KidWayne

[OB] The Fused are essentially Returned (Spoilers for most Cosmere novels)

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I propose the following:

  • The Fused are to Odium as the Returned are to Endowment
  • The Returned are to Endowment as the Heralds are to Honor

This provides the bridge to the commonly supposed theory that...

  • The Fused are to Odium as the Heralds are to Honor

All of this is based on this WoB (note the words in blue):

Quote

MadhavDeval

So, if Dalinar used Spiritual Adhesion to fuse a bond between Sja-anat and Honor or Cultivation or whoever, then could Sja-anat corrupt a spren, an Odiumspren back to Honor or Cultivation?

Brandon Sanderson

Maybe. Nyeh...

MadhavDeval

What about the Fused?

Brandon Sanderson

The Fused... I mean, it's the same kind of thing, they're a Cognitive Shadow. Eh? Eh. I'm gonna give you an "Eh." on that one. I don't know how you write that on the forums.

https://wob.coppermind.net/events/256-oathbringer-london-signing/#e8693

We have been told by previous WoBs that Returned are Cognitive Shadows, too. This has implications for Vasher/Zahel and it is interesting to ponder the connection to Kelsier, Shades on Threnody and other Cognitive Shadows that we've seen across the Cosmere. Brandon appears to be refining his definition of what a Cognitive Shadow is, how it manifests in the Physical Realm vs. the Cognitive Realm, and what a Cognitive Shadow is able to do.


Random Thoughts and Cosmere Questions


I'm most interested in how Cognitive Shadows die (or don't die).

On Roshar, I'm dying to know what happens to regular folks who don't go on to become Cognitive Shadows when they die because it doesn't look like it did on Scadrial during M:SH. All we know so far is that Cognitive Shadows who die in the Physical Realm on Roshar appear to respawn in the Cognitive Realm on Braize/Damnation. So what happens to regular people immediately post-mortem if their consciousness isn't manifesting in Shadesmar? Are they popping up in the Cognitive Realm on Ashyn? That might line up with the Vorin theological explanation of the afterlife...

If Vasher/Zahel were to die on Roshar, would he go to Braize or is that reserved for those tied to the Oathpact in some way? Speaking of Vasher, I really want an explanation for how he avoids consuming his Divine Breath. Is he feeding on other sources of investiture, or did he find some way to permanently suppress need to consume a breath's worth of investiture each week? It seems to me that Nightblood uses his sheath to permanently suppress his investiture consumption while maintaining a presence, consciousness, and sapience in the Physical Realm. Why is it that a those who are naturally born on Nalthis never consume their breath? Can Nalthians hold investiture better than other planets' human populations? Could a Nalthian hold stormlight better or even perfectly? If so, a Nalthian Knight Radiant / honorblade holder would be formidable.

The Heralds don't seem to have a need to regularly consume investiture. So I wonder... does Kelsier consume investiture when he manifests in the Physical Realm, or is his use of Hemalurgy sufficient to sustain his physical manifestation until his physical body is destroyed?

How do Threnody's shades fit into all of this? Isn't Threnody primarily invested by splinters of Ambition? If Ambition's investiture isn't sentient like spren or seons, who is investing the Shades? Is it something that the dead do post-mortem (i.e. the ceremony Nazh alludes to in his meeting with Kelsier)? It's worth noting that they seem to be permanent without the need to regularly consume investiture like the Heralds and unlike the Returned.


Jezrien's Murder Weapon


I also think that Cognitive Shadows' dependence on investiture to exist tells us that the blade that killed Jezrien either killed him by consuming and storing his investiture, or converted him into investiture and stored Jezrien's consciousness. I think the first option is most likely now that I think about it, even though until now I preferred to think that Jezrien had been captured by the blade in the same way that the Thrill had been captured by the perfect gem/King's Drop.

If you think Jezrien has been captured within the blade's sapphire, then would drawing him out result in the death of the person trying to rescue him (like how the Fused essentially *erase* their host body's consciousness when they posses a Singer)?

Edited by Ookla the Hatter
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I shall not double post. I shall not double post. I shall not double post. I shall not double post. I shall not double post. I shall not double post.

