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Elmo likes to come across as a big, dumb country boy turned soldier, but he is sharp.

Croaker, The Black Company ch. 2

Elmo was a universally-respected veteran sergeant of the Black Company prior to and during the Books of the North. He sponsored the membership of Croaker, who wrote that Elmo was recognized as the "spokesman for the enlisted" and who considered Elmo to be his closest friend.

Before The Black Company[]

Few details are supplied in the Annals about Elmo's past. However, in the short story "Shaggy Dog Bridge", Croaker stated that Elmo "supposedly ran away from some mines when he was thirteen" after Elmo identified some tailings piles. In addition, when the Sapling was created in The White Rose, Croaker also mentioned that Elmo had been a farmer.

Elmo was already in the Black Company when the band was at the "great crossroads" located just south of Padora. Just before they ended their service there, Elmo sponsored the new recruit called Croaker. It is uncertain if Elmo himself was from Padora or perhaps one of the cities south of it, like Kale, Fratter, Grey, or Weeks.

The Black Company[]

Elmo was serving with the Company during their contract with the Red Syndic in Beryl, the oldest of the Jewel Cities and a major harbor city on the southern continent. He survived the chaotic events there, and made the trip across the Sea of Torments aboard Soulcatcher's giant galley, The Dark Wings, to Opal. Now in the service to the Lady's Empire, Elmo participated in many of the military actions in Forsberg, the Salient, and other locations.

In one early incident, he flogged a disrespectful corporal courier from the Limper's army who was held down by Otto and Crispin. In Oar, Elmo quickly grasped the danger of the Black Company being Soulcatcher's front-line pawns in feuds with the other members of the Ten Who Were Taken. Later, before the Company reached the Stair of Tear, Elmo led a skirmish against the Rebel on the direct orders of the Captain. After surviving the harrowing Battle of Charm, he asked no questions when Croaker requested his (Croaker's) share of a significant sum of money they were secretly guarding.

Port of Shadows[]

Elmo led the raid into the Temple of Occupoa of Aloe during which the Company captured Tides Elba. His subordinates for this action were Goblin, Silent, Tuco, and Reams, and they were accompanied by Croaker. During this otherwise bloodless event, Elmo broke the arm of a local boy who was attempting to steal from the Temple's poor box. Elmo's memories of these and virtually all other events from Port of Shadows would later be lost when the entire Company was affected by a mysterious sorcery spell of amnesia.

Shadows Linger[]

Elmo was chosen to lead a small advance team of 25 Company men that were flown from the Barrowland, into the city of Juniper, by the new Taken via flying carpet. His team included the wizard Goblin; the physician and Annalist Croaker; the veterans Pawnbroker, Kingpin, and Otto; and other trusted soldiers including Sharkey, Tickle, Crake, Walleye, and Stork. This elite group made the trip ahead of the rest of the Company, and were therefore spared the long march across the northern continent and through the frigid Wolander Mountains.

From the palace of Duretile, Elmo directed the advance team's duties, answering to Whisper personally, until the Captain finally arrived. Elmo sent Stork into the Wolanders with a message to the Captain, explaining their latest developments, and mentioning Raven, a Company deserter who had been missing since the Battle of Charm.

After Elmo's advance team reunited with the main Company body, they participated in the Battle of Juniper. Elmo personally charged into the black castle with a number of Company brothers and armed locals when the Limper called for help, and for a time he was presumed killed during that action. He actually survived, and soon escaped the ruined city with about 70 other Company soldiers on horseback while Journey was distracted. He brought them all southward with the Company's treasure chest, and entered the city of Chimney out on the Salada Peninsula. There, to Croaker's delight, they rendezvoused with the remaining Company leadership (the Lieutenant, Candy, the wizards, etc.). Aboard their new ship, they held a toast to the expected return of the Great Comet and the prophesied downfall of their new enemy and former employer, the Lady.

On The Long Run short stories[]

In the six years between Shadows Linger and The White Rose, Elmo remained with the reduced and fugitive band, hunted by their former Imperial employers. They were now protecting Darling, a young deaf-mute girl with a special anti-magic null who was apparently the prophesied reincarnation of the White Rose. During the first four years (partially chronicled in the On The Long Run short stories), the Company was chased across much of the northern continent by the new Taken, including Whisper and Journey, and their armies.

"Cranky Bitch"[]

In "Cranky Bitch" – beginning almost immediately after Shadows Linger – Elmo was present aboard Cranky Bitch during a frightful storm. The next day, boats returned the men who had been on liberty during the nighttime storm. The first boat brought back One-Eye and Goblin, who were unconscious, reeking, and had to be lifted with a cargo hoist. Elmo struck Goblin’s back, causing the old wizard to vomit overboard, and then had the pair hauled away to recover below decks.

When Croaker predicted that the Houses of Istven and the Seamen's Guild would betray the Black Company, Elmo succinctly commented "same old song, one more verse", reflecting his familiarity with the Company's long history of treachery on behalf of their employers. After the Lieutenant bizarrely had a complete change of heart in favor of an unsound course of action, Elmo bluntly commented to some others that something was wrong with their leader's judgment.

Elmo was present for all 4 of the Company's journeys across the Gap. During their second northbound convoy (a group of 19 ships) they sailed through a storm and approached the south end of the Gap. Elmo, carrying a safety lantern, awakened Croaker to tell him using finger speech that the strange teenager called Luckless has been spotted so far up the mainmast he was at the edge of Darling's null, and a physician would be needed. (Unknown to them, Luckless and his sister Lacksluck were actually supernatural entities that the entire Company had been forced to forget at the end of Port of Shadows.)

