cometaryorbit

Theory: The Heralds Made Two Pacts With Honor

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So, there is something very weird and not yet revealed about the timeline for the human migration from Ashyn to Roshar, the Heralds, and the Oathpact.

From what we are told in Oathbringer, humans came to Roshar and were granted Shinovar to live in, eventually they wanted more land and fought against the singers/Dawnsingers, starting the wars that became the Desolations.

But most if not all of the Heralds were born on Ashyn, before the migration to Roshar, with the only possible exception being Shalash. And the Heralds became Heralds when they were the age they now physically appear to be. (See the WOBs at the bottom of this post...)

This puts a fairly tight constraint on the time scale for these events; probably no more than 30-35 years or so, if Shalash was born around the time of the migration.

Yet it seems this must have taken a very long time. Shinovar is a pretty large land, and much more favorable to human life than most of Roshar - there wouldn't seem to be an immediate need to move beyond Shinovar. And the humans from Ashyn presumably arrived as refugees, not immediately ready for a war of conquest.

And furthermore, it seems the Oathpact couldn't have been a response to the initial war with the singers. The Stormfather says (Oathbringer chapter 38; I'm not copying his ALL CAPS):

Quote

once, long before the day you're seeing now, there were many souls of creatures who had been slain, angry and terrible. They had been given great power by the enemy, the one called Odium. That was the beginning, the start of Desolations.

For when these died, they refused to pass on.

 

Quote

And even before the Fused learned to command the Surges, men could not ight them. Humans could never win when the creatures they killed were reborn each time they were slain. And so, the Oathpact.

 

 

So the Oathpact didn't happen until after:

- humans fought a war with the singers

- the dead singers became the Fused to fight against humanity further, and were repeatedly reborn

- this process continued long enough for it to become clear that humanity couldn't win the war unless something drastic changed

That pushes the timeline out even further, as these wars probably lasted years (maybe many years) by themselves.

 

This seems to be a major timeline issue.

 

But do we really know that the Heralds became Heralds at the same time as the Oathpact was formed? The Stormfather says (same chapter) that the purpose of the Oathpact was to seal the Fused spirits in Braize:

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As Odium is sealed by the powers of Honor and Cultivation, your Heralds sealed the spren of the dead into the place you call Damnation. The Heralds went to Honor, and he gave them this right, this oath. They thought it would end the war forever.

But then, why do they get Surgebinding powers and Honorblades? How does that help? (This question isn't original to me- wish I could remember who brought it up - but I've seen it used as evidence that repeating Desolations, and thus a need to fight, was Honor's plan. But the Stormfather made it very clear that it was supposed to "end the war forever", ie no more fighting needed...)

We do know that the Honorblades were given to the Heralds as part of an oath (Oathbringer Chapter 16, the Stormfather speaking:)

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This weapon, instead, was made directly from Honor's soul, then given to the Heralds. It is also the mark of an oath, but a different type - and does not have the mind to scream on its own.

 

But perhaps there is more than one oath involved.

One maybe 30 years after the migration to Roshar, when the Heralds stop aging, get Surgebinding and Honorblades.

And a second one, the actual Oathpact, after decades of war with the singers, becoming an endless losing battle as the Fused arise and reincarnate endlessly, which doesn't involve Surgebinding but does trap the Fused spirits on Braize.
 

WOB #1:

Quote

Questioner

I have a bit of a problem with the first Desolation timeline. I'm wondering how old were the Heralds when they became Heralds.

Brandon Sanderson

The age that you would see them as when you met them. They basically are the age they look. When they became Heralds, they are the age that they appeared.

Questioner

So they were like in their younger middle age?

Brandon Sanderson

Some of them. I mean Ishar is older.

Questioner

So that means that the entire timeline of the first Desolation happened within a single lifetime?

Brandon Sanderson

A lot of the ancient chronologies are wrong and you won't get the actual answers until the Heralds themselves explain it in their flashback sequences in the back five. 

Questioner

You've said that the Heralds came over from Ashyn. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Questioner

Okay. How old were they then?

Brandon Sanderson

Younger than they were when they became Heralds.

