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|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”You and the others, refer to Shadesmar as the world of the spren, and the Physical Realm as your world. Or the real world. That is not true. We are not two worlds, but one. And we are not two peoples, but one. Humans. Spren. Two halves. Neither complete.
Shadesmar is the colloquial name of the Rosharan subastral and also the Rosharan translation of "Cognitive Realm". Although other worlds have their own words for "Cognitive Realm", when these get magically translated to another language, it results in the name "Shadesmar", even if not in reference to the Rosharan subastral. Shadesmar, as coined and used by Rosharans, is also used in Silverlight as the cosmere standard.
The Rosharan subastral is part of a single infinite plane that connects to the other subastrals in the cosmere by regions that are locally known as Expanses. Moving far enough in the direction of an Expanse, will take you to another world in the cosmere. The four Expanses at the edge of the Rosharan subastral are;
Other locations in Shadesmar include;
True spren live in a number of cities and other settlements in Shadesmar. Some of these cities are inhabited and ruled by a single type of spren, however, not all Radiant spren have their own kingdom. Cryptics are known to rule one of the greater cities in Shadesmar, and the honorspren have control of multiple locations. Cultivationspren, however, rule no cities in the realm. A clan of Horneaters live permanently in Shadesmar, presumably nearby to Cultivation's Perpendicularity.
Geography and Ecology
The Cognitive Realm is an inverse reflection of the Physical Realm, with Shadesmar's bodies of "water" mirroring land in the Physical Realm, and Cognitive Realm land being the reflection of oceans, rivers, and lakes. In the Rosharan subastral, "water" is made up of small beads that represent the cognitive aspects of physical world objects, while the land is created out of obsidian.
Shadesmar overlays the Physical Realm, however, as the Cognitive Realm is more compact, locations do not map one to one between the two realms. As the realm forms based on people’s perception of objects and space, the vertical dimension, space between planets, and unknown locations in the Physical Realm, are particularly compressed. Shadesmar geography does not need to be based off naturally occurring Physical Realm geology, and can also form as a reflection of man-made land or water sources.
The sky in Shadesmar is pitch black with no moon or stars. On the horizon sits a small, frail, white sun, that provides enough light to illuminate the lands but not the sky, despite appearing almost too weak to achieve even this. The sun does not move or change regardless of time of day or distance traveled - because of this, Shadesmar does not have any natural day and night cycle. Shadesmar has a natural atmosphere with a breathable atmosphere due to air permeating into the Cognitive from the Physical Realm.
Long, straight, flat clouds run directly towards the sun and give the impression that the object is at the end of a long tunnel. It is possible for these clouds to appear and disappear and this may be related to which angle they are observed from. The clouds are also corporeal and are sometimes used as landing pads for types of flying spren. When utilized this way, the spren disrupt the cloud patterns.
Shadows behave strangely in Shadesmar, depending on the source of light that is creating them. Shadows cast by the sun will point towards it instead of away, while those cast by manifested fire will point away from the light source as would occur in the Physical Realm. Backward shadows occur on rare occasions in the Physical Realm, and are related in some way to Shadesmar.
The land in Shadesmar is made of a glassy, black obsidian. Because of the nature of this material, the ground is cold to touch and it is easy to move quietly. The ground can be used as a resource if necessary, although it is difficult to remove chunks of obsidian as it shatters if struck incorrectly. The spren rarely use obsidian as a building material because of this difficulty, although they occasionally create weaponry from it. To access pieces of usable obsidian, pickaxes are needed. Once removed, the obsidian is able to be Soulcast, and is easily persuaded to change into other materials.
It is common to find peninsulas in Shadesmar as they are the mirror of Physical Realm rivers. The depth of the river does not dictate the depth of the peninsula and in most cases one would not be able to swim underneath the peninsula. Channels are sometimes cut in these sections of land to create more convenient sea routes for travelers and traders. Lighthouses can be found at the end of these peninsulas to signal to passing ships that they are close to land and that they should beware of hidden rocks. These lighthouses are also trade waypoints where ships can deliver goods or restock supplies for their ongoing journey.
Instead of water, Shadesmar oceans, rivers, and lakes are made of small, translucent, dark glass beads, approximately the size of the tip of an index finger, a bean, or a fingernail. Each of these beads represent the soul of a non-living item in the Physical Realm, and have a very basic consciousness that is able to communicate its primal intent. The beads cannot always be understood and some spren are able to act as translators between beads and other parties. Beads can be removed from their location in the ocean and taken anywhere within Shadesmar, regardless of where its corresponding item is in the Physical Realm, as the body and mind of the object are connected via the Spiritual Realm. The beads must be stored securely, however, to prevent them from returning on their own to the corresponding location of their item. Consuming a bead and transitioning to the Physical Realm would have a negative effect. There are no beads that represent the power of the Shards in the system.
”He was left with only the endless view of the ocean. It bent his mind to think about those beads. The souls of all the objects that made up the physical world. Churning and mixing together, forming waves and surging tides, each composed of small beads no wider than his index finger.
It is possible to gain impressions from beads of what object they represent - this is more easily done by those who are Invested, however, there is still an element of natural talent with some people being better suited to the task than others. Investiture is not needed to get impressions or visualize the souls of the beads, although the beads are attracted to Investiture and will swarm someone who holds it if they are able to sense it. Impressions will match the magnitude of the object, with larger, older, and/or grander objects threatening to overwhelm the person holding the bead. As well as this, the weight of each bead is related, but not equal, to the physical object it represents, with souls for larger objects being deceptively heavier than they appear.
Investiture, such as Stormlight, can be detected by the beads if contained in a gemstone, or held by a Radiant. The degree that the beads can sense Investiture from a Knights Radiant is dependent on the Order, with some being less "detectable" than others. Because of the reaction of the Shademar ocean beads, it can be dangerous for Surgebinders to use their powers while in the Realm, lest they draw the beads - and dangerous spren - to themselves and their companions. Despite these issues, traveling Shadesmar without sufficient Stormlight is unwise as it is the currency of the realm and can be used by the spren to heal if required. It is unclear if the Shadesmar beads can be infused with Stormlight.
