C2E2 2024

Event details
Name C2E2 2024
Date April 26, 2024
Entries 23
Upload sources
#2 (not searchable) Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Shallan One

Shallan lingered atop Lasting Integrity, the great fortress of the honorspren, thinking about all the people she'd been. The way she changed based on perspective. Indeed, life was largely about perspective. Like this strange structure: a hollow, rectangular block hundreds of feet tall, dominating Shadesmar's landscape. People—spren—lived along the inside walls, walking up and down them, ignoring conventions of gravity. Looking down along one of the inside walls could be stomach-churning, unless you changed your perspective. Unless you convinced yourself that walking up and down that wall was normal. Whether a person was strong or not wasn't usually subject to debate; yet if gravity could be a matter of opinion...

She turned away from the heart of Lasting Integrity and walked along the very top of the wall, looking out to survey Shadesmar. Rolling ocean of beads in one direction; jagged obsidian highlands lined with crystalline trees in the other. On the wall with her, an even more daunting sight: two spren with heads made of geometric lines, each wearing a robe of some too-stiff, glossy black material.

Two spren.

She'd bonded two. One during her childhood, one as an adult. She'd hurt the first and suppressed the memory. Shallan knelt down before Testament, her original spren. The cryptic sat with her back to the stone railing. The lines and pattern that made up her head were crooked, like broken twigs. In the center, the lines were scratched and rough, as if someone had taken a knife to them. More telling, her pattern was almost frozen.

Nearby, Pattern's head pulsed like a vibrant heart, always moving, always forming some new geometric display. Comparing the two broke Shallan's heart. She had done this to Testament by rejecting the bond after using her Shardblade to kill her mother.

Testament reached out with a long-fingered hand, and Shallan, pained, took it. It gripped hers lightly. But Shallan got the sense that it was all the strength Testament had. Testament responded to being a deadeye differently from Maya, who stood nearby with Adolin and Kelek. Maya had always seemed strong of body, even as a deadeye. Spren broke in different ways, it appeared. Just like people.

Testament squeezed Shallan's hand again, bearing no expression but that torpid motion of lines. "Why?" Shallan asked. "Why don't you hate me?"

Pattern rested his hand on Shallan's shoulder. "We both knew the danger, the sacrifice in bonding to humans again."

"I hurt her."

"Yet, here you are," Pattern said, "able to stand tall. Able to control the Surges. Able to protect the world."

"She should hate me," Shallan whispered. "But there's no vitriol in the way she holds my hand. No judgement in the way she remains with us."

"Because the sacrifice was worth something, Shallan," Pattern said, uncharacteristically reserved. "It worked. In the end, you recovered, did better. I am still here, and remarkably, I am not even a little bit dead. I do not think you will kill me at all, Shallan. I am very happy about that."

"Can I heal her?" Shallan asked. "Maybe if I bond her again?"

"I think, after talking to Kelek," Pattern said, "I think you are still bonded to her."

"But..." Shallan looked over her shoulder at him. "I broke the bond. That did this."

"Some breaks are messy," Pattern said. "A slice with a sharpened knife is clean. A slice with a dull one is ragged. Your break, done by a child without full intent, is like the one ragged. In some ways, that makes it worse. But it does mean there is still some Connection between you two."


"So, no," Pattern said. "I do not think merely saying words again would heal her." His head pattern spun a little more slowly, as if he were contemplating something profound. "These numbers are unfamiliar, Shallan. Strange. Irrational. And a sequence I do not understand. I mean... I mean we are walking on unfamiliar ground. A better metaphor for you, yes. Unfamiliar ground."

In the deep past, deadeyes did not exist. It was what they had learned, in part, from the honorspren and from Maya. The deadeyes—all of them except Testament—had been bonded to ancient Radiants before the Recreance. Together, they had rejected their oaths, human and spren alike. They thought it would cause a painful but survivable split. Instead, something had gone terribly wrong. The result had been the deadeyes. The explanation might lie with Kelek, the very person Shallan had been sent to Lasting Integrity to kill.

She squeezed Testament's hand. "I'm going to help you," Shallan whispered. "Whatever it takes." Testament didn't respond, but Shallan leaned in, wrapping her arms around the cryptic. Pattern's robe always felt hard, yet Testament's bent like cloth. "Thank you," Shallan said, for coming to me when I was young. Thank you for protecting me. I still do not remember it all, but thank you."

The cryptic slowly but deliberately put her arms around Shallan and squeezed back.

"Rest, now," Shallan said, wiping her eyes and standing up. "I'm going to figure this out."

* * *

Shallan and Pattern left Testament to rest and crossed the wall at Lasting Integrity to meet with Adolin, Maya, and the Herald Kelek, who were speaking with a kind of spren that Kelek called a seon. She manifest as a hovering ball of light roughly the size of a head, with an odd symbol at the center. Other than them, the wall top was empty this day.

