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Hemalurgy

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Hemalurgy
Related to Ruin
Focus Metal
Prerequisites None
Type End-Negative
World Scadrial
Featured In Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive[1]
Hemalurgy is a power about which I wish I knew far less.
—The Hero of Ages[2]

Hemalurgy is one of the three prime manifestations of Investiture on Scadrial. The natives of that world consider it one of the three Metallic Arts. People who use Hemalurgic abilities are called Hemalurgists[3].

Mechanics[edit]

Hemalurgy is the transfer of attributes, such as Allomancy, Feruchemy, or innate human strength via Spiritweb theft and splicing. In the Physical Realm, a metallic spike is inserted into a bind point, such as the heart, in order to Hemalurgically charge it. The spike, now containing a fragment of stolen Spiritweb, is then ripped out and embedded in the recipient, stapling the ability directly into their spiritual DNA (sDNA). This causes wear and tear on the Spiritweb, creating "holes" through which Ruin or a sufficiently powerful Rioter or Soother can whisper to or even control a Hemalurgical subject. Hemalurgy is named for a quirk in bind point placement: due to the interaction between the Spiritual and Physical Realms, the spike must come in contact with moving blood in order to remove or add an attribute. Intent is important, but the way Hemalurgy interacts with the Cognitive Realm, if it does so at all, is unknown.

Since Hemalurgy involves the transfer of Investiture from one person to another, if the donor is killed, they will enter the Cognitive Realm in a damaged state and leave faster. Likewise, if a recipient dies, they will take longer to leave, since they are more invested.[4]

Creating a Hemalurgic charge requires physical injury, but death is not a requirement to charge the spike.[5] This would leave the donor in a similar spiritual condition to a Drab, but in a worse condition.[6][7] However, this is contradicted by a quote from Harmony, in The Hero of Ages:

Hemalurgy, it is called, because of the connection to blood. It is not a coincidence, I believe, that death is always involved in the transfer of powers via Hemalurgy. Marsh once described it as a “messy” process. Not the adjective I would have chosen. It’s not disturbing enough.
— Harmony[8]

After the spike pierces through the initial person and is Hemalurgically charged, the Law of Hemalurgic Decay states that the spike loses some of its potency.[9] The longer a spike is outside a body, the weaker it becomes. Thus, when the Steel Ministry created an Inquisitor, the spikes were outside of a person for as little time as possible. Additionally, spikes which are physically broken into several pieces will split the charge into the broken pieces, and more Hemalurgic power will be lost when spikes are split.[10]

Coating a spike with blood can reduce the Hemalurgic decay significantly similar to having it placed inside a body. It is unknown how much blood is necessary to make that effect happen or, for how long blood will maintain this effect before needing to be renewed with a fresh batch.[11]

It is currently thought not possible in-world for multiple attributes to be stolen from the same person.[12]

Hemalurgy can be used anywhere in the Cosmere[13], as long there is an Intent to create a Hemalurgic spike, and it has indeed shown up at least once on a different Shardworld, though in a subtle way.[14] Hemalurgy can also steal attributes from other forms of Investiture.[15] Hemalurgy can be used on animals[16], however it can't be used on plants.[17]

For some reason, Hemalurgic spikes don't cause infections.[18]

Hemalurgic Constructs[edit]

A koloss, one of the types of Hemalurgic constructs

Any Hemalurgy warps the Spiritweb, but physical change is required for a subject to be classified as a Hemalurgic Construct. Four types of Hemalugic Construct are known on Scadrial:

  • Steel Inquisitors are former humans with nine to eleven spikes, each charged with an Allomantic or Feruchemical power. Their characteristic eye-spikes grant them Allomantic iron and steel to "see" in lieu of eyes. A linchpin spike, placed in the lower back, holds their fraying spiritwebs together; removal results in death. Seekers are preferred candidates to become Inquisitors, due to their ability stacking with spikes granting Allomantic bronze, allowing Inquisitors to pierce Copperclouds.
  • Koloss are brutish monstrous beings, are created with four iron spikes, each charged with human strength. They lose their intelligence, but gain immense strength. They continue to grow until they die. After the Final Ascension Harmony changed them into a breeding race.[19]
  • Kandra are former Mistwraith given sapience by two spikes, both charged with the same human attribute. To the Kandra this is known as a Blessing. It is possible for a Kandra to have sapience with only one spike.[20]
  • Chimeras are former humans, and are created with a single spike of an unknown metal, charged with an unknown attribute.[citation needed] Their single spike makes them invulnerable to Harmony's control, which requires two. They are quadrupedal, and their features have been twisted in such a way that they now more closely resemble canines, in addition to having thicker skulls to resist modern firearms.[21][20][22]

