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    Ten Fern

    In Demoux's Worldhopping as part of the 17th Shard, has he interacted with the Ghostbloods, and if so, does he know Thaidakar is Kelsier? 

    Brandon Sanderson

    He has interacted with the Ghostbloods. I don't know if he's made that connection or not, I would have to write some stuff in his viewpoint and see where it falls in the timeline. He knows Iyatil and her brother and where they came from, that's a group from where Demoux currently makes his base of operations. 

    General Reddit 2022 ()
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    My understanding is that Brandon thinks it is a plothole that Lerasium can be burned by Scadrian (regardless of if they are mistings/mistborn) but Atium can't.

    His solution is to retcon the Pits to naturally produce an Atium/Electrum alloy, presumably by the design of Preservation. Therefore we don't know what pure Atium looks like or does when used in any magic.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    We do know what it does. It’s on the Allomancy poster, and the effect appeared one time at the end of Hero of Ages.


    Interesting. Do you know if he had already conceived the retcon by the time the poster was written, or if that line about pure atium just turned out to fit really well retroactively?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    The retcon is way older than a lot of people assume.


    Does this mean he had it in mind by the time Hero of Ages released (since the first public version of the poster dates to 2008), or just that it's old but not sure exactly how old?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Remember that what's in the books is filtered through the understanding of the characters. So even if Brandon planned it from the beginning, if the characters didn't know about it, it's not going to come out in the book.

    And see this thread reply from 2009.

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    We've seen in both Secret History and RoW that a Shard's power has a will of its own and can "reject" a vessel if it's not adequate (like Preservation with Kelsier) and "tempt" if it is (like Odium with Taravangian). Does that mean that the first sixteen that Ascended needed to be fit for their respective shards?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes. To an extent, yes. It was a little easier back then, but yes.

    *Thinks for a while*

    Yes. So, why am I hesitating on this? Not all of the sixteen could've taken any one of the sixteen. So not all the Vessels could take any of the sixteen. But the flexibility of which ones they could've taken, was much greater than you're perhaps anticipating right now. There were certain Shards that they had, they deliberately had a person pick up, that they thought would be a better controller of that Shard, if that makes sense. Rather than picking the person who is the best match. So, there you go.

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    Where and how did the Set learn about Hemalurgy initially? Hemalurgy did not seem to be common knowledge, at least to Wayne and Marasi when given the book by Marsh, but the Set seems to know all about it anyway.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, yes, it was not common knowledge. There was some help from Autonomy on this, but it also involved the interrogation of somebody on-world that did not want to be interrogated.

    And then a whole lot of experimentation. They had years to play with this. They didn't come right out of the gate knowing exactly how to do it.

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    In The Lost Metal, it mentions Autonomy having avatars in other worlds. In Shu-Dereth on Sel, Jaddeth speaks directly to Wyrn, who then propagates his will down the hierarchy-

    Brandon Sanderson



    Within the religion, ambition is rewarded, but only if it aligns with the orders of the hierarchy. That sounds similar to the philosophy used in the Set, but replacing Jaddeth with Trell. Is Jaddeth an avatar of Autonomy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    *chuckles and points at screen in very satisfied way* RAFO. You're a very smart person.

    It's [pronounced] "Yaddeth", by the way. That is also one of the Y-J's. ...

    So, I will say this. Here's what I'll canonize. There is something happening, and the people there legitimately believe, and have reason to believe, that their god is going to return. And I have said before, many times, that Book 2 of Elantris begins with the return of their god. 'Cause they've said "God can't come back until everybody converts". But they've found a loophole. They're like "well, except those heretics in Elantris. And also that other little place, that tiny little region that's over in the mountains, where they talk about roses, they don't count either. Because they're, um, not actually part of the planet." Um, so. So that's something to look forward to, if I ever get around to writing Dakhor, is the return of Jaddeth, the god of [Shu-Dereth].

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    I asked you about [Jasnah] being with Taln in [Way of Kings] Prime and Wit in the published version, and why she had to be with an immortal entity.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I believe my answer was something to the frame of: "it is hard to find people who would be on equal footing with Jasnah."


    Is it important that she is with someone? For someone who is so against the idea of marriage, and who is asexual to boot, it feels like there must be very good reason for not leaving her single.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is more about the idea of conflict and exploration. Remember these are completely separate books, and there's kind of a reason why I didn't have a relationship for Jasnah in the first couple Stormlight books, because no, she doesn't need to be in a relationship. That's not a core need for her character or her personality. But, at the same time, I always try to let relationships arise very organically and naturally in my books, and I don't try to put too much of a thumb on the scale for those. And in this case, it just felt right. It was the right thing to explore for her character. It was the right way to reveal and talk about how she sees the world, and who she is, and when I first thought about it I thought, "Wow, that's a really great and a really terrible match all at the same time," and that's what I'm looking for, in a lot of ways.

