|Abilities||Nahel bond, Windrunner magic, Splinter of Honor|
|Bonded With||Kaladin, Relador (formerly)|
|Featured In||The Stormlight Archive|
”I bind things, Kaladin. I am honorspren. Spirit of oaths. Of promises. And of nobility.
Sylphrena, or Syl, is an honorspren on Roshar. She has a Nahel bond with Kaladin, making him a Windrunner. She is a splinter of Honor and one of the last eleven remaining honorspren created directly by the Stormfather. Among her kinsmen, she's known as the Ancient Daughter. At first, Kaladin believes her to be a windspren; she only reveals her true nature several months after the two first met.
Appearance and Personality
In the Physical Realm, Syl can take on a variety of appearances, including a ribbon of light, a flurry of leaves, flame, or a small cloud. However, she prefers the form of a young woman about a handspan tall, with an angular face and flowing hair that fades into mist behind her head. She usually wears a long, flowing dress, of a girlish cut. She will often augment it with various other articles of clothing, like a cap, a jacket or an umbrella, or swap it out for similar attire, like a havah with a safehand. Regardless of her clothing, however, she always goes barefoot. In any form she takes, her entire form has a uniform, blue-white color, and glows with faint blue light. While Kaladin and Lunamor can always see her, to others, she's invisible unless she wills herself to be seen.
Syl is also able to appear as a shape-shifting Shardblade. She occasionally appears as a sword or shield, but most often manifests as a spear. Common between all these forms are a physical makeup of glowing, silvery metal and glyphs engraved on the surface. As a Shardspear, the glyphs are swirling ones engraved along the spearhead. She is able to appear in varying lengths, but typically appears with a cylindrical grip, unadorned save for a foot long helical swirl of metal right before the tip. The spearhead has a single serration at the base where it connects to the grip. As a Shardblade, Syl typically appears sleek and beautiful, with a Windrunner glyph centered on the blade. Lines running off the glyph towards the hilt are reminscent of her hair.
In Shadesmar, Syl is incapable of changing forms, or becoming invisible. There, she is human-sized, looking like a pretty girl with blue-white skin. She wears a dress but, like with her Physical Realm form, she is barefoot. This being said, while she is humanoid, she does not share human biology -- her eyes are decorative rather than functional, and she sees the world in the same way spren without human features, like the Cryptics, do.
”I know this because I am intelligent and articulate. You should compliment me now.—Syl
Syl is generally cheerful and mischievous, often making jokes and playing pranks on those around her. She's highly irreverent, and can be forgetful at times. She's unflinchingly optimistic, always trying to see the best in people, and always believing that there's something good waiting in the future. She does have a bit of a prideful streak, although she often plays it for laughs, calling herself a "tiny piece of god" and trying to trick Lunamor into building a shrine for her. She's constantly curious about the world around her, and particularly people and how they look and act, often using her invisibility to spy on them at an uncomfortably close distance. She has little sense of propriety in this regard -- at some point, she even snuck in to observe people being intimate with each other.
She has a very strict code of ethics, despising deception and lies, although she eventually becomes more willing to be cunning. She believes that being a Windrunner is not about finding justice, and that the use of their power is only justified when protecting others. She can be very assertive and even angry when she perceive someone as acting in a wrong manner. However, she also believes in the "us versus them" duality in the war against Odium, and becomes uneasy and confused when the lines grow blurry. She can be rather forceful in her attempts to do what she thinks is right, even when it could hurt the emotions of others. She despises people who wield dead Shardblades.
Syl is particularly focused on keeping Kaladin in a healthy mental state. She always tries to push him to keep going even when he's at his worst, and encourages him to let himself be happy. When he's in the depths of depression, she looks after him and tries to comfort him, often acting like his sounding board when he's unwilling to speak to others. However, while her efforts are always well-meaning, she can sometimes try and force him to act her way, even when he's perfectly capable of disagreeing.
Abilities and Attributes
Like other larger spren, Syl can change her form and choose who to show herself to, making her an excellent spy. She can float or fly through the air, as well as walk sideways, and is particularly good at finding things. She can also use Adhesion to stick things together. She generally uses this to play pranks on people, though she has also applied this ability to assist people. She is capable of giving small "pinches of energy." She's also, like all honorspren, able to sense an oncoming highstorm days prior.
”I'm behind what is happening to you. I'm doing it. It's both of us. But without me, nothing would be changing in you. I'm . . . taking something from you. And giving something in return.
