pharaoh9000

How many Nalans are we really seeing...? (WoR Spoilers)

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There are a few things about Nalan that have me curious about his (possible) abilities... and possibly the Skybreakers' as well.  It's not really a proper theory or anything... but maybe you guys can help me figure this out and clear up my confusion.

 

 
How many Nalan are we really dealing with, here?
 

Here is where my confusion begins in Words of Radiance:

 
Distance -
  1. (Interlude-2) We see Nalan in Iri hunting Ym.
(Interlude-9) We see Nalan (aka Darkness) in Azir hunting Lift. (Chapter 88) We see Nalan in the Frostlands reviving Szeth (and offering him Nightblood).

 

Iri, Azir, and the Frostlands are pretty far apart on the map of Roshar.  Iri is far NorthWest, the Frostlands are far SouthEast, and Azir is nearer to the middle (but it's a little closer to Iri than the Frostlands).  In any case, Nalan seems to be covering a lot of ground awfully fast during the events of WoR.  How?  I wonder how much time it really takes to travel across practically all of Roshar like that.

 

If he is 'flying', then isn't that about the most overt way of getting around that he could possibly choose? If he is traveling by foot, then how would he cover so much ground so fast?

 

Nalan's Minions-

  1. When he hunts Ym in Iri, he has no minions.
When he appears in Azir, he has two minions. When he appears in the Frostlands, he again has no minions (and is carrying Nightblood).

His minions are extremely knowledgeable about stormlight, investiture, and the like.  One of them even has a shardblade... So I doubt that these minions were a couple of nobodies just drafted to help Nalan out in Azir only... and only for one case.

 

Time -

I'd be willing to believe Nalan simply travelled in one single direction during the events of WoR (First Iri, then Azir, then to the Frostlands) if it weren't for the time he spent on each case.  In each case (Ym/Lift/Szeth) Nalan made it a point to explain how much work he'd put into each person.

  1. Nalan to Ym = "I had to look very hard to discover your indiscretion."
Nalan to Lift = "Even the chaotic can be predictable with proper study.”  (Presumably referring to her escape patterns, habits, etc.) Nalan to Szeth = "You? Not worthy? I watched you destroy yourself in the name of order, watched you obey your personal code when others would have fled or crumbled. Szeth-son-Neturo, I watched you keep your word with perfection..."

On top of this, Lift already had prior experiences with him and knew he was dangerous.  By the time she first saw him enter the palace during her story arc, she already had a name for him in her mind - Darkness.

 

He seems to spend an awful lot of time and energy in each case and location he visits.  Even understanding their laws and abiding by them.  The mountains of paperwork he and his minions prepared in Azir to apprehend Lift could not have been an overnight task.  To some extent, Nalan seems to have some roots in these places.

 

His emotionlessness -

 

  • When talking to Szeth: "He spoke the words calmly, without emotion."
  • While chasing Lift: “'What was that?' Darkness asked, his voice cold, emotionless."
  • Talking to Ym: “'You were an accomplice to murder,' the man said, pulling his gloves on more tightly, first one hand, then the other. He spoke with such a stark lack of emotion, he could have been conversing about the weather."
  • Notable words from Lift: "He didn’t curse in annoyance. A fellow should curse. Made people feel real when they did that. But of course, Darkness wasn’t a real person. Of that, though little else, she was sure." and she also referred to him having "dead eyes" when she first saw him.

 

All of Nalan's emotionlessness makes me feel like something more is going on than just a personality flaw. Are we dealing with more than one Nalan? Is it possible that we are dealing with Nalan's self-puppets somehow? ...mere husks of "Nalan Prime" whom we haven't really seen yet? Can he somehow use his Division surge to split thereby making "copies" of himself?  Is the Nightwatcher involved?

 

...Or is he getting the help of an Elsecaller?  Is he 'flying' and somehow avoiding detection from the general population?  What the crap is going on?

 

Am I missing something super simple, here?

