|“||... a cry like that of a wolf challenging the moon... At the rear of the carpet, unmoving, shunned, sat a child-sized figure concealed in layers of indigo gauze. It howled at random intervals.||”|
–Croaker, The Black Company
The Howler was one of the original Ten Who Were Taken, and a recurring antagonist throughout the Black Company series. He was a tiny man covered in a bundle of dirty indigo rags, known for random outbursts of screams and as well as a formidable wizard. Despite his strength and incredible old age, Howler had little ambition and was largely driven by his wish to be cured of his affliction. He had no concept of loyalty, and above all else was driven by self-preservation. He would willingly ally with whoever held the greatest power and influence at the time.
The Howler primarily specialized in creating magical artifacts, with the flying carpet being his magnum opus, and was unrivaled in piloting them.
Before the Annals Edit
The Howler was the oldest of the Ten Who Were Taken, and was an established wizard-king "ages" even before the Lady was born. His iconic bloodcurdling howls, resulting in his moniker, were the result of a powerful curse afflicted upon him in the past. In Soldiers Live, Lady reveals the Howler looked very different in the distant past, and he was not always so diminutive, suggesting that the curse changed him physically over the centuries. His knowledge of magic arguably rivaled that of the Lady. Despite his extensive experience with magic, he was enslaved by the vastly more powerful Dominator, who somehow discovered the Howler's true name, and became one of his Ten enforcers. He subsequently served the Lady after their liberation from the Barrowland.
The Black Company Edit
The Howler was first seen by Croaker in person after the Black Company kidnapped Feather and Journey during their honeymoon. The Howler successfully extracted the strike team and their prisoners via flying carpet. Croaker observed that the Howler was child-sized and fully wrapped in indigo cloth.
During the battle of Battle of Charm, the wizard single-handedly wiped out most the Rebel army along with allied imperial remnants, after deploying magical orbs which spread a deadly plague among the combatants. Immediately after dropping the orbs, he was believed to have been killed when Soulcatcher sabotaged his carpet, causing him to crash into the top of the Tower at Charm at very high speed. Catcher's attack on the Howler is what precipitated the Lady and Croaker to pursue her, ending with Catcher's decapitation.
Rise of the Shadowmasters Edit
Unknown virtually everyone in the north, the Howler survived the crash into the Tower, and used the opportunity to secretly flee into the Southern Continent. Stormbringer was another Taken who did the same. It is later revealed that Howler and Stormbringer were among the six new homeworld apprentices of Longshadow and Shadowspinner, a pair of wizards who originated from an entirely different world. The eight of them stole a fake "key" from the Nyueng Bao De Duang, and attempted to use it in order to control the homeworld shadowgate. Since the key was not real, they failed, were assaulted by an influx of shadows. Three of the eight (not identified in the Annals) were killed in the incident, and Howler himself was gravely injured and forced to flee. His next move after licking his wounds was to establish his own tyrannical rule over the natives residing in the swamps between Gea-Xle and Thresh.
Shadow Games EditHowler reappeared after the Black Company reached Gea-Xle. Their flotilla was ambushed by native river pirates when passing through the swamps between Gea-Xle and Thresh. Hearing the Howler's signature screams, the Black Company realized they had crossed paths with a member of the Ten who had been thought killed at Charm. The Howler lost many of his swamp pirates to the Company's ingenious planning, including many who were consumed by the ravenous needleteeth fish. But when it came to sorcery, One-Eye and Goblin were no match for the power of the Taken, who bombarded the barge at range with small, explosive pebble-like projectiles. Croaker then forced Lady on deck to reveal the identity of Shapeshifter, yet another Taken who was also supposedly killed at Charm, who was already disguise aboard the vessel. Croaker had the imp Frogface return Shifter's bizarre staff, and Shifter used it to dispense explosive sorcery, chasing the Howler away.
Dreams of Steel and Bleak Seasons Edit
Persuaded by Longshadow's emissaries, Howler entered into his second alliance with the Shadowmasters, and subsequently caused problems for Croaker and the Company for years to come. He secretly helped Shadowspinner recover from his wounds, seeing him as a better ally than Longshadow, much to the distress of Longshadow when he found out.
After Shadowspinner's death and Soulcatcher's increasingly frequent meddling, the Howler was then dispatched by Longshadow to kidnap Lady and return her as a prisoner to Overlook, to plumb her mind for her extensive knowledge of sorcery. The Howler did not know that Soulcatcher was masquerading as her sister Lady at the time. He and his minions ambushed Catcher in Taglios, but the Howler was near horribly wounded when Croaker impaled him with the Lance of Passion. With few powerful allies remaining, Longshadow was forced heal Howler, a process which took him six sleepless days. Both men knew Longshadow planned to kill him later, as soon as his usefulness evaporated.
She is the Darkness Edit
Howler played a major role fighting against the Taglian offensive on the Shadowlands led by the Black Company, and was one of Longshadow's key commanders along with Mogaba, Blade and Narayan Singh. His mastery over magic and the advantage of his flying carpets caused significant damage to the invading forces, such as at the Battle of Charandaprash and the Siege of Overlook. He also led Longshadow's legions of Shadows during a night attack on the Black Company at Lake Tanji. Despite this, the reign of the Shadowmasters was to be overthrown.
When Overlook was taken by the Black Company, he stole the copies of the Books of the Dead to deny them from the Daughter of Night realising their true nature and danger, driven mostly out of self preservation. He then attempted to escape with Soulcatcher, but was severely injured when Longshadow released a hidden shadow from his fingernail during a face-off with the two Taken, Narayan, and the Daughter of Night. They escaped, excluding Narayan, using a mini carpet Howler kept in reserve in his robes. However, he was then betrayed by Soulcatcher and thrown from his own flying carpet, resulting in him freezing solid in the wilderness.
He was subsequently captured and remained a prisoner, until brought onto the Plain of Glittering Stone when Croaker led a scouting mission onto it. He became a member of the Captured when Soulcatcher trapped them in the Cave of the Ancients beneath the Fortress With No Name on the Plain.
Water Sleeps Edit
The Howler was able to maintain consciousness, and even the movement of his eyes, during his time as one of the Captured. When Sleepy, Willow Swan, One-Eye, Ky Sahra, the Radisha Drah, and some others finally entered the Cave of the Ancients to free their friends among the Captured, Sleepy saw the Howler's eyes move and was frightened. She ordered that they do not liberate the Howler, or even get close to him, before they began freeing the other Captured.
Soldiers Live Edit
Howler was finally reawakened during the Company's march on Soulcatcher after their return from Hsien. He agreed to cooperate and manufacture flying carpets for them, as well as reluctantly tutor Tobo in the process of making them. In return, he was promised that Shivetya would remove the curse which afflicted him, as well as getting his revenge on Soulcatcher.
After Soulcatcher fell into a coma orchestrated by the Daughter of Night and Khadidas, during a battle along the Rock Road he was forced to help keep her alive by Lady, but could do little. Being one of the few capable of using flying carpets, he accompanied Croaker, Lady and other members of the company journey back South, in order to inter Soulcatcher in the Cave of the Ancients. Shortly after arriving, he was finally cured of the curse that afflicted him by Shivetya. However his good fortune was short lived. Howler, along with Murgen, the First Father, and Nashun the Researcher were among those killed by shadows in their disastrous attempt to capture Mogaba in the Palace of Taglios at the onset of the Siege of Taglios.
|Ten Who Were Taken|
| Soulcatcher • Limper • Howler • Shapeshifter • Stormbringer|
Hanged Man • Bonegnasher • Nightcrawler • Moonbiter • Faceless Man