|“||We followed a spoor of violence, a swath of destruction. Ruined fields fell behind us. Burned villages. Slaughtered people and butchered livestock. Poisoned wells. The Limper left nothing but death and desolation.||”|
The Limper, later known as the Wicker Man, was widely considered to be most evil and violent of the immensely powerful group of sorcerers called the Ten Who Were Taken. Although he was physically unassuming – a short man dressed in brown robes – he was an expert in battlefield sorcery and possessed an extreme resilience to harm. The Limper was destined to become one of the Black Company's worst enemies before they ever set foot on the Northern Continent, and remained so throughout the Books of the North.
The Limper was described by Croaker the Annalist as short, with tangled grey hair peppered with black. He wore ragged, brown clothing in contrast to the popular black of the Taken. An old leather mask covered the face of an improperly preserved mummy, with patches of rotting flesh; the right corner of his mouth below the nose was missing flesh, exposing his gums and teeth. He also had a permanent scar starting on his forehead, continuing to his left cheek, and reportedly running down to his left breast, which had been delivered by the White Rose at the end of the Domination.
The Limper was considered the most sadistic and misanthropic of the Ten Who Were Taken. His complete disregard for all life was promoted by his cruel minions, the most prominent of which was his enforcer, Colonel Zouad. He had a fearsome willpower and self-preservation, much like other sorcerers of similar magnitude, which allowed him survive numerous attempts to kill him over the centuries. During "Tides Elba", Black Company wizards One-Eye and Goblin express respect for the Limper's raw power, but, have nothing but complete disdain for the Limper's ageless stupidity. The Company considered him to be the kind of man who falls for the same con over and over, unable to solve a problem without brute force.
In the Lady's Empire, the provinces under his rule (especially the major port city of Opal) were characterized by lawlessness and bloody power grabs. The armies under his command were ill-disciplined and little more than bandits; they were easily defeated on numerous occasions, even with his monstrous killing spells in use on the field of battle.
The Limper mastered the spells of self-preservation, allowing him to extend his life and cheat death numerous times. During the White Rose Rebellion, he survived a massive, gruesome slash wound, reportedly inflicted by the White Rose herself. This wound, his unexplained characteristic limp, and other injuries could not be healed, but did nothing to impede him. Centuries later, in the events of the Annals and The Silver Spike, he survived at least six separate incidents of tremendous violence that would have killed any lesser sorcerer.
In addition to his enhanced vitality, the Limper specialized in destructive battlefield sorcery which reflected his penchant for inflicting mass death and chaos among his victims. During the The Black Company, Croaker witnesses the aftermath of one of Limper's defeats, where the remains of whole units of Rebel soldiers had been melted and fused together into perfectly circular, blackened mounds. In Shadows Linger, at the Battle of Juniper, he slew numerous Black Watchers (the Dominator's supernaturally strong demons), using a magically-augmented sword. He then led a charge directly into the Black Castle. During The White Rose the Limper was still capable of defeating windwhales and mantas. At the Battle of the Barrowland, like the Dominator he even survived outright decapitation within Darling's anti-magic null field. In The Silver Spike, despite his weakened state, he single-handedly fought a large enemy force, and was only defeated due to Silent's sacrifice.
Before the Annals Edit
The Domination Edit
Prior to or during the era known as the Domination, the Limper was initially an independent wizard-king. Then he was enslaved by the infamous sorcerer known only as the Dominator, becoming one of the Ten Who Were Taken. As such, the Limper was forced to become one of the Dominator's enforcers and generals, but presumably was also one of his subordinate lords with control over much territory. He had no allies among At some point, he had an affair with a beautiful woman who was already in a relationship with Shapeshifter. Shifter was reputed to have transformed this woman into his staff. The unmitigated hatred between Shifter and the Limper would become well-known throughout the Domination, and Soulcatcher also seemed to share Shifter's hatred of him.
After a dark period of rule, they were all defeated (but not killed) by a mysterious woman known as the White Rose and her armies. The Limper's hideous slash wound was said to have been inflicted by the White Rose herself during her Rebellion, presumably during the infamous fighting within the Great Forest. The Limper, alongside the Dominator, the Dominator's wife The Lady, the other nine Taken, were all imprisoned in the Barrowland alongside a considerable number of horrendous beasts. The imprisonment was meant to last for eternity.