The more spikes an entity has, the more their form and body can be changed.[23] However, this isn't always the case, such as chimeras are created with a single spike.[citation needed]

Hemalurgic Properties of Metals[edit]

Iron
Steals human strength
Steel
Steals Allomantic Physical Powers
Tin
Steals human senses
Pewter
Steals Feruchemical Physical powers
Zinc
Steals human emotional stability and fortitude
Brass
Steals Feruchemical Mental powers
Copper
Steals intelligence and memory[24]
Bronze
Steals Allomantic Mental powers
Aluminum
Steals Allomantic Enhancement powers[25]
Atium
Steals any attribute, whether it be Allomancy, Feruchemy, or human[26]
Unknown metal
A metal capable of stealing many attributes including Allomancy and Feruchemy. It is able to grant a Kandra Allomantic and Feruchemical abilities.

Bind Points[edit]

This page or section deals with theories or speculation.
Please read carefully and note that this is not necessarily canonical.
For all that it disgusts me, I cannot help but be impressed by Hemalurgy as an art. In Allomancy and Feruchemy, skill and subtlety come through the application of one's powers. The best Allomancer might not be the most powerful, but instead the one who can best manipulate the Pushes and Pulls of metals. The best Feruchemist is the one who is most capable of sorting the information in his copperminds, or best able to manipulate his weight with iron.


The art that is unique to Hemalurgy, however, is the knowledge of where to place the spikes.

—The Hero of Ages[27]

The points which can be used for Hemalurgy are known as "Bind points" and there are between 200 and 300 in the human body which can be pierced depending on the effect needed.[28]

Another important aspect of Hemalurgy is spike location. The spike must be placed in certain locations on the human body in order to steal a power or attribute, and then placed in another point on the recipient to tap into their Spiritweb. Most commonly attributes are stolen through the heart. If a spike is placed in the wrong location it can have unforeseen effects, such as killing the recipient or possibly not granting any power at all.

Bind Point Spike Types Hemalurgic Effect
Heart
  1. Bronze
  2. Pewter
  1. Allomantic Copper[29]
  2. Feruchemical Steel
Sternum Steel Allomantic Steel
Eyesocket Steel Unconfirmed, likely Allomantic Steel and Iron
Earlobe Bronze Allomantic Bronze
Between Ribs
  1. Steel
  2. Bronze
  1. Unconfirmed, likely Allomantic Pewter and Tin
  2. Allomantic Brass, Zinc, Copper, and Bronze
Shoulders
  1. Steel
  2. Iron, Tin, Zinc, & Copper
  1. Pewter Allomancy
  2. Kandra Blessings
Upper Arm Bronze Allomantic Bronze
Between Shoulder Blades Spike type varies. It is also known as a linchpin spike. Unknown; binds other spikes together to keep the receiver alive

Side Effects of Hemalurgy[edit]

When an Allomancer can sense Allomantic pulses through a coppercloud (known as piercing a coppercloud), it is most usually due to a Hemalurgic spike. It's simply a matter of Allomantic strength to pierce copperclouds, so if a Seeker has a spike charged with Allomantic bronze, that essentially makes them twice as powerful, allowing them to overpower a coppercloud.

Hemalurgy is a destructive art. It twists the body into something almost inhuman. This twisting is how Inquisitors survive with spikes through their eyes and other vital places, and explains the physical deformation of the Koloss. In the case of the Inquisitors, it is known that their heart is in a different place and their brain is shaped around their eyes' spikes. Extracting the spikes of an inquisitor at such important places would invert the transformation, causing his death.

Ruin constructed Hemalurgy with a flaw: each spike creates holes in the mind, making them easier to manipulate. Through powerful emotional Allomancy, one can Push or Pull on a spiked creature's emotions so hard that they literally come under the Allomancer's control. Indeed, the spikes in the koloss were what allowed the Lord Ruler to control them. Kandra also can be controlled in this way, but as Allomancers decreased in power, this knowledge was forgotten.