If fed Stormlight by a Lightweaver or Elsecaller, the beads can be used to build objects based on visualization the soul of a specific bead. The beads will fit together with the source bead to form a lattice like structure until the object has formed. These objects can be load bearing, even when they would not be in the Physical Realm, and the entire object does not need to be created. Some creations can move on their own, though not very well. Creations of larger or more solid objects, may be more difficult to relocate without first collapsing the structure, while smaller ones can be moved around more easily. Stormlight can be reclaimed from these creations, although not all is returned to the user.
Like with water, it is possible to drown if pulled under the beads, as they will swarm beings if they make contact and will attempt to force their way into a person's mouth and throat, causing them to suffocate. It is not possible to swim through the beads as they provide no buoyancy, and instead people will sink into what feels like a viscous liquid. There is an underwater current that moves the beads, that is stronger than what would normally be found in Physical Realm oceans.
Flora and Fauna
There is a variety of plant life in Shadesmar, which, like in the Physical Realm, appears to differ based on region. Plants and trees are made of different types of glass or crystal and can be a variety of colors. While a number of these plants are brittle and will shatter if touched, some are sturdier and are less prone to breaking. While some plants and trees share the same general physical shape as flora in the Physical Realm, others, such as mushroom trees, are much more alien. Fully fledged forests can be found in the south of Shadesmar, both near the Thaylenah Oathgate and near Lasting Integrity.
Physical Realm creatures can also be found in the Cognitive, having been brought through a perpendicularity. While most Physical Realm animals seem to appear as they would in their natural habitat, Ryshadium trail a faint afterimage.
”Those flames are the souls of people, while these spheres represent the souls of objects. Yes, there are huge philosophical implications in that. Let’s try to ignore them, shall we?—Shallan explaining Shadesmar
Living beings reflect in Shadesmar as small flames. These flames differ in size between species and although they are often found hovering just above the Shadesmar ground, they can also be found at different elevations depending on their location in the Physical Realm. The flames do not produce heat, however, they do produce light.
If someone is corrupted, their soul will turn red. The souls of Fused appear as a twisted humanoid shape that shimmer with dark light before the Fused has taken over a physical body, and after taking a host, will resemble a dark flame that pulses like a beating heart. The type of form that a singer is wearing is distinguishable through viewing their Cognitive aspect based on the spren they hold in their gemheart, and it is easy to tell if they are a Fused, Regal, or ordinary singer. It is also possible to tell apart the different brands of Fused by viewing their cognitive aspect.
If someone is to die in the Physical Realm, their soul flame will disappear. Although the deceased does not seemingly appear in Shadesmar after they die, as they do in the Scadrial subastral, it may be that they are just not visible to regular people, and one would need to be a Cognitive Shadow themselves to see the newly departed soul. Similar to the beads, touching a soul flame will give the impression of the person it represents and it is possible to feel their emotions and general thoughts.
Singers are closer to the Cognitive Realm than humans and this, in part, is what allows them to change forms. Lift is also unique in that she exists partially in the Cognitive, which allows her to physically touch spren when it shouldn't be possible.
- Main article: Spren
Shadesmar is predominantly populated by spren, with true spren organized in civilizations and lesser spren roaming wild, similar to animals as they would be found in the Physical Realm. Many of these lesser spren live within the bead ocean as they are drawn to human populations that are in the equivalent location in the other realm. There is a regionality to the spread of spren types and certain spren may be more commonly found in different areas. The number of spren in Shadesmar help to act as "release valves" for Honor’s splintered power, due to their nature as Splinters.
Many of the spren that live in the oceans are emotion spren, with several types considered quite dangerous. Lesser spren, such as mandras can only travel so far away from human population centers in the Physical Realm before they will begin to die. The specific types of lesser spren that can be found in Shadesmar are tied into the natures of the two Shards on Roshar, Cultivation and Honor.
Like in the Physical Realm, true spren do not tire from activities nor do they require sleep or food. They can "feed" off emotion and Stormlight if it is available. Spren children can be created by Investiture coalescing in one place in Shadesmar and becoming sapient, however, this is a very rare occurrence and sometimes take hundreds of years. Children will look approximately the same as their elders and do not grow in the same fashion that human or singer children do. If a spren is cut by a Shardblade in the Physical Realm they will eventually re-form in Shadesmar. However, if they are hurt enough in the Cognitive Realm it can cause their minds to break and the spren will become akin to a deadeyes. This can be undone by feeding spren a large quantity of Stormlight. Lesser spren do feed specifically on Stormlight.
Spren physically reside in Shadesmar and, unlike in the Physical Realm, have mass and substance. Lesser spren can be pulled through to the Physical Realm if they are strongly attracted by an emotion or natural phenomena, while true spren can choose to transition their mind. Generally, only part of a spren, lesser or true, moves through to the Physical Realm; as such, most humans have never viewed the real bodies of the spren. While in Shadesmar, true spren do not need a Nahel bond to remain sapient. The bodies of spren will physically change if corrupted by Sja-anat. Effects such as rippling clothing and hair that occur for some spren in the Physical Realm, do not occur in Shadesmar.
The only time spren can voluntarily transfer their whole self into the Physical, is when they become Shardblades. When not in Blade form, a true spren’s physical body will present in Shadesmar, even though their mind has crossed over to another realm. This partial transition is often why Radiant spren can remain invisible if they choose, although there is a level of skill that is involved with both appearing and disappearing from sight. These spren will also still be visible in the Cognitive Realm even if they have become invisible in the other realm.
Spren that have transitioned have barely any substance in the Physical making it difficult to touch them, and in some cases it should be impossible. When Radiant spren first transition their minds from Shadesmar, they lose much of their mind and memory, and risk losing their sapience. This memory loss differs between spren and/or likely returns at different rates. Returning to the Cognitive Realm does not restore their memories completely, however, spren do appear to gain a certain amount of recognition about their surroundings and some memories of the realm upon returning to Shadesmar. It is possible for an unbonded true spren to return to the Cognitive Realm, although it is unknown how a spren would do this or whether any effects they have suffered in the Physical Ream would be reversed.
