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WoR I11


Point of view: Eshonai
Setting: Narak

Progression of the Chapter:

Eshonai meets with the Council of Five, plus Venli to discuss the plan she has developed for fighting the humans - to get everyone possible into stormform she lies and manipulates them to gain some cooperation. Venli is still keeping secrets. Eshonai circumvents the Five, announcing the immediate implementation of her plan. The sisters go out to the practice grounds, where Eshonai again announces her plan, requiring each soldier to choose immediately whether or not to join her in Stormform; once the few who refuse the transformation are identified, she sends her soldiers to do the same among the civilians; all those who refuse are gathered with those few soldiers on the practice ground; Eshonai attunes her new Rhythms to block out any hints of self-awareness. When her old lieutenant indicates discomfort with the proceedings, she puts him and her former division in charge of the dissenters, knowing that she will have all of them executed once she has most of the people in Stormform. She returns to the city, prepared to tell her people a concoction of lies to keep them in line; while she waits for the people to gather and settle for her speech, she is informed that the dissenters have escaped into the chasms. Despite Venli and her spite, Eshonai shrugs them off as essentially dead already, since they cannot possibly get far enough away via the chasms before the next highstorm hits.

Quote of the Chapter:

"Our people must take that form, Eshonai," Venli said. "It is inevitable."

Eshonai found herself attuning the new version of Amusement ... Ridicule, it was. She turned to her sister. "You knew, didn’t you? You knew exactly what this form would do to me. You knew this before you took the form yourself."

"I ... Yes."

Eshonai grabbed her sister by the front of her robe, then yanked her forward, holding her tightly. With Shardplate it was easy, though Venli resisted more than she should have been able to, and a small spark of red lightning ran across the woman’s arms and face. Eshonai was not accustomed to such strength from her scholar of a sister.

"You could have destroyed us," Eshonai said. "What if this form had done something terrible?"

Screaming. In her head. Venli smiled.

"How did you discover this?" Eshonai asked. "It didn’t come from the songs. There is more."

Venli did not speak. She met Eshonai’s eyes and hummed to Confidence. "We must make certain the Five agree to this plan," she said. "If we are to survive, and if we are to defeat the humans, we must be in this form - all of us. We must summon that storm. It has been ... waiting, Eshonai. Waiting and building."

Commentary:

It’s so hard to watch Eshonai under the control of the stormspren, and it’s made worse by the ways in which she almost recognizes the differences. Between her own voice screaming at her from the Rhythm of Peace, the differences in the Rhythms she can hear, and the repeatedly slippery recognitions of behavior that is not quite natural, it’s pretty clear that there’s still something of the old Eshonai buried in there, and that the new Eshonai is being controlled by another entity.

Is that buried Eshonai being clever - if desperate? Specifically, has she deliberately put her "former friends" in charge of the dissidents, a group which includes her own mother, knowing that they would figure out what she was going to do to them and that they would attempt to escape? She shrugs off their departure just a shade too easily, and Venli accuses her of doing something deliberately, though even Venli doesn’t seem to know quite what it might be. Earlier, Eshonai almost acknowledged something weird about the way she didn’t choose her own squad for the first group to transform; later, she consciously thinks that it was nice of Thude to make it so easy to get rid of him and the rest of her old squad.

Eshonai displays impatience and contempt for so many of the people that she’s spent all these years leading and protecting. This new arrogance is revolting after the careful, humble stewardship she displayed earlier.

Further, the "new rhythms" that give the chapter its title are nefariously influential:

Rhythms, the names of which she intuited somehow, she could almost hear voices speaking to her. Advising her. If her people had received such guidance over the centuries, they surely would not have fallen so far.

These new rhythms make other people nervous. Is that simply because the rhythms are unfamiliar, because the others can’t hear the Rhythm she’s using? Or is there something in the rhythms themselves that causes uneasiness in those not (yet) attuned to the Voidbringer spren? (It would be an interesting exercise to make a list of all the old and new Rhythms, and see how many direct correspondences there are, of the sort Eshonai makes between Amusement and "the new version of Amusement ... Ridicule, it was." Are all the new ones all a bitter twist on the old ones?)

There are also repeated mentions of the red eyes, which she and Venli both have. During the meeting of the Five, Abronai whispers to himself, "Have we come to this?" Later, Eshonai thinks that her old friends will have to be executed, because she’d instilled in them too much fear of the old gods; they don’t trust her because of her red eyes. (Wise folk!)

Eshonai can’t quite explain her own actions. Hopefully, the old Eshonai can still be recovered.

Stormwatch:

This interlude actually jumps forward in time just a little; it takes place on the same day as the upcoming Chapter 60, six days after the last few chapters of Part Three: Deadly.

Sprenspotting:

Just what is the is the "comet like" spren Eshonai keeps trying to chase? Is it possibly the spren that was displaced when she took stormform? It certainly seems to be connected to her former self, anyway. Is it part of the screaming? And is it in any way similar to the way dead Shardblades scream when touched by a Radiant?

Then there are the stormspren. Thousands and thousands of them. Why are there suddenly so many of them around for Venli to collect? Were they always there, or are they now being sent? If the latter, by whom? (Odium?) They also seem to have an ... interesting effect on the local windspren.:

Today’s clear sky rained down white sunlight, and a few windspren approached on a breeze. They stopped when they grew near, then zipped away in the opposite direction.

Are windspren too closely related to honorspren to be comfortable approaching Odium-influenced spren?

Heraldic Symbolism:

The Heralds in this interlude seem to reflect the very twisted versions of their attributes presented by Eshonai and Venli. Kalak, the Maker, with his divine attributes of Resolute and Builder, is inversely reflected in Eshonai’s resolute direction of her people; she’s building them, all right, but building them into the antithesis of everything they’ve believed for centuries. Ishar, the Priest, with his attributes of Pious and Guiding, is reflected in Venli’s careful collection of the spren of their old gods, guiding the Listeners back to the Voidbringers they once served.

- Paraphrased from Alice Arneson[1]

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