Starsight Release Party (Nov. 26, 2019)

 

Quote

 

Willshaper Wallar

...Were the Heralds alive for the human exodus from Ashyn?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. They were not Heralds then, but they all made that trip. I believe. My timeline-- You can't nail me down on that one, because it's possible that Ash was born after, but I don't think so.

Skyward Denver signing (Nov. 15, 2018)

 

 

Edited by cometaryorbit
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The Heralds are just beginning to reappear, and most of them are mad and broken (save for Taln), I assume that for book 5 we should get some answers regarding the Oathpact, since we'll have our boy Kaladin having a chat with Ishar, though it'll take time (with Ishar absolutely mad and convinced he is the Almighty, Kaladin will only have very little time to speak with him, unless he finds a way to return his sanity, besides having a Radiant swear an Oath).

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On 12/21/2021 at 1:08 AM, Legui01010 said:

The Heralds are just beginning to reappear, and most of them are mad and broken (save for Taln), I assume that for book 5 we should get some answers regarding the Oathpact, since we'll have our boy Kaladin having a chat with Ishar, though it'll take time (with Ishar absolutely mad and convinced he is the Almighty, Kaladin will only have very little time to speak with him, unless he finds a way to return his sanity, besides having a Radiant swear an Oath).

We've already seen a way for the Heralds to have their sanity restored, even if only temporarily. It will take Dalinar though, or maybe the Stormfather...

Ooh, there's an idea. Kaladin needs to kidnap Ishar, and drag him into the middle of a Highstorm. Then they can sit and chill in the eye, where the Stormfather refreshes Spheres, and Ishar will be at least partially sane, thanks to the Stormfather's connection to the spiritual realm.

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15 hours ago, Bort said:

Ooh, there's an idea. Kaladin needs to kidnap Ishar, and drag him into the middle of a Highstorm. Then they can sit and chill in the eye, where the Stormfather refreshes Spheres, and Ishar will be at least partially sane, thanks to the Stormfather's connection to the spiritual realm.

I don't think it'll be enough. Dalinar already tried using Honor's Perpendicularity (and the connection to the Spiritual Realm was amongst the strongest in that moment) and it didn't work. We might need a Radiant swearing an Oath, perhaps a Bondsmith doing so, either Navani or Dalinar, or the last Bondsmith (the swearing of Oaths might create a different type of Connection to the Spiritual Realm?)

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On 21.12.2021 at 1:31 AM, cometaryorbit said:

Yet it seems this must have taken a very long time. Shinovar is a pretty large land, and much more favorable to human life than most of Roshar - there wouldn't seem to be an immediate need to move beyond Shinovar. And the humans from Ashyn presumably arrived as refugees, not immediately ready for a war of conquest.

I don't think you are interpreting refugees correctly in this case. Those were war bands and leaders who escaped together with camp followers and their entourages. They were very much ready for war. War was their profession. The idea that the armed forces are to serve the general population is pretty modern.

Now, the big question, did Honor and Cultivation let them in while they still were loyal to Odium or did they have to renounce him?

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13 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

I don't think you are interpreting refugees correctly in this case. Those were war bands and leaders who escaped together with camp followers and their entourages. They were very much ready for war. War was their profession. The idea that the armed forces are to serve the general population is pretty modern.

Now, the big question, did Honor and Cultivation let them in while they still were loyal to Odium or did they have to renounce him?

They may well have renounced Odium, but honor and cultivation may not have realized that Odium could create the unmade, and then "poof" the Thrill. I wouldn't be surprised if the war was facilitated by the Thrill--which is why it happened so fast.

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I think what is keeping Odium is different than keeping the Fused, my general theory:

 

Odium injured from the fight from Ambition, somehow ends at Roshar. He makes a deal with Cultivation/Honor to not kill him, in some agreement? And they let him have Braize, he royally storms Braize then influences Ashyn a little and their planet is messed up and the humans go to Roshar, with help with Honor?

 

Meanwhile the Singer's, who were aligned with Cult/Honor, see humans coming. They and humans fight, the Singer's feel threatened by the humans and feel betrayed by Honor and turn to Odium. Oathpact happens. 

