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|Abilities||Cognitive Shadow, Shardbearer (formerly)|
|Titles||Herald of the Almighty, Patron of the Willshapers, the High Judge, the Holy One|
|Aliases||Kelek, Kellai, Stormfather, Restares , Kelek'Elin|
|Groups||Sons of Honor|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”I am a blur. A smear on the page. A gaunt stretch of ink, made all the more insubstantial with each passing day.—Kalak
Kalak, also known as Kelek in Vorinism, is one of the ten Heralds of the Almighty on Roshar, and the patron of the Order of Willshapers. Like all Heralds but Taln, he abandoned the Oathpact at Aharietiam. Currently, he lives in the honorspren city of Lasting Integrity, acting as their High Judge. He also leads the Sons of Honor under the name Restares.
Appearance and Personality
”It's so hard to decide. To do anything really…—Kelek
Though not from Alethkar, Kalak appears Alethi. He's a short man, with thinning, wispy hair, a round face, and a small nose. When he wishes to appear serious, he puts on a set of violet robes; ordinarily, however, he dresses more casually. Vorin artwork tends to present him as a young man, though in person, he looks more like a city administrator.
Back in the early Desolations, he was known for being decisive and authoritative, and he would often be approached whenever problems appeared for counsel. However, as Desolations wore him down, he became terrified of dying and returning to Braize to be tortured. By Aharietiam, he has vivid, painful memories of the torture that sometimes cause him to briefly lose his grip on reality. When given the choice to abandon the Oathpact, he's aware of and terrified of the consequences. However, by this point his fear of torture far outweighs his sense of duty.
By the True Desolation, this develops into paranoid and erratic behavior. Kalak vacillates often, and finds making even the simplest decisions difficult. He often follows what the crowd wants instead of his own internal moral compass. He seems to have trouble focusing, or at least paying attention to time, even when others are waiting for him. He believes humans are dangerous; he's unsettled by their presence, with Bondsmiths, and people associated with them, seeming to provoke the strongest reaction. A visit into a human city makes him jittery to the point where he runs away at the sight of another person. It's likely that he prefers to live in Lasting Integrity for this reason. Even there, however, unexpected commotion can quickly make him panic. In this state, he is near-insensate, crying, covering his ears and curling on the floor. He recovers extremely quickly, though, and with no outward sign that he's been disturbed.
”They deserve better than you, son. They deserve better than me. I could never judge them for refusing to bond men. How could I?
Kalak is keenly aware of the fact that he and his fellow Heralds are mentally unwell, and does not hide this. He is extremely pessimistic, believing that the cause of Roshar is already lost, and feels immense guilt for causing spren to bond with humans, leading them to what he believes to be their doom. The one thing he is still driven and decisive about is his utter obsession with leaving the Rosharan system altogether, and though he cannot break free yet, he's done extensive research on other worlds. To facilitate leaving, he aligns himself with Gavilar, assisting his research. After Gavilar's death, he continues the project of his own, hoping to unmoor himself and leave the entire cycle of Desolations behind.
Kalak can be snarky, and will dryly mock people he considers stupid. He can still exercise some measure of authority, and can make snap decisions when truly needed. When faced with the possibility of his own death, he's calm and composed. For all that he fears humans, he sympathizes with them, and is at the very least willing to hear them out and give them some chance, even if he doesn't believe that they can succeed. He is willing to offer information to those who ask.
Attributes and Abilities
”He is not the type to fight unless cornered, but once pushed, there are few beings as dangerous on this planet.
Kalak is a Cognitive Shadow which can persist after death and take on a human body, which is grown for him through unknown means, fully adult, every time he is reborn. While on Roshar, he doesn't age, and can only die by violent means; and after death, he travels to Braize, where he is caught by the Fused and tortured until he or another Herald breaks. When this happens, they are all returned to Roshar and a new Desolation begins.