Not all lesser spren reside in Shadesmar, with those that are more suited to primarily the Physical Realm, such as windspren, rarely being seen in the Cognitive. Lesser spren that live in the Cognitive can still be attracted by their individual attribute or emotion, which can pose a threat to travelers if a violent or vicious emotion spren is drawn to the group. Unlike in the Physical Realm, both humans and spren can draw the attention of nearby emotion spren. Spren that are inhabiting a creature, can also be seen separate to the creature’s soul flame if viewed in Shadesmar.
Spren as Fabrials
Sapient spren that have transitioned themselves to the Physical Realm, including corrupted spren, to become fabrials and Soulcasters still manifest in the Cognitive Realm. Soulcaster spren are small and unresponsive, and appear in Shadesmar with their eyes closed, while corrupted spren have more of an ability to communicate and are more aware of their surroundings.
Urithiru and the Sibling
”The mother-of-pearl radiance didn’t exactly mimic the shape of the tower, but had a more crystalline feel to it. Except it wasn’t physical, but light. Radiant, resplendent, and brilliant.
In Shadesmar, the Sibling resembles a shimmering mountain of bright light. Similar to the Highstorm, the Sibling has a mother of pearl or iridescent coloring as well as a crystalline feel. While the Sibling does not completely take the shape of Urithiru, they do form a vague approximation. A large number of emotion spren can generally be found around the tower in the Cognitive Realm, due to the number of beings that occupy the space in the Physical Realm. Despite the light given off by the tower, the Sibling casts no shadow.
Spren can be harder to see when peaking into Shadesmar, due to the light given off by the Sibling, although it is not impossible to see regular spren or Voidspren. The tower has some form of protection in Shadesmar against the more violent types of spren, who could be a danger to anyone in the Cognitive Realm and vicinity.
Urithiru sits at a higher elevation than the bead ocean and ramps can be found spiraling down from the Oathgate platforms, for those who need to reach the ocean below. Because of Shadesmar’s compressed space, the distance from the top of the Oathgate pillar to the ocean is smaller than it would be in the Physical Realm. The glow from the tower, though not the tower itself, can be seen from sea level.
Many of the Unmade exists within the space between the Cognitive and Physical Realm, and were deliberately trapped there by Odium. They are able to see into both, however the corporality of their form in either realm differs between individuals. Different Unmade may have varying levels of control over which plane they exist in at any given time, and how much they can move around the different realms.
Weather patterns in Shadesmar differ to those from the Physical Realm, and are not based on temperature or precipitation. As such, travelers and residents of the Cognitive Realm do not need shelters that are equipped to deal with storms or bad weather. There is also no wind in Shadesmar.
Instead of physical patterns, the Shadesmar weather has a direct effect on the emotions and wellbeing of spren, causing them to feel invigorated on some days and dreary and weighed down on others. Both true spren and lesser spren are affected by these weather patterns, with lesser spren becoming aggravated depending on the weather. This phenomenon is also seen with the passing Highstorm, which provides true spren with energy and helps to revitalize them.
Types of Weather Patterns
On a crystalline day, a faint violet-pink shimmering haze can be seen in the air in the far distance. Plants are also affected on these days and will grow faster, with changes being visible to the naked eye. Before plant growth occurs, a faint shimmer can be seen in the surrounding air. Pink crystal fuzz will also spontaneously grow on objects before spreading over nearby surfaces.
One type of weather energizes the true spren, who become chattier and visibly more cheerful. The spren can hear a faint drumming in the back of their mind during this weather, which sounds upbeat and energetic.
”He rode in a shimmering, rippling surge of colors. Around him, the clouds streamed past at incredible speed, coming alight with those colors. Pulsing with them, as if to a beat.
The Highstorm appears as ripples and vibrant colors in the sky, with shimmering clouds that are an ethereal luminescence. There is a pulse to the Highstorm, that may be similar in nature to the beat heard by true spren during other weather events. Spheres do not get infused with Stormlight whlie in the Cognitive Realm.
The three realms blend together within the Highstorm, and an Invested person can briefly see into the Spiritual Realm if they are able to access the storm via Shadesmar. However, it does not appear possible to access the Physical Realm using this method. The Stormfather is able to sense someone accessing the realms through the Highstorm in the Cognitive Realm, however, this is not a common occurrence. This connection is not two ways, however, and the person in the storm cannot sense the Stormfather.
Honor's Perpendicularity, also referred to as Honor’s path, is an unstable portal that can allow for transport between the Physical and Cognitive Realm. It moves around Shadesmar randomly, however, can be summoned by both Dalinar and Ishar. The Stormfather can feel when the perpendicularity is opened, except when done by Ishar. The Fused also appear to be negatively affected by the perpendicularity.
The size of it when opened can be controlled and the perpendicularity often, but not always, shrouds the summoner in a bright, almost impenetrable light. This light is also blinding to the summoner from their place within the perpendicularity, with people in the vicinity being hard to see. Some people and objects, however, such as Ishar and Nightblood, can be seen clearly when they are within the perpendicularity. In Shadesmar, Honor’s Perpendicularity forms as a brilliant glowing pillar. If forming above the ocean, the perpendicularity will create a path from itself towards the land so it can be reached, by locking the beads together into a solid object. It is quite taxing to hold open. The perpendicularity can be consumed by Nightblood if he is drawn within it. If he is stabbed into its center, the perpendicularity will be closed but not destroyed.
When the perpendicularity is summoned, Shadesmar is visible to the summoner and certain individuals in their proximity, although not everyone who is a passive witness can see through to the other realm. The rhythms and tones of Roshar, can be heard when the perpendicularity is opened.
The perpendicularity forms during each Highstorm, however does not appear to be the storm itself. This allows for the renewal of gemstones, due to the perpendicularity exposing gems and spheres to the Spiritual Realm.
When moving freely of its own accord, Honor’s Perpendicularity is considered to be unpredictable and dangerous and will appear randomly at different points across the Cognitive Realm. Due to its wild nature, guides advise against travelers trying to locate it.
It is potentially possible to open Honor’s Perpendicularity at Urithiru, however, it requires strong magical abilities, and may not be possible if a Bondsmith is below the Fourth Ideal. There is both a measure of strength and a measure of skill required.
