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Kandra

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Kandra
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World Scadrial
Universe Cosmere
Featured In Mistborn
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The kandra are a species on Scadrial first created by the Lord Ruler during his Ascension. They have the ability to reshape their bodies and most are well-practiced at imitation, making them extremely sought-after as spies.

Physiology[edit]

Appearance and Anatomy[edit]

Physically, the kandra resemble mistwraiths in their natural form. Unlike the mistwraiths, they are sentient, courtesy of two Hemalurgic spikes implanted in them. While mistwraiths are simply gelatinous conglomerates of various creatures, kandra can actually absorb a body and take on all of its characteristics.

When impersonating a specific person, a kandra will use that person's bones and reshape their body to look exactly like that person's. When in the Homeland, most kandra use a True Body, which is a set of false bones that are crafted by a kandra artisan. Some True Body forms are quartz, and kandra show off their True Bodies by creating translucent skin that allows the stone to sparkle faintly in the light.[1] A True Body does not have to be human-shaped, but most are. Some Kandra build bodies for combat purposes, these bodies can be made of metal to be stronger and heavier and can have sharp bones to use as knives.[2] Combined with the ability to heal and create stronger muscles, kandra can be extremely powerful warriors though not all of them want to be one.

The members of the First Generation do not wear True Bodies, as the kandra did not originally know how to make them. Instead, they wear their own bones from before they became kandra.

Kandra form an organ which functions as a brain to think. It doesn't need to be inside the head, and can be placed at a safer place in the kandra's body.[3]

Creation[edit]

While the First Generation were created directly by the Lord Ruler, the First Generation creates all subsequent generations of kandra through "Blessings," a pair of Hemalurgic spikes charged with a human physical or mental attribute. The Lord Ruler provides Hemalurgic metal spikes to the kandra each century, in a number requested, and the kandra use these spikes to convert mistwraiths into full kandra. One Blessing converts a mistwraith into a sentient kandra. Kandra take longer to reach maturity than a human normally would take.[4] During the years of the Lord Ruler's reign, there are a total of eleven Generations, with a Twelfth Generation unlikely, as the Father is dead. Without the Lord Ruler, the kandra cannot create new Blessings or new kandra.

Death[edit]

Kandra do not appear to die of natural causes, but they are not immortal, just incredibly longed lived.[5] One of the kandra secrets references the unknown acid mixture. Being bathed in acid can effectively kill a kandra, so this is one way how misbehaved kandra were executed in kandra homeland during the Final Empire with the other way being starvation. Because of their ability to change shape, most damage to a kandra is of no consequence; they do feel normal physical pain as a result of trauma, though MeLaan has said that kandra have the ability to turn nerves off and thus experience no pain.[6] This leads to kandra guards mostly using hammers to break bones, thus hindering movement.

A kandra digesting another kandra can perform the killing, but it is unknown if the two kandra will fight and try to eat each other during the process. After the Catacendre, the kandra develop a way to take their own lives at will. Also developed by the kandra post-catacendre is a liquid which upon injection will disable kandra and make them transparent, but will not make them unconscious. Though it does not kill the kandra, further pulling out their spike will turn them back to mistwraith.[7] Destroying the spikes with explosion or by other means can turn them back into mistwraith, practically killing them.[8]

Abilities[edit]

Kandra have the ability to shapeshift. However, in most cases, they only have the ability to change into and take the appearance of any creature they have digested. Because of this, in order for a kandra to appear as anyone in particular, the subject must be dead and be digested. The shapeshifting process may take anything from several hours or even days to as little as a few seconds.[9] The digestion is necessary also because kandra cannot create hair, fur or bones, so these parts they must get from the digested victims, and be put into place one by one.

Especially skilled kandra are able to make their own adjustments to the shape of the creature they are taking. Although mimicking an existing unique individual or creature is most common, the most skilled kandra can use just a skull or set of bones to build a working structure to gain the ability to move around freely and communicate.

Being without bones will make kandra unable to move fast, speak or form any proper shape, but doesn't effect their mental ability.[10]

By reforming their body inside the mechanism, they can crack simple locks.[11]

Kandra are also known as unmatched actors. Before assuming the role of a certain person, a kandra will spend a significant amount of time observing the individual in order to learn their mannerisms, history, and relationships. As a result, it is almost impossible to tell a kandra apart from the actual individual they are impersonating.

In combat, Kandra can form powerful muscles and heal most wounds immediately, utilizing their ability to shapeshift. By creating a special True Body for this purpose, they can gain many advantages such as metal bones, hidden weapons, etc. Breaking bones can slow them greatly.

Kandra are capable of assuming smaller shapes, but losing too much mass will cause a kandra to be unable to maintain their intelligence.[12]

Blessings[edit]

There are over four different blessings available to make a kandra. All grant mistwraiths sentience and convert them into kandra, but they also have additional benefits.[13] The blessing comes from the effect that the Hemalurgic spike steals.[14]

Blessing of Awareness:

A pair of tin spikes that grant a kandra increased senses, similar to Allomantically burning tin.[13][15][14]

Blessing of Potency:

A pair of iron spikes that give a kandra more strength, like that of an Allomancer burning pewter.[13][15][14] It is not exactly the same effect, however; it does not grant the limitless energy received from burning pewter.

