Could you show me the equator line on the Scadrial map?
Isaac Stewart (paraphrased)
It runs very close to Elendel. *Points to it on the map*
And the Prime Meridian runs through Elendel.
Could you show me the equator line on the Scadrial map?
It runs very close to Elendel. *Points to it on the map*
And the Prime Meridian runs through Elendel.
Over the course of Rhythm of War, we see Cohesion applied in three different ways as applied by different Tones, and I can see internal/external and pushing/pulling contradictions in those. Is that a pattern that will be accurate for all of the Surges?
Yes, but a loose pattern. Accurate under the loosest definition of the word. You will find connections there, as you are looking for them, and most of them will be intentional. But it will be hard to fit every Surge into exactly that framework.
Gereh, the Feruchemist in Rhythm of War, did his Aviar grant him physical abilities?
No, that Aviar has mind abilities.
At the end of Stormlight 4, we see Dalinar create a vision where Kaladin is able to talk with a version of Tien. How interested would Hoid be to know about this?
This would be a 9/10 on the Hoid interest meter.
We've seen Stormlight act like a wave in Rhythm of War. Does it also have particle-like properties like real light, and if so will we get to see an experiment that proves that?
Yes, it does act like a particle too. No, I don't have plans to show an experiment like that.
Is Whimsy the most dangerous Shard? Is he essentially, like, a Shard cat?
Whimsy is the most dangerous Shard to your sense of decorum and self-worth.
Would Nightblood consider Investiture to be evil?
No, Nightblood would not.
Have we been introduced to any chromium ferrings?
If people started viewing their worlds as doughnut-shaped, would the Cognitive Realm change as well?
Yes, the Cognitive Realm would shape to that if the general group on the planet all were viewing anything, but particularly something like that. It would influence the how the Cognitive Realm manifests.
As technology develops and people start seeing the world as spheres, will that change…?
It will have an effect.
If Wayne, The Lopen, and Vasher were all in the same room, who would Vasher punch first?
Lopen. No filter. The difference between Wayne and Lopen is: Wayne can read a room. Lopen’s not so good at that.
Can a Shard hold on to the Cognitive Shadow of a person for later use?
Yes, that can indeed happen.
Without it being fully Invested?
You don’t have to fully Invest it, no. They would have to do some Investing shenanigans, but what you’re asking is quite possible, very possible.
So, for instance, let me give you a corner case. You might be asking: could Endowment send somebody back later than immediately after they have passed away? The answer would be “yes.”
I’m gonna tell you, I have no immediate plans to do that, but it is possible within the framework of the cosmere.
Dawnshards. More of an Intent, or like a Command?
More of a Command.
And are they tied to the four groupings of sixteen?
That is a RAFO.
The four groupings of the sixteen. Could it also be related to the groupings of metals?
It could be related to that, but I won’t guarantee that it is.
Kelsier was very clear in Secret History that his ties to the Physical Realm had been severed. Are we then to assume that the current Thaidakar/Lord of Scars is him teamed up with Spook? Or have they used their knowledge of Hemalurgy to find different human hosts? What’s going on there?
Excellent question. This is partially a RAFO. But you should assume that things have happened to allow for what’s going on. There are answers coming very soon. I’m going to warn you: not a lot of answers. But some answers are coming very soon. Maybe very, very soon.
As an avid chicken watcher in my real life, I really enjoy the inclusion of Aviar in the Cosmere. And I was curious if in upcoming series, will we see the inclusion of more worldhoppers utilizing Aviar for trans-Investiture purposes?
Yes, you will. The thing about the Avair is: the secret of what’s going on there is known by very, very few people, and there is certainly some work going on in that regard. Basically, people offworld trying to figure out what is going on with Aviar and how they work, because they are not what people expect them to be because of the way that the Investiture is being Invested, shall we say. But you should see that being relevant to future era Cosmere.
Is there, or has there ever been, a Dawnshard hidden in a book?
I will RAFO that.
Are the glyphs on Scadrial which happen to look like bands, spikes, and beads a breadcrumb from the Lord Ruler in case his plans failed?
No, they are more that we decided (if you go look at the old ones) that modern people were interpreting them differently. This is not an active thing done by the Lord Ruler. Isaac can contradict me on this, because he designed them. But my understanding that it’s a natural outgrowth of people said “that looks like a spike” and so they started doing it more spike-like. And it just kind of became a thing for them as they were standardizing, and as typography started to exist, and things like that. Not necessarily meant to be a clue from the Lord Ruler.
With all the bad things that we’ve seen the Ghostbloods do so far (like imprisoning Lift) is Kelsier no longer a good or mostly-good person?
Kelsier would say he’s a good person.
I would say: Kelsier’s a complicated individual whose moral compass does not align to my same moral compass. But he never was. He would say that he hasn’t changed; I would say that he has changed slightly over the centuries.
Would Kelsier be able to Return to the Physical Realm in the same way that Vasher did?
No. Mmmm… which time? Let me parse this question. Could a Shard with a great deal of Investiture take his Cognitive Shadow and staple it to a body, or indeed recreate (which is usually what happens) an entirely new body for him? Yes, that could happen. It would need, really, the will of a Shard and the desire to do so, but that could happen.
He couldn’t do it himself, though; because you could also have been asking: “return to the Physical Realm,” pop through; ‘cause Vasher popped through a perpendicualrity to get onto Roshar, which is another way he returned to the Physical Realm. I didn’t think that’s what you were asking, but sometimes, once in a while, you’re asking multiple things at once to be tricksy.
I have a sort of delicate question. If a bendalloy Ferring filled an unsealed mind and then gave it to someone else who tapped it, which one would go to the bathroom?
I don’t think this is working the way you think it’s working. The Ferring who is creating it is going to be the one who goes to the bathroom.
Did Hoid join the Worldsingers just to learn about Roshar’s stories? Or is there something more going on there?
Hoid never joined the Worldsingers. (Can one join a group that one created, is the question there.)
Is Tarah, Kaladin’s flame, still currently in Urithiru? Because there’s a chapter where it kind of seems like she’s there.
I will answer that in Book Five, so I’m gonna RAFO you. That is at least my plan; one of the interludes should be from her viewpoint. That is my plan right now.
When a Shard Splinters, does it have any effect on the cosmere that we aren’t seeing yet?
What would be the effect if all the Shards Splintered?
It does have, but see, there is Splintering, and there’s Splintering. Traumatic Splintering is a different event than a Shard Splintering themselves, or things like this. There’s a whole continuum going on there.
All the Shards being Splintered would, of course, have an effect. But it could have all kinds of different effects based on how, and why, and what’s going on, and what happened to the different pieces of Investiture. You can have a full Splintering, where the Shard is just completely blasted into pieces. Or you can have a Shard taking off pieces of their soul and Splintering it out and sending it off to be self-aware, and things like that. These are two different things.
Also, there’s a whole bunch of nuance in that question. But the answer is: it will inevitably have an effect, and there are effects that have happened in the cosmere that you don’t recognize yet as being the effects of Splintering, and things like that.
In Book One, Taravangian was talking to Szeth, when Szeth confronts him at the end. He talks about the Lifebrother; but we haven’t heard any other references since then.
You have not. That’s a RAFO.
What would happen if a Pure Tone or anti-Tone interacted with Shard metal?
Different things can happen, but generally, if it’s the right Shard metal, you’re going to get a resonance or a destructive resonance to that Tone.
When I asked about the Set and cards, would the names of some of the Set members (like Suit) be a codename? Or would it be a hierarchy name?
It’s a hierarchy name.
At the end of Rhythm of War, we see Shard-induced time dilation; you bring a lot of Investiture into a place, and it slows down time.
It can also speed it up.
How much Investiture would it take to dilate an area so that one area moves forward about fifteen years into the future while everything else remains? Like, they have ten minutes, everyone else goes fifteen years?
There’s a couple variables here. Number one is the length of the area, and how fast that fifteen years passes. If we want us to jump forward fifteen years, in how much time? Fifteen years compared to one year? Fifteen years compared to one minute? Fifteen years compared to one second? These are all different things. And, of course, the more you’re compressing and the larger the area, the more Investiture you’re requiring.
Could two unchained Bondsmiths in the course of a duel do it?
Fifteen years? Fifteen years is gonna be a stretch for what they can get a hold of, but it depends. Unchained Bondsmith, unchained to (for instance) a deity that there is no longer a Vessel controlling that power in the way that it needs to have the limits on it is going to be able to access more than one where there was some Vessel there saying “no.” So there’s one factor in it. A Bondsmith can access a lot of power, as evidenced by the migration. The migration from Ashyn to Roshar happened with a Bondsmith powering some Elsecalling. And that allowed for some pretty crazy things. Getting an entire population moved through a portal across that much space is a lot of work and a lot of energy.
