|“||We followed a spoor of violence, a swath of destruction. Ruined fields fell behind us. Burned villages. Slaughtered people and butchered livestock. Poisoned wells. The Limper left nothing but death and desolation.||”|
The Limper, later known as the wicker man, was widely considered to be most evil and violent of the immensely powerful group of sorcerers called the Ten Who Were Taken. Although he was physically unassuming – a short man dressed in brown robes – he was an expert in battlefield sorcery and possessed an extreme resilience to harm. The Limper was destined to become one of the Black Company's worst enemies before they ever set foot on the northern continent, and remained so throughout the Books of the North.
The Limper was described by Croaker the Annalist as short, with tangled grey hair peppered with black. He wore ragged, brown clothing in contrast to the popular black of the Taken. An old leather mask covered the face of an improperly preserved mummy, with patches of rotting flesh; the right corner of his mouth below the nose was missing flesh, exposing his gums and teeth. He also had a permanent scar starting on his forehead, continuing to his left cheek, and reportedly running down to his left breast, which had been delivered by the White Rose at the end of the Domination.
The Limper was considered the most sadistic and misanthropic of the Ten Who Were Taken. His complete disregard for all life was promoted by his cruel minions, the most prominent of which was his enforcer, Colonel Zouad. He had a fearsome willpower and self-preservation, much like other sorcerers of similar magnitude, which allowed him survive numerous attempts to kill him over the centuries. During "Tides Elba", Black Company wizards One-Eye and Goblin express respect for the Limper's raw power, but express complete disdain for the Limper's ageless stupidity. The Company considered him to be the kind of man who falls for the same con over and over, unable to solve a problem without brute force.
In the Lady's Empire, the provinces under his rule (especially the major port city of Opal) were characterized by lawlessness and bloody power grabs. The armies under his command were ill-disciplined and little more than bandits; they were easily defeated on numerous occasions, even with his monstrous killing spells in use on the field of battle.
The Limper mastered the spells of self-preservation, allowing him to extend his life and cheat death numerous times. During the White Rose Rebellion, he survived a massive, gruesome slash wound, reportedly inflicted by the White Rose herself. This wound, his unexplained characteristic limp, and other injuries could not be healed, but did nothing to impede him. Centuries later, in the events of the Annals and The Silver Spike, he survived at least six separate incidents of tremendous violence that would have killed any lesser sorcerer.
In addition to his enhanced vitality, the Limper specialized in destructive battlefield sorcery which reflected his penchant for inflicting mass death and chaos among his victims. During the The Black Company, Croaker witnesses the aftermath of one of Limper's defeats, where the remains of whole units of Rebel soldiers had been melted and fused together into perfectly circular, blackened mounds. In Shadows Linger, at the Battle of Juniper, he slew numerous Black Watchers (the Dominator's supernaturally strong demons), using a magically-augmented sword. He then led a charge directly into the Black Castle. During The White Rose the Limper was still capable of defeating windwhales and mantas. At the Battle of the Barrowland, like the Dominator he even survived outright decapitation within Darling's anti-magic null field. In The Silver Spike, despite his weakened state, he single-handedly fought a large enemy force, and was only defeated due to Silent's sacrifice.
Before the Annals Edit
The Domination Edit
Prior to the era known as the Domination, the Limper was initially an independent wizard-king. Although his trademark limp is never explained, he almost certainly acquired it in battle or during a duel while he was still independent. Then, he was enslaved by the infamous sorcerer known only as the Dominator, becoming one of the Ten Who Were Taken. As such, the Limper was forced to become one of the Dominator's enforcers and generals, but presumably was also one of his subordinate lords with control over much territory. He had no allies among the Ten, and at least two of them despised him passionately. The unmitigated hatred between Shapeshifter and the Limper would become well-known throughout the Domination, and Soulcatcher also shared a similar hatred of him. At some point, the Limper had an affair with a beautiful woman who was already in a relationship with Shifter. Shifter was reputed to have retaliated by transforming this woman into his bizarre walking staff.
