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Wax, Lessie, Prologues, and Bloody Tan

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Sooo... that happened at the end of Shadows of Self. But it also made me think about the prologue of Mistborn #4, now with the added knowledge that Lessie was Harmony's agent since the beginning. Let's look at the few key points of their relationship we know about.

 

I. First Meeting

As far as we can tell, the first time Wax and Lessie met was in the Weeping Bull, an... establishment of some sort where Lessie was posing as a "dancing girl." The owner (I assume) of the place was somebody called Rusko. There was apparently a pink garter and pretty legs involved. Wax guesses that Lessie was chasing a bounty there, to which Lessie replies with "yeah, kind of." My take on this is that she was there for Wax - he was her "kind of" bounty. Maybe that was her first attempt to get him interested in her (not very successfully apparently, at least not in the long run), or maybe she was just keeping an eye on him and having some fun on the way.

 

It is possible - I am even going to say that it's likely - that she kept an eye on him after that meeting, and maybe even before (and he just couldn't remember). Possibly under different faces too. I don't think it's important.

 

II. Granite Joe's Bar

When they meet in Granite Joe's bar - which is where the Shadows of Self prologue takes place - Lessie is sneaking into the room he was led to by the barkeep after he asked about Granite Joe's whereabouts. Which, in retrospect, is awfully suspicious! The barkeep led Wax to this room so he can sit there until Joe's hirelings can get in position and gun him down. And at the same time this woman climbs through the window of this same room? Rereading the passage, Lessie was obviously saving his skin there. She is startled when she sees him there, but I think that's a fake reaction.

 

Reading farther down, I am not sure I buy Wax's "they must've known I was going to show up today" thing in reference to how Joe got a sharpshooter in position so quickly. Oh, I am sure he believes it, but I am fairly confident Lessie had a hand in orchestrating the ambush so she can put herself in a situation where she can protect Wax, sass him up, work him, appear to save his life, and generally make him fall for her. I think at this point she is still purely an agent of Harmony, not yet in love with her "kind of bounty."

 

It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that Lessie swears by the God Beyond, something many here believe to be a thing of people who are more aware of the Cosmere. She also uses "holy hell," which doesn't strike me as a Scadrial curse. 

 

The one bit that confuses me a little is Lessie's employment under Granite Joe. The way the speak with each other suggests that she was definitely on his payroll - before she decides to finally hit it off with Wax. Maybe she anticipated him going after Joe so she got herself hired by Granite, maybe with the specific promise to deliver Wax to him? That's a big con she is playing at this point...

 

III. Feltrel

Finally, we have the confrontation with Bloody Tan.

 

First, there is a short line about the letter Wax gets from Elendel - about how "Lessie thought it implied more than it did." I believe at this point she is aware of Harmony's plan to send Wax back, a plan that includes her dying very soon; and event that would be so traumatic for Wax, he would want to abandon the Roughs and go back to the city. So of course she would think it implies more than what it says.

 

There is a line that bothers me slightly: "Wax didn’t recognize the slender man, who hung with hand to his head in a salute." It could be a bit of subtle foreshadowing, but of what, I don't know. It's an odd detail to include where he included it.

 

I've outlined the events that take place during the actual confrontation in a different thread, for brevity. The short summary is that I believe Paalm was under Harmony's control when this scene was unfolding, and it was this forceful takeover that sent her on the path of becoming Bleeder. 

 

--- --- ---

 

And that's it. Not so much a theory as a retelling of the events we already knew, but with some additional knowledge shedding light on what could be considered background, foreshadowing, or just Easter eggs.

Edited by Argent
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I assumed that the dancing girl a few months before the SoS prologue was the real Lessie, the person Paalm decided to imitate.

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I don't know if there was ever a real Lessie. But that's possible.

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I don't know if there was ever a real Lessie. But that's possible.

 

I think there was, all of the other kandra say that Paalm was literally a blank slate, she had no personality of her own. I doubt she would have taken the role on as herself in this particular occasion considering all that.

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I definitely don't think there was ever a real Lessie. While kandra truebodies were often bizarre and abstract, it sounds like they don't do that so much anymore, since they want to fit in anonymously in human society. Pretty much any kandra in human form is probably wearing a truebody, not an actual human's bones. Doesn't MeLaan even say that's what they do these days?

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I assumed that the dancing girl a few months before the SoS prologue was the real Lessie, the person Paalm decided to imitate.

Seems doubtful, unless the dancing girl happened to die for some reason, and Paalm was merely opportunistically scavenging the bones. I don't think Harmony or the other Kandra would have tolerated Paalm offing random showgirls for their bones. 

