TheBlueShifting

Secrets and Theories of Iron and Steel - Letters from the Cosmere Part 18

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Welcome to the return of Letters from the Cosmere! After taking a year off to reflect on the series, I am starting off the new year with the return of the series that is near and dear to my heart. I hope you enjoy this new start was we explore Elsric’s thoughts on Iron and Steel.

This is also the announcement of the official Letters from the Cosmere YouTube channel! This will be an archive of all previous Letters and the home of new episodes from here on out. Rather than a constant blend of different genera on my main channel, this will be the home of all Cosmere content from now on. If you like what you see I hope you will stick around. I can’t wait to rear your thoughts and comments.

 

 

This episode’s transcript:

In the discussions of Allomancy it is no secret that the manipulations of Iron and Steel are the first thing to come to mind when casually considering the subject. Allomancers launching themselves through the air on invisible lines of power, the pulling of weapons from the hands of warriors before they can make a move, these are the hallmarks of the External Physical allomantic powers. Traditional means of security and martial strength quickly fade into near uselessness in the face of such powers making those who can push or pull on metals incredibly valuable and dangerous. Yet I feel there are many fundamental misunderstandings by the general population of Scadrial and the greater Cosmere in regards to the actual nature and potential of these powers. Within the obscure records of the most powerful allomancers in the histories, we can understand that coin shooting and bounding across the sky is but the shallowest of potentials for these such practitioners. 

It is important to remember that the outward pushing and pulling of metal is still heavily bound into the realm of natural physics. The investiture converts metal into invisible forces most relatable to magnetism but with a far greater scale and reach. This connection is unique in the natural world for the allomancer who burns iron or steel can perceive the metaphysical connection formed between their core and the metal around them. This would be like being able to observe a line of power holding a moon in orbit around a planet, and yet is often spoken of only in its application for allomancers. This metaphysical sight might be a natural development of survival instincts for without a means to know where they can push, allomancers would be hard pressed to control their pushes and pulls in any reasonable way. The force of the push or pull seems to be locked toward the center of mass of the individual. Yet I am skeptical that this is set in stone.

The great manipulators of metal have reported in personal journals or been quoted to say that they were not limited on applying these forces to the center of mass of the affected object. I supplant that if given enough time, masters of the art may be able to control the application of such forces on the source as well as the target metal. If this hypothesis is realized, the powers a majesty of learchers and coinshots can be further crafted into masterpieces. Imagine a trapezes artist who can control the swing, speed, and direction of every limb independently and at the same time. A Mistborn with this control could fall through a collapsing building and come out without a scratch. With such talents the art could become subtle, being able to move and adapt in quiet ways that teeter on the edge of my mind. Now imagine if we learned to infuse such precision into exterior sources, such as pulling metal toward a wall rather than ourselves, to grant a push to an ally, or to design machines and gadgets that operate without any physical interaction at all. With the power to expand beyond the body and the finite control of selection freedom and accuracy, the Cosmere itself would not be able to contain these forces.

Of all the powers of Allomancy, Iron and Steel complement each other to a shocking degree. Most metal pairings like Tin and Pewter, Aluminum and Duralumin, or Bendalloy and Cadmium work in opposition of each other and effectively cancel or overlap each other. Steel and Iron are not like this at all. Instead, their opposite natures complement and enhance each other. It is the distinction in targets that makes this possible, although a formattable mind and instinct are critical to such balance.

But the nature of the material bonds in relation to Iron and Steel is something else entirely. We have accounts that the lines that allow allomancers to see sources of metal can be refined into something greater. Inquisitors of the Final Empire reported seeing the world entirely made up of blue lines of Iron and steel at all times, allowing them far greater control over their pushes and pulls. As this sight gains greater potency the connection between allomancer and the wider Cosmere becomes more and more complex. Instead of only pure metals, they see the flakes of metal in solutions or hidden in the raw stones of the ground. Deeper still, there are stories of allomancers seeing metal in common everyday objects such as wood, water, or human bodies. I must wonder how deeply this goes? Is great power required to see this or could we eventually understand these secrets through reasoning and deduction? Many advancements in practical realmic theory derived from asking the right questions and expanding one’s understanding. But if this is true, then many if not all the objects we perceive in the Cosmere contain fundamental metal components, like alloys that blend from two unique metals into something completely new and unique from the parent components. Perhaps there is a great revelation here about the construction of the fundamental parts of the Cosmere. If studied, this could pave the way for understanding the physical and invested forces that govern all of Creation.

As with many things involving the sister allomantic powers of ferochemi, Iron and Steel only lead to the terrifying combinations. The Mobility of Iron and Steel in Allomancy is already potent. But when paired with Ferochemy the results tend to be… explosive and majestic. Yet the true terror is in compounding. An Iron Twinborn is capable of manipulating weight in the extreme. Couple this with the ability to pull against that weight and the possibilities are staggering. If one’s range could be enhanced, I could imagine a fully realized Iron born could literally destroy worlds by pulling in celestial bodies from the empty space directly into the surface. And the power to destroy worlds pales in comparison to the power of a Twin Steel Compounder. These creatures would likely not even count as human anymore. The power to tap nie-unlimited feruchemical speed would mean the allomancer would be able to exist out of phase of reality. A world too slow to notice that they do or how they do it. Where they walk, destruction would follow as the very air would burn and quake from their passing. With the ground nothing more than an inconvenience and such terrible speed, they would be bound by nothing short of time itself. Yes, the only thing these demons cannot outrun is the passage of time on their bodies. As they increase their speed, time warps with them. As their speed increased, beyond the limits of what Feruchemy could normally account for, their time would actually lengthen. As they moved, time itself counters by accelerating in response. Only a little at first, but eventually the Steel Child would watch the years slip by in proportion to their perceived experience. This is advanced physical theory but I expect that a Steel Twinborn to be surprised that time seemed to slow down and speed up at the same time as their passing ripples the world around them. But at these speeds, the very stones themselves would likely shatter and the world with them.

Should these extremes be achieved by a mortal we would likely not live long enough to understand what happened. While the risk is low at the moment, I fear for the future. Investiture often is limited in its strongest application by the lack of creative vision on the part of the wielder. Perhaps we should be happy with that fact, for I have walked upon the surface of worlds broken by men wielded Investiture before. We do not have so many homes to afford such terrible calamities to be evoked. By my, what a sight they would be to behold. Much like the Catacendre, the death of a planet can be as beautiful as it is terrible. And such things leave scars as deep as the worlds they wipe away.

Elsric

 

Thank you for your patience with this series and I hope you find it as thought-provoking as I did.

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