skaa

theory
South Scadrial and the Problem of Heat

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Introduction

This theory is an attempt at solving several mysteries on Scadrial, most notably: What's with the Ice Death? I have actually posted a version of this theory last year as a comment in another person's Ice Death thread, But recently I've formulated several new arguments and found more evidence, and I want to reorganize my thoughts on the matter.

 

Part I: The Lord Ruler

To understand the need for my theory, let us first look at the issue of why the Southern Scadrians were put there by Rashek when he Ascended. Here's what Brandon said back in 2008 regarding them:

Quote

 

No, they're not dead. Yes, Rashek was aware of them. In fact, he placed them there as a reserve. I knew he wanted a 'control' group of people in case his changes to genetics ended with the race being in serious trouble. All I'll say is that he found a way other than changing them genetically to help them survive in the world he created.

(Source.)

 

 

There is one problem here: If Rashek found a way for people to survive extreme heat without genetic modification, why didn't he just use that method for everyone? Why go through all the hassle of creating the Ashmounts and changing people in the North to adapt to a world of ash when the people he moved to the South did not need those things anyway? In other words, if he was able to keep his genetically-unchanged control group alive, what was the point of his genetic experiments?

One possibility that comes to mind is that whatever he did to the Southerners was not scalable planet-wide, meaning that whatever it was, it was only feasible to a limited region on the planet. But then, the same could be said of the Ash World solution.

Another possibility is that in the event that Scadrial's orbit is fixed at some point in the future, it was much harder to revert the effects of this non-genetic method. It's very likely that Rashek intended to undo his damage on the world once the Well was refilled. It could be that he found the non-genetic solution (whatever it was) would be harder to undo when that happens, so he decided to use a method on the Northerners that was easier to undo when the orbit is eventually fixed. Except, he wasn't sure the Ash World solution would work long enough, so he still used the non-genetic solution on a select group of people as a "reserve".

So we have these clues as to what Rashek did to the Southerners:

  • It was definitely not genetic in nature.
  • It may have been something that could only be applied to the southern continent.
  • It may have effects that are difficult to undo even with Shardic power.

Given this, can we figure out what the Southern Solution is?

 

Part II: The Hero of Ages

Here is another mystery. When Sazed obtained both Ruin and Preservation at the end of HoA, he used the knowledge of Scadrial's religions to both return the planet to its previous orbit, rearrange the continents back to their previous locations, and fix the genetic modifications that Rashek made to the Northerners:

Quote

There had been a people called the Bennett. They had considered mapmaking to be a solemn duty; Sazed had once preached their religion to Kelsier himself. From their detailed maps and charts, Sazed discovered how the world had once looked. He used his powers to restore the continents and oceans, the islands and coastlines, the mountains and rivers.

There had been a people known as the Nelazan. They had worshipped the stars, had called them the Thousand Eyes of their god, Trell, watching them. [...] From the Nelazan, the Keepers had recovered star charts, and had dutifully recorded them—even though scholars had called them useless, since they hadn’t been accurate since the days before the Ascension. Yet, from these star charts, and from the patterns and movements of the other planets in the solar system they outlined, Sazed could determine exactly where the world was supposed to sit in orbit. He put the planet back into its old place—not pushing too hard, as the Lord Ruler once had, for he had a frame of reference by which to measure.

There had been a people known as the Canzi who had worshipped death; they had provided detailed notes about the human body.[...] From the Canzi teachings about the body, Sazed determined that the physiology of mankind had changed—either by the Lord Ruler’s intention or by simple evolution—to adapt to breathing ash and eating brown plants. In a wave of power, Sazed restored the bodies of men to the way they had been before, leaving each person the same, yet fixing the problems that living for a thousand years on a dying world had caused. He didn’t destroy men, warping and twisting them as the Lord Ruler had when he’d created the kandra, for Sazed had a guide by which to work.

