|<< WoR Ch. 68: Nothing / WoR Ch. 70: From A Nightmare >>|
|“||Rayse is captive. He cannot leave the system he now inhabits. His destructive potential is, therefore, inhibited.||”|
Progression of the Chapter:
Syl screams; Kaladin gets a rush of Stormlight and hits the bottom; he wakes, hurting but alive; Shallan appears around a corner, and they scare the daylights out of one another; she explains the bridge’s emergency latch; they search the bodies nearby, but no one else survived the 200-foot fall; Kaladin mendaciously credits windspren for protecting the two of them, though privately he wonders how he saved her as well as himself. Neither Dalinar nor Adolin are among the corpses. However, there are dead spearmen and Parshendi, verifying that there was a skirmish of some sort; they determine that a highstorm is due the following night, and that they should try to get back to the warcamps. As they trek through the chasm, Shallan can’t keep from noticing the beauty of the plant life; Kaladin is less than chivalrous, but finally takes Shallan’s pack of waterskins while she carries her satchel; Shallan tries to be pleasant - if snarky - and Kaladin snarls back; they snap back and forth and toss accusations at each other, getting louder and louder until they hear a noise that puts a stop to it: the sound of an approaching chasmfiend; they run.
Quote of the Chapter:
|“|| "Storms," she said, hurrying to catch up. "That was supposed to be lighthearted. What would it take to make you relax, bridgeboy?"
"I guess I’m just a ... what was it again? A 'hateful man'?"
"I haven’t seen any proof to the contrary."
"That’s because you don’t care to look, lighteyes. Everyone beneath you is just a plaything."
"What?" she said, taking it like a slap to the face. "Where would you get that idea?"
"To whom? To you only? When have you seen me treat someone of a lesser station like a plaything? Give me one example."
"When I was imprisoned," he said immediately, "for doing what any lighteyes would have been applauded for doing."
"And that was my fault?" she demanded.
"It’s the fault of your entire class. Each time one of us is defrauded, enslaved, beaten, or broken, the blame rests upon all of you who support it. Even indirectly."
"Oh please," she said. "The world isn’t fair? What a huge revelation! Some people in power abuse those they have power over? Amazing! When did this start happening?"
This really launches the worst stretch of Kaladin’s arc. He no longer has access to Stormlight, or to his constant companion, confidant, adviser, and sense of humor. Arguably, with the loss of Syl’s company, his sense of perspective - already skewed by imprisonment - suffers almost irreparable damage.
Regarding the Windrunner bond, the synergy between the behavior and the relationship is one of constructive interference - but it goes both ways. The desired behavior reinforces the budding relationship, and the strengthening relationship reinforces the desired behavior, and it’s just not possible to have one without the other. But "constructive interference" can be a two-edged sword - when the results are undesirable, it’s also known as a vicious cycle.
When things were going well, every honorable thing Kaladin did reinforced his bond with Syl, and as she got stronger, his powers and his ability to do honorable things increased. But when things went badly, each vengeful impulse tore at the bond, weakening it; the less she could influence him, the more his instincts turned from honor to vengeance. Finally, it’s torn, and there’s no more Stormlight, no more Windrunning, no more incredible healing, no more Kaladin Stormblessed.
This is the same day as the previous chapter. The countdown is at ten.
Syl screamed, a terrified, painful sound that vibrated Kaladin’s very bones. In that moment, he got a breath of Stormlight, life itself.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? The distant voice sounded like rumbling thunder.
|“||I got some Stormlight right at the end, he thought. I survived. But that scream! It haunted him, echoing in his mind. It had sounded too much like the scream he’d heard when touching the duelist’s Shardblade in the arena.||”|
According to Brandon, Syl desperately forced what she could through the bond, which was enough for Kaladin to survive, but doing so pretty much killed her.
Speculatively, Syl voluntarily spent her last remaining physical connection to grant Kaladin the Stormlight he would need to survive and heal from the fall. Without sufficient autonomy to determine for herself what "honor" looks like, she had yet enough autonomy to make the choice to sacrifice herself to save his life. The rumbling-thunder-voice is the Stormfather speaking to Syl in the Cognitive Realm, because he doesn’t think the outcome was worth the price. Had Syl not done what she did, Kaladin would have died. Syl would be "free" (in the Stormfather’s mind) of her connection with the Son of Honor. The Stormfather is against honorspren initiating the Nahal bond. In saving Kaladin (or allowing him to save himself), Syl kept in tact the bond between them. It also kept alive the possibility that had Kaladin continued to veer away from his instincts of honor, then Syl would eventually die in the same manner that the spren who were bonded to the Radiants died during the Recreance.
So, something about this event should provide a clue as to what really happened then. What readers know thus far came either from handed-down tradition (in-world Words of Radiance), or the external observation of a soldier (Dalinar's vision). Perhaps there’s a hint in here of the spren's perspective on what the Recreance was about.
All Creatures Shelled and Feathered:
Trust Shallan to get distracted by the local flora at a time like this! To be fair, though, this would be a unique experience for her. Kaladin has been in the chasms many times before, and besides, he’s not that interested in plants unless he can use them (i.e., knobweed). Given Shallan’s interests, of course she’s going to be fascinated: while some of these plants are varieties of plants she’s known elsewhere, some may be unique to the chasms. It’s a good thing she has her Memories, because there’s really not a lot of time for study just now.
It’s notable that Pattern could only speculate as to how the Stormlight was able to preserve Shallan despite a fall of 200+ feet. As she says, it proved how little she - or he - knew about her abilities. It doesn’t help matters to have a false data point, either; she’s trying to not only account for saving herself, but for somehow saving Kaladin as well.
What are the mechanics of an event like this? Did she fall and then heal? Or did the Stormlight somehow protect her from injury in the first place? The same questions should probably apply to Kaladin, but Windrunner reflexes would let him use Stormlight to slow the fall, and then heal himself from whatever other injuries were sustained. But what does a Lightweaver have in that regard? She’s got Illumination and Transformation; how do those help? Or ... is it like the explanation in the (officially not-yet-canonical) Jasnah excerpt, where someone holding enough Stormlight will just immediately and automatically heal from any injury short of a crushing blow to the head?
The Heralds for this chapter are, appropriately enough, those associated with the respective Orders of the two proto-Radiants: Jezrien for the Windrunner and Shalash for the Lightweaver. Suitable, since it’s only their bonds that allowed them to survive. They’re also singularly apt in the roles these two take, however faulty their execution: Kaladin takes the lead (though he doesn’t do much protecting), while Shallan is both bluntly honest and determinedly artistic despite the desperate situation.
And thus begins the series of events leading to the Kaladin/Shallan ship-a ship. While the trope of "they fight and fight and all of a sudden they’re in love" is a staple of romance novels, and is not infrequently seen in fantasy, it’s hard to write believably. It would be awful trying to make these two complement one other while maintaining both continuity and any semblance of credibility.
- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson