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Nightblood

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Nightblood
Nightblood by Dan dos Santos.png
Abilities Consumes Investiture, Splinter, Worldhopper
Aliases Sword-nimi
World Nalthis
Universe Cosmere
Featured In Warbreaker, The Stormlight Archive
This page or section contains spoilers for Rhythm of War!
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.
This page or section needs to be updated with new information for Oathbringer and Rhythm of War!
Be aware that in its current state, it may not include all additional content yet.

Hello! Would you like to destroy some evil today?

—Nightblood's initial greeting to Szeth[1]

Nightblood is a powerful sentient sword and Shardblade[2][3] originally from Nalthis. It was created by Shashara with assistance from Vasher.

Appearance and Personality[edit]

Szeth wielding Nightblood

Appearance[edit]

Nightblood is completely black, both blade and hilt. The blade is thin,[4] long, and straight, with cutting edges on both sides.[5] The cross guard is referred to as being hooked. The hilt has a pommel.[6] Its overall size is noted as large; most likely, Nightblood was made to fit the proportions of a Returned. It is surprisingly heavy when sheathed.[4] Nightblood was originally made of steel before being Awakened.[7] It has an aluminum scabbard[8] with a clasp on it to prevent easy release of Nightblood. The scabbard was not directly involved in Nightblood's Awakening and it has not been revealed when it was created, or by whom.[9]

Based on Vasher and Vivenna's statements, Nightblood could be around fifty-three all the way to sixty inches long overall, with a blade length somewhere between forty-three to forty-six inches.

Personality[edit]

I'm not bloodthirsty. I just want to be useful.

—Nightbood[10]

Nightblood is sentient but lacks a human context for its intelligence (sapience). Time has no meaning for it, nor can it understand the dynamic aspect of human personalities. The first hours of its life are imprinted into its memory, and it cannot overwrite the initial experiences, such as Denth being fond of it and Shashara being alive. It is, however, very capable in some ways, able to grow and learn.[11] Vasher tends to underestimate its capacity to change.[12]

It can speak into the minds of people nearby, including Vasher, Vivenna, Lift, and Szeth, and it reads the surface thoughts of its wielder whether they want it to or not, often running into difficulty interpreting them.[13] It is usually cheerful, eager to help, and craves approval, but it is very self-centered and it does not like to be ignored.[14][13] It can project images directly into people's minds.[15] Nightblood can more easily influence and better communicate with people who are mentally unhinged.[16]

As an Awakened object, Nightblood's goal is to fulfill its Command, "Destroy evil".[13] It often tries to convince its wielders that they should draw it and is often bored or frustrated when sheathed.[13][14] Though it thinks otherwise, Nightblood doesn't need to sleep.[17]

Nightblood has no sense of gender assigned to itself. Vasher is responsible for originally assigning it male pronouns, while Lift refers to it using female pronouns. It is fascinated by gender, and is still attempting to figure it out.[18]

Attributes and Abilities[edit]

Effect on Others[edit]

You cannot tempt the hearts of men who are pure, Nightblood.

Those that the sword defines as "evil" feel drawn to possess it; once an "evil" person picks Nightblood up, the sword amplifies the wielder's bloodlust causing him or her to slaughter anyone nearby and then commit suicide with the blade. Nightblood in effect "wields" the person holding the sword and the result is often suicide with Nightblood plunged through their chest.[20][21] A strong-willed person or someone who has previous history with Nightblood can resist this bloodlust.[13]

A "good" person, someone who wouldn't want to use Nightblood for evil purposes, feels sick while looking at Nightblood; touching it can induce vomiting.[22] Wrapping the sword in a blanket seems to help suppress these effects.[20]

Anyone who is able to wield Nightblood and survive bonds with the blade to a greater degree is no longer repelled by or abnormally drawn to use it.[23] This bond does not allow for access to Stormlight directly.[24] Nightblood's compulsion/revulsion magic has some parallels with Rioting.[25]

Vasher and Vivenna weaponize this trait of Nightblood by allowing someone "evil" to use it, knowing they will be compelled to use the sword to kill others and then themselves.[4][13][15]

