Any Old Iron?
Tehlu is said to have appeared to Perial as a being made entirely of fire or sunlight. This aligns to the same classical image that we see of him when he is displayed to the masses during the Seven days of high mourning in Tarbean. His opposite counterpart, Encanis, is similarly dressed to play the exact opposite part and so he appears to Kvothe in the colours of darkness and shadow. This simple analogy sums up the shape of the world at large with these two supreme powers representing the two ends of the monochrome spectrum that arcs between darkness and light and defines the difference between night and day. Everything else in the universe is naturally going to be lesser to these two semi-gods and will so be denoted by a lesser colour than these two extremes and will appear as a small speck coloured some neutral shade of grey, forever floating in between these dual paramiters of black and white. The Tehlin priesthood understand their station in life and so grey is also the colour of their symbolic robes. As far as the rest of the population goes… well everyone is different and so each might one day be judged to be of a somewhat lighter or darker shade of grey than the others, and that is an awful lot of infintissimaly different shaeds of grey to explore. However we should also note that all of this grey matter also has the choice, or rather the potential, to make itself lean more to one side or the other. When you strip away all the colours then you simplify the answers and this is the basis of all monochrome worlds…. ours included.
Our next thought might well be to draw a dividing line equidistant from both extremes and call that the middle point so that you could easily tell which side of the split you were currently standing on at any given moment. This imaginary line will bisect all things and walking along this fine line is where we can find the Lethani. Tempi suggested that this line might be likened a swords edge down which we can walk along, not painful for feet but where it is very easy to fall to one side or the other. This is a state of balance to which we can all relate to because this is the place where we ourselves come to make all of our own life decisions, be they good or bad, which create a unique code by which we live our own unique lives every single day as we wander blindly around in a constantly shifting field of personal static.
In all of Temerant this same philosophy applies universally which should mean that it applies to all things equally since all things are one part of the whole which Aleph named or discovered way back in the beginning of things. Everything has a name, and by it’s very existence it is going to be made up of a combination of both light and dark elements. Investigating such things deeper will reveal that these long-names are in fact three-part names and so we can theorise that each third-part of a name would also have these two distinct possibilities, one lightname (that we are born with), and one darkname (which we shall die with). Then there is a thirdname (that we shall live by) which is coloured in it’s own unique shade of grey which will denote the code by which all things might exist as we crawl along in the middle. Three times two equals six, which is, coincidentally, the same as the number of spokes in Tehlu’s great wheel of life and death whose purpose was to define the battleground on which both Tehlu and his opposite Encanis will struggle upon as they strive towards their ashen end.
It was this six-part long name which Tehlu moulded with his iron hammer when he led the good people over to his own side of the line. He struck them three times with iron, firstly to break their wicked old names from them, then he changed their middle names to his desire from the darker side along which they were all apparently walking before, over to the lighter version of life which they would now be walking into the future. Finally he struck them a third time with a blow which sealed their new fate up within them leaving everyone all wrapped up in the shiny new names which he had just given to them all… all bar those who refused to cross over that is. Those he struck down only the once in order to break their old dark names apart, but he did Not then change their old names and neither did he give them new ones. These ‘rhinta to be’ remained then with their original choice of path, and it was a dark one and it will remain ever so until the world ends and the Aleu fall nameless from the sky.
Now when it comes to names of physical things, such as iron, this same good/bad analogy might well apply, and in this chapter we shall assume that it does. Apparently, the Adem can decide if someone is ‘good iron worth striking’ which is a question that Vashet intends to discover the truth of within Kvothe by putting him through her own hammer test which implies that ‘bad iron that is not worth striking’ also existed as a possibility. This was very nearly her final decision at one point when she spoke of sensing something dark deep within him, ‘a flicker of false light’ she called it, something which could, perhaps, be influenced something deeper than the lethani and that she feared might subvert his application of the lethani towards dark and ruthless deeds (such as betraying a city of Ergen, perhaps). Fortunately the truth of such things was found to be in his music which saved him when words failed. This happy ending kept him from having to prove her correct in her assumption since the darker side of his nature had already prepared a mommet, obtained a power source, and held appropriate links at the ready just in case his music had failed him and he had to then fight his way out instead. From this interaction we can ascertain that music was indeed the right answer and that music is therefore of the lethani and so, conversely, his blood magic was almost certainly not of the lethani. The existence of such dark matter or ‘bad iron’ then is spoken of as an actual thing to the Adem, if only as a turn of phrase.
