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Bone Warrior was a mysterious designation used by the Nyueng Bao to refer to members of the Black Company throughout the Books of Glittering Stone. The Nyueng Bao used this term interchangeably with "Stone Soldier" and "Soldier of Darkness" and refused to explain their meanings for many years. All three terms were spoken in the Taglian language when addressing Company personnel and also in the Nyueng Bao language in their private conversations.

In Murgen's Annals[]

The term "Bone Warrior" first appeared in the Annals when it was used in conversation by Ky Dam – the Speaker of the Nyueng Bao – to address Murgen, the Black Company standard-bearer during the Siege of Dejagore.[1] It would be spoken by Uncle Doj, Ky Gota, Banh Do Trang, and Thai Dei in the ensuing years. Murgen wrote several times that he disliked the inscrutable designations Bone Warrior, Stone Soldier, and Soldier of Darkness and resented the Nyueng Bao lack of transparency regarding the origins of these terms. But he occasionally incorporated these terms self-referentially into his own Annals.

In later Annals[]

After Murgen's disappearance, the next Company Annalist, Sleepy, also recorded that she was addressed with these terms by the Nyueng Bao. After more than 15 years, Uncle Doj finally revealed to Sleepy that he believed his Nyueng Bao ancestors were themselves a Free Company like the Free Companies of Khatovar, and were therefore Bone Warriors too. Although this history of the Nyueng Bao would later be disputed by Tobo, Doj did reveal a possible origin of this term as well as the term Stone Soldier:

The Bone Warriors charged with opening the way for Kina. Stone Soldiers warring for the honor of being remembered for all eternity by having our names written in golden letters in glittering stone.

Water Sleeps ch. 32

Later, during Sleepy's time on the supernatural glittering plain, she received revelations about the Free Companies of centuries ago in her dreams. She learned that the families of Bone Warriors held wakes for them while they were still alive:

The companies sent out were not swarms of fanatics. The plain was dangerous. Few men wanted to cross it. Most of the soldiers were conscripts, or minor criminals under the rule of a few dedicated priests. They were not expected to return. It became the custom for the conscripts’ families to hold a wake for their Bone Warriors or Stone Soldiers before they departed—even though the priests always promised they would be back in a matter of months. The few who did return usually came back so drained and changed, so bitter and hard, they came to be known as Soldiers of Darkness.

Water Sleeps ch. 79

References[]

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