So what you’re asking, I think that’s stretching. Depends, again, on how long. Fifteen to one, not so hard. Fifteen years in a second is really hard and probably beyond what they have capacity to do.
I see what you’re doing there. You saw me talk around it.
We have some idea that Autonomy is fiddling around in Roshar and in Scadrial.
And other places.
Considering her involvement with the Ghostbloods: has she directly interacted with Kelsier/Thaidakar?
Whether she has or not, what is her opinion of Kelsier?
You’re asking, directly Autonomy, not one of her Avatars? Directly, Autonomy likes Kelsier and respects Kelsier. Autonomy is a fan, shall we say.
I have a question about the singers. If one of them were to reach the Third Heightening, would they then be able to sing the pure Tones of Scadrial?
Yes. They definitely could. They might be able to before they reached that Heightening, as well.
The Stormlight Archive deals with mental health significantly. Are you telling a story of overcoming mental health and its difficulties, or are you telling a story of ongoing...
I am telling a story about characters that I want to be as real to my lived experience as possible. So the story of the Stormlight Archive, what is it about? It is not about mental health. It is about people, but a disproportionate number of them do struggle with kind of dynamic mental health issues.
Mental health is one of these things where there’s always individual answers. If we talk about my wife Emily, there is no cure for depression. Even medication is about managing depression. For her, the right answer is cognitive behavioral therapy and learning what it is to live with depression, and then countering that proactively in her mind, at least for her. That is the answer that she has found that works very well for her. Other people might be able to… I have had a family member who had depressive episodes that lasted a number of years. And they, through therapy, were able to get to where they no longer would be considered having depression, because for them it was a different sort of thing. And these are two explorations of what we would lump as the same sort of mental health issue. But is it even? Everyone is so individual, right?
For the vast majority of people struggling with mental health issues, it is more like Emily than it is like this family member that it was about overcoming it. I consider it to the individual, that the story I’m telling about. I will use the example of the difference between (for physical handicaps) Rysn and Lopen. For Lopen, the story is: there’s going to be a cure, and I have been cured. For Rysn, there is no cure, and it’s about, instead, living with the disability. Overcoming the disability, yes, but it always being part of who she is. And those are two life experiences that we can find people in this room who have probably... Some are continuing to live with a handicap, and others have found that there is some way to just completely get over. And that’s an individual thing.
And I’m not trying to say in the Stormlight Archive, “This is the right path.” Except for the right path being: getting help is okay. Working on it’s okay. And society should maybe do a better job about understanding it.
Sometimes, Vin and Kelsier seem to notice people burning metal when there was a coppercloud around. So I was wondering if copperclouds can change depending on how much the smoker or mistborn wants it?
It’s gonna depend on a lot of factors. How strong is the coppercloud? How strong is the person piercing it? How Invested is the individual? And these sorts of things. There are deliberate points where Vin pierces a coppercloud that I intend to be moments that you’re supposed to pay attention to in the story. And this is done intentionally; this is not, like, a binary on/off.
We know that magical healing has a lot to do with Identity, like Lopen and Rysn. Suppose someone was tapping Identity from an unkeyed metalmind, and then you tried to heal them with any kind of magical healing. What would happen?
Most likely, that person’s perspective of themself is going to filter that unkeyed metalmind, and so what’s going to happen is what would normally happen to that person. In most instances. There are ways to get around that, but the vast majority, that’s what you’re gonna see.
And if they were storing Identity instead?
Then you’re gonna go back to their Cognitive picture of themselves, which is going to be what’s filtering this, how they see themselves. If you knock them unconscious, they can’t see themselves, you’re blanking them of Identity, and things like that. They still, basically, will have… it’s gonna be really hard to get that all separated. The mental picture of themselves still exists on the Spiritual Realm. Remember, Realmatics is based on Plato’s theories of the forms, but your perspective is what’s shaping that. So there’s still gonna be, like, on the Spiritual Realm, there’s gonna be some version of yourself that is deeply influenced by how you view yourself that is going to be what that Investiture is trying to match, it’s trying to bring your body into alignment with that. So you’ve gotta replace that thing if you want it to do something different. Which you can do with Hemalurgy.
Does Adolin Kholin have two different colored eyebrows?
I have never pictured him with two different colored eyebrows, but Isaac gets to canonize this, because he oversees the concept art. So really, you should pull Isaac aside and say, “Hey, is there some blonde in one of the eyebrows or not? Because I’ve seen them both.” I have not imagined him with different colored eyebrows.
In the future eras, Breaths seem like a very easily transmitted form of Investiture. Will that become an inter-galactic currency?
Breath is handy in couple of ways, because it is easy to transfer, and you can take it off-world without an issue. But there’s a problem in that: yes, it’s a renewable resource, but the renewable resource comes from human beings. As long as Breath doesn’t get lost and is consistently given up, then what we’re gonna see is there will be pools of it. But it’s always going to be a fairly rare resource. Which really hampers its ability to become an intergalactic commodity on the level that people would like it to.
Stormlight is a much better (in most people’s viewpoint and opinion) of what they’re trying to do with Breath. But they can’t get it off the planet yet; they haven’t figured out how to make that happen. But that’s one of the reasons why a lot of people are really interested in Roshar, is because of that.
Now, there is one that’s really portable, but very difficult to get, and that is… I’ll leave that to you. There's another one. Go ahead and theorize. Do it fast, because there might be a note to it in Lost Metal, so you’ll get your answers soon. But let’s just say it’s fraught with danger to obtain.
Can we get any pronouns for Aona and Skai?
Aona is definitely a she/her. I’m gonna go she/her with both of them, so you can talk about them accurately. That’s how I picture them currently in my head. I have not written those books yet, so it’s subject to change, but I have she/her for both of them.
My favorite god, Sazed/Harmony, in my recent reread I got a bit angry at him because he didn’t let kandra be able to reproduce, but he let the koloss be able to do it. And I’m wondering if there’s a way he could have allowed that, but he chose not to? And also if there’s a way that it could happen in the future, so that two of my favorite people could have a baby?
There are a couple things that he was facing, and let me walk you through his philosophy on this, which you are allowed to disagree with. I want, for every character I write, there to be things they do that you disagree with, because otherwise I’m writing all characters to be the same person, if that makes sense.
The kandra have immortality and are able to perpetuate their culture by being immortal for as long as the individuals live. The koloss don’t have that, meaning that if he didn’t make koloss able to breed true, the entire people vanish in one generation and all culture associated with them. And so because of that, he took the extra effort to change the koloss to allow for this sort of thing. But he did it in such a way that they would not have to have hemalurgic spikes, because the idea of making new hemalurgic spikes is extremely distasteful to Harmony. Reusing old ones is a thing he was willing to allow, but new ones he didn’t.
Could he have changed the kandra to be similar? Well, the answer is kind of a fairly... yes, but they would no longer have been the kandra, they would have been rolled back to being what they were before the Lord Ruler. And so they basically would stop being what they are that makes them unique as a culture. And he decided not to do that.
You can disagree with that, and I think there are some pretty valid arguments against the choice he made, but that is the choice he made.
Is there a way going forward? Yes, this is theoretically possible.
Could you use AonDor to manipulate Connection? If so, would a real AonDor smarty be able to do something similar to a Bondsmith?
The short answer to your question is: yes. Let me give some explanation.
Even when you are seeings some things happening in Elantris itself, you are seeing them manipulate Connection. It is mostly reinforcing Connection, but it is, in a way, manipulation. Rewriting Connection, rewriting Identity are both things that they can do. So with enough power, with enough smartiness, what a Bondsmith can do can be done.
In fact, we have seen short-range Elsecalling done by… Obviously Elsecalling’s not Bondsmithing, but you know that a Bondsmith powered a big Elsecalling [to migrate from Ashyn], one of the big things you’ve seen a Bondsmith do is get people between plants. And you have seen people use AonDor to Elsecall. You’ve seen them Lightweave, you’ve seen them do a lot of these things. They also could do some of this same stuff.
Basically, rule of thumb is: almost anything in the cosmere that is possible can be replicated with AonDor with the right program. But you may need an injection of Investiture in certain ways.
We’ve seen several groups throughout the cosmere that have the express purpose of collecting Investiture from the various systems. I have a fear that there is a group that is going to (either now or sometime in the future) go around collecting Investiture specifically through Hemalurgy.
Which is theoretically possible and horrifying to consider.
So my question along those lines was: what happens when you use a Hemalurgic spike on an Aviar?
You are a very mean person. Basically, an Aviar’s got a mini-bond, so it’s gonna work in a similar way to what would happen if you were trying to do it to a Knight Radiant, which I’ve talked about in the past. Which means it is a less effective way to try to steal something with Hemalurgy, because once you’ve got two individuals involved in it… The Aviar, obviously, isn’t exactly the same. But it’s going to work, but it may not last, I guess is the answer I would give you on that.
If that Aviar is already bonded to a person, how does that spiking affect the person they are bonded to?