Oops, I double posted.

Edited by Ookla the Hatter
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First of all, you quoted my question so I feel very validated right now. I completely agree with the idea that the returned are basically fused because after all the returned are fused to a splinter as well. I think that vasher would do what a normal rosharan would do upon death ( unless some weird breath hacking happens and he pulls a kelsier which I doubt). As for why Nalthians never consume their breaths well breath is specifically designed as a method of investiture that can be given and held and so it "sticks" much more easily than stormlight when it's connected to a person- it's almost like saying why doesn't a metalmind leak, the investiture is bonded in a way that doesn't really happen on roshar because stormlight is a very hard form of investiture to contain. I think a nalthian would actually be worse at holding stormlight than a rosharan because they're more naturally invested and investiture repels investiture. You say that heralds don't seem to need a stream of investiture in the physical realm but there's no way to know that because they've always had a stream (from storms) apart from when they're in the cognitive realm in braize so it's altogether possible that they do. I'd steer clear of speculation when it comes to kelsier because he is the exception of exceptions- also scanning through the arcanum I can't find anything saying that threnody has any splinters of ambition (the most it says is that ambition was splintered in the threnodite system)

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1 hour ago, Ookla the Hatter said:

Speaking of Vasher, I really want an explanation for how he avoids consuming his Divine Breath. Is he feeding on other sources of investiture, or did he find some way to permanently suppress need to consume a breath's worth of investiture each week?

He can take in Stormlight to sate his body. It's the primary reasons he's even on Roshar.

1 hour ago, Ookla the Hatter said:

Why is it that a those who are naturally born on Nalthis never consume their breath?

Because they are the norm, like every human in the Cosmere. The Returned are the exception to the rule.

We don't know the proper details of why, but Returned need to consume breath to keep their body alive. A living human has natural bodily processes to stay alive.

Quote

Just a little note here. Returned live for eight days without a Breath, though the week is seven days long in this world. Why? Well, I figured that they’d need an extra day as leeway. On day seven, they start to grow weak and sluggish. If they don’t consume a Breath, their body will consume their own on the eighth day of their life, and they’ll die again.

I can't give you answers regarding the Heralds(although they used to be directly fueled by Honor, which would satisfy the Investiture needs. And then there are the Highstorms, as Deval pointed out, which is presumably where Vasher gets his. No answers on Threnody or Kelsier.

2 hours ago, Ookla the Hatter said:

If you think Jezrien has been captured within the blade's sapphire, then would drawing him out result in the death of the person trying to rescue him (like how the Fused essentially *erase* their host body's consciousness when they posses a Singer)?

No idea, but there have been a few theories(pre-OB) that the Heralds take over bodies in order to return for Desolations. So.. maybe?

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First of all, you've got spoilers for just about everything in this theory, not just Warbreaker hahahaha (sorry, couldn't help it)

I don't know how well we really understand cognitive shadows in the Cosmere, because depending where you are at they tend to go by different rules. Returned are cognitive shadows that come back to their original/idea bodies (they are the original bodies right?) and have no memory of their previous life. They also have to be continually sustained by breath (investiture) to survive. When we look at Kelsier (speaking of spoilers), we can assume that he holds on to his memory and, based on the end of Secret History, needs a new body. We have no clue if he needs investiture to sustain him.

As far as we can tell on Threnody, the cognitive shadows are crazy with little-to-no memories of their previous life that follow certain 'rules' that determine some of their behavior. They also don't appear to need investiture to survive, and they can be hurt by silver. On Roshar, the Fused and the Heralds are cognitive shadows that return REPEATEDLY, unlike the Returned. In fact, while the Returned only return once (as far as we know), the cognitive shadows on Roshar return over and over again. They also retain their memories, but the Fused at least loose some sanity after each return.

While my summary may not be completely accurate, the point of it is that cognitive shadows don't seem to play by the same rules everywhere in the Cosmere. It probably has more to do with how they are created/made/sustained/returned (I don't know how to define what happens to them). So I think it is difficult to try to figure out the mechanisms of one type of cognitive shadow by looking at how others function just because of how different they already seem to be.