After a dark period of rule, they were all defeated (but not killed) by a mysterious woman known as the White Rose and her armies. The Limper's hideous slash wound was said to have been inflicted by the White Rose herself during her Rebellion, presumably during the infamous fighting within the Great Forest. The Limper, alongside the Dominator, the Dominator's wife the Lady, the other nine Taken, were all imprisoned in the Barrowland alongside a considerable number of horrendous demons. The imprisonment was meant to last for eternity.
Liberation and service to the Lady Edit
Several decades before The Black Company (and 370 years after being interred in the Barrowland), the Limper, the other nine Taken, and the Lady were freed from their prison by a group known as the Resurrectionists. To keep power to herself, the Lady orchestrated this event such that the Dominator and his "pet" demons remained imprisoned. The Limper and the other Taken would soon join the Lady in building their headquarters, the Tower at Charm. After that, the Taken served as the Lady's generals in the consolidation wars, helping her establish her own dominion, the Lady's Empire, over a huge span of the north. The Limper became the Lady's imperial governor in the major coastal city of Opal, where he abused his power.
The Black CompanyEdit
During the opening events of The Black Company, the Limper was busy laying waste to the rebellious province of Forsberg, located in the far north of the Lady's Empire. There, his ineptitude as a general became well-known. Though he wiped out many villages that supported the Rebel, his excessive violence only caused more soldiers to pour into his enemy's ranks. He even lost the important fortress at Deal, which was captured by Raker, one of the Rebel generals of the Circle of Eighteen.
When the Black Company arrived in the northern continent, it came with the sponsorship of Soulcatcher, the Limper's hated rival among the Taken. This was reason enough for the Limper to generally distrust the band of mercenaries. But the Company soon did at least four things in rapid succession to enrage him specifically.
- First, they accepted Raven into their ranks. Raven was a baronet whom the Limper's subordinates attempted to murder and whose rights and titles they stole with the help of Morningstar, his own wife. In full view of nobles from throughout the Lady's Empire, at the Gardens of Opal, Raven avenged this betrayal by murdering his wife and two of the Limper's associates.
- Soon afterward, during their trek toward Forsberg (less than a day's march from the Tower at Charm), the Company flogged a disrespectful corporal courier from the Limper's main force.
- Next, in a village that the Limper had utterly wiped out, Raven shot two of the Limper's men to death to rescue a defenseless girl from gang-rape. Raven's actions were reported up to the Limper by a captain named Lane, another personal enemy of Raven.
- In a final humiliation, the Company recaptured the fortress at Deal from the Rebel general Raker, who had seized it from the Limper earlier.
After this, the conflict between the Limper and the Black Company escalated to an armed confrontation, led the Limper's favorite enforcer, Colonel Zouad. Although Raven was badly injured, he was healed by Shapeshifter, another member of the Taken, and one who hated the Limper even more than Soulcatcher. The Company orchestrated Colonel Zouad's kidnapping by the Rebels as retaliation. When the Limper tried to free his man, he walked directly into Shapeshifter's trap. With the help of disguised Company members (including Croaker and Elmo), Shifter stunned the unsuspecting Limper and collapsed an entire building over him. While he struggled to dig himself out, the Black Company scored a major victory against the Rebels of Oar. Still trapped underground, the Limper's forces in the whole province of Forsberg were utterly routed by Raker's Rebel reinforcements.
When his true name was discovered by the enemy leader Whisper, Limper betrayed the Lady and caused numerous military disasters for the empire. Unfortunately for him, his betrayal was discovered. In the Forest of Cloud, during one of his secret meetings with Whisper, they were both ambushed and captured by Raven and Croaker. After being gruesomely tortured by the Lady, he was sent away by the Lady's gigantic luminescent dragonfly to be locked in the Tower. But his imprisonment did not last long. His treason was pardoned and he was summoned to fight during the Battle of Charm inside the Tower. He even assisted the Lady in landing her dangerously compromised flying carpet at the top of the Tower. By the end of that epic battle, the Limper was the very last of the original Ten to be in open service to the Lady.
Shadows Linger Edit
The Limper was restored to his former position. He continued to serve the Lady and demonstrated bravery and skill in Battle of Juniper, where he personally slew many of the Dominator's minions known as Black Watchers. The Limper's flying carpet was destroyed after Journey stole it and was blasted out of the air by explosive sorcery from the Black Watchers. After the Black Company abandoned the Lady, the Limper was ordered to return to the Barrowland.