Blessing of Presence:

A pair of copper spikes that grant increased mental capability.[13][15][14] This capability includes the ability to focus despite physical discomfort or distraction, exceptionally sharp memory, resistance to madness, and the inability to lapse into unconsciousness due to shock.[10][16] This Blessing also counters at least some of the mental weakness that is caused by Hemalurgy; kandra with this Blessing are much less vulnerable to being controlled by Ruin than others.[17]

Blessing of Stability:

A pair of zinc spikes that endows its receiver with emotional fortitude, rendering them much more resistant to control by emotional Allomancy.[13][15][14] This Blessing was rarely used.[18]

A kandra can survive with only one spike, but they lose some of their sanity while doing so.[8] A kandra with one spike cannot be controlled by Ruin or Harmony.[19]

There are more possible Blessings than the four already known.[20] Allomancy can be granted to kandra via Hemalurgy, as shown when Bleeder uses the Allomantic abilities of a Coinshot, but, in-universe, only Harmony (and probably Bleeder) knows the process for doing so.[21] It is also known that kandra can gain Allomancy by burning Lerasium.[22]

History[edit]

The First Generation of kandra were originally Rashek's fellow Terris packmen. During his ascension, Rashek realized that a person with both Allomancy and Feruchemy would pose a serious threat to the stability of the Final Empire, so he spoke directly to the minds of his closest friends, making a deal with them to trade their Feruchemy for immortality. All living Feruchemists are transformed into mistwraiths, but he gave Hemalurgic spikes to the packmen, transforming them into the First Generation.[23] They were to become his spies and informants.

Kandra were the third and last of Rashek's creations. They were created with two Hemalurgic spikes and thus are less susceptible to the influence of Ruin or other Shards. The First Generation of kandra, the Lord Ruler's friends, created a legal code which was later approved by the Lord Ruler. This code is known as the First Contract. The Contract is the first thing a kandra learns upon gaining sentience.[24] All future generations of kandra are created by the first by granting blessings in the form of Hemalurgic spikes to mistwraiths.

Right before the Catacendre, the majority kandra executed the Resolution. The First Generation ordered every kandra to remove their blessings in an effort to prevent Ruin from influencing them and regaining his body. They are eventually able to replace their spikes, though it is unlikely that there will be any new kandra, as Hemalurgy is not widely known.[25] Since Harmony has absorbed Ruin into himself, kandra are now under his direct control. Kandra that go without their spikes for long periods of time lose significant portions of their memories.[26][27]

Kandra still exist after the Ascension but now serve Harmony as his agents,[19] using their abilities to blend in with those around them to perform tasks given by Harmony. They are known by Elendel society due to their mention in the Words of Founding, but their mention is reportedly vague.[19] They are often referred to as "Faceless Immortals", and reactions to them are mixed between reverence[28] and skepticism as an urban legend.[29] Some have traveled off Scadrial.[30][31]

After Ruin nearly takes control over the kandra, the surviving kandra discover a way to end their own lives at will to spare themselves should the situation require it.[32] Many of the second generation kandra end their own lives using this method.[33] By Mistborn Era 2, kandra also know of a way to uncover members of their own kind in disguise, using a special substance injected into the body that causes a kandra to "droop" briefly enough to disable it temporarily. Unfortunately, the injection is fatal to humans.[28]

Kandra still seem reluctant to cause harm and kill humans, although this has become considerably more lax.[34]

Although the Kandra Homeland has long been abandoned and revered as a holy place, Kandra still get together, albeit under a human guise and in human society.[33]

Culture[edit]

Kandra have spent ten centuries enslaved to humankind, serving the Contracts in an effort to keep themselves safe. Most kandra hate humans for their situation, but, ironically, most kandra True Bodies are human-shaped, with two arms, two legs, and a face, even while they curse humankind for keeping them enslaved.[1]

There are other jobs for kandra to perform in the Homeland, such as the teaching and instruction of young kandra, which is considered a prestigious job among kandra.[35]

They refer to the Lord Ruler as the Father, because he is responsible for their creation. After his death, TenSoon advocates that Vin should be considered the Mother, because she is the one who slays the Lord Ruler. It is unknown if other kandra accept this title for her or not.

The First Generation typically only communicates with the Second Generation. All subsequent generations are then created by the Firsts, every hundred years. During the approximate thousand years of the Lord Ruler's reign, there have been eleven Generations, with a twelfth Generation unlikely, as the Father is dead. In general, all decisions about law and order are communicated to the lower generations by the Second Generation, acting as something like government officials. TenSoon suspects that the Second Generation takes advantage of being the only ones who the First Generation would speak to by making many policies on their own, then telling the younger kandra that it is the decision of the First Generation.