Cultivation's Perpendicularity resides in the Horneater Peaks, with clans of Unkalaki living on both sides of the portal. Although it is a working waypoint between the realms, the Horneaters that guard the perpendicularity are not amenable to travelers, though some worldhoppers have gained access to the portal and transitioned between the different planes. It is unclear whether this is with the permission of the Unkalaki people.
As there are Physical Realm items that pass through Shadesmar, it is possible that some level of trade is allowed by the Horneater people, though they are selective of who can trade through the perpendicularity. The Dawnshard is known to have arrived on Roshar through Cultivation's Perpendicularity.
Prior to the Recreance, the spren and humans had a good relationship. The Elsecallers were the primary liaisons, however, they would often bring along others to assist them when they interacted and visited the spren. Written treaties were also formed during this time.
Shortly before the Recreance, as the Sibling was retreating, they ordered the Oathgates to be closed and locked so that people would no longer be able to transfer between realms. Losing this means of transportation, likely severely decreased the number of Rosharans accessing the realm, eventually leading to Shadesmar becoming a myth amongst the cultures who lived in Physical Realm.
Following the escape of Syl from Lasting Integrity, posters of Syl were placed in some, if not all, port cities in Shadesmar by the honorspren in an attempt to have her found and returned to the capital.
A Scholar's Interest and Journey (1167-Present)
Jasnah first became aware of Shadesmar as a real place in 1167 when she was pulled through by Ivory when he attempted to kill her. After bonding Ivory and becoming an Elsecaller, Jasnah began to research Shadesmar, along with Urithiru and the Voidbringers.
In 1173, Jasnah found herself in Shadesmar after Elsecalling there to escape an assassination attempt aboard the Wind's Pleasure. Unable to return to the Physical Realm without first finding a waypoint, she spent several months trekking across Shadesmar to a location that corresponded to the middle of the wilderness. During her journey, Jasnah spent time with the highspren, who shared with her details of the past, and the history surrounding the Recreance and Desolations. She also learned of the Everstorm and the effect it would have on the entrapped singers of Roshar.
Jasnah’s appearance in Shadesmar caused trouble for the spren, although it is unknown whether this is because she was a native Rosharan or because she was a Surgebinder. During her escape from the realm, she may have been involved in some sort of conflict.
After returning from the Cognitive Realm, Jasnah recorded her exploration and experiences of Shadesmar in a number of journals. She released some of these records to the public after becoming queen, however, not all journals were released, much to the chagrin of her mother, Navani.
Her experience of being trapped in the Cognitive Realm left Jasnah with a heightened sense of paranoia, leading to her having an increased level of preparedness in the case that she might have to escape into Shadesmar at a future point.
Traveler from Another World (1173-Present)
Azure first traveled to Shadesmar in 1173, in pursuit of Nightblood and Vasher, and crossed into the Physical Realm using Cultivation's Perpendicularity. After being unintentionally brought back during the battle at Kholinar Palace, she travelled with Adolin and his companions, before parting ways when they jumped off Honor's Path in an attempt to escape the Fused. Azure had already made a bargain with the honorspren prior to the appearance of Odium’s forces, where they would allow her to travel with them and enter Lasting Integrity. Once there, the spren would exchange information about Nightblood, who had passed through their fortress, for information on Azure's Blade.
The Everstorm started building and approaching the planet Roshar’s subastral many generations before it was transferred to the Physical Realm. Initially broken off from the storm that surrounds Braize, Odium gradually moved it until it reached the edge of the local Shadesmar where it remained brewing for a long period of time, somewhere in the southern banks. Because of its remote location in Shadesmar, Odium’s forces had to contend with traveling far out to sea in the Physical Realm to be able to reach the storm so they could draw through Voidspren to begin the process of transferring the storm to the Physical Realm.
The transition of the Everstorm out of Shadesmar triggered the beginning of the new Desolation and the return of the Fused. Voidspren began to appear in Shadesmar to the west of the Nexus of Imagination and made their way to the Horneater Peaks to seize control of Cultivation’s Perpendicularity and the surrounding areas, and gain control of travel between the realms. They leveraged their control to influence trade and harass sailors and travelers in the area, demanding tolls and tributes and sinking or capturing ships. This led to a sharp decrease in travel in that region of Shadesmar, with spren refusing to go near the perpendicularity, and preferring to stick to the eastern part of the realm where there was less Fused influence. Unfortunately, Voidspren influence began spreading further east, with the Fused ending up with loose control over Celebrant by 1174.
Travel and trade further decreased into 1175 with fewer ships willing to travel, lest they encounter Odium’s forces. They were further disincentivized to travel due to strange occurrences in Shinovar, as well as a general preference against encountering traveling honorspren.
A Hero's Journey Through the Unknown (1174)
”Azure looked up at the sky. “Damnation,” she said softly. “I hate this place.”
Following their escape from the Kholinar Palace through the corrupted Oathgate, Kaladin, Shallan, Adolin, Azure, along with the spren of the Radiant’s and Adolin’s Shardblade, found themselves trapped in Shadesmar. Unable to return through the Oathgate, and to escape Ashertmarn, the group made their way to the Windrunner River, before making their way up the peninsula and away from Kholinar.
Eventually, the travelers came upon the Wind's Pleasure; while Kaladin went to investigate the building and find out more about the occupants, Shallan and the others were contacted by Sja-anat. When the group had first transitioned to Shadesmar, Sja-anat had falsely reported back to Odium that the group had been transported to an unknown point, far from the Kholinar Oathgate. Odium ordered Sja-anat to search for the Radiants, however, once she located them she used the opportunity to warn them about Odium’s hunt and that they should avoid his forces.
Kaladin, deeming Riino’s Lighthouse to be safe, returned to fetch the other members of his party then convened at the lighthouse to enquire about travel and supplies. A ship, captained by the Reacher Ico, reached the lighthouse not long after the group arrived, and ferried them to Celebrant, a trade city, found in the south east on the Sea of Spears. The party was unable to agree on a destination, with Azure wanting to go west to Cultivation's Perpendicularity as she had previously used it to reach the Physical Realm, while Kaladin was strongly insistent about traveling south to Thaylenah, due to a vision he had when he touched Riino’s magic globe.
”I’m dead. We’re dead, and this is Damnation.