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I am thinking about this timeline more--and I wonder if the migration was a long time coming. So for instance (totally made up times):

Year 0: Ashyn begins to fall bc of surgebinding/Odium. First refugees from the first fallen city flee to Roshar and are given Shinovar.

Year 50: More cities fall, more refugees to Shinovar. Now there start to be warring factions sharing the Shinovar space.

Year 75-100: Human refugees/explorers begin to leave Shinovar, mixing with the Singer population (which would become Herdazians, etc.)

Year 150: Final group of refugees make it out of Ashyn, with Jezrien (and the royal family in Ashyn) organizing the final pull out. (while the refugees who left earlier are beginning to skirmish with Singers and to leave Shinovar at greater rates).

Year 155: Odium, angry at the people who have left, finds out how to "unmake" the spren of the land and creates the unmade, who spur the growing war. 

Year 165: Angry cognitive shadows of dead Singers linger enough in Shadesmar and connect with Odium enough for him to offer them a gift--powers and eternal life (rebirth) in exchange for servitude (and, for Odium, a greater connection to Roshar, even though he is bound to Ashyn for some reason). FIRST DESOLATION

Year 167: Heralds approach Honor with the Oathpact.

 

Could explain the timeline. I have always through it strange that all the refugees from Ashyn--all of them--would travel together at the exact same time. Waves of refugees seem much more likely. As each city falls, more refugees leave. And of course, a wise king would be among the last to leave.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Bliev said:

Year 155: Odium, angry at the people who have left, finds out how to "unmake" the spren of the land and creates the unmade, who spur the growing war. 

Year 165: Angry cognitive shadows of dead Singers linger enough in Shadesmar and connect with Odium enough for him to offer them a gift--powers and eternal life (rebirth) in exchange for servitude (and, for Odium, a greater connection to Roshar, even though he is bound to Ashyn for some reason). FIRST DESOLATION

Point of clairification, Odium's goal was always the Splintering of Honor and Cultivation, he came to the Rosharan system specifically for that purpose. More likely than not he was quite pleased with the human exodus, and he was the one who came to the souls that he would make the Fused.

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44 minutes ago, Frustration said:

Point of clairification, Odium's goal was always the Splintering of Honor and Cultivation, he came to the Rosharan system specifically for that purpose. More likely than not he was quite pleased with the human exodus, and he was the one who came to the souls that he would make the Fused.

Great point. I didn’t give it enough theory-level research/thought obviously b4 posting. :-) Thanks for this!

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3 minutes ago, Bliev said:

Great point. I didn’t give it enough theory-level research/thought obviously b4 posting. :-) Thanks for this!

Anytime

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On 1/12/2022 at 0:13 AM, Oltux72 said:

I don't think you are interpreting refugees correctly in this case. Those were war bands and leaders who escaped together with camp followers and their entourages. They were very much ready for war. War was their profession.

Do we know that? Jezrien was a king beforehand, yes, but the fact that he escaped doesn't at all mean that he arrived with an organization set up to wage war.

Quote

The idea that the armed forces are to serve the general population is pretty modern.

That wasn't the direction I was going.

Clearly the humans were an actual threat to the singers, who were already well established on Roshar. Even if the survivors were largely warriors/soldiers by profession (and I don't think that's known at all*) they must have been both numerous, well organized, and supported by others able to feed and supply them. A continent scale war requires logistics, and they didn't have Soulcasters yet; it would have taken numerous farmers to support each soldier.

Also, it's not clear what the motivation to expand would be until at least the "low hanging fruit" resources of Shinovar were claimed, and I think that would take a very long time for an area the size of Shinovar.

This would be different, I guess, if the Ashynite exodus was a really huge population - high millions of tens of millions - I suppose... But even then I'd expect a generation at least to explore, exploit, and develop Shinovar.