Contracts[edit]

In the early days of the Final Empire, the kandra attempted to remain secret and blend into human society. However humans feared their abilities, calling them monsters, and began using Allomancy to hunt them down, by way of the Flaw, and kill them. After a few centuries, the kandra were almost extinct.[36][24] Out of desperation, the kandra agreed to become servants to humans, never leaving the Homeland unless out on a Contract.[37]

As a result of this history, kandra are secretive about their culture and have an intense loathing for humans, which is only made worse by the poor treatment they often recieve from their masters. Despite this, they adhere to their Contracts without question, and are often used as spies by the nobility. Fulfilling Contracts is their way of "paying for their freedom" to prevent humans from seeking ways to enslave them in other ways and finding out about their weakness to Allomancy. The terms of a Contract always prohibit a kandra from killing a human, changing bodies without permission, and revealing kandra secrets, and require the kandra to return to the Homeland if they break the terms of the Contract or if their master dies before the Contract expires.

On top of that, the fulfilling of Contracts also has another purpose. A Contract must be payed for in atium, which is then brought to the Homeland where it is stockpiled in a metal vault known as the Trust. They do this because atium is condensed power of Ruin, and by storing it in a place where Ruin has no influence they deny him access to a part of his power.

All Contracts are modelled on the First Contract.[24] During the time of the Final Empire, Contracts were arranged by leaving a message at a designated place in Luthadel. A kandra Contracted to the Lord Ruler would then go to the client and act as an intermediary while the papers were signed and payment collected. The kandra—a member of the Fifth Generation during the later days of the Final Empire—would then return to the kandra Homeland where a kandra would be assigned to the Contract.[38] The punishment for a kandra who broke a Contract is death.[10] The details of the Contract were never disclosed to non-kandra, not even the Lord Ruler—though the kandra likely would have shared them with him if he asked.[38]

Allegiance[edit]

They were of Preservation all along.

Harmony on the Kandra

The kandra initially believe that they are of Preservation, while the koloss, humans and Inquisitors are of Ruin. This is despite the fact that, like other Hemalurgically-created races, they have Hemalurgic spikes, which are of Ruin. The Lord Ruler creates the kandra to be his spies, and the noble class believe them to be spies for the new government. They often use the kandra as such, but Rashek's ultimate plan is for them to be double agents against Ruin. According to the plan, Ruin would believe that he could take control of the kandra whenever he wanted, as they are planted with Hemalurgic spikes. However, due to a clause in the First Contract, as well as the Trust and the Resolution, instead of being used by Ruin, they would pull their spikes free when and if Ruin were to try to seize control of them. Just prior to the Battle of Hathsin, this plan comes to fruition exactly as the Lord Ruler had planned, disrupting Ruin's efforts and ultimately leading to his demise, demonstrating that the kandra's true allegiance has always lain with Preservation.

Notable Kandra[edit]

Trivia[edit]

  • It is theoretically possible for a kandra to become a Knight Radiant, if they manage to convince a spren to bond with them.[39]
  • The Blessing of Stability is rarely used because Brandon added it late in the development of The Hero of Ages, after realizing that the structure of the powers of metals in Hemalurgy required a second mental Blessing.[18]

Notes[edit]

  1. a b The Hero of Ages chapter 7 #
  2. The Bands of Mourning chapter 16 #
  3. /r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-01-17#
  4. Skyward Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2018-11-16#
  5. Read For Pixels 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-09-01#
  6. The Bands of Mourning chapter 24 #
  7. The Bands of Mourning chapter 29 #
  8. a b The Bands of Mourning chapter 3 #
  9. Shadows of Self chapter 21 #
  10. a b c The Hero of Ages chapter 2 #
  11. The Bands of Mourning chapter 19 #
  12. Calamity Houston signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-24#
  13. a b c d e The Hero of Ages chapter 38 epigraph#
  14. a b c d e Skyward release party
    Arcanum - 2018-11-06#
  15. a b c d Hemalurgy Table
  16. The Hero of Ages chapter 24 #
  17. Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
    Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
  18. a b The Hero of Ages Annotations
    Arcanum - 2009-11-17#
  19. a b c Shadows of Self chapter 7 #
  20. 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-26#
  21. 17th Shard Forum Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-09-27#
  22. Goodreads: Ask the Author Q&A
    Arcanum - 2014-08-13#
  23. The Hero of Ages chapter 62 #
  24. a b c The Hero of Ages chapter 11 #
  25. Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
    Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
  26. /r/Fantasy_Bookclub Alloy of Law Q&A
    Arcanum - 2012-01-20#
  27. Hero of Ages Q&A - Time Waster's Guide
    Arcanum - 2008-10-15#
  28. a b Shadows of Self chapter 13 #
  29. Shadows of Self chapter 12 #
  30. Arcanum Unbounded signing Seattle
    Arcanum - 2016-12-01#
  31. JordanCon 2014
    Arcanum - 2014-04-11#
  32. Shadows of Self chapter 19 #
  33. a b Shadows of Self chapter 20 #
  34. Shadows of Self chapter 11 #
  35. The Hero of Ages Annotations
    Arcanum - 2009-07-16#
  36. The Well of Ascension chapter 22 #
  37. The Well of Ascension chapter 40 #
  38. a b The Hero of Ages Annotations
    Arcanum - 2010-02-09#
  39. Warsaw signing
    Arcanum - 2017-03-18#
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