"You don't remember?" Pattern asked softly as he and Shallan walked. "The events with Testament? I thought you did. I thought, with Veil gone..."

"Veil is not gone," Shallan said. "She's part of me, like she always was."

"I don't understand."

"It's hard to explain," Shallan said, "and I'm not sure I've entirely figured it out. Healing is not an event, Pattern, but a process. I've incorporated Veil into myself so she doesn't take control any longer, but she's not gone. Veil is me, but Veil is not always Shallan."

"But... you are Shallan."

"Imagine it," she said, "as Veil moving to the back of the wagon as we ride to the future. She's still there, coaching me, and we're both aware of the world." There was more to it than that, of course. Shallan had projected some uncomfortable aspects of herself into Veil; now she had to face them. She'd worried that Adolin would find it difficult, but, well... Adolin Kholin was storming wonderful. After the discussion last night, he seemed to understand. Together, they knew that there was work to do, but Shallan had taken an enormous step toward healing. And along with it, acknowledged something important: she didn't deserve hatred, but understanding. It was hard to believe, but Veil insisted they try anyway.

"But..." Pattern said, "Radiant is still separate?"

"More separate," Shallan said.

"Mmm... so still in the front of the wagon."

"Yes. That might change. It might not need to change. I'm figuring this out as I go, Pattern. But I do feel better. More importantly, I no longer need Veil to stand between me and the memories."

"So you do remember!"

"Yes and no," Shallan said. "It's a jumble. I was young, and the events were traumatic, and there was so much pain associated with memories of my mother. I need time to process."

"Mmm... humans are squishy. Not just bodies; minds, too. Memories, too. Ideas, too. Mmm..." He seemed pleased by that.

As a child, she'd bonded a spren. Something her mother had not liked. A man had come, either to hurt Shallan or separate her from Testament. Her father had fought him, and during their struggle, Shallan's mother had come at her with a knife. In self-defense, Shallan had killed her mother with an early manifestation of Testament as a Shardblade. Shallan, in trauma, had rejected her nascent oath and buried those memories. But if her bond with Testament had never been fully broken, what did that mean? And which memories of those days between her mother's death and the arrival of Pattern... which of those involved Testament?

I knew I had a Shardblade, long before I had bonded Pattern. I thought about it in Kharbranth. She'd convinced herself that the weapon belonged to her father and had been kept in a safe. She'd gone there before leaving and drawn it out to dismiss it, pretending it was an ordinary Blade, pretending she had ten seconds to summon it. However, a part of her had known, even then, it was Testament, a friend to whom she'd done great harm. That was the one thing Shallan clearly remembered. Testament was her friend. A dimpled pattern on the wall that had delighted, then engaged, then protected a young girl.

Her spren had never been as talkative as Pattern. Indeed, Shallan could only remember rare, soft fragments of speech, encouraging her to stand against the darkness in her family. Shallan had loved her mysterious spren dearly. Though her memories were jumbled, the emotions shone through the pain. Strength could be a matter of perception, sometimes, and today Shallan found she could choose strength.

They approached Adolin, Maya, and Kelek. Shallan still found it incredible that this man was one of the Heralds of the Almighty. The short, balding fellow kept rubbing his hands together, as if washing them with an invisible soap and water. Adolin and Maya practically towered over him as they spoke to the ball of light.

Maya was obviously paying attention. She wasn't completely healed; her eyes were still scratched out, and her coloring wan brown instead of vibrant green like the others of her kind, but she was getting better. She no longer wandered off or just stared blankly during conversations. She was even starting to talk more, here and there.

"I worry about what is to come," the ball of light was saying. It had transformed into an approximation of Wit's face, made all of soft white-blue light, and spoke with his voice. The spren was a way to contact him, as they'd discovered a few days ago. "The war is about to intensify. It all rests upon the contest of champions. Odium's chosen warrior against whomever old Dalinar chooses."

"Father will choose himself," Adolin said. "When the Blackthorn needs to be certain something is done right, he will do it himself." Adolin paused, then glanced at Maya. "Storm him, he's probably our best chance, though."

"Wit," Shallan said. "It's really happening?"

"It is indeed. The contest is set, contracts agreed to. Shallan, they've set it for ten days from now."

"So soon?" Shallan asked. "Storms. Where?"

"Urithiru," Adolin said, arms folded. "They've already sent Windrunners to get us, apparently. Should arrive today." Shallan chewed on that, trying to to feel emotional whiplash. It had taken weeks to reach Lasting Integrity, but Windrunners could have them back to Urithiru within the day, depending on how much Stormlight they brought.