[...]
Sazed hovered over the world, changing things as he felt he must. He cradled the hiding places of mankind, keeping the caverns safe—even if he did move them about—as he reworked the world’s tectonics. Finally, he exhaled softly, his work finished. And yet, the power did not evaporate from him, as he had expected it to.

Afterwards, Sazed created the Elendel Basin, a fertile area where food and water was always plentiful and the climate was temperate, for the people of the North to live on. He also gave the Northerners copies of the contents of his Copperminds, and gave them hints regarding the Allomantic metals they haven't discovered yet. As he said in SoS, he made it very easy for his own people to live in the newly restored planet. Too easy:

Quote

Already I fear that I have made things too easy for men. This city, the perfect climate, the ground that renews … You were to have had the radio a century ago, but you didn’t need it, so you didn’t strive for it. You ignore aviation, and cannot tame the wilds because you don’t care to study proper irrigation or fertilization.
“The … radio? What is that?”
You don’t explore, Harmony continued, ignoring Wax’s confusion. Why would you? You have everything you want here. You’ve barely progressed technologically from what I gave you in the books. Yet others, who were nearly destroyed …

And that was our first hint of the troubles faced by the Southerners. In BoM we would learn that somehow, even after Sazed fixed the continents, the Southern Scadrians still experienced a climate catastrophe, the Ice Death, that would freeze many of them to death.

Here's the mystery: Why didn't Sazed put as much effort in making the Southerners as comfortable and happy as the Northerners when he Ascended? Did he not care for them? Is Sazed racist? That doesn't sound like the wise and compassionate Terrisman that we know.

Besides, we know for certain that the Southerners have a huge advantage over the Northerners: ettmetal. Or as Sazed apparently prefers to call it, harmonium. That's the god metal of Sazed, right? The god metal of Harmony. And it's all for the Southerners to exploit and use (once they figure it out). Why give harmonium to the South, when he can't even be bothered to remove the Ice Death phenomenon?

 

Part III: The Sovereign

Well, we do know someone who did bother to do something about it: Kelsier, who was known as the Sovereign in the South. Perhaps Harmony sent him there, but it's still weird how the god who directly created the blessed Elendel Basin could not directly solve the Ice Death problem. Anyway, Kelsier went there, taught the Southerners about the Metallic Arts, found a way to harness the Arts to create the medallions that the Southerners used to survive the intense coldness that they felt, and taught them how ettmetal can be used to harness Allomancy and Feruchemy. That's great and all, but there's still one problem:

When Kelsier went to the South, it wasn't frozen at all.

Quote

A barren land, with no one in sight and only dust blowing around him.

[...]
He heard his own boots on the dirty rock, the wind blowing, and felt cold. He continued on into the town, passing foundations marked by old, burned-out fires. Somehow, he knew that the inhabitants here—as in other villages and towns he’d passed—had torn down their own walls for firewood, in desperation to survive.

Bodies lay in the street, stripped. Their clothing had been taken for burning after they’d frozen in what most men would consider only mildly cold weather.

This is obviously not polar weather. There wasn't even any snow. Obviously Sazed succeeded in moving the southern continent towards a more temperate region of the planet, its original location pre-Rashek.

Now, it's possible for people to experience hypothermia even in warmer climates. but one would think that the Southern Scadrians would have learned to adapt to the cold twelve years after it started. As someone who lives in a tropical country, I know full well how unpleasant it is to be suddenly faced with what people from temperate regions call "mildly cold weather", but every single person I know who's moved from my country to a non-tropical one managed to adapt to the new climate eventually.

But that's not what happened to the Southern Scadrians. For more than a decade their population slowly dwindled as one by one people died from a coldness that they should have been used to at that point. And even after hundreds of years in that environment, they still depended on the Heat medallions, as proven by Allik needing to wrap thick blankets around himself just to ward off the coldness he felt in his prison at Dulsing.

