|“||Oh. What eyes. Fire and steel. The Lady will love this one.||”|
Lisa Daele Bowalk was an impoverished young woman from the Buskin, the slums of the giant city of Juniper in the frigid northwest of the northern continent. Years after her brief interaction with the Black Company there, she would transform into a ferocious forvalaka and become one of the longest-lived enemies of the Company.
Shadows Linger[edit | edit source]
Lisa was hired as a barmaid by Marron Shed, owner of the Iron Lily in Juniper, to protect her from her abusive father. She eventually assumed part ownership of the Lily and control over his finances. She became curious about Shed's sudden wealth after Raven's arrival. She seduced him in order to find out more. Shed revealed that he was selling corpses to bizarre inhabitants of the black castle, just as Raven had. Desperate to get out of Juniper and terrified of poverty, Lisa blackmailed him into continuing the venture, rattling off a list of people they should kill.
Lisa helped Shed strangle the moneylender Gilbert, but despite her initial enthusiasm, was stunned after this first taste of murder. Appalled, she accompanied Shed on his mule wagon containing Gilbert's corpse to the black castle. Inside she witnessed the horrifying sight of a prostitute named Sue who had been badly abused by the castle creatures. Finally, on their way out, she realized that the creatures had been interested in purchasing her from Shed. Shed turned them down, unable to "muster the hatred, anger or downright meanness to do" that. Lisa now thoroughly understood her vulnerability and how evil this path was. But there would be no time to change her ways: they were both stopped in their tracks moments later by Croaker, Otto, Crake, Walleye, and other members of the Black Company. Lisa tried to flee but was chased down by Otto, whom she fought ferociously before being beaten into submission. She next saw what she believed to be Shed's corpse, though this was actually a ruse orchestrated by Croaker to protect the Company. Feather, one of three members of the new Taken, quickly arrived on her flying carpet, and soon departed with the terrified captive. Lisa, on her way to be interrogated for her dealings with the black castle, let out a single cry as she disappeared into the night sky.
Aftermath of Shadows Linger[edit | edit source]
Although Lisa does not appear in the Annals until years later (Shadow Games), several facts are apparent about her life in the interim. She was certainly subjected to the Lady's Eye, a dreadful experience during which the Lady would read her mind for facts regarding her involvement with the black castle. Then, presumably because the Lady was impressed with the young woman as Feather immediately predicted, Lisa was sent to the southern continent to be the apprentice of the mighty sorcerer Shapeshifter. Shifter was thought to be dead by everyone except the Lady herself, but, he was actually living in the guise of a local wizard called "Eldon the Seer" in distant Gea-Xle. There, Lisa learned the powerful sorcery of shape-changing from her new lover. She was seen to take at least two different shapes: the shape of a large wolf, but more importantly, also the shape of a forvalaka, an infamous species of monster. Not only could Lisa transform into the shape of a forvalaka, but she also attained the supernatural vitality, strength, and speed of the beast as well, just as Shifter could do. However, during her training, Shifter had not trusted her completely, and built a "deadman-loop" into the spells which Bowalk used to transform into the monster. In the event of his death, she would be trapped in the monster's shape.
Shadow Games[edit | edit source]
Lisa Bowalk and her master Shapeshifter (in the guise of "Eldon the Seer") rejoined the Lady and the Black Company at Gea-Xle. Despite the Lady's secrecy, Croaker was able to piece together the true identity of Eldon the Seer. However, despite vaguely recognizing her, Croaker had no idea that the woman was Lisa Bowalk. While their flotilla on the great river was under attack by the Howler and his swamp pirates, Croaker forced the Lady to call Shapeshifter in his true form. Lisa remained unrecognized. Before the Battle of Ghoja Ford, Croaker briefly met with Shapeshifter and "noticed that he did not smell as bad as he used to. Must be in love."