Once they reached Celebrant, the group split in half with some members going to the market place to gather supplies, while the rest enquired about potential passage to Thaylen City or Cultivation’s Perpendicularity. While at the marketplace, Syl, who had been disguised, was recognized as the Ancient Daughter, leading her to confess to Adolin and Kaladin that she may be a wanted person by the honorspren. Meanwhile at the docks, Shallan and Azure were unable to secure passage to either of their proposed destinations. After realizing that a Fused was conducting an inspection on Ico’s ship, the two women, as well as Pattern and Maya, returned to the dock registrar to interrogate her, and learnt about the increased Voidspren presence in Shadesmar over the preceding months. After escaping the Fused at the docks with out detection, the group reconvened to decide on how to proceed. Syl, having seen Honor's Path docked in the harbor, ran to catch the ship before it pulled away, revealing who she was so that she and her friends could escape Odium’s minions on the honorspren vessel.
Once aboard, Notum, the ship’s captain, began their voyage towards Lasting Integrity, post-haste, to try and outrun the Fused. After being taken captive, most of the group, barring Syl, were released from captivity and allowed to explore most parts of Honor’s Path. When it became apparent that the Fused were slowly gaining ground on the vessel, Notum decided to disobey his mandate and aided the friends in escaping to the Longbrow's Straits, by dropping them secretly into the beads.
Having lost the Fused, the party made its way across the land in the direction of Thaylen City, following Kaladin’s hunch that Dalinar was in danger. When they arrived, they found large numbers of Odium’s forces waiting. Soon after, Odium's minions disappeared, as they were drawn through to the Physical Realm. To buy time and give an opportunity for Shallan to reach the Oathgate, Kaladin, Adolin, and the spren engaged with the remaining Fused in their own ways. Shallan attempted to convince the Oathgate spren to allow them passage, however, they refused, remaining steadfast in the mandate given to them by the Sibling. With Kaladin out of Stormlight, and Adolin severely injured, the hopes of the friends making it back to the Physical Realm were slim, until Honor's Perpendicularity appeared after being opened by Dalinar during the Battle of Thaylen Field. The group transitioned back to the Physical Realm using the perpendicularity to then engage in the ongoing conflict that was occurring in Thaylen City.
Following the Battle of Thaylen Field, at least some of the Oathgates agreed to allow for passage between realms again.
Urithiru Emissary Delegation (1175)
”I’ve come by order of the Bondsmith, my father, to visit your lands and deliver a message on his behalf. I bring with me Knights Radiant of four different orders, all of whom work in concert against the rising Everstorm. Proof that men and spren once again need their bonds of old
In 1175, a delegation from Urithiru headed by Adolin and Shallan, set out to visit Lasting Integrity and try to convince the honorspren to re-bond humans and join their war efforts against Odium and the Fused. Setting out from Urithiru, the group travelled on a peakspren ship captained by Unativi, then by caravan from Nameless to Lasting Integrity. During this time, Shallan began taking notes for her eventual book on Shadesmar’s natural history. During the second half of their journey, they were followed by a Tukari mercenary group that eventually broke away from their path to head south, while the Urithiru delegates continued west. Unfortunately, the Tukari had continued in the same direction of Notum, who had also been traveling along the route, and he had been their target all along. Racing to save him, Adolin and Maya fought off the Tukari, long enough for the other soldiers in their party to arrive and provide backup.
With an injured Notum in tow, the group pressed on quickly to reach Lasting Integrity, wary that the Tukari were still in the area and could circle back around to attack them again. Reaching the honorspren stronghold however, the group was not warmly welcomed; the honorspren did not respond kindly to the diplomatic efforts of Adolin, destroying his correspondence from the coalition monarchs and refusing to engage his pleas and arguments. With all of his other plans having failed, Adolin surrendered himself into the custody of the honorspren, after giving them the opportunity to put him on for the Recreance. The honorspren allowed for two others to remain with Adolin, and Shallan and Pattern joined the Highprince inside the fortress where Adolin was taken into custody.
While a number of the Urithiru party began the return journey to the tower, several members including Godeke, Felt and Malli, Shallan’s Lightweavers, and Notum remained camped outside the keep, on the edge of the nearby forest, and remained in contact with the Alethi highprince via letter.
Shallan, during her time in Lasting Integrity, set about completing the mission she was given by Mraize to find Restares. When Kalak returned to the keep, Shallan realized that the man she sought was a Herald. After speaking with Mraize, she discovered he wanted her to “kill” the Herald by capturing his soul in a knife containing Odium’s godmetal. The last day of Adolin’s trial, Shallan went to Kalak’s lodgings with the intent to kill him, having adopted her “new” persona of Formless. Pattern interrupted her on her way there, trying to introduce Shallan to Testament, whom he had already tried to introduce once before. Shallan sent Pattern away, not wanting to hear what he had to say, before continuing on to Kalak’s house. Once inside, Veil confronted Shallan about Formless and forced her to remember what Shallan had done as a child when she had been bonded to Testament. Duty done, Veil disappeared, being reintegrated into Shallan. Kalak discovered Shallan in his house shortly after her ordeal, and although the Lightweaver acknowledge that she had been sent to kill Kalak, she had instead decided to try and work with him.
Lusintia, Sekeir, and several other honorspren found the pair not long after the Herald confronted Shallan, and accused the Lightweaver of trying to influence her husband’s trial. Despite Kalak’s denial, the honorspren took Shallan into custody, to be held until the trial was completed. The honorspren also detained Kalak, with Sekeir taking his place to oversee the final day of the court proceedings.
Held as the honorspren’s captive, Adolin prepared for his trial with the help of the inkspren emissary, Blended. After Kalak, the High Judge, returned to the fortress from patrolling, the trial began and lasted for three days. On the first day, three witnesses - Amuna, Blended, and Notum - gave testimony against Adolin. Notum, having clearly been coerced into testifying, broke from his script half way through his statement, to stand with Adolin and promote the bond between humans and spren. The second day of the trial Adolin was free to give his own testimony to the judge and audience, however, this quickly went sour and the day ended in chaos. The third day of trial was held by the honorspren Sekeir, due to Kalak’s absence, and Maya was brought forth as the final witness. Due to her inability to speak, Sekeir used this as an opportunity to promote his own agenda under the guise he was speaking on her behalf. Drawing strength from Adolin, Maya addressed the crowd herself, proclaiming that the deadeyes had willingly chosen to give up their bonds during the Recreance. Shocked, the honorspren left the room and the trial was dismissed. Following the trial, Blended returned to the inkspren to spread the news about the role of spren in the Recreance and Maya’s growing consciousness.
