|<< WoR Ch. 73: A Thousand Scurrying Creatures / WoR Ch. 75: True Glory >>|
|“||You, however, have never been a force for equilibrium. You tow chaos behind you like a corpse dragged by one leg through the snow. Please, harken to my plea. Leave that place and join me in my oath of nonintervention.||”|
Progression of the Chapter:
Kaladin is pulled to safety; the storm pounds the plateaus and the water rises abruptly; bodies float by; strange things are seen in the storm; stories of past traumas are exchanged; the Stormfather comes; a realization occurs; Kaladin is condemned; spheres are now charged, and silence falls between the two; the storm ends, and sleep descends.
Quote of the Chapter:
|“|| "Syl," Kaladin said, looking back to the face. The plateaus in front of him had vanished. It was just him and the face. He had to ask. It hurt him, but he had to. "What have I done to her?"
YOU HAVE KILLED HER. The voice shook everything. It was as if ... as if the shaking of the plateau and his own body made the sounds for the voice.
"No," Kaladin whispered. "No!"
IT HAPPENED AS IT ONCE DID, the Stormfather said, angry. A human emotion. Kaladin recognized it. MEN CANNOT BE TRUSTED, CHILD OF TANAVAST. YOU HAVE TAKEN HER FROM ME. MY BELOVED ONE.
The face seemed to withdraw, fading.
"Please!" Kaladin screamed. "How can I fix it? What can I do?"
IT CANNOT BE FIXED. SHE IS BROKEN. YOU ARE LIKE THE ONES WHO CAME BEFORE, THE ONES WHO KILLED SO MANY OF THOSE I LOVE. FAREWELL, SON OF HONOR. YOU WILL NOT RIDE MY WINDS AGAIN.
A crash of thunder, accompanied by a blinding flash of light, sent him stuttering. Shallan pulled more tightly against him, fingers digging into his arm. The light left an afterimage in his eyes.
Storms. He could swear that afterimage was a face, horribly twisted, the mouth pulled open. The next lightning bolt lit the flood just outside with a sequence of crackling light, and it showed water bobbing with corpses. Dozens of them pulled past in the current, dead eyes toward the sky, many just empty sockets. Men and Parshendi.
This afterimage is surreal. Just what is with the bodies? Are these corpses from the most recent fighting, the day they fell into the chasm? That their eye sockets are empty means that they were killed with Shardblades, which also means Eshonai had to have been involved.
Light came from above, too steady to be lightning. Something was glowing on the plateau. Something that moved. It was hard to see, since water streamed off the side of the plateau above, falling in a sheet before their refuge. He swore he saw an enormous figure walking up there, a glowing inhuman form, followed by another, alien and sleek. Striding the storm. Leg after leg, until the glow passed.
Are there two huge beings with multiple legs, or multiple bipedal forms, or multiple beings with multiple legs? Are they perhaps some of the Unmade? The Heralds are normal-sized people, and all the other humanoid species on Roshar seem to be roughly the same size. So what are these enormous glowing figures? (A question to ask Brandon.)
Kaladin and Shallan tell stories to one another while in the chasm, but this is the first time either of them have told their story to anyone who didn’t live through it with them. They need the conversation when in darkness and there's lightning, but once Shallan’s sphere is recharged and they have a steady light, the need to talk fades away. It’s very real.
Kaladin is habitually careful: he doesn’t ever say that he killed the Shardbearer, because that’s gotten him in trouble before; and he doesn’t talk about Syl because he’s used to keeping her a secret, and because it’s a painful subject right now. So he tells Shallan enough to understand most of where he’s been. She reciprocates:
|“||"My father was a violent, angry man," Shallan said. "A murderer. I loved him. And I strangled him as he lay on the floor, watching me, unable to move. I killed my own father ... "||”|
And finally Kaladin understands something that he’s never really grasped before: it could have been so much worse.
Kaladin had thought his life terrible, but there was one thing he'd had, and perhaps not cherished enough: parents who loved him. Roshone had brought Damnation itself to Hearthstone, but at least Kaladin’s mother and father had always been there to rely upon.
What would he have done, if his father had been like the abusive, hateful man Shallan described? If his mother had died before his own eyes? What would he have done if, instead of living off Tien's light, he had been required to bring light to the family?
About her mother's death, it's likely that Shallan told Kaladin one of the various stories with which her father provided her. Clearly not that she herself had killed her mother in self-defense. Anything but the truth, on this subject.
