Books of the South Cover

Croaker in the first Widowmaker armor, astride one of the black stallions, by Raymond Swanland

So we were off, them pounding after me at a pace to kill their animals in an hour, my beast barely cantering and, I think, having a good time. I can't recall any other horse I've ridden looking back to check the pursuit and adjusting its pace to remain tantalizingly close.

Croaker, Shadow Games

The black stallions were a special breed of giant, sorcery-enhanced horses that were developed personally by the Lady in the fullness of her powers at the Tower at Charm. The horses were enormous, glossy black, and possessed of incredible stamina and speed. One of these black stallions could run at a flat gallop for days, faster than any normal horse, and not tire out. They were also remarkably intelligent for horses, though no more than a below-average human. According to the Lady their lifespan was around forty years. In the Lady's Empire and beyond, they were "precious beyond belief" and priceless. They were only given to the "greatest champions" of her Empire, and were most commonly seen as mounts for the Ten Who Were Taken and the new Taken. Later, in Shadow Games, the Lady granted 8 of the beasts to Croaker.

The Black CompanyEdit

In the The Black Company, the first black stallion seen by Croaker and mentioned in his Annals was the one carrying a mysterious rider on the Avenue of the Syndics in Beryl, at the head of a procession of 100 armed, foreign veterans. The rider turned out to be Soulcatcher the legate from the Lady's Empire.

The black stallions appeared prominently at the Battle of Charm. In the midst of the battle, Feather, one of the new Taken, leaped off a wall riding one of the black stallions, and made a safe landing that would have killed any normal horse. A few minutes later, Soulcatcher kicked Journey of his own black stallion and commandeered the beast. Croaker and the Lady each rode a black stallion in pursuit of the traitor. They charged through the Rebel encampment and into the countryside, through one of the valleys west of Charm. The pursuit was so intense that the stallions belonging to Croaker and the Lady ran themselves to death, both with "fist-sized black burns upon their throats".

Shadow GamesEdit

When Lady secretly abdicated her Empire and headed south with the Black Company in Shadow Games, she gifted eight such horses along with one of her iron carriages to Croaker. After they reached Taglios and scouted southward, Croaker's black stallion kept him away from a sizable rabble of Shadowlanders who had been sent to assassinate him by six of Longshadow's shadowweavers.

The stallions were brought to the Battle of Dejagore. Following the Company's terrible defeat on the second day of the battle, the horses were scattered. Two were taken by Soulcatcher to carry herself and Croaker when she pretended to be Lady. Four more were recalled by Lady using her newly regain magical talent and used as she built her band of survivors from the battle. One was claimed by Shadowspinner in time for the Siege of Dejagore. Loftus attempted to assassinate Shadowspinner by firing One-Eye's spear from a ballista, but the weapon passed through the stallion's shoulder instead of its rider. Although a normal horse would have perished in moments, the sorcery in the magically-bred stallion's bones conflicted with the spells from the spear, causing it to die an agonizing death from a wound that "glowed red, flickered" and spread across its flesh. The eighth horse was never found.

The Silver Spike Edit

Back in the Lady's Empire, four black horses drew the carriage of Exile, a powerful sorcerer in service to the Tower, to Oar. Six of his escorts also rode black horses. It is possible that these were of the same breed.

She Is The Darkness Edit

The six surviving horses in the southern continent remained with the Black Company throughout their war with Longshadow, generally used by the northern officers. Murgen loaned his horse to Sleepy to deliver a message to Taglios, but Sleepy (and by extension the horse) was then captured by Soulcatcher. It was found almost a year later when Uncle Doj located and freed Sleepy. At least two (if not all) of the other horses were brought onto the glittering plain with the Company. Following her release by Willow Swan, whom she seduced, two black stallions were stolen by Soulcatcher after she trapped the Company leadership in the cave of the ancients beneath the plain. She and Swan rode the beasts off the plain back into the homeworld.

Water SleepsEdit

By the time of Water Sleeps, only one stallion remained; it was primarily ridden by Mogaba, and was then brought back to Taglios so Soulcatcher could have ready access to it. This particular horse, however, is the one that Sleepy used to ride. It recognized Sleepy, seeing through her disguise, and even winked at her when Mogaba's cavalry passed her on the road to the Shadowgate. The horse later broke out of its stall in Taglios and ran hundreds of miles to rejoin Sleepy. It then traveled with the Company when they retreated to Hsien. It is unspecified what happened to the two stallions Soulcatcher and Willow Swan rode off the plain, nor how Soulcatcher managed to capture the horse belonging to Sleepy.

Soldiers LiveEdit

The remaining stallion lived with the Company in Hsien until they returned to the homeworld. It was the only known survivor of the eight which had made the southward trip from the Tower at Charm in Shadow Games. Its use was reserved primarily for Sleepy, the current Captain, but was also ridden by Tobo as well when it was needed. The horse's final fate is unknown.

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