Later, Elmo warned Croaker when the new Taken were visible in the skies over the Gap. After the Company sprung their special trap and killed one of the Taken, Elmo asked if Croaker knew the dead sorcerer's name, but Croaker did not know. During some liberty time afterward, Elmo and Croaker got lost trying to find a specific brothel in Chimney. Along the way, they briefly encountered Lacksluck and Luckless, and witnessed the supernatural pair disappear into the thin air of a shadow.

"Leta of the Thousand Sorrows"[]

In "Leta of the Thousand Sorrows", the Black Company has already disembarked from Cranky Bitch for the final time, and they are now traveling across the western wilderness, a vast untamed forest, with the new Taken on their trail. Elmo is part of the vanguard group which also consists of Silent, Darling, Croaker, Otto, and Hagop. (More than a day's march behind them is the main body of the Company, including the Lieutenant, Candy, One-Eye, and Goblin.) Elmo tries to cheer up the exhausted Croaker while they take refreshment at a spring. After both groups reunite, they establish a camp in a strange clearing, where identical supernatural women by the name of Leta are crafted by ancient sorcery emanating from the ground. Elmo is one of the first men to be bedded by a Leta, preceded only by Croaker, Candy, and the Lieutenant.

"Wet Dream Fish Story"[]

In "Wet Dream Fish Story", Elmo continues to lead a scout group pioneering through “the densest forest north of the Sea of Torments”. His group contains Showboy. Other scout groups are led by Otto and Hagop. Despite the miserable heat, frequent rain, biting bugs, and lack of food, Elmo reminds Croaker that they haven't seen their enemies, the new Taken, for 9 whole days.

Good and bad in everything... We have to suffer this shit, but we haven't heard from the Taken for nine days, either.

Elmo soon makes the exciting discovery of an old road, and sends Showboy back to Croaker, the Lieutenant, Darling, and the wizards One-Eye, Goblin, and Silent to inform them. Although he is not mentioned again, as a senior sergeant Elmo presumably contributes a significant role in the renovation of the pair of bridges connecting to the island where the trio of ageless mermaid-fishermen named Adelin, Honra, and Eisen Fisher are discovered.

"Those Who Went Before"[]

As the Company continues along the old road in the western wilderness in "Those Who Went Before", Elmo personally reports back to the Lieutenant and Candy of unexpectedly improved road conditions ahead. He expresses a premonition about the near future... something Croaker claims the veteran sergeant has not done in all the 20 years he has known him. Elmo correctly observes that all wildlife seems to have vanished except for birds. As they advance, eventually even the bird songs disappear. Soon, Elmo and his advance team are surpassed by Showboy and his clique in an unauthorized, undisciplined rabble, and this group discovers the earthworks that surround an old, sorcery-charged cemetery called the Grand Memorial to Our Honored Dead. Elmo and his men enter the cemetary and visit the portico of a huge limestone building complex, where Croaker soon joins him. He reports finding no grounds crew despite the flawless condition of the place. He also reveals that the memories of the memorialized deceased have been leaking into his mind. He is confident they died fighting the Dominator, early in the era of the Domination (well over 400 years ago). When Elmo and his group exhibit a strange lassitude, Croaker shouts at them until they exit the portico and enter the main chamber of the building, where they fully regain their senses. When inept newcomers from Chimney touch the memorial posts and are rendered unconscious, Elmo orders them brought to Croaker for medical assessment: the first of these is Rusty, and another is Spangler. Two days after leaving the cemetary, Elmo's vanguard group finds the end of the road: they all must now trek through wild forest.

"Shaggy Dog Bridge"[]

The sergeant is once again in command of the advance team which marches ahead of the main body of the Black Company during "Shaggy Dog Bridge". His subordinates here include Rusty, Robin, Whittle, Zeb the archer, and the wizard One-Eye. Croaker insinuates himself into the group without Elmo's knowledge, which angers him when he discovers it. (Croaker, as physician, is too valuable a resource to be in a recon group, and he is not as fit as the other men.) When Blind Emon battles the new Taken in an explosive airborne fight above the Master's castle, Elmo orders everyone to flee given the excessive danger.

"Bone Eaters"[]

Elmo is mentioned a handful of times in "Bone Eaters". He was part of the nucleus of bodyguards that surrounded Darling during the Company's incursion of the Village of Hungry Ghosts. Also present during this operation were Croaker (armed with his special black bow), Otto, Hagop, and Rusty.

The White Rose[]

Elmo would become a key figure in Darling's New White Rose Rebellion. And, with the unexplained absence of Candy from the Annals of The White Rose, Elmo was the most senior Company sergeant mentioned.

Elmo participated in the raid team of about 35 men which attacked the Limper's compound outside the Imperial city of Rust. Also present in this raid was the Lieutenant, Croaker, One-Eye, Goblin, Silent, and their new ally Tracker with his strange hound named Toadkiller Dog. While Darling distracted the Taken, the raid team boarded a windwhale which dropped them off "well outside Rust proper" at the Limper's compound. Using Goblin's sleep spell, they slaughtered the unconscious imperials of the compound's entire regiment. Then they wrecked the Limper's stela, seized some documents, and torched the buildings. Their windwhale fled prematurely, however, and the much larger imperial regiment from inside Rust – consisting of hundreds of soldiers – besieged them with artillery engines. One-Eye made contact with the underground Rebels within Rust, and they distracted some of the besiegers. Elmo and most of the others were pulled from the harrowing siege by a younger replacement windwhale, leaving behind only four men and Toadkiller Dog.

During the Battle of the Barrowland, he was slain alongside the Lieutenant by the Dominator in hand-to-hand combat. Of all the Company brothers killed that day, Croaker mourned the death of Elmo the most.

In other media[]