So, again, we go back to our previous question: Why didn't Sazed do anything? If the coldness that Southerners felt was merely biological, then Sazed could have restored them when he restored the Northerners. But we know it was not biological, because we've already established that Rashek did not touch their genes.

I saw someone speculate that the constant use of Heat Feruchemy via the Heat medallions has been changing the Spiritual aspect of the Southern Scadrians, such that they now perceive heat differently than normal. That is an interesting idea, but suffice to say it can't be Kelsier's fault that the Southerners can't adapt to the heat, because they already couldn't adapt years before he taught them about the medallions. In other words, they've been perceiving heat abnormally before the Sovereign.

But maybe Heat Feruchemy does have something to do with it...

 

Part IV: The Jaggenmire

Quote

“[..] When something grows, or dies, the Jaggenmire make that happen. There is Herr, and his sister Frue, who is also his wife. And she makes things stop, and he makes things go, but neither can—”
“—make life on their own,” Marasi said.
“Yah!” he said.
“Ruin and Preservation,” she said. “The old Terris gods. They’re one now. Harmony.”
“No, they were always one,” Allik said. “And always apart. Very odd, very complex.[...]"

A lot of people believe that since the term "harmonium" was coined by Sazed, the element could not have existed prior to his Ascension. I don't think that's necessarily true. The combination of Ruin and Preservation's powers has been happening long before Sazed was born. The very planet itself is Connected to both Shards, and the hybrid Metallic Art of Feruchemy (of which Sazed was a practitioner) is a testament that the two powers are complementary.

The fact that Southern Scadrians have their own name for it could be a clue. Brandon used the term "ettmetal", likely from the Swedish word "ett", meaning "one", perhaps as a clue that the Southern Scadrians linked the metal to the Jaggenmire, the mysterious "two persons in one god" (a duonity?) concept that is the basis of their religion. "They were always one", said Allik. "And Always apart." Atium has always been different from lerasium, but perhaps there also has always been the One Metal that is both of them.

Perhaps this is why Sazed doesn't like "sazedium" as an alternative name for ettmetal. It's not his modesty--at least, not just his modesty-- but rather his sense of truth. He does not want to name the metal after himself, the Vessel, because the metal was not his direct responsibility. Rather, he calls it "harmonium", because long before his time, long before even Rashek, the powers of Ruin and Preservation created the planet by harmoniously balancing their natures, as Herr and Frue were said to have done.

 

Conclusion: The Lord Ruler Revisited

Let me now put all those ideas together into a single theory. I believe that Sazed could not fix the Ice Death directly because its cause was very, very difficult to undo, even for a Shard. I believe the reason for the Ice Death is directly connected to what Rashek did to the Southerners to protect them from the extreme heat of the sun. And I believe it has something to do with ettmetal.

So, how did Rashek use ettmetal, assuming it did exist during his time? Simple: In his Ascended state, he touched all the native ettmetal ores within the Southern continent and primed it with Feruchemical Heat storage. This allowed the whole continent to be colder than it should be, keeping temperatures at very comfortable levels for the population there.

It's possible that all the ettmetal in the planet was concentrated in that continent, just as all the atium and all the lerasium can be found only in the North, in special areas connected to the Shards. In which case, this solution could only be implemented in the South.

Rashek knew that a thousand years of region-wide Kinetic Investiture would affect those Connected to the region, similar to how the regional Investiture of Sel works, and somehow he knew that this effect on the Southern peoples could not be reverted easily. He knew exactly what would happen to the Southerners once the orbit is brought back to normal.

Rashek foresaw the Ice Death, and found it an acceptable burden for a mere "reserve" to potentially bear.

 

P.S.

All this, of course, is just speculation on my part. Feel free to share your thoughts and offer constructive criticism.

Edited by skaa
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Oh I really like this. If I were Wayne I'd take my hat off to you.

There are a couple of steps (prior existence of ettmetal and the solution being too invest a continent worth of it) I'm not convinced on and I'm curious to see what the comments are on this. But you've worked in the evidence and connected dots I hadn't thought about and even those two big steps seem pretty viable to me other than wondering if there isn't an easier way than mass investing.

