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Stones- in art and words

I admit it, the last art post (Bast) doesn’t contribute much to any theory-crafting, but it was a nice way to return to KKC!

This one however gets back to it.
Below are three pictures of the archives. (I’ve posted the first one before.)

Unused thumbnail from NOTW 10’th Anniversary by Don Dos Santos
“The University” by Marc Simonetti (from French Collector’s ed I think?)
NOTW cover art by Marc Simonetti

The Archives
All of these images features two things: the archives towering above everything else… and a stone bridge.

The archives are compared to a greystone twice in NOTW Chapter 36, and again in WMF

NOTW Chapter 36:
“I watched the horizon for the largest building in the University. From Ben’s descriptions I knew what it would look like: featureless, grey, and square as a block. Larger than four granaries stacked together. No windows, no decorations, and only one set of great stone doors…”

“I saw the Archives for the first time in my life, rising like some great greystone over the trees to the west.”

“As I approached the Archives, its grey, windowless surface reminded me of an immense greystone.”

WMF Chapter 6:
“Last was the Archives. Five stories tall and windowless, it reminded me of an enormous waystone.”

That’s too much to be coincidence. And now, let’s take a look at the bridge…

Old Stone Bridges

NOTW Chapter 36:
“When the road crossed the Omethi River, there was an old stone bridge. I don’t doubt that you know the type. It was one of those ancient, mammoth pieces of architecture scattered throughout the world, so old and solidly built that they have become part of the landscape, not a soul wondering who built them, or why. This one was particularly impressive, over two hundred feet long and wide enough for two wagons to pass each other, it stretched over the canyon the Omethi had carved into the rock.”

NOTW 54:
“We came to Stonebridge, the ancient arch of grey stone that spanned the Omethi River between the University and Imre. Over two hundred feet from one bank to another, and arching more than sixty feet at its peak, Stonebridge had more stories and legends surrounding it than any other University landmark.”

This bridge over the Omethi is mentioned at least 6 separate times in NOTW and at least 5 times in WMF.

Even just the quoted passages above start to set the bridge up as something of interest, but other old stone bridges appear in the books.

There is one in the Fae. It’s easy to miss because Kvothe can’t see at the time. But observe…

WMF Chapter 100:
“For a time we followed a twisting path of smooth paved stone that led us over the arch of a high bridge.”

And there’s also one in Newarre.

NOTW Chapter 1:
Carter was attacked… “about two miles outside town, past the Oldstone Bridge”
(The attack at Oldstone Bridge is mentioned again in Chapter 1 of WMF.)

If this wasn’t enough to make the reader suspect there is something about these bridges, I also noticed this line in WMF Chapter 37. It is the story about Faeriniel, where the Amyr’s power is discussed:

“Should he burn a church or break an old stone bridge, the empire held him blameless,”

So back when this story originated, harming one of these stone bridges was considered as bad as burning a church. Sounds like they were pretty important…

Maybe because they were part of the Great Stone Road?

By the way, there is a little bit about the stone road in an obscure part of Pat’s website.
“Truthfully, its origins are lost in the dim reaches of pre-history.”

WMF Ch 36:
Stonebridge rose ahead of us: two hundred feet from end to end, with a high arch that peaked five stories above the river. It was part of the Great Stone Road, straight as a nail, flat as a table, and older than God.

But… The University isn’t just on the Great Stone Road. It’s at one end of it. Today anyway.

WMF Ch 4:
The city that had grown up around the University over the centuries was not large. It was barely more than a town, really. Despite this, trade thrived at our end of the Great Stone Road.”

That is interesting because when you put the two halves of Hespe’s story about Jax together, it has this to say:

Ch 86:
Jax “lived in an old house at the end of a broken road.”

“One day, a tinker came down the road to Jax’s house. This was something of a surprise, because the road was broken, so nobody ever used it.”

“Jax put the spectacles on his face and started walking down the road in the direction of the moon. He walked all night, only stopping when she went out of sight behind the mountains.”