*Do we actually know that the Surge-based destruction of Ashyn was due to war specifically, as opposed to some kind of magical version of an industrial accident, or something analogous to (Mistborn Era 1)

Spoiler

Rashek pushing the planet too close to the sun in a misguided attempt to burn off the mists/Deepness

 

10 hours ago, Bliev said:

Could explain the timeline. I have always through it strange that all the refugees from Ashyn--all of them--would travel together at the exact same time. Waves of refugees seem much more likely. As each city falls, more refugees leave. And of course, a wise king would be among the last to leave.

Huh. That could work. I was imagining it as a single fairly small population being the only ones who got a chance to escape from a basically immediate cataclysm, but I guess it could have been a long drawn out process.

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5 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

Do we know that? Jezrien was a king beforehand, yes, but the fact that he escaped doesn't at all mean that he arrived with an organization set up to wage war.

He does not need one. They had years. All he needs is fighters. We must drop the illusion that people want peace. That is a very conditional thing. A successful warrior does not invariably want to go back to the farm. It is not enough to say that they had enough land. Just the availability of slaves is a potential motivation.

And they wrecked a planet. Those were the survivors. The bad fighters had been weeded out.

5 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

That wasn't the direction I was going.

Clearly the humans were an actual threat to the singers, who were already well established on Roshar. Even if the survivors were largely warriors/soldiers by profession (and I don't think that's known at all*) they must have been both numerous, well organized, and supported by others able to feed and supply them. A continent scale war requires logistics, and they didn't have Soulcasters yet; it would have taken numerous farmers to support each soldier.

Not necessarily. We have no idea about the organizational level the Singers had developed. We may be looking at a scenario like early colonial North America or Viking raiders. Just replace firearms with Surges in that former scenario.

5 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

*Do we actually know that the Surge-based destruction of Ashyn was due to war specifically, as opposed to some kind of magical version of an industrial accident, or something analogous to (Mistborn Era 1)

We know that there was a conflict. Strictly speaking we do not know that the planetary devastation was a direct consequence of war. In fact we may have inverted cause and effect. But ... does it matter?

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15 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

He does not need one. They had years. All he needs is fighters. We must drop the illusion that people want peace. That is a very conditional thing.

It's not about motivations or goals, but capabilities. The implication is that the humans won the initial conflict, or at least didn't lose, but Odium gave the Fused the power to reincarnate so the war then became unwinnable for the humans. So the humans must have been fairly numerous, well organized, and had decent resources.

15 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Not necessarily. We have no idea about the organizational level the Singers had developed. We may be looking at a scenario like early colonial North America or Viking raiders. Just replace firearms with Surges in that former scenario.

The singers of that era seem to have had magical powers of their own... Also, in the Americas, disease was at least as decisive as technology. Singers aren't human and probably are not very vulnerable to human disease (which is less threatening on planets like Roshar anyway).

16 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

We know that there was a conflict. Strictly speaking we do not know that the planetary devastation was a direct consequence of war. In fact we may have inverted cause and effect. But ... does it matter?

Possibly; I don't think we know that the refugees from Ashyn were especially warlike.

To me Oathbringer implies the humans arrived as refugees, not conquerors, and without a lot of resources; were given Shinovar as their own land; and later expanded beyond Shinovar and wars with the singers resulted.

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10 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

It's not about motivations or goals, but capabilities. The implication is that the humans won the initial conflict, or at least didn't lose, but Odium gave the Fused the power to reincarnate so the war then became unwinnable for the humans. So the humans must have been fairly numerous, well organized, and had decent resources.

Not really. If and only if you assume comparable levels of development. And that is unlikely. A small difference in time can make an extreme difference. Compare our Earth in 1900 against the same planet in 2000.
For most cultures a global advantage in numbers is fairly useless. They lack the capacity to transport and supply troops at that magnitude.

10 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

The singers of that era seem to have had magical powers of their own... Also, in the Americas, disease was at least as decisive as technology. Singers aren't human and probably are not very vulnerable to human disease (which is less threatening on planets like Roshar anyway).

How many men did Cortez and Pizzaro have?

10 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

Possibly; I don't think we know that the refugees from Ashyn were especially warlike.

Some of the Heralds had fought each other.

