- For the short story with the same name, see: Raker (short story)
|“||In the old times.... the Dominator would have made [Raker] one of us.||”|
Raker was an older male sorcerer and a member of the Circle of Eighteen. As a member of the Circle, he was leader of a significant Rebel force warring against and the Imperial forces of the Lady and her generals, the Ten Who Were Taken. He was one of the most prominent and successful members of the Circle because of his continual victories against the Limper in Forsberg, the northernmost province of The Lady's Empire.
Raker's sister was married to Harden, another influential member of the Circle. Raker and Harden despised each other immensely, as Harden would frequently travel throughout Forsberg and antagonize his brother-in-law.
The Black Company[edit | edit source]
Campaign in Forsberg against the Limper[edit | edit source]
Raker's forces in Forsberg fought against the armies of the Limper, who was the Lady's general in the province. The Limper himself was widely hated on both sides as the most violent and evil of the Ten Who Were Taken. Raker's repeated victories caused him to become known as the hero of Forsberg, whereas the Limper, despite his power, suffered endless humiliation. Raker even captured the fortress at Deal from the Limper. The Black Company, at that time contracted to Soulcatcher (one of Limper's enemies among the Taken), was eventually tasked to seize this fortress from Raker's men. After the Company captured it one night, Raker was reported to have flown into a rage for losing the castle, and, Limper was enraged that Soulcatcher could now claim credit for recapturing it.
In Oar, the capital of Forsberg, Shapeshifter (yet another of the Limper's bitter enemies among the Taken) buried the Limper alive and assisted the Black Company in purging the city of its Rebels. Shifter then quickly disappeared, and the Company left the region entirely, going into garrison at Elm. While the Limper remained trapped underground, his forces in Forsberg were outmatched. Raker launched a major offensive and recaptured Forsberg entirely, including the capital Oar, and continued on to seize other territories even further south. After he freed himself, the Limper fled with the remnants of his forces away from Raker into the Salient. There, Raker's Rebel armies continued their relentless assault, further battering Limper.
In the Salient: facing the Black Company[edit | edit source]
Raker now positioned his Rebel army to seize the Salient itself. To counter this, the Lady sent the humiliated the Limper away to Elm, and ordered the Black Company to take over in the north. She gave the Captain an unprecedented level of authority formerly reserved only for the Ten Who Were Taken. Now facing the Company, Raker had to contend with constant assassination attempts from bands of Company veterans during the bitter winter.
At one point, Raker was meeting with about 30 fellow Rebels at a farm. Silent, Elmo, and several other Company mercenaries ambushed this group after sunset, killing 23 of them. Although Raker escaped, he struck his head on a door frame as he fled, leaving behind at least six hairs in the wood. The Company and Soulcatcher used these hairs to set a magic trap for Raker in the free republic of Roses that would not simply result in his demise, but more importantly, would discredit him among the Rebel movement. The trap consisted of a limestone block taken from the crenellation of the fortress at Meystrikt, six of Raker's hairs, a stout wooden table, an enormous pile of silver and gold coins (including uncut gems), and some strong magic spells. Anyone who tried to seize the treasure would be gravely wounded or killed by the wardspells. On it were carved the following words:
- LET HE WHO WOULD CLAIM THIS WEALTH
- SEAT THE HEAD OF THE CREATURE
- WITHIN THIS THRONE OF STONE
This trap tempted masses of people in Roses and the surrounding areas to hunt the Rebel general. Raker got word of it and came to Roses to observe, incognito, for several weeks. Soulcatcher, waiting patiently from a window overlooking the trap, absolutely forbade the Company to assassinate Raker lest he become a martyr for the Rebel cause. The whole time the trap was set, Raker did not yield command of the Rebel presence in the Salient to another general, but was deeply distracted in Roses, making the Circle appear impotent. Meanwhile, the Empire made an amnesty offer which some Rebels chose to take, and, some critical supporters who followed Raker south into the Salient pulled out and returned north. Worse, Raker made two "spectacular, vain" attempts to disarm the trap, discrediting him further. When the rest of the Circle finally ordered Raker to depart the Salient, he refused, causing a major rift that deeply harmed the faith of many Rebels in their movement, just as Soulcatcher intended.
Death[edit | edit source]
Although Soulcatcher was unconcerned if Raker lived or died, Raker's fate was sealed when he gave Otto, a Company soldier, a bloody (but non-fatal) knife wound. Hagop insisted Otto's attacker was Raker. Raven and the physician Croaker doubted it, until Raven confirmed it to be true with his wizard's insight. Raven brought Croaker along for hours as he tracked Raker throughout the snowy streets of the massive city. When they were close enough, Raven used Croaker as bait. Croaker confronted the tall, lean man who Raven assured him was Raker. Raker was confident and unafraid, and somehow knew Croaker's identity. After a brief exchange, Raker attempted to stab the physician twice. Before Croaker could strike back, Raker then used a spell which caused his target to become mesmerized and immobilized by his eyes. Then, just as Raker raised his sword to make the killing blow, he was stabbed in the back by Raven. Despite the shock and pain, Raker was able to remove the knife. His very last action was to begin singing another spell to defend himself, but, he was quickly tackled and killed by Raven and Croaker. Raven decapitated the corpse with a serrated knife, and Raker's head was used to disarm the wardspells on the trap. Raven, Croaker, and Elmo claimed the infamous treasure for themselves. The Company then departed Roses for Meystrikt.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
Even in death, Raker was involved in one more major humiliation of his nemesis the Limper, who had come to seize the money in the trap. While the Limper was stalking Raker's trap in Roses, a Rebel uprising took place in Elm, where Lady had essentially banished him. Although Shapeshifter quashed the uprising, the Limper fled Roses in terror of the Lady's wrath for his absence.
Soulcatcher's goal of demoralizing the Rebels by discrediting Raker seems to have had only a temporary effect, if any, in the north. In a dramatic reversal, half the Circle of Eighteen rallied the rest of the Rebel in the north. Most prominently Whisper, the strongest of the Circle, was now redeployed from Rust in the east. The Black Company fought hard but received little help from the two Taken who where with them: Soulcatcher and the Limper. Thousands of Imperials and Rebels died in battle around Roses, and as the Company retreated southward, the Salient fell to the Rebel very rapidly. It would be revealed that the Rebels' stunning victories after Raker's death were the direct result of the Limper's treachery. Whisper had discovered the Limper's true name in the ancient research of the wizard Bomanz, and she used it to suborn him to betray the Lady and aid the Rebel cause.