”Iyatil has reported to Master Thaidakar, and he has accepted—after some initial anger—that we will not be able to control the Oathgates.
At some point prior to 1175, the Ghostbloods began to set up trade routes in Shadesmar, including in the Sea of Lost Lights. Their intention was to set up a powerful trade empire with Stormlight and Investiture being their main commodity. They wished to find Urithiru before the Radiants so that they could seize control of the Oathgates and have power over the ability to travel between the Physical and Cognitive Realms, as this would allow them to dominate the market as they could easily move their good back and forth without interference.
”Oh! She says she would rather trade with honorspren than take another trip to the perpendicularity. I think this is an insult. Ha ha ha. Mmm…
The different varieties of spren do not often mingle with each other. In mixed spren cities, each spren type will often only congregate with their own brethren unless they require a service rendered.
Very few, if any, other types of spren think positively about honorspren or enjoy being in their company. This is in part due to their attempts to conquer Shadesmar in the past. In turn, honorspren are not friendly towards most other types of spren; they have a negative political relationship with Cryptics, dislike the highspren, and hate the inkspren, whom they may have previously warred with. Despite these negative relationships, the honorspren still accept spren emissaries from their adversaries, though this has not improved relations between the spren nations. At one point, mistspren were highly regarded by the honorspren.
Cryptics have a feared reputation in Shadesmar, however, rarely venture outside of their city. They are not well liked by other spren. Cultivationspren are not very important politically, however, those who re-bond humans are considered quite highly by others in the Cognitive Realm. Inkspren are not commonly found around Shadesmar as the group tend to keep to themselves.
”To many there, you are a criminal. Your entire race is one of criminals. It isn’t about the Ancient Daughter so much as it is about what you did to us.
Humans and spren have a strained relationship due to the Recreance, which had a profound effect on spren societies, with many true spren being partially or almost completely wiped out. The spren hold deep resentment for humans and while humans have gained back the trust of some groups through reforging Nahel bonds, many of the spren are still suspicious or outright hostile towards them. Many true spren blame humans for the deaths of their friends and family during the Recreance, as they are unaware that these spren were willing participants at the time. Despite the tension between the two races, humans have never been known to attack spren or harm them.
The Radiants of Urithiru have attempted to open a diplomatic relationship with some of the more hostile spren, including the honorspren. Following Adolin’s trial at the hands of the honorspren, and Maya’s confession about spren participation in the Recreance, the relationship between humans and spren may start to improve and be mended.
Odium’s forces control different sections of Shadesmar, including Cultivation's Perpendicularity, an area near Thaylen City, and the city of Celebrant, and plan to build their own empire within the Cognitive Realm. Since their arrival in Shadesmar, the Voidspren have spread their influence across the realm. Shanay-im are occasionally seen by travelers, flying around Shadesmar, and will conduct inspections on cities that they have captured.
There is a level of hostility between the honorspren and the Fused. The honorspren appear to be a big contender in terms of controlling land in the southern portion of the Sea of Souls, with any areas not controlled by either being dubbed as "free lands." Despite this antagonistic relationship, some honorspren are considering siding with the Fused and Odium’s forces, as the highspren have already done. This would likely have a domino effect on the other spren types, and pave the way for many spren to join the enemy.
”Portable, easily contained, renewable. You hold the energy of a storm in your hand, Veil. That raw energy, plucked from the heart of the raging tempest. It is tamed—not only a safe source of light, but of power that those with... particular interests and abilities can access.... Roshar has something that so many other peoples in the cosmere want: free, portable, easy-to-access power.
The Ghostbloods are planning to commercialize Stormlight and create a monopoly, due to its easy transportability to an off world market, by utilizing Shadesmar. A trade path has been established through the Sea of Lost Lights. With the main currency in Shadesmar being Stormlight, this would likely have a profound and wide reaching effect on the realm and would give the Ghostbloods and Thaidakar, a large amount of power in Shadesmar.
Culture and Society
True Spren Societies
True spren live in a number of cities and other settlements in Shadesmar. Some of these cities are inhabited and ruled by a single type of spren,, however, not all Radiant spren their own kingdom, and some settlements are a conglomeration of different spren types. Cryptics are known to rule one of the greater cities in Shadesmar, and the honorspren have control of multiple locations. Cultivationspren rule no cities in the realm. However, the true spren types are not homogenous, with different nationalities and subgroups being found in the different regions of Shadesmar.
The longstanding presence of one type of spren in a given area, can affect the fundamental forces in that section of Shadesmar, and although this may mimic Surgebinding, these environmental changes are caused by another mechanism. Some spren choose to build their cities in particular parts of Shadesmar for specific reasons, that may be related to these realmatic changes, however, this is rare and the different spren types mostly choose areas where they can assert political control. The honorspren capital, however, is one such place where the environment has been altered and the spren of this keep have utilized and integrated these changes into their lifestyles. Most, if not all, spren cities utilize manifested objects to create their buildings.
The lack of water in Shadesmar, leads the spren to keep stores of sand in their cities in the case of fires. They rarely use obsidian chunks as a building material even though is is abundantly available, although they occasionally create weapons using this resource.
Like many of the Physical Realm Rosharan societies, the true spren disapprove of fortune telling and claims of predicting the future. Any who practice this discipline are shunned and forced to the outskirts and remote locations of the realm if they wish to practice their trade.
”It seemed as if someone had taken a knife to her face, except she hadn’t bled or been scarred by the cuts. She’d been erased. Ripped apart. Removed from existence. When she looked at Adolin, she seemed like a painting that had been vandalized.
Deadeyes are spren who have been "killed" though the breaking of the Nahel bond. They did not exist prior to the Recreance, and most deadeyes can trace their "deaths" back to when they agreed to break their bond with their Knights Radiant. Deadeyes still maintain the same general appearance they took prior to dying, however, appear raggedy and their eyes are scratched out.
