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Like a highstorm, regular in their coming, yet always unexpected.


Point of view: Shallan
Setting: Kharbranth, the Conclave

After two weeks of study and contemplation, Shallan finally approaches Jasnah with her research and thoughts regarding Jasnah’s earlier actions. Shallan concludes that although the philosophies suggest that what Jasnah did was both legal and "right," it was neither moral nor ethical.

Shallan is distracted by the soulcaster Jasnah wears and fears being found out, but apparently Jasnah has either not yet discovered the switch or is covering it up for some reason. Even though Jasnah doesn’t agree with Shallan’s final summation, she feels Shallan has done her diligence in her studies, and can now move on to other subjects, though they will re-approach philosophy at some future point in her education. Jasnah dismisses Shallan for the rest of the day, giving her the first free time she’s had in two weeks.

Shallan quickly returns to her room to again try to use the stolen soulcaster; recently, she'd found a book with a passage in it that may be a clue to activating it. The book suggests that humming could make a soulcaster more effective, so Shallan tries different pitches and tones, but none seem to activate her soulcaster.

Shallan then hears a faint whisper that seems to come from within the room. Startled, she shouts "Who is there?", but finds only a maid who insists she had not spoken outside the door. Shallan tries to relax, but notices that the maid had come from Jasnah’s room, where no maids are allowed to go. The maid apologizes, but Shallan can’t resist the opportunity to explore Jasnah’s room unencumbered and so orders the maid to go and to report to Jasnah immediately. Shallan then heads straight for Jasnah’s notebooks, looking for any information on the soulcaster. The first notebook contains information on the fabled city of Urithiru, and the second looks to be reference quotes on the Voidbringers. The third and final notebook covers Natanatan, the Unclaimed Hills, and the Shattered Plains, which were mainly discovered "by hunters, explorers, or tradesmen searching for a river passage to New Natanan."

The notebook covering the Voidbringers is much larger than the other two, which surprises Shallan. She is perplexed that Jasnah, a staunch skeptic, could be so interested in the Voidbringers. How could she believe in them if she couldn’t believe in the Almighty?

A knock at the door causes Shallan to hurriedly replace the books. She answers the door to find Kabsal, who invites Shallan to share some jam since he heard she had some free time. Despite the desire to explore Jasnah’s chambers, Shallan readily accepts the invitation.

The witty duo heads to the Conclave gardens to share what Kabsal calls "Truthberry jam" (Azish lore said those who ate of the jam would "speak only the truth until the next sunset.") They share a playful discussion on her scholarly aptitude, given her natural desire to be outside rather than stuck in a dusty library. The conversation quickly turns to a more mischievous discussion about how "sweet, colorful, and delicious" Shallan herself is. This seems to please Shallan even through all her blushing. She’s starting to have feelings for Kabsal, and it seems he reciprocates in full, though Shallan knows she’ll have to let him down sooner than later. The conversation then briefly steers to her isolated upbringing and her stern father.

Shallan tells Kabsal he is much too forward for an Ardent but he replies "A man can leave the ardentia, Shallan," which gives her a start. Shallan, without thinking, quickly blurts out "Jasnah thinks you’re getting close to me because you want her soulcaster." Kabsal replies that Shallan is both right and wrong; the ardentia would love to have Jasnah’s soulcaster in their possession and he thought to ask for it eventually, but the ardentia also fear that Jasnah’s brother, King Elhokar, may very well go to war over a stolen soulcaster.

Shallan turns the discussion to how soulcasters work, and though Kabsal had never used one, he says they’re quite easy to operate. The process just involves pressing the hand that is wearing the soulcaster against something and then tapping a gemstone in the soulcaster. Shallan insists that that isn’t how Jasnah’s worked, but he can only add that those adept at using a soulcaster learned to control them better.

Before parting, Kabsal again reassures Shallan he won’t involve her in stealing Jasnah’s fabrial, and that he was ordered to look after both her soul and that of Jasnah. He also admits that his mouth wanders too freely when he is around her and that some in the Ardentia believe he is growing too close to her. As they stand, Shallan notices the King walking in the gardens with another ardent. Kabsal ducks down so as not to be seen and admits that he was supposed to be working at the moment.

Shallan returns to her room where she finds a letter from Captain Tozbek in which he says that he is on his way to pick her up in Kharbranth within a week. This would put Shallan at three weeks since she stole Jasnah’s soulcaster, and about the time she told her brother she would depart if undiscovered.

Shallan walks to Jasnah’s room and explains that she’d rather study in lieu of relaxing. The next week will be the last time she has to learn from Jasnah, and she wants to make the most of it.

- Paraphrased from Michael Pye[1]

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