I'll think on this more especially as I'm doing a reread of Mistborn. Nice work.

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Thanks!

One hole in the theory I need to acknowledge is that I haven't explained why it's difficult for Harmony to undo what Rashek did. Changing the Spiritual aspect of people seems to be trivial to him given how he turned a mere Tineye to a full Mistborn. Perhaps the issue lies in the Cognitive side of things, but I don't have anything solid as of yet. Previously I attributed this difficulty to Harmony being incapable of affecting harmonium just as Ruin could not directly access atium, but that is again purely speculative.

All we know is that Rashek decided not to rely on the solution he eventually used on the South, and that Harmony did not seem capable of fixing the Ice Death. I just put those two things together into a very speculative theory.

Edited by skaa
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Interesting idea, but I think I see a couple of holes in it:

I don't think primed ettmetal is sufficient to produce a feruchemical effect. You'd need brass storage, and lots of it. Brass doesn't occur naturally, so Rashek would have needed to create enough of it to last 1000 years (until power returned to the Well and he could empty out the stores).

We learned that harmonium oxide can't exist, so ettmetal ore isn't a thing. God metals aren't naturally occurring; if there was a lot of ettmetal, it would have needed to be actively created by the two Shards (not by Rashek, since he only had Preservation's power) for reasons unknown, which Rashek would have coincidentially taken advantage of.

Although Rashek didn't genetically modify the Southerners, either for climate or for social experimentation, I don't think that means they are physiologically identical to their pre-Catacendre days. The South Pole might have been slowly warming over 1000 years (or might have been extremely warm, but livable, to begin with), and the Southerners adapted to it. Sazed caught changes to the Northerners' lungs and digestive system, but he might have missed the Southerner's decreased metabolisms (or maybe they've even gone cold-blooded!). Although, no matter how you slice it, Southeners freezing on Sazed's watch does require explanation; is he not aware? Is he not able? Is he not willing? You take the second possibility, while I lean more towards the first (because of forces that are actively limiting his knowledge.)

So, no smoking gun saying that your theory can't be true. But I see some gaps that give me pause.

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2 hours ago, Pagerunner said:

Although Rashek didn't genetically modify the Southerners, either for climate or for social experimentation, I don't think that means they are physiologically identical to their pre-Catacendre days. The South Pole might have been slowly warming over 1000 years (or might have been extremely warm, but livable, to begin with), and the Southerners adapted to it. Sazed caught changes to the Northerners' lungs and digestive system, but he might have missed the Southerner's decreased metabolisms (or maybe they've even gone cold-blooded!).

I'll address your other issues tomorrow as it is almost midnight here already, but I want to quickly point something out because this is the third time I've seen the "Rashek just placed the Southerners in the South Pole without doing anything else and it was hot but it was liveable" argument and it's a very odd argument to me.

Why did Rashek place Ashmounts in his Final Empire? The Ashmounts were there to prevent the sun from killing off most living things in the Empire. This is because he placed Luthadel, not in the northern polar region, but rather a certain distance from the northern polar region. This can be seen by the normal day and night cycle.

So, why didn't he place his capital in the polar region? Because while the polar region would experience months without the sun (which would have sucked anyway for anyone who disliked freezing temperatures), it would also experience months with a hot midnight sun, which again would kill most life in the empire.

Given that there were no Ashmounts in the South, without any other magic trick Rashek's "control group" would need to choose between death by extremely hot weather and death by extremely long hot days. And since we definitely know that the Southerners did not adapt to the cold, they obviously did not experience the months-long night of the south pole.

So, no, Rashek could not have left the Southerners alone there without giving them something first.

Brandon practically implied this when he said "All I'll say is that he found a way other than changing them genetically to help them survive in the world he created." If Rashek just plopped them somewhere that wasn't burning and hoped for the best, why would Brandon be so coy about it?

