Shapeshifter was one of the immensely powerful sorcerers known as the Ten Who Were Taken. He was an extraordinarily huge man with grey hair and a filthy, thick beard which covered most of his face. His clothes were scarlet-colored and heavily tattered, and he carried a staff in the form of an elongated, beautiful female body. There was a rumor that the staff was once a real woman who had been imprisoned by his magic for infidelity.
The Domination Edit
Prior to or during the era known as the Domination, Shapeshifter was initially an independent wizard-king. Then he was enslaved by the infamous sorcerer known only as the Dominator, becoming the first of the Ten Who Were Taken. As such, Shifter 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. Shifter, alongside the Dominator, the Dominator's wife the Lady, and the other nine Taken, were all imprisoned in the Barrowland for 370 years after they were defeated by the original White Rose and her armies.
The Lady's Empire Edit
The Black Company encountered Shapeshifter for the first time in Oar, where, despite his terrifying appearance, his first action was to immediately heal Raven with a simple touch of his staff. Croaker, the Company surgeon, summoned the courage to request that he heal some other men as well, and he did so, earning Croaker's respect. The Company then helped him to organize a trap for his enemy, the Limper, another one of the Taken. Shapeshifter used a glamour to make several Company men and himself look like Rebel leaders. They infiltrated a torture room where Limper's infamous colonel, Zouad, was being interrogated for information. Right when the Limper entered the chamber to rescue Zouad, Shapeshifter suddenly stunned the Limper with magic and buried him alive under the collapsing building with help from Croaker. He then joined the Black Company in street combat that resulted in many Rebel deaths. During this melee, Croaker noticed that Shapeshifter had some kind of protective spell that "turned" enemy swords and arrows, so he protected himself by staying very close to Shifter. After the fight, Shapeshifter abruptly disappeared from Oar. (The Black Company was called away as well, to garrison at Elm, and Oar was rapidly recaptured by the Rebel general Raker who easily overcame Limper's leaderless forces.)
Shapeshifter was a critical participant in the successful ambush and killing of the formidable Rebel general Harden. He secretly transformed himself into Harden's large black horse, and waited until the right moment to strike. Harden was distracted by a diversion of enemies consisting of three of the other taken: Soulcatcher, Stormbringer, and the Hanged Man; as well as Croaker and Raven from the Black Company, and at least 4 veteran Imperial soldiers. Harden quickly immobilized the three approaching Taken with a very powerful spell. But was soon trapped by Shifter, who transformed into a nightmarish creature and kept Harden defenseless while Stormbringer's two soldiers hacked the Rebel leader to death. When Shifter realized that the Hanged Man was fatally impaled by Harden's thrown sword, he was deeply disturbed and attempted to help his fellow Taken. But Soulcatcher and Stormbringer made it clear that the Hanged Man should be left to die, causing Shifter to feel betrayed.
In a discussion with One-Eye and the Captain, Croaker would later surmise a conspiracy among some of the Taken to explain the Hanged Man's death and Shapeshifter's reaction. Croaker proposed that Soulcatcher and Stormbringer, both women, were secretly loyal to their former lover, the Dominator, and that they allowed the Hanged Man to die because he was a genuine supporter of the Lady, who was keeping the Dominator trapped in the Barrowland. Dramatic infighting among the Taken at the Battle of Charm would soon support this theory. Shifter was among the many Taken to be reportedly killed during the epic battle. However, as with Soulcatcher, Stormbringer, and Howler, these reports would prove incorrect.
In the south Edit
Shapeshifter had actually survived the Battle of Charm and moved southward to settle a score with a traitor. He emerged once again when the Black Company itself headed south too. He helped them on a few occasions, most prominently at the Battle of Ghoja Ford, where he created some fog to conceal a trap prepared by Croaker.
At the Battle of Dejagore he took the form of a forvalaka and attacked the female Shadowmaster known as Stormshadow, who turned out to be Stormbringer under a new name. No one other than Shifter, not even Lady, knew that Stormshadow was one of the Taken until he unmasked her. Shifter and the tiny but powerful woman fought ferociously until they were both immobilized. As the two fought, One-Eye suddenly got the idea that Shapeshifter, disguised as a forvalaka, had actually killed his brother, the wizard Tom-Tom, in Beryl years ago. Although Croaker was uncertain if this was true, he did not stop One-Eye from taking revenge. Since both Shifter and Stormbringer were now defenseless, One-Eye took the opportunity to knock them unconscious and suture their mouths and orifices shut. Taking Lady's advice, One-Eye and Goblin ultimately burned them both to ashes, removing "two great wickednesses" from the world. However, Croaker and the others spared the life of Shapeshifter's apprentice, Lisa Daele Bowalk, herself now trapped in the shape of a forvalaka. Years later this would be One-Eye's undoing, as she would eventually kill the wizard to avenge her mentor Shapeshifter.