The Basis of all Matt…er
Ok, I can see the shape of the problem here, before you can do the jigsaw puzzle, you need to see the pieces. Complimentary pieces of tinfoil that you can assign some individual characteristics to. Shapes with Names.
We need to understand shaping and naming, and so we need to understand magic.
So you want to be arcanists? You want magic like you have heard about in bedtime stories. You’ve listened to stories of Taborlin the Great. Roaring sheets of fire, magic rings, invisible cloaks , swords that never go dull…
This being a fantasy fiction novel, you can, if you so desire, choose simply to take it as read that magic exists. But these books are High fantasy, and if you want to learn things then you have come to the right place. It’s going to get a bit deep in here, but a heavy secret lies at the bottom of things. The pieces are there to see for those who desire to explore the basics of all magic and therefore the basis of all matter. You can cut to the end if you just want the revelations, but if you wish to discover exactly how tin can be made into foil you can follow these fantasy fiction books further, go deep into the mysteries of magic and see how tools can be made to work together. The shapes of things and the parts that form them are the building blocks for the shape of the world.
The First Stone
Fela knows the name of stone. Part of her sleeping mind recognises it and she demonstrates this when she makes her ‘magic ring’. Just by seeing she can read it’s name like a heavy lettered book. Each stone is unique yet all stone is one stone and all through this stone is the long name of stone which tells it what it is. Fela can speak this stone language, she can read this stones long name and it is the name of a friend and she has an affinity with it as close as if they were twins. Some stony part of her own form is in perfect harmony with this stones form. There is a little bit of stone in all of us, it just needs nudging a bit, and Fela’s sleeping mind is awake. It looks, it sees, it speaks and it introduces itself to the stone and they smile like old friends who’s names were once thought forgotten. She can ask it to dance with her and it will gladly bend to her desire by dancing to her tune. She gently breathed her request in the language of stone and the stone bent to please her. She asked the stone to break and the stone broke perfectly. To achieve perfection all the imperfect parts were ‘broken’ from the heart of stone and they fell away as dross revealing her magic ring of perfection within, the long name of stone is tattooed throughout like a stick of seaside rock. The name of stone written over and over, within and without, intricately and infinitely interwoven in the shape of Fela’s desire, which in this case is to be a ring fit for a friends finger. The ring is now perfect and having no imperfections will stay so evermore. Kvothe describes the subtle shifing fractal facets that spell out what it was, it is and will always be, Fela’s stone. It fits her finger perfectly, of course it does, who else would it fit? It’s her secret.
On his first hand he wore rings of stone, iron, amber, wood and bone.
Maybe fela will add to her collection of rings in the future, Kvothe the Arcane apparently had rings on every finger, his first may already be secretly hidden there when last we see him, a ring of ‘everwind’ endlessly writing it’s longname around his finger, infinitely blowing to his desire. With it, he could, like Lyra could, ‘still a thunderstorm or kill a man’ (or a felurian!) and the wind would bend to his desire.
The shapes of things are very fundamental here, individual objects acting alone at base level, elemental matter thinking at a molacular level, this is El’the level thinking, a level that can sharpen the mind to a level where it can understand matter itself. To succeed in holding a binding with matter you need to believe in it with an alar like a blade of Ramston steel. Now Ramston is a fine metal, it keeps an edge for ever so you could use it to cut kindling and still shave with it. But it is brittle, ‘the best knife you will ever own, until it breaks’, but then the same can be said of any knife. Far better would be to have an alar like a blade of Spring steel which is perfect for making beartraps and bloodless both. According to Arliden, Lanre’s sword was strong spring steel (Read it again out loud and you will see what I mean,) as are Kvothe’s lockpicks. Strong yet flexible, it is bendy metal, metal with a memory, not as sharp as Ramston but it is pretty much unbreakable. Now wouldn’t it be nice to have a blade mixed half of each, both sharp and strong combined. A smith can take Iron and mix it with a bit of carbon to make steel like that used in drab’s, Aaron the smith knows about tempering and tampering using the addition of coke and lime. Artifice, Sympathy and Alchemy can combine many parts of clever things in combination but as Elodin tells us
‘an alchemist without any naming skill was no more respected than a cook. a sympathist without naming might as well be a carriage driver and an artificer with no names behind his work was little more than a cobbler or smith.’