Usage[edit]

Vasher wielding unsheathed Nightblood

Even while still in its scabbard, Nightblood is very powerful and enhances the person holding it; simply unclasping it allows some of its power to manifest. It will deepen colors around it, similar to how a person with many Breaths will brighten colors, even on worlds without Breaths.[26] When its clasp is undone and even a bit of its blade shows, it suddenly feels lighter and leaks an inky smoke. The smoke is the Breaths that it has absorbed from its victims, twisted and fouled, leaking back out.[27] While the sword was simply unclasped, Szeth smashed a man in the back, seemingly breaking bones and paralyzing him.[10] A prison guard on Nalthis was able to run the mostly-sheathed sword through his own chest.[4]

Once drawn, Nightblood becomes incredibly powerful. Its voice becomes overpowering and liquid smoke pours from the length of the blade. The sword becomes barely sentient as its Command takes over, and it does not usually recall what happens while it is drawn.[28] The wielder feels extreme pain in the arm holding Nightblood and the hand, arm, and eventually the whole body turns black as the sword consumes Investiture.[21][29] The black veins or tendrils that appear in the wielder usually leave the skin gray after Nightblood is sheathed or otherwise satiated. This can be see in Lolan's hand, Lift's arms, and Szeth's face.[30][29] Nightblood is strong enough that an Awakener of the tenth Heightening cannot break its command.[31]

Living humans, Lifeless, and inanimate objects disappear in a puff of smoke if so much as nicked by Nightblood's blade.[10][21] Nightblood can also destroy inanimate objects by destroying their bead in Shadesmar.[32] Nightblood is powerful enough to destroy Fused and thunderclasts permanently, presumably sending them to the Beyond.[33] Additional incredible effects of Nightblood include: killing the Vessel of a Shard of Adonalsium,[34] collapsing a perpendicularity,[35] putting a nick in an Honorblade,[35] and severing Bondsmith-forged Connections.[35] So long as Nightblood is unsheathed, it drains Investiture from its wielder, drawing it faster the longer it is held, until it is all gone.[21] If held until all available Breath (or other Investiture) is consumed, Nightblood will feed on the spark of life, killing the wielder.[29][36] This will also happen to non-Returned that wield Nightblood.[37]

Nightblood was created on Nalthis and initially consumed BioChromatic Breaths, but it can also consume other forms of Investiture, such as Stormlight.[38][10] On Scadrial, a person would need to be actively burning a metal or tapping a metalmind to avoid being consumed very quickly.[39] Nightblood can also feed on the mists but would not be able to pick up the Shard Preservation.[40] On Sel, Nightblood would be able to draw power from the Dor. For instance, if an Elantrian drew an Aon above the sword, it would be able to draw on Investiture, but the Aon would quickly be consumed due to too much energy being pulled through too small an opening.[41] Notably, it can draw Stormlight from other sources directly--not just from the wielder.[10]

Nightblood is one of the most heavily Invested non-Shard entities in the cosmere, due to consuming the Investiture of its users and victims.[42] It has been compared to Susebron, making it possible that its current Investiture is roughly equivalent to over 50,000 Breaths.[43] Nightblood probably has more raw Investiture than an Unmade, but not the Stormfather.[44]

Comparison to Shardblades[edit]

Nightblood is very similar to a Shardblade;[2][3] Vasher and Shashara actually made it in imitation of Shardblades, with which they had prior experience.[45] However, since they didn't know how Shardblades were originally made and were trying to imitate a magic system different from the one they had access to, they had to do some "hacking" in order to get it to work, resulting in something akin to a Frankenstein's monster[46] or "robot spren".[45] Nightblood, while ultimately built around the same principles as other Shardblades, is much more powerful than normal, and is, in some ways, broken and opposite from them (e.g., in requiring constant input of Investiture to function, emitting black smoke that falls instead of white smoke that rises).[47] It is effectively a "third generation" Blade, where Honorblades are "first generation" and spren Blades are "second generation".[48]

