The File of Nine is a council of anonymous, masked warlords in Hsien who claim to rule Hsien's southern region during Soldiers Live. The area is ruled by a large number of warlords who offer some acknowledgement of power to the File, the monks of Khang Phi, and also the distant Court of All Seasons. The File issues edicts aimed towards unifying the people of Hsien and bringing on a golden age of piece and prosperity, but their edicts are ignored as often as they are followed.
The File of Nine is purported to be made up of one warlord from each of the nine regions, but the Black Company discovered that to be a falsehood. The File holds its meetings at Khang Phi because of the authority that it grants their edicts, and because the monks encourage it in the hopes that the warlords will find wisdom. Their meeting chamber is composed of five stone seats and an altar. When in person, members wear masks to disguise their identity, which is suggested by Croaker to have been adopted from Hsien's hated former tyrants, the Shadowmasters.
When Sleepy's Black Company built and settled in the Abode of Ravens in Hsien, the File of Nine denied them access to the books, located in Khang Phi, containing knowledge of Shadowgate repair. They did not want travel across the glittering plain to be reopened, because they worried that a conquering army from another world would bring war to their fragmented civilization just as the Shadowmasters had done.
On their final meeting with the Black Company, seven of the File were present, with the two junior members being given temporary seats. Croaker speculated that five of the nine were permanent positions, while the other four were junior positions within the file. At this meeting, Sleepy distracted them by speaking at least 5 of their names aloud; meanwhile, Tobo stole the books with the secrets of Shadowgate repair. The File's secret identities, discovered by Tobo's Unknown Shadows, included the following:
- Tran Thi Kim-Thoa – "the Last Entered of the File", the most junior member, he wears a mask surmounted by a crane's head
- Tran Huu Dung
- Tran Huu Nhan
- Tran Huu Nhang
- Tran Lan-Anh
- Pham Thi Ly – their spokesman, the "First"
After the Black Company stole the books, the File hurriedly assembled an army and threatened the Company with it. But they backed down after several restless nights of torment by the Unknown Shadows. Tran Huu Nhang arrived under a flag of truce, and conducted a mostly ceremonial face-saving meeting.
One of the File's primary goals once the Black Company arrived is to gain control of the Shadowmaster Longshadow, to put him on trial for his past crimes in Hsien. Longshadow is turned over to them by Shivetya, after the Company leaves Hsien.