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He is a millenia-old immortal Herald with bunch of unseen yet Surgebinding fabrials and is himself capable of Surgebinding. He probably has figured out multiple ways of travelling so quickly (Transportation fabrial, Basic Lashing, who knows what else?). He is one of ten most experienced Surgebinders ever.
As for his minions: probably Skybreakers 2.0 are scattered around the world, that way he has help in most places he appears. Probably they help with investigations.

I'd like to add that he seems to be able to sense Investiture (or only Stormlight). He reacted when Lift metabolized food into Stormlight, even without looking at her and her not showing any sign of glowing. If he can do that, it would certainly be helpful in tracking down Surgebinders.

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Good points, the main issue with him flying isn't that it's easy to see (I don't think it is, he's a man sized object in a sparsely populated world without radar. People have no idea how big the sky is, how relatively low one could fly and be out of sight, how impossible spotting aircraft was without radar) but that it would burn through Stormlight like nothing else

 

None the less, I expect this is how he travels, because it fits every other aspect of the picture. The alternative for me is that he is using the giant portal thingys, forgotten the name

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I'm 99% percent sure it's all one person and he is the actual original herald Nalan and that he is rather insane at this point

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I suspect Nale uses less Stormlight than Szeth did using the Honorblade, though I don't know how it would compare to Kaladin. It's entirely possible the Heralds are far more efficient than Radiants with Stormlight, but he could be doing something else instead.

jW

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I'm 99% percent sure it's all one person and he is the actual original herald Nalan and that he is rather insane at this point

 

I concur on this point. He's probably using Basic Lashings to get around quickly, and he has an entire organization (I don't think Roshar has enough secret organizations at this point  :ph34r:) devoted to doing his work. Also, like the other Heralds, he's probably been driven completely mad after thousands of years of torture. 

 

 

 

I suspect Nale uses less Stormlight than Szeth did using the Honorblade, though I don't know how it would compare to Kaladin. It's entirely possible the Heralds are far more efficient than Radiants with Stormlight, but he could be doing something else instead.

jW

 

In my mind, the Heralds are far more potent with the Honorblades than even the strongest members of their respective orders. After all, they are basically immortal god-kings charged with preparing humanity against extinction-level threats; one would naturally assume they'd be pretty powerful.

 

Likewise, they are almost certainly physically, and presumably mentally, enhanced as well (after all, we see Taln, even in his maddened state, pluck blowdarts from the air with his bare hands in a dark room), so they should be quite strong indeed.

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So Nalan does seem to be traveling faster than normal. Something is suspicious about that. I'm totally able to believe in Nale having a deep organization of his own after 4500 years or so. Though, I still wonder why his minions don't show up nearly as often as Nale does. He seems mostly solo besides when he hunted Lift.

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Basic Lashing would not be visible if you had an Illumination fabrial to hide yourself. And as we see in the Ym interlude,

 

Why was the door into the back room— where Ym slept— open? He usually left that closed. A shadow moved in the blackness back there.

“If you’ve come for the spheres,” Ym said, trembling, “I have only the five chips here.”

More rustling. The shadow separated itself from the darkness, resolving into a man with dark, Makabaki skin— all save for a pale crescent on his cheek. He wore black and silver, a uniform, but not one from any military that Ym recognized. Thick gloves, with stiff cuffs at the back.

 

Compare to Shallan:

 

Should she become an ardent? No. Something much simpler, something faster. Darkness. Her clothing turned black. Her skin, her hat, her hair— everything pure black. She scrambled back away from the door into the corner of the room, farthest from the slot of a window, stilling herself. With her illusion in place, the Lightweaving consumed the trails of Stormlight that would normally rise from her skin, further masking her presence.

 

Ym doesn't notice Nalan (though his spren does), which to me suggests Nalan was cheating and using an Illumination fabrial to hide and keep himself silent as he entered the house. It could also be an Elsecalling fabrial, I suppose, but I feel relatively confident that Nalan has every Surge available to him.

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Basic Lashing would not be visible if you had an Illumination fabrial to hide yourself. And as we see in the Ym interlude,

 

Why was the door into the back room— where Ym slept— open? He usually left that closed. A shadow moved in the blackness back there.