As an honorspren, Syl has the capacity to bond with people, gaining higher sentience in the Physical Realm in exchange for granting her partner -- currently, Kaladin -- Windrunner abilities, including the Surges of Adhesion and Gravitation. Beyond that, once her Surgebinder reaches the Third Oath, she is able to transform into a living, shape-shifting Shardblade. In this form, she's capable of communicating with Kaladin telepathically.
However, there is a downside to this bond. When Kaladin strays from his Oaths and break them, Syl begins to lose her higher mental functions, to the point where she essentially dies. However, she is brought back once Kaladin returns to the path of the Windrunner and swears the Third Oath.
Creation and Early Life
”Sylphrena is both old and young. Old of form, but young of mind.
Sylphrena was born some time before the Day of Recreance. She was one of the first honorspren to be created by Stormfather rather than Honor. Although she was too young to form a Nahel bond, she did so anyway with a man named Relador. He took part in only one battle before dying, which sent Syl into a state of deep slumber. This led to everyone assuming she had passed away, but it also saved her from becoming a deadeye during the Recreance, as befell with so many of her siblings.
Over a thousand years later, she was found and reawakened. Stormfather, not willing to let her come to any more harm, tasked Notum with keeping her safe in one of honorspren cities. However, she wasn't happy with staying put. Sometime around the year 1170, she felt drawn to Kaladin, a soldier in Amaram's army, and the way he treated children as a squad leader. Against the wishes of other honorspren, she ran away to bond with him. This led to her kinsmen posting a huge bounty for bringing her back to their capital, Lasting Integrity.
”It seems that if you're worried about hurting people, you shouldn’t be afraid to help the bridgemen. What more could you do to them?
Leaving Shadesmar made Syl lose most of her cognitive ability. She became mostly mindless, acting much like her cousins, windspren. However, she didn't forget her desire to accompany Kaladin, and followed him closly throughout his time in Amaram's army, during his battle with Helaran Davar, and, later, as he was a slave. Initially, she only played pranks on him, but in time his proximity began to return her mind and intelligence.
She did not speak to Kaladin until he found and kept the leaves of blackbane, a strong poison. Kaladin was initially unwilling to respond, thinking he was going insane, but eventually gave in. From then on out, she would accompany him everywhere. During his first bridge run, she urged him to get up and move, and as he spiraled further down, beaten by the constant battles, she tried to keep up his spirits. Eventually, however, she stated that she was unable to see him in this state any longer, and departed.
Reminded of how Kaladin felt hope when he found blackbane, and unaware of its purpose, Syl left to look for more of the plant. By the time she returned, Kaladin was on the verge of suicide, and she found him standing on the edge of the Honor Chasm. When she finally managed, with significant difficulty, to bring him the leaf, Kaladin was initially amused that she'd thought a poison would make him feel better. In the ensuing conversation, she managed to convince him to give life another try.
”Soon you'll hardly be a spren at all. You’ll be a little translucent philosopher. We’ll have to send you off to a monastery to spend your time in deep, important thoughts.
Though Kaladin's initial attempts to sway over Bridge Four weren't very successful, Syl continued to support him. He started using her as a spy -- initially, to keep an eye on Gaz, though she eventually began looking after the other bridgemen as well. She continued to discuss various topics with Kaladin in hopes of understanding humans. It was during that time that she first noticed Dalinar, and immediately believed him to be an honorable man, despite her partner's misgivings.
Shortly afterwards, Syl and Kaladin discovered that Rock, one of the other bridgemen, could see her. From then on out, when Bridge Four was given chasm duty, she assisted both him and Kaladin in searching for valuable items. She also continued spying on Gaz.
After the catastrophe brought about by Bridge Four's side carry, Syl stayed with Kaladin when he was left out in the highstorm as a punishment, and protected him, first by trying to hold back the storm, then by fighting off the deathspren attracted to him with a sword. Afterwards, she begins to remember a little of her past, and though they were only vague memories, they were enough for her to be happy at hearing the Immortal Words#First Ideal of the Knights Radiant, and to react with hissing at the mention of Odium.
As Bridge Four continued with their chasm duty, Syl eventually revealed herself to all of them at Kaladin's urging, and continued to assist them all. As Kaladin began to notice his budding Surgebinding, she admitted that she was no ordinary windspren, and although she still didn't remember too much, she knew her and Kaladin's bond was responsible for what was happening to them both. From then on out, she encouraged Kaladin to train his abilities.
