Yumiya

The Nature of Nightmares

8 posts in this topic

Unified Theory of The Nature of Nightmares
on Creation, Behavior, and Destruction

Introduction

This theory seeks to describe a cosmerically sound explanation for everything currently know about Nightmares. Some of what is mentioned here may have been mentioned by other users, but this is my take. It uses a base assumption that Nightmares are cognitive shadows.

Creation

There a couple of ways that cognitive shadows (or similar beings like spren) can be created. The most likely is a direct infusion of investiture at death. While it is possible that free investiture became sentient, I don't think that is what happened here. 1700 years ago, Virtuosity splintered near painter's planet. If we assume that this splintering was similar to Ambition's,  chunks of corrupted Virtuosity would have fallen to the nearest planet during the battle with Odium. These pieces of investiture, a mix of mostly Virtuosity but some Odium, fell on Painter's planet, leading to the accounts taught in school about the nightmares originally coming from the sky. One account said "I watched it rain the blood of a dying god". Frequently the shards are referred to as gods, so this matches. When this highly corrupted investiture made contact with humans, it changed some of them, investiture is known to do. "I crawled through tar that took the faces of the people I had loved. It took them. And their blood became black ink." Now, this investiture tar did not take everyone, as not everyone had enough cracks in their spirit web to hold the investiture. "He doesn’t know why he was spared." This tar became the shroud, similar in nature to the mists or a highstorm in that it is the "gaseous" form of investiture. At the same time the hions were created (by some process unrelated to this theory*) which pushed back against the shroud making pockets of shroud free areas. In these areas uninvested humans survived, but those taken by the tar were so warped that they now relied on the investiture in the shroud and retreated to its depths. In the shroud, these people died and created the cognitive shadows known as Nightmares.

Behavior

The traumatic and corrupted nature of their conversion to Cognitive Shadows, wiped the Nightmare's minds. Now they resided mainly in the Shroud when in the physical realm, tied there as it is their source of investiture. Occasionally, they will be attracted to nightmares of those in Hion protected cities, as artistic representations of their last moments living. Remember that their investiture is of Virtuosity so artistic appreciation is inherent. Feeding on that artistry allows them to have a stronger connection to the physical realm, the same way Syl says that spren feed off humans, giving the sapience and form. Potentially, it is even ripping off parts of the victim's spirit-web like Hemalurgy, tacking on a connection to the physical. The more they do this, the more stable they become, becoming fully stable after the 13th feeding, as 13 is important to Virtuosity. When they are not stable, they are constantly leaking investiture until they no longer have enough to prevent being pulled into the Beyond, similar to how the Returned must consume a breath once a week. Returning to the shroud then refills their investiture, preventing death. Once stable, they then must continue to feed to prevent destabilizing, causing them to ransack cities.

Destruction

To kill a cognitive shadow, you must destroy their connection to all three realms. Painting does those in a couple of different ways. It works of some of the same principle as spren being locked into the physical attributes that they are perceived as. Painters fundamentally alter what the Nightmare is in a way that is opposite of their spirit. This is similar to how a Knight Radiant harms the spirit web of their bonded spren, creating deadeyes. This damage to the spirit-web breaks any cognitive and spiritual connection. Once trapped in that form, the rate at which they loose investiture is greatly accelerated, breaking the physical connection and killing the Nightmare. Killing a fully stable Nightmare likely includes additional steps.

Conclusion

I would love to hear other's thoughts, any gaps I missed, or inaccuracies in how the cosmere works. I will edit if I made a mistake.

 

Notes:

* This maybe caused by Virtuosity's splinters being on two planets after the shadowing and the connection between them created a current of investiture between the two, aka the hion.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, Yumiya said:

chunks of corrupted Virtuosity would have fallen to the nearest planet during the battle with Odium.

Odium was not involved in the splintering of Virtuosity.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Frustration said:

Odium was not involved in the splintering of Virtuosity.

I must of missed that. Where was that stated?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Yumiya said:

I must of missed that. Where was that stated?

Hoid said that Virtuosity splintered herself.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Frustration said:

Hoid said that Virtuosity splintered herself.

Yes Hoid did say that. He doesn't say that Odium was not involved. There are a couple of ways that Hoid's statement could be true even if Odium played a part.

  1. Hoid was using a turn of phrase, like "Get yourself killed". One can "Get oneself killed" or splintered in this case by acting rashly, such as going up against a more powerful shard alone.
  2. Virtuosity did splinter herself, but as a last ditch effort in the fight that did not go quite as planned.
  3. Virtuosity did splinter herself, but as a strategic move in the fight. If she had a plan in place to have her shard reformed, then the shard would be safe from Odium as he thought her shard gone, though the Vessel would be suiciding in this case. We know that splintering a shard does not have to be permanent.
  4. Virtuosity did splinter herself, to prevent Odium from corrupting her entire shard, wanting part of her to survive in a pure form. 
  5. Virtuosity did splinter herself, but only after Odium influenced her into apathy or depression, both emotions are common in the art world. Not wanting to continue in a world where she would never see anything new (as she saw it) she suicided.

 We just don't have enough information from Hoid to know what is the truth.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Yumiya said:

Yes Hoid did say that. He doesn't say that Odium was not involved. There are a couple of ways that Hoid's statement could be true even if Odium played a part.

  1. Hoid was using a turn of phrase, like "Get yourself killed". One can "Get oneself killed" or splintered in this case by acting rashly, such as going up against a more powerful shard alone.
  2. Virtuosity did splinter herself, but as a last ditch effort in the fight that did not go quite as planned.
  3. Virtuosity did splinter herself, but as a strategic move in the fight. If she had a plan in place to have her shard reformed, then the shard would be safe from Odium as he thought her shard gone, though the Vessel would be suiciding in this case. We know that splintering a shard does not have to be permanent.
  4. Virtuosity did splinter herself, to prevent Odium from corrupting her entire shard, wanting part of her to survive in a pure form. 
  5. Virtuosity did splinter herself, but only after Odium influenced her into apathy or depression, both emotions are common in the art world. Not wanting to continue in a world where she would never see anything new (as she saw it) she suicided.

 We just don't have enough information from Hoid to know what is the truth.

Based on the fact that this happens after the Stormlight Archive books and certain factors involving a certain deal in RoW, I think we can safely assume Odium was not sufficiently in the vicinity of the splintering of Virtuosity to leave some of his Investiture similar to what happened with Ambition. 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do we know that the nightmares are cognitive shadows? I assumed they were an invested entity like spren or seons.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I don't think the timeline works out for Odium. This is future cosmere, but probably not 1700 years post Stormlight. And Odium's been trapped for something on the order of 7000+ years, so he shouldn't have been available.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.