“If you’ve come for the spheres,” Ym said, trembling, “I have only the five chips here.”

More rustling. The shadow separated itself from the darkness, resolving into a man with dark, Makabaki skin— all save for a pale crescent on his cheek. He wore black and silver, a uniform, but not one from any military that Ym recognized. Thick gloves, with stiff cuffs at the back.

 

Compare to Shallan:

 

Should she become an ardent? No. Something much simpler, something faster. Darkness. Her clothing turned black. Her skin, her hat, her hair— everything pure black. She scrambled back away from the door into the corner of the room, farthest from the slot of a window, stilling herself. With her illusion in place, the Lightweaving consumed the trails of Stormlight that would normally rise from her skin, further masking her presence.

 

Ym doesn't notice Nalan (though his spren does), which to me suggests Nalan was cheating and using an Illumination fabrial to hide and keep himself silent as he entered the house. It could also be an Elsecalling fabrial, I suppose, but I feel relatively confident that Nalan has every Surge available to him.

 

This seems likely, as it would also explain Lift's name for him (Darkness), and it is simply too similar to Shallan's use of Lightweaving to really believe they are different powers.

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Mraize mentioned how Helaran Davar had sought out the skybreakers and from the in world Words of Radiance

    This act of great villainy went beyond the impudence which had hitherto been ascribed to the orders; as the fighting was particularly intense at this time, many attributed this act to a sense of inherent betrayal; and after they withdrew, about two thousand made assault upon them, destroying much of the membership; but this was only nine of the ten, as one said they would not abandon their arms and flee, but instead entertained great subterfuge at the expense of the other nine.
      —From Words of Radiance, chapter 38, page 20

  Pay extra attention to the line "but this was only nine of the ten, as one said they would not abandon their arms and flee, but instead entertained great subterfuge at the expense of the other nine."

This leads me to believe that the skybreakers were the order that hid based on the existence of Nale's underlings and how Helaran apparently tried to find them.
 
 

And if the skybreakers are still around that would mean Nale has a LOT of people who can help him.

Edited by Eumenide
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Mraize mentioned how Helaran Davar had sought out the skybreakers and from the in world Words of Radiance

    This act of great villainy went beyond the impudence which had hitherto been ascribed to the orders; as the fighting was particularly intense at this time, many attributed this act to a sense of inherent betrayal; and after they withdrew, about two thousand made assault upon them, destroying much of the membership; but this was only nine of the ten, as one said they would not abandon their arms and flee, but instead entertained great subterfuge at the expense of the other nine.

      —From Words of Radiance, chapter 38, page 20

  Pay extra attention to the line "but this was only nine of the ten, as one said they would not abandon their arms and flee, but instead entertained great subterfuge at the expense of the other nine."

This leads me to believe that the skybreakers were the order that hid based on the existence of Nale's underlings and how Helaran apparently tried to find them.

 

And if the skybreakers are still around that would mean Nale has a LOT of people who can help him.

 

At least from what we've seen, I think we can safely assume that not all (if any) of Nalan's minions are true Skybreakers.

 

During the Lift hunt when one of his minions slit Gawx's throat, Nalan chided him about it, and the minion responded "Aren’t we above their laws?"...  At which point Nalan released Lift, walked up to the minion, and slapped the p*ss out of him.  Nalan had to actually explain the importance of laws to him.  This would not have had to happen if the minion was a man who had sworn the oaths or spoken the Second Ideal of the Skybreakers ("I will put the law before all else.")...

 

We also never see his minions surgebinding or using stormlight themselves (though, we haven't seen enough of them to be certain yet). One of them may possess a shardblade, but that's not enough to suggest full Skybreaker status.

 

Yes, I think his minions are part of some sort of organization he has developed... but we haven't seen enough evidence to suggest they are Skybreakers (if Nalan has any).