She found herself eager to return. She'd had enough of the honorspren and their elitism. She missed blue skies and plants that didn't crinkle when you touched them. Though Shadesmar had a sun, it was distant and cold. She could never thrive here. Plus, as she'd indicated to Testament, she had work to do.

"Wit," Shallan said, stepping closer, the glowing version of his face focused on her. "My brothers are safe? You're certain?"

"Very certain, Brilliant One," he said back, soft. "You're sure the Ghostbloods will move against you?"

"Yes," she said. After a year and a half of flirting with the Ghostbloods, she'd finally stepped up and said no. Doing so had essentially declared war on them. She found Adolin's hand for support. He knew the entire story, now. "Wit, I know their faces, their plans. I'm likely the greatest threat on the planet to their organization, and they've tried to kill Jasnah for less. Everyone I love is in danger."

"I have to manage Dalinar and try to prepare him," Wit said, "but I think I can help you, as well. I've been watching Mraize's little crew; I'll send your people my drawings of their members. But take care, Shallan. I know this group and their leader; they can be brutal."

"As can I," Shallan whispered. She glanced at Kelek, who was staring out over the bead ocean and the deadeyed spren who still stood on the shore. Despite him, she felt safe here, with Pattern, Adolin, and Maya. Safe enough to voice it. "Wit, I'm worried, though. Am I ready?"

"I ask myself that same question, now and then," he said. "And, Shallan, I'm ten thousand years old."

"During the trip," she said, "I started to create a new persona, Wit. Formless. A version of me, but..." How did she explain it? "A version of me with no face. A version of me who could do terrible things. I walked away from it, Wit, but that capacity is still inside of me."

"Shallan," he said, and she looked up, meeting his eyes. "If it weren't for that capacity, then what good would choices be? If we never had the power to do terrible things, then what heroism would it be to resist?"


"Did you turn it away?" he asked. And Adolin squeezed her hand.


"Then heroism it is, Shallan."

"I'm remembering what I did to my mother," she said. "And my father. And, to a lesser extent, Tyn and now Mraize. I'm going to have to kill him, Wit. Is that my destiny? To kill every person who has ever mentored me?" In that, finally, her fears found voice. Did it sound silly, foolish, ridiculous? This pattern she'd seen in her life?

Wit did not laugh, though, and he considered himself an expert on what was ridiculous. "Would that any of us," he said, "could protect ourselves from the costs of heroism. But, again, if there were no costs, no sacrifice, then would it be heroism at all? I cannot promise you that it will be easy, Shallan, but I'm proud of you."

"I'm proud of you," Radiant whispered.

"I'm proud of you," Veil—the part of her that was Veil—agreed.

"Thank you," she said.

"I have to go," Wit said, "but I'll leave you with this. The Ghostbloods want something extremely valuable, and you have the key to it standing with you right now. If you want to destroy them, you might not need to kill every last one of them. Instead, you might just need a powerful leverage over them."

The glowing sphere melted from his face, back to a sphere. "He's gone," the spren said. "I'm sorry."

Wit's final words lingered with Shallan, reinforcing something she'd been considering: a way to protect Roshar from the Ghostbloods. And indeed, she knew what their next target was likely to be. They'd sent her to Lasting Integrity to get intel on one of the Unmade, and the Herald standing with her had the secrets they all wanted to know.

"I need," she said to Kelek, "to know everything you know about Ba-Ado-Mishram.

The Herald wrung his hands and looked to the side, as if seeking to escape.

"We're not going to hurt you," Adolin said calmly. "You know that by now."

"I do," Kelek said. "It's just... I wasn't supposed to be involved. None of us are."

"I don't think the other Heralds follow that," Shallan noted, folding her arms. "What did you do, Kelek?"

"Not much," he said, putting his hand to his head. "I... I can't do much, these days. I don't know why. I can't decide. I..." He looked up at them and then formed fists, pulling them close up to his chest. "I was at Urithiru when the plan to capture Mishram was conceived. Then I joined them on their mission. I guess I'm the only one alive who actually knows what happened to her. It's why the Ghostbloods and their cursed Lord of Scars want me."

"Just tell us," Shallan said.

"Some of us learned you could capture spren inside gemstones," he explained. "Mishram, for all her power, was a spren. The Radiants prepared a flawless heliodor, the color of sunlight, and they trapped her inside, and then they hid her prison. Not in the Physical Realm, and not in Shadesmar." He bit his lip between his teeth, then forced out another part. "In the Spiritual Realm. Melishi hid it there."

"How?" Shallan asked, sharing a look with Adolin."

"I don't know," Kelek said, backing away. "I don't know. But now... now they'll send more people for me, won't they? They'll trap me in a gemstone; or they think they'll be able to." He looked to the two of them, wide-eyed, and fled toward the way down. None of them gave chase. This was, unforunately, usual behavior for Kelek.