10 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

To me Oathbringer implies the hums.ans arrived as refugees, not conquerors, and without a lot of resources; were given Shinovar as their own land; and later expanded beyond Shinovar and wars with the singers resulted.

If you have the power to wreck a planet, even a small share of your power will make you superior to less developed and less tested in war natives.

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On 1/16/2022 at 4:16 AM, Oltux72 said:

Not really. If and only if you assume comparable levels of development. And that is unlikely. A small difference in time can make an extreme difference. Compare our Earth in 1900 against the same planet in 2000.
For most cultures a global advantage in numbers is fairly useless. They lack the capacity to transport and supply troops at that magnitude.

How many men did Cortez and Pizzaro have?

The humans arrived as refugees, not conquerors - I don't see why we'd assume they had a high level of organization or development.

And the advancement in the last 200 years is very much the exception- I'd say a first century Roman legion would do pretty well against anybody pre-gunpowder.

Cortez at least supposedly only had like 500 men, but in reality, he lost the first time. When he returned and won he had far more men gathered from other Native American peoples opposed to the Aztec Empire, *and* - critically- smallpox had absolutely devastated the Aztecs.

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13 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

The humans arrived as refugees, not conquerors - I don't see why we'd assume they had a high level of organization or development.

Because they just developed, installed and used devices or techniques for interplanetary travel of large numbers of people and livestock.

13 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

And the advancement in the last 200 years is very much the exception- I'd say a first century Roman legion would do pretty well against anybody pre-gunpowder.

And go like a hot knife through butter through anything pre bronze age.

13 hours ago, cometaryorbit said:

Cortez at least supposedly only had like 500 men, but in reality, he lost the first time. When he returned and won he had far more men gathered from other Native American peoples opposed to the Aztec Empire, *and* - critically- smallpox had absolutely devastated the Aztecs.

He got them. That is the point.

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5 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

Because they just developed, installed and used devices or techniques for interplanetary travel of large numbers of people and livestock.

In the cosmere, interplanetary travel doesn't necessarily require either technology or any personally-usable Investiture, if you can find a Perpendicularity. We know that there are trade caravans through Shadesmar, etc. So their ability to move people and livestock to Roshar doesn't prove any baseline level of ability.

They might have used an Ashyn Transportation Surge magic, but anything like that doesn't seem to have made it to Roshar.

The Heralds we see don't seem to have any otherworldly magic system- Ishar in RoW is using "Bondsmith unchained" stuff, not otherworldly magic, and Nale is a Skybreaker.

So I see two possibilities:

- they never had Ashynite magic; those who fled Ashyn weren't Investiture users there, and were trying to get away from a conflict between those who were;

- they somehow lost it as part of the transfer to Roshar (if Ashyn magic was already disease based, perhaps the transferred population were all cured)

But I see no reason to think they had Ashynite magic available to fight the Singers on Roshar.

5 hours ago, Oltux72 said:

He got them. That is the point.

But the smallpox destroying/destabilizing Aztec society was critical to Spanish victory there.  So it doesn't really work as a parallel, as that sort of thing doesn't really happen on high Investiture planets like Roshar (even if human diseases would affect singers).

It also doesn't work because of scale. The Aztec Empire was basically limited to central-ish Mexico. A war for control of the Roshar supercontinent would be more comparable to the entire European colonization of the Americas, which took centuries and had backing from the European homelands.

The closer RL example of something like this might be Carthage, a Phoenician colony which became independent due to the conquest of its original founders' homeland and then grew into an empire into its own right - but this process took centuries, and Carthage had time to develop as a trading center before the conquest of its homeland. It wasn't founded by refugees with no backing from the homeland.

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40 minutes ago, cometaryorbit said:

In the cosmere, interplanetary travel doesn't necessarily require either technology or any personally-usable Investiture, if you can find a Perpendicularity. We know that there are trade caravans through Shadesmar, etc. So their ability to move people and livestock to Roshar doesn't prove any baseline level of ability.

No, I am sorry, but that is a hard No. The Cognitive Realm shortens distances between planets. It does not shorten horizontal distances within planets. You'd still have to cross hundreds to thousands of kilometers on land and a trip through the sea of beads.
Refugees are not going to walk that far. In fact anybody who does not know the technique for condensing water will perish.