Much like a Shardblade, Nightblood is its own being, and even more powerful Awakeners like Shashara and Susebron would not be able to retrieve Breaths from it or break its command.[49][31] Trying to use Allomancy to burn it would be similar to an attempt to burn someone else's metalmind.[50] Unlike a Shardblade, however, it could attract spren.[51]

When used, its effects are somewhat similar to those of Shardblades, but much more powerful. It can destroy non-living material, but not just what it touches, as Shardblades do: Vasher clears a hole ten feet wide by ramming Nightblood into a ceiling.[21] When it inflicts a wound, it vaporizes and destroys on all three Realms (Cognitive, Physical, and Spiritual).[52] So far, everything Nightblood has touched has been destroyed, except for its own scabbard, which was used by a Fused to block a blow from Nightblood during the Battle of Thaylen Field. Nightblood would be able to stop a Shardblade that hit it, but it seems to be unclear what would happen to the Shardblade.[53] Nightblood is able to both stop, and damage, an Honorblade.[35]

History[edit]

Wielded by Vasher

Creation[edit]

Nightblood was created in collaboration between Vasher and Shashara, Returned lovers and two of the Five Scholars. Shashara, a very talented Awakener, has some feelings of envy after Yesteel invents ichor-alcohol, so she begins experimenting with steel.[13] She eventually discovers a method to Awaken steel and give it sentience, although she and Vasher do not fully understand how this is possible.[13] She reaches the Ninth Heightening and uses a thousand Breaths and a very difficult visualization to Awaken a sword with the Command "Destroy Evil." However, the sword had no concept of evil, and so the Breaths it inherited decided evil was "someone who would try to take the sword and use it for evil purposes, selling it, manipulating, and extorting others, that sort of thing."[54]

Upon being Awakened, the entire sword turned black[55] and began leaking black smoke.[27] Nightblood was not originally a metalmind or a Hemalurgic spike.[56]

Nalthis[edit]

Nightblood was wielded by Shashara at the Battle of Twilight Falls during the Manywar, with devastating effects.[57] Vasher decided that the knowledge of how to Awaken Type IV Entities was extremely dangerous and had a falling out with Shashara, ultimately using Nightblood to kill her in order to keep her from spreading this information; she had previously leaked knowledge of how to make Lifeless from a single Breath.[7] Another of the Five Scholars, Yesteel, somehow learned the secret of creating Type IV Entities but is not known to have actually done so.[58]

The sword had another name when it was created, but Vasher renames it "Nightblood" after killing Shashara.[27] Nightblood knows that Shashara is his creator, but has no recollection of killing her.[59]

Vasher was in possession of Nightblood during the Pahn Kahl rebellion and warned Vivenna against asking questions about Type IV objects.[7] At one point Denth took the sword from Vasher and threw it into a shallow bay (although Nightblood thought it was "the ocean").[16][20] Nightblood was able to get the attention of Chapps, who took it out of the water,[7] but later kills four people and himself.[20] Vivenna then retrieved it and gave it to a group of soldiers to use, who also all die.[15] Vasher finally found it and used it to destroy a large number of Lifeless while pursuing Denth.[21]

Slaying a thunderclast with Szeth

Roshar[edit]

I think you did a great job, Szeth. You didn't destroy many of them, yes, but you just need some more practice!

—Nightblood after the Battle of Thaylen Field[60]

Some time later, Vasher traveled to Roshar but was eventually separated from Nightblood[61] after some kind of falling out.[62] The Nightwatcher offered Nightblood to Dalinar during his visit to the Valley.[63] The sword next surfaced after the Battle of Narak, when it is given to Szeth after his death and restoration by Nale.[1] Szeth, who calls Nightblood 'sword-nimi', carries it during and after his training with Nale and the Skybreakers. He was warned not to draw it except in case of extreme emergency and only if he carries much Stormlight, lest it feed upon his soul.[14] Notably, Szeth makes no mention of any sensation of nausea or lust for Nightblood upon encountering it.

