The Black Watchers were the strange, reclusive humanoid denizens of the Black Castle of Juniper and the primary antagonists of the Black Company throughout much of Shadows Linger. They had been working for centuries to finish a supernatural portal within their castle which would allow their master, the Dominator, to escape from his prison in the Barrowland, thousands of miles away.
Their faces were "sharp angles and shadows, lustrous, olive, cold, with a pair of softly luminous eyes", and they all wore black pantaloons with black hooded shirts. They varied in size; their apparent leader was tall and thin but another noteworthy one was short and wide. The nature of these creatures is never explicitly detailed, but specifics strongly suggest that they were summoned creatures of some sort, demons conjured by the Dominator's sorcery.
The Annalist Croaker recorded that they were particularly powerful warriors, capable of fighting two or more trained human soldiers during the Battle of Juniper. Since some appeared to be identical to one another, including even scars, they were perhaps able to duplicate themselves.
Before Croaker's Annals Edit
407 years before the events of The Black Company, the Dominator was defeated and buried in the Barrowland at the end of the White Rose Rebellion. Very shortly after that, the Black Watchers began fostering the growth of the hideous Black Castle in faraway Juniper. Their goal was to supply the structure with sufficient corpses to power the evil sorcery of the portal within it to rescue their master from the Great Barrow. However, the city of Juniper turned out to be a poor choice. The city's bizarre ruling cult of Custodians had already been religiously stashing away all corpses in the Catacombs beneath the Enclosure. The efforts of the Black Watchers were unexpectedly slowed down for centuries. During this time, the creatures somehow accumulated a significant hoard of coins, including gold. The Black Watchers were rarely if ever seen by the human inhabitants of Juniper and the castle was completely shunned for generations.
Shadows Linger Edit
The Black Watchers experienced a resurgence when a newcomer to Juniper, Raven, began rapidly selling them the corpses of deceased homeless people. Raven was fully unaware of his employers' goal and had no reason to suspect any connection to the Dominator. Less frequently, the Black Watchers also purchased corpses from the "Crater crowd", which were former Rebels from the faraway Empire of the Lady. With each body, their castle increased in size at an alarming rate, which prompted Duke Zimerlan and the chief Custodian Hargadon to do outreach to the Lady for advice.
At the Battle of Juniper Edit
The demonic humanoids purchased the corpses of Luke, Milt, Teskus, and two others, as well as the still-living Krage, from Raven and Marron Shed. They also bought Sue (still alive) and the corpse of Gilbert, from Shed, and made an offer to buy Lisa Daele Bowalk. Though their portal for the Dominator was nearly complete, they were stalled when the Lady, her new Taken (Whisper, Feather, and Journey), the Limper, and the Black Company laid siege to their castle at the Battle of Juniper.
During the battle, the Black Watchers used a kind of sorcery artillery to blast Feather out of the air as she rode her flying carpet, killing her. Feather's husband Journey lost two carpets and barely escaped death from the same type of attack. The castle creatures fought ferociously in hand-to-hand combat outside the castle, and dragged the newly-dead inside at every opportunity. But they were no match for the Limper in combat, and their castle soon literally melted from the barrage of high-magnitude sorcery attacks. During the fray, Croaker and the Lieutenant retrieved one of the corpses of a fallen Black Watcher, and Croaker took some time to examine it.
When the Black Watchers' portal opened, and a fiery representation of the Dominator rose from it, they were defeated by the Lady herself, who counterattacked with spectacular sorcery from Duretile.
Outside Meadenvil Edit
Reportedly only one Black Watcher avoided destruction at Juniper. It secretly attempted to grow a brand new black castle outside Meadenvil, the next city to the south, and somehow duplicated itself more than once. Marron Shed learned about them and informed the Black Company. He helped One-Eye, Croaker, Kingpin, and Hagop kill two of the creatures. Upon examining their remains, Croaker realized they were inexplicably identical... all the way down to a particular scar.
All surviving Black Watchers, and their new "lump" castle outside Meadenvil, were wiped out by the Lady after Croaker shared their location.