40 minutes ago, cometaryorbit said:

The Heralds we see don't seem to have any otherworldly magic system- Ishar in RoW is using "Bondsmith unchained" stuff, not otherworldly magic, and Nale is a Skybreaker.

They are no longer in their original bodies. If Ashynite magic requires a physical symbiont, they have lost it.

40 minutes ago, cometaryorbit said:

So I see two possibilities:

- they never had Ashynite magic; those who fled Ashyn weren't Investiture users there, and were trying to get away from a conflict between those who were;

- they somehow lost it as part of the transfer to Roshar (if Ashyn magic was already disease based, perhaps the transferred population were all cured)

But I see no reason to think they had Ashynite magic available to fight the Singers on Roshar.

The Eila Stele is very clear on them having an Invested Art.

40 minutes ago, cometaryorbit said:

But the smallpox destroying/destabilizing Aztec society was critical to Spanish victory there.  So it doesn't really work as a parallel, as that sort of thing doesn't really happen on high Investiture planets like Roshar (even if human diseases would affect singers).

The Voortrekers defeated the Zulu. Australia was conquered without issues.

 

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There are presumably other ways to survive in the Cognitive than the water-condensing device we see in Oathbringer: we've seen Hoid worldhop without carrying one. We have no idea what Investiture the Ashynites had access to or what help they might have had during the transit.

On 1/18/2022 at 2:18 PM, Oltux72 said:

They are no longer in their original bodies. If Ashynite magic requires a physical symbiont, they have lost it.

The Eila Stele is very clear on them having an Invested Art.

 

Oh they definitely did at one point... just not sure if we can narrow down when it was lost.

- Upon leaving Ashyn (Ashynite humans had it, but not those who actually departed, e.g. no one in that population had the right disease)?

- During the transfer (maybe as part of the bargain that gave them Shinovar, maybe as a side-effect e.g. disease organisms didn't make it)?

Rosharan humans didn't seem to have it to use during the Desolations, so it must have been lost early.

The Herald's bodies being re-made is a very good point, and could explain their individual loss of it. But what about the other humans? Maybe there's a Connection thing so those born on Roshar couldn't use that magic?

On 1/18/2022 at 2:18 PM, Oltux72 said:

The Voortrekers defeated the Zulu. Australia was conquered without issues.

If Ashynite humans had mid-late 19th century European tech/infrastructure, sure, that analogy would work. (Though Australia had disease involved too.)

Given Brandon's comments about Taldain being originally the most advanced tech planet, though, I'm pretty sure no one in the cosmere was anywhere *near* that advanced that early.

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Thinking about a timeline for this period, a couple things that spring directly to my mind are the 1) the elevation of the Fused as described by Raboniel, 2) Leshwi's revelation regarding the spren, and 3) the actual function the Heralds seemed to serve on behalf of humanity (and the Fused to the singers, for that matter.) I think it's totally reasonable that the timeline could be well under 20-30 years, and I'd like to present that argument for a bit.

In regards to the Fused, here are the pertinent bits:

Quote

“Venli,” Raboniel said. “Many mortals in the past sought elevation to stand among the Fused. You should know that, after our initial elevation, he never again granted such a lofty gift to a mortal.”

- RoW Chapter 51: To Sing Hopeless Songs

“She’s right here,” Raboniel said softly, gesturing to herself. “That was another hypothesis of mine that was disproven. Long ago. The thought that a mother and daughter, serving together, might help one another retain their sanity.”

- RoW Chapter 65: Hypothesis

As a side note, it's interesting to me that she uses "elevation" to describe the process of becoming Fused. More pointedly, Raboniel makes it sound like the process of becoming a Fused was something premeditated, that she had time to theorize on. 

To me this implies a few scenarios: the first being that the initial elevation to Fused happened over a window of time during which the sanity slipping was observable to Raboniel, and she could make hypotheses that way. 

