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Rusty was a sworn brother of the Black Company from Chimney who appeared in 4 of the short stories of the On The Long Run arc. He is featured during the events of "Those Who Went Before" and "Shaggy Dog Bridge" and next plays a much more prominent role in "Bone Eaters". Lastly, he has the unique distinction of being the only Company man to appear directly in the short story "Chasing Midnight", although he seems to have deserted by this point.

While Croaker the Annalist and most others deeply disapproved of Rusty's selfish and aggressive behavior on multiple occasions, he was defended by his only friend, another new Company brother named Robin.

Preceding events[]

Rusty joined the Black Company sometime before their final embarkation onto Cranky Bitch at his birthplace, the city of Chimney. This means he may have participated in some or all of the Company's sea battles on the Gap against the pirates of the Pocatose archipelago. He was with them when they disembarked from the Bitch a final time and entered the western wilderness. It is likely he was one of the many men bedded by the supernatural woman called Leta in "Leta of the Thousand Sorrows" and he probably was in one of the bridge repair crews in "Wet Dream Fish Story".

"Those Who Went Before"[]

Rusty is first mentioned in the Annals of "Those Who Went Before". He incautiously touches a white memorial post in an old sorcery-charged cemetery called the Grand Memorial to Our Honored Dead. He screams until he passes out, only letting go of the post when he collapses. In short order, five other newcomers from Chimney including Spangler witlessly do the same thing and suffer the same outcome. Elmo orders them to be dragged for examination by Croaker. Upon checking Rusty, Croaker believes he may not survive the experience. But Darling stays close to him and the others, and her anti-sorcery null restores Rusty to consciousness. When Rusty opens his eyes, he briefly glares at Darling with “pure, lustful evil” but stops when he sees the One-Eye, Goblin, and especially the watchful Silent. He informs Croaker and the three wizards that he had been “blasted” with the full life memories and visions of a man who died badly long ago, but could not understand anything because the man spoke an unintelligible language.

Almost everyone is deeply unsettled by the lingering sorcery surrounding the graveyard, so the Lieutenant orders them to continue their eastbound trek. They march out with four of the six victims of the graveyard magic. One is Rusty, who recovers enough to limp along on foot. Rusty is comparatively lucky, as another is an unfortunate fellow who became possessed and has gone so thoroughly mad Goblin believes it may be best to kill him.

"Shaggy Dog Bridge"[]

At the start of "Shaggy Dog Bridge", Rusty accompanied Robin, Croaker, Whittle, Zeb the archer, and the wizard One-Eye in the reconnaissance team led by Elmo the veteran sergeant. They were scouting the territory ahead of the main column of the Company while on the run from the armies of the Lady's Empire led by the new Taken general Whisper. Rusty was present when One-Eye discovered an ancient, hidden bridge over the massive geological cavity called the Rip. Later, Rusty witnessed firsthand the frightening sorcery battle between Blind Emon and the new Taken in the air over the Master's castle.

"Bone Eaters"[]

Rusty's attempted rape of a young woman named Chasing Midnight was a key event in "Bone Eaters". Rusty was in the scout group ahead of the Black Company and a huge band of refugees fleeing from the Lady's Empire. He attempted to rape the brigand girl who had been disarmed by Whittle, but was impotent because of her witch's keep-off-me aura. He struck both Robin and Croaker when they attempted to stop him, but was finally chastened when Darling and Silent arrived. The young soldier made himself scarce to avoid punishment.

Some weeks later, Rusty was using the latrine at night when he was ambushed by Midnight's brother, Chasing Moonlight, and some other relatives. Attempting to avenge Midnight's earlier humiliation, they cut him up with non-fatal wounds before Croaker intervened. Croaker had Midnight assist with the suturing of Rusty's new wounds.

At the Village of Hungry Ghosts, Darling selected Rusty to join in a risky special operation so that he could redeem himself. Terrified, he entered the Village with her alongside Elmo, Otto, Hagop, and Croaker. He foolishly charged outside Darling's protective null to stab a wild ass that had been possessed by hungry ghosts, but was himself secretly possessed by one of the discorporate entities. Some weeks later in the city of Rue, Croaker noticed that Rusty's whole personality changed for the better after the incident at the Village, and soon realized he was possessed. Before any exorcism could be attempted, Rusty was abducted by Midnight, Moonlight, and their other relatives, badly tortured and mutilated, and killed. The discovery of Rusty's corpse was the denouement of "Bone Eaters".

"Chasing Midnight"[]

Rusty is the only Black Company man to appear directly in "Chasing Midnight: The Dark Lord as a Teen" though by this point he was a deserter. This short story explains in great detail certain events in Rue that Croaker did not directly witness in the overlapping narrative "Bone Eaters".

Chasing Midnight and her cousins Chick and Fade are staking out Rusty's favorite watering hole – a tavern called the Silent Owl – waiting for him to emerge to kill him. But his stalkers are interrupted by Black Shroud and a thug they call Monkey Butt. Midnight observes Rusty exit the bar, but she has lost the opportunity to ambush him.

Many days later, Haru (a cousin who is still in the Black Company’s orbit) informs Chick that Rusty has deserted the Company. Eventually Fade follows Rusty to his residence. Soon, the Midnight, Chick, and Fade are back outside the Silent Owl for a second ambush attempt. When Rusty emerges, he spots Midnight making hand signals to Fade, who is on the Owl's roof with a crossbow. He recognizes the danger and flees for his life. (His fate is not shown here, but is already known from the preceding short story "Bone Eaters", which describes events that transpire later.)

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