That bond will last, but how long? Who knows. Basically, you’re gonna fool the system into thinking you’re the Aviar if you have done that. So the system is going to assume that’s what you are. They’re gonna see you as the bird if you put the spike into yourself. But, because there are multiple individuals, things like this, and you’ve got the whole thing with the Aviar and their symbiosis, and things like that. It is not gonna work nearly as well as stealing something from, say, a Feruchemist or an Allomancer.
Memory is tied to some level or portion of Spiritual Identity, or else Feruchemists would not be able to store it. So, Hoid lost memories at the end of Rhythm of War in his exchange with Odium. Would that mean part of his soul was stolen and then absorbed into Odium, and if so, what is stopping Odium from doing that with all of his enemies?
Basically, what Odium split off is stuff that Hoid is storing in excess Investiture. (Basically, it was Breaths, in Hoid’s case.) And this sort of thing, where this extra memory… One of the reasons that Hoid is able to function better than, perhaps, some other very long-lived individuals is: he has found out how to keep some of this Identity in, shall we say, SD cards made of Investiture. Imagine that sort of thing. So what Odium was stealing from Hoid was straight out of an SD card. Which means that it’s not nearly as deeply ripping into someone’s soul, and it is also not nearly as noticeable.
But the other thing is: Hoid is directly in violation of certain agreements that have been made, which therefore exposes him to… He is lacking protections. As you’ll notice in the end of Book Three, where he’s like, “I need to be careful, because I am in violation.”
And so, there’s a couple things going on here. Number one, much more easy to access those memories. Number two, Hoid’s in direct violation and under no protections of any sorts of agreements and things like this.
Can Lift eat metal and somehow produce Stormlight?
RAFO, good question.
If Teft, Dalinar, and Zahel were to play a game of Mario Kart, how would they place?
Zahel cheats. And Zahel wins. Teft lets Dalinar win because a good sergeant knows when an officer needs an ego boost. So that’s our ranking.
Other than the Lord Ruler and people that are using the Bands of Mourning, will we ever see a Full Twinborn again?
Yeah, I think that you will.
If a Full Twinborn (regardless of natural or holding the Bands of Mourning) had access to unlimited Investiture, could they become the sun by infinitely increasing their gravity and heat?
Infinite Investiture, you’re theorizing?
Dalinar’s next to him.
Dalinar’s not gonna be able to provide enough. But in a thought experiment, sort of outside bounds of time and space… you are providing infinite Investiture, you are providing an infinite amount of healing, and you are having them create heat and weight? The problem is, you’re gonna need a whole lot of mass to turn into the sun. I mean, there is a way you can do this, but you’re gonna have to provide… Either the Investiture’s gonna have to become mass, or you’re gonna have to have them do it in the proximity of a whole bunch of mass to have to start causing that sort of fusion reaction where the different layers collapsing in toward the center, dense layers, that sort of thing. In the realm of complete hypothesis, then yes. But, of course, you an do that here with infinite energy and infinite mass, if you needed to, using mechanical means.
I guess the weird part of that question is: the person could retain consciousness through infinite healing, and that is the weird part and that is possible. Yeah.
Having read Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, that world has got a lot of problems, and I have to ask. When you get to the end of it, what hope is there for those poor people?
You know, despite everything that’s going on, they still manage to survive. That’s pretty impressive. I would say that there is a way out for them, a way toward more stability. Because the danger is a spiral of lowering population numbers because of things that are happening. When you’re dying and becoming undead, there’s certain curves, a multiplicative curve that is very dangerous to population numbers that happens whenever you are dealing with some sort of undead thing like that. But there are ways out.
They depend on silver, which is a limited resource.
It is. But do know that, in the cosmere (it’s like when you’re burning metals), there are injection points of new metals into things that are possible to figure out.
But yes, they’re in danger. They’re definitely the Simpsons meme. That is Threnody as a whole. And maybe someday, I’ll be able to write a book there, and we’ll dig into some of these issues.
How do Ferrings know how much of an attribute is in their metalminds?
They have a natural sense for it when they’re touching it. It’s not like they have a number pop into their head, but it is a similar feeling to you knowing how much energy you have left, how tired you are. They can feel in their metalmind.
It’s really heavily implied in the first Oathbringer letter that the Shards made a pact not to settle near each other. Given that a full half of the Shards ended up doing that, what is the cost for them breaking that oath? You implied earlier that there’s always a cost for Hoid, for taking his protections.
The wording of those things allows them to agree together, but it also gives them a little bit of power over one another, and you’ve seen the side effects of that on the planets where it’s happened. It has not gone well for any of them, if you kind of run the numbers on that. But the wording of it allows two, later on, to say, "Okay, we both agree." (If one said no and one said yes, then they were in trouble.) This should imply to you that Odium did get permission, as well.
Will we ever see the Origin of Storms be explored?
RAFO. It’s a RAFO with a “I intend to.” But whether I get to it or not is a question.
I do intend to. We will see. Ask me this question again in a couple years.
Would it be possible for the Fourth Bridge to do the exploring if Windrunners and maybe Dalinar used Adhesion and Dalinar’s Bondsmith powers to hold the ship together to brave the highstorms?
That’s real dangerous. Way smarter to just use Windrunner pressure manipulation to go up over the highstorms. But yes, that would be a better way to use the Fourth Bridge to accomplish that.
Hoid is collecting Investiture abilities like Pokemon cards. I was wonder if he could… and maybe not necessarily him, but if somebody could collect all forms of Investiture and be able to use all of them.
He certainly would like to try. What will happen? He’s not even sure. But he would like to try. Is it possible? It is theoretically possible. We’ll see if he is able to accomplish it.
Will Wax ever meet a full Mistborn that we don’t already know about?
The Sleepless. They’re not from Roshar. Do they have a single origin point in the cosmere? And if so, have we seen it?
They do have a single origin point in the cosmere. You have not seen it.
If someone was to burn atium while playing a video game, how much would they be able to see?
I’m gonna say that it’s gonna be somewhat confusing to them, but atium enhances your ability to react to what is being inputted, as well. Like, you see all these things, but you also gain supernatural ability to react. So they would see kind of a big blur on the screen, but they would be able to interpret that, and they would be fine.
You would be the ultimate Smash player.
Would they be able to see their own character’s movements?
What their own character would be doing in the future? So, usually, when I’m doing the atium shadows, it doesn’t include you. So it’s not going to include your own character’s movements.
If it were a game where the entire screen moves with you as you move around? Or would that also not show up?
No, you’d get a big blur. You’d get a huge blur of stuff on the screen, but your brain would be able to interpret it, and you’d be, like, 360 no scoping right and left.
Are all of the Unmade native to Roshar?
Yes, they are. Eh… yes, I’m gonna say the Unmade all count as being native to Roshar, yeah.
A couple years ago, someone asked the question of the creature that was pulling on Shallan as she first entered Shadesmar. Is that Ba-Ado-Mishram? Is she trapped in Shadesmar under the beads?
Ooh, RAFO. Good question.
You said that there’s gonna be a time jump between [Stormlight] Book Five and Book Six, the two arcs. And also going into Era Three of Mistborn. Era Three and Era Four, are they gonna go way past what’s going on in the second arc?
So, Era One of Stormlight. Break for ten years-ish in-world. (I have to write Book Six to know exactly how long it’s going to be, but somewhere around that.) Wax and Wayne happens during that break, chronologically. And Era Three of Mistborn; I would say seventy years, might be closer to fifty. But either way, it’s going to be post-Stormlight [Ten]. We’re getting a little disjointed in our timelines, just as the writing balances out, but I think it’s gonna work out. I don’t think they should be giving too many spoilers to each other. I do have to kind of talk around things now and then.
Ostensibly, all of the magic that we’ve seen in the cosmere ultimately originated from Adonalsium. Ostensibly.
Does Adonalsium have a counterpart with equal or comparable power? And if so, have we seen that counterpart’s influence in the cosmere?
This is a matter of personal philosophy. The aethers are said (by themselves) to co-date Adonalsium and to not be derived from Adonalsium’s power. So there is at least one that is theorized to be that way, but it’s going to depend on who you trust and who you talk to.
If Hoid were to leave the Rosharan system, would that kill his spren? And would he still be able to use his Radiant powers?
As currently understood by the mechanics of the cosmere, he would just not be able to leave without breaking the bond to that spren. Breaking that bond wouldn’t necessarily kill the spren, but he would not be able to leave with the spren. You have seen him off-world post-Stormlight Five. So I’ll leave that to you. But he is trying to figure out how that would not necessarily have to be that way.
In The Way of Kings, in Kaladin’s post-Shardbearer-kill scene, he’s in Amaram’s tent. And he muses on the fact that he had killed a Shardbearer. He says, “I joined the likes of Evod Markmaker and Lanacin the Surefooted.” I imagine, like, a Zombieland style Shardbearer-killed weak thing where they’re dropping pianos on him, and stuff. Would you happen to know how either of them killed their Shardbearers?