Edited by skaa
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32 minutes ago, Kingsdaughter613 said:

They were at the South Magnetic Pole, not the geographical pole.

Yeah, I just realized they weren't at the geographic south pole. I'll edit the OP accordingly.

But actually, it was Luthadel in the North that was on a magnetic pole. We have no idea where exactly the Southerners live except, as I pointed out above, it could not have been in the south pole as they had no concept of very cold weather before the Ice Death, and the months without the sun in the south pole would have definitely frozen things.

Edited by skaa
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16 minutes ago, skaa said:

So, why didn't he place his capital in the polar region? Because while the polar region would experience months without the sun (which would suck anyway for anyone who dislikes freezing temperatures), it would also experience months with a hot midnight sun, which again would kill most life in the empire.

I just found a relevant WoB for when you wake up. The poles were the only habitable places on Rashek's Scadrial. So, I realize that this proves your point, that if the North Pole needed Ashmounts, then the South Pole must have needed something as well. But now you've opened up a can of worms, why does the Final Empire not have a screwy polar day/night cycle?

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25 minutes ago, Pagerunner said:

I just found a relevant WoB for when you wake up. The poles were the only habitable places on Rashek's Scadrial. So, I realize that this proves your point, that if the North Pole needed Ashmounts, then the South Pole must have needed something as well. But now you've opened up a can of worms, why does the Final Empire not have a screwy polar day/night cycle?

Can't sleep. >_<

I would actually attribute that little conundrum to imprecise wording on Brandon's part (he does that sometimes), as he had a much more thorough discussion of the northern heat problem in the HoA annotations:

Quote

What Rashek decided to do (and he had to make split-second decisions in the brief time he held the power) was to shift the crust of the whole planet so that the Well was at a latitude that would have more standard seasonal variation, and to re-create the Terris mountains in the new North (to maintain the rumors that the Well was located there). He worried that the new location of Luthadel would be too hot due to the latitude, but it turned out that moving the Well created an unexpected effect. The planet’s magnetic pole followed the Well as he relocated it—and the ash from the ashmounts was slightly ferromagnetic. (Ferromagnetic volcanic ash has some precedent in our world.) So the interaction of the ash with the planet’s magnetic field’s new alignment meant that its protective cloak over the area of the Final Empire caused it to be cooler than the now unprotected geographic north pole.

 

Edited by skaa
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3 hours ago, Pagerunner said:

I don't think primed ettmetal is sufficient to produce a feruchemical effect. You'd need brass storage, and lots of it.

Perhaps not.  If Atium can serve as a wildcard metal for Hemalurgy (as we know it can), maybe the same is true for ettmetal/Harmonium and Feruchemy, and for Lerasium and Allomancy.

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8 hours ago, Yitzi2 said:

Perhaps not.  If Atium can serve as a wildcard metal for Hemalurgy (as we know it can), maybe the same is true for ettmetal/Harmonium and Feruchemy, and for Lerasium and Allomancy.

Indeed. In an old pre-SoS theory of mine (wherein I predicted that harmonium is used by Southern Scadrians in their Allomantic technology), I thought harmonium needs to be touching an Allomantic metal for it to produce an Allomantic effect. As we now know, it doesn't need that. Harmonium produces an Allomantic effect as long as it's primed for an Allomantic effect. Similarly, being primed for a Feruchemical effect may not require a separate metalmind.

11 hours ago, Pagerunner said:

We learned that harmonium oxide can't exist, so ettmetal ore isn't a thing. God metals aren't naturally occurring; if there was a lot of ettmetal, it would have needed to be actively created by the two Shards (not by Rashek, since he only had Preservation's power) for reasons unknown, which Rashek would have coincidentially taken advantage of.

