|“||She is the last hope of good in the war against the evil sorceress known as the Lady. From a secret base on the Plains of Fear, where even the Lady hesitates to go, the Black Company, once in service to the Lady, now fights to bring victory to the White Rose. But now an even greater evil threatens the world. All the great battles that have gone before will seem a skirmishes when the Dominator rises from the grave.||”|
–From the back cover
After the Battle of Juniper and the flight of the Black Company from the service of The Lady, the Company has taken up residence in a warren of caves beneath the Plain of Fear. There, they form the core of what little remains of the White Rose rebellion, which had previously been hunted to extinction by the Company themselves. Their only real asset is that the inhabitants of the Plain of Fear itself, windwhales and their attendant mantas, talking stones called menhirs, and others, have tacitly joined with the rebels against The Lady's Empire.
Croaker continues to search the documents originally recovered from Whisper during the Company's original campaign in The Lady's service. Within them, he hopes to find The Lady's true name, enabling the Company to rob the sorceress of her powers and enable her empire to fall. However, Croaker begins receiving mysterious packets that contain the tale of Bomanz, the wizard who inadvertently freed The Lady back into the world. Deeply interested in both the story and the motivation for transcribing it, Croaker leads a scouting expedition with One-Eye and Goblin, and also the rebellion's newest members, Tracker and Toadkiller Dog. At the Barrowland, they discover that the source of Bomanz's story was actually an old member of the Company, Raven, who has since slipped into a coma after trying to enter the Barrowland using magic. More significantly, the rebels discover that continuous rainfall has caused the Great Tragic River to flood and the floodwaters are eroding the Dominator's prison away.
Attempting to leave the Barrowland, the group is accosted by Imperial forces and Croaker is captured. When he awakens, he is in the custody of the Limper and Whisper, who plan to torture him and then kill him. Luckily for Croaker, The Lady intercedes and stops them, and has Croaker transferred to her own custody in the Tower at Charm. While there, The Lady has Croaker resume writing the Annals, continuing to insist that she wants an unbiased chronicle of her rule. Croaker warns her about the danger posed by the erosion at the Great Barrow. The Lady is far more concerned with the possible return of the Dominator than with the rebellion, and she asks Croaker to take her to meet with Darling.
Before the meeting, The Lady decides to make a show of strength, and her new engines of war take on Darling's windwhales as well as a large force of rebel soldiers. In the end, Darling is turned back, but The Lady orders her forces not to pursue. She and Croaker depart into the Plain of Fear on foot, with The Lady pretending to be simply Croaker's traveling companion. During the journey, the two grow closer, relating more as humans and equals than as Empress and rebel. At the Company stronghold, The Lady helps Croaker translate old documents, this time prioritizing the Dominator's true name over all else.
Sometime later, Tracker, Toadkiller Dog, and the Company wizards finally return from the wilderness, having escaped from The Lady's troops at last. However, something seems to be wrong with the wizards. It is revealed that Tracker and Toadkiller dog are actually ancient minions of the Dominator who had been interred in the Barrowland, but were freed by the early effects of the river erosion. Toadkiller Dog is injured by Father Tree when it attempts to attack The Lady, then flees the area. Tracker remains, now under Father Tree's control. Afterward, The Lady and Darling meet, and hammer out a truce. Soon after, the White Rose's forces mobilize in full, and are joined by The Lady's Taken and her imperial guard, and the entire force advances to the Barrowland.
At the Barrowland, The Lady and her Taken manage to revive not only Raven but Bomanz as well. The Taken attempt to stop the flooding, but end up causing as much damage as they stop. The Lady resigns herself to battle the Dominator upon his release, but does not believe that she can win. She turns to Croaker for a measure of comfort, and their relationship deepens again. Croaker begins to have second thoughts about the Company's ongoing plans to assassinate The Lady. He still believes she must be toppled for the good of the world, but no longer fears or despises her as a person.
Battle of the Barrowland Edit
Finally, The Lady and Darling work together to battle the Dominator. They release him from his prison, but within Darling's magical null, preventing him from using his powers. Even without them, he proves unfathomably strong and nearly invincible, shrugging off many terrible wounds and killing many of his attackers, including the Lieutenant and Elmo, before finally succumbing. As One Eye and Goblin deal with the matter of finishing off the Dominator, the Limper turns on The Lady, shooting her with an arrow imbued with what he believes to be her true name. However, he is mistaken, and she survives. Croaker beheads the Limper and discards his head.
With the Dominator beaten, The Lady names Darling's true name, destroying her magical null. In retaliation, Silent speaks his only words in all of the annals and names The Lady, eliminating her sorceress abilities as well. Raven, seeing an opportunity to get back in the good graces of Darling and the Company, attempts to finish The Lady off, but Croaker shoots him in the hip and stops him.
With the Company decimated even more completely than after the Battle of Juniper, Croaker is elected Captain by the few survivors. With the exception of Silent, and a handful of others, the Company elect to remain together and travel south to the Company's original home of Khatovar. To mixed reactions, Croaker elects to bring Lady along as well.