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Black Company Wiki

Old Man Fish, birth name Forto Reibus, was the eldest of the four thieves who stole the priceless silver spike from the trunk of the Sapling during The Silver Spike. A hardworking, practical man, his excellent skills in combat, stealth, and survival were unencumbered by his relatively advanced age. Fish would kill, outmaneuver, or outsmart a wide variety veteran opponents throughout the bloody upheaval that unfolded within the beleaguered city of Oar.

The Black Company[]

Fish neither appeared in nor was mentioned in The Black Company, but his presence during the colossal Battle of Charm was revealed about 16 years later in The Silver Spike. In an offhand comment to Smeds Stahl, Fish admitted that Charm was the only battle in which he fought. He was among the Rebel armies commanded by the Circle of Eighteen who besieged the Lady's Imperial defenders at the Tower at Charm. There, one of the enemies he encountered was the Black Company wizard Silent, whom he would remember years later. Since the Black Company was among the final tier of defenders at Charm, Fish's encounter with Silent seems to suggest he may have been among the final waves of Rebel soldiers. He would look back on himself during this time period as "young and dumb".

The Silver Spike[]

Tully Stahl, the founder of the spike thieves group, knew that Old Man Fish had been an experienced trapper in the Great Forest. In the initial planning with his cousin Smeds Stahl, Tully recommended Fish and the young soldier Timmy Locan, as useful pawns to steal and sell the spike. But both Stahl cousins agreed they would murder Fish and Timmy as soon as possible after they outlived their usefulness. Later, as increasing amounts of stress tested the mettle of all four, Smeds would side with the other two men over Tully.

In the Great Forest[]

Fish's wilderness experience and his ability to keep the others alive and healthy almost immediately earned him the de facto leadership position. Once Tully began bickering, arguing, and causing disruptions, Fish grew to despise him. Thanks solely to Fish's careful planning and reconnaissance, they avoided numerous lethal threats in the Great Forest, including a close call with a group that would go on to sack multiple cities: the wicker man, Toadkiller Dog, and their entourage of fierce tribesmen.

After they stunned the supernatural Sapling with an inferno, the four stole the spike from its trunk and returned to Oar.

Hunted in beleaguered Oar[]

Now trapped in the ransacked city, Fish would formulate plans and ambushes that impressed veteran tacticians like Darling and Raven as well as the Imperial chief wizard called Exile.

Despite his age, Fish proved on numerous occasions to be profoundly dangerous in close-quarters combat. He ambushed three veteran soldiers: Raven, Case, Paddlefoot Torque, and also their captive, the thug "Smiley", and completely subdued them all. Fish orchestrated the ambush for the purpose of killing Smiley, who could expose him, and also to slash them all on the left cheek (the mark of the Nightstalker Brigade). This was part of his plot to sow discord among the rival imperial groups in the area. Another of his schemes was to paint white roses throughout the city, to stir up false echoes of the New White Rose Rebellion that had disappeared one year earlier.

Clashing with Darling's group[]

Fish observed when Smeds was kidnapped by Darling's followers, who wore the uniforms of Exile's imperial soldiers. He followed them to Lamber Gartsen's stable, which Fish had actually visited a few times ("back during his flirtation with the Rebel cause"). There, he found that Darling had already abducted Brigadier Wildbrand of the Nightstalkers and one of her corporals. From hiding, he threatened both Nightstalkers, ordering them to lie about Smeds' identity. They did as he asked, and he freed both of them as promised. To liberate Smeds next, he held Darling at knife-point and ordered Case to untie his co-conspirator. However, Paddlefoot Torque stumbled into the room unexpectedly, so Fish stabbed both Paddlefoot (fatally) and Darling, and threw a blade into Case. When he went to execute Case, Smeds talked him out of it, and the two spike thieves departed.

The sale of the spike[]

At great personal risk, Fish sought out Exile to finally initiate the sale of the silver spike. Exile treated with him honestly and turned over the first sack of loot to Fish. Per plan, Smeds met Exile next, shared the precise location of the talisman, and left with their second bag of payment. Fish and Smeds successfully fled Oar with their treasure. However, soon afterward, Fish succumbed to the cholera outbreak which had plagued Oar during their time there. Smeds mourned him, and buried Fish's remains beneath a stone cairn.

Spike thieves
Old Man FishSmeds StahlTully StahlTimmy Locan