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The Way of Kings: Chapter 48

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<< TWoK Chapter 47: Stormblessings / TWoK Chapter 49: To Care >>
Twok48


They take away the light, wherever they lurk. Skin that is burned.


Point of view: Shallan
Setting: Kharbranth

Suspected by Taravangian's doctors of being at risk of suicide, Shallan sits in a hospital bed under orders not to stress herself. Her arm is in pain from where she cut it to cover up the signs of accidental Soulcasting. She’s sketching to pass the time and distract herself from her own embarrassment. All of her sketches have shown the symbolheads lurking at the corners. She is currently working on a sketch of the strange place she found herself when she Soulcast.

Although no one seems to have found the Soulcaster in her safepouch, and Jasnah hasn’t accused her of Soulcasting, Shallan thinks it unlikely that she’ll be able to stay on as Jasnah's ward. Her supposed suicide is too perfect an excuse of not to make use. She can learn how to properly use the Soulcaster on her trip home. The details of that process still mystify her.

She is visited by King Taravangian, who expresses deep regret that she had to be a guest in his hospital. She converses pleasantly with him, and asks to be released, but he says that he can’t do that while his surgeons and nurses still think her at risk of self-harm. He suggests that she suspend her training when she recovers, and she agrees, saying she’s been missing her home anyway.

Five minutes after he leaves, Jasnah enters. She actually apologizes for the strictness of her tutelage. Jasnah clearly blames herself for her ward’s supposed mental breakdown. To Shallan’s great surprise, Jasnah has been waiting outside her hospital room ever since the incident. Jasnah gives Shallan a gift: a tome called The Book of Endless Pages. It is a blank text that the Devotary of Sincerity uses as their holy document, symbolizing their eternal and indefatigable quest for more answers. She thinks it is a fine book for Shallan, who seeks truth while holding to her faith.

Shallan is surprised to receive such a religious present from her heretical mentor, but Jasnah claims that there are wise men to be found in every religion, and fools in all walks of life. Shallan realizes abruptly that Kabsal was wrong about the purpose of Jasnah’s research; she wasn’t trying to prove Vorinism false. But then, why was she researching Voidbringers?

Kabsal enters, bearing bread and strawberry jam. Jasnah shames him, saying she would have thought he would "allow Shallan a respite," given that his "attentions drove her to despair." Shallan promises that it wasn’t his fault. He offers her the bread and jam, and she comments that she’s never heard of strawberries. Like all food from Shinovar, it’s very rare. Jasnah sticks her hand in the jam and sniffs it, even though she doesn’t like jam.

Kabsal again suggests they have some bread, suggesting that he brought it as a kind of apology for his forwardness. She jokes about the concept: "I’m sorry I drove you to suicide. Here’s some bread." But she relents, and accepts some bread, giving a chunk to Kabsal and a chunk to Jasnah. Jasnah at first refuses, then relents under Shallan’s insistence, although she treats it as if it’s disgusting. It tastes fine to Shallan.

Kabsal suggests again that Shallan have it with jam, since strawberry jam is so rare. He grows increasingly insistent, but when she opens the jar and smells it, the jam is disgusting, smelling like "vinegar and slime." Kabsal is alarmed, and forces down some of the jam himself before stumbling from the room and falling to the floor.

Shallan begins to feel dizzy. She stands, then falls. Jasnah cries out that Shallan has been poisoned, shouting for a garnet so that she can Soulcast the poison away. Shallan, of course, knows that Jasnah’s Soulcaster is a fake, and asks her to look in her safepouch. Jasnah opens it and gasps.

Shallan has almost faded away when something happens to her:

A flash of warmth burned through Shallan, something inside her skin, as if she had been dumped into a steaming hot cauldron.

She spasms, and blacks out.

- by Carl Engle-Laird[1]

Quote of the Chapter:

"I am sorry, Shallan Davar. In overworking you, I may have done the world a disservice and stolen from it one of the great scholars of the rising generation."

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