Maya grunted softly, watching him go. "He's gotten a lot worse," she said.

Shallan started. "You knew him?"

"Met him a few times," Maya said, then took a deep breath. "Never... never thought much of him, even then."

"Well," Shallan said, "we know something more about Mishram, at least. Her prison is part of what Mraize has been hunting for a long time now, I suspect. I might need to find it first, before he can do so."

"Ba-Ado-Mishram," Adolin said, thoughtful, leaning back against the wall's battlements. "The most powerful of the Unmade. What would the Ghostbloods want with her, though?"

"Mmm," Pattern said. "Power. So much power. She was nearly a god. She bonded the singers, once. Could Mraize be wanting to do something similar?"

Shallan shivered, considering and thinking of Mraize and his master Iyatil, somehow commanding the entirety of the enemy army. Was that possible? "Whatever the reason," Shallan said, "I have to stop him."

"Her prison is in the Spiritual Realm, though?" Adolin said, frowning. "What does that even mean?"

"Mmm," Pattern said, "means we will never be able to find it."

"Surely it's possible," Shallan said. "The ancient Radiants put it there; we should be able to take it out."

"You don't understand," Pattern said, holding hands apart and gesturing in his way. "You think Shadesmar is odd, yes? Black sky, little sun, Pattern with arms and legs for perambulating." His head spun a little faster. "The Spiritual Realm is stranger by orders of magnitude. It is a place where the future blends with the present. The past echoes, like the striking of a clock. Time and distance stretch, like numbers, infinitely repeating. It is where gods live, and even baffles some of them."

Shallan took that in, then glanced at Testament, huddled in the shadow of the wall further back along the walk. "Our best guess," she said, "is that the deadeyes were created because Mishram was imprisoned, right?"

"Agreed," Pattern said. "Mishram became like a god to the singers, the parshmen. She connected to Roshar, and echoes of that filtered to the spren. Ah, so wonderfully odd. Her imprisonment is the reason broken bonds now have such an effect on the spren."

"It's because," Maya said, "humans have no Honor. The god, I mean... I heard that... that Mishram had been captured. I heard that... the Radiants would destroy the world. That is why I decided.... decided it was done." She shook her head. "I don't know it all. I'd... like to. Considering the breaking... what the breaking... breaking the bond did to me..."

That day, the day Mishram had been captured, something deeper had happened, an event connecting humankind, Honor, spren, and the bonds. "We need to figure out how Mishram or her prison has power over bonds," Shallan said, looking to Pattern. "We need to go into the Spiritual Realm and find that prison, however difficult it is."

His pattern slowed, then finally he laced his fingers together. "Very well. Though, you know what I said when I said I was sure you wouldn't get me killed?"


"I should like," he declared, "to make a retraction.


Chapter Shallan Two

It was nice for Shallan to take a few hours to think, for once. Sitting, wearing a bright blue havah, rather than her traveling clothing, settled at the top row of the stone, open-air forum within Lasting Integrity, drawing. How long had it been since she'd simply let herself draw? She'd sketched a little during her trip, but that felt like an eternity ago.

She relaxed, flowing with the drawing, a depiction of the vertigo she felt looking up along the inside walls of Lasting Integrity. A surreal painting, like something from one of the older art movements, where perspective was intentionally alien and off-putting. She liked to think that the old surrealists had made contact with spren in Shadesmar, warping their minds to new ways of seeing things. Though she'd never been quite as good with landscapes as she was with people, she was proud of the sense her sketch gave of falling. Yet into what? You could not see, because the unnatural perspective held your eyes upward.

Like others she'd done today, a strange face kept sneaking into the art. In this case, she'd absently warped the shadings of one wall into that face. Feminine, a singer with angular carapace and shadows and curves forming a strata-like design on her face. Shallan flipped through her sketchbook. Each drawing done today had that singer face hidden somewhere, and she didn't remember making them. She'd done something similar at Urithiru, where the presence of an Unmade had warped her sketches. She tried not to let it disturb her quite so much, this time. Then, it had been a message. Was there a similar one, now?

She looked toward Adolin, who paced at the center of the forum, a place where just a few days before he'd been on trial. Today, he'd been joined by Godeke, a lanky Edgedancer. Shallan's agents had joined them, as well—Ishnah, Vathah, and Beryl—along with their cryptics. Together, they waited for the Windrunners, and for the fruits of some final efforts in Lasting Integrity. She started another sketch as they waited.

In the end, twelve arrived. Twelve honorspren, from a population of hundreds. That was how many showed up in response to Adolin's call to arms. He and Godeke greeted each one with a smile, but she knew he'd expected more.

One other did arrive. Notum, the former sea captain, still had his unique facial hair, though he walked on unsteady feet. They still didn't know why he'd been assaulted by those Tukari that Adolin had saved him from. Notum didn't join Godeke and Adolin, but instead walked down the steps to join Shallan. "Radiant Kholin?" he said.

