I’ve always wondered how Tempi knew enough about a rhinta to recognise one… I mean, he never told Kvothe this fact before, or after, Kvothe had found this out for himself from the Cthaeh, but Tempi reported a Rhinta to Sheyen as though he knew exactly what they had faced. Yes, there is the arrow in the leg thing and the disappearing body to factor in of course, but that should just make it a strange mystery, not a certain sign of the chandrian being present in the woods. There may be some general signs which would denote something to be clearly a rhinta, if you knew what to look for. Let us take what we know of them and build up a checklist to use when trying to tell a rhinta from a robber. Taking in all the information that Sheyen tells us gives us a 7-point checklist to follow… how lucky.
A rhinta is defined as 1) Bad 2) Old 3) Man shaped 4) More than a man 5) Less than a man 6) Walks the world freely 7) Does terrible things.
Knowing , as we do, the bandit leader to be Cinder we can agree that he is pretty damn bad, and that he has been around for a long, long time. He has a man shaped appearance… more or less, except that he is ‘chill and dark of eye’ so he is more than a mortal man.., or less than one, depending on whether this is seen as being a blessing or a curse. Either way, he walks the world freely doing terrible things. Pretty much a full house for Cinder the Rhinta then.
Let’s check our list against someone else for comparison and take Chronicler’s horse-thieving robber soldier as an example. He get’s to appear in two chapters of the Waystone interludes, although you could say he wasn’t the same man he used to be on his return. He also speaks the line ‘Te Rhintae?’ as a question and so it very much sounds like he might know something about what our similarly spelt word Rhin-ta might actually mean, perhaps he is one himself?Let’s lay off from labeling him as variously a horse thief, a deserter, a mercenary, a tabard-mad ex-soldier, a sweet eater, a denner addict or a skin dancer for now and just call him Rob for short since he was initially just a robber.
You could certainly say that he was bad, yes, but not on the same league as Cinder is. He falls down on being ‘Old’ too, but does get a tick for being ‘man shaped’, although he did not appear to be exceptionally more or less so than any other man. He was last seen freely doing as he pleased with Chronicler’s posessions, but he wasn’t exactly terrible in his behaviour, in fact he was quite genteel. Total score 3/7 …if we are being overly generous.
But then something unexplained happened to him.
The next time we see him it is about five days later and he certainly did some terrible things this time around. He walked freely into the bar as though he could do exactly as he pleased, and whilst still as man shaped as before, things that would hurt other men have little effect on him now as he shrugged off the mortal threats of knife and sword which clearly marks him more than a normal man. But by the same token, any other man of the world could easily touch a piece of iron, indeed he could do this simple thing himself five days ago, yet now iron was anathema to him, which makes him less than the man he was, too. He was still the same age as before, which is still a miss, but he retains his previous tick for being a bad thing which gives him a score of 6/7! which is almost rhinta level. All that is missing from making him indistinguishable from an official Rhinta is that he is under age. But being classified as ‘Old’ comes with time and experience, even Cinder was young once, and Rob has only been doing this sort of thing for a few days now. He is a new Rhinta.
This is startling improvement for the original Rob in his score on the Rhinta scale and since he only really falls down on not being an ‘old thing’ let’s focus on that part.
He may not be old enough to qualify himself, but he has somehow learn’t to speak Eld Faen, the language of some very old and bad things which most certainly would qualify, and more importantly, he has stopped understanding how to speak his own modern day Aturan at the same time. This clearly means that poor old Rob has been changed significantly along the way and his body has obviously been the victim of a recent possession by something that is very, very old and very, very bad, and it is now controlling his body utterly. For all intents and purposes, he is no longer Rob, just a little Rob shaped glove puppet wiggling on something elses fingers. He now operates with the ancient desire of the new fingerwork which controls him. This power is speaking it’s faen tongue inside his head and so his mouth now speaks with it’s voice. Since noboby could possibly learn an entire ancient language in a single day, or even five, we can happily concur that his words and thoughts were not of his own shaping but were those of his new Lord and Master.
Lets simplify things a bit now and give a name to this possessive,eld faen demon-type thing, let’s call him Master Yew.
Mr Yew is a powerful force in the world who is treating little Rob as a tool in his hand. He has been splashing about inside him like a boy in a muddy puddle and Mr Yew is making him move, and act, and speak and is quite capable making him pluck out his own eye or Bite. Out. His. Tongue… if it wasn’t nesessary to his new task. If Mr Yew so desired he might string a fiddle with Rob’s guts and make make him play it whilst he danced. He is using Rob’s flesh as a vehicle to walk the world freely ‘looking…’ for something. Mr Yew has placed a compulsion upon Rob who is powerless to refuse. His task is assumed to be to locate Kvothe and the best path to finding him is, apparently, to trace the previous owner of the shirt he is wearing and to provide Mr Yew with an opportunity to witness and to question the results of his search instantly. Therefore, Mr Yew currently has an open link with Rob’s actions which is how Rob follows his orders, relay’s his findings back and receives his next instructions. Mr Yew is riding inside his body and mind like demons did in the old stories. The sorts of links available have been described to us by Trapis and Mr Yew’s possession would fall into one of two kinds. Partial posession (A), or full posession (B). There is also a Type C… the Encanis version of ‘walking the world freely and doing terrible things’, but I’m pretty sure that Rob was operating at a much lower power level than that on our scales of such things.
‘It might not even have been a dancer, perhaps it was just something similar.’
Kind A)‘There were demons who hid in men’s bodies and made them sick or mad, but these were not the worst… Kind B) Some demons stole the skins of men and wore them like clothes.’