About the knife, it seems like it definitely killed Jezrien. I'm assuming that just based on Ash's reaction and his own reaction to the event (they called it a death). I was reminded more of Nightblood during the scene more than those perfect gemstones. I feel like it is another powerful weapon that kills in all three realms which is why it was able to REALLY kill Jezrien.

Anyways, those are my thoughts.

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4 hours ago, Ookla the Hatter said:

I'm most interested in how Cognitive Shadows die (or don't die).

On Roshar, I'm dying to know what happens to regular folks who don't go on to become Cognitive Shadows when they die because it doesn't look like it did on Scadrial during M:SH. All we know so far is that Cognitive Shadows who die in the Physical Realm on Roshar appear to respawn in the Cognitive Realm on Braize/Damnation. So what happens to regular people immediately post-mortem if their consciousness isn't manifesting in Shadesmar? Are they popping up in the Cognitive Realm on Ashyn? That might line up with the Vorin theological explanation of the afterlife..

This is spoiler tagged because it's about M:SH

Spoiler

In M:SH Preservation tells Kelsier that he's able to stay in the Cognitive Realm for longer than most because he's more heavily Invested than most. He's able to resist the pull to Beyond because of his extensive use of investiture, and he's able to completely thwart the pull to the beyond by essentially taking an Investiture Bath in the well of Ascension.

So this to me implies that the ability to become a cognitive shadow is directly related to the amount of Investiture that a person/vessel has held.

The following is Spoiler tagged because it refers to Warbreaker annotations.

Spoiler

On Nalthis, from reading the annotations, it's clear that the Returned are Returned because they have something left to do, and this seems like direct shardic intervention, based on Endowments pre-cognition or future sight about the part that an individual person has to play in life. There is a volitional component on the part of the Returned, they have to have a reason to Return when they die, and the Divine Breath is the endowment they are given to achieve the unfinished business that they Returned to do. The exception to this is the baby returned, which are probably chosen solely by Endowment based on Endowments future sight. Likely Susebron was an infant returned because of the role Endowment saw him playing in stopping the 2nd Many War.

So I think that the Returned aren't necessarily Cognitive shadows, they are more like infinitesimal slivers of Endowment, and when the Divine Breath is given, that infinitesimal sliver returns to Endowment to be given again.

I do think that the Fused are Cognitive shadows, but I think that all is not as it appears. I had a speculative theory that I posted earlier (for the crickets and the tumbleweeds, it appears) that covers this in more detail:

Basically, I think that the Fused are not the ancients of the Listeners, but rather Cognitive shadows of Odium's People (most likely the Alethi). Let's assume for the sake of discussion that the Void in Voidbringer is a particular manifestation of Odium's investiture in his people (like how on Nalthis every one of Endowment's people are given a Breath). Due to this inate investiture, prior to going to the Great Beyond, every one of Odium's people must get the cognitive realm send off from Odium. But picture if you will, Odium is currently Invested in Braise, and let's say he keeps a large collection of his investiture in a large pool on Braise. Odium's raw power, which we see in Venli's and Dalinar's meetings with Odium sounds like the very fires of hell itself. What if, before going to the great beyond, Odium forces the cognitive shadows to be immersed in his hell fire shard pool, thus tying them to his investiture and preventing them from going to the Beyond. Maybe the common sods from Roshar who have never held stormlight get sent directly to the great beyond, but the ones that have held investiture, the ones that linger longer in the transition to the Great Beyond, maybe they get tossed into the prison shard pool of damnation until they break and agree to become an agent of Odium. I think the realization that being a Knight Radiant whose heavy use of investiture makes you more likely to either suffer eternal torment or to be broken and become an agent of the enemy might be enough to have KRs throw down their shard blades and break their oaths.

 

4 hours ago, Ookla the Hatter said:

How do Threnody's shades fit into all of this? Isn't Threnody primarily invested by splinters of Ambition? If Ambition's investiture isn't sentient like spren or seons, who is investing the Shades? Is it something that the dead do post-mortem (i.e. the ceremony Nazh alludes to in his meeting with Kelsier)? It's worth noting that they seem to be permanent without the need to regularly consume investiture like the Heralds and unlike the Returned.