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    Is Wit still capable of producing children, given his situation?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He...*thinks for a long time* What do I wanna say? I will say RAFO. I'll say RAFO. This is one of the RAFOs where I absolutely know the answer, and I'm not going to give it to you yet.

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    In The Lost Metal, people talked about Autonomy's army as if they know of her unleashing it before. Similarly, they talk of her opening perpendicularities on worlds where she shouldn't be able to. Roughly how many times has this happened before? Once or twice? Somewhere in the tens?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This has happened a handful of times before.

    Well, depends on which of the two things you're talking about. Opening perpendicularities where she shouldn't be able to is a consistent thing. Unleashing armies, not so consistent.

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    Was any of the original Vessels of the Shards transgender? Can we expect to have a transgender main character in the future?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You can expect to have a transgender main character in the future. I want to be careful where I place this, and let's say that I'm much... my focus right now is on doing Renarin and Rlain right. But you can expect this in the future.

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    Is there a connection between the roles of a certain order of Knight Radiant and the singer form associated with their Platespren, such as artistic Lightweavers and artform both having creation spren?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, there is a connection, a deliberate connection on my part there. It's hard to keep all of these things one-to-one because there are way more forms than there are orders of Knights Radiant and things like that, so don't read too far into it, but I do make those connections deliberately where I can.

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    What, if anything, would happen if you swing a Shardblade through a seon?

    Brandon Sanderson

    So, seon would not like being- a Shardblade swung through them, how about that. A seon would not enjoy that. Spren don't enjoy it either. That isn't necessarily going to kill either of them, but they're not going to like it.

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    What kind of work did Rlain do during his time as a spy? Did he commit active sabotage against the war effort, or was he merely gathering information?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Very few. There are a couple of key things that he did—I would like to write a Rlain story at some point—but he mostly understood that feeding information back and not being caught—because he felt he was in a pretty tenuous position, and rightly so. There's two big things going on. Number one: he is not in possession of his full mental faculties, which makes it dangerous to try anything, because he's like "can I trust that this is a good idea?" Right? And then number two: how hard would it be for someone to be like "hey, wait, maybe some of these slaves we got are spies for these guys." It's not too hard a leap to make, that one of them might be, and that put him in really dangerous positions.


    How did he get information back to his people? Was there a contact?

    Brandon Sanderson

    If you go into the book, you'll find that there are times that they talk about bands of listeners roving in and things like this, and how far they think they got. Some of that was to cover getting people in to talk to spies. They got spotted, so they pretend to burn a bridge, which they still would want to do, but there's this whole cover operation of doing raids as close to the warcamps as they get, and sending people in to—

    Adam Horne

    And I think I remember a line saying something that a Parshendi would never not do anything that he wasn't ordered to do, so he could just walk around? I'm not sure if I'm remembering—

    Brandon Sanderson

    He was much more free. But he wasn't going all the way out into the Plains, like he can't cross in that form—the bridgeless chasms, right—and things like that.

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    Can you tell us something about Dalinar's parents?

    Their names? Why didn't they show up in Oathbringer flashbacks? What happened to them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Dalinar gets along better with his grandparents—or got along with his grandparents than he did with his parents—let's say that. What else can I canonize? I mean, by that time they're not around. You've probably figured that out. Dalinar wasn't too sad about that. Particularly past Dalinar not being the kind of person who—yeah, let's just say that there is stuff in the Alethi family history that has caused part of Jasnah's consternation on the way she regards how families act towards one another—you know, lighteyed families—and her concerns about it.

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    Approximately how many years before the Evil on Threnody was Nazh born?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do not have that written down. It's more of an Isaac question. Nazh is an Isaac character, and Nazh's backstory will be explored in Isaac's stories, and I would not even canonize it if I had the answer here because we need to let him have the freedom to talk about all of that.

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    When Hoid looks in a mirror, does he see what other people see when they look at him?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Generally, yes. Good question, you're trying to pin down what he's doing, but yes.


    Follow-up to that, could Hoid appear physically different to two different people at the same time, if he wanted to?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Depends on what angles they're seeing him from. And which version of "looking different" he's using. Could he do what you're asking? Yes, he could. He doesn't normally do things that would do that.

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    If someone (with the appropriate knowledge of where to place the spikes to be successful) were to spike Rysn and try to steal the power of the Dawnshard, what would happen?

    Brandon Sanderson

    A very bad time, for the person attempting it. Dawnshards self-protect.