That was still odd to hear, even a year after the wedding. It hadn't been assumed that she would take Adolin's name. Among the Alethi lighteyes, either party was equally likely to keep their name as adopt a new one. In her case, she was needed in the Kholin line of succession. She doubted she'd take a throne that Adolin had turned down, but Dalinar wanted people he trusted in line. Her adoption in the Kholin house would strengthen their claim, should it come to that. In explaining this to her, Dalinar and Navani had been speaking pragmatically. But Shallan knew she'd remember that day differently. For her, it was the day when a set of parents had, for the first time, wanted her.

Notum settled down beside her. "Your mission was a success. Twelve new Radiants."

"We expected more, though," Radiant said, emerging. "After the support Adolin got at the trial, I anticipated an excellent recruitment effort."

"A good number of the honorspren support him," Notum said, "but that doesn't mean they want to be bonded. One can be irate at the honorspren leadership and think humans are deserving of support without wanting to take that step."

Down below the twelve honorspren started to fade. "I've never seen this before," Notum added. "I thought they'd go in a blink. Instead, they fade away to nothing."

"Not nothing," Radiant said. "They'll appear on the other side."

"I hear it's traumatic," Notum said. He had a stiff, formal way of speaking, even when the words were casual, clipping each word as if he were making an announcement from the quarterdeck of a ship. "Spren on the other side forget themselves."

"Only briefly," Radiant said. "These will probably stay in a group, which helps, and immediately make their way to Urithiru, drawn by the squires training there."

"Do you even need them now, though?" Notum asked. "Isn't the war soon to end?"

"Windrunners are our primary method of traveling long distances, and I suspect they'll be helpful in peacetime. Beyond that, even if Dalinar wins the contest, I worry about what is to come next. I think, the more Radiants we have, the more stable our position will be."

"Then I should hurry," Notum said, standing. "To join them. So that I'm not left alone."

Radiant approved, but Shallan... she noticed something. "You sound reluctant," Shallan said.

He looked at her, glowing the same soft blue of all the honorspren. His uniform, his hair, everything about him was made of the same soft light. Solid, not transparent, but also not quite real in the way she understood reality. "There's nothing more for me here," Notum said. "I've been rejected of mine and seen their pettiness. I should like to be of service. Though, I admit, I do not wish to bond a human. I loathe the idea. Is that petty of me, in turn?"

"Absolutely not," Shallan said. "I have two bonds, Notum, and understand the cost better than most. It's not pettiness or even cowardness to be hesitant. Just like it's not cowardly or petty to reject any relationship."

"Pardon," Notum said, "but other sorts of relationships don't lead to soldiers with remarkable powers."

That did, admittedly, complicate the matter. But after learning what she'd done to Testament, who sat with Pattern a few rows down, Shallan couldn't help but question their mission itself. They needed Windrunners, yes; but it made her increasingly uncomfortable to demand that a spren bond. It wasn't intimate in the traditional human sense of the word, but it felt as deeply personal. "We can use every Windrunner, yes," she said, "but I don't think you should force yourself to bond a human if that makes you uncomfortable. You can be a good person and say no, Notum. I've learned that."

"Perhaps," Notum said. "Perhaps I will stay a little longer here, then. With effort, I might persuade others of my kind to offer you support." He pointed and drew her attention to a group of honorspren walking past wearing traveling clothing and carrying gear, as if to leave on a long hike. They waved to Shallan and Adolin but did not join those fading away.

"Objectors?" Shallan asked as Adolin waved back to them. "Those you mentioned earlier?"

"Yes. They don't agree with how you were treated but also don't want to go to war. They leave Lasting Integrity to make their own way."

She nodded. "Well, Radiant Godeke is staying to continue to normalize relations with the honorspren, and I might leave one of my agents, as well. If you stay, that would help. They could use a solid ally here."

"I am your ally," he said, "but as I warned you, the honorspren leadership does not care for me, even if they have been forced to revoke my exile." His expression grew distant. "We have an entire navy that once sailed the bead ocean. It is a shame to see those boats abandoned in the shipyards. It gives the enemy full control of Shadesmar's seas. Perhaps I could sail under honorspren authority again."

Storms. If Shallan hadn't said anything, Notum might have actually gone to become a Radiant spren. Meaning she'd just actively gone against their orders in coming here. Perhaps she wouldn't mention that part in her report to Dalinar.

No other spren came. Lucintia, the spren who had been Shallan's guide since her arrival at Lasting Integrity, made no appearance. Shallan had hoped she would change her mind, despite their occasional clashes.

"Notum" Shallan said, "thank you. For how you stood up for us during the trial."