However, he disobeyed the Lady's orders, and alongside Whisper, pursued the Company to the city of Meadenvil. Accompanying him was a force of 50 former-Company soldiers – most prominently the sergeant called Shaky – whom he and Whisper had persuaded to join them. He sought not only to eliminate the remaining Company leadership but also to retrieve Whisper's stolen Domination-era papers... documents which contained his name and also reportedly the Lady's. At Meadenvil's harbor, most of his exhausted former-Company recruits were killed in battle against the Prince's soldiers. The Limper needed to summon a demon to turn the tide of that fight. He then set out with only 9 survivors, tracking the Company into the countryside. But Croaker, with the help of a local innkeeper whose brother was killed by the Limper's demon at the harbor, turned the tables on the Limper. In an ambush, the Limper's arm was hacked off by a Company affiliate named Bullock, and he was beaten unconscious for a brief time. His remaining men marched him into the innkeeper's establishment, which was the second part of Croaker's trap. At the last moment, the Limper regained consciousness, and realized the danger. As more violence broke out, Croaker impaled him with his sword, but the Limper in turn punched the wind out of him. Despite the Taken's horrible condition, he also beat down One-Eye and killed several of the innkeeper's ravenous dogs that had been sicced on him, each with single hits. But, he was lured by Company wizard Goblin to a pig shed, into range of a small hidden ballista that was operated by Pawnbroker. After being pierced by two missiles from the ballista, the Limper was cut to pieces by Pawn, Croaker, and the vengeful innkeeper. Croaker finally hanged him from a tree, stuffing the last Black Castle "seeds" into his mouth for the Lady to find and destroy. None of his enemies knew at the time that the spark of life still remained inside what remained of the Limper's body.
The White RoseEdit
With the Lady's intervention, the Limper survived his dismemberment in Meadenvil. During the 6-year gap between Shadows Linger and The White Rose, she rehabilitated him in what she admitted was a very painful process. He was now reduced to what Croaker would call "human wreckage" and he was unable to physically move without the aid of a miniature flying carpet.
At war with the New White Rose Rebellion Edit
When Darling became the epicenter of the New White Rose Rebellion against the Empire, the Lady granted the Limper full command over all her new Taken. He and the new Taken began encircling the Plain of Fear, the desert where Darling's secret headquarters (the Hole, containing the Black Company) was located. He set up his own headquarters in a military compound outside the huge city of Rust, east of the Plain.
For the first time, the Limper was now in a position to exact vengeance against the Black Company. Unlike before, he now had unhindered discretion and immense resources. When the Rebel informant from Tanner named Corder revealed this to the Black Company, the news was received with genuine dread.
However, the Limper betrayed his trust with the Lady. Without permission, he departed his operation to encircle the Plain and traveled to the fortress at Deal, where he threatened the Lady's prisoner Croaker with a slow death. His threats were interrupted by the Lady, who appeared unexpectedly from afar using her sorcery. She made it clear if he disobeyed her one more time, she would destroy him.
He was very enthusiastic during the air battle against Darling's windwhales outside the Imperial town called Horse. His ferocity contributed to Darling's decision to turn back the entire New White Rose Rebellion and leave Horse to the Empire.
At the Battle of the Barrowland Edit
Shortly afterward, Darling and the Lady overcame their differences and established a truce and an alliance. The Limper now had to work alongside Croaker and other Rebels against the common enemy – the Dominator – in preparation for the Battle of the Barrowland. In the midst of the battle, and despite being utterly defenseless within Darling's anti-magic null, he tried to betray the Lady one last time. He attempted to close the Rite of Naming to strip her of her magic powers, and he shot her with a crossbow. But he guessed the name "Credence" which to his misfortune was not the Lady's true name. Croaker, flying into an insane rage, hacked what remained of his body to pieces yet again, this time slicing off his head. When the Limper's eyes still betrayed signs of life, Croaker kicked it into the trench that had just been formed by the rising of the Barrowland dragon. The head was soon buried beneath mounds of dirt when the dragon fought its losing battle against Bomanz. After the battle, when the Limper's body was incinerated alongside the Dominator's, the Taken's head could not be located.
