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The Battle of Ghoja Ford was a major battle of the Shadowmaster wars which took place during Shadow Games. It was fought by the Black Company and the Taglian forces under their command against an army serving the Shadowmasters. The location was Ghoja Ford, one of the major crossings of the Main, and resulted in striking victory for the Company and Taglios.

This was the first battle of the Shadowmaster wars fought by Croaker after his appointment as Liberator of Taglios. It was preceded during the prior year by a smaller campaign called "Willow's war", which comprised the opening conflicts of the wider Shadowmaster wars.

Shadow Games[]


The Black Company took the contract to militarize the Taglian populace and defeat the invading Shadowlanders simply to continue their trek toward fabled Khatovar. The Company's Captain, Croaker, was appointed Liberator of Taglios with wide-ranging authority. His first obstacle was the Shadowmaster army that was waiting for the water level of the Main to drop low enough that they could mount an invasion of Taglios.

The Company raised three legions of Taglian troops, a small light cavalry force, and several individual armies from each of the religious factions. One of Croaker's legions was headed by Mogaba, another by Ochiba, and the auxiliary legion was led by Sindawe. The Shadowmasters raised fifteen thousand Shadowlander troops, and stationed ten thousand at the Ghoja Ford, three thousand at another major ford, and a thousand at each of the other two minor fords.

The battle[]

The Shadowmasters cleverly built a levee on the river, such that they could partially damn it and divert water flow into a low lying area and thus open up the Ford to foot traffic a day or more sooner. Intelligence of this enemy maneuver was discovered by Croaker's ally, the Taken called Shapeshifter, who notified Lady (the second-in-command of the Company). This critical revelation gave Croaker the time to counter the planned enemy assault by bringing the battle to the Shadowlanders on his own terms. Without Shifter's intelligence, the enemy would have crossed at Ghoja in a single day and unchallenged. Croaker openly admitted in his Annals that Taglios certainly would have fallen had that occurred.

Jahamaraj Jah led a force of poorly trained Shadar troops to defend the Ford being assaulted by three thousand Shadowmaster troops and were nearly successful in their defense on their own. Lady arrived with their cavalry force and demolished the remains of the Shadowmaster army at the ford. She sent her cavalry straggling back to Ghoja Ford, and sent Jah across the river to pick off the Shadowlanders retreating from the Ford if they won. This was partially a political move to remove Jah if the battle were lost.

Croaker arrived under cover of darkness and assembled his camp and siege engines. He had his auxiliary legion dig a small trench and fill it with charcoal which he had hauled down in wagons. He enlisted Shapeshifter to cover the river with mist in the morning so that he would be able to deploy his tricks and troops without being seen.

The Shadowlanders crossed the ford in the morning and entered a half-bowl shaped slope out of the river basin. Croaker and Lady rode up to the crest dressed as Lifetaker and Widowmaker and lit the charcoal, filling the area below with noxious fumes. The Shadowlanders marched through the mist as Croaker's army took position at the top of the river basin. The battle began as the Shadowlanders cut troughs through the charcoal, but were in poor shape from the fumes. Croaker's cavalry force assaulted the Shadowlanders from the rear after several minutes of battle, causing them to break and retreat. At the same time, the siege equipment destroyed much of the fortress on the Shadowland side of the Ford, which had been weakened during the night by Goblin, One-Eye, and Shapeshifter's sorcery.

The Black Company and their Taglian legions won the battle with minimal casualties. They continued southward, into the Shadowlands, and next participated in the Battle of Dejagore.

Recalled in Soldiers Live[]

About 24 years after the battle (Soldiers Live, chapter 79), Croaker revisited the battle site and the large bridge that was constructed later. He noted the changes that had taken place:

Except for a small memorial pasture where the fighting had been bloodiest, the battlefield on the north bank, where the Company had won a signal victory in what seemed like another lifetime, was completely built over. Back then there had been a hamlet and watchtower on the south bank, beside a ford that could be crossed only half the year. Now Ghoja threatened to become a city. The bridge, begun at my suggestion ages ago, was a strategic gem both militarily and commercially. There were strong forts and big markets on both banks now.