Koloss17

How does Adien know the step count to the docks?

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I reread mistborn yesterday and I was wondering 

how does Adien know the number of stops to the dock?

i know he knows the number of steps to Teod, but even he didn’t know the number of steps to the dock. After he said he said the numbers of steps to the docks, he does a double take. Does he just have crazy memory or did someone plant that information in him? Is the latter even possible?

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According to the annotations he was born Autistic though it was supposed to be a twist: he's naturally good with numbers and instinctively knows the distance in strides of any two locations.  Turns out he's actually a contender for the main protagonist of the next one:

 
Quote

 

ADIEN’S SECRET

I almost cut this entire twist from the book. I’ve never been happy with how it worked out, and I think there are–as I’ve mentioned–still a few too many surprises and twists at the end of the book. (Though, I have fixed it somewhat. It used to be that virtually EVERYONE had a secret past or personality trait that came out in these last four chapters.) Anyway, I don’t like the Adien twist–it lacks power since we don’t really care about him, and his character–the autistic–isn’t terribly original anyway.

I’ve left the Adien twist in for a single reason. However, it’s a bit of a spoiler, so I’ll put it invisible for those of you who haven’t read the ending yet. You can come back and read this later.

 
Spoiler

 

Anyway, Adien is my planned hero for book two. I like the concept of a healed autistic being the hero of the next book. And, since he’s so good with numbers, he would be incredibly powerful at AonDor. I think he’d be a compelling character to look at, so I left him in this book in case I wanted to use him in the next one.

Adien has been an Elantrian for some time. That’s why Kiin’s family knows so much about Elantrians. Read back to the earlier chapters, and you’ll see a scene or two where Sarene wonders why they know so much about Elantris and its occupants. They hid Adien’s transformation with makeup, and his autism kept him out of social circles anyway, so no one really paid much attention to the fact that he was never around.

 

 

https://www.brandonsanderson.com/annotation-elantris-60-3/

 

 

 

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FYI, multiple newer WoBs indicate that all of Adien's siblings would also be protagonists in the sequel. Fjordish fun for the whole family!

But yeah, he's really good with numbers, presumably has a fairly good idea what the physical layout of Teoras is and can extrapolate the step count to a fixed location like the docks well enough to put Raoden in the general vicinity. If you know how far it is from your location to something like the center of Teoras, know how large the city is and know where the docks are in relation to the center, figuring out the right step count to the docks themselves is just mathematics.

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still, it doesn't matter how good you are with numbers, if you don't have an adequate instrument for measurement. in fact, i doubt anyone would know exactly the difference between teod and arelon; with the technology that seems available at the time, they probably have at least a few kilometers of uncertainty. in our world we had a few hundred kilometers of uncertainty in our knowledge of the planet's diameter (yes, eratostenes got very close to the real value, but he got lucky that many sources of error canceled each other. other scholars devised equally ingenious methods to measure the earth radius, and they came up anywhere between 6000 and 7000 kilometers).

there is also the uncertainty in the step. ok, perhaps adien somehow knows exactly the average lenght of his step. still, anyone's step is not that regular. even using that single step that he demonstrated, it would need a precision down to no less than one tenth of a millimeter to give a reasonable accuracy over one million steps. just one millimeter wrong, and you end up one kilometer in the ocean, or away from the docks. that kind of accuracy is above what the leg muscles can achieve, and above what the eye can estimate.

so, "he's good with numbers" is really not a good explanation. could be helped by investiture, though.

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Some kind of Spiritual Realm shenanigans probably.

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20 hours ago, king of nowhere said:

still, it doesn't matter how good you are with numbers, if you don't have an adequate instrument for measurement. in fact, i doubt anyone would know exactly the difference between teod and arelon; with the technology that seems available at the time, they probably have at least a few kilometers of uncertainty. in our world we had a few hundred kilometers of uncertainty in our knowledge of the planet's diameter (yes, eratostenes got very close to the real value, but he got lucky that many sources of error canceled each other. other scholars devised equally ingenious methods to measure the earth radius, and they came up anywhere between 6000 and 7000 kilometers).

You could get a very close value with astronomical data.

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1 hour ago, Ookla the Prolific said:

You could get a very close value with astronomical data.

you need to know those astronomical data, though. you need to measure those data with as much precision as possible.

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I've heard real stories kinda like this. I heard about an autistic kid that was amazing with numbers. If you threw a huge handful of plastic forks on a table, he would instantly be able to accurately tell you how many there are. There are some people out there that are similar to Adien, but of course, his skills are stronger.

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1 hour ago, SwordNimiForPresident said:

He is part goose.