Pardon me for my wrong terminology. I didn't know "ore" implied an oxide. I just meant the ettmetal that is (in my theory) sitting there somewhere in the southern continent pre-Sazed. The fact that Allik was surprised there was no ettmetal in the North made me think they mined ettmetal there like any other native metal. And yes that ettmetal obviously couldn't have been created by Rashek. Perhaps Leras and Ati made a bunch back when they were creating the planet, making it as close to "naturally occuring" as it gets, at least in the context of a Shard-made planet.

Edited by skaa
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3 hours ago, skaa said:

Pardon me for my wrong terminology. I didn't know "ore" implied an oxide. I just meant the ettmetal that is (in my theory) sitting there somewhere in the southern continent pre-Sazed. The fact that Allik was surprised there was no ettmetal in the North made me think they mined ettmetal there like any other native metal. And yes that ettmetal obviously couldn't have been created by Rashek. Perhaps Leras and Ati made a bunch back when they were creating the planet, making it as close to "naturally occuring" as it gets, at least in the context of a Shard-made planet.

Most metals ores are oxide forms from which the pure elemental metal is extracted. Few to none exist naturally as the pure elemental form. If ettmetal existed as an ore, that would be as ettmetal oxide, which does not exist, meaning there is likely no ettmetal ore, and any deposit in Scadrial would've had to have been placed there artifically, in pure elemental state. Furthermore, considering the volatile nature of elemental ettmetal, this would mean that all deposits would have to extremely well separated from the water table, else they would've destroyed themselves a long time ago, especially considering the shifting of the world's crust multiple times.

Finally, I find it unlikely that the Southerners found ettmetal through conventional mining techniques, as a large number of these techniques, from my understanding, involve the use of open water. While it is possible that they determined better mining techniques after the first few accidents, most of these probably would've greatly slowed down their technological development, which appears not to be the case. Therefore I still find it unlikely that ettmetal was and is existing inside the ground, and is not instead being condensed directly and openly from some other source. 

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17 minutes ago, Spoolofwhool said:

 Therefore I still find it unlikely that ettmetal was and is existing inside the ground, and is not instead being condensed directly and openly from some other source. 

I found this old WoB.

Quote

BLACKYETI

Because you’ve talked about alloying the god metals, I was wondering whether you would be able to melt them down as you would with normal metals.

BRANDON SANDERSON

If you could distill the god metal: you could distill it out of the mist, that’s theoretically possible.

Perhaps the Southern Scadrians could have been taught to distill ettmetal from the gaseous form of Harmony? Doesn't help the pre-catacedre ettmetal theory (since the mists were Preservation and if they could do that they would all be Mistborn, unless they can only make a tiny amount) but makes me wonder whether that could be how they get ettmetal now?

Anyway it was an interesting WoB I hadn't seen before, thought it may lead to some more relevant thoughts.

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4 hours ago, Spoolofwhool said:

Most metals ores are oxide forms from which the pure elemental metal is extracted. Few to none exist naturally as the pure elemental form.

Did you read the WIkipedia article on native metal that I linked to? It lists a lot of elements that are found in nature in pure or alloyed metallic form (i.e. NOT oxides), including ALL Allomantic elements: aluminum, cadmium, chromium, iron, tin, zinc, gold, and copper. It even lists several Allomantic alloys: brass, bronze, pewter, and electrum.

Granted, among those only gold and copper are found in large amounts on Earth, but to insist that Ati and Leras could not have decided to put harmonium in Scadrial for such a pedantic reason as "harmonium oxide doesn't exist" is frankly kind of weird. Like, they're Shards. They could find ways to keep water away from their hybrid god metal if they wanted to.

Actually, I take that back. Yes, the fact that incredibly reactive elements tend to not exist in pure form makes the mining of ettmetal a bit more doubtful.

I'm totally fine with ettmetal being obtained from some weird magical process. I think this could still fit my theory, so long as the magically-protected ettmetal can still affect the land.

Edited by skaa
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(Double-posting because I want the previous post to remain as is, and this is my thread.)