The last thing that happened to Rob before Aaron dispatched him was that he sicked up what could only really be thought of as his ‘link’ which came out in the form of a black inky puddle, not something that any lesser man would normally do, and so I’m going with Rob being one of the lesser sort of the two demon-kind’s, A) and is not as bad or powerful as a full blown skin-dancer, which would be Demon-Kind B) These would likely have a far greater attatchment to his host, be much more powerful, have more tricks at it’s disposal, and be far harder to kill.
Bast also said that Rob was acting…dumb, and he was clearly not in total control of himself what with the unnatural movements and the trouble making himself understood. This was an inferior model of rhinta than the far more graceful Cinder-rhinta. The difference I suspect is that Cinder would (usually ) have more freedom and inclination to act on his own instincts than to require a controlling hand on him at all times, like our new-rhinta-Rob does. Rob never volunteered for this job like the chand-rhinta did. Cinder is Lord Haliax’ servant and a major power in his own right who has personally refused the will of Lord Tehlu to his face. He is a meant to be obedient to his masters bidding, and has learnt the consequences of straying. Mr Yew was forcing his chosen piece of flesh to make it act to a new desire and was also operating with an unfamiliar tool here. The rhintA that we call Rob is best thought of as being Mr Yew’s puppet, and this is his first ever experience in having his strings pulled and he isquite a blunt tool to work with. But some piece of Mr Yew was actuallly present in the room himself because Rob alone would have no powers in his own flesh and blood which would ever have allowed him to give chronicler a touch of the ‘Frostburn’ as Bast called it. This could not be done with the touch of his own mere mortal hand making Mr Yew’s presence in the rhintA a certainty.
But nor was RhintA Rob 100% Mr Yew in the flesh, Rob was necessarily there, it was his body after all, and so this was actually a hybrid of the two. ‘RhintARob’ was, I would suggest, more likely to be 99% Rob’s body with 1% My Yew’s mindlink inside it. This piece was the overwhelming desire and was exerting a form of mind control such as those discussed elsewhere in these pages… Big Brother. Is watching you! and the mind was easily more than a match for the flesh. As a whole, the rhint-a-unit was more than the man although, at the same time, it was less than the man. DemonKind B)’s would likely put more of themselves into their glove puppet than just a finger, They would enjoy a greater control that would offer a grip with the full power of a fist, at least, and the more of themselves they put into it, the more comfortable the demon’s overall control.
The power scale inherent between different sorts of Rhinta is sort of on a par with Selitos being the most powerful namer in the land, although many others could do such things as well, Selitos had the surest grasp of such things. The more powerful the link the more powerful the rhinta. Knowing the long names of things, in this case the longname of a living thing, i.e. Rob. is necessary to creating (shaping*) any kind of Rhinta and the stronger the namer would the more infused their level of control could be, somewhere up to a maximum 99% Mr Yew and just 1% Rob, although the difference between RhintA and RhintB would probably be reaching more than half way at any rate. This is how I imagine the Rhinta make-up to be, one name being overpowered by another’s desire to dance with it, usually by force. A mind actually skin dancing in someone else’s flesh, which is what Bast and Kote wrongly assumed poor Rob to be.
‘It seemed like it died when Rob died’ Kote said.’We would have seen it leave. They’re supposed to look like a dark shadow or smoke when they leave the body.’
I would suggest that anything that looks like a shadow is up in level Rhint-C) that of Encanis and his eternal shadow cloak curse and a discussionfpor later on, but at base level, Rhinta A) is different to rhinta B) as Bast and Kote understand them because of one other major difference… they all survived the attack. On destruction of Rob’s body, Mr Yew did not rise out of it like a dark shadow, leaving the one body to jump into the next available host because he wasn’t wholly there in the room to do so, there was just a partial presence… one fingers worth perhaps, and this was therefore a much more ‘remote-control’ operation by Mr Yew.
Mr Yew’s puppet-link was, however, itself under attack from the touch of iron which was unexpected and made MrYew panic and he promptly ordered Rob to retreat, not to fight back but to crawl away from the threat of iron that could also hurt it’s own fingersworth that was actually there, to crawl towards the doorway in order to escape back to whence it came, to lick it’s wounds and plot it’s strategy again, fleeing the dangerous name of iron before the fragile link that bound Yew and Man together was completely snapped! Mr Yew’s proverbial ‘finger’ of power might even have gotten caught in the fast closing door of death itself as it was slammed shut on poor Rob’s last mortal breath, or rather the last breath of the demonic Mr Yew’s possession, which was seen to come vomiting out of the Rhinta’s mouth in the form of a black inky puddle of corruption.
Alternatively, this was a fully fledged skindancer, and Aaron’s iron rod was somehow powerful enough to kill both Rob and Mr Yew simultaneously without either escaping into a second body. The danger is somehow averted and the local priest has seen to the disposal of Rob’s mortal remains properly in a deep pit. 10′ by 2′, with a fire made of ash and elm, with a bit of rowan, too. The Demon is now doubly dead.
The main reason to downgrade the attack from RhintB to RhintA is because only one person died. That would not have happened if it was a true type B) If it was then nothing short of a Sithe, riding a white horse and wearing a holly crown and armed with a long horn bow or perhaps the arrival of the bloody handed Amyr or even the intervention of Lord Tehlu himself should really have had a hope of defeating a fully blown skin dancer…and Aaron is certainly not Lord Tehlu come again… although it must be noted that he did just happen to strike the ‘demon’ three times with his Iron rod before he scared it enough not to fight on but to make it flee from his wrath instead.