He didn’t start walking down “a road.” He walked down “the road.” The one he lived at the end of.

Ch 88:
“Eventually the road Jax followed passed through Tinuë, as all roads do. Still he walked, following the great stone road east toward the mountains.”

Then he follows the road up the mountains and meets the old man in the cave. This is the last time he is mentioned as being on the road.

One could interpret this to mean that Jax lived in the location of the University/Imre/Belan. However, it’s also possible that since (as is so heavily emphasized) the road was broken, that it didn’t always end where it does now. It used to end somewhere else, somewhere further away.

I think it’s generally accepted by the theory-crafting community that Jax is Iax because of the following:

WMF CH 102:

“’then came those who saw a thing and thought of changing it. they thought in terms of mastery…. they were shapers. proud dreamers. … the faen realm … wrought according to their will. the greatest of them sewed it from whole cloth. a place where they could do as they desired. … then there were two worlds.”

he stole the moon and with it came the war. … this was before the fae. the first and greatest of the shapers. … he is shut beyond the doors of stone. this shaper of the dark and changing eye stretched out his hand against the pure black sky. he pulled the moon, but could not make her stay.”

NOTW Ch. 26:
“Now in those days there was a terrible war being fought across a vast empire. The war was called the Creation War … After the battle was finished and the enemy was set beyond the doors of stone…”

“Selitos knew that in all the world there were only three people who could match his skill in names: Aleph, Iax, and Lyra. … He saw how Lanre, nearly mad with grief, had sought the power to bring Lyra back to life again. Out of love for Lyra, Lanre had sought knowledge where knowledge is better left alone, and gained it at a terrible price. … ‘I am no longer the Lanre you knew. Mine is a new and terrible name. I am Haliax and no door can bar my passing.'”

(In other words, Hal- Iax is a nod to who he got his power from, the enemy he himself helped seal beyond the doors of stone.)

Felurian clearly says that the Fae made “two worlds,” so I don’t think his broken house at the end of the broken road was another, 3’rd world. However, I do seem to recall that some land got broken, which could have broken off the end of the road…

WMF 128:
“These people had a great empire. The name of the empire is forgotten. It is not important as the empire has fallen, and since that time the land has broken and the sky changed. In the empire there were seven cities and one city … called Tariniel.”

“The empire had an enemy, as strength must have. … Since not by strength could the enemy win, he moved like a worm in fruit. Seven names have been carried through the crumbling of empire, through the broken land and changing sky.”

It would be easy to get side-tracked about Iax and the folding house and the Fae, but I shall force myself to stay on target.

So, the Doors of Stone are referenced three times in the two books. I’ve quoted two of them above, and in WMF Bast also swears “on the doors of stone.”

There is a very obvious door made out of stone in the Archives, but it is at best one Door of Stone. It’s not Doors. I don’t think all three of these people were wrong about the plurality. My best guess is that the four-plate door is similar to the more prevalent Doors of Stone, which are of course the waystones/greystones/laystones standing stones. After all, it is made of the same grey stone as the Archives, and as emphasized above. the Archives seem to be the same grey stone as the waystones. It’s one special Door of Stone, singular.

So… about the rest of those Doors…

I did a quick survey, and below are all the greystones I found (physically) in the books. (There are of course the ones referred to in the story of Faeriniel, the place you pass through to get to others.)

  • One in the western commonwealth that the troupe stops for in NOTW Chapter 14
  • One where Kvothe shelters and has his dream in NOTW Ch. 18 after his troupe dies
  • On the road between Tarbean and the University, at the lake where he sits with Denna
  • A handful on the hill over Trebon. The doorway arch is intact at these
  • Two in Imre. Kvothe spots one in WMF Chapter 36 near the bridge, and he sits on one with Denna later in the book. (That’s at least 3 times they’ve hung out on a greystone…)
  • On the west road out of Severen in WMF Ch. 73
  • One in Ademre in WMF Ch. 126
  • Plus 2 more discussed below

So before I get to the last two, let’s talk about some key mentions of them in the books.