"I am one person stretched thin, Radiant Kholin," he said, standing with his hands clasped behind his back. "Like colors on the mast, which have waved too long in the wind. I don't know what I believe or trust any longer. But what was done to you was not right. I could not play the sham role they demanded of me. I ask your forgiveness for even considering it."

"It was natural to want your old life back, Notum."

He turned to her, blue eyes meeting hers. "I lay on the ground, battered and assaulted, and watched your husband rise in my defense against overwhelming odds. He saved me with no expectation of reward. In that moment, I knew that Honor lived." He nodded curtly to Shallan, then walked down the steps to talk with Adolin.

Shallan slowly turned back to her sketch, where she soon found that she'd drawn yet another face in Adolin's shadow. Storms. Don't be unnerved, she thought. You were upset when you drew Pattern for the first time back in Kharbranth. But look how that turned out. She would not be afraid of her own art. She gritted her teeth and forced herself to flip to the next sheet and start drawing again, until someone else settled down beside her. Kelek leaned forward, hands clasped, seeming small and fragile.

"I'm not going with you," he said softly. "I... I can't."

"It's not safe for you here," Shallan said, sketching, fingers moving as if of their own accord. "If I got to you, Mraize's other assassins can do so."

"I... I will hide. Better. But I can't leave the seon, and she can't travel right now. It wouldn't be good for her."

Shallan didn't argue. It never seemed to work with Kelek. Instead, she lost herself in a sketch of him. A Herald to add to her collection. She might have said this was the rarest of gems to obtain, but was a Herald actually rarer than anyone else? One might say, because of their immortality, they were less so.

"We are broken, Shallan," Kelek finally said. "We are not the heroes you wish us to be. Not any more."

"I know how that feels."

"I don't think you do," he said, wrapping his arms around himself. "I don't believe anyone does." He looked to Adolin, chatting with Notum and Godeke. "You're really going to try to find Mishram?"

"If I don't," Shallan said, "my enemies will."

"Then what?" he said. "Will you release her? I... I cannot decide. Always cannot decide. I have preached for her freedom in the past, but now I worry. She might join and strengthen Odium. She hates humans." He put his hand to his head. "Ishar says all the Unmade should be contained. Yet what we did to the singers by imprisoning her..."

"I'll worry about that when we find her gemstone," Shallan said. "Honestly, I'll probably bring it back to the Bondsmiths and let everyone decide together."

He didn't decide to respond, so she continued drawing. The familiar sound of charcoal pencil on paper, the distilled attention of creation, like the most potent of alcohol. She attracted a few creationspren, like little swirling lights. These ones, though, behaved oddly. In here, she'd never seen them change shape like they did in the Physical Realm, but these started adopting the look of her pencil and eraser.

She kept drawing, lines imitating life, freeing it, but altering at the same time. You could never make an exact copy; that wasn't the point. Every sketch was a picture of the artist, as well. Their perspective, their emphasis, their instinct, reclaiming a moment otherwise lost. Once you got to the end, it was sublime. The moment when you basked in the thing you'd created. The feeling of awe mixed with disbelief that this beautiful object had come from you, accompanied by the slightest worry that, because if you didn't understand how you did it, you maybe didn't deserve to have been part of the creation. She loved the feeling, even the uncertainty of it.

"Radiant," Kelek said, hands clasped as he stared down at the stone floor of the amphitheater, "what do you fear?"

What kind of question was that? "I don't know," she lied.

"I fear options," he said. "I see every choice I make, and I see the terrible results that could stem from them. If I stay here, I see you fail without me. If I go, I see my presence—broken as I am—cause your failure. I cannot continue. I do not..."

She rested her hand on his, then handed him the sketch. He took the picture, frowning, then his hands widened as he saw it depicting him standing tall, wearing robes and striding from a fanciful city with colorful walls and strange trees with long fronds she'd made up. He carried a staff with an odd shape at the top and strode toward the growing light on the horizon. Though, in the picture, he looked backward, and his face was determined. Decisive.

"Do you often do this?" he asked.

"Sketch people?" she said, then blushed. "Yes, I kind of do it all the time. When I'm feeling like myself, at least."

"Not simply sketching, child. Do you often draw upon Fortune? Glimpse someone's possible selves, then pull one forth? Touch, in some way, what could have been? What might still be?" He glanced at her and must have seen the utter confusion in her eyes as he sighed. "Is this a skill commonly employed by Lightweavers during your time?"

"Not that I know of," she said. "But I don't exactly understand what you're saying."

He glanced toward Pattern and Testament. "Two spren... Of course, you've bonded two. Strange things happen when a Nahel bond is imbricated. There were rules against it once, I believe. How long have you had them both?

"For some time" she said. "Though I didn't know it. I didn't remember it until just recently."