With names as your friends, a Namer would have the power of a tiny god, powers which allow you to see into the infinitely small parts of long names and be as one with them, as many names as you could wear rings, individual blocks of power shining like a bag of marbles all the colours of sunlight. But a Shaper would be moreso. A shaper would be more like an artist who owned a set of paints with four different brushes. A sculptor who could take the raw power of, say, some earth metal (we shall call this [metal]) and add a hint of fire, or wind ,or water… whatever!In order to help it remember how to bend and thus make it be more than it should be. Magical metal fit for silver swords, a bright blade for a hero’s hand. ‘Swords that never go dull.’ A sword that won’t break and shall stay infinitely sharp, sharp as a piece of mountain glass, such as Obsidian (qv) which is a special kind of glass that online research tells us is, in our world, so especially perfectly sharp that it can cut between the edges of things at a melecular level. Mountain glass is naturally formed in some mountains of the world from two base elements, sand and heat, where they have been forged together in the naturally occurring fire and earth that is a volcano. If someone was able to stand in one with a lump of [metal] and work their will upon it they could give it a new life, think about the One Ring and Mount Doom if it helps… and then remember master Namer Selitos lost and eye and gained a better sight when he looked at a piece of mountain glass and realised how two names can become one. Each name is extremely powerful in it’s own right, but two names mixed together could be dangerous, and that would be folly.
The only named shaper that we read of was called Chael.
‘First came Chael, Who shaped me in fire for an unknown purpose.’
War was that purpose, The purpose of all blades is war. This was a blade shaped for the first ever war, the creation war fought by Namers v Shapers. And Chael the Shaper shaped his blade in fire. Now a namer who knows many names can walk between them at will. Kvothe does this on his way to the sword tree, he sees the name of the wind, breathes his desire and then slips into the gaps between as if he was dancing with an old friend. On the way back out he desires it to be as still as stone for him, and the wind obeyed. It is all about desire and control. Lanre used the name of wind on Selitos ‘Aeruh. I command the air. Lay leaden on your tongue.’ and from Taborlin ‘For he knew the name of the wind and so the wind obeyed him.’ These are examples of names being used one at a time, but then Chael learnt how to juggle. The namer Chael knew the names of [metal] and fire. He spoke them both and the two names danced together to his desire and became as one. The shaped blade is now [MeTaL] twinned with FiRe which both still exist within the blade and its name binds the two together in this new form, each part remembering and reminding the other how to be strong or to burn and so making a blade of solid strength as sharp as burning. And it is a perfect union. The two names have become one and they have a new name. Caesura. The broken breath.
Quark, Strangeness and Charm.
All things contain properties of the five natural elements in combination. earth, air, fire, water, void. Using magic it is possible to take your elemental [metal] as a base and alter the parts that form it. If the name of fire is to be made foremost it may assume the name Fire or FiRe or even FIRE. All fire is one fire after all. It’s all about control. The presence of any water in our [metal] must be eliminated as it brings decay and that is not desirable. Chael’s desire was to actively encourage a negation to anything water, like a loden stone can also repel iron, giving it a name where water has no purchase. The raw strength of earth is made stronger and maybe an affinity to dancing through the air should be part of the name somewhere too. There is also the fifth element, void, which is also called Aether. A dangerous thing to play about with, it is the dark side of things, like the dark side of the moon or the dark night of fae, or a moonless night. ‘ciar nalias’ If you can play around with the elemental balance of a thing at Aether level, you could shape it radically into something that it never was before, a creation which you would have mastery over. Some of the namers were playing with fire
‘and at first it was not too bad, there were wonders.’
Master Kilvin, Can you think of a metal that will stand hard use for two thousand years and remain relatively unworn or unblemished? A thousand years is a great deal to ask of stone, let alone metal, to say nothing of metal put to heavy use. I was shown a sword that was quite servicable and sharp despite there being proof it was over two thousand years old, Do you know of any metal that could avoid breaking for so long, Let alone keep an edge? Ah, There are such things, old magics, one could say, or old Arts now lost to us.
With the power to shape things at your command you could, if you so desired, shape a device devoid of sygaldry that does nothing but comsume angular motion, or ingots of white metal, lighter than water, which you can neither maim nor mar in any way. Perhaps you felt the need for a sheet of black glass to lack any frictive properties on one side, or a piece of oddly shaped stone that maintains a temperature slightly above freezing no matter the heat around it. perhapsyou could even do something clever with the fruit trees of Murella…
All these things have natural intrinsic properties at heart with natural inclinations that either attract or reject (+ or -) other properties as part of their make up, their very names can be made to reject or attract to the shapers desire. Mercury, the liquid metal is a good comparison, it is naturally remembering the (+)water qualities within it at all times. Loden-stone shows inclinations too, it is designed to either repel (-iron.) or attract (+iron) but never at the same time,that would be void. Another of kvothe’s rings is Amber, which also has odd elemental properties, it can display colourful Electrickery in a static form and Will thinks that red amber can control demons, even though there are no such thing as demons.
The warding stones we are shown appear to have the properties ( -earth/ -fire) as these things have no place in the (+air?) between they are probably (+aether) incarnate as they create a void.
But its much more complicated than that… Felurian’s shaed making involved many such complications.
