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So I assume that every theory I come up with, someone on this site already had in like 2007, and it was disproven by 2008 That being said... here goes. A long time ago, the planet Yolen was home to Humans, Dragons, Sho Del, and a being called Adonalsium. The sixteen cornered Adonalsium and Shattered him. The sixteen, newly Ascended, each went their separate ways. Most went to their own Shardworlds. Some, like Bavadin, went to a sun. At least one just went somewhere in space. A few went two-at-a-time to a planet - like Aona and Skai on Sel - despite having bound themselves not to do that. Some used the powers of the Shards to make their own worlds, like Scadrial. (Aside: I wonder if Ati and Leras made their planet just to avoid some specificity of the language of their oath not to settle on the same planet. Which explains why Odium And Friends weren't able to kill and splinter them as easily as they did - even when their own fighting left them both preposterously weakened. Imagine if Ati and Leras were lovers or best friends, and the opposing nature of their Shards drove them to such enmity. All for their hubris. What a tragedy that would be.) Rayse - Odium - went off to his own Shardworld. This was not Braize - he would not end up there until much later. This planet was probably in its own solar system where Rayse could be a God unquestioned. Two Shards, however, decided not to leave. They would stay on Yolen together. These shards were Mr. and Mrs. Avast - Koravellium and Tan - the shards of Cultivation and Honor. When Rayse went to his planet, he took a group of humans with him. But he did not take every human off of Yolen. Many stayed with Cultivation and Honor. As did many dragons - Cultivation's species - and many Sho Del. We don't know much about the Sho Del. But they, and their ecosystem, was in conflict with the humans and their ecosystem. If Honor had stayed on Yolen alone, he would have established firm rules that allowed the two ecosystems to live side by side. If Odium had stayed on Yolen, he would have pitted them against each other until the stronger survived and the weaker died. But, true to her Shardic intent, Cultivation offered a compromise. She would let the two species grow together into one. The same will that would one day lead to the creation of the Sibling and its mixed light, spread across Yolen and all its people. Sho Del and humans could come together and create one species to live in harmony. The human and Sho Del ecosystems were also intermixed, creating wholly new hybrid species at every level. It is possible that some elements of each ecosystem were kept unchanged. Whether to act as a control group (like the South Scadrians), or through xenophobia, or just to preserve diversity, I cant say. This is related to one of the few pieces of Yolish trivia we have: that a common saying there was "May two worlds become one to you." Perhaps this is the same as many people on Earth say a variation of "may peace be with you" - because thanks to the intervention of the Shards, the conflict between these two ecosystems was ended by their merging. On Yolen, "two worlds becoming one" was literally synonymous with peace. And there was peace. Until there was Odium. Odium's planet was originally populated by humans who followed him from Yolen. As best as we know, those people destroyed their planet. They tried to manipulate the fundamental Surges, using even the Dawnshards, and in the end it was too much for them. They delved too deep, in the Moria sense; they opened the Bore, in the Collam Daan sense. This is a facially probably story. I mean, storms, look at what Rashek did - and he didn't have a Dawnshard - and he was fueled by an intent to Preserve! Yet still, I question the historicity of this account which blames humans. I rather expect that it was Odium who was trying to use the Dawnshards to do things that even his Shardic power did not allow him to do - such as change the fundamental rules of the universe. He failed. In his failure he destroyed his planet - maybe even his entire system. He needed help. He reached out to other Shards, who mostly told him to go pound sand - they knew what he had done to Aona and Skai and Uli Da. But when he reached out to Koravellium and Tan, they were willing to listen to him. In part because there were two of them and only one of him and they felt they could control him. In part because they felt sympathy for Odium's desperate humans - Cultivation to protect life, Honor to support a ruler's obligations to his people. (This leads me to another theory about what happened on Odium's planet - which is that he intentionally destroyed it, in order to create a situation whereby he could con Honor and Cultivation into helping him. It doesn't really matter - Honor is dead, and Rayse is too.) There were probably other factors at work. Perhaps Odium had something which Honor and Cultivation wanted: the ability to forgive them for breaking their word and choosing to reside on the same planet together. Perhaps he had something else they wanted: a Dawnshard. Perhaps they had a Bondsmith and so they felt they could create a pact which would protect them. Perhaps all three. In the end, they offered Odium a deal. He could return his people to Yolen. They wouldn't be too much of a bother - hell, if Honor and Cultivation had managed to find peace between the humans and Sho Del, dealing with just a few more humans would be easy. They would