"And how often," he asked, holding up the sheet, "do you glimpse into the Spiritual Realm, then manifest it in your art?"

"I..." She thought back to pictures she'd done, like one found in the pocket of a dead man. Like sketches of the Unmade lurking in Urithiru, or faces turning up in her art without her intending to draw them. She began to feel like a fool for objecting so quickly to someone who obviously knew far more about these things than she did. "It might happen now and then," she said. "There was an Unmade at Urithiru, and it showed up in my art. Now, these faces." She turned one toward him.

He nodded. "Because you've been thinking about traveling to the Spiritual Realm and finding Ba-Ado-Mishram."

"That's her?"

"One interpretation of her, yes," he said. "If you were someone else, I would assume you had seen some ancient art and were unconsciously influenced by it. For you..." He shrugged. "Fortune can do unthought, <phantotic> things."

"I'm sorry? '<Phantotic>'?"

"It means 'unnerving,'" he said. "I'm sorry. I don't keep up on shifts in language, nor am an expert on Fortune. Best speak to Midius, your Wit, about that. A <phantotic> man himself, that one."

#4 Copy


When are we getting more Renarin?

Brandon Sanderson

You will get the most Renarin you've ever gotten so far in Stormlight Five. Now, let me warn you, he's not a main main character yet. He won't get as much as you want until, like, book six through ten. But for now, you're gonna get more than you've ever gotten.

#5 Copy


With the incredible ability Bondsmiths have to reassemble things, would they theoretically be able to reassemble Adonalsium himself out of the Shards if they were detached from their hosts?

Brandon Sanderson

This is kind of a chicken-and-the-egg question. Would they be able to reassemble Adonalsium? Can you use Adonalsium's own power to reassemble Adonalsium? Can someone externally do it? I'm gonna give you a RAFO on that right now, but I'm gonna warn you this idea of using something to reassemble itself is more tricky than you might assume, all right?

#6 Copy


In anticipation of the [Mistborn] Ghostbloods era that you're writing, you've mentioned that you also want to write a space age series, obviously after that. You mentioned at one point, briefly, entertaining the idea of doing a cyberpunk series in between that. And I just wanna ask: what is the status of that?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm pretty much, in my head, committed to doing that, that we're gonna have all five eras, now. So that gives us epic fantasy, steampunk, modern-day urban fantasy, cyberpunk, and space opera. So that is currently the plan. Now, here's the thing. I don't want to promise too many sequels, because there's only so much writing time.

#7 Copy


You've said before that a certain main Stormlight character's younger brother would have been a Lightweaver. What would his Truths have been?

Brandon Sanderson

That's a very deep RAFO. I can give you the first one, though. He was going to have to acknowledge that he was not the person he was trying to be, but he could be someone better.

#8 Copy


In Words of Radiance, you started off a chapter talking about breaths, calling it the life of men. And then immediately afterwards, you had Kaladin bring up how the Alethi are soulcasted into statues. And I believe you said in a livestream that you can't Awaken stone-

Brandon Sanderson

Very, very, very hard.


-but you can Awaken soulcasted stone. Was that intentional?

Brandon Sanderson

It's intentional to get you thinking. Do not expect this to be a major foreshadowing point.

To do something like I'm doing [with interconnected Cosmere stories], it's a dance. And the dance is to try to make sure each independent story works fantastically well on its own without any knowledge of the other pieces. That doesn't mean I won't bring those pieces in. (In fact, I do, quite a bit.) But I don't want to build huge climactic moments based on knowledge of a magic system that is not native to a given planet.

#9 Copy


Was Khriss one of Hoid's apprentices?

Brandon Sanderson

He does not count her in his short list of apprentices. You will find a lot of people he deeply influenced that he doesn't count. And Khriss and he definitely have some history.

#10 Copy


I had a question about Odium's intent for going after Ambition. Obviously, with Devotion and Dominion teaming up, he didn't want a twosome over there. Are we ever gonna learn more about the background on Threnody? 'Cause Khriss implies that there was always Investiture there, before the clash. So I'm looking for a little bit of information about the Evil before the Admiral's background story.

Brandon Sanderson

Before the clash, the Evil was not the Evil. It is the clash that warped it. And Secret Project Five has a splintered piece of Ambition as a plot point. Some of these books... All that stuff I said about not having to know multiple magic systems? That goes out the window for things like Secret Project Five. Those are books that are about that. You will find out some more there; it's gonna take me a long time to get to what actually happened with Ambition, why, and things like that. Know that Odium was not expecting it to be as hard as it was and ended up severely wounded in that clash.

#12 Copy


Did Adonalsium ever create any avatars?

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not gonna RAFO this; I'm gonna give you answer. But there's the thing on this answer: some of these things are canon in stuff I've done so far that I may not canonize going forward. The answer is yes: in original outlines going back to Dragonsteel, the answer is yes, that you would have seen that. Will I do that when I write the actual series? I cannot guarantee. So it's a tentative yes, but it's not canon yet.