“Like a drawstone even in our sleep
Standing stone by old road is the way
To lead you ever deeper into Fae.
Laystone as you lay in hill or dell
Greystone leads to something something ‘ell’.”

WMF Ch. 39:

“’. . . a pair of matched stone monoliths with a third across the top,’ Simmon read. ‘The locals refer to it as the door-post. While spring and summer pageants involve decorating and dancing around the stone, parents forbid their children from spending time near it when the moon is full. One well-respected and otherwise reasonable old man claimed . . . at certain times men could pass through the stone door into the fair land where Felurian herself abides, loving and destroying men with her embrace.’

And just like both those passages say, we can see that the waystones are indeed doors back and forth to the fae.

In WMF Chapter 95, when Kvothe pursues Felurian into the Fae, Ch 95:
“I dimly remember trees, the smell of earth, the grey of moonlit stone.”

And in WMF Chapter 116, Felurian takes him to greystones in the Fae to bring him back to Temerant.

“She led me through the forest for hours until we came to a pair of tall greystones. She drew up the hood of my shaed and bid me close my eyes. Then she led me in a brief circle and I felt a subtle change in the air. When I opened my eyes I could tell this forest was not the same one I had been walking through a moment before. The strange tension in the air was gone. This was the mortal world.”

So whatever else they do, they definitely lead to and from the Fae. These are the Doors of Stone.

I suspect that a waystone circle is also the ring that’s not for wearing. Below is the artwork from the Pairs Faen deck of Greystones. They’re in a ring/circle.

Honestly that almost looks like a double ring of stones there. It makes me wonder if maybe an intact circle is really a double circle, not a single circle.

The Dancing Among Stones True Dungeon adventure also supports this. I consider it canon given that Rothfuss says in this blog entry:  “I helped write and design the adventures, and they’re chock-full of creatures and lore from the books. Some of which hasn’t even shown up yet anywhere other than my own head.”

So here is the relevant snippet from that post:

Room 7B- The Stones
This was a puzzle room in a large clearing. “A circle of single Waystones dominate the center of the room, and there is a gateway of sorts (made out of two vertical and one horizontal stones).” The room also contained an NPC “named Monfort. He has traveled from afar to study this particular set of Waystones as very few circles remain intact.”   He had this interesting bit of dialog: “You stand before one of the few intact sets of Waystones left in this part of the world, … I am a Namer who knows the name of Stone, and very shortly I will awaken these stones and tell them to do the one thing that activates the Waystone magic. I will tell them to dance!”

I played the adventures in the order of Moongate Maze and then Dancing Among Stones, but there’s nothing in the material that says they have to go in that order. If you played them in the other order, you would end Dancing Among Stones going through a waystone door, and then be in the Fae to start Moongate Maze.

Below is the back of the Commonwealth deck for Pairs. I like the way that the waystones at night fade into the daytime inn both horizontally and vertically.

All of this focus on the ‘standing stones’ makes this line that Denna recites from the Chandrian rhyme in NOTW Ch 72 even more interesting:

“When the hearthfire turns to blue,
What to do? What to do?
Run outside. Run and hide.
When your bright sword turns to rust?
Who to trust? Who to trust?
Stand alone. Standing stone.”

And I shall wrap up my very long post here by saying that I believe more than ever Kvothe’s dream in Chapter 18 is foreshadowing the entire story. Arliden’s rhyme says the greystones pull on us “even in our sleep” and young Kvothe was sleeping on a waystone when he has the dream that ends with:

“Then Ben was no longer there, and there was not one standing stone, but many. More than I had ever seen in one place before. They formed a double circle around me. One stone was set across the top of two others, forming a huge arch with thick shadow underneath. I reached out to touch it….”

Given all the emphasis on night and darkness being associated with the enemy, I think the waystone doorway in his dream is the “door that holds the flood” referenced in the Lackless rhyme in WMF Chapter 108. Because we all know he’s going to open a door he shouldn’t and start a war.