Several decades before The Black Company (and 370 years after being interred in the Barrowland), the Limper, the other nine Taken, and the Lady were freed from their prison by a group known as the Resurrectionists. To keep power to herself, the Lady orchestrated this event such that the Dominator and his "pet" monsters remained imprisoned. The Limper and the other Taken helped the Lady establish her own empire.
The Black CompanyEdit
When the Black Company arrived in the Northern Continent in the service of Soulcatcher, the Limper was busy laying waste to the rebellious province of Forsberg. Since the Company was in the service of his hated rival, Soulcatcher, the Limper already had reason enough to generally distrust the band of mercenaries. But the Company soon did at least four things in rapid succession to enrage him specifically.
- First, they accepted Raven into their ranks. Raven was a baronet whom the Limper's subordinates attempted to murder and whose rights and titles they stole with the help of Morningstar, his own wife. In full view of nobles from throughout the Lady's Empire, at the Gardens of Opal, Raven avenged this betrayal by murdering his wife and two of the Limper's associates.
- Soon afterward, during their trek toward Forsberg (less than a day's march from the Tower at Charm), the Company flogged a disrespectful corporal courier from the Limper's main force.
- Next, in a village that the Limper had utterly wiped out, Raven shot two of the Limper's men to death to rescue a defenseless girl from gang-rape. Raven's actions were reported up to the Limper by a captain named Lane, another personal enemy of Raven.
- In a final humiliation, the Company recaptured the fortress at Deal from the Rebel general Raker, who had seized it from the Limper earlier.
After this, the conflict between the Limper and the Black Company escalated to an armed confrontation, led the Limper's favorite enforcer, Colonel Zouad. Although Raven was badly injured, he was healed by Shapeshifter, another member of the Taken, and one who hated the Limper even more than Soulcatcher. The Company orchestrated Colonel Zouad's kidnapping by the Rebels as retaliation. When the Limper tried to free his man, he walked directly into Shapeshifter's trap. With the help of disguised Company members (including Croaker and Elmo), Shifter stunned the unsuspecting Limper and collapsed an entire building over him. While he struggled to dig himself out, the Black Company scored a major victory against the Rebels of Oar. Still trapped underground, the Limper's forces in the whole province of Forsberg were utterly routed by Raker's Rebel reinforcements.
When his true name was discovered by the enemy leader Whisper, Limper betrayed the Lady and caused numerous military disasters for the empire. Unfortunately for him, his betrayal was discovered. In the Forest of Cloud, during one of his secret meetings with Whisper, they were both ambushed and captured by Raven and Croaker. After being gruesomely tortured by the Lady, he was sent away by the Lady's gigantic luminescent dragonfly to be locked in the Tower. But his imprisonment did not last long. His treason was pardoned and he was summoned to fight during the Battle of Charm inside the Tower. He even assisted the Lady in landing her dangerously compromised flying carpet at the top of the Tower. By the end of that epic battle, the Limper was the very last of the original Ten to be in open service to the Lady.
Shadows Linger Edit
The Limper was restored to his former position. He continued to serve the Lady and demonstrated bravery and skill in Battle of Juniper, where he personally slew many of the Dominator's minions known as Black Watchers. The Limper's flying carpet was destroyed after Journey stole it and was blasted out of the air by explosive sorcery from the Black Watchers. After the Black Company abandoned the Lady, the Limper was ordered to return to the Barrowland.
However, he disobeyed the Lady's orders, and alongside Whisper, pursued the Company to the city of Meadenvil. Accompanying him was a force of 50 former-Company soldiers – most prominently the sergeant called Shaky – whom he and Whisper had persuaded to join them. He sought not only to eliminate the remaining Company leadership but also to retrieve Whisper's stolen Domination-era papers... documents which contained his name and also reportedly the Lady's. At Meadenvil's harbor, most of his exhausted former-Company recruits were killed in battle against the Prince's soldiers. The Limper needed to summon a demon to turn the tide of that fight. He then set out with only 9 survivors, tracking the Company into the countryside. But Croaker, with the help of a local innkeeper whose brother was killed by the Limper's demon at the harbor, turned the tables on the Limper. In an ambush, the Limper's arm was hacked off by a Company affiliate named Bullock, and he was beaten unconscious for a brief time. His remaining men marched him into the innkeeper's establishment, which was the second part of Croaker's trap. At the last moment, the Limper regained consciousness, and realized the danger. As more violence broke out, Croaker impaled him with his sword, but the Limper in turn punched the wind out of him. Despite the Taken's horrible condition, he also beat down One-Eye and killed several of the innkeeper's ravenous dogs that had been sicced on him, each with single hits. But, he was lured by Company wizard Goblin to a pig shed, into range of a small hidden ballista that was operated by Pawnbroker. After being pierced by two missiles from the ballista, the Limper was cut to pieces by Pawn, Croaker, and the vengeful innkeeper. Croaker finally hanged him from a tree, stuffing the last Black Castle "seeds" into his mouth for the Lady to find and destroy. None of his enemies knew at the time that the spark of life still remained inside what remained of the Limper's body.