Things came to a head during the Battle of the Tower. There, Syl manifested as a full-sized figure, and remembered her true nature. She encouraged Kaladin to say the Immortal Words, and accompanied him during the battle. Afterwards, she pushed Kaladin further to trust Dalinar, leading to Bridge Four becoming the Kholin bodyguards.
Training a Windrunner
”Something dangerous is coming.
Syl's respect for Dalinar only grew after he discarded Oathbringer to free the bridge companies, and she continued to push Kaladin to trust him more. She also told Kaladin about the possibility of other Surgebinders being out there, and insisted that he become what Dalinar needs, as she began to notice stormspren, Odium's servants, out and about. When Amaram arrived, causing Kaladin's opinion of Dalinar to drop by association, Syl insisted that he speak with Dalinar and be frank with him, although to no avail.
It was around this time that Kaladin began backsliding on his oaths, causing Syl to worry about him. Nonetheless, she stuck by him, and gave him a warning when Szeth was coming to assassinate Dalinar. She also immediately recognized Szeth as not a Surgebinder, despite his abilities. Despite her increasing knowledge, though, she was still surprised at finding out that Kaladin could heal Shardblade wounds.
Even as Kaladin's mental state continued to deteriorate, Syl still insisted that Dalinar could be trusted, and that Kaladin should open up to him, especially after learning about Moash's plot to kill Elhokar. Eventually, after a successful training in the chasms that saw Kaladin learn how to fly, and her sharing more information about Surgebinding, he was almost convinced, but his motivation evaporated when he saw that Dalinar made Amaram the head of the new Knights Radiant. Syl still managed to convince him that things would be different during Adolin's four-on-one duel. Unfortunately, she was wrong, and when Kaladin asked to challenge Amaram as a boon he was arrested.
Death and Rebirth
After Kaladin was arrested, Syl was disappointed and subdued. Soon, Kaladin began to abandon his Oaths in his mind, causing her to begin losing her sapience. She became more childlike and easily distracted, losing her bond with Kaladin to the point where he could not draw upon Stormlight. Nonetheless, she retained enough presence of mind to remind him to say the words, and to provide him with one last breath of Stormlight when he fell into the chasms. It was then that she died, the strain on her bond too great to continue.
”Kaladin! Stretch forth thy hand!
Still, death is more of a spectrum than a state to a spren. As Kaladin began to slowly return to his Oaths, growing wary of Moash's plan, his connection to her deepened again. Finally, he took a stand to protect Elhokar from the would-be assassins. This seems to be what reawakened Syl, as she managed to go to him. Reappearing as a ribbon of light, she encouraged him to say the words, defying Stormfather, and commanded him to stretch out his hand. This, along with Kaladin swearing the Third Oath, allowed her to manifest as a Shardblade.
After scaring off Moash and Graves, the two set out to protect Dalinar from Szeth, who was attacking in the chaos of the Battle of Narak. In the ensuing fight, she showcased her ability to transform into many different weapons, culminating with Kaladin using her to slice through Szeth's wrist, breaking his tie to the Honorblade. After making sure that Kaladin took the Blade with him, Syl demanded -- and received -- a smile from him.
The True Desolation
”The bond isn't about what’s right and wrong, is it, Syl. It’s about what you see as right and wrong.
Immediately after the Battle of Narak, Syl explained to Kaladin that other Shardblades were dead spren, and that Honorblades were something different. A few days later, the two left for Hearthstone, Kaladin's hometown, to make sure that his family was safe. After they confirmed that Lirin and Hesina -- along with the newest addition to the family, Oroden -- were fine, the journey turned into a hunt for the Parshmen who departed in the Everstorm.
During that time, Syl began to worry about Kaladin's happiness, eventually growing to believe that he needed to find himself a romantic partner. Though she lightly teased him about some girls and ardents met on the way, and revealed that she had been spying on people in their intimate moments, her true goal was to get Kaladin together with Shallan, as she believed that the Lightweaver was making him happy.
This fun ended when Syl and Kaladin came across a group of former Parshmen, and Kaladin willingly gave himself up to see where this would go. Noticing that there was a voidspren accompanying the group, Syl began to act like a windspren again in order to fool her. This being said, as Yixli wasn't always present with the newly-minted singers, she did have the time to discuss matters with Kaladin. During one such conversation, she admitted that she didn't know why killing singers didn't feel wrong to her when killing humans did.