The second is that the realmatic awareness of the ancient singers may have been a lot higher than assumed, and they may have already had theories about Cognitive Shadows and Shadesmar of their own, the way Zahel developed his own theories, and somehow they knew that over time a CS could lose themselves or wear thin. Raboniel is very comfortable with advanced scientific thinking, even if she made some assumptions that were proven incorrect over the events of RoW. 

The third is that Odium himself knew it was a possibility and shared that information with Raboniel, who then came up with her hypothesis after that; but that still implies that she had a educational background to receive that information and use it effectively and decisively over a pretty short span of time. Is there evidence that Odium created the Fused over a period of time or all at once? 

Quote

“Sorry…” Leshwi said. A joyspren burst around her, beautiful, like a blue storm. “Sorry? Venli, they’ve come back to us! They’ve forgiven us.”

What?

“Please,” Leshwi said to Longing, “ask your spren. Do they know of an honorspren named Riah? She was my friend once. Precious to me.”

Leshwi … had friends? Among the spren?

Storms. Leshwi had lived before the war, when men and singers had been allies. Honor had been the god of the Dawnsingers.

-RoW Chapter 109: Emulsifier

This line is from Venli's point of view, and so it could just be her interpretation of the events. I'm also not certain if that's supposed to be "men and singers" or "spren and singers." Not sure why Venli would come to the conclusion that at one time men and singers had been allies; she could be thinking of the refuge given to the Ashynites? Let me know if there is something I have missed here. It could be pretty cool.

But Leshwi's "they've forgiven us" suggests a specific moment where the truespren abandoned the singers. The Dawnsingers clearly had a much closer relationship with the spren than they do now. The Nahel bond is supposedly something that the spren figured out by observing the Honorblades, so if the Honorblades and the Oathpact were created after the Fused, then I don't think it was likely that Leshwi was what would be recognized as a Windrunner; but maybe she did have a bond of some kind with Riah the honorspren that she may have had to give up by choosing to give her soul to Odium? One incident that pushed the truespren over to another side, in contrast to the Listener narrative that it was the spren who had betrayed the ancient singers?

Raboniel speaks pretty dismissively of Honor and Cultivation as gods, so I wonder if this indicates that she chose, in her original lifetime, to turn away from them, and sign on to Odium. I mean, as a scholar, being forbidden to mess with forbidden powers ... wouldn't Odium, offering knowledge and freedom to study these things, be pretty enticing? Combined with the idea that the Heralds are trying to fix some mistake they made (as per Jezrien and Nale's conversation in the flashback thing Dalinar witnesses), I wonder if Odium was playing both sides regularly to weaken them--pulling something similar to the trick he tried on Dalinar over and over across millennia. He seems pretty distressed and desperate when he can no longer turn people from the opposing side.

What I'm getting at here, though, is that the timeline could be shortened by reframing this as a conflict between societies of comparable technology or advancement who entered into a pretty brutal arms race. And all things considered, the Dawnsingers were fairly blasé about people emigrating en masse from another planet; as if it wasn't a shock that there were otherworlders, just that they ended up being evil bad wicked traitors. 

Maybe the Dawnsingers already knew about Ashyn. The Eila Stele says, "well they were named Voidbringers", but did the Dawnsingers give them that name or did they hear it from elsewhere? That would make it a lot easier to stoke a war very quickly, if there was already a part of Dawnsinger society that distrusted a people who had destroyed their own planet and possibly had a wider reputation for destruction. Who was that warning for, if the fighting had already begun? Other Dawnsingers? And why didn't the part of the warning that was about Odium--the void that sucks in emotion--take more prominence?

There's also nothing (that I'm aware of) that indicates that Ashyn did all the movement on their own; Shards are involved, and the Dawnsingers know the Shards are involved from the sound of things. Leshwi's relationship to an honorspren implies a certain awareness of broader spren societies in Shadesmar. All the references to pity, forlorn people, etc. make me wonder if the Dawnsingers and Honor (and maybe Cultivation) performed some kind of rescue mission on Ashyn's population, or that in ancient times, Ashyn and Roshar had been long time allies. Help from the other side would substantially decrease the time to mass-evacuate a planet. And it's only your friends who can betray you, after all. Venli's observation that Leshwi was from a time when "men and singers had been allies" makes more sense in that context. There's also an assumption made by the characters in-world that the fighting was done humans vs singers; but in the modern day conflict, it really is more like humans and singers on one side, and humans and singers on the other side. 