Honk

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Why was he confused that he knew the number though?

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Why was he confused that he knew the number though?

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3 hours ago, Koloss17 said:

Why was he confused that he knew the number though?

Double post hide one.  My explanation is that the mental process he went through during and prior to the reod must have been very confusing to him leaving him with a bunch of knowledge that he did not know what to do with.

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So I re-read the scene, and for help I will even type it out below for reference. What I suggest is just throwing some ideas out to see what sticks. So what do I believe the scene tells me:

 

1. Adien has been to the docks of Teod as a child.

2. Raoden knew Teod was four days sail, but did not know what that was in miles or feet. So theoretically since Adien has been to the docks before, he has made this four day sailing trip himself as a child. 

3. Adien states he felt his entire life has been a dream. He could remember it, but not interact with it

4. Adien uses his own stride as a metric. True strides can vary, but I assume he is basing his calculations on that specific step of his stride, and treating that specific stride as a constant to which to measure. which he does instruct Raoden to measure and then half it as the unit. 

5. Adien's surprise could be more in his own ability to be able to recalculate the distance just off of a childhood memory of where the docks were in relation, than the measurement itself. 

 

I will add the quote of the scene below in a moment

 

Raoden's hand fell slowly to his side. He was no geographer; he knew Teod was about four days' sail, but he had no practical knowledge of how many miles or feet that was. he had to work a frame of reference into Aon Tia, give it some sort of measurement, so that it knew how far to send him.

Galladon nodded, clapping Raoden on the shoulder. "Prepare a ship!" the Dula ordered to a group fo soldiers - the last remnants of the Elantris City Guard

It will be too late! Raoden thought with sorrow. What good is power, what good is Elantris, if I can't use it to protect the one I love?

"One million, fifty-four thousand, four hundred and forty-two" said a voice from behind Raoden.

Raoden turned in surprise. Adien stood a short distance away, his skin shining with a silvery Elantrian glow. His eyes betrayed none of the mental affliction that had burdened him since birth; instead they stared lucidly ahead.

"Adien" Radoen said "you're"

The young man, looking strikingly like Lukel now that he was healed, stepped forward "I...I feel like my entire life has been a dream, Raoden. I remember everything that happened. But I couldn't interact - I couldn't say anything. That's changed now, but one thing remains the same. My mind ... I've always been able to figuire numbers..."

"Footsteps" Raoden whispered

"One million, fifty-four thousand, four hundred and forty -two" Adien repeated "That is how many steps it is to Teoras. Measure my stride, and use half of that as your unit."

(here Ashe is upset saying to hurry, I am trying to cut down on how much I have to type)

"Adien!" Raoden said, drawing a line in his Aon that was half the length of the boy's stride.

"One million, fifty-four thousand, four hundred and one" Adien said "That will take you to the docks" He looked up, frowning "I... I'm not sure how I know that. I went there as a child once, but..."

It'll have to be enough, Raoden thought. he reached up and wrote a modifier beside his Aon, telling it to transport him one million, fifty-four thousand, four hundred and one lengths of the line.

Edited by Pathfinder
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19 hours ago, Koloss17 said:

Thank you so much @Pathfinder!

No problem. Though to be clear, not saying how I read it is correct. I could still be wrong. King of Nowhere mentioned the problems of measuring, and those could still very well apply. i was just throwing out some ideas, and the quote to help further the discussion. Happy to help. 

 

update for @Koloss17

So for the Braize of it, I searched Adien's name in Elantris and some interesting things came up

 

- when first introduced it is mentioned Adien is in his late teens. So according to google roughly 17 to 19

- Adien became an Elantrian or more accurately had the secret for 5 years. So he became an Elantrian from 12 to 14 years old

- Adien normally (at least while being an Elantrian) rattles off numbers under his breath

- When in conversation about Lukel studying in Svorden last year, Adien rattles off what the distance is in steps from their house to there

- When in conversation Elantris is mentioned by others, he rattles off what the distance is in steps from where they are to Elantris

- When marched by the Dakhor monks, and then when he voluntarily walked into the flames, he could be heard counting each step he took

 

So if Adien considers 12 to 14 as a "child" (which I understand is potentialy far fetched), then he could have been an elantrian when he traveled to Teod and measured the travel as they went. Another consideration is Adien was "normal" back then, and since his father (Kiin had visited Teod since then) and his brother travels, and deals with merchants, I could see Adien being interested in geography. He was always good with numbers. Just gotta ask where Daddy is and have Mommy or an older sibling point to where that is on the map, and there you go. Guess the step part is to allow it to be foreshadowed, and it is a past time of Adien. 

Edited by Pathfinder
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