Are any of them still around?

Brandon Sanderson

I'll RAFO that for you.

#13 Copy


My question is around connections between corrupted Investiture on different planets. We have the shroud; we have Midnight Essence; we have the nightmares; and we have Nightblood. All of them have, like, oozy black smoke. Are they all connected somehow with the corrupted Investiture of Odium, Ambition...?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes and no. The question is: all of these different manifestations (we've got the Midnight Essence, we've got the shroud, we've got Nightblood), are they connected? Are they all related in some way to Odium or Ambition? The answer is no to the second.

When I was building the Cosmere, one of the things that I knew is that I wanted to explore magic systems really in depth. And in order to do that, I built fundamental principles by how magic, Investiture, would manifest. And I wanted it to be consistent. For instance, I wanted the rules... if you're making illusions in one world, I wanted those illusions to behave a lot the same way that they would on other worlds. So I built these fundamental principles that I build up from. And one of those fundamental principles is about Investiture that is trying to become alive and is being held back by something. And that is where you get Midnight Essence sort of things. It's, like, one step from being able to become self-aware, but it's being held back. And there's even, kind of, some frustration in there, as much as something not truly self-aware can have. So if you watch for that theme, you'll see it more and more.

#15 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight Five is the end of the first arc of the Stormlight Archive, right? I've been saying that since the beginning, since Book One, but then I went and I ended Mistborn, and people are expecting it to end like that. That's not what I mean by the end of the first arc. This is more like an anime arc than it is like the end of Mistborn One. And I need to start preparing that for people, because one of the things I'm getting from beta readers is: number one, it's going really well, people are really liking the book. Number two, they're like, "Oh, I thought this would be an ending like end of Mistborn Three." No, it's more like the end, as I said, of an anime arc. The end of the Stormlight is Book Ten. You are going to get some decent resolutions on things I've been promising for a while, but you're not gonna get resolutions on everything, because it's not the end, yet.

#16 Copy

LewsTherinTelescope (paraphrased)

You dodged my question about Hoid's monologue during the stream, so let me ask a different one: is it relevant that Hoid lists four concepts together at the end of The Way of Kings? Intellect, artistry, and...

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)


LewsTherinTelescope (paraphrased)

And it's about the last Shard, the wisdom-adjacent one?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

Yeah, you are thiiiiis close. Stormlight Five is going to come out and you're not going to be surprised. You're very close.

LewsTherinTelescope (paraphrased)

So we'll have all of Adonalsium named, all sixteen Shards?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)


#17 Copy

Argent (paraphrased)

Between the Awakened steelmind from The Sunlit Man, and the Awakened metalminds mentioned in the Isles of the Emberdark readings, this is twice now we've heard about Awakened metalminds in the future of the cosmere. What makes Awakening a steelmind valuable in a spaceship, presumably as some kind of ship AI, if regular steel metalminds store physical speed; I would've expected a zincmind instead, for its mental speed capabilities. 

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)


Direct submission by Argent
#19 Copy

Selkier (paraphrased)

Do the Tones of Roshar have a form as light—as in light waves—besides just sound waves?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

I think you could make a machine that could measure it, yes, as in it has physical properties

Footnote: Placement of the physical properties bit is iffy but he 100% mentioned you could make a machine, he also stopped himself from saying “without saying too much”
Direct submission by Selkier
#20 Copy

Questioner (paraphrased)

With the bridge runs, how can they push the bridges across the chasms without the bridges falling in from the uneven weight distribution?

Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

There are new diagrams in the latest edition of The Way of Kings that show there are ropes tied to the front that people pull from the back and a weight system to change the center of balance as it is being push across.

Direct submission by LittleMoss
#22 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

We needed to come up with a name that is a little bit different than just Dragonsteel [for the convention], and we spent forever arguing. We finally landed on something; it does have Cosmere applications. We're just gonna call it Dragonsteel Nexus. There's no big convention named Nexus in fantasy/science fiction. We realized that, and it's also... (Secret!) It's the name of the perpendicularity at Silverlight; it's the Silverlight Nexus.

#23 Copy


Hi, in the Cytoverse you introduced 2 slugs that you didn't really go into and I would really like to know what they do.

Brandon Sanderson

So one of them is an illusion slug. Is that one of the ones we've already talked about?


I knew that one a little bit because you listed it with the plushies. You just said "grey slug."

Brandon Sanderson

Grey slug! You will find out what the grey slug does in the sequel series that I just finished reading and editing the first book of. That's a RAFO you can have a card, but I promise it's coming.

Event details
Name C2E2 2024
Date April 26, 2024
Entries 23
Upload sources