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Nergaoul

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Nergaoul
Thrill.png
by Ashley Coad
Abilities Splinter of Odium
Groups Unmade
Species Spren
World Roshar
Universe Cosmere
Featured In The Stormlight Archive
This page or section contains spoilers for Oathbringer!
This information has the ability to potentially ruin elements of the plot for the reader. Proceed with caution if you have not read this book.

Nergaoul is the Unmade involved with the Thrill.[1] He[2] has been described as an "ancient, evil spren".[3]

Appearance and Nature[edit]

Something came surging out. Something primeval, something Venli had felt but never truly known. Red mist. Ephemeral, like a shadow you see on a dark day and mistake for something real. Charging red horses, angry and galloping. The forms of men, killing and dying, shedding blood and reveling in it. Bones piled atop one another, making a hill upon which men struggled.

The red mist climbed up from the surging waves, rolling out onto an empty section of rock, northward along the rim of the water. It brought to her a lust for the battlefield. A beautiful focus, a Thrill for the fight.

Venli witnessing the arrival of Nergaoul in Thaylen City[4]

When visible in the Physical Realm, Nergaoul appears in the form of red mist. The mist would often form images of battle, of soldiers fighting and dying, among other things.[5][4] However, Nergaoul can affect people even without being in this visible state, and his influence can be felt in an area big enough to span nations.

In Shadesmar, he appears as a large dark mass of living red light.[4]

The Thrill[edit]

The Thrill is the term used to describe the effect of Nergaoul's presence on people. It manifests as a strong competitive urge accompanied by increased focus and the ability to ignore things like pain or moral concerns that might otherwise distract from the goal of victory. This effect can be felt during any competition, whether violent or non-violent, although it is much more keen during battle[6], where it has been described as a sense of bloodlust[4] and an enjoyment and longing for war.[7] It is a phenomenon experienced by many on Roshar, most of whom are not aware of its Unmade origin.

The Thrill is thought to generally grow stronger the closer someone is to Nergaoul's location.[3] Regardless of its strength, given enough willpower, it is still possible for someone sensing the Thrill to reject it, or let go of it even when it is already in effect.[8]

It appears that those who've experienced the Thrill could somehow sense when someone else is embracing it, as Adolin was able to sense it in Eshonai[9] and Dalinar in Kalanor.[8]

Unmade[edit]

As a spren of Odium, Nergaoul contains part of Odium's Investiture. Perhaps due to this, Odium can more easily control anyone embracing the Thrill.[4] Odium can send Nergaoul wherever he wished, and also increase the strength of the Thrill for anyone he chooses, as he does to Dalinar while trying to make him his champion.[10]

Hessi describes Nergaoul as one of the less self-aware Unmade, noting how the Thrill affects both Voidbringers and humans indiscriminately.[11] From Nergaoul's interaction with Dalinar during the Battle of Thaylen Field, his comprehension does seem lacking. However, he also seems to possess some level of sentience, as he showed a desire to please Dalinar and exulted in his praise.[12]

It is known that being very close to something tied to Honor reduces the effects of the Thrill.[13] For example, Kaladin Stormblessed, a Knight Radiant is immune to it[14]. During plateau raids, Dalinar often notices the Thrill, but loses it suddenly, possibly due to the moves he was making that lead to his becoming a Radiant[citation needed]. This is likely due to Honor's Investiture interfering with Odium's Investiture.

History[edit]

According to Hessi's Mythica, the signs of Nergaoul's presence, namely the battle rage and the red mist, have been known since ancient times.[2] She believed Nergaoul to still be active on modern Roshar due to Alethi descriptions of the Thrill.

In Alethkar[edit]

Most Alethi soldiers, lighteyed or not, felt the Thrill to some degree. Most notably, it was used heavily and quite effectively by the Alethi general and highprince Dalinar Kholin back when he fought battles for his brother Gavilar, who wanted to unify Alethkar under his own rule. Dalinar's Thrill-driven ferocity in combat earned him a great reputation within Alethkar and infamy elsewhere. People started calling him the Blackthorn after the Thrill helped him endure getting pierced by several black arrows during a failed assassination attempt.[15]

Getting help from an Unmade came at a cost. At one point, the Thrill caused Dalinar to almost attack Gavilar after a battle.[8] Later on, succumbing to a vengeful rage stoked by the Thrill, he ordered the slaughter of everyone in the rebelling city of Rathalas, which led to the death of his own wife Evi.[16]

Dalinar eventually recovered from this tragedy when his memories of Evi were taken away by Cultivation[17] and he resumed fighting in battles, this time against those responsible for Gavilar's assassination. He continued to use the Thrill throughout most of the War of Reckoning until he found himself more and more repulsed by the idea of senseless killing. Dalinar came to realize that there was something wrong about the Thrill.[18]

Other notable Alethi who embraced the Thrill at some point in their lives were Dalinar's son Adolin, the Highprince Kalanor, and the Highprince Torol Sadeas.

In Jah Keved[edit]

Nergaoul moved towards Jah Keved while the country was recovering from a series of assassinations that killed King Hanavanar and many Veden Highprinces. It is believed that the Unmade's presence greatly worsened the civil war that broke out due to the succession crisis, causing much destruction until the war ended with Valam's victory.

King Taravangian of Kharbranth, the one ultimately responsible for the assassinations, and who shortly succeeded Valam and obtained Jah Keved as his second kingdom, had been studying the various Unmade and noticed Nergaoul's influence in the civil war, but decided to focus his efforts on the Unmade called Moelach instead.[3]

In Thaylenah[edit]

Thank you for giving me strength when I needed it. Now, old friend, it is time to rest.
— Dalinar to Nergaoul (who he knows as the Thrill), right before trapping the Unmade[12]

During the Battle of Thaylen Field, Odium used Nergaoul to control Sadeas's soldiers and attack Thaylen City.[4] He also used the Thrill to attempt to turn Dalinar to his side and become his champion.[10]

After Szeth and Lift obtained the perfect gemstone called King's Drop, Lift handed it to Dalinar, who then managed to trap Nergaoul inside the gemstone. He did this by embracing the Thrill one last time while lifting King's Drop above his head, coaxing the Unmade into it.[12]

This freed the Sadeas army from Odium's influence, thereby ending the battle.

Notes[edit]

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