At the Battle of Dejagore, Croaker and One-Eye witnessed either Shapeshifter or Bowalk scaling the citadel walls in the form of a forvalaka. Lisa watched from hiding as her master Shifter fought the Shadowmaster called Stormshadow (actually Stormbringer, another member of the Ten Who Were Taken thought to be dead since the Battle of Charm) to an exhausted standstill. When Croaker and One-Eye betrayed Shifter by knocking him out and preparing to murder him, Lisa attempted to intervene. Murgen, the Company's standard-bearer, cut her with the Lance of Passion, and her blood spilled all over the Black Company standard. She "screamed like she was trapped in Hell's agony" (it would later be revealed that the Lance was not a mere relic but a devastating magic weapon). Lisa was immediately tackled by the Company and immobilized by Goblin's wizardry. Croaker, despite his decision to have Shifter killed, chose to eventually release Bowalk out of mercy. He did not know that Lisa would now be trapped in the forvalaka's shape with the death of her master.
Dreams of Steel and Bleak Seasons[edit | edit source]
Lisa, despite being granted freedom by the Company, was locked in the shape of the forvalaka and became obsessed with revenge. She followed them throughout the Shadowmaster wars, and specifically targeted One-Eye, almost killing him on one occasion in Dejagore during that city's infamous siege. One-Eye and Goblin informed Murgen about this, who reported it to Croaker when they finally reunited outside the city. Very shortly after Murgen's reunion with Croaker, Murgen's spirit was "kidnapped" by Soulcatcher and he witnessed Lisa Bowalk, as a forvalaka, was traveling in her company.
She Is the Darkness[edit | edit source]
When Croaker launched his campaign towards Overlook, Bowalk was taken in by Goblin who convinced her that he could return her to her human form. She worked for Goblin for several months doing his bidding during his Shaded Road commando campaign, south of the Dandha Presh. He continually reassured her that he and One-Eye could find a solution bring her back to her human form. An agent for Mogaba, she eventually turned on him, but, he surmised her betrayal beforehand. She fell for his trap and her jaws were bound by sorcery to a scarecrow that was disguised by a glamour to resemble him. Bowalk was kept in a cage too small to sit up in to prevent her from using her terrible feline forvalaka strength to escape. Her cage brought onto the glittering plain when Croaker launched his fateful scouting mission there.
Aftermath of She Is the Darkness[edit | edit source]
In Soldiers Live, many details were revealed about Bowalk's life in the years which intervened.
Lisa escaped from her cage after Soulcatcher captured her enemies on the glittering plain. But, she did not become one of the Captured. As she fled in fear across the plain, she was attacked by one of the feral shadows that infested the area. Despite the shadow's fearsome power, she actually killed it against all odds. She then escaped the plain through the shadowgate into the world in which Khatovar had existed. But since she did not have a shadowgate key, she damaged the shadowgate in the process, and some shadows followed here inside. Presumably her extreme resiliency as a forvalaka permitted her to survive crossing the otherwise deadly shadowgate sorcery without a key.
In a strange and alien world, Bowalk made contact with the ruling family of sorcerers: the Voroshk. She presumably met the Old One and would work with his heirs, the First Father and Nashun the Researcher to help attain human form. But the transformations only worked for an hour or two at a time, after which she would revert to the forvalaka shape. Meanwhile, she taught them the language of her home city, Juniper. The Voroshk also used sorcery to tame a number of the feral shadows that followed Bowalk into their world.
Soldiers Live[edit | edit source]
To avenge Bowalk's assassination of One-Eye, Croaker and Lady led a group of Company members and allies (including Murgen, Thai Dei, Willow Swan, Uncle Doj, Cletus, Loftus, Spiff, JoJo, Cratch, Slobo, and a group of fearsome Unknown Shadows called the Black Hounds) across the glittering plain to the Voroshk world for revenge. They were eventually joined by Goblin and the Chu Ming brothers. Lisa and three of her flying Voroshk allies attacked this group, but she was subdued in barrage of blows from conventional weapons, specially-prepared magic fetishes, and fireball projectors. Simultaneously, they fended off all three Voroshk wizards: mortally injuring one, capturing the second (Shukrat), and chasing the third away in defeat. Bowalk, now dying, finally transformed back into her human shape, starting with her hands, and eventually ending with her head. Though she could not speak, she pleaded for mercy with her eyes in her last moments of consciousness. But Croaker was resolute in his revenge. She was decapitated and then incinerated in a huge pyre.