    Bennet Alterman

    If Dawnshards self-protect, what's the need for larkins and Sleepless?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They do self-protect. The larkins and Sleepless are there! You're assuming the larkins and Sleepless aren't there because of Dawnshard influence. Which is a false assumption.

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    Will we ever see on page what Odium did to Devotion and Dominion?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I would like to get some references to this, whether it's on-page or it's a description. There is memory of this in the seons, right? They can express this. And so there's a decent chance of that way. If you're talking about straight up "flashback," then no, I don't think that I'm likely to do that. Not likely to write a story where that happens. Anything's possible, but I'm not likely to.

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    In the cosmere, if everyone on a planet believes unicorns exist, would some kind of unicorn shadow appear in the Cognitive Realm as a result?

    If yes, could you create an actual, physical unicorn out of it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it's not going to quite work this way. What's going to happen if everyone believes unicorns exist, but they don't, there's various things that could happen. You might end up with some Investiture taking on this persona and becoming this, but it's not like you can create it, but over time you might end up with the equivalent of a spren. Then it's not going to be just a physical unicorn running around. It's gonna have more spren aspects, and my guess would be that over time these things feed each other. Right? Like people see one, and then they describe, "This is what it looked like," and that changes the public perception to better match. And then over thousands of years what you end up with is, "Hey there's things in the forest over there that are a type of mysterious creature that are transparent and look a little like a horse with a horn, but maybe fly," or things like this. You would end up with something in the middle, between the two of them.

    Things wouldn't naturally pop up on Shadesmar unless there's free Investiture in that same sort of way.

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    In Era 1, Sazed says the only thing you can Feruchemically store while sleeping is wakefulness, but in Era 2 they have the sky ships that require everyone to be storing weight to fly and they don't land while people sleep. Was Sazed just wrong, or is that a difference between normal Feruchemy and using the unsealed metalminds?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Unsealed metalminds, I am moving toward complete—you probably already guessed this—mechanical uses of Investiture, and this indeed is a step toward that. And so we are stepping toward having a little machine that gives you powers. That's what the world wants to try to find. And this is—this being mechanical—we'll just say that the medallions and the things that they're building have more of a life-force, more of an Identity of their own than a traditional metalmind does, even though they're unkeyed and all of this stuff.

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    In Bands of Mourning, Khriss breaks in to a party to talk to Wax, and gives him a business card with an address. Wax suspects her of being in the Set, so did they ever check back in there, and if so what happened?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, he would have checked that number. But by the time he got around to it, after Bands of Mourning and all the things happening there, there was nobody there.

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    How's the search for the next Stormlight title going? Last I read, you mentioned it was still in the consideration phase.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's still in the consideration phase. I'm a lot closer. I'm feeling pretty good about it, about some options I have. I should have it before too much longer, but I shouldn't make that promise because maybe I won't, maybe it'll be another six months, or longer.

    We've got a minute still.

    How's it going? I feel like I've made progress.

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    Cheyenne Sedai

    The epigraph that mentions Discord in The Final Empire is the same chapter where Sazed is introduced. Was that intentional and meant as a way of foreshadowing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I want to say yes, but the truth is, I did what I always do, which is I wrote the epigraphs in one long thing after I finished the book, and then I spaced them out. Now, it's been almost twenty years. Maybe I'm like, "Oh, I should make sure of this and that for things that are happening here." But the honest truth is that I can't say that I did that on purpose. That would have been really a clever thing to do! But serendipity.

    Again, I write the epigraphs, almost always, as a big section, and then I slice them up and I try to make sure they look good at the start. They're written, oftentimes, as a big paragraph that I'm then slicing up and then revising to make sure it works in its own little thing. And sometimes I'm taking pieces of one and moving it forward.

    So the answer to that is, pretend I'm that smart, but I don't think I actually was.

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    Given that Stormlight healing matches to mental self-image (as shown by both the Lopen and by the Reshi monarch), could a really powerful hypnotist change someone's self-image in a way that would affect Stormlight healing? Could a powerful hypnotist use Stormlight healing to change a human into a listener?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Theoretically an extent. There is a limit to this, but the limitation is the amount of Investiture you have and access to Stormlight—or you know, Voidlight—can evidence this. Transformations that are happening in the storm to the listener forms are involved in this. That could theoretically happen to a human as well. But you would basically—what most likely would happen is it would have to involve a specific set of circumstances and then entering the storm, and then exiting as a listener—that could happen. You guys ask some farfetched things—that one's not so farfetched. It does require some specificity, but it could happen.