Edited by Numuhuku
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This is what I'm thinking as well.  That forcing Paalm to "die" to send Wax back to Elendel, when she wanted him to stay with her in the Roughs is probably what turned her against Harmony.
I kind of think Harmony made a bad call in not telling Wax about Lessee when they were having their conversations.  I think he would have eventually found out (which he did) and now he hates Harmony pretty badly. 
I wonder if any of that is the Harmony part influencing Sazed?  Sazed was pretty much against withholding information, iirc?  But he's been holding Harmony for a long time now.  Maybe the Preservation portion was pushing him to keep the status quo-i.e. let Wax keep thinking that Lessee was dead.

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I think there was, all of the other kandra say that Paalm was literally a blank slate, she had no personality of her own. I doubt she would have taken the role on as herself in this particular occasion considering all that.

 

That's true, but remember that when MeLaan told him that, she was doubtless very aware of the fact that the best answer to Wax's question about Paalm's personality was, "Well, you know her as well as any of us, since she was a loner, and you actually had a lengthy relationship with her, while she posed as Lessie." I'm not saying that it was definitely a lie, but it is a little shady. After all, she said that all the kandra from the generations that spent a lot of time, pre-Catacendre, on contracts were like that. But that's not really true. TenSoon took tons of contracts, and he was full of personality. Again, she may not have been outright lying, but she could have been rationalizing her avoidance of the full truth.

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Melaan didn't know Lessie was Paalm. TenSoon specifically tells Wax she didn't.

I like the idea that real Lessie was the showgirl and got herself killed somehow, providing Paalm with a convenient guise. It is congruent with what The other kandra say of her - she was classic "borderline personality"

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Oh, I missed that. Well, in any event, I guess it doesn't really matter all that much. Real Lessie or no, Wax never knew anyone but Paalm. 

 

I do think that the kandra were completely wrong about Paalm, though. She did have a personality. No matter how much it was informed by the people she impersonated, she did legitimately fall in love with Wax, it seems. So it could go either way with Lessie having ever been a real person.

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Paalm says she could never "be" Lessie, but always wanted to be. My interpretation is that she's been bouncing around false personas all her life, but this time in meeting Wax she finally slipped up and found herself unable to abandon the character.

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After all, she said that all the kandra from the generations that spent a lot of time, pre-Catacendre, on contracts were like that. But that's not really true. TenSoon took tons of contracts, and he was full of personality.

 

Noooooooot... exactly. You're talking about the third book, when he's actually found himself. The entire second book was him not having someone to be. "OreSuer" and Vin have a talk about this. She forces him into a body with no personality, and he feels exposed; for the first time, he has no one to be but himself. All the personality we see of him in the third book was basically born for the first time in the second.

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I am, and I did take that into account, but MeLaan's interactions with him the homeland convince me that he did have a real independent personality of his own. A lot of the kandra in her generation looked up to TenSoon. I don't see them doing that with a blank slate of a person. I do think that his time with Vin changed him deeply, and his success in working against the kandra leadership was totally dependent on that. He couldn't have prevailed without throwing them a bunch of surprises. Even so, I think he was more his own person (er, kandra) before that.

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I mean... you're basing your idea on speculation and 'what must have happened', as opposed to what TenSoon and MeLaan expressly tell us in the books. While independently your theory would be compelling, I'm going to assume in this case that TenSoon and MeLaan are right.

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Harmony did say he did not control her directly.  I think he controlled bloody tan but not her.  I thought for sure that he DID control Lessie but I do not think that he would lie about doing it.  

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By the way, Brandon originally wrote the prologue to The Alloy of Law soon after finishing The Alloy of Law and he meant it to be the prologue to Shadows of Self. Then he decided that The Alloy of Law needed a better prologue than its current chapter 1, which was originally the prologue.

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Thanks, Peter, that actually changes my reading of it quite a bit. I had thought before that the rest of Era 2 hadn't been outlined until after AoL publication.

 

On an identity-related note, I remembered a discussion some time ago about Wayne possibly having a kandra horse, based on this quote from Alloy:

 

 

Of course, Wayne also claimed to have once stolen a horse that belched in perfect musical notes, so one learned to take what he said with a pinch of copper.

According to the AoL annotations, Wayne's first test-scene was of him riding on a a kandra horse. After the events in this book, that possibility starts to look a lot less like a bored kandra playing a joke and a lot more like an on-a-mission kandra gathering information and scouting out personalities.

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I too think that Wax killing Lesse triggered Paalm to break away from Harmony. I re-read the AoL prologue because I had it stuck in my mind after reading SoS that Lesse could have done something to cause Wax to shoot her. She did not though it says Tan suddenly jerked as Wax shot so it is pretty apparent Tan knew somehow and more than likely Harmony was controlling him. So Harmony didn't lie just didn't tell the whole truth. Paalm must have known Harmony had a hand in it and this could have been what made her seek the "New God" to free people of Harmony's control. 

