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Lock and Key Theory

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In this topic I am not going to speculate on the names of the dawnshards, but rather on what a dawnshard is. Obviously, we know that a dawnshard is a Command. But what a command is, and how dawnshards differ from commands given in Warbreaker, for example, is another question. This is my theory.

Firstly, four relevant points:

1.      Commands can shape investiture, whether it be shaping breaths (in the example of awakenings) or whether it be shaping people's memories and spirit webs (as Vashar reveals that he knows a command that can erase a person’s memories).

2.      Commands seem to contain some innate investiture. When Rysn becomes, or takes up, the dawnshard, she seems to experience something akin to a heightening. So, clearly, they must contain, or be made of, investiture.

3.      You do not hold a dawnshard, or act as a vessel for it, you become it. In the cosmere, a person's identity is contained in their spirit web, which exists in the Spiritual Realm, and is made of investiture. We also know that when Rysn 'becomes' the dawnshard, her physical appearance does not alter in any way, and largely, her thought process seems to be the same, therefore, when you 'become' a dawnshard, your spirit web must be altered to contain the Command- to contain the dawnshard.

4.      For someone to bond to a spren, they must have undergone certain trauma to create a crack in their spirit web for the bond to form in. In other words, their spirit webs, which are networks or patterns of investiture, will not always fit together, and to create the desired effect, each pattern must have gaps, or be of a specific shape, to fit together properly. 

Here is where it all comes together. I think that dawnshards, or perhaps commands in general, can be viewed like spiritwebs, being patterns of investiture. Though, differently from spiritwebs, I think that commands can be seen as specific wave patterns of investiture that a person has the capability of sending out. 

If a command is the right shape and pattern, it can 'unlock' certain things, or perhaps attach itself to a person’s or object’s spiritweb (point 4). The command is a key, and spirit webs are locks, and whether you unlock the lock, or just place they key in the lock and leave it there, only certain keys will fit in certain key holes to create the effect that you want. In this way, commands can shape in investiture (point 1), but only specific commands can perform specific functions. In other words, the command ‘grab things’ and ‘untie’ (two examples from Warbreaker) perform different functions, because they are different patterns of investiture, and therefore will be the ‘keys’ for different parts of an objects spirit web, causing it to change in different ways.

Commands therefore also must be made of, and therefore contain, some innate investiture (point 2), as they are patterns of investiture, just as spirit webs are. Therefore, when Rysn becomes the dawnshard, her identity changes because her spirit web is being changed to become the pattern of the dawnshard (point 3).

So, I have given my theory of what commands are, but how do commands and dawnshards differ. Well, I believe that while normal commands can act as keys, dawnshards can be seen as skeleton keys, having the potential to open far more doors, and enact far more effects, that the average command. Therefore they can be dangerous because, if you have investiture to spare (breaths, stormlight) you can use that investiture to carry the ‘pattern’ of the dawnshard to produce whatever effect you want encompassed under its nature (such as Change).

This was long winded and messy, but hopefully understandable. Tell me what you think 


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