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    Khriss mentions in the Ars Arcanum that her research suggests another set of abilities more esoteric than the [Voidbindings]. You have said before that the only magic we haven't really seen is Voidbinding, but you have also said that no one has used Cultivation magic on-screen (not counting boons and curses). Is this other set of esoteric abilities Cultivation's magic, and is it called Lifebinding?

    Brandon Sanderson

    RAFO! What a great question! What an excellent question.

    Remember that when I originally conceived The Stormlight Archive, I was thinking of thirty magic systems. And I decided that that was instead three groups of ten, and I wasn't going to call it thirty magic systems. And indeed, that's even vague, because are fabrials their own magic system? What is going on? But anyway, who knows. RAFO!

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    If a well-studied singer were to become an aetherbound, how would they (with their innate understanding of tones) evaluate the core aethers' claim to be independent of Adonalsium and the Shards?

    Brandon Sanderson

    They would not have enough experience with the cosmere in general to be able to say yes or no.

    How about this. If they went to all the different tones and compared them, they would find something different happening with the aethers, I think is what the question is getting at. So there is some evidence cosmereologically for the aethers' claims to be independent of Adonalsium. There are also evidences that arcanists could put forward that say otherwise.

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    Brandon Sanderson

    [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.

    Brandon Sanderson

    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?"

    "A little."

    "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."

    "That's stupid."

    "That's literature."

    "It's confusing."

    "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 what?"

    "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?"

    "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."

    Miscellaneous 2022 ()
    #587 Copy

    Travis Gafford

    End of [Words of Radiance], Szeth meets Nightblood. Nightblood normally makes people feel very sick as a test. He does not have this. And I'm curious if there's a reason for that other than you didn't want to end your book with Szeth puking in a corner.

    Brandon Sanderson

    What happens when you take Nightblood is based entirely on what your desire on how to use Nightblood is. If your intent does not align with Nightblood's created Intent, which is kind of a deep, Cosmere sort of thing. But, basically, if you want Nightblood because you can then destroy all of your enemies, you're not gonna match to that Intent. If your desire to use Nightblood is either: "I don't even want to use Nightblood," you're actually gonna be fine; or if your desire to Nightblood is matching what Nightblood's view is... And Szeth is, like, the perfect person, because Szeth only wants to do what he's told, and Nightblood kind of only wants to do what he's told. So there's, like, a perfect alignment. They're both messed up in the same way, and they both view the world in the same way, and it's hard to find a more perfect alignment than those two. And so, because of that, there was just no reaction. And that should be something that I wanted people to pick up on.

    Miscellaneous 2022 ()
    #588 Copy

    Travis Gafford

    You somewhat implied that you have this idea on a video game that you'd like to explore at some point in time. I think a lot of people, when they hear "maybe a Brandon Sanderson video game," they're like, "Oh, man: Mistborn or Stormlight," or something like that. It sounds like, maybe, this would be something completely out of there?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Having been a gamer, I would want to design a video game that the narrative plays into the strength of the video game. I wouldn't want to simply adapt one of my books. Now, that doesn't mean I wouldn't put it in the Cosmere; I might. But I wouldn't limit myself to that. I would want to do a game that I designed to fit the medium, the storytelling to work with the type of story it is. I've got several cool ideas that I think would make fantastic narrative video games, but we'll see if I can ever do it. If someone out there wants to give me $100 million, if FromSoftware wants to come, I would totally be onboard.

    I think Mistborn will make a fantastic video game, don't get me wrong. I think we are going to have one, eventually. But the thing about that is: I can basically hand that off to someone, because I've already built the mechanics. I would have to help supervise, but I don't have to make that game myself. The games I want to make, I would have to pitch and explain to people why these mechanics work, why the narrative works. There's not a lot of pitching I have to do for a Mistborn game. It makes sense to people because they've read the books.

    Miscellaneous 2022 ()
    #589 Copy

    Travis Gafford

    This decision [do be more Cosmere-aware] for this book [The Lost Metal] in particular, was this more out of desire or necessity to start doing this?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was a mix of both. I would say it's more desire. There's some things I wanted to get in. This book introduces a character from a world we haven't visited yet who has a completely new magic system that is just kind of part of the story, and I was really hesitant about putting this character in, because you could feel lost. (Even though there's no book for this character's backstory yet.) But I thought, "This is the character I want in the story. This is the story I wanna write. I'm just gonna put him in. I'm just gonna do it." And it worked wonderfully. I love how it worked in the story. And at that point, I'm like, "This has gotta be the moment." The "gloves off," as I said. Before, I've been kind of pulling my punches a little bit.