”We are left, to wander Shadesmar as dead souls, unable to think or talk. Our bodies are used, screaming, as weapons by the descendants of the ones who killed us.
Although deadeyes physically live in Shadesmar, like with Radiant bonded spren, they can be pulled completely into the Physical Realm in the form of a Shardblade. Because Shardblades are their physical form, deadeyes are unable to be summoned as a blade in Shadesmar. They will, however, still respond if someone tries to summon them in the Cognitive Realm, stretching in an unnatural way towards the summoner. This causes them distress and pain. As Shardplate is also the physical manifestation of spren in the Physical Realm, it can also not be physically taken into Shadesmar.
Deadeyes are often placid, and unfazed by what goes on around them. However, that does not mean they are unable to feel stronger emotion or become dangerous if provoked, though this is rare. Deadeyes can be found wandering aimlessly around Shadesmar and are known to wander off without care for their surroundings. This has led to some spren imprisoning deadeyes to prevent them from leaving on their own, though this does not prevent them from being summoned as a Blade.
The honorspren of Lasting Integrity often find lost deadeyes in the barrens or the shallows of the ocean nearby their keep, and will bring them back to Lasting Integrity to take care of them. The honorspren take their duty seriously and the deadeyes are treated well in their care. Although, despite their good intentions, the honorspren do have a habit of being dismissive of deadeyes.
Generally humans that visit Shadesmar are refugees, merchants, or explorers. There are some permanent human settlements, such as a clan of Horneaters who live near Cultivation's Perpendicularity on the Horneater Peaks. Some of the true spren are not used to dealing with humans from Roshar proper, likely because the Cognitive Realm has not been visited by Rosharans for several millennia.
Travel is largely conducted by Reachers and peakspren, who can be hired for travel over both land and sea. They utilize mandras for sea travel in lieu of standard sailing equipment to offset the lack of wind in Shadesmar. Multiple mandras have to be used at the same time on all ships, as these spren will occasionally be pulled into the Physical Realm and vanish -- a phenomenon known as "dropping." Ships in Shadesmar move faster than an average ship in the Physical Realm, largely because they are not dependent on wind direction and can use the most efficient path to reach their destination. Some ships will keep rations and a water making fabrial aboard in case they take on human passengers.
Not all ships are equipped, or willing, to take on humans. Although dock registrar's will keep a list of all ships in port and their destinations, as well as which will take passengers, they do not keep records of which ships are human friendly, and humans looking for passage must visit each ship individually to enquire.
Land travel is conducted using established caravan routes. A large number of caravans can be commonly found on the southern edge of Shadesmar near the Expanse of Vibrance and it is not unusual for these caravans to include humans.
Travel between the realms is possible through the use of the Oathgates or Cultivation's Perpendicularity. Those with access to the Surge of Transportation are also able to physically move between the realms, although it is harder to move from Shadesmar to the Physical than vice versa. Stormlight is necessary when using the Oathgates or Elsecalling. Odium is also able to transition Cognitive Shadows and the Unmade between the realms to allow them to take over a physical host’s body. He does this by pulling the souls “along ancient paths."
Communication between the Physical Realm and Shadesmar is slow moving and likely requires the physical delivery of information through traders and travelers. Instantaneous communication methods such as spanreeds do not work across the realms, likely due to the nature of spren. Unbound seons, however, can be used to communicate with those on the different planes, provided one can be found and is willing to provide help with communication.
Due to the nature of the Cognitive Realm, it is possible to reach different worlds in the cosmere. However, this is significantly harder for highly Invested individuals who are Connected to Roshar.
Stormlight is the major currency of Shadesmar, however, due to its propensity to quickly fade, some cities have banks where infused gems can be exchanged for tokens. The Stormlight is then transferred into perfect gemstones so that it will not fade and is available for future use. Infused sphere’s can be used as currency though it is up to the merchant to decide if they will accept sphere’s directly, and while dun spheres can be traded, they are worth much less. In general, spren care very little about gemstones themselves or their value, and are instead only interested in any Stormlight the gems carry.
Reachers and peakspren are commonly found as traders and sailors in Shadesmar, often transporting goods between the different port cities. There are dedicated cities and towns that act as waypoints where traders can resupply during their journeys. Haggling is an accepted practice in at least some trade cities. Trade within these places is conducted in an open aired manner as the realm does not need to worry about weather issues.
Items that are imported from the Physical Realm are considered much more valuable than manifested items because they will not eventually disappear. However, these are much harder to obtain as they have to be brought through a perpendicularity or Oathgate. This has been historically unattainable since the Recreance, as the Oathgates had been sealed and abandoned and the Horneaters that guard Cultivation's Perpendicularity were not receptive to travelers using the waypoint. Non-manifested weapons, in particular, are worth a lot of money in Shadesmar. Following the True Desolation, traders from outside of the Rosharan system increased in traffic, with people being drawn to the subastral by stories of Shardblades, and a desire to purchase them. Rosharan wines are also popular off-world.
As well as being the major currency, Stormlight is a valued commodity because it can be used to manifest objects from the Physical Realm. These objects can then be sold as wares by a merchant. The price set for an manifested item is reflective, not of the craftsmanship of the item, but the length of time the object will last in Shadesmar before it disappears, These items, however, can be reinfused so that they will last longer. The skill of the manifester determines the length of time the item will remain in the realm, although the ability to manifest objects is rare, can be quite dangerous, and is rather draining.
The demand for Stormlight as a commodity, both in Shadesmar and off-world, has led the Ghostbloods to attempt to set up a trade route that will transport the Investiture from the Physical Realm and through Shadesmar, using the Oathgates. They eventually plan to trade Stormlight on other planets, and although they are aware of how to transport the Investiture off of Roshar, they have run into issues implementing their plan.
Food and Drink
True spren do not require food or water to survive, however, they are able to consume Stormlight or human emotions. The weather patterns of Shadesmar also nourishes spren, the way food would nourish human.
