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Connection between people killed by mists

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So in the annotation to Mistborn: Well of Ascension chapter 15 ( Brandon mentions that "there’s a connection between the two people you’ve heard described specifically as dying from the mists".

I've tried rereading the sections where the people were killed by mists but I just couldn't figure out the connection. Anyone know what it is? Is it that the people dying are relatives, meaning they have similar allomantic strength? Or is it something else?


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I suspect it's that the people dying tend to be skaa, because we know the mists were trying to snap as many people as possible as part of Preservation's 'sign' and the nobility generally weren't affected because they already went through snapping whether it succeeded in bringing out allomantic powers or not. And the process of getting the people who are too weak to naturally snap can be fatal, so it's going to disproportionately kill skaa who not only are more likely to be targeted by the mists but are likely to have weaker allomantic sDNA and hence be more vulnerable to the mistsickness killing them while trying to bring out that allomantic potential.


Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Seventy

The Reason for the Mistsickness

So, it finally comes out. I wonder at this numbers plot, as I think many readers will glaze over it and ignore it. I think others will read into it and figure out what it means very quickly, then feel that the reveal here isn't much of a revelation. Hopefully I'll get a majority in the middle who read the clues, don't know what they mean, but are happily surprised when it comes together. That's a difficult line to walk sometimes.

What is going on here is that the mists are awakening the Allomantic potential inside of people. It's very rough on a person for that to come out, and can cause death. Preservation set this all up before he gave his consciousness to imprison Ruin, so it's not a perfect system. It's like a machine left behind by its creator. The catalyst is the return of the power to the Well of Ascension. As soon as that power becomes full, it sets the mists to begin Snapping those who have the potential for Allomancy buried within them.

Many of these people won't be very strong Allomancers. Their abilities were buried too deeply to have come out without the mists' intervention. Others will have a more typical level of power; they might have Snapped earlier, had they gone through enough anguish to bring the power out.

My idea on this is that Allomantic potential is a little like a supersaturated solution. You can suspend a great deal of something like sugar in a liquid when it is hot, then cool it down and the sugar remains suspended. Drop one bit of sugar in there as a catalyst, however, and the rest will fall out as a precipitate.

Allomancy is the same. It's in there, but it takes a reaction—in this case, physical anguish—to trigger it and bring it out. That's because the Allomantic power comes from the extra bit of Preservation inside of humans, that same extra bit that gives us free will. This bit is trapped between the opposing forces of Preservation and Ruin, and to come out and allow it the power to access metals and draw forth energy, it needs to fight its way through the piece of Ruin that is also there inside.

As has been established, Ruin's control over creatures—and, indeed, an Allomancer's control over them—grows weaker when that creature is going through some extreme emotions. (Like the koloss blood frenzy.) This has to do with the relationship between the Cognitive Realm, the Physical Realm, and the Spiritual Realm—of which I don't have time to speak right now.

Suffice it to say that there are people who have Snapped because of intense joy or other emotions. It just doesn't happen as frequently and is more difficult to control.

The Hero of Ages Annotations (March 30, 2010)


Brandon Sanderson

The Sliding Scale of Allomantic Potential

Noblemen, despite what Spook says in this chapter, are not immune to the mistsickness. The rumor Spook is referencing does have merit, however. You see, since the mists are Snapping people and awakening the Allomantic potential within them, it will affect far fewer noblemen than skaa. Why? Because a lot of the noblemen have already Snapped. They were beaten as children to bring out the powers.

However, that won't stop all of them from being affected by the mistsickness, because the mistsickness is also awakening Allomantic potential that would otherwise be too subtle to be brought out. Pretend there's a sliding scale of Allomantic potential. 100% means you're an Allomancer—in this series, only two people have hit 100%—Vin and Elend. Buried within a lot of people, however, is enough of a touch of Preservation's power to hit, say, 50% on the relative scale of Allomantic power. These people, when beaten and made to pass through something traumatic, awaken to their Allomantic abilities.

There are a lot of people out there, however, with something more like 20% to 30%. These are the people the mists are Snapping—since the mists are, themselves, partially the power of Preservation, they can touch people and increase their Allomantic potential slightly and then bring it to the forefront.

The Hero of Ages Annotations (Dec. 29, 2009)


Edited by Weltall

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