Other Uses[edit]

Allomancy and Feruchemy[edit]

If an Allomancer attempted to burn a Hemalurgic spike, the Allomancer's spiritual DNA would be spliced to that of the person's contained in the spike. The consequences of this are as of yet unknown.[30]

The same piece of metal can be Hemalurgically and Feruchemically charged at the same time.[31]

When a Feruchemical ability is stolen, the spike's recipient is able to access any metalminds created by the donor.[32] If that spike was split into two pieces and given to two different people, they would both be able to access their donor's metalminds but not those made by the other person, due to the recipients' own identities "muddying" the metalminds' keying.[33]

Elantrians[edit]

More could be taken from an Elantrian than most other beings.[34]

Awakening[edit]

It is possible for a spike to be awakened, but it would be more difficult than awakening metal without a Hemalurgic charge.[35]

It is theoretically possible to spike a Lifeless, if "there was enough of the soul left for the spike to take".[36]

Old Magic[edit]

It is possible to remove a boon and curse granted to someone else by the Nightwatcher. It is also possible, though much more difficult, to separate the blessing and curse.[37]

Notes[edit]

  1. Oathbringer signing London
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  2. The Hero of Ages chapter 35 epigraph #
  3. Annotation for The Hero of Ages chapter 79 #
  4. Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  5. A spike does require you to rip pieces of a soul from the victim, but that does not mean they must die.
    Theoryland - 10 January 2011#
  6. I remember reading you answer earlier that a person being used to charge a hemalurgic spike does not necessarily have to die. Would that victim be similar to a Drab from Warbreaker?
    Theoryland - 15 April 2013#
  7. It IS possible to spike someone without killing them. But they'd never be the same. It would be worse than being a drab.
    — Twitter - Feb 4th, 2016#
  8. The Hero of Ages chapter 13 #
  9. The Hero of Ages chapter 36 epigraph #
  10. Hemalurgic power can be split among multiple spikes and reforged
    Theoryland - 10 January 2011#
  11. Shadows of Self chapter 6 #
  12. General Signed Books 2018
    Arcanum - 2018-3-20# - old
  13. Can Hemalurgy be used to steal magic attributes from any Shardworld?
    Theoryland - may 2010#
  14. Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22# - old
  15. Hemalurgy crosses magic systems
    Theoryland - 23 September 2012#
  16. Would Hemalurgy work on animals?
    Theoryland - October 2008#
  17. FAQ, Would Hemalurgy work on plants or animals?
    Brandon's website faq - N/A#
  18. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13# - old
  19. Koloss reproduce naturally
    Theoryland - 6 December 2014#
  20. a b Shadows of Self chapter 21 #
  21. The Hemalurgic constructs Wax and TenSoon fought don't have an official name. He's been thinking of them as Hemalurgic chimaeras.
    17th Shard forums - Oct 13th 2015#
  22. Paalm's spikes are made of a metal unknown to Harmony
    Theoryland - Oct 12 2015#
  23. More spikes are capable of changing form and body more
    Theoryland - 15 December 2011#
  24. Mistborn Adventure Game chapter 10 #
  25. The Hero of Ages Ars Arcanum #
  26. Why does Atium steal temporal powers?
    Theoryland - Jul, 2009#
  27. The Hero of Ages chapter 43 epigraph #
  28. The Hero of Ages chapter 42 #
  29. The Hero of Ages chapter 34 #
  30. Burning a Hemalurgic spike would have the effect of splicing your spiritual DNA to that of the person's that is in the spike
    Theoryland - 10 January 2011#
  31. Can you both Feruchemically charge and Hemalurgically invest in the same piece of metal?
    Theoryland - 10 January 2011#
  32. If someone used Hemalurgy to take someone's Feruchemical abilities would they be able to use that person's personal metalminds?
    — Reddit - Dec 8th, 2015#
  33. Worldbuilders AMA
    Arcanum - 2015-12-07#
  34. Hemalurgic spikes would do very strange things to Elantrians.
    17th Shard forums - Oct 8th, 2015#
  35. Can a hemalurgic spike be awakened, and if so would it be able to use its powers?
    17th Shard forums - Oct 9th, 2015#
  36. London signing
    Arcanum - 2014-8-4# - old
  37. Idaho Falls signing
    Arcanum - 2018-07-21#
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