Both of those are held up as examples because they happened on the battlefield.
Now, at least one of those didn’t happen the way it’s actually recorded to have happened. They are held up kind of more in mythology because it’s very useful for the Shardbearers for non-Shardbearers to imagine the best way to kill a Shardbearer and get their Shards is to attack them on the battlefield. At least one of those was a poisoning. But that’s not how it’s mythologized.
In Mistborn, there’s kind of a buildup where Vin is going to use the eleventh metal to fight the Lord Ruler. It’s kind of a fizzle-out moment. Was there actually a way that Vin could have used the eleventh metal to defeat…?
No. I devised the eleventh metal as a counterpoint to atium (which shows the future) with the eleventh metal showing the past. I wanted a push and a pull. In my original designing of it, it was always this idea of “you get to see the past and that is the secret.” It was an information-based clue, not a power-based clue, if that makes sense. You weren't gonna get strong enough to beat the Lord Ruler; you will get smart enough to beat the Lord Ruler.
I’m a bit of a music nerd. I would love to know if Alethi music is based on any real-world music theory? And if so, which culture?
Yes, I was going basically into Middle Eastern music, because that’s one of the basic touchpoints, particularly, for their writing system and their language and things like this. But I tried playing around with different music theory and scales (and I never had a music theory class, despite playing trumpet for years), and I talked to my writing group about my ideas, and they’re like, “That doesn’t work, Brandon. Just don’t do that.” So I didn’t end up putting it into the book, I ended up tweaking it quite a bit. But that is where the roots would be.
Are hungerspren highspren?
Hungerspren are not highspren. Good question. Highspren are their own spren; they are the highspren.
You want to know if hungerspren are the armor of the Order that applies to highspren, is that the question? That is a RAFO.
If you were transported in the cosmere in any contemporary period of the books (with the exception of Sixth of the Dusk) with the goal of reuniting Adonalsium, how long would it take you? Days? Weeks? Years?
Centuries. If it’s even possible, which I won’t even confirm anyways.
With all of your knowledge?
Yeah, probably. Even if it were possible, if you’re going to go into Stormlight era, there are planets you’re going to have to get to with no perpendicularities. How are you gonna do that? Depends. It’s possible, but…
For one of the Unmade to be classified as Odium’s Unmade, must it have been made by another Shard or Investiture first before it became Unmade?
Excellent question. RAFO. We’re gonna delve into the Unmade quite a bit in coming books, so I’m RAFOing right now.
Does each Unmade on Roshar have a specific attribute that they embody?
Yes, to an extent they do, yes.
The monks of Dakhor are known to follow the Order of Bone. And we have Teft leading down the new bridge crews down into the chasms, where there are skeletons of bones. And he said, “Look around you; this is why we’re also known as the Order of Bone.” Is there any sort of connection there?
Not a big one. That’s more of a reference there for people who eventually read Dragonsteel Prime, where that was a big thing I called Bridge Four. But I decided to not use that title for Bridge Four very much. It’s partially an in-joke for my team. It is not meant to be a reference to Dakhor monks.
Odium has a history of breaking Shards. In order to do that, it feels like he must have something that gives him an edge over the other Shards. I’m curious if Odium (Taravangian) possesses anything further than the Shard of Adonalsium?
He does not have anything more than Odium. But he does have an edge.
Like a Dawnshard?
Not a Dawnshard. No, if he had a Dawnshard, that would be very, very bad.
Does anti-Investiture react to a different Shard’s Investiture in any significant way?
The answer is kind of a no, kind of a yes. Mostly a no. Anti-Investiture is going to have an explosive reaction. But the thing is, if it’s anti-Investiture of a specific Shard, that explosion is much grander. But you can make that explosion happen in a just antimatter-and-matter same sort of thing. But you can make the explosion bigger.
Preservation gave up some of his power to create people. So Ruin had more power.
An edge, you might say.
Sazed took both. And I’m curious if Ruin still has power over Preservation?
It is currently theorized on-planet that Ruin does.
In Rhythm of War, parts two and four, the part starts with an image of the symbol of Stonewards. I was wondering if that’s because Adolin is a viewpoint character for those parts?
There were four of the miniatures that are candidates to get turned into painted figurines: Shardplate Kaladin, Syl, Navani, and Leshwi. Brotherwise plans to make two of those four into figurines, and they polled the crowd as to which two they wanted the most. The crowd began to chant "All Four!"
The next Cosmere board game they are working on is not a Stormlight game.
The basic form that parshmen awakened to after the Everstorm (which is not workform) doesn't have a canonical name yet, and is referred to in the wiki as the "awakened parshman basic form."
Is it possible for a full mistborn to ingest and burn a shard blade?
It is possible, and it is possible that I might be able to see that in the future if I can fit that in.
Do Cytoverse slugs have actual genders?
Not really, since they reproduce asexually, they more go by the genders that people give them.
Is Lirin a worldhopper?
No, I'm going to quash that theory
Was phendorenas soul obliterated
He said the soul of phendorena wasn’t obliterated and it could’ve reached the beyond he also added that nothing can be obliterated in the cosmere things can be changed but not destroyed
Are there any penguins in the Cosmere? If so what worlds would they be on?
There are penguins in the South of Scadrial that were restored by Harmony during the Catacendre.
What about the Horn Eater Peaks? Would there be shelled or armored penguins there?
*laughs* I don't think so.
Can multiple Fourth Ideal Radiants combine their armor to form a giant Megazord/Volton type thing, maybe to fight a thunderclast
That is technically possible but it would be difficult to achieve. I have no plan on doing that in the books right now.
When the Five Scholars traveled to Roshar, this happened post Recreance, so most Shardblades would have been dead, how did Nightblood gain sapience?
Shardblades weren’t the only Blades around that were active, there were Honorblades. Honorblades are self-aware, but do not manifest a spren in the Cognitive Realm.
I asked Brandon if Rock ever built the shrine he promised Syl.
Brandon grinned ear to ear and said "RAFO!"
In Oathbringer Kaladin travels with a group of freed parshmen. One of them, Sah, dies but what about his daughter Vai. Is she okay? Is anyone looking after her?
She is okay, well, as okay as she can be considering the circumstances (dead father and living under the oppression of the Fused). She is being looked after.
Would a heavily invested person or object resist a soulstamp?
Yes, but soulstamps have a lot to do with volition. If the person was willing, they would be able to overcome that resistance to an extent.
Adolin's birthday is 1184.108.40.206.
In the Voidbinding chart, do the vertical lines [between the Windrunner/Edgedancer and Stoneward/Lightweaver-equivalent glyphs] mean anything special?
Hm, I don't know... it's been 15 years since I did that so I'll have to remember... I just see things I'd do differently. Like should there only be nine...?
Brandon had me do a bunch of stuff, so there probably is a reason. But it might be the kind of secret where he doesn't tell anybody and then way later explains it. So there might be a reason but I don't know what it is.
On the broadsheets distributed at the con, there's this glyph in the bottom right corner of the map. But in [The Lost Metal] there's writing instead of the glyph.
Oh yeah, I used to sign my art, but I felt it didn't fit in-universe, so I started using that glyph instead, then eventually I stopped doing that. It doesn't mean anything.
On [the Wax and Wayne deck of cards distributed as con swag], on the Joker, there's a figure that looks like it might be Autonomy, with a symbol in it that's kind of like the harmonium symbol but different. Is that symbol for trellium?
That's just a later version of the symbol for harmonium. Part of how the symbols evolved between eras. There are other differences too, like with the spikes. It's also the symbol for Scadrial.
The figure does look like they might be related to Trell, huh...?
Can all the Shards manifest the same powers, for example could Honor create an Allomancer?
Yes, but there would be more natural ways for Honor to achieve this.
As a follow-up, do you understand what polymorphism is? If so, could all the Shards meet the same contract?
Yes, I do, yes they can. I understand what you are asking and it is a soft yes.
The logo for Dragonsteel  shows a dragon holding a sword. What is the name of the sword?
The sword doesn't yet have a name. Neither does the dragon.
Szeth Flashback Three
Szeth felt that somehow, he was in the shadow of the mountains even long after the sun had gone now. The bleating of lambs filled the air, each call jostling one another, emerging from the darkness around him, with a nervous energy reminiscent of a slaughter. Dozens of shepherd families crowded in this ravine, homes left behind as they were too close to the coast, too near to the ravaging stonewalker raiders and their dark ships. Szeth and his sister had to work hard to keep their flock, driven hastily through the oncoming dusk, from bleeding into the others. It wasn't impossible to sort flocks that intermingled; indeed, it might be inevitable, considering how shepherds and their families kept pulling further and further back, up against the slope of the mountains, nervously pushing to be as far from those raiders as possible, inching as close as they dared to the place that soil gave way to the stones. These mountains were holy, too, but not so much as the ones that emerged from below. The mountains were a fortification against the outside, a wall to hold out the strange people of the other world. They weren't an object of worship so much as a beautiful sign that the spren love the Shin.
