Narayan Singh was the most influential jamadar of the cult of the Stranglers during the time of the modern Annals. Dedicated to bringing about the resurrection of his goddess Kina, he ingratiated himself to Lady, only to betray her and kidnap her newborn infant at the end of Dreams of Steel. This sparked a years-long chain of manhunts and violence, marking him as a key antagonist of the Black Company during the Books of Glittering Stone.
Before Croaker's Annals[edit | edit source]
Narayan Singh, although he had a Shadar-sounding name, was a Gunni man from a town called Gondowar. He was a vegetable peddler whose wife, Yashodara, bore him one daughter (Khaditya) and three sons (Valmiki, Sugriva, and Aridatha). As a black rumel man and jamadar, he would lead his secret band of Stranglers out on their murderous campaigns every other summer. When the Shadowlanders captured Gondowar, he fled (or chose not to return), leaving his family behind to dedicate himself completely to his holy mission.
Dreams of Steel[edit | edit source]
Narayan first appeared in the Annals alongside his companion, Ram, after the Battle of Dejagore. He was a short, unkempt man who surprised Lady by watching over her after the disastrous battle. Lady had been separated from her soldiers and Singh escorted her to safety. They linked up with Sindhu and others, and he began acting as Lady's advisor.
Lady was surprised that Narayan, while clearly being from a lower caste, was immensely respected and obeyed by men who were not even Gunni. Later they revealed to her that he was secretly one of the "living saints" of the Stranglers, or Deceivers, a cult that worshiped the god Kina. His strangling rumel was black, which signified that he belonged to the highest ranks of the cult and that he had personally killed over 100 people.
Narayan Singh pretended to serve Lady for nearly a year. His cult eliminated some of her enemies (most prominently, Shadowspinner) and political opponents, and even welcomed her into their temple at the Grove of Doom, permitting her to join the cult. Once Lady gave birth, she was betrayed by the cult. The Stranglers attacked the Palace of Taglios, and kidnapped her newborn daughter. The infant was "the Foretold" prophet, who would grow to bring about the Year of the Skulls (the reincarnation of Kina). During the kidnapping, Narayan and his men were forced to kill Ram, who had become fully dedicated to Lady and who slew four of his fellow Stranglers in an attempt to protect her and her newborn.
Bleak Seasons[edit | edit source]
Singh acted as a mentor and father-figure for the Daughter of Night for several years. Through his ingenuity and with Kina's help, he continually evaded and escaped captivity. At the Grove of Doom, Murgen and the Black Company ambushed the Stranglers assembled there, killing them all except for Narayan and the Daughter of Night, who escaped only with the help of the Howler.
Water Sleeps[edit | edit source]
Narayan was hiding out with the Daughter of Night in the Taglian slum called Chor Bagan in Water Sleeps. He was protecting her while she transcribed the first of the Books of the Dead. This process continued when the slum was besieged by Soulcatcher's city police force, the Greys, who were looking for the Black Company, which was at this time an underground organization embedded elsewhere in Taglios.
Narayan and the Daughter were subdued by Goblin and One-Eye, Company wizards sent by Sleepy, the Annalist and ranking member of the Black Company. After Soulcatcher herself was chased away by Company sharpshooters using fireball projector fire, the two wizards brought Narayan and the girl to be imprisoned in the Company's headquarters, a warehouse owned by Banh Do Trang, a Nyueng Bao trader.
Sleepy and Ky Sahra had sent subordinates far and wide to collect Narayan's personal history. In an effort to gain his cooperation, Sleepy recounted his early life and even informed him of the status of his children, and now, his 5 grandchildren. One of his sons was deceased and his estranged wife had recently died. But his other children, despite being ashamed of their now-infamous father, were alive and well. She even personally introduced him to his grown son, Aridatha, whom he had not ever seen before, not even in infancy. Eventually he agreed to turn over the golden pickax, an ancient and extremely holy relic of his cult. Narayan retrieved the hidden relic from deep inside the cult's temple at the Grove of Doom, and turned it over to Sleepy in exchange for the partially-transcribed Books of the Dead. Narayan escaped with the manuscript after he realized that at least six of his fellow Stranglers had been killed in an ambush by Sleepy's subordinate, Slink. He was captured after this by Soulcatcher's Protectorate forces.
Soldiers Live[edit | edit source]
Narayan was captured the last time by the Black Company after its return to the homeworld from the world of Hsien. While no one was looking, he was approached by Goblin, who was possessed by Kina's servant, the Khadidas. Speaking in Deceiver's Cant, the Khadidas assured Narayan that he was Kina's favorite servant throughout all history. The Khadidas then quietly granted Narayan a holy death with a rumel, and replaced him as the guardian of the Daughter of Night.
Narayan's body was the object of severe abuse after it was discovered. Croaker (the Daughter of Night's father) initially had the corpse dumped in an old cesspit and built a new latrine over it. When Lady learned that Narayan had been killed before his time, she was bitter that she could no longer exact vengeance upon him for the kidnapping of her daughter. She was also suspicious that perhaps he faked his death, so she ordered that his body be recovered. After dissecting the corpse, she was satisfied it was truly Narayan's. Lady then scattered his remains widely for the buzzards, but kept his head, heart, and hands in a jar of pickling brine.