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Nightblood

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Nightblood
Szeth and Nightblood.png
by LittleGreyDragon
Abilities Destroys Evil, Worldhopper
Aliases sword-nimi
World Nalthis
Featured In Warbreaker, The Stormlight Archive
This page or section contains spoilers for Oathbringer!
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You cannot tempt the hearts of men who are pure, Nightblood.
Vasher[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]

Physical Description[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 It is surprisingly heavy when sheathed.[4] Nightblood was originally made of steel before being Awakened.[7] It has an aluminum sheath[8] with a clasp on it to prevent easy release of Nightblood. The sheath was not directly involved in Nightblood's Awakening and it is has not been revealed when it was created, or by whom.[9]

Based on Vasher and Vivenna's statements, Nightblood could be around 53 all the way to 60 inches long overall, with a blade of around 43-46 inches long.

Personality and interactions[edit]

The first hours of Nightblood’s life are imprinted into its memory, and it cannot overwrite its 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.[10] Vasher tends to underestimate its capacity to change.[11]

I'm not bloodthirsty. I just want to be useful.
—Nightbood to Szeth on killing people [12]

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. It can speak into its the minds of people nearby, including Vasher, Vivenna, 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 is better able to 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 he thinks otherwise, Nightblood doesn't need to sleep.[17]

History[edit]

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."[18]

Upon being Awakened, the entire sword turns black[19] and begins leaking black smoke.[11]

Nalthis[edit]

Nightblood is wielded by Shashara at the Battle of Twilight Falls during the Manywar, with devastating effects.[20] Vasher decided that the knowledge of how to Awaken Type IV Entities was extremely dangerous and has 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.[21]

The sword had another name when it was created, but Vasher renames it "Nightblood" after killing Shashara.[16] Nightblood knows that Shashara is his creator, but has no recollection of killing her.[22]

Vasher is in possession of Nightblood during the events of Warbreaker and warns Vivenna against asking questions about Type IV objects.[7] At one point Denth takes the sword from Vasher and throws it into a shallow bay (although Nightblood thinks it is "the ocean").[16][23] Nightblood is able to get the attention of Chapps who takes it out of the water[7] but later kills four people and himself.[23] Vivenna retrieves it and gives it to some soldiers who also all die.[15] Vasher finally finds it and uses it to destroy a large number of Lifeless in pursuit of Denth.[24]

Roshar[edit]

Some time later, Vasher travels to Roshar but is eventually separated from Nightblood[25] after some kind of falling out.[26] We next see the sword after the Battle of Narak when it is given to Szeth after his death and Restoration by Nale.[27] Szeth, who calls Nightblood 'sword-nimi', carries it during and after his training with Nale and the Skybreakers. He is 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]

He is seen by Lift carrying Nightblood in Yeddaw and later in Thaylena. Nightblood likes Lift.[28][29]

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.[12] 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.[30]

During the events of The Stormlight Archive Vasher remains on Roshar and has been there for quite some time.[31] Vivenna subsequently appears on Roshar under the identity of Azure, searching for Vasher and Nightblood.[32] As Azure, Vivenna carries a sword of unknown origin that shares some characteristics with Nightblood.[33][34] 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.[33]

Powers[edit]

Effect on Others[edit]

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.[23][24] 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.[35] Wrapping the sword in a blanket seems to help suppress these effects.[23]

Anyone who is able to wield Nightblood and survive bonds with the blade to a greater degree and is no longer repelled by or abnormally drawn to use it.[21] This bond does not allow for access to Stormlight directly.[36] Nightblood's compulsion/revulsion magic has some parallels with Rioting.[37]

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]

Szeth with Nightblood sheathed, by ShiroXIX

Even while still in its scabbard, Nightblood is very powerful and enhances the person holding him; 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.[38] 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.[11] While the sword was simply unclasped, Szeth smashed a man in the back, seemingly breaking bones and paralyzing him.[12] 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 because its Command takes over, and it does not usually recall what happens while it is drawn.[39] 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.[24][28] 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.[40][28]

Living humans, Lifeless, and inanimate objects disappear in a puff of smoke if touched by Nightblood's blade.[12][24] 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.[24] If held until all available Breath (or other Investiture) is consumed, Nightblood will feed on the spark of life, killing the wielder.[28][41] This will also happen to non-Returned that wield Nightblood.[42]

Nightblood was created on Nalthis and initially consumes BioChromatic Breaths, but it can also consume other forms of Investiture, such as Stormlight.[43][12] On Scadrial, a person would need to be actively burning a metal or tapping a metalmind to avoid being consumed very quickly.[44] Nightblood can also feed on the Mists but would not be able to pick up the Shard.[45] 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.[46] Notably, it can draw Stormlight from other sources directly--not just from the wielder.[12]