He is seen by Lift carrying Nightblood in Yeddaw and later in Thaylenah. Nightblood then states that he likes Lift.[29][64]

The first time Szeth draws Nightblood is during his Skybreaker test at the Purelake. Colors appear to become darker and more vibrant around him, and he manages to re-sheath the sword after killing a corrupt nobleman.[10] Szeth then draws Nightblood during the Battle of Thaylen Field and kills hundreds of enemies, but also nearly kills both himself and Lift, draining their Stormlight.[65]

During the War of Reckoning and the True Desolation, Vasher remains on Roshar and has been there for quite some time.[66] Vivenna subsequently appears on Roshar under the identity of Azure, searching for Vasher and Nightblood.[67] As Azure, Vivenna carries a sword of unknown origin that shares some similar characteristics with Nightblood.[68][69] Borea, an honorspren in Shadesmar, wants to know more about the sword; she recalls Nightblood passing through several years ago and agrees to trade information with Vivenna.[68]

Szeth chooses to leave Nightblood a distance away when interacting with his highspren.[70]

During their campaign to free Emul, Nightblood accompanies Szeth, Dalinar, and several Windrunners to parley with Ishar. Crazed, Ishar attempts to form a Connection with Dalinar to steal his bond to the Stormfather. Inside of Dalinar's perpendicularity, Szeth uses Nightblood to sever this Connection, thereby saving Dalinar. While Szeth duels Ishar, Nightblood manages to chip off a piece of Ishar's Honorblade, shocking Ishar and causing him to flee.[35]

Nightblood later accompanies Szeth when the Skybreaker invades Taravangian's prison and murders him with a normal knife. Just before Taravangian dies, Odium arrives to question him, but Taravangian grabs the cognitive manifestation of Nightblood and uses it to attack the Shard. Taravangian then died, but, before he could pass into the Beyond, Nightblood killed Odium's Vessel, Rayse, but was sated by the Investiture required to do so and left the Shard itself intact, which allowed Taravangian to Ascend as the new Vessel of Odium.[34]

Cosmere Significance[edit]

Both Shashara and Vasher had been to other planets before creating Nightblood and have relatively significant amounts of knowledge regarding the cosmere and Investiture.[71] Nightblood is one of the most heavily Invested things in the cosmere.[72][73] It is far more Invested than other powerful magical objects like Shardblades or the Bands of Mourning[74], and the only things more Invested than it are Shards.[42] Nightblood didn't start off that strong but grew in power over time.[42] Nightblood cannot destroy an entire Shard but the Vessel can be killed by it.[75][34]

It retains its power in any location as it can feed on any kind of Investiture available, including souls and even physical matter.[76][73] It consumes Investiture at an incredibly high rate.[21][14] It is one of very few things known to affect all three Realms; it has been described as "attacking directly at the spirit".[77] Nightblood is able to collapse a perpendicularity.[78][35] Odium was well aware of Nightblood[79], though he was surprised to see it before he was destroyed.[34] Other Vessels are afraid of it.[80] Hoid, who is very difficult to kill,[81] is also afraid of it.[82]

If Nightblood and Vivenna's Blade were wielded against each other, terrible things would happen. Nightblood is, however, the stronger of the two.[83]

Trivia[edit]

  • Brandon intended to write a full sequel to Warbreaker called Nightblood that would have helped explain how Vasher and Nightblood ended up on Roshar, but other projects have taken precedence and it is on indefinite hiatus. Some clues may be given in other books, and Nightblood may be written as a novella instead.[50]
  • Nightblood has visited more than two Shardworlds.[84]
  • It is theoretically possible for Nightblood to bond a spren, but the circumstances required are so bizarre it would probably never happen.[85]
  • Nightblood has some similarities to Tzai blows, a technique in the non-canonical work Dragonsteel Prime that can directly attack something in the Spiritual Realm.[77][86]

Notes[edit]