Killing her father was never part of the experience she locked up in the part of her mind where she never remembers. Killing her mother once was though. However, there’s no way to pretend to her three brothers (or the fiancee) that she didn’t do it. Also, she’s quite a bit older now, and has lived with enough horror that this doesn’t send her catatonic. She probably hasn’t talked about it with anyone outside those four people, but she deliberately avoids thinking about it. It just doesn't send her into a blank stare when the thought crosses her mind.
And then Stormfather shows up.
Spren that are " ... red and violet and reminiscent of lightning." Are these stormspren or perhaps another, related spren? They cannot be a good thing, out in the highstorm. What's with the chanting out in the storm? Is the chanting being done by those other ... things?
Then, there's Stormfather ...
|“||"Stormfather," Kaladin said. Some named him Jezerezeh, Herald. This didn’t fit what Kaladin had heard of any Herald, however. Was the Stormfather a spren, perhaps? A god? It seemed to stretch forever, yet he could see it, make out the face in its infinite expanse.||”|
The chasmfiendspren seem to be connected to the santhidspren and skyeelspren. They may have some kind of anti-gravitational effect. However, spren have seemed to be drawn to things, rather than causing things. Are there some spren that do one, some do the other, and some do both? Or are these "anti-gravity spren" more closely related to the bonding spren (i.e., do they grant a limited Surgebinding to these creatures)? How much intelligence is actually required for a bond like that?
Kaladin finally puts it together and recognizes that Shallan is a Surgebinder. Just what makes it all click for him isn't apparent, but there have been inexplicable phenomena galore. Most recently, she managed to pull him up to the cubby with a strength that simply doesn’t match her size, and then there’s the sphere that suddenly went dark. The storm prevents him from arguing with her when she claims she must have dropped it, but apparently he didn’t forget after all.
He had thought himself alone, and had become accustomed to crediting his Surgebinding for every odd thing that happened; from things unexpectedly sticking together, to not dying when he fell several hundred feet to what should have been his death. In Chapter 72, he even assumed that the giant Kaladin-Illusion was something he had somehow done. Then Shallan does something he was used to doing: she gained sudden, impossible strength and a sphere went dun ... and it sinks in. None of it was his own doing; she survived the fall on her own, and her skill made it possible for him to kill the chasmfiend.
He even confirms her Radiant status with the Stormfather ... but in a wrenching counterpoint, just as he learns he wasn’t alone as a Radiant, he also learns that he’s not a Radiant any longer. Not only did Shallan do all that on her own, he will apparently never do anything like it again.
Vedel and Palah grace this chapter. So, Vedel the Healer and Palah the Scholar watch over the exchange of histories and the revelations of pain and heartache. Kaladin and Shallan have to come away from this with a greater understanding of one another, and probably the world at large and their small place in it. (A couple of young people from the backwaters of their respective nations are not normally going to be all that significant on the world stage.) Their sorrow, however, is substantial to them personally, and it’s a bit of a stunner to realize that other insignificant people also suffer and mourn. Sometimes a person needs this kind of lesson to realize that he’s just not so special after all ... and sometimes he needs it to realize that he’s not alone.
The images of Healer and Scholar are also appropriate in that they each reflect the enduring aspects of Kaladin and Shallan. Kaladin is both healer and warrior, yet here he is the healer in that he is a comfort to Shallan and encourages her to divulge a deep secret and guilt feeling. Shallan is both scholar and artist/illusionist, yet it is her intellectual capacity that is present here.
With his hands around her waist, hers around him, it was as close as he’d held a woman since Tarah.
For now, he wanted to think - though he was still glad for her presence. And aware of it in more ways than one, pushed against him and wearing the wet, increasingly tattered dress.
His conversation with the Stormfather, however, drew his attention away from that sort of thought.
So, Kaladin is human. He’s physically aware of this sopping-wet woman wearing, as she phrased it earlier, "half a filthy dress" - though it’s probably slightly cleaner by now - her right sleeve and the bottom part of it having made bandages for Kaladin. Anyway, he could hardly be unaware of her, but at this moment, he has something far more problematic on his mind, and his attention is elsewhere.
This night of shared danger, backstories, and physical proximity could naturally serve as a starting point for mutual romantic interest. Certainly they show signs of awareness later, but they each also have other priorities.
- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson