Carl

Why didn't Denth lose his Breath?

5 posts in this topic

I've been relistening to Warbreaker on Audible and I noticed something that seems odd.

Spoiler

After Vivena discovers Parlin's dead body in the cellar, Denth physically restrains her and tries to force her to give up her Breath. He tells her to repeat after him and says, "My life to yours, my Breath become yours."

Why didn't his Breath transfer to Vivena at this point? He was making physical contact and said the phrase.

 

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Intent. You have to mean for something to be an Awakening for it to work (which in this case includes visualizing the Command properly) rather than just saying the right word(s). Denth wasn't intending to perform that Command when he told Vivenna the words, he just wanted to convey to her what words she should say. This is illustrated later in the book when Vasher tells the priest's daughter a Command that will erase her memories and part of his instructions to her are to repeat the words he's about to tell her and mean them.

Quote

As they reached the mansions, Vasher paused on the street, setting the girl down. “Child,” he said. “I’m going to say some words to you. I want you to repeat them. Repeat them, and mean them.”

The girl regarded him absently, nodding slightly.

He glanced at Vivenna. “Back away.”

She opened her mouth to object, but thought better of it. She stepped back out of earshot. Fortunately, Vasher was near a lit streetlamp, so she could see him well. He spoke to the little girl, and she spoke back to him.

After opening the cage, Vivenna had taken the Breath back from the thread. She hadn’t stowed it somewhere else. And, with the extra awareness she had, she thought she saw something. The girl’s BioChromatic aura—the normal one that all people had—flickered just slightly.

It's the same situation as with Denth. Vasher lacks the Intent to perform an Awakening when he says the words, he's just repeating them so somebody else can say them and the reason he tells her to mean the words is so she has the Intent needed.

Intent is pretty fundamental to Cosmere magic and a lot of systems simply won't work properly or at all if there isn't that conscious element.

EDIT: Just saw this was your first post so, welcome to the Shard!

Edited by Weltall
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On 2/22/2020 at 2:19 AM, Weltall said:

Intent. You have to mean for something to be an Awakening for it to work (which in this case includes visualizing the Command properly) rather than just saying the right word(s). Denth wasn't intending to perform that Command when he told Vivenna the words, he just wanted to convey to her what words she should say. This is illustrated later in the book when Vasher tells the priest's daughter a Command that will erase her memories and part of his instructions to her are to repeat the words he's about to tell her and mean them.

This is a very interesting passage, because it fits in with his comment later to Denth while dueling with him, when he says that he could make Denth forget the dark things he's done, if Denth wanted him to. "I know the Commands."

I wondered if that meant that Vasher could perform a kind of Awakening-of-another-live-person to do the memory erasing, possibly requiring quite a bit of Breath; instead, on re-reading this particular passage with the traumatized little girl, it seems it's a Command that he knows and can teach another person with Breath to do to themselves, even the child who was unlikely to have any more than the one Breath she possessed from birth.

And from Vivenna's perception that the girl's BioChromatic aura "flickered just slightly", the Breath isn't even used up. It just kind of changes state?

This would be an altogether different kind of Awakening than we've seen in any other context.

And also leads one to wonder, how does Vasher know this (or these) Command(s), if he hasn't tried using them already... On himself?

And presumably one can undo it with the right Command, i.e., "Remember that which was forgotten" or somesuch?

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40 minutes ago, robardin said:

This is a very interesting passage, because it fits in with his comment later to Denth while dueling with him, when he says that he could make Denth forget the dark things he's done, if Denth wanted him to. "I know the Commands."

I wondered if that meant that Vasher could perform a kind of Awakening-of-another-live-person to do the memory erasing, possibly requiring quite a bit of Breath; instead, on re-reading this particular passage with the traumatized little girl, it seems it's a Command that he knows and can teach another person with Breath to do to themselves, even the child who was unlikely to have any more than the one Breath she possessed from birth.

And from Vivenna's perception that the girl's BioChromatic aura "flickered just slightly", the Breath isn't even used up. It just kind of changes state?

This would be an altogether different kind of Awakening than we've seen in any other context.

And also leads one to wonder, how does Vasher know this (or these) Command(s), if he hasn't tried using them already... On himself?

And presumably one can undo it with the right Command, i.e., "Remember that which was forgotten" or somesuch?

I wouldnt really call it "awakening". The breath is keyed to your Identity so when you give it a Command on yourself Its presumably messing with your Identity to do what you commanded. 

I dont think you can do it to someone else because you'd have to use your own breath which is keyed to you.

The girls aura flickered probably because she was taking her breath, giving it a command and then investing back in herself. Since the breath is already in her it just moved around in her taking the command and applying it to her. Which is what caused the "flicker"

And yes Vasher has used it on himself. 

Snote85

Did Vasher do to himself something similar to what Cultivation did to Dalinar, with his memory? I know in Warbreaker he says he knew the commands to take Denth's memories of things they'd done in the past away. Is there a chance he is not "whole" in his ability to recall his past?

Brandon Sanderson

It's safe to say that Vasher's memory has a few holes.

General Reddit 2017 (Dec. 10, 2017)

My best guess is that Vasher used this technique to forgot some things about Shashara

Edited by Eternal Khol
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9 hours ago, Eternal Khol said:

I wouldnt really call it "awakening". The breath is keyed to your identity so when you give it a command on yourself Its presumably messing with your identity to do what you commanded. 

And yes Vasher has used it on himself. 

Snote85

Did Vasher do to himself something similar to what Cultivation did to Dalinar, with his memory? I know in Warbreaker he says he knew the commands to take Denth's memories of things they'd done in the past away. Is there a chance he is not "whole" in his ability to recall his past?

Brandon Sanderson

It's safe to say that Vasher's memory has a few holes.

General Reddit 2017 (Dec. 10, 2017)

That's cool that there's a WoB about that...

Yeah I know it's not "Awakening" per se, but it's got to be Breath-based magic, in that I doubt someone holding Stormlight could erase their own memories just by having the right Intent and saying the right Command words. All the other Breath-based magic that isn't simply an inherent effect of having Breath (Heightenings) have been to Awaken things, and involve the transference of Breath, so it's very interesting that essentially, all Nalthians (with the minimal training that one could give to an upset child on the spot) have the inborn ability, thanks to their one Breath from Devotion, to alter or erase their own memories at will.

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