The two eventually departed in a highstorm after seeing a Fused in Rathalas. Once back in Urithiru, Kaladin focused on training his squires, with Syl accompanying him. At one point, she noticed some of her old honorspren acquaintances, and noted that they were not very fond of her, even though they had also began searching for bondmates.
After briefly going to Thaylen City to open its Oathgate, she and Kaladin departed for the besieged Kholinar, accompanying Elhokar, Adolin, Shallan and a few squires and guards. Once in the city, Syl was the first to notice the Sja-Anat-corrupted spren. While Kaladin was working with the Kholinar Wall Guard, Syl assisted him in various minor ways. During one battle in particular, she managed to point him towards destroying a Fused gemheart, which was the quickest way to kill it.
During the battle for Kholinar Palace, Syl accompanied Kaladin as a weapon. There, he managed to kill the voidspren toying with Gavinor, which left her shaken by the impossibility of the deed. Still, she continued to fight, although despite everyone's best efforts, she, along with Adolin, Kaladin, Shallan, Pattern and the Wall Guard commander, Azure, ended up dropped into Shadesmar after trying to unlock the Oathgate.
Journey Through Shadesmar
”You'd better catch me before I scamper away! Wow! I’m feeling capricious today. I might just vanish again, off to where nobody can find me!
Once in Shadesmar, Syl had a humanoid, and human-sized form, and began acting more like a physical creature. Early on, her focus was on keeping Kaladin functioning in the face of his ongoing mental breakdown caused by the events of the palace battle. Eventually, he felt good enough to ask her if she could carry a message to Dalinar, and she explained that she would lose her mind if she strayed too far from him in the Physical Realm.
During the journey south, towards a ship that could take them to Cultivation's Perpendicularity, Syl shared some of the story of her past with Kaladin. After they got aboard the Reachers ship, she also mentioned that honorspren like her were not well-liked among other sapient spren, though she played it off by trying to get Kaladin and Shallan together. It wasn't until the group began exploring the city of Celebrant that she finally revealed that there was a bounty on her head placed by her kin.
Nonetheless, the group was able to use this to their advantage. As they had to escape the Fused scouring the city, Syl noticed a honorspren ships called Honor's Path and captained by her old minder, Notum. By calling the crew's attention to herself, she was able to convince them to take the group aboard and depart, although she was also taken prisoner.
During the journey, Kaladin attempted to have Syl released, while getting closer to the Fourth Ideal, which allowed her to briefly speak directly into his mind despite not being in Shardblade form. Seeing Kaladin's progress as a Radiant and hearing about a Stormfather Bondsmith, Notum agreed to let them go. The entire group, save for Azure, departed at the shores of Longbrow's Straits -- a sliver of land in Shadesmar -- and Kaladin flew them to Thaylen City.
Syl didn't participate directly in the fight for the Thaylenah Oathgate, although she did participate in Shallan's illusory distraction. When things turned bad, she pulled Kaladin out of the sea of beads and encouraged him to say the Fourth Ideal. When he couldn't, she embraced and comforted him -- just in time to see Honor's Perpendicularity open.
Crossing the Perpendicularity, Syl returned to her semi-corporeal form, and accompanied Kaladin as a weapon in the Battle of Thaylen Field. After the battle, the two discussed once more the righteousness of fighting singers, who were only trying to regain their home, with Kaladin deciding that he would still fight for humanity's survival and reassuring Syl that he would not kill her, or other sapient spren, ever again. Eventually, the two went to rescue Skar and Drehy, two of Kaladin's squires, who had managed to get Gavinor out of Kholinar.
”Nonsense! Why would I leave my babies in a drawer? Far too boring. A highprince’s shoe though…—Syl on babies.
”How can you tell? I don’t think he ever gets excited. Not even when I tell him I have a fun surprise for him.—Syl, talking about Kaladin
- In an earlier version of The Way of Kings, Syl was named "The East Wind."
- Sylphrena originally came from an unpublished Cosmere work called Climb the Sky.
- Sylphrena's name is inspired by the word "sylph", or air spirit, and "sylphlike" can be used to describe a slender young woman, both of which fit Syl to a certain degree.
- Syl was written with ADHD-like mannerisms, though it is hard to tell if she can be properly diagnosed with it because she is a spren and not human, and therefore has a different psychology.
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