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Shardic Number Theory Revisited (Part Two - Meshing)


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Shardic Number Theory Revisited

Part Two - Shardic Numbers Mesh Together


Previously we talked about the traditional Shardic Number Theory - 'Every Shard has a number'. Today we've got a slightly different theory. In the Cosmere, there are instances on planets where Shardic Intents seem to interact with each other. On Scadrial, Preservation and Ruin made the Balance Magic of Feruchemy[1]. On Sel, the Dor is apparently both Dominion and Devotion together[2]. On Roshar, it seems like Honor, Cultivation, and Odium all interact in a variety of ways which aren't necessarily clear yet.
Could this not apply to numbers as well?

Each Shard has a number which is important to them, often Realmatically. These numbers interact with other numbers of Shards on the Shardworld to more fully describe the world.
Known Shards from Published Works
Scadrial - Preservation is eight, and Ruin is two. Harmony is sixteen.

Preservation has always been a shoe in for sixteen. And why not? In Hero of Ages, people suddenly start getting sick, Vin deduces that it is in fact a sign, and Sazed tells us that Preservation chose sixteen because it was an important number to the people on Scadrial. 


Wait, what?


Here's the kicker. The Mistborn series as it stands is four books. The first book, Final Empire, deals with Allomancy, and Vin and Kelsier fighting the Lord Ruler. The second book, Well of Ascension, deals with Feruchemy, and is all about the Well and stablizing the world after the collapse. The third book delves more into Hemalurgy, and about the confrontation between Ruin and Preservation. Alloy of Law is all about Wax, Wayne, and Harmony.


So sixteen is super important right? It's a sign everyone will recognize. Everyone in Alloy of Law does, Wax mentions it a bunch, it's all over the book. What about the first trilogy? Sixteen must be big there too, right? Nope. The only instance of sixteen in the first book is Vin's age. The second book has no instances of note at all. The third book, is it anywhere? Yes! It exists ONLY in the scene where Vin magically deduces sixteen is important. Fact is, if Vin didn't tell us, if that scene didn't happen, if Sazed didn't clear it up, we would never know anyone on Scadrial cared about sixteen at all until Alloy of Law.


What's your game Brandon? Are you daft. No, he's not daft. The simple fact is, sixteen is not Preservation's number. Eight is. Eight is all over the place in the Mistborn books, especially the first book. Eight metals, eight people on Kelsier's team, eight Mistings, eight months of planning for the attack on the Lord Ruler, eight Inquistors guarding the Lord Ruler, we're drowning in plot-centric eights.


Ruin, by contrast, we said might be eleven. Okay, eight and eleven don't really mean much. But eight and two do. Ruin's number is actually two. There's evidence as well - hemalurgic spikes work best in balanced pairs. Inquisitors have spikes in groups of twos, attached by the single neck spike. Four groups below and one above. Kandra blessings require two spikes. Koloss use paired hemalurgic spikes. When we get to the plot, plots where Ruin influences events are all in pairs - Vin and Kelsier, Vin and Zane. When we look at Preservation... eight guards, eight people per profession on Elend's council, eight people in the thief group, eight core people involved in running Elend's new empire.


This is why sixteen is a sign. Just like how Allomancy and Hemalurgy combine to form Feruchemy, Ruin and Preservation's numbers combine to make sixteen. This is why Harmony is sixteen, and why Alloy of Law is full of sixteens. The numbers meshed.

Sel - Devotion and Dominion, One, Three and Four

Sel is not clear at all, as we have very little information. Based on the information from the previous post, things are pretty inconclusive. There is some evidence for five (in the structure and layout of Elantris) but five is taken. But when meshing is taken into the picture, one becomes an option. It's difficult to examine the viability of one, because one is used so often in books. However, rather than multiply systems like we see on Scadrial, it could be said Devotion and Dominion added together to make one larger system, powered by the Dor (which is a combo of both[2]).


Thus, our most likely significant options, Three, Four and Five, can be balanced by one. One and Three would add up into Four, and One and Four would add into Five, nicely covering the significant numbers we can't reach. This is very tentative support, however. 


Roshar - Honour is Five, Cultivation is Six (possibly Four, Fourteen), and Odium is Nine

Honour is Five? You must be daft! Ten is ALL OVER the Stormlight Archives. Pretty much everywhere. How could Honour be five?


