Warning: untagged spoilers from The Hero of Ages, book 3 in the Mistborn trilogy, may follow.

It has been established that only those with Hemalurgic spikes can see and hear the god Ruin: Spook and Quellion could both see the figure they thought of as 'Kelsier' right up until Spook removed their spikes, and Vin could see and hear him as long as she kept her earring in, but his voice was instantly cut off when Marsh removed it.

This makes sense in a way, since Hemalurgy is the power of Ruin: only those who have been spiked, and are therefore susceptible to his influence at least to some degree, are able to perceive his presence. But it still leaves the question of who could see and hear Ruin's opposite number, the god Preservation.

The obvious answer would be "Allomancers", but I don't think this can be it. If I recall correctly, Preservation, or "the mist spirit" as they thought of him then, appeared to Elend during The Well of Ascension, before he became an Allomancer. So:

are there any restrictions on who can see and hear Preservation, and if so, what are they?

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    its weird because technically anyone could see or hear both of them if they physically manifested since they were some form of human before receiving their shard, its only projecting their voice/visions that required the metal.
    – Himarm
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:19
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    @Himarm What's the difference between "physically manifesting" and "projecting their voice/visions"? By physically manifesting, do you mean the bodies with black/red hair that only actually appear once they die?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:21
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    right i meant they could literally just walk to you irl in their actual bodies.
    – Himarm
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:22
  • @Himarm If they did that, would they then be able to dematerialise their actual bodies and take up their power again? I mean, maybe the reason those actual bodies only appear when they're dead is that the transition from god/force to human body is irreversible.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:24
  • the bodies that manifested were the original humans that took the shards. those bodies only appeared when the shard's power was exhausted, causing the bodies to "die" and the shard separate from them again.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:27

2 Answers 2


Since Preservation is dead, there's not much information to go on except the handful of encounters we saw in the first trilogy.

Based on that, it seems that anyone could "see" the mist spirit, because it was a physical manifestation of Preservation via the mists. Preservation was using his power to create something tangible in the real world.

However, I believe that at one point, Vin "heard" Preservation talking to her, once she removed her earring and took the mists into herself. This is similar to how Ruin and Harmony talk to people: directly in their minds, that no one else can hear. Being in direct contact with the mists appears to be what allowed this to happen.

Note that this lines up exactly with how people "hear" Ruin: the spikes are Hemalurgy, the magic of Ruin. So anyone who is in contact with the "manifestation" of Hemalurgy, even the tiniest bit (like Vin's earring) can hear Ruin. It would make sense that anyone who can "make contact" with the manifestation of Allomancy (the mists) could hear Preservation. The key difference is, anyone can use Hemalurgy if they have a spike, but only Allomancers can use Allomancy.

  • "at one point, Vin "heard" Preservation talking to her" - are you sure / do you have a quote? I just finished tHoA a few days ago and don't remember that.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:28
  • I may be mistaken, I thought she heard Preservation in the battle with the Emperor, but that may actually have been Ruin. Beyond that I don't think Preservation ever talked to anyone.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:29
  • Oh, way back in book 1? I thought you meant once she took ALL the mists into her towards the end.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:31
  • no, the first time she used the mists without knowing what she was doing, I think it was right after her earring got ripped out accidentally and it allowed Preservation to talk to her. I'll have to go re-read it.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:32

This is some minor spoilers for the second era mistborn novels, but...

In Shadows of Self, I recall Sazed telling Wax that he could speak to him through the power of Ruin, and hear him through the power of Preservation. It has been said that Hemalurgy puts "cracks" in a recipient's spirit (people who are insane seem to have a similar condition). Ruin has the power to speak to someone like this; Preservation does not.

This, however, is in reference specifically to how Ruin can speak to people. There are many, many other ways that either Ruin or Preservation could be perceived by someone.

For example, there is the mist spirit. This was visible, I suspect, because it was literally a physical thing. There was no magic involved in seeing it, Elend just saw it with his eyes. Preservation and Ruin's powers were mostly balanced, but I imagine preservation was at least strong enough to form a physical manifestation, especially just a shape in the mist like that.

Also note that in the cognitive realm you can converse freely with either shard. If that statement makes no sense disregard it, there will be spoilers if you try to make sense of it.

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    oh thats right, ruin cant hear you, he could only talk +1,
    – Himarm
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 19:35
  • Isn’t the mist-spirit Preservation’s analogue to Ruin’s body, i.e. atium?
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 23:14
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    @KRyan actually, Preservation's equivalent to atium is a metal called lerasium (which appears at the well of ascension in a similar way to how atium appears at the pits of hathsin). The mists are pretty much the raw power of preservation so technically you are right to call them preservation's "body". But they actually aren't exactly the equivalent to atium. Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 1:50

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