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Black Company Wiki

The Royal Guards – also called Palace Guard – were the bodyguards of the Prahbrindrah Drah (the Prince) and his sister the Radisha Drah (the Princess) of Taglios. They formed a small military force headquartered at the sprawling Palace of Taglios. The Guards were older than, and operated independently of, the newer Taglian armed forces raised by the Liberator during the Books of the South and the Books of Glittering Stone.

By the events of Dreams of Steel, the Radisha had assigned command of the Guards to her foreign lover, Cordy Mather, who began to transform the group into a more skillful and trained outfit. Cordy was one of the three trustworthy northerners who led Taglios's first armies in the opening skirmishes and battles of the Shadowmaster wars, back before the arrival of Croaker and his Black Company.

Dreams of Steel[]

One of the earlier episodes involving the Royal Guards in the Annals was a distinctly unprofessional display in Dreams of Steel. Some guards accompanied both of the royal siblings in a concerted search throughout the Palace for the traitor Smoke. They battered down Smoke's barricaded door, but, when they saw Soulcatcher's Palace demon mauling Smoke, they swore and immediately fled. The unguarded Prahbrindrah with his terrified sister at his back confronted the evil demon, and he chased it away with a thrown wooden stake.

Bleak Seasons[]

By Bleak Seasons – 4 years after Dreams of Steel – Cordy Mather's success at transforming the Guards into a competent and loyal unit impressed Murgen, the Company Annalist. Mather made Willow Swan the captain of the Royal Guards detachment that was assigned to Dejagore.

Several Royal Guards were killed by rumel-wielding Stranglers who were looking to assassinate Croaker at the Palace during Bleak Seasons. Murgen knew something was wrong even before seeing their corpses, as a specific entrance they were responsible for guarding was uncovered. Speaking to their reliability, Murgen wrote: "there was no way Mather's gang would leave an entrance uncovered. You could not bribe those guys to screw up." Murgen would determine that the Stranglers had disguised themselves as holy prostitutes of Bashra, which allowed them to get close enough to the Guards to strike successfully. During this attack, the toddler To Tan was murdered and Thai Dei suffered a broken arm, but at least 12 veteran Stranglers were wiped out. The Guards helped chase down the surviving Stranglers throughout the Palace immediately afterward.

She Is the Darkness[]

Cordy Mather has grown disillusioned with his role as commander of the Royal Guards by the events of She Is the Darkness. He resented being treated by his lover the Radisha as a plaything, and neither he nor the Guards were permitted to attend her meetings with Croaker the Liberator.

A division of Royal Guards with Willow Swan as their captain fought alongside the regular armies in the Battle of Charandaprash against Longshadow. At the Palace, the Guards helped the Radisha look for Smoke. When the Prahbrindrah betrayed the Black Company in an attempt to nullify his contract with them, he was foiled and apprehended. Both Cordy and Willow, in their role as Royal Guards, accompanied the Prince when Croaker, Lady, and Murgen led the ill-fated expedition through the homeworld shadowgate. After they made it halfway across the glittering plain, they all became the Captured when Soulcatcher sprung her trap.

Water Sleeps[]

Sometime during the 15-year gap between She Is the Darkness and Water Sleeps, the Royal Guard was restructured to answer directly to Soulcatcher. This occurred after she proclaimed herself "Protector" and established a dictatorship, the Protectorate, over both Taglios and the former Shadowlands.

The Royal Guard "had no trouble for almost a generation" until Sleepy and her underground Black Company began abducting Protectorate officials at the start of Water Sleeps. The Guards, despite working cooperatively with the new urban police force, the Greys, were outmatched by Sleepy's well-planned guerrilla tactics every time. Three members of the Privy Council (Willow Swan, commander of the Greys; Purohita Arjana Drupada; and Inspector-General Chandra Gokhale) and even the Radisha herself were kidnapped by Sleepy's operatives. One of the Royal Guards – who was still apparently more loyal to the Radisha than to Soulcatcher – had the courage to stand in Soulcatcher's way as she barged into the Radisha's Anger Chamber. Soulcatcher rendered this man unconscious with merely a touch. This was the moment before Soulcatcher discovered that the Radisha had inexplicably disappeared.

Soldiers Live[]

The Royal Guard (referred to as the "Palace Guard" in Soldiers Live) continued to answer to Soulcatcher until she was defeated by the reconstituted Black Company. Subsequently they answered to the next highest-ranking Protectorate official, Mogaba the Great General. Guardsmen and Greys were ordered to execute two Palace prisoners, the Khadidas and the Daughter of Night, but the two fled into the abandoned regions of the sprawling structure. The Guard helped demolish walls and seal off entrances and hallways in their earnest (but ultimately unsuccessful) effort to kill the two villains.

The Guard fought alongside the Greys against the Black Company during the Siege of Taglios. During the Company's ill-fated raid into the Palace to neutralize Mogaba, the Guards and Greys attempted to finish off those enemies who were not killed by Soulcatcher's last shadows. They were held off by Croaker, Lady, Tobo, Arkana, Shukrat, and the Unknown Shadows. The persistence of the Guards and Greys in this incident impressed Croaker, who wrote: "Brave men, they. There are always brave and honorable men amongst one's enemies."

After the battle was done, the Royal Guard presumably continued as bodyguards for the Radisha and additionally for Aridatha Singh, the new leader and Great General of Taglios.