Human rations are available for purchase in Shadesmar cities and are sometimes carried by spren sailors, even when they do not currently have human passengers. Rations are most easily found in port cities which see a steady trade of the goods to help accommodate for humans that live in the area. Tinned food is commonly found in Shadesmar, and may originate from Scadrial due to their canning processes. Water can be created using a hydrator; these devices are carried on ships in the case that humans are granted passage by the captain.
Gardening appears to be an art form in Shadesmar, that is enjoyed particularly by cultivationspren. It differs from Physical Realm gardening, with the cultivation of plants being considered mundane and pedestrian. Instead, Shadesmar gardening involves growing items out of crystals, based on the souls of objects, though this method is distinctly different from manifesting souls. Cultivationspren are known to create gardens of chairs. Like with Physical Realm artwork, these garden creations are put on display in exhibitions where they can be viewed by other spren.
”They seem to wear whatever. That’s an Alethi officer’s coat over an Azish scribe’s vest. Tashikki wrap worn with trousers, and there’s almost a full Thaylen tlmko, but they’re missing the boots.
Clothing in Shadesmar is either created as part of a spren’s essence, or is manifested from the Physical Realm. Spren do not follow any of the fashion trends seen on Roshar, and will instead mix and match clothing from a variety of Rosharan cultures in ways that would be considered bizarre or unseemly to humans. Spren clothing that is created from a being essence can be changed by the given individual, however, Stormlight is required.
Like humans, spren speak a multitude of different languages and the ability to speak multiple languages, spren or human, varies between individuals. These languages must be learned and are not inherently known. Most spren are able to speak human languages.
There appears to be some languages that are specific for different types of spren. Not all languages are verbal, with some spren, such as Reachers, being able to communicate using vibrations passed through metal plates.
Following the Recreance, the disappearance of the Knights Radiant, and the locking of the Oathgates, knowledge of Shadesmar disappeared from the general population, and the realm faded into myths and legends, eventually becoming known as the mythical kingdom of the spren. This fictionalization of the realm was further fueled by the Vorin Church during the Hierocracy, who tampered and altered a great number of texts to remove or change information about Shadesmar, in their effort to expunge knowledge of the Recreance and Knights Radiant from historical record. Older texts on Roshar still contain mentions of the Cognitive Realm, including in literature and children’s books. Folklore contains references to those with backwards shadows, like one would have in Shadesmar, and describes the individuals as being cursed.
Shadesmar is still believed to be real by at least some inhabitants of Roshar, prior to its "re-discovery" in 1174. Jasnah Kholin has written about the realm in some of her earlier scholarly works, and at least some in the ardentia are aware that Shadesmar is a real place.
Some species and people have a more natural ability to view the Cognitive Realm. Singers can commonly see some level of Shadesmar, which usually equates to seeing the entirety of a spren’s physical appearance, while humans rarely can see the other realm. Some Horneaters also have the ability to see spren that are invisible to others, though it is unclear if this is related to their singer ancestry, or their interactions with Cultivation's Perpendicularity. Cultivation has the power to permanently move someone more into the Cognitive than they normally would be, which can allow them to physical touch spren that are not manifested.
All Radiants have an attachment to Shadesmar, by virtue of the Nahel Bond, and on occasion, they can see a glimpse of the realm. Orders that have the Surges of Transformation or Transportation have greater access. Due to this higher affinity, it is particularly dangerous for Elsecallers, Lightweavers, and Willshapers to visit Shadesmar without sufficient Stormlight as it risks their minds or body becoming trapped. All three orders are capable of mentally peeking into Shadesmar, although there is a level of talent involved in this process. This ability is a "quiet" use of Investiture and will not draw the attention of secretspren.
During times where the realms are closer, or combined, it is easier to access Shadesmar and an overlay effect can occur with the Physical Realm. Soulcasting also becomes much easier to perform. When in Shadesmar, Soulcasting can be performed on any physical material that is in the Cognitive Realm, however, if performed on the beads then only the object in the Physical Realm is affected. Items that fully exists in Shadesmar, however, can be changed into other substances as would normally occur. Soulcasting items that are in the Cognitive Realm is easier than changing the souls of the beads.
Elsecalling to Shadesmar requires a large amount of Stormlight, and it is harder when moving from the Cognitive to the Physical, than the other way around. Although it is possible to leave the Cognitive from any point, those who are less experience with using Transportation, require a transfer point, where the Physical and Cognitive Realms are closer together, to be able to make the journey.
Shadesmar was loosely inspired by a painting by Michael Whelan that Brandon saw as a teenager, and largely developed off Brandon’s interest in creating a place that was a reflection of the real world, but also different. The crystalline nature of Shadesmar was part of this interest. The bead ocean wasn’t inspired by anything in particular and grew out of the general worldbuilding for The Stormlight Archive.
- Expanse of Vibrance: This expanse's name was hidden behind the Shadesmar's map's title. It is believed to be Nalthis.
- An uncanonical scene from Words of Radiance was released in 2014 about Jasnah transitioning to Shadesmar from the Wind's Pleasure when it was attacked. It was excluded from the book so as to not lessen the epilogue reveal that Jasnah survived.
- Although Brandon plans to use Shadesmar more widely in the cosmere, there may shift to being ‘Cognitive Realm’ as Brandon reaches Era 4 so that a more scientific term is being used.
- There is a specific reason that the Rosharan subastral is full of spheres.
- The idea of Shadesmar can be tied back to Brandon’s love of Tel’aran’rhiod from the Wheel of Time and some ideas from ancient Greek philosophy.
- Rhythm of War chapter 75#
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|Shards||Ambition · Autonomy · Cultivation · Devotion · Dominion · Endowment · Harmony · Honor · Invention · Mercy · Odium · Preservation · Ruin · Valor · Whimsy · Survival Shard|
|Planets||Ashyn · Braize · First of the Sun · Nalthis · Obrodai · Roshar · Scadrial · Sel · Taldain · Threnody · Vax · Yolen|
|Terms||Adonalsium · Sliver · Splinter · Realmatic Theory · Investiture · Connection · Identity · Fortune · Intention · Initiation · Perpendicularity · Worldhopper · Spiritweb · Resonance · Axon|
|Other||Hoid · Khriss · Seventeenth Shard · Ire · Shattering · Letters · Silverlight|