The Nyueng Bao De Duang (often shortened to Nyueng Bao) is a race in the southern continent of the homeworld which featured prominently in all four Books of Glittering Stone. Their homeland is the giant swampy river delta claimed by Taglios where the great river empties into the western ocean. They are the descendants of a band of fugitives from the entirely different world known as Hsien.
Many Nyueng Bao – most prominently Ky Sahra, Uncle Doj, Thai Dei, and Banh Do Trang – would become key allies of the Black Company beginning with the Siege of Dejagore and lasting for about 25 years afterward. Sahra's biracial son Tobo, fathered by Company officer Murgen, would grow to become an immensely powerful sorcerer.
The Nyueng Bao were originally from Hsien, an entirely different world than the homeworld. There, they worshiped the goddess Kina. When Hsien was conquered by a race of outsider sorcerers (a group of Shadowmasters including Longshadow), they were given an ultimatum to give up their religion. Instead of submitting, they manufactured a shadowgate key and escaped Hsien entirely. Many Nyueng Bao families fled across the shadow-infested glittering plain and crossed the homeworld shadowgate. Some of them were members of the Path of the Sword. They created a new life for themselves in the swamps of the great river west of Taglios. According to one account mentioned by Tobo, at least one of them returned to Hsien with their shadowgate key for the purpose of escorting additional Nyueng Bao families across, but, they never returned (presumably killed by the Shadowmasters).
In centuries past, the Nyueng Bao were originally Kina worshipers. However, they were neither Stranglers nor a group like the Free Companies of Khatovar, which were unrelated groups of Kina cultists. Then, after they settled in the swamps of the southern continent west of Taglios, they eventually absorbed many characteristics of the native Gunni doctrine. They even forgot Kina and began worshiping Gunni gods like Ghanghesha. One of their primary temples was the Vinh Gao Ghang Temple of Ghanghesha, an ancient structure that had formerly belonged to the Gunni, the Stranglers, and others. They came to believe in the Wheel of Life, a Gunni reincarnation doctrine. This included cao gnum, a place or state of being where a soul would await its next reincarnation if it had not accumulated enough good karma to get off the Wheel of Life. Cao gnum was a derivative of the Gunni concept of Swegah.
The Nyueng Bao were notoriously tight-lipped about their own culture, history, and religion around outsiders. Murgen and Sleepy had an extremely difficult time learning about their beliefs despite many years of intimate association.
The Nyueng Bao are abhorred and perceived as primitives, untrustworthy thieves by the majority Gunni, Shadar, and Vehdna religious-ethnic groups of Taglios, each of which vastly outnumbers them. They were always a minuscule minority, even before the genocide they suffered during the Siege of Dejagore (recounted in the flashbacks of Bleak Seasons) which reduced their pilgrimage of 1,800 to one-third of its original population. The 600 remaining pilgrims survived only with the aid of the Old Crew of the Black Company.
Murgen, the Company Annalist, would make two conflicting statements about the relationship of this pilgrim group to the population of the Nyueng Bao as a whole. In the beginning of Bleak Seasons, he asserted:
|“||The whole Nyueng Bao people makes the pilgrimage. And the whole people got caught right in the deep shit here in Dejagore.||”|
But later in She Is the Darkness, he made a contrasting statement:
|“||She might have had aunts who stayed behind, too. The party of pilgrims had included only a fraction of the delta population.||”|
The second statement is the accurate one, as Murgen recorded it after a long period of intense exposure to the group, whereas the first was written before he became intimate with the Nyueng Bao.
Before the events of Bleak Seasons, approximately 1,800 Nyueng Bao departed their hamlets in the river delta swamps west of Taglios for a "once-in-a-generation" pilgrimage. These pilgrims wound up in Dejagore shortly before the horrible Siege of Dejagore began. They almost never interacted with people outside their race, except through their Speaker, Ky Dam, who spoke the Taglian language fluently. Another exception was Banh Do Trang, their most prominent merchant, who would later become a key ally of the Black Company.
During the notorious siege, the Nyueng Bao were targeted by Pal Subhir's Taglian soldiers, who were in league with Mogaba. Roughly two-thirds of the Nyueng Bao pilgrims, including their Speaker Ky Dam and his wife Hong Tray (their high priestess), were killed during horrific urban fighting.
The 600 Nyueng Bao survivors were given indispensable help by the Black Company standard-bearer, Murgen. They escaped the city and named a new Speaker, Tarn Dak. Afterward, many Nyueng Bao swordsmen of the Path of the Sword swore oaths of honor to become bodyguards for Company Old Crew who saved them. Uncle Doj was the leader of this group, and the most well-known bodyguard in the Annals was Murgen's own bodyguard, Thai Dei. Because the Nyueng Bao bodyguards did not become sworn brothers of the Company, they were never fully trusted by Croaker, who had not been inside the historic crucible of the Siege of Dejagore.
The Nyueng Bao neighborhood in Taglios became the home of the underground Black Company after the Kiaulune wars. The Company's headquarters was located within the warehouse of Banh Do Trang. The Company Annalist and ranking officer, Sleepy, was deeply indebted to Do Trang and Ky Sahra for their indispensable help. Soulcatcher correctly surmised that the Nyueng Bao were harboring the Company, but, she incorrectly guessed their location. Instead of uncovering their location within Taglios, she terrorized the Nyueng Bao swamps west of Taglios.
Many Nyueng Bao accompanied the Black Company into Hsien – the home of their ancestors – at the end of Water Sleeps. In the 4-year gap between then and the beginning of Soldiers Live, those Nyueng Bao split into three groups: some enlisted in the Company and finally became sworn brothers; some made new futures for themselves in Hsien and disappeared; and others formed the "Community", an ethnic enclave at the Abode of Ravens which was closely associated with, but not technically a part of, the Black Company. The Community was proud of Tobo but custom demanded that they look down on him for his mixed blood and lack of respect for their traditions.
The Nyueng Bao Community followed Sleepy when she finally led the reconstituted Company out of Hsien and back into the homeworld. During the Battle of the Middle Ground, two of the Community's most prominent members, Uncle Doj and Thai Dei, were killed in combat against the Khadidas. The Community split into factions and bickered among themselves on how to dispose of the two men's bodies.
Bodyguards for the Black CompanyEdit
A handful of the Nyueng Bao who became bodyguards for the Black Company Old Crew were named in the Annals. This group was most active during She Is the Darkness, the Kiaulune wars, and Water Sleeps. The most prominent of these by far was Thai Dei, who, by the time of Soldiers Live, was "one of very few Nyueng Bao still dedicating himself to bodyguarding".
|Nyueng Bao bodyguard||Black Company soldier|
|Suyen Dinh Duc||Big Bucket|
|"JoJo" (Cho Dai Cho)||One-Eye|