The Wheel of Time - The Call of the Horn
Myrddraal (pronounced: MUHRD-draal) are Shadowspawn, muscular and serpent-quick, with lank black hair and waxy white skin. They have no eyes, but can “see” with perfect clarity. Their appearance never varies; they are always male in appearance, with identical features and builds described as being like that of a tall man. They were the battle leaders of the Shadow during the imprisonment of the Forsaken, after the demise of the Dreadlords. Myrddraal are genetically Trolloc offspring, but are throwbacks to their human origin; for some reason, throwbacks to the animal side of Trollocs’ genetic heritage never survive. Their names, where known, are in the Trolloc tongue. One theory holds that Myrddraal are created by the channeling gene; this would also explain why they are needed for turning a channeler to the Dark One. This theory is supported by the fact that roughly 5% of all Trolloc offspring are Myrddraal, roughly the same ratio as channelers amongst humans. They are believed to be sterile; no female specimen has ever been seen. For some reason, they are reported to lack a sense of humor by both Light and Dark. Myddraal do not have dreams.
Myrddraal wear black armor with overlapping scales, and black cloaks which do not stir in the wind. They are able to move between, or disappear into, shadows, and mirrors only reflect a misty image of them. Graendal comments that this ability has always made the Forsaken uneasy. Aginor, the Forsaken who created the Trollocs, and thus (inadvertently) Myrddraal, theorized that they were “slightly out of phase with time and reality,” but was unable to prove his thesis despite extensive, often fatal, testing, and many were killed when he tried to discover how they disappear into shadows; not even they know themselves. Their blood is acidic and will etch steel if not cleaned off; their fingernails are hard enough to scratch wood. As if that were not enough, Fades are also much stronger than human beings, and can lift someone from the ground with one hand. The only things they fear are running water, Shadar Logoth, Slayer, Padan Fain and the Dark One himself.
Myrddraal are quick and strong, and are usually employed as the Shadow’s battle lords, having a greater degree of cunning and sense of tactics than the bestial Trollocs. In addition, they have the ability to sense channeling after a fashion, and can use their ability to cause fear and slip in and out of shadows to function as assassins, although they are not as specialized for this purpose as Draghkar and Gray Men. Myrddraal are most often seen leading fists of Trollocs, and sometimes “link” with them to achieve even greater control. However, this comes at a cost – dealing a Myrddraal a killing blow will instantly kill any Trollocs linked to it, even though the Myrddraal itself will not die until sunset. While they are in their death throes, they are still extremely dangerous, as their headless/damaged body will continue to thrash blindly, often still holding their sword or rending with their fingernails.
Myrddraal wield black-bladed swords made at Thakan’dar, by forgers on the slopes of Shayol Ghul. The swords’ properties are equivalent to those of Power-wrought blades through the Myrddraals’ blades being tempered in a black river running by the forges and being infused with the soul of at least one human sacrifice. These people are captured during raids and are the first victims of the blades. Carrying a taint of that place can cause injuries which are almost always fatal if Aes Sedai Healing is not administered; these blades sometimes referred to as “Thakan’dar-wrought” or “Thakan’dar-forged.” Another major weapon in a Myrddraal’s arsenal is fear. Myrddraal have the innate ability to instill stark terror in anyone they gaze upon: “The look of the Eyeless is fear,” as Borderlanders say.
Myrddraal have their place in the legend and lore of most of the world’s societies, where they are known by many names: Halfmen, the Eyeless, Shadowmen, Lurks (Tear), Fetches (Illian), Fades (Andor), and Neverborn (Wolves). In most nations, they are treated about as seriously as bogeymen, but those in the Borderlands or who have had the misfortune to encounter them know better.