But that statement also applies to the renowned metal workers of the Cealdim, who during daily negotiations might well ask ‘are you dealing me false iron?’ (Lhin ta lu soren hea ?) regarding your integrity in any given deal. There is another small link to spot within their society regarding their own coinage which is described as ‘the true ringing Cealdish coin we prize above all others?’ meaning the ase others would naturally ring false. Now this line would be talking about their Iron drabs which are made of a high quality carbon steel, and these coins are regarded as ‘good’ iron according to Jake at the Waystone. However, Kote replied that he needed to use a shim, which is generally regarded as a piece of ‘bad’ iron, in order to finish the demon scrael off properly in the traditional way. It is interesting to note that this apparent difference to iron’s power over things relies solely upon the introduction of carbon to the mix and mankind is a collection of carbon based lifeforms. Further investigation has shown us that a diagram of a carbon atom has six spokes…. not just like Tehlu’s wheel did, but as does the pictogram that you can draw for yourself if you follow the instructions found in my earlier piece, The Δ of Temerant.
We are told by Elodin that a longname contains every possible piece of information about the object in question, be it a piece of the wind or one of the fae, and speaking this name gives the name knower power over all of these many parts to do with as they desire. This means that in order to speak any such longname you would need to understand it entire, and this understanding will apply to each of all six ot it’s thrice named attributes possible dualites, too. Exactly how many attributes there are to deal with is un-guessable and anyway, the complexity changes from name to name. However, we can use percentages here to help understand each fraction of the problem better by limiting them by using a scale of 1-100 as a basis for our maths which will now cover everything possible that exists about said long name from it’s blackest limit, down at Zero, right through to it’s whitest limit up at 100. [it should be noted here that since only the gods could ever hope to operate at such extremes then in actuality we are only dealing with the scope of the numbers between 1 and 99 which while it will cover all of the grey area between them it will also make true percentage based maths a little inaccurate at the final answer, but thats where the fly in the ointment that is Lanre steps in.]
When dealing with the name of stone, Fela uses her skills to divide Elodins pebble into two groups, those that are desirable to the finished article (which will remain) and those which are not (which will break away as dross). Now this dross could, if Felas was so inclined, also be asked to form itself into another ring, one would be made of everything stone that her own ring was not, and in doing so would become the universal opposite of the ring that she did make. One stone, two possibile futures and if we consider the same choice of actions and outcomes when working with iron as our base then we must also have two possible kinds of iron to deal with.
We have just read more than we prolly cared to learn about Tehlu’s iron hammer, in Heavy Metal and so now it’s time to turn our attention to part II, the forging of his great iron wheel.
‘He called for iron and the people bought all that they owned.’
This is our starting point and if we suppose that the people were just normal folk then let us assume that all of this iron that they owned was nothing especial, and was collectively just a big pile of shims really. But what came out of the other end of Tehlu’s wheel forging process was anything but common iron. This iron was now as black as night and we are further informed that
‘the sound of its name was terrible and none could speak it.’
This means that Tehlu’s iron working skills had most definitely involved some major re-naming work and that this process had imparted something especial unto this common (red) iron which had turned it into this new fangled (black) iron so that it would be fit for it’s new purpose.