 

I think it is interesting we are seeing some different sides to Harmony. He preaches noninterference yet after SoS I do not see how he is not pulling some strings. It reminds me a lot of how I felt about TLR but in reverse. TLR seemed like a pretty bad dude in the Final Empire but during The Well of Ascension I started to see he may have had good intentions at least by keeping Ruin in check. Now we someone all thought was a pretty good guy possible not walking the walk entirely. Maybe it is the inherent struggle of holding both Ruin and Preservation. 

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MeLaan touches on this at the end of SoS. When you can do everything, when you know all, even your inaction is a decision. If you watch a man falling off a cliff and don't save him when you could, isn't that a decision?

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I don't know if there was ever a real Lessie. But that's possible.

 

Typically I hate this type of "theory" [emphasis on this not even being worthy of being a theory as it is speculation based on nothing but a feeling...] but I couldn't and still can't shake the feeling that Lessie's bones are Mare's bones. Any thoughts on my wild speculation?

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Personally I kind of wondered what Harmony expected step IV to be. I mean did he just count on Paalm being willing to take on a new job, give her house arrest, further tailing Wax but as a different person... or what? At that point she already didn't want to follow his order and then he pushed her further. Granted, predicting a new god getting involved may have been a large number but I have trouble this godlike being not seeing that this deal will backfire somehow unless he actually planned to supress Paalm, which would make the whole "didn't take direct control of her" kinda moot.

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So this is my first post, and I don't know if this is the right spot to put this theory, but I had an interesting thought about something TenSoon said to Wax. I don't know the exact quote, but he tells Wax that he,Wax, is Harmony's Ruin and he, TenSoon, is Harmony's Preservation. This struck me as odd, because what did Harmony do for 300+ years before Wax came along? And what was he going to do after Wax died?

I think that Paalm was Harmony's Ruin originally. That would explain the constant comparison between her and TenSoon, and also that her lover, Wax, would take upon the mantle after she went rogue.

Edited by Windrunner Savant
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He DID plan to suppress Paalm. He was clear about that. He had not done it yet, but she was killing a LOT of people and had broken her contract with him, and was therefore going to take total control of her body. Permanently? I don't know.

 

The Kandra hope, from what MeLaan explained, was that removing her spike was an act of desperation, and that it drove her insane. It was hoped that if they could restore to her a normal Blessing, she could be talked past the breaking point and some sort of agreement could be reached.

 

Also, remember this was Wax's plan, not Harmony's. Via MeLaan's instructions, Wax was actually supposed to remove the spike and turn her into just a mistwraith, and they were going to deal with her after that. Harmony said he'd be totally willing to control Paalm, but couldn't, not that it was his intention to do so. (Again, I'd like to point out that there was a contract involved. Whether any of us think it was right or not is irrelevant; she presumably had the option to go off on her own, but chose to work for Harmony, knowing that one of the possible outcomes would be that he would take over her body under certain conditions. Obviously we don't know all the terms of the contract, but it remains a choice she made and a consequence she agreed to.)

 

So yeah. "Phase IV" as Edgedancer says was, restore her Blessings and thereby her sanity, and hope she was redeemable. It's entirely possible Harmony accepted that she might not be willing to be rehabilitated, and imprisonment or death was in the cards anyway; keep in mind, stopping her from killing people and burning the city to the ground was Priority 1; there was plenty of time to figure out a long-term solution once the emergency was being handled.

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My theory right now (supported only by a single read of SoS, so I may be missing crucial details) is that Lessie was never intended to be with Wax long term. I don't think that's really Sazed's thing - he prefers to have his servants slip in at the right time to do something important, then disappear. I think Paalm was supposed to protect Wax for a bit, help him figure out the Roughs, then find a reason to leave. Her personality was designed to intrigue Wax and get him to trust her, not originally to get him to fall deeply in love.

I also think, however, that the kandra, and in this case specifically Paalm, are given more latitude and independence than some people are assuming. It's more like a collaboration between Harmony and the kandra, not a direct moment-to-moment or even day-to-day set of orders. So at first, Paalm's decision to stick around a bit longer and interact more with Wax was not especially notable. Later, Sazed realized what was happening and encouraged Paalm to break it off, but she didn't want to, and Harmony chose not to press it further.

I think that eventually, Harmony convinced Paalm that Wax needed to be on his own to live up to his potential, and she reluctantly agreed to allow Lessie to die. Later on, she came to deeply regret this decision and the pressure Harmony put on her to do it, but it was too late. That is what drove her to sever ties with Harmony and go rogue.

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