take these refugees. But in exchange, Odium would have to agree to restrictions, for Honor and Cultivation's safety. He would have to agree to be bound on a barren planet next to Yolen and would only observe and interact with his people through intermediaries. Odium agreed. Odium's planet was brought to the Yolish system. I expect this was done for practical logistical reasons, such as because Odium's people did not have enough idea of the Cosmere to find Yolen in the Cognitive Realm. While they were about it, they brought in a second planet, one just as barren, which would serve as Odium's prison. Suddenly Yolen went from being the only major planet in its system, to one of three. The other two were the planet that Odium's people came over on, and the planet on which Odium now resided. These were positioned to either side of Yolen so that visual astronomy, and therefore travel in Shadesmar, would be possible. This might have made it easier to get the humans from their planet to Yolen - but it would have been necessary for Odium's intermediaries to continue leading and viewing the people to whom he was a God. It is quite possible that Yolen's orbit was altered slightly, so that both of its two new planets would be visible to the naked eyes of its inhabitants. Unfortunately things did not go exactly as planned. Whether by natural occurence, or by Odium's influence - and of course I am disposed to expect the latter - the human/Sho Del hybrid race on Yolen began to worship Odium. By a turn, the humans that came with Odium began to ally themselves with Honor. This lead to a conflict between the two that threatened to be just as terrible as the ancient conflict between the humans and Sho Del. Cultivation attempted to solve this conflict the way she had solved the last one, by creating a hybrid species between the hybrid race and the humans. This did not work. In the end, Honor returned to Odium and offered him a new bargain: the Oathpact. Odium already had his ten intermediaries who could move between his prison-planet and Yolen. These ten humans... perhaps they switched loyalties to Honor, just as the human/Sho Del hybrid race had switched loyalties to Odium. Or perhaps something even more sinister is going on here. I can hardly speculate. This resulted in the Desolations, the death and splintering of Honor, and the modern history of Yolen as recorded in the Stormlight Archive. This is because my theory is that Yolen and Roshar are one and the same. The world we know as Roshar was once known as Yolen. The physical evidence has mostly been subsumed under crem. The memory of Yolen has mostly been subsumed under the eons, aided by the Desolations. That is why the location of Yolen is not known to (say) Silverlight - but rather than calling it 'unknown' or 'lost,' Khriss refers to it only as 'shrouded.' Its shroud is that it is known by the world which replaced it. It is hiding in plain sight. I do not know whether the Sho Del continue to exist, on Yolen or anywhere else. I don't see any evidence that unmixed humans remained on Roshar - or dragons, for that matter - so it seems unlikely that unmixed Sho Del persisted either. It is possible that they dwell in the oceans of what we now call Roshar. The Tai-Na could be the original Sho-Del - but I expect they are more likely to be a cross between the human Giant Turtle and a Sho Del equivalent. However, you can see much of the Sho Del ecosystem remaining in the rockbud-and-cremling ecosystem of modern Roshar. Perhaps this is the Sho Del ecosystem as it once existed - the equivalent of what in Dragonsteel Prime was called the fain. I expect that the Rosharan ecosystem is a hybrid between the Sho Del and human. Human dogs and their Sho Del equivalent were mixed to create axehounds; crabs and bulls were mixed to create chulls (a straightforward portmanteau of the words "crab" and "bull"). It may even be that the word for the human-Sho Del hybrid is a portmanteau indicating its origins. Part Sho Del, Part Human: Parshendi. The Parshendi are the Sho Del/human hybrids that were created by Honor and Cultivation to be the sole inhabitants of Yolen from the Shattering onwards. They were the sole - or at least, the primary - inhabitants, until Odium returned with his desparate band of humans. These humans were given Shinovar, which became a refuge for both the descendants of the humans of Yolen and their customs. I expect the Shin reverence for stone derives from the Yolish period, as a practice that resulted from humanity's conflict with the fain, whereby clean stone was kept in rings around towns so that moss, a sign of the advancing fain ecosystem, could be noticed as soon as possible. As with much in Sanderson's work, reasonable practices of survival and culture were eventually transformed into religion, disconntected from its original reason for being. It began on Yolen, was removed from its original context when brought to Odium's planet, and by freak happenstance ended up back on Yolen - a Yolen so changed that it was just as irrelevant, and yet, like so much of culture, persisted. The planet known to Vorinism as the Tranquiline Halls is what is known to Rosharan astronomers as Ashyn. What is not commonly understood is that the planet Ashyn is not native to the Rosharan system. Neither is Braize. When Odium destroyed his own system, Ashyn and Braize were brought to the Yolish system. Ashyn was brought to facilitate the transfer of its people to refuge in what is now known as Shinovar. Braize