I feel like this is a case where the splintered Investiture of Ambition is left directionless to be taken up, and this primarily occurs in the cognitive realm. The section about what happens when a shade kills on coppermind is very interesting:

Quote

A touch from a shade withers flesh, and ultimately will turn a person to dust, and eventually into a shade themselves unless treated by applying silver powder to affected body parts.

This sounds functionally similar to shard blades (the withered flesh) and to Nightblood (turning the person to dust). The unique aspect of this is that if unchecked the injured person will likewise become a shade. A possible realmatic explanation of what is going on might be something like this, the Shade (a heavily invested cognitive shadow) is able to attack the spiritual connection of a person directly, and if enough damage is done to the individual's spirit web then the physical self loses cohesion (turns to dust) and then the cognitive shadow of that person is likewise invested with the same undissipated energy of Ambition that the Shade that killed them has, and the cognitive shadow thus invested can't transition to the great beyond.

There is this further elucidation from the Coppermind:

Quote

The older a shade is, the more they lose their forms. A wave of white an arm's length long trails behind them.

I think that this is because the initial attack by the shade is destruction on the spiritual realm, severing the individuals ties to Spiritual Identity and Connection. That is very similar to how the Listeners were turned into Parshmen, but functionally different because the cognitive Identity of the shade is probably unaffected.

One last thing to consider from the Coppermind about Threnody shades is this:

Quote

Drawing the attention of a Shade with quick motions will first cause their body to turn black, and the eyes to glow green and trail a misty light. Enraging them with fire or by drawing blood will immediately cause their eyes to turn red, and begin slaughtering everyone in sight.

We know from a WoB that red (especially red eyes) is a sign of corrupted Investiture. So when these semi-invested cognitive zombies are animated by Anger their eyes turn red, and they try to create more shades. This sounds like there was a specific intent that went into splintering Ambition, and that maybe Odium might have contributed a controlling splinter of his own to Channel how Investiture from Ambition is taken up on Threnody.

Edited by hoiditthroughthegrapevine
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I think in Arcanum Unbound it says that "cognitive shadow" is an in-universe term. It could be that cognitive shadows on Threnody are an entirely different animal than, say, what we see in Roshar, which may not be exactly the same as on Nalthis or Scadrial.

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17 hours ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

So I think that the Returned aren't necessarily Cognitive shadows, they are more like infinitesimal slivers of Endowment, and when the Divine Breath is given, that infinitesimal sliver returns to Endowment to be given again.

I don't properly understand the difference between "cognitive shadows" who manifest in the physical realm and "slivers" who have returned to the physical realm post-mortem.

I agree that a sliver who has never died (e.g. Rashek) is distinct from a cognitive shadow; however, defining the Returned as resurrected slivers conflates the idea of a sliver with a cognitive shadow in my mind. Any help/clarification you have would be appreciated.

17 hours ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

Basically, I think that the Fused are not the ancients of the Listeners, but rather Cognitive shadows of Odium's People (most likely the Alethi).

Very interesting, have an upvote for creative & critical thinking!

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A sliver is a human intelligence that has held a sufficient portion of the power of a shard. There is a threshold of power that must be crossed before an entity can be called a sliver, the returned don't hold enough of that power to qualify. It is not clear what a cognitive shadow actually is (there are competing cosmere philosophies on the subject), except that it is formed of an invested individual. Whether that is a copy, the spirit of them or something else entirely is debateable. The returned are specifically said to be cognitive shadows.

https://wob.coppermind.net/events/183-stormlight-three-update-6/#e3895

Quote

Khyrindor

You've said that Returned count as Cognitive shadows "stapled" back into their bodies, and that the Heralds are at least similar. Would I be right in assuming that Elantrians could be considered as Cognitive Shadows as well, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Brandon Sanderson

Elantrians are something different. They don't actually "die" to be created.