We know that the reaction of water and harmonium will not produce oxides because of this recent WoB (taken from this transcript):

Quote

Ironeyes: So harmonium, we have a working theory that the reason it's so volatile is because some of the subatomic particles are associated with Ruin and some of them are [of?] Preservation. Is that true?
A: Yeah, that's basically what's going on is that it's creating a very unstable metal. Now, it is in the nature of the Cosmere not a compound but an element. But, you could call it a subatomic particle sure. It's very volatile because it is in nature spiritually in contrast with itself. And so though it is a single element rather than a compound, the spiritual nature is not happy as it is, and you can set up in the physical realm, through reactivity things that would just rip it apart and really your energy is not, your energy in that is actually pulling from the Spiritual realm, and so that's why it can be so much more explosive than even the chemistry would account for.
Ironeyes: So it's not that the subatomic particles are invested, it's that they have a spiritual identity which causes them to...
A: Yes.
Ironeyes: So then it's not creating an oxide because after the spiritual energy goes away from the explosion[unintelligible] metal, right?
A: Right, and...
Ironeyes: So you can't find harmonium oxide in the water afterwards.
A: Right right right right. Because it's not, it's, yeah.  But you might be able to find something else, which is really relevant to the cosmere. And to Scadrial.

I think the point that @Pagerunner and @Spoolofwhool were trying to make is that without an oxide that could have acted as a protective shell around a chunk of pure harmonium, any native harmonium in the land would eventually disappear over time.

But if you noticed in the text I highlighted in yellow, Spool and Page missed something hugely important. Just because there's no harmonium oxide doesn't mean there's nothing else there. And in fact, there is something else. We just don't know what, yet. But whatever it is, if it forms a waterproof layer around a piece of harmonium then that might be enough for the harmonium to remain within the land for anyone to find it.

(Though, again, I'm open to a more mystical way of obtaining harmonium. Or even the "harmonium in oil" idea that Spool told me the other day. All of this is just speculation, anyway.)

Edited by skaa
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2 hours ago, skaa said:

(Double-posting because I want the previous post to remain as is, and this is my thread.)

We know that the reaction of water and harmonium will not produce oxides because of this recent WoB (taken from this transcript):

I think the point that @Pagerunner and @Spoolofwhool were trying to make is that without an oxide that could have acted as a protective shell around a chunk of pure harmonium, any native harmonium in the land would eventually disappear over time.

But if you noticed in the text I highlighted in yellow, Spool and Page missed something hugely important. Just because there's no harmonium oxide doesn't mean there's nothing else there. And in fact, there is something else. We just don't know what, yet. But whatever it is, if it forms a waterproof layer around a piece of harmonium then that might be enough for the harmonium to remain within the land for anyone to find it.

(Though, again, I'm open to a more mystical way of obtaining harmonium. Or even the "harmonium in oil" idea that Spool told me the other day. All of this is just speculation, anyway.)

It still might not form a protective layer around Harmonium. I've speculated that it releases pure Ruin's Mist (for complicated chemistry reasons).

The big picture that I was going for wasn't quite that harmonium has a limited shelf life, although that's part of it. It's that harmonium isn't a part of normal geology - although an alkali metal, it won't exist as an oxide, which is one way (along with salts) that we are able to access and recover these sorts of reactive metals. A large amount of pure harmonium would need to be specifically created by both Shards for some reason, with a mechanism to persist in its pure form, and then Rashek would discover and use it for his solution. I'm not suggesting any of that is impossible - just making sure you're spelling out every step, since the very presence of harmonium needs an explanation.

 

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8 hours ago, Pagerunner said:

I'm not suggesting any of that is impossible - just making sure you're spelling out every step, since the very presence of harmonium needs an explanation.

Good point. So there are in fact two things left unresolved by my theory:

  1. Why exactly would the effects of 1000+ years of ettmetal-based region-wide Feruchemical Heat storage be difficult for Sazed to fix?
  2. Why would Ati and Leras make a bunch of harmonium in the southern lands in the first place?