Szeth and Elid eventually got their sheep into a huddle, separated enough from the others. The beasts wouldn't sleep easily tonight; they could sense the concern of their masters. Or maybe they sensed more? He looked to the sky and the surrounding clouds covering over moon and star. The night felt oppressive to him. Lanterns made points of light all through the valley below, but they almost seemed to be swimming in that blackness, like they were stars and he was somehow floating above them.
He left his sister to count the sheep and found his mother beside some improvised firepits, discussing an evening meal to hopefully calm everyone down. Lentil soup; no meat, of course. They weren't soldiers.
She put Szeth to work, which is what he realized he'd wanted to do when wandering this direction. Gone and buried was his desire for some simple time to express himself. He needed to sweat, to work out his nervousness, and standing around with the sheep wouldn't have let him accomplish that. So he mashed vegetables with vigor. No chopping; the farmer owned several knives of fine steel, crafted using metals that had been made using mythical powers from the east, so no stone had touched them in their forging. But none were available. So you used your mortal and pestle, crushing the onion, garlic, and carrots together, each of which had been lightly brazed to soften them. This went into the large clay basin, and you repeated with some more. Good, thick work.
In the distant darkness, music started playing as someone got out their flute. This cut off shortly, leaving the air to the nervous bleating. The farmer wouldn't want to give away their position in the night, in case raiders slipped past their soldiers. Szeth had heard this was the reason for no bonfires and minimal lanterns. Indeed, he worked at his mashing only by the shadowy light of the firepit, which had been dug into the ground.
Szeth enjoyed working on soups like this, even if the onions made his eyes water. The cook, who oversaw the feeding of the people in the lands and made certain nobody went hungry had created these interesting wooden ladles for measuring. His current one had the bowl of the ladle split into three sections, with some smaller measuring sections along the handle. All he had to do was fill up the largest of the compartments with carrot, the middle one with onion, and the next one with garlic. Then, he filled in the little divots on the handle with salt, ground pepper, and thyme, respectively. He could dump that all into his pestle and begin mashing, and would always have the right proportions. Once that was done, he added it to the basin with one scoop of lentils and two of water. With the measuring ladle, he could work without supervision, filling the basin on his own, never worrying about his measurements or being forced to try to tell if the soup tasted right.
Despite the late hour, he didn't feel tired; he was too nervous for that. But he continued, glad for the work. He enjoyed it specifically because it was almost impossible to do it wrong. Why couldn't more things in life have a tool like this for exact measuring? He hadn't forgotten about the choice his family had made in moving the stone. And unfortunately, now that he had time to think about it, he found himself increasingly uncomfortable. Not just about what they'd done, but that all three other members of his family would have agreed to it so quickly, without apparent concern. Why was he so different?
Fretting over this brought him little satisfaction, though he did finish an entire basin of stew. He left it simmering and moved to another, though the cook herself soon strode past and checked on his work. If she'd arrived in person, that said something about the level of the disturbance. The girthy woman was dressed all in color, with a red skirt, blue sash, and yellow blouse. Dark, curly hair up in twin buns on her head, skirt parted at the front to show off another splash of yellow underneath. She was one of those who added, a ruling counterpart to the farmer of the region. "Needs more pepper," she declared of the stew he'd left behind.
What? No! He'd done it perfectly! Szeth watched with horror as she added some pepper, then bustled off, calling for a group of shepherds to come in and get bowls in a rotation. Why... why would she say that? She'd created the measuring tool herself. If you followed that, then the soup should taste right. It shouldn't need to be changed in any way. Unless... he must have done something wrong. Why couldn't he get things right, even if he had the tools?
He tried to get back to his work after this, but was distracted as another vibrantly dressed figure stepped up to the fire. The farmer was dressed in his robes; he wouldn't work in those, but wore them over his traditional farming clothing, which would be soiled from his day's activity. The dirty clothing was a symbol, but so were the colors he bore, and so it was best for him to both not change and change at the same time. In this case, a violet outer robe and an inner sky-blue one of a filmier material. No mere splash of color for the farmer; he was color. The farmer was he who added. He had pale skin, like Szeth's family; not exactly uncommon in this region, though those of darker skin were more prevalent. "Ah," he said, seeing Szeth. "Son-Neturo. I had hoped to find your father here at the fire."
"I'll find him for you, colors-nimi," Szeth's mother said from the darkness nearby, where she'd been distributing bowls to those who'd come to eat.
The farmer bowed his head and spread his hands, indicating he'd accept her offer of service, as one should always try to do. Then he accepted a bowl of food from the cook as she bustled the other direction. Szeth guessed he'd have refused that if others had been unfed if she hadn't done it herself, but one did not contradict the cook when she delivered food.
The farmer settled down, then, robes rustling, on a log near Szeth, who continued working on the large basin of stew. The man's presence made Szeth uncomfortable. Was he supposed to say something? Entertain the main? Szeth began sweating, despite the cool night air.
"I have heard from your father about you, son-Neturo," the farmer said, "that you are becoming an excellent dancer. Perhaps you could dance for my workers and I in the field sometime."
"I... I don't know, colors-nimi," Szeth said, blushing in the night. "Entertaining the farmers is usually a job for the musicians, isn't it?"
"It's a job for any who wishes it," the farmer said.
"Does it add, though?" Szeth asked. "Dancing doesn't make anything or feed anyone."
"Ah, you are so young yet," he said. "If you think that to sweeten a person's life and make the hours is not a form of feeding them..." The farmer smiled. The man had a kindly face, oval, like a grain of wheat topped by flax and hair. His hands were calloused, with dirt under the nails. A true sign of nobility.
"Colors-nimi," Szeth found himself asking, "how do you know what to do?"
"I'm not sure that I follow you, child."
"How do you know what is right?" Szeth said. "The right choices to make; how do you decide what they are?"
The farmer sat for a time, stirring his food, taking a bite now and then. "Do you know the difference between men and animals, son-Neturo?" he asked softly?
Szeth frowned, but couldn't find words. It seemed like a question with a great number of possible answers, and he didn't want to say the wrong one.
"Men," the farmer said, "can take actions."
"Animals take actions, colors-nimi," Szeth said.
"It may seem that they do, yes. But if you consider, you will realize they do not. Does the rain act when it falls? Does the rock act when it rolls down the hill? No, the spren move these things. They cannot act; they cannot choose."
Szeth thought. Was the farmer testing him? Because his own experience taught him otherwise. Yes. It must be a test. "I have a sheep," Szeth said. "Molli. She always comes close to me when I'm sad and licks my face. She chooses, colors-nimi."
"Does she, now?" the farmer said, sounding amused. "I think not. But I suppose it is wisdom after a fashion to think your own thoughts, son-Neturo." Maybe it wasn't a test. "Well, regardless," the farmer said. "Acting. Choosing. This is what defines us. And so, you ask what I know what to do? I don't. That is the simple answer. I try, I see, I act. The spren move most things in the world, child, but not us. There's a reason in that. One that the Stone Shamans teach, and one I ponder as I work."
"So I must learn what to do...?"
"By trying," the farmer said.
"That's not specific enough," Szeth said, smashing vegetables in his pestle with vigor. "Two people can try and come up with different answers. Surely the spren have the truth for us. Surely, if we ask, they will tell us what to do."
"If they did," the farmer said, "would that not simply be the same as moving us? Making of us rain or rocks or... other things that do not move on their own?"
He'd been about to say "sheep," Szeth thought.
As the farmer finished the last of his soup, then glanced up toward the sky, the darkness vaguely broken by the peaks of the mountains. "In other lands, rulers don't act," he said. "They decide, but don't act. That is why I must go each day to bring life from the earth. Why I must add, rather than subtract."
That part made sense, but still, Szeth found that this conversation had yielded fewer answers than he'd hoped. If the farmer didn't know the right thing to do, then what hope did Szeth had? Perhaps, he thought, I can find the spren and ask them. They lived inside of everything, but were coy, emerging only at very special times. Szeth had only seen a spren three times in his life that he could remember, and each glimpse had been fleeting, over before he could really do more than stare in shock.
The farmer stood up as, nearby, Szeth's father arrived at the dim fireside. "Check your mixing tool, son-Neturo," the farmer said. "You've been adding too much pepper to the soup." He walked over and joined Szeth's father, speaking to him softly while washing his bowl at the feeding trough.
Szeth finished his current basin of soup, then got a bowl for himself and one for his sister. He hiked off through the darkness again, up to the armpit of the valley where she was set up and looking pensive, sitting on the grass, her small ceramic lamp in her lap. She looked up as soon as he arrived, walking to him eagerly. Was she that hungry? "Szeth," she whispered. "We're missing three sheep!"