Well, there are a few things that are shifty about 'ten'. First off, ten is important in every Cosmere book. Yup. In Mistborn, there are ten great houses, ten original metals if you include the God Metals, ten Dominances on the planet, Vin was ten when she snapped, one is every ten thousand skaa became a Misting (whether or not they had noble blood), ten thousand people in the skaa rebellion, Mistwraiths are ten feet long... the list goes on. Nalthis has Ten Heightenings, ten thousand Lifeless, Lifeless skin is exactly ten shades lighter... even on Sel, the Reod was ten years ago. Even on Threnody, Silence had been hunting for ten years, and had first killed a Shade when she was ten. Weird.


But there is one thing, one thing we know that Honour does that is Five. The Five Ideals, the basis of the Knights Radiant, the foundation of the order that lives to be of Honour. Incidentally, there are also five types of discovered Fabrial at the moment. Another point, 500 years times 9 is the length since the last Desolation, see my Desolations theory for why that could be an important balance between Odium and Honour.


Cultivation, we don't have enough info for, as stated in the previous thread. Numeric meshing makes six seem likely. There are '30' magic systems on Roshar according to Brandon[3], and five goes into thirty six times. Four is also possible - we've seen four images of a woman on the purple binding chart in Way of Kings, and four and five make twenty, accounting for all powers on the two charts we've seen. Two is also a possibility: two times five makes ten, which might help Roshar's ten fetish.


Of other meshing numbers of interest, 5+6 * 9 == 99 Desolations. 5+11+14 (if Odium is eleven, which is unlikely but possible) would equal 30, and Greatshells have fourteen legs for Cultivation there (that one is a huge stretch). That's all I got.


Of course, Honour could still be ten, Cultivation one of her many options, and Odium nine. Then we've got the same problem of 'Too many offworld tens', and the meshing is a little less supported.


Nalthis - Endowment is Five

Endowment still looks like five. As there are no other Shards, no meshing can occur.


Non-canon Shards, and Shards from Unpublished Works
Mythwalker - Eight, Sixteen

Mythwalker Shard(s?) seem to have parallels to Mistborn, and the Well of Ascension. It's possible their numbers were similar, and repurposed when the book was cannibalized for Mistborn.

Bavadin - Same as before

One Shard on Taldain, no meshing.

 shshshshsh and shshshshsh - Three, ???

Due to the split that occurred here, three looks very nice in this theory, and fits EXCELLENTLY. The other number is a mystery.



Shardic Number Meshing is good in some parts, and bad in others. It makes Scadrial make a LOT of sense, and deals with a large majority of the inconsistencies found in the other theory (which I politely didn't mention last time so I could use them as evidence here). Sel stays about the same, but fits just slightly better with Meshing than without. Roshar is a mess. But Roshar was a mess before too. Single Shardworlds have no effect.
Coming up soon, the third and final segment going over some other options presenting solutions to the above.


Feruchemy is the "balance" between Ruin and Preservation. Would any combination of Shards create a "balance" magic, so to speak, or are only certain Shards compatible?
Feruchemy ended up being a balance system, because of how polar Ruin and Preservation were. Any world with at least two Shards will result in a similar phenomenon.

Like Roshar?

Like Roshar. There is something like that going on there.


Is the Dor made up of both Devotion and Dominion's power?

The Dor's nature, and why it acts as it does, is in part related to this question.


You have told us there are more than 30 magical systems on Roshar.


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Interesting. Nice job pulling a bunch of references.


Scadrial: I can think of a few things.

  • The Well refills every 1024 years. This is 2^10, or 4^5. You can't work 8 or 16 in here, which is pretty awkward.
  • We have a WoB that the "Hero of Ages" (Alendi, Vin) is chosen 16 years before the Well refills. (source)


Roshar: Very interesting. Overall, I'm not convinced by the evidence and lean more towards Honor being ten and Cultivation being five (even though Endowment already stole that one).

  • Argent said Brandon talked about Honor's purposes, of which there were ten. The Q&A there was paraphrased by him and has no sound, though, I think.
  • The Surgebinding chart is two groupings of five - take a look at the larkins or whatever beasts are on the background. Five orders are on each larkin.
  • As to Cultivation (or whoever the woman is) on the purple chart, I doubt we can use the four appearances of her on it as evidence of much of anything. Vorin people love their symmetry, and when your page is squared you're pretty limited.
Edited by Moogle
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Yep. Those are good points. I also don't necessarily feel the woman is Cultivation, but if she is, it could be important. As for symmetry, square pages didn't stop them from adding ten Heralds. The point about the Well of Ascension will come into play tomorrow, it's definitely a thing. As for the Hero of Ages, they're important to both Shards, so I'd say it is a neutral point to Meshing.

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