was brought to be a prison planet for Odium: Damnation. In subsequent years, we have seen interbreeding between the human/Sho Del mix known as the Parshendi, and unmixed humans. This can be seen in such human genetic groups as the Unalaki and Herdazians, wherein the human genetics are more and most dominant respectively. Perhaps this was forced by Cultivation in an attempt to recreate her solution to the human/Sho Del conflict of eons before. Or perhaps it is a pure happenstance, resulting from the Parshendi being half human - enough, it seems, to interbreed. We have seen similar levels of genetic expression as to another species: the Siah Aimians and the Natan. This makes me wonder whether the Siah are a nonhuman species and the Natan a new mixed-genetics species, or whether the Siah are a mixture like the Parshendi, and the Natan a point between the equal mixture and full human rather like the Unalaki or Herdazian. Because of his partial shapeshifting ability but humanoid appearance, it would not surprise me to learn that Axies the Collector, and his fellow Siah Aimians, are a hybrid between human and the other species of Yolen, the dragons. The Natan people are the result of breeding between this half-human hybrid and pure humans - the descendants of those who left Yolen with Odium, and then returned from Ashyn. As the Parshendi are to humans and Sho Del, the Siah are to humans and dragons. Perhaps there is even a mixed dragon/Sho Del species - I would suspect the larkin, like Chiri-Chiri. One related possibility is that the planet Yolen was moved somewhat in space, like Scadrial was. This may have been done in order to better accomodate the sudden arrival of two new planets in its system. Or it may heve been done before that, by Shards trying to create an ideal habitat for its combination human-Sho Del ecosystem. In either event, it seems like it required a little tweaking - much like Rashek giving the North Scadrians adaptation to ash and its effects. Perhaps throgh magical evolution, perhaps through the hand of the Shards, some animals of this new ecosystem were bonded to various nonsapient manifestations of investiture in the Cognitive Realm - what modern Rosharans would call the spren of Shadesmar. This can be seen in greatshells who bond to luckspren, or in Rhyshadium who bond to musicspren - probably the result of horses who left Yolen and returned later from Ashyn. (Fans of the Giants series might see reflections of Minerva in this theory.) One derivative theory might be of interest. How did the humans get from Ashyn to Yolen? They could have crossed through Shadesmar. I have a hunch that they crossed through the physical realm. I bet that Ishar, whether or not using a Dawnshard, created a physical portal between Ashyn and Roshar - a kind of super Oathgate, the Gotthard Base Tunnel or Danyang–Kunshan Bridge of Oathgates. I base this on only one thing: crem. We know that crem was not always part of the Highstorm cycle. Perhaps it was created by Cultivation in order to provide an environment that would be adaptable to her new hybrid ecosystem. That is perhaps the most likely explanation. But another is that a physical gate was opened between Ashyn and Yolen/Roshar and was never closed. This maybe by intention, or by Odium's trickery (maybe their pact said "it will close as soon as the last person crosses," and yet one billion-ass-year-old person remains on Ashyn, thus keeping the portal open.) This portal is located at the Origin. Because Ashyn has been rather destroyed, its shredded topsoil keeps getting blown through the gate. It gets spit out onto Roshar, where the Highstorms then carry it across the world. This would explain why the crem cycle only began so relatively recently in the life of the planet. It would also mean that, at every Highstorm, anyone on Roshar could look up and say "Ashyn fell from the sky." A final point is that this implies that Adonalsium was shattered on what we now know as Roshar. I expect this is likely from evidence we have of modern Roshar. The Shattering caused a release of energy so great that its seismic effects can still be seen in the form of the Shattered Plains. Yes, indeed, Adonalsium was Shattered in Plain sight. The only reason the Shattered Plains are still visible is that their deep crevices drain away the crem from the Highstorms - otherwise they would have been turned into a simple field long ago, the site of the Shattering forgotten. It would not surprise me to learn that some of the great features of Roshar were created through cymatics back when the world was still known as Yolen. This could have been through the deific music of Adonalsium. It could have been through the non-shardic "gods" of Yolen before the Shattering as referenced in WoB. Or perhaps it was simply as a result *of* the Shattering. That great release of Investiture carried with it the rhythms, the pulses, of that investiture, which were so great that they created structures such as the Windblades in an instant. In any event, I expect it shall be seen that such features of ancient Roshar are in fact relics, not of an older Roshar, but of Yolen. (Woolheads might say that Urithiru is Rhuidean, but things like the Windblades are straight up Paaran Disen.) Finally, it may well suggest that Frost has been on Roshar this whole time. Perhaps we've seen him already. Or perhaps he's a Sleepless who is also a Kandra, okay I'm tired I'm a stop now. Thanks for reading. Hope you all went long on tinfoil stonks.