The Nightwatcher would bless those who sought her out with one blessing of her choosing. In exchange for this blessing, she also bestows a single curse, although this curse very rarely has any obvious relation to the blessing that was gained. Because of the Nightwatcher's ethereal nature and ties to a single location, the Valley, she is considered by many to be a powerful spren.[Citation needed] It is surprisingly common for devoutly Vorin lighteyes go to the Nightwatcher at one point or another over the course of their lives.
Anyone is allowed to seek a single boon from the Nightwatcher. To do this, the supplicant must first travel to the Valley in the west, where the Nightwatcher resides. After finding the Nightwatcher, the supplicant may request a boon. There are no clear restrictions on what the Nightwatcher has the power to grant--like most things regarding the Old Magic, the few known facts are surrounded by a web of myths and legends. The precise phrasing of the request does not appear to make a difference, however, since the Nightwatcher bestows a boon that she feels the supplicant deserves. In most cases, the continued pain of the curse appears to outweigh the blessing of the boon, even if the supplicant receives the boon they desired. A notable exception was Av's father, who received enough cloth to keep his family from starving during a famine. His curse, seeing the world upside down, apparently stopped troubling him after he acclimated to the situation.[Citation needed]
Contrary to popular belief, it is not possible to avoid the curse by carefully phrasing a request--or even to predict the curse that the Nightwatcher will bestow.[Citation needed] Interestingly, it does not appear that balance is carefully maintained through an individual blessing and curse--often, highly visible curses are the result of relatively minor boons. The curses can be quite thorough, however--in one case, a man lost all feeling in both of his hands until the day he died. Whether these curses follow some cosmic justice, or are merely the result of a capricious spren, is unknown, as is the true nature of the Nightwatcher.
- Dalinar Kholin
- After visiting the Nightwatcher, Darlinar lost all memory of his wife. Additionally, when someone mentions her name, all that he hears is "Shshshsh". It is unclear whether this effect is a result of Dalinar's boon or his curse. Dalinar keeps his request, boon, and curse very private, and very few people know of his visit to the Nightwatcher.
- Av's father
- As his boon, Av's father received a heap of good cloth, which he sold to keep his family from starving during the lurnip famine. As a curse, he sees the world upside down.
- Taravangian claims to have asked the Nightwatcher for, "Capacity. Capacity to stop what was coming. The capacity to save humankind." As a result, Taravangian's level of intelligence varies from day to day. This enabled him to write the Diagram on a day of particularly notable intelligence. He believes that his curse is a level of compassion inversely proportional to his intelligence; he feels little to no compassion on days of high intelligence, contrasted with days of low intelligence and great compassion "to feel pain for what he had done."
- The precise wording of her request is unknown, but Lift believes that "she was supposed to stay the same, and the world was supposed to change around her." Lift interprets this to mean that she shouldn't age, which does not appear to be the case. The boon and curse are unknown, but Lift's abilities to physically touch Wyndle and to digest food into Stormlight are apparently related to one or both of these. Wyndle supposes that she is partially stuck in the Cognitive Realm.
Theories and Speculation
It has been hypothesized that the Nightwatcher is, for lack of a better term, a "godspren" representing the cognitive idea of Cultivation in the minds of the people of Roshar in the same way that the Stormfather represents their idea of Honor. This might also explain why Wyndle, the spren bonded to Lift, calls the Nightwatcher his "mother" in much the same way that Sylphrena (an honorspren) calls the Stormfather her "father." Wyndle also grows like vines as he moves and gives Lift the ability to access the Surge of Progression--something which, taken at face value, seems consistent with idea of Cultivation. This is purely conjecture at this point though, since little is currently known of the Nightwatcher and even less is known of Cultivation.
- The Way of Kings interlude I-7
- The Way of Kings chapter 61
- Words of Radiance interlude I-14
- Edgedancer chapter 1
- Words of Radiance interlude I-9
- Edgedancer chapter 4