The White RoseEdit
The Limper survived his dismemberment in Meadenvil, and was eventually rehabilitated by the Lady in what she admitted was a painful process. He was now reduced to "human wreckage" and was unable to physically move without the aid of a miniature flying carpet. In the fortress at Deal, he threatened Croaker with a slow death but was interrupted by the Lady, who made it clear if he disobeyed her one more time, she would destroy him. When the Lady ordered him to attack the Plain of Fear, he was very enthusiastic during the air battle against Darling's windwhales. Eventually the two armies made a pact and Limper had to work with his old enemies for the Battle of the Barrowland. Despite being utterly defenseless within Darling's anti-magic null field, he tried to betray the Lady once again during the battle. He attempted to name her true name (to strip her of her magic powers), and shot her with a crossbow, but he guessed the incorrect name (Credence). Croaker, flying into an insane rage, hacked what remained of his body to pieces yet again, this time slicing off his head.
The Silver SpikeEdit
His second resurrection was orchestrated by the Toadkiller Dog. The demon dug up his head and forced the wild tribes from the Barrowland to attach it to an artificial body. The Limper, now also called the wicker man, and the demon dog coerced tribes' shamans and 50 best warriors. They killed everyone who was left in the Barrowland, and then headed south and almost sacked every city, starting with Oar, on their way in pursuit of Lady. Some citizens of the ruined cities joined them and at some point their army reached 5,000 men. He laid siege to the Tower at Charm in an attempt to gain access to the plethora of artifacts within, but could not overcome its defenders, who made excellent use of the sorcery built into the structure and the various traps inside.
Leading what was left of his army, he pillaged Opal and crossed the Sea of Torments to attack Beryl. As he moved south, he was pursued by Darling, Silent, Bomanz, numerous flying mantas, and other enemies aboard windwhales. To buy himself time to access the shelter of the Temple of Travellers' Repose, he sent a demon called the fire-eater to kill the windwhale. He breached the Temple's walls but was forced to kill the fire-eater when Bomanz sent it back, losing his wicker body in the process. He was again defeated by Darling's small, sentient Plain of Fear creatures inside the Temple, and the Taken's work-in-progress clay body was wrecked. Toadkiller Dog was able to make an alliance with a faction of nearby Wizards, the Nacred after he helped destroy their rivals the Shaded. In return they helped create an artificial, beautiful clay body for the Limper. However the Taken subsequently betrayed them all, even Toadkiller Dog, when he trapped them underground by collapsing the entrance of the Temple cellar.
Limper rushed back north on foot to retrieve the silver spike, which contained the power of his old master, the Dominator. Despite his tireless new clay body, he suffered through a horrible odyssey of ingenious traps laid by the Lady's imperial successors. He was even forced to take the long land route, through the Straits of Angine, back to the northern continent. Finally back at Oar, Limper breached the city walls with his magic, but was attacked by a wide variety of enemies and apparently subdued inside a pot that had been specially prepared by Exile to boil down his clay body. He blasted forth from the pot hours later, however, and his misshapen clay body was now covered in the limbs of Toadkiller Dog and other creatures that had come from the Tower at Charm. As he approached the silver spike, Silent and Bomanz sacrificed their lives to slow him down. He was finally weakened, and after a windwhale hurled him back into the pot, his clay body was neutralized by continuous boiling for more than a week. Genuinely dead, the Limper's dried remains were placed in a coffin, which was thrown by Darling and Case into the same cosmic abyss that had been prepared by Father Tree for the disposal of the silver spike.
|Ten Who Were Taken|
| Soulcatcher • Limper • Howler • Shapeshifter • Stormbringer|
Hanged Man • Bonegnasher • Nightcrawler • Moonbiter • Faceless Man