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.[47] 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[48] or "robot spren".[47] 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).[49] It is effectively a "third generation" Blade, where Honorblades are "first generation" and spren Blades are "second generation".[50]

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.[24] When it inflicts a wound, it vaporizes and destroys on all three Realms (Cognitive, Physical, and Spiritual).[51] So far, everything Nightblood has touched has been destroyed, except for its own sheath, 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.[52]

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.[53] Nightblood is one of the most heavily Invested things in the cosmere.[54][55] It is far more Invested than other powerful magical objects like Shardblades or the Bands of Mourning[56], and the only things more Invested than it are Shards.[57] Nightblood didn't start off that strong but grew in power over time.[57] It retains its power in any location as it can feed on any kind of Investiture available, including souls and even physical matter.[58][55] It consumes Investiture at an an incredibly high rate.[24][14] It is one of very few things known to affect all three Realms; it has been described as "attacking directly at the spirit".[59] Odium is well aware of Nightblood[60] and other vessels are afraid of it.[61] Hoid, who is very difficult to kill,[62] is also afraid of it.[63]

Quotes[edit]

At least an hour. One, or two, or ten thousand. Something like that.
— Nightblood to Szeth on how long they have been together [12]
I think you did a great job, Szeth. You didn't destroy many of them, yes, but you just need some more practice!
— Nightblood to Szeth on the aftermath of the Battle of Thaylen [64]

Trivia[edit]

  • 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.[65]
  • It is of note that Szeth makes no mention of any sensation of nausea or lust for Nightblood upon encountering it.
  • Assuming that Nightblood is not Allomantically inert, an attempt to burn it would be similar to an attempt to burn someone else's metalmind.[66]
  • When Dalinar visits the Nightwatcher seeking a boon before the events of The Stormlight Archive, she offers him various possessions including "a Blade that bleeds darkness and cannot be defeated".[67]
  • 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.[66]

Notes[edit]

  1. Warbreaker chapter 21 #
  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. Arcanum entry 9065
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  6. Edgedancer chapter 9 #
  7. a b c d Warbreaker chapter 53 #
  8. Oathbringer release party
    Arcanum - 2017-11-13#
  9. Arcanum entry 8410
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  10. Annotation for Warbreaker chapter 54 #
  11. a b c Annotation for Warbreaker chapter 51 #
  12. a b c d e f g Oathbringer chapter 92 #
  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 c Annotation for Warbreaker chapter 53 #
  17. Arcanum entry 3021
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  18. Annotation for Warbreaker chapter 35 #
  19. Arcanum entry 8245
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  20. Annotation for Warbreaker chapter 26 #
  21. a b Annotation for Warbreaker chapter 55 #
  22. Warbreaker chapter 29 #
  23. a b c d Warbreaker chapter 54 #
  24. a b c d e f g Warbreaker chapter 56 #
  25. Arcanum entry 1714
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  26. Arcanum entry 651
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  27. Words of Radiance chapter 88 #
  28. a b c d Oathbringer chapter 119 #
  29. Edgedancer chapter 16 #
  30. Oathbringer chapter 118 #
  31. Arcanum entry 6267
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  32. Arcanum entry 1892
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  33. a b Oathbringer chapter 108 #
  34. Arcanum entry 10477
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  35. Edgedancer chapter 15 #
  36. Arcanum entry 8348
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  37. Arcanum entry 9424
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  38. Warbreaker chapter 15 #
  39. Annotation for Warbreaker chapter 58 #
  40. Warbreaker chapter 26 #
  41. Words of Radiance San Diego signing
    Arcanum - 2014-03-04#
  42. Arcanum entry 4068
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  43. Firefight signing Miami
    Arcanum - 2015-01-08#
  44. Arcanum entry 8683
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  45. Arcanum entry 4590
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  46. Arcanum entry 8746
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  47. a b Arcanum entry 3586
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  48. San Diego Comic-Con 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-07-09#
  49. Arcanum entry 7134
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  50. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-08-04#
  51. Arcanum entry 3393
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  52. Arcanum entry 5555
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  53. Arcanum Unbounded Chicago signing
    Arcanum - 2016-12-06#
  54. Arcanum entry 5170
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  55. a b Arcanum entry 8662
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  56. Arcanum entry 7668
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  57. a b Arcanum entry 10833
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  58. Arcanum entry 5879
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  59. Arcanum entry 8404
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  60. Arcanum entry 8741
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  61. Arcanum entry 10832
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  62. Arcanum entry 4780
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  63. Arcanum entry 8588
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  64. Oathbringer chapter 121 #
  65. /r/books AMA 2015
    Arcanum - 2015-03-13#
  66. a b Arcanum entry 2901
    Error: missing reference description, click to import.
  67. Oathbringer chapter 114 #
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