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The implications of the quality of the magical engineering involved in creating all this began to seep through. I was intimidated thoroughly. The builders must have been of godlike power. They had to have been as far beyond the greatest wizards known to me as those were beyond no-talents like me. I was sure that Lady and Longshadow, Soulcatcher and Howler, would have little more grasp of the forces and principles involved than I did.

Sleepy, Water Sleeps

The Nef were the prehistoric creators of the glittering plain in the earliest era of the Black Company series. The name was also used to refer to three entities - the Washane, the Washene, and the Washone - who were brought into existence by Shivetya to duplicate the original Nef.

Physical description[]

Sleepy described the the Washane, the Washene, and the Washone as "a strapping trio" of "uglies... humanoid and human-size but definitely lacking human features. Possibly they wore masks in the guise of beasts."

Croaker wrote that the Nef had "hideous beast-mask faces". According to Murgen, in She Is the Darkness, the Nef: "were the shape of men from the waist down and on their right sides. Their heads and left sides were masked by shawls that looked like they were made of polished brass fish scales. [...] Anybody that ugly for real should not have been allowed to climb out of the cradle."

The original Nef create the plain[]

Beyond their creation of the plain, and the apparent magnitude of their power, virtually nothing else was known about the Nef except that they were humanoid in shape.

The godlike sorcery of the Nef linked up sixteen different worlds, or planes, via physical overland routes symmetrically crossing the plain. Judging from the entirely different moons and stars visible in the skies of at least three of these various worlds, they must have been located on different planets, or perhaps even different dimensions of existence.

The original Nef simply disappeared from history. Many savage wars were waged across the plain after its creation, so it could be the case that they were killed in one of these events.

The Washane, the Washene, and the Washone[]

According to one story, at some point after the disappearance of the Nef, the plain itself somehow created, or "imagined", an immortal golem known as Shivetya to serve the plain and maintain it. Another story has Shivetya being the last survivor of man-made entities. After his creation, Shivetya was lonely and brought three mental projections of the Nef into being, which he worshiped as his gods. These were named the Washane, the Washene, and the Washone. They would later be referred to as "the Nef" collectively, although they were not the original Nef. Despite being essentially ghosts who were dependent upon Shivetya for existence, they had all the attributes of individual, conscious beings. They were not simply figments of his imagination.

Books of Glittering Stone[]

The Washane, the Washene, and the Washone appeared at random in the dreams, and later, even sometimes in the waking world, to people like Sleepy, Murgen, Blade, Willow Swan, and Croaker. They were particularly annoying for Panda Man and Spook, two newcomers to the Company from Hsien who were stationed to guard the homeworld Shadowgate.

The Nef manifested themselves on the open plain or inside the fortress with no name, desperately trying to communicate, but rarely being understood. They were unspeakably ugly to human observers: their faces were so hideous that Sleepy, Croaker, and Blade wondered if they were actually wearing masks. As such they were a confusing and deeply unsettling sight for humans.

Shivetya did not inform the Nef of his plan to trade bodies with Croaker, so at one point they were mistrustful of Croaker and acting belligerently toward him. Croaker grabbed One-Eye's spear in response. Shivetya deescalated the situation by finally explaining the future to them. After Shivetya traded bodies with Croaker, the Nef were given the responsibility of maintaining and healing the plain. Shukrat estimated that for the first time in perhaps their entire existence, the Nef were happy.