outer cities would change the entire dynamic. They were cowards in that regard, and they were also playing to the hands of the Set, a shadowy organization which included his sister and his late uncle as high-ranking members, who had been pulling the strings for years.

They were still active somewhere. They might even have agents among the senators. They wanted war most of all, though he didn't know exactly why, even still. A way to gain power, certainly, but there was something else. Orders from someone, or something, known as Trell.

Unfortunately, he couldn't pin his arguments on an organization that most people still didn't believe existed. He turned around slowly, still holding up the letters, and felt a little spike of alarm as he turned back to <Maelstrom>. He's going to shoot, Wax's instinct said.

"With all due respect," Senator <Maelstrom said>, "you are a new parent and obviously don't know the proper way of raising a child. You don't give into childish demands. You hold firm, knowing that your decisions are best for them, and they will eventually see reason. As a father is to his son, Elendel is to the outer cities."

Right in the back, Wax thought, turning around. Amusing how those instincts worked here. He didn't respond immediately. You waited to aim well for return fire like this. Thing was, he'd made these arguments before, mostly in private, to many of the senators in this room. He was making headway, but he didn't have enough time. Now that he had these letters—now that they'd all seen them—he needed a chance to go back to each senator, the ones on the fence, and share these words, the ideas, and persuade. His gut said that if the vote happened today, the bill would pass. So he hadn't come here just to make the same arguments again. He'd come with a bullet loaded in the chamber, ready to fire.

He carefully folded up the letters and tucked them snugly into his pocket. Then he took the smaller stack, two sheets from his other pocket. The ones that Steris had made copies of in case he forgot. Actually, she probably made copies of the other ones too. And seven other things she knew he wouldn't actually need, but would make her feel better to have her bag, just in case.

Rusts, that woman was delightful.

Wax held up the sheets and made a good show of getting in just the right light to read it.

"Dear <Maelstrom>," he read out loud. "We're pleased by your willingness to see reason and continue to enforce Elendel trade superiority in the Basin. You will make us all wealthy, and we promise you half a percentage of our shipping revenues for the next three years, in exchange for your vocal support of this bill and eventual vote in favor. From, Houses Hasting and Erikell."

The room erupted into chaos, of course. Wax settled in, hooking his finger around his holster, standing and waiting for the cries of outrage to run their course. He met <Maelstrom>'s eyes as the man sank down in his seat. He had hopefully just learned an important lesson: Don't leave a paper trail detailing your corruption when your political opponent is a trained detective.

Rusting idiot.

Footnote: Brandon initially stated that he would be reading chapter 1, but continued reading until some point in chapter 2.
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