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Yeah, had this discussion in a derailment in another thread and I am in agreement he is getting to places due to help with a fabrial. Personally I think it is a transportation fabrial, but Moogle did make a good point regarding combining a illumination fabrial with his lashings. Problem is there is a whole bag of tricks that Nale could have that we have no clue if he does or does not possess. So this is all conjecture at this point. 

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I just figured that he had a transportation fabrial, or maybe it's just his heraldic powers.

 

He has a lightweaving fabrial (I'm pretty sure), so I don't see why he wouldn't have fabrials that replicate other surges.

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It's quite possible that after 4.5K years all the original surgebinders in Nalan's Skybreaker team have died, and their powers went with them. Keep in mind, no surgebinders we know of have been born for thousands of years up to this point. The spren pulled out and refused to risk themselves again. Could be that Nalan has been making do with what he has, unable to actually utilize any surgebinders up until now.

Edited by Observer
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It's quite possible that after 4.5K years all the original surgebinders in Nalan's Skybreaker team have died, and their powers went with them. Keep in mind, no surgebinders we know of have been born for thousands of years up to this point. The spren pulled out and refused to risk themselves again. Could be that Nalan has been making do with what he has, unable to actually utilize any surgebinders up until now.

Also, would Nale even allow more skybreakers in his organization? If a new would-be-skybreaker began to manifest abilities, wouldn't he simply hunt them down as well?

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Setting all these points aside, there's no real time frame for these events involving Nalan/Darkness. It's entirely possible he relies on normal means of fravek cbulls\ horses.

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I concur on this point. He's probably using Basic Lashings to get around quickly, and he has an entire organization (I don't think Roshar has enough secret organizations at this point  :ph34r:) devoted to doing his work. Also, like the other Heralds, he's probably been driven completely mad after thousands of years of torture. 

No,of all the heralds only taln has been sent back to damnation to endure torture,all the other nine heralds abandoned the oathpact and their blades at the end of the previous desolation which was about 4500 years ago from the events of WoK. Don't assume that just because taln has been driven mad that all the others too are mad,they have been hiding and lurking about in roshar for the past 4500 years.

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No,of all the heralds only taln has been sent back to damnation to endure torture,all the other nine heralds abandoned the oathpact and their blades at the end of the previous desolation which was about 4500 years ago from the events of WoK. Don't assume that just because taln has been driven mad that all the others too are mad,they have been hiding and lurking about in roshar for the past 4500 years.

Isn't there a theory that the other 9 heralds have been corrupted by forsaking the oath pact and are now the 10 fools, which act in opposite, or negatively in view of the ideals they original held? Not saying its fact, but it is a theory I do feel has some solid foundation. 

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Occam's razor would make me assume he is simply using access to the surge of gravitation to fly around.  I doubt it would be difficult for him to remain unseen and conserve stormlight efficiently considering thousands of years of experience.  He can fly above clouds, and I get the vibe that there are quite a lot of sparsely populated paths he could take in Roshar.  Not to mention, if someone on Roshar spotted a speck of light flying so far above that they can't make out a shape, they'd likely assume it was some kind of strange spren like a starspren.  Plus we already have another character that has spent a book flying all over Roshar killing people....

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Occam's razor would make me assume he is simply using access to the surge of gravitation to fly around.  I doubt it would be difficult for him to remain unseen and conserve stormlight efficiently considering thousands of years of experience.  He can fly above clouds, and I get the vibe that there are quite a lot of sparsely populated paths he could take in Roshar.  Not to mention, if someone on Roshar spotted a speck of light flying so far above that they can't make out a shape, they'd likely assume it was some kind of strange spren like a starspren.  Plus we already have another character that has spent a book flying all over Roshar killing people....

