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The Battle of Charm was the final confrontation between the Imperial armies of the Lady and the Rebel armies raised by the Circle of Eighteen. Fought beneath the light of the Great Comet over a period of several days, this battle was the climax of The Black Company and was the largest battle of the modern Annals.

The Rebel besieged the Tower at Charm – the headquarters of the Lady and her generals, the Ten Who Were Taken – with a massive force of over 250,000 men, while the defenders were only roughly 21,000 strong, including the mercenaries of the Black Company.

The Black Company[]

The Lady's order of battle[]

Black Company Red Twilight by IanLIR

Battle of Charm by IanLIR

The Tower had only one approach, which was shaped like a pie wedge. The rest of the area surrounding the Tower, for a full mile outwards from the structure, was unnavigable as it was full of debris from the Tower construction. The pie wedge had been constructed with three deep trenches, three walls of increasing height, and a large earthen pyramid, in order towards the tower. Archers, soldiers, and siege equipment were stationed on the walls and the trenches prevented siege equipment from being brought forward initially. Eight of the Ten Who Were Taken, as well as Whisper (the first of the new Taken), were initially given spots on these walls. Feather and Journey, brand new members of the new Taken, as well as a rehabilitated Limper, would join in toward the end of the battle as well.

For the Empire, the defensive order of battle was as follows:

  1. On the first level were 9,000 soldiers, the least experienced defenders, who were from the north and from garrisons of cities abandoned to the Rebel. They were grouped into 3 divisions and commanded by Stormbringer in the center, and Moonbiter and Bonegnasher on the wings
  2. On the second level were 6,000 veteran archers from the east. They were also grouped into 3 divisions, and were commanded by the Howler in the center, and the Faceless Man and Nightcrawler on the wings.
  3. On the third level were 6,000 soldiers. Whisper commanded 1,500 eastern veterans on the left; Shapeshifter (later, Lord Jalena) commanded 1,000 western and southern troops on the right; Soulcatcher commanded 2,500 soldiers including both the Tower Guard and allies from the Jewel Cities in the center.
  4. Above all, on the pyramid itself and functioning as the Lady's bodyguard, were the 1,000 brothers of the Black Company. Many of them were newly-enlisted volunteers sourced from various armies of the Taken. As always, they were commanded by their leader, the Captain.

The battle[]

The Rebel siege lasted for several days in a row. Despite the continual infantry engagements, hails of arrows, and vicious battlefield sorcery from the Imperial defenders, the Rebel slowly filled the trenches to advance their infantry and siege equipment. The Taken and the Circle fought against one another personally during the night, unleashing nightmarish hellscapes of sorcery that engulfed soldiers on both sides by the hundreds.

When the besiegers had all but taken the first wall, the Lady signaled her new champions Feather and Journey, who caused it explode outwards. Newly-exposed compartments revealed armored war elephants that had been brought up beforehand from the Jewel Cities and, presumably with the aid of sorcery, kept secret. Ridden by mahouts, the elephants rampaged to devastating effect throughout the Rebel ranks, and destroyed many of the siege towers, before they were eliminated.

The Lady was not seen to take any direct part in the battle. She had the Howler fly his carpet over the Rebel forces and drop metal balls containing a fast-acting sorcery disease. On the Howler's return flight, Soulcatcher betrayed the Lady and caused the Howler to crash his flying carpet and plummet hundreds of feet. Riding black stallions, Croaker and the Lady pursued her, and after a chase, Croaker pierced her with multiple ensorcelled arrows from his new black bow, and cut off her head. By the time Croaker and the Lady returned, countless thousands of Rebels had been killed by the supernatural disease spread by the Howler. But still the battle continued, now within the Tower itself, with the Imperial forces led by the newly restored Limper.

In the end, all the remaining Rebel generals of the Circle of Eighteen were killed, and their armies were obliterated, hampering Rebel operations for 15 years. Four of the remaining nine Taken were killed (Bonegnasher, Nightcrawler, Moonbiter, and the Faceless Man) and four others were believed killed and disappeared (Shapeshifter, Stormbringer, the Howler, and Soulcatcher). Many of the casualties among the Taken were due not to enemy action but to internal betrayal orchestrated by the Dominator, who had been guiding the most senior Rebel generals.

During the battle, Darling's null and her identity as the reincarnation of the White Rose was discovered by the Black Company. She was hustled into hiding by Raven with the support of Croaker, Silent, and a handful of other Company sympathizers.

Details revealed in later years[]

A number of details about the battle which Croaker did not record in his contemporary Annals were revealed in later chronicles.

In Port of Shadows, it was revealed that a Rebel sorcerer called Essentially Capable Shiiraki, the Spellsmith, fought against the Black Company wizard Goblin. Since the Company was among the final tier of defenders at Charm, Shiiraki was almost certainly among the final waves of Rebel soldiers, potentially even those who entered the Tower. He survived and escaped, but when tracked down later, he chose to join the Imperial ranks over execution. The Black Company would call him "Buzz", and he featured in one of Whisper's secret plans to destroy the Company.

In The Silver Spike, an experienced hunter called Old Man Fish confided to fellow spike thief Smeds Stahl that he participated in the battle at Charm on the Rebel side. He encountered the Black Company wizard Silent there, and Fish would recognize him about 16 years later in Oar. Separately, Case would reveal to his friend "Corbie" (actually Raven in disguise) this his father served in Nightcrawler's army and survived Charm, as well as the preceding battles at Lords, the Windy Country, and the Stair of Tear.

Aftermath[]

Relatively few Rebels survived Charm. Some who did remained hidden within the Lady's Empire. One of these was Corder, who lived in Tanner and would become a key underground cell captain in Darling's New White Rose Rebellion about 15 years later (The White Rose). Another was Fish, who acknowledged that the "[the Imperials] don't want to let anybody who went there [Charm] die of old age" and consequently spent many of his subsequent days living a self-sufficient life in the unforgiving Great Forest.

Rebel survivors of Charm who were discovered later were given the choice to join the Empire (as Buzz did) or be executed.

Others fled eastward, to create new Rebel cells, and were hunted by Whisper and the Black Company. This included the modern narrative of Port of Shadows, but, these events were wiped from the memories of the Company and most other participants. Next, at least 6 years after Charm, the opening events of Shadows Linger began. The Black Company was still hunting Rebels, now in far-eastern Tally province.

A smaller and entirely different group of Rebels disarmed and fled to the distant northwest of the northern continent. These men, later called "the Crater crowd", were arrested by the Black Company in Juniper.

The infamous Battle of Charm would be mentioned several times throughout the subsequent Annals. In Dreams of Steel, Croaker used plant material to recreate the landscape of the battle during his time in Soulcatcher's captivity at the Grove of Doom. As he had hoped, his wife Lady discovered this and interpreted it correctly: her insane sister was indeed alive, despite being beheaded so many years ago.

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