Recognize that the term cognitive shadow is an in-cosmere theory, which I'm not going to comment on as the creator of the setting. The theory is this:

Investiture seeks sapience. It looks for someone to control it or, in some instances, spontaneously adopts personality.

A mind (cognitive aspect of a person) can become infused with Investiture. This acts a little like minerals with petrified wood, replacing the mind and personality with investiture.

When the actual person dies, this investiture imprint remains behind. A copy of the soul, but not the actual soul.

Others disagree with this, and think the soul itself persists. Still others reject the theory in its entirety.

linkhyrule5

Huh.

... Kandra are almost literally stapled to their bodies with Hemalurgy - would they count as such, to the in-setting scholars?

Brandon Sanderson

No, they wouldn't. They are beings who have had their souls twisted by Hemalurgy--the soul never left, it's just been messed up. Someone else who has a soul stapled to a body with Hemalurgy would count though.

 

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33 minutes ago, Ookla the Hatter said:

I don't properly understand the difference between "cognitive shadows" who manifest in the physical realm and "slivers" who have returned to the physical realm post-mortem.

I agree that a sliver who has never died (e.g. Rashek) is distinct from a cognitive shadow; however, defining the Returned as resurrected slivers conflates the idea of a sliver with a cognitive shadow in my mind. Any help/clarification you have would be appreciated.

I used the wrong word, sorry about that. I meant that the returned are infinitesimal splinters of Endowment (we know that shards can willingly create their own splinters), and that Endowment uses these splinters to achieve either the unfinished goal of the Returned Soul or to achieve some larger goal of Endowment based on Endowments future sight (like the case of an infant returned liked Susebron).

My understanding of a sliver, which could be wrong, is that a sliver is a cognitive shadow that has held enough investiture to resist the pull to the great beyond, so I can see how my misuse of words was very confusing. I think the realmatic explanation for a sliver is that holding that amount of investiture causes an expansion of the vessels spirit web and anchors the spirit web to the object that the shards investiture has been invested in (so for Kelsier's case this would be the planet and people of Scadrial because that's where Preservation's investiture was invested). Vin and Elend both could have become Slivers if they wanted to, but they were content with what they had done in life so they went to the Great Beyond.This has probably been mentioned on another Thread, but I think with Kelsier moving through the Cognitive realm, it's highly likely that he will assemble the component splinters of Devotion, Ambition and Honor to become a new shard with a new intent, Survival.

33 minutes ago, Ookla the Hatter said:
17 hours ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

Basically, I think that the Fused are not the ancients of the Listeners, but rather Cognitive shadows of Odium's People (most likely the Alethi).

Very interesting, have an upvote for creative & critical thinking!

Thanks, one other possible area for Investigation is to look at which races on Roshar the Heralds match up with. The thinking here is that if we know the races of each of the Heralds, we would know which races were in opposition to the First Voidbringers because the Heralds themselves are really the only solid pieces of evidence we have about the Initial coalition to stop Odium. Through a process of elimination, we might be able to get closer to determining who the original people of Odium are. I keep going back and forth about whether the Shin or the Alethi were the original people of Odium, but I think if we know a herald is of a particular race, we could eliminate that race from the possible canidates of original Voidbringers.

Nale - Is obviously Azish, so they are elimintated

Taln - Is obviously Makabaki, so they are eliminated

Ishar - ??

Jezrien - Is he Alethi??

Shalash - Related to Jezrien but ??

Vedel - Reshi maybe ??

Chanarach - ??

Pailiah - ??

Battar - ??

Kalak - He is short, don't know if there are any other good descriptions of him ??

 

I think that OB has some deliberate obfuscation and some deliberate hints at the true answer for who the Original voidbringers were, one thought just digging a lit bit deeper is maybe the original Voidbringers were the Natanan people. There's the Interlude with Puuli where he is in his lighthouse waiting for the Voidbringers to sail from the Origin and he remembers this chillingly cryptic remark from his grandfather:

Quote

They'll come with Light in their pockets, Grandfather had said. They'll come to destroy, but you should watch for them anyway. Because they'll come from the Origin. The sailors lost in an infinite sea. You keep that fire high at night, Puuli. You burn it bright until the day they come.