As mentioned in another thread that went exactly the same way, the amount of stormlight necessary to attain such heights mentioned, for such distances mentioned would be unfeasible. Either Nalan simply due to being a herald can travel three times the distance Kaladin can, filled to the brim (so same amount of stormlight) like Kaladin, far higher in the air than Kaladin or he will need to make numerous stops increasing his chances of discovery. If you reference a map of Roshar, Nale would have to fly well out of his way to travel to the cities mentioned (I named specifically the cities as well as the rough distances when compared to Kaladin's travel to hearthstone. if you would like those details, please ask and I will be happy to locate the other thread and post them here). Szeth has been flying all over the place and has been seen flying all over the place. Nale would not want to be seen as he is aware of the various secret societies (namely sons of honor) who are working to bring him and the others back by bringing back the voidbringers. So in my opinion, by Occam's Razor, I feel it makes a whole lot more sense that Nale could be using additional help via fabrials (regardless what powers those fabrials would be providing) in order to go from point A to point B. He could be using transportation, he could be using natural gravitation with an illumination fabrial, or any other combination you can think of. But I think using gravitation alone would bring far more issues than its worth. 

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Kaladin himself does acknowledge his running out of stormlight is likely due to to inexperience.  Someone who has had thousands of years of practice would likely not only be better at it, but would have encountered every logistical problem imaginable, and had more than enough time to ponder each of these problems for a few centuries, as well as implement whatever solutions he came up with.  He could have a network of stormlight caches set up around the entire continent, maybe even with gemstones large enough to hold substantial stormlight through times like the weeping- we don't know.  What I do know however, is that if I had the ability to fly with a resource constraint and an immortal lifespan, I would spend A LOT of time thinking my way around stormlight and visibility issues.  This is something Kaladin hasn't been privy to yet.  We also don't know for certain if the stormlight leeching problems of honorblades applies to their rightful owners.  If fabrials are involved I think it most likely to be a lightweaving fabrial, as oathgates strike me as the transportation fabrial and most of them are locked at the moment.

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Kaladin himself does acknowledge his running out of stormlight is likely due to to inexperience.  Someone who has had thousands of years of practice would likely not only be better at it, but would have encountered every logistical problem imaginable, and had more than enough time to ponder each of these problems for a few centuries, as well as implement whatever solutions he came up with.  He could have a network of stormlight caches set up around the entire continent, maybe even with gemstones large enough to hold substantial stormlight through times like the weeping- we don't know.  What I do know however, is that if I had the ability to fly with a resource constraint and an immortal lifespan, I would spend A LOT of time thinking my way around stormlight and visibility issues.  This is something Kaladin hasn't been privy to yet.  We also don't know for certain if the stormlight leeching problems of honorblades applies to their rightful owners.  If fabrials are involved I think it most likely to be a lightweaving fabrial, as oathgates strike me as the transportation fabrial and most of them are locked at the moment.

Which is exactly my point. I do not think based on the information we have that the simplest solution is that he only flies around via gravitation. That if that was the case, the amount of issues he would have to account for, and deal with would be impractical. Yes he could have stormlight caches everywhere. Yes he could fly far far up so he is mistaken as a star spren. Yes he could fly patterns wasting stormlight to skirt cities far out of his flight path and yes he could land miles away from said cities and walk in to avoid notice. Or, my point, he could just use the additional aid of the fabrial and avoid having to do any of that. I also think the assumption that because the oathgate is massive in order to transport armies, foreign dignitaries, and trade across massive distances does not preclude the use of a single person version of said fabrial. I am not arguing that it is impossible, I am stating given the other options it is impractical to travel by gravitation alone.

 

Ah perfect! Thanks! I have pasted the map portion of my posts below:

 

would be flying from Iri (Ym), over Babatharnam which has the city of Panatham, all of Azir to get to Azimir (Lift), to then fly over Emul, Greater Hexi, and Kharanak to reach the Shattered Plains. For Kal to travel half that from Urithiru to Hearthstone, he expends all of his stormlight (half that referring going just from Azimir to the Shattered Plains by itself).

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Who says that full to the brim is the same for Kaladin and a Herald?

 

 

Also, as I've said elsewhere, Kaladin has been actively surgebinding for weeks and subconsciously for maybe 5 years max. Szeth for, let's be generous, 30 years. 

 

Nalan has been for thousands of years. His ability was what the spren based their surges on. There's a difference in expertise that is almost beyond comprehension, never mind any quite feasible differences in power

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