The Silver SpikeEdit
The wicker man Edit
|“||A serpent of fire slithered southward, devouring castles and cities and towns, growing larger even as pieces of it fell away. Only fire black and bloody red lay behind it. Toadkiller Dog and the wicker man were the serpent's deadly fangs.||”|
The Limper's next resurrection was orchestrated by Toadkiller Dog. The demon dug up his head and forced the wild tribes from the Barrowland to attach it to an artificial body. The Limper, now more appropriately called "the wicker man", and the demon dog coerced the tribal shamans and their 50 best warriors to form a raiding force. They first killed the remnants of the Eternal Guard that had not already left in the Barrowland. Then they headed south, sacking almost every city, starting with Oar, in pursuit of Lady. Opportunistic individuals from the ruined cities joined them, and at some point their army reached 5,000 men. He even laid siege to the Tower at Charm – the seat of the Empire he once helped to build – in an attempt to gain access to the plethora of artifacts within. But, he could not overcome its defenders, the Lady's loyalists, who made excellent use of the sorcery built into the structure and the various traps inside.
Leading what was left of his army south again, he pillaged Opal and crossed the Sea of Torments to attack Beryl. As he rampaged southward into the southern continent, he was pursued by Darling, Silent, Bomanz, and hordes of Plain of Fear creatures like the flying mantas and the centaurs, all on the backs of at least five massive windwhales. To buy himself time to access the shelter of the Temple of Travellers' Repose, he sent a demon called the fire-eater to kill Darling's windwhale. He breached the Temple's walls but was forced to kill the fire-eater when Bomanz sent it back, losing his wicker body in the process. He was again defeated, this time by Darling's small, sentient Plain creatures inside the Temple, and the Taken's work-in-progress clay body was wrecked. But Darling and her forces evacuated prematurely (called away by Father Tree), and the Limper's head yet again survived.
A new body of clay Edit
Toadkiller Dog headed west in search of wizards who could help the Limper. One hundred miles away in a country called Sweeps, he made an alliance with a family of wizards called the Nacred after he helped exterminate their rivals, a clan called the Shaded. In return, the twelve leading Nacred helped create a beautiful clay body for the Limper. But when it was finished, the Taken subsequently betrayed them all, even Toadkiller Dog, when he trapped them underground by collapsing the entrance of the Temple cellar.
The tortured northward odyssey Edit
|“||He could feel that piece of haunted silver calling him as though he had been born to wield it and it had been wrought for him and him alone. His destiny lay there, ahead, and all the mousy scrabbling around by those who would deny him would not prevent him taking that power that was rightfully his.||”|
With his hideous head fixed upon a gorgeous and tireless new body, the Limper rushed back north on foot. His goal was to retrieve the silver spike, which contained the power of his old master, the Dominator. Despite the advantages of his clay body, he suffered through a horrible odyssey of ingenious traps laid by the Lady's imperial successors. He was even forced to take the long land route, through the Straits of Angine, back to the northern continent.
Confrontation at Oar Edit
Finally back at Oar, Limper breached the city walls with his magic, but was attacked by a wide variety of enemies and apparently subdued inside a pot that had been specially prepared by Exile to boil down his clay body. He blasted forth from the pot hours later, however, and his misshapen clay body was now a nightmarish monstrosity covered in the limbs of Toadkiller Dog and other creatures that had come from the Tower at Charm. As he approached the silver spike, Silent and Bomanz sacrificed their lives to slow him down. He was finally weakened, and after a windwhale hurled him back into the pot, his clay body was neutralized by continuous boiling for more than a week. Genuinely dead, the Limper's dried remains were placed in a coffin, which was thrown by Darling and Case into the same cosmic abyss that had been prepared by Father Tree for the disposal of the silver spike.
|Ten Who Were Taken|
| Soulcatcher • Limper • Howler • Shapeshifter • Stormbringer|
Hanged Man • Bonegnasher • Nightcrawler • Moonbiter • Faceless Man