They'll arrive when the night is darkest.

Surely that was now, with a new storm. Darkest nights. A tragedy.

And a sign.

You couple this with the fact that both Sigzil and Hoid told the story of the Natan queen Tsa switching places with the moon Mishim to beget children with the moon Nomon, and that this describes the strange birth of the Natan people. This sounds like an interplanetary exodus story wrapped in myth.

At the end of the day, still feels like we need more information, it's really like:

Spoiler

A riddle

Spoiler

wrapped in a mystery

Spoiler

inside an enigma

Spoiler

But that's the fun or RAFO

 

 

 

 

Edited by hoiditthroughthegrapevine
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9 minutes ago, hoiditthroughthegrapevine said:

My understanding of a sliver, which could be wrong, is that a sliver is a cognitive shadow that has held enough investiture to resist the pull to the great beyond, so I can see how my misuse of words was very confusing. I think the realmatic explanation for a sliver is that holding that amount of investiture causes an expansion of the vessels spirit web and anchors the spirit web to the object that the shards investiture has been invested in (so for Kelsier's case this would be the planet and people of Scadrial because that's where Preservation's investiture was invested). Vin and Elend both could have become Slivers if they wanted to, but they were content with what they had done in life so they went to the Great Beyond.This has probably been mentioned on another Thread, but I think with Kelsier moving through the Cognitive realm, it's highly likely that he will assemble the component splinters of Devotion, Ambition and Honor to become a new shard with a new intent, Survival.

 

A Sliver is any person that has held a (large portion) of a Shard and let it go. Basically, if you held enough to Ascend like Dalinar does in Oathbringer, you're a Sliver. So, this means that Rashek, Vin, Kelsier, and Dalinar (most likely) are what we call Slivers. Most Cognitive Shadows are not Slivers, most Cognitive Shadows are Splinters, which is a totally different thing. It just means that they have a very large junk of Investiture, Dalinar is a Sliver but not a Splinter. On the other hand, Kelsier is both Splinter and Sliver, technically, because he's a Cognitive Entity (CS) made of Investiture, and has held a Shard.

For a quick definition of CS we got this now:

Quote

Questioner [PENDING REVIEW]

Will we ever see protagonists ever come back? ...Once they're, like, dead and stuff?

Brandon Sanderson [PENDING REVIEW]

So, there's a couple rules for people coming back in the cosmere. If you could be revived by CPR, you could be saved. If you can't be revived by CPR, only a direct infusion of Investiture immediately to the soul will turn you into a Cognitive Shadow. Those are your two kind of outs. I'll leave it at that for you, and you can see where it goes from there.

Source: WoB

While it's true that CS are, according to the in-verse definition, basically petrified Investiture, I think this term is actually being used for two related but different phenomenon in the cosmere due to a certain bias that's common among scientists [arcanists] towards things like ghosts and the supernatural (this doesn't mean they're all atheists, just that they're more prone to be skeptical). Things like the Emperor's Soul (Ashravan's copy), the Shadows in Silence, and the Returned (they're more of a mix, though), fit the in-verse definition quite well. Ashravan's copy is indeed a Forgery made of Investiture using the real Ashravan's Connections. The Shadows could be something like the Spiritual Webs of people thrusts into the Physical Realm where they decay like they normally do in the Spiritual Realm after a person dies, but are doing this process wrong and on a different plane. The Returned are like Endowment-created Lifeless (which, I think, are also technically Cognitive Shadows, just very poor ones) given different Commands based on their given names (Lightsong, Warbreaker, etc), but do not remember their past lives while still possessing their old abilities (much like manmade Lifeless, but far more sentient). Then there are other Cognitive Shadows that don't really fit into this idea as well. I think these include the Fused, the Heralds, and Kelsier. The definition given by this newer WoB doesn't contradict the older one, but it allows, I think, for the argument that in some cases, a Shard infuses a person or group of people with Investiture, allowing them to exist after physical death, instead (I'm working on an actual theory about this, but it's not ready at this time...) xD

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