I think the reason that the chronology is so murky is because Odium seems absolutely dedicated to preventing anyone from passing down any sort of sustained record of history and technology that he doesn't have a hand in writing. The Fused didn't initially have command of the Surges, according to the Stormfather; their critical advantage was immortality. The leadership of the singers could never be damaged the way that human leadership could be. Their knowledge is never lost, and critically, they are the ones who get to present it, the way that Odium wants them to present it. Venli's whole mission in OB is about spreading propaganda, using her status as the Last Listener provide authenticity. So Dawnsinger culture at the time of the migration is pretty occluded. It looks like one culture through the lens of the Fused; but that doesn't need to be the truth. All the rest may have been lost. 

Digging down through all this, though, is the original question of "why do the Heralds get these powers? Why immortality and Surges and Honorblades?" And it could be that the Heralds were meant to pass on knowledge to the humans in a direct link to past generations, as the Fused did for the singers. Think of Taln's speech: he focuses purely on teaching people to do things. The Desolations were the worst when the span of time between them decreased to just a few years at a time, and there was no time to create history or culture. When Taln recovers his mind briefly in OB, he is most concerned and most pleased by the thought that they given 4500 years to grow; that's the huge relief to him, like that was what he was trying to do in the first place. 

I think back to Dalinar's vision with Heb and the rest; the Radiants of that time talk about how someone is getting good at predicting Desolations. Match that up to this notion that there may have only been a decade or so between the last of them. It kind of suggests that humanity is getting better at fighting off the destruction, and preserving culture ... Then, in the Prelude, Kalak specifically calls out how the battle he just went through was "one of the worst." I wonder if that could place the Heb vision as being just a few decades before the Last Desolation, illustrating how capably a Desolation could destroy cultures, even ones that believed they had proofed themselves against it? Stopping the Desolations could simply mean stopping the persistent destruction of culture. 

In the prelude, when Jezrien assures Kalak that "they have the Radiants. That will be enough.", I wonder if he assumes that the spren--also immortal--will serve the purpose that the Heralds did, in preserving history and cultural memory? (Obviously, with the Recreance, that does not work out--and expands on the same theme of genocide and loss of culture.)

But thinking about the destruction of Ashyn, I wonder if the point of the Honorblades re: the Oathpact was to grant access to the Surges with a safety stop attached to it, that of Honor's direct supervision. Like, "we promise to only use this power within your bounds." Prior to that, Honor/Cultivation had forbidden Surges in some way to the Dawnsingers, so why the change of heart regarding humans? Was it considered necessary to fight Odium? Maybe the Oathpact was meant to control access to the Surges, too. 

It's interesting that unlike living Shardblades, Honorblades can be passed around and given to other people ... but once the Herald charged with that Honorblade is sent somehow to Braize, it goes with them. That could have been the promise they made. Theoretically, could the Heralds have been initially created to allow people access to the Surges in times of dire crisis, then forcibly remove those Surges from the population when they went to seal up the Fused--so that people couldn't use them over a period of time to destroy their planet? The Heralds had been warned that if they lingered, a "disaster" would occur. Ishar believed that it was enough for one of them to go back to Braize; so was going to Braize a part of the Oath? They specifically chose to leave behind their Blades when they tried to abandon the Oathpact, and the Shin, these eerie guardians of the past, the humans that (more or less) stayed in their bounds, are the ones who keep them hidden. 

The Recreance would make sense in that context. The Knights Radiant may have been permissible because Honor was still there to enforce a limit on the use of Surges; around the time he died (and with BAM handing out forms of power on her own), I bet people would have been getting worried that the history they could still remember might repeat itself. 

Wow, this got really long! I had a lot more thoughts about this than I expected. Even now, I'm reading through the passages available regarding the Oathpact, and forming different thoughts. Really intriguing stuff. 

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