Prior to the Last Desolation, Kalak wielded an Honorblade, making him a Surgebinder. The Blade granted him control over the Surges of Transportation, allowing him to travel to and from Shadesmar, and Cohesion, which lets him shape inanimate matter, particularly stone, making it softer and more malleable. Additionally, Kalak could use Stormlight to heal himself. Mraize considers him a highly dangerous fighter, especially when cornered. Kalak himself is not nearly so confident, and thinks that his inability to decide would make him easy prey, should anyone choose to attack him.
”Old Thaidakar has always wanted my secrets.—Kalak
Kalak is cosmere-aware. He's researched other worlds to the point where he can draw a star map of them, knows about the existence of Ghostbloods, and seems aware of Thaidakar's condition. After Gavilar Kholin's death -- and thus, the end of the king's experiments with transporting spheres -- he apparently continued to search for a way to leave the system. He seems to have made significant progress during that time, as a year into the True Desolation, he believes that he is on the cusp of success. The Ghostbloods seem to agree, as they wish to steal him away for Thaidakar to learn about his state as a Cognitive Shadow.
Kalak has some engineering knowledge, as he assists Shallan and Adolin in opening the box containing Ala without killing the seon. He's additionally familiar with metalworking and smithing, as at the start of each Desolation, it was his duty to re-teach mankind how to cast bronze for weapons. He knows more than Shalash about how the Oathpact, and by extension Cognitive Shadows, function, as he is able to diagnose what went wrong in the Voidbringers' attempt to capture Jezrien.
He used to be known for his decision-making skills; even today, the honorspren place him in position of their High Judge, likely because of this past association. However, though the honorspren obey his verdict, he does not have much actual power over their leadership. Using his mental instability as an excuse, the honorspren can imprison him in his quarters with no apparent consequences, and Kalak either cannot or does not wish to resist them.
Kalak is also Restares, the leader of the Sons of Honor. As such, has the capacity to set up and organize a large group of people; it's unclear how he communicates with them between Shadesmar and Physical Realm. However, with the Sons of Honor crumbling after the Everstorm began, and the last known group answering to Ialai, it's likely his influence with them, and the influence they wield, has waned. Notably, he seems quite capable of keeping his involvement hidden, as Gavilar does not seem to realize that the two are one and the same.
Herald of the Almighty
”Jezrien, I can't return this time. I can’t.—Kalak
Kalak was born on Ashyn, and made the journey to Roshar when his home planet was destroyed by the overuse of Surges. When a war between humans and the native singers started and the Fused began to appear, he, along with nine others, was made a Herald by Honor. He volunteered; it's unknown how many of the others did the same. During the Desolations, his particular speciality was teaching people craftsmanship, mainly smithing bronze.
At Aharietiam, Kalak was late to the appointed meeting place for all the surviving Heralds. There, he found only Jezrien, awaiting him, uncertain whether or not Kalak had perished. When Kalak confessed to his fear of returning to Braize, as was the Heralds' duty in-between the Desolations, Jezrien told him about Ishar's plan to abandon Taln to the Oathpact. Though initially apprehensive, Kalak agreed readily enough, out of fear of the tortures. He and Jezrien left their Honorblades along with the others, and departed in opposite directions.
The Recreance and the Era of Solitude
”We weren't supposed to get worse. Am I getting worse? I think I feel worse.—Kalak
It's unknown how Kalak spent most of the four and a half thousand years between the Last Desolation and the True Desolation. He appears to have been at least distantly involved with the Knights Radiant. Shortly before the Recreance, he and Nale were both present for Ba-Ado-Mishram's imprisonment, and he knew the truth of what caused the Recreance. At some point afterwards, he grew to regret what happened with the Unmade, but he either didn't seek out her gemstone to release her or did not succeed in finding it.
