I am here with a new Iron Flame theory. This one concerns Naolin and Brennan, and yes, I have more questions than answers. Sadly, we didn’t learn much about Naolin in Iron Flame. Nevertheless, we did learn more about his signet, thanks to Sloane Mairi, who is Liam Mairi’s sister.
I’ve been pondering this theory for a while now because something doesn’t quite add up. Alright, come down the rabbit hole with me, and as always, please comment, dissect the theory, and share your thoughts.
What do we know so far about Naolin?
Naolin was a siphon, possessing a unique magical ability to absorb or draw energy from other riders, dragons or sources. We know Sloane Mairi, like Naolin, is also a siphon. (Stay with me, this is relevant.)
We don’t know much about siphons. Like at all. How do they operate? As far as we’re concerned, they don’t actually siphon signets, but power. Right? With that logic, Naolin (and Sloane) is a power distribution system. Note: power distribution and NOT signet. Which means Naolin could drain the enemy from their power and distribute it to someone else in the process to enhance someone’s signet.
The last thing we know is that Brennan has a rune-shaped scar on his hand. This detail is mentioned in the same paragraph when he discusses Naolin and says, ‘Naolin didn’t fail, but it cost him everything.’
Alright, now you’re up to speed with all the info. It’s not much, I know, but it’s enough to fuel this theory.
Naolin didn’t die from burnout. Did he?
Naolin’s death while saving Brennan indeed raises some intriguing questions. Let’s delve into the available information to develop a theory.
Naolin’s Signet Ability: Naolin had a siphoning signet, which enabled him to absorb power from various sources, including other dragons and riders, and then use or redistribute it. This ability is significant because it suggests Naolin had the capacity to draw energy from somewhere and distribute it to Brennan so he can gain enough power to mend himself.
The Circumstances of Naolin’s Death: Naolin reportedly died while trying to save Brennan. Consider Brennan’s condition for a moment. According to battlefield reports, Fen Riorson shot an arrow into Brennan’s chest. Thus, he was severely injured and likely nearly depleted of energy. Any time someone is severely injured (look at Sawyer at the end of Iron Flame), they don’t appear capable of using their signet.
Now, Naolin couldn’t have siphoned energy from Brennan, as Brennan was in a weakened state. And this wouldn’t make any sense anyway. You don’t take energy from the almost dead to give it back to them. So where did Naolin siphoned all the energy from?
Three options here:
- Naolin simply tried to distribute his own energy to Brennan. Tairn is a powerful dragon with lots to offer. Naolin didn’t siphon from a source first, but simply imbued Brennan with his own energy. In this case, all stands, Naolin burnt out.
- Naolin reached for the ground and siphoned some energy from there. Then he distributed some of that power to Brennan. So many questions now. If the energy from the ground was distributed to Brennan does that mean that not just Naolin but Brennan turned venin too?
- Naolin was burning out, Brennan didn’t want that to happen and reached for the ground himself. Could it be that he killed Naolin because Naolin was too close to Brennan? You know how venin basically drain everything within their path?
But either way, why did Naolin burn out?
Let’s look at Iron Flame a bit. When Sloane manifests her signet, Cat screams that Sloane is draining her power. When Jack (already venin) touches Dain, he drains him. In general, venin seem to drain the land. It’s interesting that siphons and venin appear to have very similar abilities. But that’s not the point.
At the end of Iron Flame, Sloane is essentially draining Mama Lilith to imbue that stone. And quite literally, Lilith is drained of everything, including life. But what’s odd? Sloane wasn’t burning out. She was just using her signet. Yet, she depleted a whole super powerful storm wielder and killed her while siphoning.
By that logic, Naolin wouldn’t burn out…if he siphoned energy from various sources. Not just himself. Right?
One thing is certain: According to Brennan, Naolin did die. In Iron Flame, Brennan states in front of The Assembly that Naolin’s death nearly killed Tairn. We can assume that he is indeed dead. Of course, with the Empyrean Series we never quite know. He could very well be alive somewhere, living his best venin life.
Given Brennan’s depleted state, is it plausible that Naolin actually drew energy from another source simultaneously or alternatively, which might not have been as stable or safe? Could this alternative source have led to Naolin’s demise?
Unhinged Iron Flame Theory: Tairn killed Naolin
In one of the comments below, you will see talk that maybe Tairn himself killed Naolin the moment he turned. Which is why Tairn almost die himself in the process. I can only imagine that killing one’s rider and severing the bond this way would take a HUGE toll. We know that a dragon killing another dragon takes a huge toll on the soul (Andarna killing Solas). We can only imagine what would mean killing your own rider. And btw, could it be that this is WHY Tairn is so respected and riveted by the elders, because he stood out for dragonkind and was stronger than others (Andarna’s words)? Is this why Sgaeyl hates Brennan?
Or another qay to look at it. Tairn killed his own rider and broke a sacred law in the Empyrean. If you pay heed to the books, you realise that riders die all the time. Some riders who have been bonded for decades. and their dragons? Survive. Sure, they are probably devastated but none seem to almost die… So what makes Tairn so special? Well, we assume that it’s his powerful bond to rider that almost killed Tairn. But could it be that he almost died because the Empyrean wanted to initially execute him for killing his own rider? Seems like a fair assumption. Especially because Tairn himself said inFourth Wing:
“I’m sorry. I just didn’t think I’d make it this far.”
A loud sigh resonates through my mind. “I didn’t think I would, either, so we have that in common.”
What do you think? We have some small clues from the books, but still not enough to draw a definitive conclusion. What did Brennan mean when he said, ‘Naolin didn’t fail, but he lost everything’? Did Naolin himself draw from the ground and imbue Brennan with ‘venin energy’?
The question remains… why did Naolin really die? Because I really don’t think it was from burnout.
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