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The Way of Kings: Chapter 74

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<< TWoK Chapter 73: Trust / TWoK Chapter 75: In the Top Room >>
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Point of view: Shallan
Setting: Kharbranth

Shallan is engrossed with her latest reading assignment from Jasnah regarding her notes about the Voidbringers. After reading everything over, Shallan comes to the same conclusion as Jasnah; that the parshmen must be the Voidbringers, and tells Jasnah so. Jasnah says this is related to her father’s assassination. For once Jasnah is forthright with her emotions, telling Shallan she is "terrified" about what this all means.

For a moment Shallan mentions that the parshmen are "tamed," thinking this isn’t a big problem, but realizes how "pervasive" parshmen are in the everyday lives of Roshar. The Parshendi were peaceful upon first meeting Gavilar and the other Alethi, even leading to a treaty, but they turned suddenly. What’s to say something similar or even more severe couldn’t happen with the normal parshmen? This has happened before during the Heraldic Epochs, where there was relative peace in the land, only for something to come over the parshmen quickly and make them go "mad with anger and rage," ushering in the Desolations. Jasnah also feels the Parshendi’s strange singing abilities to commune with one another also play into this.

"Their minds are connected, like spanreeds." If all the parshmen in the world become active without notice, then civilization on Roshar will be decimated yet again. Shallan says they have to do something. Jasnah insists they are doing that by gathering enough facts to take to the leaders of the world. Jasnah also fears other creatures of legend that fought beside the parshmen in the past. But Jasnah is done in Kharbranth. She gives Shallan a choice of going with her or heading back to Jah Keved.

Though she doesn’t want to abandon her brothers, Shallan knows this is a much more important mission. She decides to help her brothers another way and go with Jasnah. They are to leave the following day on a ship Jasnah has already chartered, traveling to the Shattered Plains to investigate the Parshendi living there.

Time is imperative lest another group try to use this information for their own gain, and Shallan is clearly worried. Jasnah mentions the group that tried to assassinate her recently called the Ghostbloods. Their symbol - three diamonds overlaying one another - was found on Kabsal's body as a tattoo. This is the same symbol Shallan’s brother, Nan Balat, found on Luesh and the men looking for her father’s broken Soulcaster. Shallan tells Jasnah that her father may have been a member of this group.

- by Michael Pye[1]

Quote of the Chapter:

"Yet one group turned suddenly from peaceful friends to slaughtering warriors. Something set them off. Just as it did hundreds of years ago, during the days known as the Heraldic Epochs. There would be a period of peace, followed by an invasion of parshmen who - for reasons nobody understood - had suddenly gone mad with anger and rage. This was what was behind mankind’s fight to keep from being 'banished to Damnation.' This was what nearly ended our civilization. This was the terrible, repeated cataclysm that was so frightening men began to speak of them as Desolations.

"We’ve nurtured the parshmen. We’ve integrated them into every part of our society. We depend on them, never realizing that we’ve harnessed a highstorm waiting to explode. The accounts from the Shattered Plains speak of these Parshendi's ability to communicate among themselves, allowing them to sing their songs in unison when far apart. Their minds are connected, like spanreeds. Do you realize what that means?"

Shallan nodded. What would happen if every parshman on Roshar suddenly turned against his masters? Seeking freedom, or worse—vengeance? "We’d be devastated. Civilization as we know it could collapse. We have to do something!"

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