Many centuries later, Kalak apparently became somehow involved with the Sons of Honor; it's unknown if he founded them or if he took them over. Under the name Restares, he became the leader of the group, gaining the attention of the Ghostbloods. Through the Sons of Honor, Kalak met Gavilar and encouraged, along with Nale, the king's work on transporting spheres across long distances, hoping to find a way out of Rosharan system. The two of them were both present at the night of Gavilar's assassination, and met with the king to see the results of his work, with Kalak complaining about the slow pace of progress. While walking down a palace corridor, Kalak expressed his fear for Shalash's sanity, as well as the sanity of the remaining Heralds, himself included. Nale rebuked him, but before the two could discuss it, they bumped into Jasnah, and Kalak fled from her.
The Trial of Adolin Kholin
The Diplomatic Mission
”Boy, you're doomed. You realize that, right? Tanavast is dead. Like, completely dead. The Oathpact is broken somehow. The only thing left is to try to get off the ship before it sinks.
Following the death of Ialai Sadeas, Mraize gave Shallan the mission to track down Restares, pointing her towards the city of Lasting Integrity. Shortly after, a diplomatic mission to that very city was proposed, and Shallan volunteered to go, with her husband Adolin Kholin joining as the expedition's leader. Meanwhile, Kalak left the city for a longer patrol. Prior to his departure, he ordered the honorspren not to tell anyone about his identity or nature; as such, they maintained that the High Judge was merely a rare type of spren.
When Kalak returned, Adolin approached him, asking for a trial by witness, and for Kalak to preside over it. Though initially spooked by the presence of a human, and son of a Bondsmith to boot, Kalak eventually agreed. Sekeir attempted to convince him not to give Adolin the time of day, but Kalak rebuked him, annoyed that despite having spent years in Lasting Integrity, the honorspren did not help Kalak get off-world. However, the Herald refused to keep the trial private, and openly admitted to Adolin that he did not believe the other man stood any chance of winning. He also suggested that Adolin should rather focus on leaving Roshar altogether, as winning against Odium was, in Kalak's opinion, impossible.
At the same time, Mraize convinced Shallan to capture Kalak in a gemstone as a way to help Adolin succeed in the trial. Kalak, aware that someone would be sent to kill him, though unaware of who precisely, composed a message to his killer in the journal, mocking them for thinking they could capture a Herald and begging that they release Ba-Ado-Mishram.
”So we're arguing over even the definitions? This doesn’t bode well.
On the first day of the trial, Kelek was impatient to begin, fully ready to convict Adolin and have him sent to execution; the news that the honorspren wouldn't actually execute Adolin came as a surprise to him. After hurrying Sekeir along to begin as soon as possible, and making sure he understood the terms of the trial correctly, Kelek began to listen to the witness testimonies.
After Amuna's testimony, Kalak admitted that the Stormfather choosing to bond again was in Adolin's favour. After a longer break, however, when he made everyone wait as he ate a fruit and made notes, he was forced by Sekeir to admit that the Stormfather's recent erratic behavior made the great spren's opinion untrustworthy. Next came Blended's testimony; following it, Kalak pointed out to Adolin that an inkspren electing to side with honorspren on any matter was not a good look for humans. Finally, Notum was brought out to read a pre-made testimony. However, he broke away from it to protest and side with Adolin. This caused a good amount of agitation among the honorspren, which in turn made Kalak panic. He curled up and covered his ears, trembling.
After Notum was led out, Kelek quickly returned to a state of calm, and explained to Adolin that he's stepped into an old argument between spren. When Adolin pointed out that the first day of the trial went well for him, Kalak was unconvinced. He explained to Adolin that he did not believe men truly changed, and further elaborated that some spren believe they should side with Odium, and that Adolin's arrival could tip the scales in favour of that.
”You were warned about this trial multiple times, human. They have made their choice.—Kalak
On the second day, Kelek arrived after Adolin, having changed into a more formal set of robes. He was similarly wishing to hurry things up, but seemed to be taking his responsibility more seriously, threatening to have one honorspren removed for breaking the rules and guiding the trial along. As another spren grew far too agitated, Kalak had him dragged out of the forum. However, the trial still ended with a loss to Adolin as Testament was brought up to prove the modern Radiants would still kill their spren.
