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Uilos

Theory on the Origins of the Metallic Arts

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So as I've been listening through the books again and reading through the forums, I've been trying to figure out something. If magic comes from the Shards, then which Shard made Allomancy? According to Sazed, Allomancy is of Preservation, but look at most of what it does. Most of the applications are short term and often destructive. That sounds more like Ruins pervue than Preservation, yet the mists (which is of preservation) react to Allomancers.

My theory is thus: Because Ruin and Preservation couldn't do much of anything without the other having a hand in it (read: the constant struggle for either to get anything done at the end of HoA) then all three Metallic Arts carry both within them, but favor one or the other. 

Feruchemy is the art of preserving, hands down. You store away your attributes for later use, either in a time of need or to supercharge what is already there. It's long term and deliberate, it's of Preservation. But, there is enough of Ruin in it for copperminds to suffer the same corruption as non-metallic recordings. 

Allomancy is the flip. It's short term, and often only for immediate or near to immediate use. It relies on metal as a catlyst to burn the investiture inside the person. It is closer to Ruin, which is easiest to see in the power Atium gives. Quick bursts of flashing insight in to the immediate world around them, making them better to kill. While we don't know if that notion of Atium helps to kill is a product of Atium itself or the world it lives in, Elends final chapters make the thought ambiguous. Allomancy favors Ruin, but is birthed by Preservation. That Lerasium burns for everyone says something. 

Hemalurgy is the most directly built by Ruin. It is destructive in nature. However, I find it ironic that it does, albeit not perfectly, preserves the power it stored. It's leaking, but it's holding in the power. 

This is me just trying to get my thoughts out and seeing how other people see it. I'm not sure if it's been discussed before.

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This is actually a really interesting idea. I really like this, so take an upvote!

That said, the powers mostly interact with their Shard only in how they are gained, like Allomancy requires you to Preserve yourself to Snap, or Hemalurgy requires you to Ruin someone else to gain power.

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The Ars Arcanum uses terminology such as "End-Positive," "End-Neutral," and "End-Negative" to describe the magic systems. I think it can be illustrated well by looking at how all three systems can grant an individual an increase in physical strength:

  • In Allomancy, you get strength at the cost of consumed pewter. The benefit is greater than the cost.
  • In Feruchemy, you get strength at the cost of that exact strength, taken from yourself earlier. The benefit is equal to the cost.
  • In  Hemalurgy, you get strength at the cost of a greater amount of strength, taken from somewhere else.

There's a connection to entropy here. There's no such thing as a true perpetual motion machine - you need to add energy, or it will stop. Same principle here - Preservation needs to add Investiture greater than the cost, that of the metal consumed. Feruchemy, as End-Neutral, doesn't net you more energy over a period of time, just shuffles around when you get it. Hemalurgy, End-Negative, is accelerating the heat death of the universe. That's why Allomancy is of Preservation, since it helps to stave off stagnation.

 

Another note, be careful not to confuse applications of the magic with the nature of the magic. Yes, as you mentioned, Ruin used Allomancers to sow chaos and disorder in the Final Empire and Inquisitors would reuse their spikes, preserving the Investiture in them over many lifetimes. But I don't think you can take the actions of magic users to learn about the nature of the magic. Magic systems are an interaction between a Shard (Intent) and a world (Focus) that define how Investiture is applied. They do not necessarily specify motives and lowercase-i intents behind using magic. (With Surgebinding on Roshar, yes, you need to act in accordance with your oaths, but that may be a specific property of Honor's magic system, not of all magic systems in general.) Pointing to what I said above, each magic system provides powers, but they have different costs, depending on the Intent of the Shard behind them.

 

Lastly, it's been speculated that the interactions that create magic systems happen in the Spiritual Realm, which is not time-dependent. (Seeing into the Spiritual Realm, and the Connections therein, is how people see the future in the Cosmere.) I think it's possible that Feruchemy was, and has always been, of Harmony. Each Shard Invested in a world gets a magic system, and the power that would become Harmony was Invested in Roshar (even though it hadn't taken that form yet.) That's why we have a magic system that is of both Preservation and Ruin - because we have a Shard that is also both Preservation and Ruin.

 

So, it's an interesting hypothesis, but I don't think magic systems are a sliding scale, where on one end we have mostly Preservation, and on the other end, we have mostly Ruin. Each Shard gets a magic system, which defines what the powers are (but not necessarily how they're used). However, I will definitely say that Mistborn is the only series where we've seen this much of an in-depth look into the magic systems of the world - Roshar has three magic systems with three Shards, and Sel has two shards that are possibly combining into one. As we get further along into each of those series, I'm sure we'll see more concrete information on the interplay between Shards and magic systems.

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I'd like to point out on that Roshar bit that surgebinding itself doesn't seem to have anything to do with oaths at all, only the nahel bonds that usually grant surgebinding do. For example, honorblades will function regardless of what you do.

As for Scadrial, the shardic influence is mostly on how power is obtained, or more specifically how the investiture of the person involved in the magic is treated. An allomancer's innate investiture remains generally unchanged (ignoring the effects on one's soul from being invested in the first place at least) as power from Preservation fuels their powers. Feruchemy does separate and change the nature of innate investiture using metallic storage mediums, but there is no loss. Hemalurgy rips souls apparently violently with irreversible damage to both ends and constantly progressing decay; entropy increases the most here as it isn't functioning as a closed, heavily structured (if fragmented) system like in feruchemy.

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It's not what people do with the magic, it is how they get it in the first place and how they go upon using magic.

 

Allomancy: you get the power from somewhere else, thus you are preserving (not using) yourself. So, preservation.

Feruchemy: its neutral, you get out what you put in. You ruin yourself for a bit, preserve it for later use. So, a mix

Hemalurgy: you ruin someones spirit web by stealing an attribute. Some of the power is lost which is why it is "end negative". So you get the power by ruining something. So, Ruin.

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