"We'll find them in the morning," he said, handing her a bowl. "Probably with one of the other flocks."
She nodded, and by the flickering light glanced at him, then at the food, then away, nervous.
"What," he demanded.
"Molli is one of the missing sheep," she said. "I know how you favor her, Szeth. It's all right, though. I'm sure she's just with one of the other flocks."
He frowned. Molli did not like other sheep. She was almost blind, yes, but she could smell them. "You're sure?" he asked. "She's not here?"
"No. Do you remember bringing her?"
"I gathered her to the herd before we struck out," he said. "But I mean, there was so much chaos..." He met his sister's eyes, then turned to the southwest, toward the ocean and their home. A red haze stained the air in that direction. The stonewalker raiders; they liked to attack at night. Their metal lanterns were more effective than the ceramic ones the Shin used, and their powerful bows could set the roofs of fishing villages ablaze.
The farmer brought in soldiers, he thought, of our own. They'll be defending the coastlands. It was highly unlikely any stonewalkers would strike in as far as Szeth's family's homestead. "I'll just," he said, "go check some of the other nearby flocks. She's easy to spot." He lit himself a lantern and sheltered it with a covering, then went searching. But as he worked, calling to nearby shepherds and asking after missing sheep, a feeling of dread built inside of him. Molli always found her way home. He wasn't certain how she did it, but she was the one he didn't need to worry about when the flock strayed. She always came home.
And so, after searching five other flocks, Szeth found himself again gazing to the southwest, toward that blazing horizon. Perhaps it was his conversation with the farmer, emphasizing that the defining feature of human beings was their ability to choose. Perhaps it was the way his family had done what they had earlier in digging out the rock. Perhaps it was the general air and tone of the day, whispering that there were no right answers, just decisions to be made.
But in that moment, Szeth made his decision. A wholly uncharacteristic one he likely wouldn't have made on any other night, even facing the same dire circumstances. He put out his lamp, trusting on the filtered moonlight breaking through the clouds, then went stalking into the night. Toward their homestead to find Molli. By himself.
[Stormlight Five] Chapter One starts off with Kaladin waking up, and he kind of feels okay. And he kind of feels guilty about feeling okay, because the world might be ending in ten days. (Or nine, at this point.) But Syl slaps him around. And he goes out, and you've got ten days until what might be the end of the world, and he spends the time playing blocks with his baby brother. And this may not be the most dynamic, action-packed way to start a book, but it's been a long time coming for poor Kaladin. So he plays blocks with his brother, and he and Syl and his mother hang out for a little while. And I'm gonna continue that chapter right now [from an earlier reading], where they're just kind of hanging out.
Chapter Kaladin One (cont)
So it was that Kaladin was exceedingly relieved when his father appeared in the doorway, a spring in his step and a large stack of papers under his arm. His wife walked over to take these, curious. "Dalinar's medical corps layouts and current operating procedures," Lirin explained to her.
"Dalinar, eh?" she said. "A few meetings and you're on a first-name basis with the most powerful man in the world?"
"The boy's attitude is contagious," Lirin said.
"I'm sure it has nothing to do with his upbringing," Hesina said. "We'll instead assume that four years in the military somehow conditioned him to be flippant around lighteyes."
"Well, I mean..." Lirin glanced at Kaladin. Both looked into his eyes, which were a deep blue these days, never fading back to their proper brown. Didn't help that he was, even still, hovering a few inches off the ground. Air was more comfortable than stone, after all. He knew they found what he'd become to be somewhat unbelievable. He didn't blame them. He found himself stomping in on occasion and trying to believe it himself.
The two of them moved over to the counter at the side of the room, spreading out the pages. "It's a mess," Lirin said. "His entire medical system needs a rebuild from the ground up, with training on how to properly sanitize. Apparently, many of his best field medics have fallen in recent events."
"I hear the army has had a difficult time of things these last few years," Hesina said, scanning the pages.
You have no idea, Kaladin thought. They glanced at Syl, who had sidled over to sit next to him. Oroden went chasing blocks again, and Kaladin... well, he just basked in it for a time. Family. Peace. He'd been running from disaster to disaster for so long, he'd completely forgotten what this felt like. Even moments like dinners with Bridge Four, precious times of respite, had felt like the gasps of air you might get while drowning, rather than truly peaceful breaks. Yet, here he was. Retired, watching his brother play, sitting next to Syl, listening to his parents chat. Storms, it had been a wild ride. He'd survived it all, somehow. And it wasn't his fault that he had.
Syl sat upright next to him, then rested her head, insubstantial though it was, on the side of his shoulder as she watched the blocks float. Which was odd behavior for her, but he wasn't accustomed to her spending so much time in a human size, so maybe her head grew more tired when she was larger. "Why the full size?" he asked her.
"When we were in Shadesmar," she said, "something felt different, about the way everyone looked at me, treated me. I felt more like a person. Less like a force of nature. I'm finding I missed that."
"Do I treat you differently when you're small?"
"And you want me to change?"
"I want," she said, "things to change and be the same all at once." She looked at him, and probably saw on his face that he found that completely baffling. She continued, leaning back and giving him a grin. "Suffice it to say that I want to make it harder for certain people to ignore me." With that, she poked him in the arm.
"Is it harder to be this size?"
"Yep," she said. "But I've decided I want to make the effort. Not all the time. More often, though, than I used to." She shook her head, making her hair swirl around. "Do not question the will of the mighty spren princess, Kaladin Stormblessed. My whims are as inscrutable as they are magnanimous."
"You were just saying you wanted to be treated like a person," he said, "not a force of nature."
"No," she said. "I want to decide when I'm treated like a person. That doesn't preclude me wanting to be properly worshiped, as well." She smiled, devious. "I've been thinking of all kinds of things to make Lunamor do, if we ever see him again."
He wanted to offer her some consolation on that, but he honestly had no idea if they'd ever see Rock again. Another hurt, different from the loss of Teft, different again from the loss of Moash; perhaps, the loss of the man he'd thought Moash had been.
"Son," Lirin said from the side of the room, "don't you have a meeting with Dalinar? He mentioned he had something for you to do."
"I already know what it is," Kaladin said, standing up. "He told me yesterday. Szeth is going to Shinovar to confront Ishar. Dalinar wants me to go with him and see if I can do something to help."
"Ishar?" Hesina said. "You mean Ishi'elin, priest of the Heralds, second only to the Almighty in glory and truth?"
"Yeah," Kaladin said. "Apparently he's gone mad? Not surprising, considering how Taln and Ash are faring."
Mother gave him an odd look, and it took a moment to realize it was because he was speaking so familiarly of Heralds, figures of lore that were the focus of religious devotion the world over. He wasn't certain of why he used the familiar tone and names so easily; he didn't know either of them, and was simply using the names they'd used in meetings. It felt natural to talk that way. He'd stopped reverencing people he didn't know the way Amaram branded him. God or king, if they wanted his respect... well, they could earn it.
"Son," Lirin said, turning away from the many sheets of papers they'd been studying, detailing out Dalinar's medical tent layouts. From the way Lirin said the word, Kaladin braced himself for some kind of lecture.
He was unprepared, then, for Lirin to embrace him. Awkwardly; it wasn't Lirin's natural state, this sort of attention. Yet, Kaladin appreciated it. The gesture conveyed things that Lirin found it hard to say. That he'd been wrong. That perhaps Kaladin needed to find his own way. So, Kaladin embraced him back.
"I wish," Lirin said, "I had fatherly advice for you. But I far outpaced my understanding of the way things work in life, so I guess... go be you. Go save the world."
"Dad," Kaladin said. "I'm not going to war. I'm not going to save the world. I'm just going to see if I can talk a crazy man out of a few of his issues."
"Then you are the best one to do it." Lirin pulled back. "I love you."
Kaladin forcibly suppressed an eye roll. This was what he'd wanted; he could deal with a little sappiness.
"Stay safe," his mother said, giving him another side hug. "And come back to us.
He gave her a nod, then glanced at Syl. She'd changed while he wasn't looking, from a havah to a Bridge Four uniform, with her hair in a ponytail like Lyn usually wore. It looked right, somehow, on Syl.
It was time to go. With one final hug for his brother, Kaladin strode out to meet his destiny, for the first time in years feeling like he was somewhat in control. Deciding for himself to take the next step in his life, rather than being thrust into it by momentum or act of society. And while he'd woken up feeling good, that knowledge, that sense of volition and control, felt legitimately great.