It was this day that convinced Shallan to go ahead with her plan of killing Kalak. Becoming Formless, she snuck into Kalak's house, fully intending on capturing his soul and throwing her lot with the Ghostbloods. However, her Veil and Radiant alters managed to convince her that she was strong enough to be Shallan, and so she changed her decision.
At that moment, Kalak, possibly having heard Shallan talk to herself, entered the room, and asked if Shallan was here to kill him. He revealed that he always knew Thaidakar wanted him captured, and explained the conflict between the different generations of honorspren: the elders who wanted to keep themselves isolated, and the younger ones who wanted to keep fighting. When Shallan offered to exchange information about Ghostbloods for helping Adolin win the trial, however, Kalak was still undecided.
Before he could consider it further, Lusintia, Sekeir and other honorpren burst in, accusing Shallan of attempting to influence the trial. Surprisingly, Kalak sided with the Lightweaver, saying that she was here to bring him news of the Physical Realm; a half-truth skipping over the assassination attempt. In response, Sekeir declared that Kalak had a bout of mental instability and ordered him and Shallan locked away. As such, Kalak was absent from the final day of the trial.
Adolin ultimately won the trial, thanks to Mayalaran managing to speak in his defense. In the aftermath, Kalak decided to assist him and Shallan. He aided them in opening the box holding Ala without killing the seon inside, and shared more information about the Recreance, revealing that prior to Ba-Ado-Mishram's capture, spren did not become deadeyes. He also told Shallan about other planets and what he managed to learn about them.
”Hold on; I don't care what you think.
Though Kalak chose to live in the honorspren capital, their relationship is not friendly. The honorspren respect him and his judgements, calling him the High Judge and addressing him as the Holy One. However, they are also aware that he is not entirely there, mentally, and are willing to have him arrested against his will if he does not fall in line with what they -- and particularly Sekeir -- want. They respect his judgements, but at the same time, they know that with how indecisive he is, the public opinion is what truly shapes the outcome. It's unclear if they'd still follow his decisions if he were to make a choice they did not agree with.
In turn, Kalak seems incredibly dismissive of his duty as the High Judge. He initially arrived at Lasting Integrity hoping that the honorspren would assist him with getting off-world, and their failure to do so frustrates him. He does, however, have a clear understanding of their internal conflicts and politics, enough so to realize what Adolin's trial is truly about.
”The best of us inevitably cracked.
Kalak, like many other Heralds, has a deep respect for Jezrien, treating him as the unquestionable leader even when he knows Jezrien is just as tired of the war as the others are. The idea that Jezrien himself might be breaking terrifies him. Unlike Nale, Kalak keeps that respect even thousands of years later, after Jezrien has been reduced to a homeless drunk. He is incensed at Szeth using Jezrien's Honorblade, and quickly investigates what happened to Jezrien after his passing.
Though the group decided to never meet again, Kalak and Nale seem to spend time together prior to the True Desolation. Both were present for Ba-Ado-Mishram's capture, and centuries later, both were speaking to Gavilar together about his research. They were in Kholinar Palace on the night of the assassination of Gavilar, though they don't seem to have witnessed the event itself. In the present times, Kalak seems rather scared of going along with Nale, while Nale bullies him and dismisses his concerns.
”They see us as divinities. They rely upon us, Jezrien. We're all that they have.—Kalak
In the Era of Solitude, Kalak is basically unknown by his true name to humans. In Iri and Rira, he's called Kellai, while in Vorinism, he is known as Kelek, due to a vowel shift in the Vorin languages. Even further east, in New Natanan, Kalak is often equated with the Stormfather.
