- For the first novel of the series, see: The Black Company
|“||You know they are vicious, violent and ignorant. They are complete barbarians, living out their cruelest fantasies, their behaviour tempered only by a few decent men.||”|
The Black Company was the last of the Free Companies of Khatovar and a band of highly trained mercenaries. Their contracts and commissions took them all over the known world, and even beyond into new worlds. They were highly respected and feared by allies and foes alike.
Ranks and leaders EditThe Company was always led by a single captain who was voted in by the senior members and served for life. The Captain tended to groom his or her choice for successor, though the actual selection was still a matter of a vote. Generally, the lieutenant was the first choice for replacing the role of captain, but there were occasions where the physician (e.g. Croaker), standard-bearer (e.g. Sleepy), or one of the Sergeant were promoted to the role.Company also had an individual annalist, who recorded the exploits of the Company and kept a list of the fallen. The annalist was also responsible for regular readings from the past Annals, an almost religious ceremony where the brothers of the current Company got in touch with the traditions and struggles from the past.
The Black Company was primarily an infantry force. During the forvalaka's attack on the Paper Tower in The Black Company, Croaker described it being composed of pikemen and crossbowmen, and likely supported by swordsmen. However the Company was known to use cavalry, as well as other tools at its disposal. For example in the Books of the South, with the Prahbrindrah Drah's backing allowed them to complement their forces with war elephants. Siege engines were also used with several members being proficient engineers such as the Lieutenant and Patience.
In theory, in order to join the Black Company an individual had to be sworn in by taking an oath of loyalty and recommended by an existing member of the company. For example Croaker was sponsored by his friend Elmo. However, in reality entry into the company was influenced by many factors such as current troop strength, available resources, and individuals in roles of leadership. In addition in the Books of Glittering Stone the Company had many allied troops and camp followers including the Nyueng Bao De Duang. Leaving the Company was allowed, most notably Silent deciding to accompany Darling instead at the end of The White Rose. However, treachery was considered a grave act and culprits would be punished severely, and often executed.
The Black Company attracted recruits from all walks of life and cultures, including outcasts and even criminals. For example, Big Bucket joined in order to escape imprisonment after being falsely accused of theft. As a result this gave the Free Company had a somewhat rag-tag, and eclectic composition. This is particularly apparent in the Books of Glittering Stone, and Croaker in Soldiers Live states the Company during its current state had never been so diverse in its entire existence.
Before the Annals Edit
The Company was founded in Khatovar, an entirely different world, independent from what is known as the homeworld. It, and the other Free Companies of Khatovar, were tasked by the followers of the cult of Kina to decide where the Year of the Skulls would take place. The Black Company was the last of several Free Companies to enter the homeworld, and, the only one to remain there. They used the Lance of Passion as a shadowgate key to exit Khatovar, safely cross the Plain of Glittering Stone (which links all 16 worlds), and enter the homeworld. Their entry was recorded by the librarians of the ancient city of Kiaulune. Over time, the Black Company forgot its original mission and became a band of sell-swords, inevitably making their way northward across the Southern Continent over a period of about 400 years.
The Black CompanyEdit
The Black Company was in the service of the Red Syndic, leader of Beryl, the oldest of the Jewel Cities. The Company spent at least two summers serving as his bodyguards against political enemies called the Blues, and poorly trained but potentially mutinous local troops the Urban Cohorts. Eventually, the Syndic of Beryl was slain (presumably by the sergeant Match) during chaotic events in the Paper Tower. The Company then received safe passage and employment by Soulcatcher, as her troops secured the city and engineered its annexation into the Lady's Empire.
Commission in the northEdit
The Company was then transported aboard Soulcatcher's flagship The Dark Wings from Beryl across the Sea of Torments to the city of Opal, on the southern edge of the Northern Continent. In the Gardens of Opal, they entertained the idea of accepting the enlistment of a mysterious man called Raven. But Raven murdered three people associated with the Limper, so they departed. From Opal, they began their march to the northernmost province of Forsberg, which was struggling with a dangerous Rebel leader named Raker. They passed Elm, and then the Tower at Charm. One day after passing the Tower, they flogged a corporal courier from the Limper's army who was disrespectful. Finally they entered Forsberg. There, they witnessed the aftermath of several atrocities perpetrated by the Limper and his forces against the local populations.
The main force of the Company held the fortress at Deal in Forsberg, garrisoned at Elm for a week, and later occupied Meystrikt in the Salient. Meanwhile, advance teams participated in operations in Oar and in Roses. After Meystrikt, the Company retreated through the Forest of Cloud and stumbled upon Whisper's hidden base camp there, capturing priceless documents there. The main force entered Lords only to retreat after a fearsome sorcery duel between Soulcatcher and Nightcrawler against Harden and other members of the Rebel Circle of Eighteen. They then fought their way through the Windy Country, crossed the Stair of Tear, and participated in the climactic Battle of Charm.
Six years after the Battle of Charm, the Black Company has been tasked to eliminate the Rebel in Tally, in the distant east. They are suddenly ordered to the Barrowland, then to the far westerly city of Juniper, to help eliminate the Black Castle.
The White RoseEdit
After Juniper, Darling and the remnants of the Company trekked for four years across the Northern Continent until they reached the Plain of Fear. They were hounded by the Lady's Taken the entire way, and suffered a devastating military defeat at the Battle of Queen's Bridge at the hands of the elite Imperial troops of the Nightstalker Brigade. After arriving in the Plain, they made their headquarters in a stinking cavern called the Hole, and the Taken disappeared. They had an uneventful two years until the arrival of Tracker and Toadkiller Dog at the beginning of The White Rose.
After the Battle of the Barrowland, the Black Company was now reduced to 10 men: Croaker, One-Eye, Goblin, Silent, Otto, Hagop, Murgen the standard-bearer, and three others who had enlisted after the old crew first arrived in Opal. They needed to choose a replacement commander. Otto voted for Croaker, and with no opposition, Croaker became the captain. His first act was to decide their next course of action would be to return the Company Annals to Khatovar. Silent was released from the Company to travel south with Darling, and the three others were also discharged. Raven remained behind with a young Eternal Guard soldier, Case. Lady, now mortal and without magic, and realizing that she cared deeply for Croaker, expressed a desire to join the Company after setting the affairs of the Empire in order.