Chapter Kaladin Two
Kaladin soared up through the center column of Urithiru, accompanied by Syl. Dalinar still kept his meetings on the top floor, though Kaladin had trouble imagining the location was convenient for people who couldn't fly. He found it difficult not to think about the last time he'd flown up this corridor, following Teft's murder. Enraged, feeling like something unfamiliar had poisoned his blood. A rage, fraternal twin to the normal feelings of Stormlight. Eagerness to act, but this time also to destroy, a storm inside of him, this time red and broken with bloody lightning. That man he'd become after killing the Pursuer; that man frightened him. Even now, days later, lit by calm sunlight, remembering that man was like remembering a nightmare. Made more terrifying by the fact that he knew it had been Kaladin himself and his choices that had led him to that point.
He lighted at the top of the elevator shaft and noted a glow coming from a nearby room. "Navani," Syl whispered, eyes wide. She shrank down to the size of a spren and zipped off. There was something almost intoxicating about Navani to the spren of the city, something about her bond to the Tower and what it had done. Syl would be back shortly, but like vines seeking water, when they came near Navani these last little while, Syl had always flown off for a little bit.
Kaladin forced himself to walk, not glide, over to the room where Dalinar was taking his meetings today. As soon as he left Urithiru, Kaladin would need to go back to using Stormlight only when necessary. Best to be in the habit now.
Dalinar's meeting room had a smaller chamber outside for people to wait while meetings finished. Urithiru was getting more and more furniture these days, so there was a nice couch here in this small stone room where one could sit and wait. It was, unfortunately, taken up entirely by Wit, who was laying on his back, using space that could have accommodated three people, his foot up on one armrest, reading some kind of book and chuckling to himself. "Ahh, Wema," he mumbled, turning the page. "So you've finally seen what a catch Vadam is. Let's see how you screw it up."
"Wit?" Kaladin said. "I didn't realize you were even back in the Tower." It was probably a stupid thing to say, though. Jasnah was back, having been fetched by Windrunners and transported to the Oathgate in Azimir, so it made sense Wit had come along.
Wit, being Wit, finished his page of reading before acknowledging Kaladin. Finally, the lanky man snapped the book closed, then turned and lounged on the sofa in a different way, arms to the sides along the back, one leg crossed over the other, looking nothing so much as a king on his throne. A very relaxed king on a very cushy throne.
"Well," he said, eyes alight with amusement, "if it isn't my favorite flute thief!"
"You gave me that flute, Wit," Kaladin said, sighing as he leaned against the frame of the doorway.
"And then lost it."
"That's not the same as stealing."
"I'm a storyteller," Wit said with a flip of the fingers. "My kind have the right to redefine words as we see fit."
"The more confusing, the better the literature!"
"That might be the most pretentious thing I've ever heard."
"Ah," Wit said, pointing. "Now you're getting it. I knew you'd understand."
Kaladin hesitated, trying to sort through what had just been said. Sometimes, during conversations with Wit, he wished he had someone to take notes for him. Wit just sat there, looking back at him, seeming self-satisfied. "So..." Kaladin said, "do you want your flute back?"
"Hell no! I gave you that flute, bridgeboy! Returning it back would be almost as insulting as stealing it!"
"What am I supposed to do with it, though?"
"Hmm," Wit said, reaching into a bag at his feet and slipping out a different flute, this one painted with some kind of shiny red lacquer. He twirled it in his hand. "If only there was something one could do with this curious piece of wood. These holes seem intended for some arcane purpose beyond the understanding of mortals." Kaladin rolled his eyes. "If only," Wit continued, "there was a way to learn to do something productive with this item! It has the look of some natural sort... maybe an instrument? Of curious, mythological design, perhaps intended for some useful purpose? Alas, my poor, finite mind is incapable of comprehending the-"
"If I don't interrupt," Kaladin said, "how long will you keep going?"
"Long, long past the time when it was funny."
"It was ever funny?"
"The words?" Wit said. "Of course not. Your face while I say them, though. Well, it's been said that I am an artist. This is true. Unfortunately, the primary subjects of my art can never experience the truth of my creations as displayed upon their features, them becoming the only one immune to the experience." He flipped the flute in his hand again, then handed it toward Kaladin. "For loan, this time. It has the same fingerings of the one I gave you, though not the same... capacity."
"Wit. I can't play this flute any more than I could play the other one you gave me. I have no idea how."
"So?" Wit flipped the flute again, then extended it further toward Kaladin.
"I guess... I have to wait until Dalinar is done," Kaladin said, looking longingly at the door, which remained closed. Dalinar often took his time in meetings, ignoring appointment times, despite of Navani's attempts to get him to pay attention to one of the many clocks she delivered him. So there was no telling how long Kaladin would be up here.
Wit grinned. And, well... Kaladin felt indebted to him. As infuriating as the man (or whatever he actually was) could be... Well, when Kaladin had been in the worst darkness of the storm, Wit had been there to pull him out. Somehow, despite it being a vision or a nightmare of some sort, Wit had come for him. This man was a friend, and Kaladin appreciated him, quirks included, so he played the role the man obviously wanted.
"Will you teach me?" Kaladin said, taking the flute. "I don't have a lot of time but-"
Wit was already moving, whipping some sheets of paper from the bag at his feet. They had a strange kind of symbol on them, which made Kaladin nervous, but Wit insisted that it wasn't actually writing. Just the marks on paper representing sounds. He said that part with a smile, and it took Kaladin a few minutes to realize the inherent joke to them. Still, over the next hour (Dalinar really was taking his time), Kaladin listened and followed Wit's instructions. He learned the basics of fingering, of reading music and making notes. It was a different experience entirely from trying to figure it out on his own, though he'd largely forgotten about the flute. When Wit would let him in recent months.
When he'd first got it, he had legitimately tried. He knew that he had to blow air across the thing in just the right way, but it wasn't until Wit showed him exactly how to hold his hands that Kaladin managed to coax a few timid notes from the thing. An hour later, he forced out a stumbling rendition of the first line of music with notes that sounded far more shrill than Wit's version. It was an incredibly simple accomplishment, just a handful a notes; yet Kaladin felt he'd climbed a mountain in accomplishing it. He was smiling in a stupid way as Syl peeked back in to investigate the source of the noise. Probably wondering who's been stepping on a rat, Kaladin thought to himself.
"Nice work," Wit said. "Next time you're in a fight, start with a bit of that. The enemy is sure to drop their weapon and cover their ears."
"If anyone asks me about my skill, I'll just be sure to tell them who my teacher is." Wit grinned at that. "Am I at least going to get a story this time?" Kaladin asked, handing the flute back as he sat beside the man on the couch. When was Dalinar going to be done?
"That depends on how well you listen. And if you do what I say. And if you're willing to make up a few of your own." He rapped the flute with his knuckles.
"It was a fun enough way to pass the time while waiting, Wit," Kaladin said, "but I have to ask. Music? Me, playing a flute? What relevance is any of that?"
"Ah. Now there's a question for the ages," Wit said, leaning back. "What use is art? Why does it hold such meaning and potence to us? I can't tell you, because the short answer is unappealing and the long answer takes months. I will instead say this: every society in every region of every planet I've visited (and I've been to quite a large number) has made art."
Kaladin nodded thoughtfully at that. It made sense; Wit wasn't answering it as an actual question, but Kaladin was accustomed to that by now. Protesting would only lead to mockery.
"Perhaps the question isn't 'what use is art?'" Wit mused. "Perhaps even that simple question misses the point? It's like asking the use of having hands or walking upright or growing hair. Art is part of us, Kaladin. That's the use; that's the reason. It exists because we need it on some fundamental level. And the use is simply that: to be made.
When Kaladin didn't respond, Wit eyed him. "I can accept that," Kaladin said. "It's a tautology. Which is the point: the more confusing, the better, right?"
Wit grinned, and then that grin faded. He glanced through the door into Dalinar's meeting room.
"Wit," Kaladin asked, "I get the feeling this next part is going to be difficult."
"Yeah," Wit said softly. "I feel it too." A straight answer. Those were always strangely disturbing.
"Do you have any words of wisdom? Encouragement?"
"Everything you've done, Kal, everything you've been, has prepared you for this. It's going to be hard. Fortunately, life has been hard, so you're working under familiar constraints. We just carry these weights, son; eventually, we'll get to put them down."
Kaladin glanced to the side to where Wit was staring off into space, idly spinning the red flute in his fingers. Something in his voice, his face. "You're talking," Kaladin said softly, "like you think one of us won't survive this."
"I wish I were optimistic enough to think one of us would survive."
"Wit, I'm pretty sure I've heard you say that you're immortal."
"Yeah. Immortality doesn't seem to go as far as it once did, kid." He glanced at Kaladin, then plastered on a smiling face. "Listen. I think you can rise to this. Probably. Difficult though it will be. You're up for a different kind of challenge now. As am I." Wit tapped the flute. "You're going to have to learn to play music, Kaladin. Without using your breath or your lips."
"Wit. I know we've been joking about being confusing. Can you try for once to be clear?"
"I am trying. You'll win when you don't play music with your own breath, and when you fight without your own muscles. Play the flute, but don't. And fight, but don't."