In Kvothe’s dealings with the Trebon tinker he is also offered a piece of black iron which he casually dismisses as being just a lump of slag iron (which is the dross that is left over after the normal Trebon iron forging process is complete) that he noted was ‘heavy and cold to the touch.’ However, looks can be deceiving and upon investigation we then learn that this lump of gnarled black iron is actually a piece of Loden stone and now that we know what it looks like we can see that a special kind of iron does indeed exist in the world and it’s appearance makes it one of the more likely options for being what Tehlu’s heavy black wheel might be actually be constructed of. This rare and special iron still contains all of the basic properties of common iron and yet at the same time it still ticks all the necessary boxes for being ‘not-iron’. ‘Star iron’, as it is also sometimes known, is quite likely not naturally occurring but rather it is formed as a result of an extreme power source removing all the possible impurities, a process which has the same sort of effect as splitting one long-name into two short-names would. This half-piece was seperated from it’s other half only by via the application of the intense power of heat generated by a professional iron foundary. Tehlu used the local forge when he did his own work and it is noted that ten men worked the bellows which, to me, implies a similarly extreme level of firepower was involved in it’s creation which points me towards the thinking that the iron of the Great wheel of Atur was also ‘shaped in fire’. All told this is exactly the sort of iron that we would expect to find at one end of our good/bad spectrum and thus be the only thing that could ever have bound encanis to this extreme of darkness.
True or False?
Apart from having a name which none could speak, this wheel was also somehow magically aligned towards only truthful speaking and the wheel did ring like a bell if anyone spoke falsely whilst touching it. This may well be because all those who were present had already had their wickedness removed and so could no longer understand this singularly wicked name. Encanis still could speak this language though and he knew that it spelt his doom. Any untrue response would bring even more pain to the demon that was chained to it, above and beyond what all iron would classically do but while this lie induced pain was moreso than the standard level of suffering that the iron was already giving to Encanis it was still not enough to actually kill the demon lord outright since his parasitic atttchment to eternal Lanre forbade this. This black iron alone might have pushed the demon lord right up to it’s limits but the iron alone could not quite tip it over the edge into the land of the dead. To achieve those ends, as folklore dictates, would need a combination of both iron and fire acting destructively together as one, which implies that Tehlus wheel work did indeed involve the art of shaping, an action that according to Felurian the old name-knowers had condemned as being a tool of the enemy which they considered very, very wrong indeed.
So breaking the name of iron into good and bad particles is an angle worthy of more understanding. Talking in percentages will make things easier to follow but that will involve fractions where we need to understand more about what happens when you divide one infinite number into a finite one and then triangulate them into a more 3-dimensional form. For a more exact line of thinking about such numbers is very deep tinfoil indeed and now might be a good time to try another read of my earlier Irony+ papers as the principals described here are the same as those involved within the workings of a tinfoil compass.
First came (Tehlu) who shaped me in fire for unknown purpose…’
Shaping is a thing, chael’s sword was made thus and shaping good iron along with the name of fire is entirely possible as I have already written about elsewhere in Tomes. Therefore we can theorise that our iron could also be shaped with not only fire but with anything or even everything (if you were one of those people who happened to know the names of all things to begin with). In it’s simplest form, such a deed would needs must be constucted one name at a time and so with each individual blow that Tehlu struck, we can imagine that he shaped the name of iron with one additional name. Such a wheel would, when finished, now contain a piece of the longnames of all things and so any demon it touched would also be held in thrall of that, too. Now the actual quantity implied by ‘all things’ is too vague to use as an integer but that is where using whole percentages as our baseline will let us quantify the work with a finite amount of names. That means in simple terms that 99 ‘dark’ names went into it’s creation and we are distinctly told that all of these 99 blows did take place during the hours of darkness. However the final blow was struck with the first appearance of dawn whereupon the wheel was finished, and so the wheel also contained 1% as the name of sunlight somewhere within it’s new make-up.
‘All night he worked and when the first light of the tenth morning touched him , Tehlu struck the wheel one final time and it was finished.’
If every hammer blow relates a single (dark) name then every blow made by (dark) Tehlu would now tally up as one (dark) half of each of all the whole longnames in the world, and each of these names was needed to contain (dark) Encanis, who represents the dark half of all things. The one (light) exception to the ingredients was made with the name of light itself and this, I believe will prove to be the fundamental difference between life and death.
I occurred to me that one inspiration Pat may have considered here is a tale from Norse mythology where all of the things that existed in the world swore not to hurt the Sun God Balder, all except for one that is, an omission which ultimately led to his demise.
Ok, my head is starting to hurt now, too much tinfoil makes Jax a sad boy. This piece is far from finished, but I understand that and so I can comfortably put it aside for later editing. But it’s not really going to be doing anything productive sitting idle in my hard drive that it couldnt do just as happily online. And so it shall.