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TheBlueShifting

The Role and Identity of Splinters (Letters From the Cosmere Part 7)

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This might be the most important of Cosmere topics. Now we understand that the different magics and peoples of the Cosmere are fascinating and amazing. But even more so are the entities that were never alive, yet have a personality and drive of their own. These Splinters are pockets of Shardic Power that develop a type of intelligence. It is apparent that these beings are critical to the overall narrative of the Cosmere, while some are likely the perpetrators of some of the greatest evils seen so far. What are these Splinters and how do you recognize one?

 

Transcripts: 

 

I wish my father could have come to Roshar. Things that seemed mundane to others fascinated him to no end. The rocky hills and the crustaceous life that seems to make up this entire world are so different from the home I once knew. He would have written enough dissertations and filled enough sketchbooks to drown a man in the first week alone. He was odd, but he had a love of discovery, and visiting other worlds would have been a dream come true for him.  And my brother…. He would have loved seeing all the different shapes spren come in. The spren are small spirit looking entities that appear around the planet. Forces and states of mind that normally too subtle to observe clearly are manifested visually making their study far easier to perform empirically.

I believe that a spren is a physical representation of a cognitive entity. They are not physical in the sense that you can touch them, or that they have any sort of measurable mass. But they remind me of the simple minds that exist, attached to the objects in the Cognitive realm. However, these are not attached to any one object, rather they are bound to a purpose or intent.

For instance, if one is provoked into anger, anger spren seem to be drawn out, and serve as a secondary indicator of the being’s intent. There are also Spren tied to more ecological forces, such as flame spren and river spren. I’ve even observed spren that seem to account for things unseen, such as wind spren and life spren.

This aspect of spren and their natures yields promising potential in the fields of science and sociology. It must be far easier to consult or comfort someone when fear spren manifest their anxiety. In my personal journals I have been writing up my observations of the spren and their forms. My notes are far from professional and I doubt anyone but myself would be interested in these notations. I feel there must be some connection between the existence of spren and the High Storms which bring great rushing surges of Investiture. These cataclysmic storms occur most weeks if not multiple times a week. Such a rush of raging power must have metaphysical effects along with the violent weather phenomena that is the storm wall.

Now while I would love to chat about spren all day, this letter is a particular note because I have a theory about what these spren actually are. You see they take up a form that is far too intelligent to be just a stray consciousness. Some of the larger spren are able to interact and mimic people, such as wind spren. They have an almost playful attitude towards life and have been known to play pranks on humans they encounter. No, there is something far greater at work here.

As you know from my previous letter, I am now aware of the former existence of Adonalsium and of the shattering. These fractured Shards left and later developed a drive or fundamental nature to themselves. Shards are immense in scope and power. This power yields abilities that seem only limited to the imagination. In fact, we know from the “Words of Founding” that Shards have created life from their power.

Now getting back to the topic at hand, these spren do not act like any animal I have ever come across. They seem to thrive on ideas and concepts of the human mind. By observing and often mimicking what they interact with, spren reveal that they have a core nature. They are drawn to some kid of theme or purpose. This tendency, to have and hold true to an idea or states of environment that reflects what they themselves are. In this way they remind me of matured Shards. As you recall, the Shards seem to have a compulsion to see out a particular ideal, usually summarized by the name they adopt. The spren seem to mimic this type of behavior and single-mindedness.

I postulate, based on these observations that spren are little pockets of Shardic power. Unlike raw Investiture, which is simply harness-able energy, spren are power with a measured intelligence and will. They are like Splinters of a soul. It is easier to understand this position when you visit the Cognitive Realm. There the Spren seem far more complex, and even dangerous. There are whispers of larger spren that have intelligence and memories who live there. I hope to do more direct observing as soon as I have established myself with the peoples here. I have seen enough to recognizes that there is something nearly supernatural about these beings. It seems reasonable to assume that these spren are pieces of a greater whole.

Splinters are entities of power that were never alive as a humanoid, but attain a level of… consciousness. This is where things are still a bit fuzzy. It cannot be denied that the spren are intelligent, at least in a broad sense. By contrast the Returned on Nalthis also carry with them a Splinter in the form of a divine breath. In fact, all breath might be considered a splinter since they are portions of a Shards power, but a Divine Breath is unique. Yet it must be asked, are the Returned a person brought back from death by infusing their soul with a splinter, or does the Splinter itself inherit the body of a dead person? The answer to this might simply be both, and for this particular argument the distinction is not important. What matters is that there is an intent behind both a spren and Divine Breath.

I would then also guess from my studies that Seons could be considered Splinters. They are far more than just a symbol of Aon-dor, and they exemplify obedient intelligence with a profound memory and distinct personality. In this way they might be the most advance form of documented Splinter to date. However, there is a potential in the spren, and if the Nightwatch and Stormfather can be confirmed as massive spren, they might be the most powerful Splinters known to man. I am particularly intrigued by this Nightwatycher. There are rumors that she can grant requests that come with an associated boon. If this is more than a myth, the implications are… staggering. Regardless I plan to make the journey to see this being. I also hope to find a good location to watch a High Storm, hopefully I will be able to observe this Storm Father for myself.

As I’ve pondered these findings, my thoughts turned to Scadreal. At first I couldn’t think of any beings or entities there that would count as Splinters. In fact, I still feel that Scadreal has never seen a Splinter according to the historical records that we have. Yet I pause at the thought of the Kandra. The shapeshifters are intelligent beings that once were mindless creatures. They gained their intelligence via the powers of two hemalergic spikes. This was when I made the connection between spikes and Splinters. This may be an unrelated correlation, but the similarities are strong, and only separated by scope. Most hemalergic spikes are simply a form of spiritual surgery, ripping one soul apart and splicing pieces of that soul into another person. But with the kandra, they grant actual consciousness as if they were a Splinter themselves. Perhaps they are. However, I abhor the thought of anyone performing an investigation. Any testing with Hemallergy will be destructive beyond the point of rationality.

What troubles me are the whispers of these Voidbringers. On Roshar there are tales of monsters built of stone and darkness that once sought the destruction of all sentient life on this world. The rumors are whispers at best, but I have made several well informed connections. If my discoveries here are accurate and these void spren are actually real, then we are dealing with splinters that are openly hostile. My guess is that these spren move with an intent and were created purposefully by a destructive Shard. I see now why I was sent here, for history seems ripe to repeat itself. I wish to be absolutely wrong about this, but my gut feeling is that there is a great destruction coming.

To you, I suggest the following caution. Should I prove right, and find that there are evil spren sent to do the work of a destructive shard, be sure to look for the patterns. These splinters seem to be mimics or replicas of what already exists here. This goes against all that I have observed on other worlds where the Shards manifest uniquely when exerting their respective Investiture powers. If this Dark one seeks to mimic his fellows, then his touch may be subtle. Look for the signs of madness or corruption of what already exists. Red eyes… perhaps this is another sign to watch for. There are reports that the people who wage war here have recently been seen with glowing red eyes. This might be the only reliable way to recognize the servants of this being. Then again, it is possible that there are multiple Shards attempting to cause upheaval and destruction. That thought alone sends a shiver up my spine.

I will continue to look into these Void bringers, and there are more reports coming in all the time. Something inside me feels as if there is a great bell just beginning to toll the final hours of this place. The air almost hums with tension and I fear that someday this world will break. I hope your messengers can find me amidst what is to come. Perhaps I am wrong, but this seems all too familiar. I wish I had more time, but I am afraid… afraid that I will once again watch innocent lives be snuffed out. I don’t want to watch another world die.

Elsric

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"Another world", Elsric?  When did you find the time to watch the death of the first one?

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