My mediocre powers of imagination and creativity is not enough to create a satisfying theoretical answer to those questions. Maybe if we get more information I could try again.

Nonetheless, I think it's important to acknowledge what our speculations have accomplished. Allow me to summarize a few things that I think are pretty solid:

  • The southerners definitely have a problem with their sense of temperature. It was something Kelsier noticed when he first went to the South, before he taught them how to make Heat medallions. It was something Marasi should have noticed when she saw Allik for the first time in Dulsing, wrapped in thick blankets, when there was no indication of it being a chilly day. The southerners had more than a decade to adapt to their new climate, and yet they didn't. All this indicates that their problem is magical in nature.
     
  • By my arguments here, Rashek could not have simply left the southerners alone without formulating a solution for the extreme heat of the sun brought about by the new orbit of the planet. The only part of the south that did not experience unbearably hot temperatures was the south pole, and we know from the southerner's inability to adapt to a temperate climate that they would have never survived the freezing sun-less months of a polar region. Hence, they must have lived in the hotter latitudes, meaning they could not have survived 1000+ years without Rashek's assistance.
     
  • For some reason, Rashek considered the Ashmounts + genetic modifications to be the better solution. That's why he considered the southerners to be merely a reserve. Otherwise, he wouldn't have had to bother himself with the Ashmounts + genetic modifications. By doing what he did in the North and staying there, he was basically implying that what he did to the South was worse, in the grand scheme of things (though maybe it's not immediately apparent), than forcing people to live as genetic freaks in an ash-ridden hell hole.
     
  • The fact that the southerners seemed pretty happy with their life pre-Ice Death (at least compared to their life afterwards) suggests that it was specifically the Ice Death that Rashek was worried about when he decided his southern solution was ultimately a bad idea, meaning his southern solution directly led to the Ice Death after the planet's orbit was fixed. This might also explain why he was okay with still using it on the reserves, because the bad consequence was still in the distant future at that point.
     

And now for the not-so-solid things:

  • The idea of harmonium being pre-Sazed. Ettmetal in the South is definitely not a recent thing. It must have been there at least from the time of Kelsier's rule, when Southern magitech was being developed, more than three hundred years before the Wax and Wayne era. If it was Sazed who put the ettmetal/harmonium there, he must have done it during or soon after his Ascension, back when he was still a new god who was happily coddling the northerners. Given everything that Sazed has done for the North, it seems suspiciously inconsistent for him to not also give harmonium to the inhabitants of the Elendel Basin at that early point in time if he could. Hence, I feel it's more likely that ettmetal was already there in the South before his Ascension, and that he somehow doesn't have much control over its distribution, perhaps due to some esoteric Shardic law.
     
  • The idea of ettmetal being the tool Rashek used to allow southerners to survive. Honestly the only reason I don't consider this to be solid is because we're not certain if ettmetal existed during Rashek's time. Otherwise, given how ettmetal seems to only exist in the South and how it can be primed for Feruchemy, it would have been the perfect tool to cause a Heat-draining effect on the southern lands.
     
  • The idea that 1000+ years of 1000+ years of ettmetal-based region-wide Feruchemical Heat storage would be enough to make lasting effects on the southerners' ability to sense heat. I'm only basing this on the mysterious Connection between the land and its native inhabitants that seems to exist cosmere-wide (not just in Sel, where this Connection is somehow used to vary the manifestation of Investiture for each region). This Connection to land can be changed or manipulated to communicate with foreigners, or even to reorient an object's gravitational behavior. It's very powerful stuff, so I naturally wondered what the effects of magically draining the heat from the land would be on its inhabitants, and I feel that the dampened heat sense of the southerners kind of fits that.
     

So, anyway, I'd be happy if any of those ideas turns out to be true. Heck, forget the ettmetal speculations, I'd be extremely happy if none of the things on my "solid" list turn out to be false.

Edited by skaa
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