9/10ths of the Law
Possession is all about control. We know that skin dancers exist, we see people manipulated, we see people mastered by others, we even have an exorcism. Now I’m no priest, I’m more tubular in my appreciation of Bell, Book and Candle, but we do need to try and understand a bit about possession. It appears to be all about naming and name changing, binding and unbinding. Even though I can’t see the way yet myself, I’ll have a go and see what comes out the other end. Pea soup probably.
Elodin insists that there are Seven words that will make a person love you, and Ten words that will break a strong mans’s will. If this is true then this is actually possession. It is making somebody else do something, no matter how long it lasts for, directly through the power of your will, your words and the lethani. You might think that saying seven words to make somebody love you is a sweet and lovely thing but it is not. Its possession. It is exerting your will upon another who is powerless to resist your command.
Now you will find seven words running rampant through every page of these books. They are most famously said to Denna (although there is almost always an apostrophe involved!), and seven words are often heard around Felurian. In fact they are almost always said to a woman when love is in the air, and sometimes… it gets a positive reaction. Losi, the red haired barmaid at the Pennysworth Inn gets a dose of the Sevens from Kvothe which certainly worked rather well, as they do on Penthe out among the Adem just before they also make love. Also nice to see is the lady who gave young Kvothe the silver penny in Tarbean receiving a pair of Seven words in thankful blessings. But for our purposes, the best Seven word sentence I found was said to Magwyn.
‘I would hear you say something’ she said still looking intently at my hand. ‘As you will, honoured shaper of names.’ Magwyn looked up at Shehyn. ‘Does me mock me?’
Not everyone’s favourite I bet, but it’s a good one. Magwyn knows about names and the power they hold just as much as Elodin does and she is currently in the process of reading Kvothe’s long name. His choice of phrase does seem a bit mocking from a barbarian who then goes on to admit that he has learnt something about the power of naming, but the choice and number of the words used was between Kvothe and the lethani and something from his sleeping mind perhaps, and it ran off down the road of Seven words to make a woman love you path. After he told her about his studies she looked at him for a long time, and she is a bit of a looker, but she then continued with his instruction and I think he passed the test, whatever it was. The honoured shaper of names was satisfied with his name and his naming knowledge and it’s portents and the lethani. But is she actually a shaper of names or just a reader of them? There is a difference you know…
The best examples (that I found) of Kvothe the Bloodless using Ten words that did actually break a strong man’s will are used on the man who whipped him on the pennant pole. His job was to tie the condemned’s hands but kvithe was having none of it.
‘If I pass out you may do whatever you wish’
‘Until then, I will not be tied’
And thus Kvothe the Arcane broke a strong man’s will with a well turned ten and sevencombination.
He uses ten more on Squire Strahota and a random sailor in Tarbean.
I pushed him ungently aside ‘I think she wants her space from you right now’…
‘You! Take this man and put him over there’ My voice snapped like a whip and the sailor jumped to his feet, grabbed the young gentleman by the back of his neck and scuffed him tidily away.
Squire Strahota’s control over the situation is broken and Kvothe exerts his authority successfully. We then get an awful lot of nicely acknowledged Seven words with Denna, indeed the first thing she mentions is their number, and they do seem to reunite our long lost duet of Savian and his Aloine once again if the looks of love are anything to go by. But the Tens also did their job well and the Sailor explains to the room what just happened to him.
‘It were powerful strange, There were sommat in his voice. I swear by all the salt in me I felt like a puppet with my string pulled.’
And so Elodin’s words would appear to be correct. Words Have Power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There is a power in even simple words… like Blue! and when the right words are said in the right combinations they can become like a command. It’s not a magic spell as the words are always different, but they work nonetheless. It may well be something to do with your sleeping minds lethani inspired lyrics being of the correct form and meter to fit into the poetry of life…
‘Remember this, son, if you forget everything else. A poet is a musician who can’t sing. Words have to find a man’s mind before they can touch his heart. Music touches their hearts directly.
So if we take the words out of the song we would get an instrumental song, (such as the theme to The Exorcist!) which is pure music without the need for words and so can find the most direct route to your own long name far easier than mere words can. Elodin tells us that…
‘a word is nothing but a painting of a fire, a name is the fire itself’
‘If she was beautiful at rest she was doubly so awake.
Asleep she was like a painting of a fire, Awake she was the fire itself.’
Which, to me, all comes together to imply that ‘a word is to a name like a poem is to a song.’ And thus all long names would be better described as being a form of pure and perfect music, an instrumental such as the theme from the exorcist aka Tubular Bells.
Music can move your heart more directly than words can as it can bypass your mind and go straight to the heart where all things come together eventually. Music strikes at the very core of your being and thus your long name is less like a word and actually more like a song lyric than a name. When it hears the right musician playing, long names yearn to sing together in duet, a bit like Denna at at Eolian I suppose. I listens to it’s own echoing desire to run off and dance with this old friend whose name was once thought forgotten. When it finds such a calling it shares with the singer it’s own unique three-part name. Magwyn says that your name is a private thing and very dangerous to share with others, because when it is wide open and welcoming to friends, it is also prone and defenceless against enemies.
If you fall under the spell of someones song, your own name is vulnerable to attack since it can now be easily ‘sung’ by your opponent and overwhelmed if they so seek to have control over you. In this instance your waking mind must fight back to protect it’s fragile sanity by using your bodies own weapons, your alar to block and your sleeping mind to attack.
Which is what happens to our hero in the fae and that brings us nicely round to Felurian and an investigation of how exactly such a struggle of wills might unfold.