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Black Company Wiki

Finger speech is the thoroughly-developed hand sign language used by the Black Company. It was created by the deaf-mute girl Darling and her adoptive father Raven during the events of The Black Company. Its next learners were the mute wizard Silent followed by Croaker the Annalist. It contained hand gestures for the alphabet as well as a wide variety of full words and other complex ideas. It remained in use throughout the band's subsequent decades in the southern continent, long after they parted ways with Darling.

A written form of the language was used at least once (The White Rose).

The Black Company[]

The finger speech was already sophisticated enough by the time of the Battle of Charm that the 9- or 10-year old Darling was able to very rapidly inquire and learn about advanced military topics. The Captain at this time quickly realized its value, and eventually it became part of the training of the senior members, far surpassing the "traditional but inadequate battle signals" which they already had.

On The Long Run short stories[]

The sign language remained in use throughout the On The Long Run short story arc. In "Cranky Bitch", Darling used the finger speech to express how a bizarre supernatural storm taking place over the city of Chimney was affecting her null by saying it "feels like dead things talking". Some weeks later, during the Black Company's time in service to the Houses of Istven and the Seamen's Guild, Elmo awakened Croaker and used the sign language to inform him that the strange teenager called Luckless had been spotted so far up the Bitch's mainmast that he was at the edge of Darling's null. Croaker was critical of Elmo's lack of proficiency with the finger speech at this time.

The White Rose[]

The height of the finger speech was during the years of Darling's New White Rose Rebellion. From her headquarters in the Hole out in the Plain of Fear, she organized and maintained Rebel cells against the Lady's Empire using the sign language, with the Black Company as the backbone of the organization.

A written form of the language was used by Raven to communicate in code to Croaker in one of the deliveries of his Bomanz-era narrative (The White Rose). Croaker, who was an expert in the finger speech, had no idea what the symbols meant until Darling recognized them and explained they represented the "speaking hand" as it forms the alphabet. Now able to read the message, Croaker undertook his risky trip to Oar, and then to the Barrowland, to find the final package of the Bomanz narrative.

Bleak Seasons[]

The Company's new Annalist Murgen learned the finger speech and, as recounted in Bleak Seasons, used it to communicate with other members of the Old Crew during the Siege of Dejagore. He confirmed that none of Mogaba's Nar, the rivals of the Old Crew at the time, had yet been taught the finger speech despite being Black Company members themselves.

She Is the Darkness[]

At least 4 years later, by the time of the Battle of Charandaprash, the finger speech had somewhat fallen into disuse, and was employed only sparingly. However Croaker and Murgen revived it to conceal discussions of military intelligence and other sensitive matters from Soulcatcher's spying crows.