Nightcrawler was one of the immensely powerful sorcerers known as the Ten Who Were Taken and a key enforcer in the Lady's Empire. He was one of three of the Ten (the others being Moonbiter and the Faceless Man) who were not observed personally by Croaker the Annalist, so no details about his appearance or abilities are found in the Annals. However, Croaker did record several of Nightcrawler's key military undertakings in The Black Company: his swift crushing of Whisper's planned Rebel insurrection within the city of Lords; his and Soulcatcher's failed defense of Lords against the besieging Rebel armies of Harden; his capture of the giant eastern Rebel city of Thud; and a few details of his actions at the Battle of Charm, where he was killed in combat.
Before Croaker's Annals[edit | edit source]
The Domination[edit | edit source]
During the era in the northern continent known as the Domination, Nightcrawler was initially an independent wizard-king. Then, a superior and infamous sorcerer known as the Dominator somehow discovered Nightcrawler's true name, and used it to enslave him in an agonizing ritual known as the Rite of Taking. Nine more of the Dominator's most powerful competitors and enemies suffered the same fate. They became known as the Ten Who Were Taken: the chief enforcers and generals of the Dominator and his wife the Lady. Except that his sigil depicted a snake, no other details specific to Nightcrawler during this time period were recorded by Croaker.
After about a century of the Dominator's tyranny, they were all defeated (but not killed) by a mysterious woman called the White Rose and her armies during her famous rebellion in the Great Forest. Nightcrawler, alongside the other nine Taken, the Lady, the Dominator, and a considerable number of horrendous demons, were all imprisoned in the Barrowland. Nightcrawler specifically was imprisoned in the southeastern "outer barrow", the barrow numbered "5" by Bomanz centuries later. The imprisonment was meant to last for eternity.
Liberation and the Lady's empire[edit | edit source]
Thirty-seven years before the end of The Black Company (and 370 years after being interred in the Barrowland), Nightcrawler, the other nine Taken, and the Lady were freed from their barrows under the light of the Great Comet 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. Nightcrawler and the other Taken went on to help the Lady build the Tower at Charm, and next, to establish her own empire by prosecuting the consolidation wars.
The Black Company[edit | edit source]
Defense of Lords[edit | edit source]
During The Black Company, Nightcrawler was in charge of the major Imperial city called Lords. When the Black Company fortuitously uncovered Whisper's battle plans to capture Lords using a battalion of Rebels secretly embedded throughout the city, they shared it with Soulcatcher. She quickly warned Nightcrawler, who used the valuable intelligence to hunt and execute them:
|“||It was all over in Lords when we got there. Nightcrawler had moved fast and had hit hard. You could not go anywhere without finding Rebels hanging from the trees and lampposts.||”|
Not long afterward, Nightcrawler and Soulcatcher attempted to defeat Harden's massive Rebel siege of Lords. Harden and other members of the Circle of Eighteen besieged, circumvallated, and bottled Lords in a double fosse. The two Taken fought Harden and the Circle in a ferocious sorcery duel that manifested in the form of a supernatural thunderstorm. They failed, and Lords was captured by the Rebel. Nightcrawler escaped, but did not seem to accompany the Black Company in their fighting retreat across the Windy Country.
Capture of Thud[edit | edit source]
Nightcrawler was next mentioned in the context of the rapid collapse of the Rebel in the east. He led his army across the Plain of Fear and eventually recaptured the formidable city of Thud, ahead of the Faceless Man who was marching toward Barns. Shortly before this, Whisper (now Taken by the Lady) reconquered Rust, then Frost, for the empire, and the Circle general Parcel reportedly committed suicide at Ade to avoid capture by Bonegnasher, an 8-foot tall cannibal among the Taken.
At the Battle of Charm[edit | edit source]
Nightcrawler played a major role in the defense of the Tower during the climactic Battle of Charm. At the onset of the battle, Nightcrawler, the Faceless Man, and the Howler were situated on the second of the three earthen walls outside the Tower. They each commanded a division of 2,000 veteran archers from the eastern armies. As the fighting progressed, the Faceless Man and the Howler went down to the first tier to replace Stormbringer and Bonegnasher, leaving the second tier to Nightcrawler.
When the Rebel made major progress on the first tier, a significant number of weaker-willed Imperials attempted to flee to Nightcrawler's level. He was forced to distribute some men to throw the fugitives back, and then to fight the overbold Rebels who made it over the wall.
During the same night that Moonbiter and the Faceless Man killed one another, Nightcrawler was reportedly killed by unspecified members of the Circle of Eighteen in a violent, sorcerous "battle of powers". Although Otto and Hagop found his grave to be empty many years later in Bleak Seasons, Nightcrawler was never heard from again, and the report of his death is presumed to be accurate.
|Ten Who Were Taken|
|Soulcatcher • The Howler • The Limper • Shapeshifter • Stormbringer|
The Hanged Man • Bonegnasher • Nightcrawler • Moonbiter • The Faceless Man