  1. a b Words of Radiance chapter 88 #
  2. a b Words of Radiance signing San Fansisco
    Arcanum - 2014-03-06#
  3. a b Calamity Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-17#
  4. a b c d Warbreaker prologue #
  5. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-06-11#
  6. Edgedancer chapter 9 #
  7. a b c d Warbreaker chapter 53 #
  8. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  9. Oathbringer Houston signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-18#
  10. a b c d e f Oathbringer chapter 92 #
  11. Warbreaker Annotations
    Arcanum - 2011-06-15#
  12. Warbreaker Annotations
    Arcanum - 2011-04-25#
  13. a b c d e f g h Warbreaker chapter 51 #
  14. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 90 #
  15. a b c Warbreaker chapter 55 #
  16. a b Warbreaker Annotations
    Arcanum - 2011-06-07#
  17. Steelheart Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2013-10-05#
  18. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-03-13#
  19. Warbreaker chapter 21 #
  20. a b c d Warbreaker chapter 54 #
  21. a b c d e f g Warbreaker chapter 56 #
  22. Edgedancer chapter 15 #
  23. Warbreaker Annotations
    Arcanum - 2011-06-22#
  24. Shadows of Self San Francisco signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-09#
  25. Orem signing
    Arcanum - 2018-03-10#
  26. Warbreaker chapter 15 #
  27. a b c Warbreaker Annotations
    Arcanum - 2011-04-25#
  28. Warbreaker Annotations
    Arcanum - 2011-07-25#
  29. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 119 #
  30. Warbreaker chapter 26 #
  31. a b ICon 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-10-17#
  32. Oathbringer Portland signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-16#
  33. Idaho Falls signing
    Arcanum - 2018-07-21#
  34. a b c d Rhythm of War chapter 113 #
  35. a b c d e f Rhythm of War chapter 111 #
  36. Words of Radiance San Diego signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-04#
  37. /r/fantasy AMA 2013
    Arcanum - 2013-04-15#
  38. Firefight signing Miami
    Arcanum - 2015-01-08#
  39. Oathbringer London signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  40. Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-06-11#
  41. Oathbringer Leeds signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-01#
  42. a b c Legion Release Party
    Arcanum - 2018-09-19#
  43. Salt Lake City signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-29#
  44. Orem Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-03-16#
  45. a b /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-07-25#
  46. San Diego Comic-Con 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-07-09#
  47. Firefight release party
    Arcanum - 2015-01-05#
  48. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-08-04#
  49. ICon 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-10-17#
  50. a b Shadows of Self Nottingham UK signing
    Arcanum - 2015-10-22#
  51. Starsight Release Party
    Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
  52. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-05-18#
  53. Barnes & Noble B-Fest 2016
    Arcanum - 2016-06-11#
  54. Warbreaker Annotations
    Arcanum - 2010-12-22#
  55. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  56. ICon 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-10-15#
  57. Warbreaker Annotations
    Arcanum - 2010-11-16#
  58. Warbreaker Annotations
    Arcanum - 2011-06-22#
  59. Warbreaker chapter 29 #
  60. Oathbringer chapter 121 #
  61. Arcanum Unbounded release party
    Arcanum - 2016-11-22#
  62. Minicon 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-04-02#
  63. Oathbringer chapter 114 #
  64. Edgedancer chapter 16 #
  65. Oathbringer chapter 118 #
  66. Words of Radiance Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-08#
  67. Warsaw signing
    Arcanum - 2017-03-18#
  68. a b Oathbringer chapter 108 #
  69. Idaho Falls signing
    Arcanum - 2018-07-21#
  70. Rhythm of War interlude I-7 #
  71. Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  72. Calamity Seattle signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-17#
  73. a b Oathbringer London signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-28#
  74. Calamity Philadelphia signing
    Arcanum - 2016-02-20#
  75. Starsight Release Party
    Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
  76. Shadows of Self release party
    Arcanum - 2015-10-05#
  77. a b Oathbringer Houston signing
    Arcanum - 2017-11-18#
  78. DragonCon 2019
    Arcanum - 2019-08-29#
  79. Oathbringer Leeds signing
    Arcanum - 2017-12-01#
  80. Legion Release Party
    Arcanum - 2018-09-19#
  81. Fantasy Faction interview
    Arcanum - 2014-04-24#
  82. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  83. Starsight Release Party
    Arcanum - 2019-11-26#
  84. Orem Signing
    Arcanum - 2019-03-16#
  85. London signing
    Arcanum - 2014-08-04#
  86. Dragonsteel Prime chapter 37
    Brandon's website - 2017-10-23#
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