Vorin tradition associates him with the number 8 (kak), the Essence of Foil, and the Attributes of Resolute and Builder. In the countries following the religion, he's one of the most revered and commonly-prayed-to Heralds alongside Jezrien, with his name being an extremely common expletive. In addition to his Divine Attributes, he seems to be also associated with truthfulness.
As Kelek, Kalak features in a number of common Rosharan sayings and phrases, such as:
- "Kelek preserve us"
- "Kelek's breath"
- "what in the name of Kelek"
- "for Kelek's sake"
- "Kelek knows"
- "what in Kelek's tongue"
- "Kelek speed their way"
- "swear to Kelek himself"
- "thank Kelek"
- "Kelek, Jezerezeh, and Heralds above"
- "Kelek’s own truth"
- "Kelek help him"
- "the honest-by-Kelek’s-own-breath truth"
- Though his name became "Kelek" due to linguistic drift, Kalak is one of three Heralds, alongside Shalash and Pailiah, whose original names are symmetrical under Vorin rules.
- Kalak is one of the only three Heralds so far to have a viewpoint in The Stormlight Archive, the others being Shalash and Taln, as the prelude is written from his perspective. However, unlike the other two, he isn't slated to have his own book.
- Kalak's portrait used in the chapter arches is called the Maker by the Dragonsteel Entertainment staff.
- The epigraphs for Part Four of Rhythm of War are written by Kalak.
- The official painting of Kalak, by Magali Villeneuve, was included in the hardcover release of Rhythm of War.
- Rhythm of War chapter 78#
- Rhythm of War chapter 94#
- Oathbringer interlude I-1#
- Rhythm of War chapter 83 epigraph#
- Prelude to the Stormlight Archive#
- Rhythm of War chapter 82#
- Rhythm of War chapter 93#
- Rhythm of War prologue#
- Rhythm of War chapter 90#
- Kalak's chapter capstone
- Rhythm of War chapter 75 epigraph#
- The Way of Kings chapter prelude#
- Rhythm of War chapter 87#
- Words of Radiance prologue#
- Rhythm of War chapter 115#
- Rhythm of War chapter 91 epigraph#
- Skyward Chicago signing
— Arcanum - 2018-11-16#
- Legion Release Party
— Arcanum - 2018-09-19#
- Oathbringer chapter 119#
- Oathbringer chapter 38#
- Surgebinding chart
- Words of Radiance interlude I-7#
- Rhythm of War chapter 92 epigraph#
- Rhythm of War chapter 4#
- The Way of Kings prologue#
- Skyward Denver signing
— Arcanum - 2018-11-15#
- Oathbringer chapter 111#
- Oathbringer chapter 48#
- Rhythm of War chapter 24#
- Rhythm of War chapter 94 epigraph#
- Rhythm of War chapter 97 epigraph#
- Rhythm of War chapter 13#
- Rhythm of War chapter 19#
- Oathbringer chapter 87#
- Rhythm of War chapter 97#
- Prelude to the Stormlight Archive#
- Rhythm of War chapter 79 epigraph#
- Oathbringer chapter 26#
- General Twitter 2010
— Arcanum - 2010-10-06#
- The Way of Kings Ars Arcanum#
- The Way of Kings chapter 23#
- Rhythm of War chapter 23#
- The Way of Kings chapter 38#
- The Way of Kings chapter 46#
- The Way of Kings chapter 35#
- The Way of Kings chapter 27#
- The Way of Kings chapter 11#
- Words of Radiance chapter 86#
- Words of Radiance chapter 81#
- Oathbringer chapter 3#
- Rhythm of War chapter 21#
- Rhythm of War chapter 50#
- Rhythm of War chapter 91#
- Bands of Mourning release party
— Arcanum - 2016-01-25#
- Creating Stormlight Glyphs: A JordanCon Workshop with Isaac Stewart
— 17th Shard forums - 2018-05-04#
- Alethi Glyphs
- Miscellaneous 2020
— Arcanum - 2020-08-04#