    General Reddit 2019 ()
    #590 Copy

    asmodeus (paraphrased)

    Would the Unmade correspond to the various Knight Radiant Orders by philosophy? Would Odium's champion be his equivalent to the Bondsmiths?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    No, the varieties of the Fused do that. It's not 1-to-1, but think of the Unmade as the analogs of Heralds. Odium has no Bondsmith Analog.  

    Footnote: Brandon specifically used the spelling "analog." The capitalization is also replicated.
    Direct submission by asmodeus
    New York Comic Con 2022 ()
    #591 Copy


    I came here to talk about Moonbreaker. I saw the teaser that you did talking about the lore and audio logs, but we didn't really get a whole lot about the lore itself of Moonbreaker. I was curious if there was anything that you could talk about there, and if there's any crossovers or references to the Cosmere itself.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Okay, excellent question. Dan and I are working together on a video game called Moonbreaker, which is a tactical minis painting video game. It's really cool; it's on Steam. 

    Dan Wells

    It's from Unknown Worlds, the company that did Subnautica. This is their new thing. It's in early access now. You can get it on Steam. It is incredibly beautiful and cool. It plays really well. The painting is phenomenal. Brandon did all the worldbuilding and I'm writing all the stories.

    Brandon Sanderson

    So the question is, "What can we tell you?" The thing is, they won't let us tell anything about the story or lore until it comes out. Video game and movie companies tend to be super tight-lipped. I am pushing on the movie side to be like, "Just let me say stuff, guys." They're like, "No! You can't say anything! If you say things, then the publicity team won't have a job any more, because it's their job."

    Dan Wells

    The basic premise of it is that there is a star with an atmosphere. So there's hundreds of moons kind of swirling around inside of that. You can fly from one to the other. You know, open air, and different crews of things will fight against each other.

    Brandon Sanderson

    The physics of that kind of works.

    Dan Wells

    Yesh. It's space fantasy, so the physics can take a back seat. <laughs>

    Brandon Sanderson

    What can we say?

    Dan Wells

    What I know I can tell you, at least structurally, is that every four months they're releasing a new season of the game. So there will be new units added to the game and occasionally new maps and things like that. Season 1, which is what's out right now—the launch season, has three captains, which is like your main character. Then every new season will add a new captain. I just yesterday turned in the first episode of season 2. We're going to have three half-hour audio episodes per season, and so we've introduced the fourth captain now internally.

    I don't know what else we're allowed to tell you except that the game is super cool.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I can tell you this. I came up with a really large-scale overarching plot for everything, and we are not going to get to that, they decided, until we do the backstories of all the captains, which was a smart move. So once you know who all the captains are, then you will find out what the plot of Moonbreaker is.

    Dragonsteel 2022 ()
    #592 (not searchable) Copy

    Brandon Sanderson

    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.

    Dragonsteel 2022 ()
    #593 Copy


    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?

    Brandon Sanderson

    This would be a 9/10 on the Hoid interest meter.

    Dragonsteel 2022 ()
    #594 Copy

    Weux082690 (paraphrased)

    The logo for Dragonsteel [2022] shows a dragon holding a sword. What is the name of the sword?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    The sword doesn't yet have a name. Neither does the dragon.

    Footnote: The main Dragonsteel logo also has a dragon and sword.
    Direct submission by Weux082690
    Dragonsteel Mini-Con 2021 ()
    #595 Copy

    Balescream (paraphrased)

    Is there a standard unit of measure for Investiture?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Not yet, but people are working on defining that right now.

    Balescream (paraphrased)

    As a follow up, does it take the same amount of Investiture to satiate Nightblood each time he becomes satiated?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)


    Dragonsteel 2022 ()
    #596 Copy

    Balescream (paraphrased)

    Can all the Shards manifest the same powers, for example could Honor create an Allomancer?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes, but there would be more natural ways for Honor to achieve this.

    Balescream (paraphrased)

    As a follow-up, do you understand what polymorphism is? If so, could all the Shards meet the same contract?

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    Yes, I do, yes they can.  I understand what you are asking and it is a soft yes.

    Dragonsteel 2022 ()
    #597 Copy

    spectria.limina (paraphrased)

    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?

    Isaac Stewart (paraphrased)

    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...?

    Dragonsteel 2022 ()
    #598 Copy

    spectria.limina (paraphrased)

    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.

    Isaac Stewart (paraphrased)

    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.

    Dragonsteel 2022 ()
    #599 Copy

    spectria.limina (paraphrased)

    In the Voidbinding chart, do the vertical lines [between the Windrunner/Edgedancer and Stoneward/Lightweaver-equivalent glyphs] mean anything special?

    Isaac Stewart (paraphrased)

    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.