The switches I am describing are not exactly limited to off & on but are more likely a mixing desk where you can play around with incremental shaedes of things, such as the smell of iron, or blue flame. That is where control comes in to play. Felurian can sew pockets with starlight and moonshine, and this turning cape can still be shaped to be any cut that kvothe desires, with or without dramatic wind effects. It will also protect him from iron, cold or spite and help him move softly in the night. It is, to quote Hemme, an invisibility cloak. It is a proper piece of old magic, although you need to open you eyes to see that. Most folk couldn’t even tell you it’s colour but then most folk don’t believe in magic and i’d be surprised if they saw or even heard anything at all… Whilst others are more attuned to such things.
These things operate at a level so deep that long names are becoming longer names, longer lasting names, stronger names, two names in one, a binary name.
Both parts know their place in the world. Maybe more than two, Kvothe the bloodless wore a ring on every finger. Individually they have their own names, the names that reside within all things like Taborlin the Great knows, like Aleph knows. Imagine playing about with the very letters of these name, scrabblling them together into some anagram of perfect which they are uniquely tailored to fit. As individual as the one who first thought it. Chael’s desire when he breathed the names ‘fire’ and [metal] together was for them to be a blade that cuts but never blunts, and this particular breath of desire has become Chael’s perfect sword. It fit his hand perfectly in order to do the perfect job for ever. And so he carried it then cast it aside… and next came Etaine, Owner #2…, Why throw it aside? perhaps he made an even better weapon, or maybe became a pacifist, or didn’t like the colour! whatever happened the shaper called Chael owned this sword and it fit his hand like skin. All it’s other owners hands have had an affinity for this exact blade too above any other, perhaps they are all direct descendants? Kvothe included! Perhaps it’s all in the fingerprints? It only fits certain hands, the ones the blade itself feels an affinity to. Each blade is individual and has a memory, it remembers the breath of life which bought it to be and, like the One Ring of Sauron, it longs to be held once again! When the blade fits like a glove, the various owners think it’s name is Saicere which means ‘to catch, to break and to fly’ and to the blade the feeling is mutual, it’s other owners hands might as well be wearing gloves, close to perfect, but not perfection. It is waiting for it’s masters hand to touch it again and when that touch comes… it will fit like skin. It finds such a bond within Kvothe and so they both understand each other better than any adem bond since Chael. It is the break in the line. It is Caesura. The broken breath is back where it belongs.
This tells us that Kvothe really is one of the adem, Chael’s sword says so. It recognises in Kvothe the same bond that if felt for chael. It has been waiting for him, it’s his birthright and his inheritance.
All the other owners were just bastards.
In Sygaldry, a binding of Iron is written down in runes as fehr-ule. Fehr is the rune for Iron whilst Ule and Doch are both for binding. If you wrote it on two pieces of iron the runes would make all the iron cling together until they tore each other apart. Shaping is many levels above this. This blade was created by binding iron to fire without the need for sygaldry. Chael didn’t write the runes on the metal and the fire, Chael spoke them. Chael spoke the long names that only the namers know, then he shaped them to his desire and the two parts became a single perfect magical thing.
‘And all things shook, and all things knew her will and all things bent to please her.’
And the names he spoke all bent to his hearts desire which in this case was to own a twin-blade, half ironstrong/half firesharp. An so it came to pass. There is no more to it than that really… but there is so much more to it than that…
And so in conclusion, ‘Chael shaped me in fire’ tells us that from that moment on, it has kept it’s shape and it is still as sharp as the day it was made and it will stay that way forever, well …237 owners and counting. Time is just the rate of decay, decay is a catalyst for imperfections and imperfection has no power over it anymore, it cannot be broken, it cannot be blunted and even if you wanted to it cannot be sharpened, I mean, what tools would you use? You can use it to cut kindling or carrots, you could use it to prop open a window, it won’t damage it. It cannot rust and it cannot decay, It is perfect in every way.
On receiving Caesura, Vashet taught Kvothe how to care for his sword intimately. How to clean and oil it, how to dismantle and reassemble it, how to wear it on shoulder or hip. She told him everything he needed to know again and again. About the fifteenth repetition he asked what he should do if he broke it, not the guard or the hilt whose lesser pieces only make it cruciform, but the actual blade itself. This question received a look of such raw horror and dismay that he didn’t dare ask again. It is expected to outlast him and to go back on the wall for the next hand. Not one word about sharpening was spoken, nothing about files or whetstones or tinker’s grindstones. Nothing. This is the most important thing to learn for a swordsman, and especially someone who has never owned a sword before. Such a lesson would also merit weeks of teaching for a novice swordsman to become close to competent. The most essential knowledge she could impart would be how to keep your blade sharp and functional and free from decay. But there is nothing. Not. One. Word.
This is a blade that doesn’t need sharpening. Period. You couldn’t blunt it if you tried.
‘I can kill you , for an hour or a day, but you would return, pulled like iron to a loden-stone . Your name burns with the power in you ‘I can no more extinguish it than I could throw a stone and strike down the moon.’
The fire inside it still burns and it will never go out, just like Master Kilvins ever-burning lamp …or Auri’s candle.