"I think you've been reading too many stories, Wit. Riddles aren't actually helpful in real life."
Wit launched himself off the couch, crossing the room on legs that suddenly seemed spindly. He passed Syl, human-sized again, lingering in the doorway and watching him with a frown. "Listen," Wit said, sounding almost frustrated. "It will make sense when you get to it, maybe, if you can take this next journey down the right path. Keep your hope strong."
"Jasnah doesn't believe in hope," Syl whispered at the doorway. "I heard her complaining about it once."
"Jasnah would make an excellent Wit," Wit said, pointing at Syl. "She's the right amount of smart and the right amount of stupid all at once." He smiled in a fond way, and Kaladin wondered if there was anything to the rumors about those two. Wit spun toward Kaladin. "Do you know about the Passions?"
"That's some old Thaylen religion," Kaladin said, shrugging. "Something about emotion."
"Derived anciently from the teachings of Odium," Wit said, crossing the room and spreading his hands. "Though, honestly, it's not polite to point out that fact to practitioners of the Passions. People don't like hearing the way their religion was, mythologized like all others, as if myths can't be true. Regardless, the Passions teach that if you are fervent enough, if you care enough, your emotion itself will influence yourself. Not simply because of positive thinking. The Passions, as a religion, teach that if you want something badly enough, the cosmere will provide it for you."
Kaladin nodded slowly. "There might be something to that."
"Kid," Wit said, leaning down before where Kaladin still sat on the couch. "The Passions are utter horseshit."
"Why? It's good to be hopeful. The Passions sound nice."
"The wrong people get far too much mileage out of things that sound nice," Wit said. "The amount of money, effort, and lives wasted on things that sound nice would astonish you. Take it from a guy who is all too capable of the lie: nothing is easier to sell somebody than the story that they want to hear.
"Nice doesn't mean true, or even helpful. The Passions are deeply insulting if you spare even a moment to consider. I once spoon-fed broth to a trembling child in a kingdom that no longer exists. I found her on a road leading away from a battlefield after her parents, simple peasants who were caught between clashing armies, were slaughtered. Her elder brother lay half a mile behind, having starved hours before I found her. You think that kid who starved didn't want to eat? You think her parents didn't want badly enough to escape the ravages of war? You think if they had Passion enough, the cosmere would have saved them? How convenient to be able to believe that people are poor because they simply didn't care enough to be rich? That they didn't pray hard enough? So convenient to make suffering their own fault, rather than the result of life being unfair and birth mattering more than aptitude or storming Passion."
Kaladin met Wit's eyes, frowning. He didn't know if he'd ever seen the man so riled up by a simple concept, one that barely seemed to have anything to do with their conversation. But one could never tell with Wit. Non sequiturs that ended up being relevant were the daggers he kept strapped to his boots to be employed when his foes were distracted.
"You're a lighteyes now, Kaladin," Wit said, leaning forward even further. "You've hauled yourself up out of the crem, and done something incredible in that. You deserve praise. But be careful of assuming that people only get what they deserve in life. That's been sold a hundred different ways: positive thinking leading to opportunity, absolutist prosperity doctrines, the Passions. I've seen the same ideas recycled in a dozen different worlds, sure to emerge among useful ideas like storming weeds on a battlefield. They're all the same: deliberate, pernicious lies devised by powers who know their success was due to to luck at best, crass exploitation and larceny at worst. So they have to invent some kind of moral rationalization, a lie that lets them think they deserve what they have. Then, after inhaling their own stench long enough, they decide to package and sell it. And when it doesn't work for anyone else; well, they have the ultimate excuse. It isn't the idea that is flawed. You just don't care enough."
"Storms," Syl said, crossing the room. "This is important to you."
"And yet," Wit said, glancing at her, "wanting and praying desperately for all of them to choke on their own fingers as they reach down their throats to pull forth further nuggets of regurgitated idiodicy, it hasn't happened. Funny, that."
"Hope matters, though," Kaladin said. "You just told me earlier to hope."
"Sure, it matters. Of course it matters. You think I'd be here if it didn't? Hope is a virtue. But the definition of that word is relevant. You know what a virtue actually is? It's not that difficult."
"If this entire conversation is the way I learn," Kaladin said, "then I dispute the point of it not being that difficult."
Wit chuckled, then stepped back and threw his hands in the air. "Virtue is something that is valuable, even if it gives you nothing. A virtue persists without payment or compensation. Positive thinking is great, vital, useful; but it has to remain so, even if it gets you nothing. Belief, truth, honor: the moment these exist only to get you something is the moment you've missed the storming point."
He glanced at Syl. "This is where Jasnah is wrong about hope, smart though she is in so many other ways. If hope didn't mean anything to you despite losing, then it wasn't ever a virtue to you in the first place. Took me a long time to learn this, even though I've had it explained to me a long time ago by a smart man. A man who lost every belief he thought he had, but started over now."
"Sounds like someone wise," Syl said.
"Oh, Saze is among the best. He might be the wisest man I've ever known."
"Too bad none of it rubbed off," Kaladin said.
Wit tossed his flute, spinning it, then pointed it directly at Kaladin. "Congratulations. You've practiced music, you've listened to a self-important rant, and you've delivered quips at awkward points. I dub you a graduate from Wit's school of practical impracticality."
Syl sat down on the couch, though she left no impression in its cushions, hovering as always rather than truly sitting. She seemed completely baffled by all of this.
"Wit," Kaladin said, "does that make me your apprentice?"
Wit belted out a full-stomach last, one that lasted an extended time, long enough to be uncomfortable. "Kal," he said, gasping for breath, "you've learned a few things, but you're still far, far too useful a human being to be an apprentice of mine. You'd end up actually helping people! No, I have to refuse. I've already got one bridgeboy as an apprentice, and he's plenty incompetent to keep a hold of the position for many years to come."
"I'm sure Sig will love that description of him," Kaladin said. "I'll have you know he's doing a fine job leading the Windrunners."
"You've been corrupting him," Wit said. "I'm trying to return that favor to you. No, you're not my apprentice, but that doesn't mean you can't pick up a thing or two. A kind of cross-training into uselessness."
"You're so storming melodramatic," Kaladin said.
"Just trying to give you a proper send-off," Wit replied. "We're at the end, Kaladin, and you are needed. I want to send you to your divine destiny with a spring in your step."
"I don't know why everyone talks like that," Kaladin said. "War might be coming, but I'm heading away from it. Dalinar wants me to help a maniac come back to himself, and perhaps keep another one in line during the trip."
"That's it, eh?" Wit said. "Yeah, that's it. A little thing. Just you becoming the world's first therapist."
Kaladin glanced at Syl, who shook her head. "We have no idea what that is, Wit."
"Because," Wit said, "you haven't finished inventing it yet!" He leaned in. "About time someone figured out a method to counteract what I've been doing. Makes my job more fun, because a challenge is always appreciated. Now go, the two of you. The world needs you: more than you, or it, or anyone other than your humble Wit yet realizes. The fight ahead of you is going to be legendary. Just remember what I said. You can't fight this one with the strength of muscle. You'll have to wield the spear another way."
"And learn to play the flute," Kaladin said flatly, "without playing it."
"Yep, you've got it."
With a sight, Kaladin stood up. Then, the most remarkable thing happened. Wit extended his hand. Then didn't pull it back as Kaladin hesitantly took it, but gave it a firm shake.
"Thank you," Wit said.
"For the inspiration."
Kaladin frowned again. "I'm never going to see you again, am I, Wit?"
"Nobody knows the future, Kal," he replied, "not even me. So instead of saying goodbye, let's call this an extended period of necessary separation, requisite to give me time to think of the most perfect, exquisite insult. And if I never get to deliver it to you in person; well, kindly do me the favor of imagining how wonderful it was, all right?"
Wit winked at him, then let go of his hand and walked over to rap at the door. Dalinar himself opened it a moment later. "You finally done with him, Wit?" the man asked. "I've been waiting for a storming hour, and there isn't time to waste!"
"He's yours," Wit said. "Remember what I told you."
"I will," both Kaladin and Dalinar said at the same time. They glanced at each other.
"Wit," Kaladin called just before the man vanished. "What about my story? What about my story?"
"You will tell your own story this time, Kaladin," Wit said, with a last glance and a wink. Then he was gone, his whistle from outside slowly retreating.
"You ever think," Kaladin said to Dalinar, "that you'd end up dancing on that man's whims?"
"I suspect," Dalinar said, stepping back and waving for Kaladin to enter, "we've been dancing to them for years without knowing it. I think he's some kind of god."
"No," Syl said, joining Kaladin as they walked in, but looking over her shoulder. "He could have been a god, but he turned it down. Which makes him something else entirely."
Dalinar grunted, then gestured into the chamber. "Come. I have a few things to tell the two of you, then you need to be on your way."