“I wanted to get inside so badly I could taste it. It probably shows a perverse element of my personality that even though I was finally inside the Archives, surrounded by endless secrets, that I was drawn to the one locked door I had found. Perhaps it is human nature to seek out hidden things. Perhaps it is simply my nature.”

  • AVG   /   January 11, 2023., 6:47 amReply

    I know it’s hard to conceptualize because there isn’t an emphasis on it- but the Archives sub levels are “level” with Aurie’s Underthing. The reason it’s so plain where we see it could very easily be because what we think of as “ground level” is actually three, four, maybe even more stories (which is unintentionally a pun here) high when it was originally created. The university being so close to a river, and the Umbrel Sea is right next door so it’s right at the mouth basically- means years of sediment (it doesn’t take long- and the university is OLD) would cover up any older versions of whatever used to be there. The archives front doors could easily be just a window. Originally. That being said the 4 plate door could just be the other side of Aurie’s scary door in the Underthing. Although that would be kind of anticlimactic. Aturan root languages (Tema and Temic) are pseudo-Latin and Valaritas is either “pertaining to the dead (specifically the slain)” or if -itas is creating a portmanteau of valar and atas it would be “things written of the dead,” considering we know atas from Ademic. I conceptualize “atas” as like morpheme a- or at- (which must have to do with history of something I guess, something similiar to where something has been) with the suffix -tas or -as being like our real world -ography which is the written account of something (as compared to -logy, which is the study of something). All this to say that the Archives are HUGE. If it’s a single piece of stone that’s insane. I always think of puppet not knowing exactly what day it is. It could be the lack of sun (remember there IS a window. Supports the fact it used to be above ground) and eccentric-ness. But I wonder if the gray stone building has its own little pockets of fae. Or something. Who knows? Thanks for the article though, I enjoy reading this, even (maybe especially) the long ones :)

    • aethel   /   January 11, 2023., 9:27 amReply

      I admit I'm not really big on making any assumptions about Pat's languages based on real world ones, although I suspect that's partially because I don't know Latin. :) I have to say you make really good points about Valaritas, especially given the whole sleeping barrow king thing. Your timing is also perfect, because I was getting ready to do a whole language deep dive in my next post. Now... I kind of have to!

      • AVG   /   January 11, 2023., 11:15 amReply

        Understandable, it’s really hard because he could’ve just made up words ultimately. But the pseudo-Latin thing actually follows on several things. It’s sloppy, and I think it’s meant to invoke Latin more than 1:1 it. But look at words like alar- that’s a word that means “of the wings” in Latin- and that’s exactly what Aleph gives the Angels. Overall the languages DO have some sort of consistency though. See- etymology and mythology are kind of my things. I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time trying to decipher some of the languages and they do have a surprising amount of consistency- even if they aren’t all the way fleshed out. For instance: Iron makes the fae that touch it angry. Pat has said Bast’s swear “anpouen” means “shoe-iron.” Andan’s (the angel) name is said to mean “anger.” And iron gets mentioned in ways like “little shards of hate.” And those followable consistencies are… actually not in short supply. That being said, I’m excited to read your next article and look forward to seeing what you’ve put together yourself :)

        • aethel   /   January 11, 2023., 11:43 amReply

          Honestly I'm likely to only have a couple conclusions from it (the shoe iron thing is a part of it though! heh.) It's more intended to be resource, so I'll be super interested in what folks like YOU do with it. (I have *not* spent a whole lot of time on this kind of thing.) I'm pretty sure I have dug at least one tidbit out of obscure sources that people haven't seen before. ^.^

  • Kendo   /   January 13, 2023., 10:08 pmReply

    I've been putting together a potential summary version of DoS for a while now. Thought you might like a read.

    • aethel   /   January 13, 2023., 10:34 pmReply

      wow. You've put a lot of work into that!