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Shaded Road was a special commando expedition led by the old wizard Goblin during the Shadowmaster wars, detailed in She Is the Darkness. It was masterminded in total secrecy by Croaker, the Captain of the Black Company, who accurately predicted that their employers (the Radisha Drah and the Prahbrindrah Drah of Taglios) would betray them just as virtually all their prior employers had done.

She Is the Darkness[]

Background and overview[]

Croaker gave Goblin orders to lead a special expedition to bring fighters to the south of the Dandha Presh via the long route around the mountain range via the western sea. Goblin recruited 100 young Taglians, all under the age 25, who were interested in joining the Black Company. He sold them the idea that the operation was an entrance exam. Although they spread considerable fear throughout Mogaba's ranks and the villages which were loyal to the Protectorate, the primary goal of Shaded Road was to provide insurance for the Company if the Prahbrindrah Drah betrayed Croaker in his role as Liberator. Croaker shrouded the whole operation in absolute secrecy: even One-Eye and Murgen were kept in the dark. Croaker somehow even primed Smoke – the comatose wizard whose spirit Murgen could "ride" through time and space to conduct espionage – to avoid finding Goblin easily. The secret mantra "white wedding, white knight" turned out to be the key to induce Smoke to track down Goblin.

List of participants[]

Odyssey south[]

The Shaded Road expedition was led by Goblin and included: at least one other sworn Company brother called Bubba-do; Goblin's Nyueng Bao bodyguard Thien Duc; and the 100 young Taglians (including Mowfat). They all departed Taglios together, sailing downriver on the great river, cutting their way through 200 miles of inhospitable Nyueng Bao swamp at the river's delta, and taking to the rough seas of the western ocean. After passing through a fog bank, they landed on the coast of the Shindai Kus desert, where they overcame awful terrain and a predatory monster. They marched undetected into the cold, southern slopes of the Dandha Presh, where Goblin put his limited wizardry to use converting some native miniature owls to scouts and night guards. They were joined by Lisa Daele Bowalk in her fearful, beastly forvalaka form. Of the men accompanying Goblin, Thien Duc showed the least fear of all when the forvalaka rendezvoused with Goblin. When everyone else hustled away as the monster approached, Thien Duc remained close in his role as bodyguard.

Throughout the entire odyssey – which took the men through some of the southern continent's worst terrain – Goblin complained ceaselessly. But, despite his un-officer-like conduct, the aged wizard proved to be an excellent campaigner.

Missions[]

Goblin's group cut their teeth picking off fugitive and deserter Shadowlanders who fled from Mogaba's armies through the Dandha Presh during the Battle of Charandaprash. Then, they began killing the officers of the larger accumulations that appeared, the most notable of which was the Nar named Khucho. Whenever the Shadowlanders organized to counterattack, Goblin's glamours and illusions sent them in the wrong directions. They spread so much fear in Mogaba's ranks that word traveled back up and the entire force of Shadowlanders cracked and scattered. Eventually Goblin faded his group into the wilds, headed south.

Next, the Shaded Road commandos participated in many night raids and pillaged villages which cooperated with Mogaba. All the while they were surrounded by crows, which turned out to be the spies of the unaligned wildcard Soulcatcher. Goblin deduced that Bowalk the forvalaka was a double agent for Mogaba, and would soon try to kill him, so he laid a trap for Bowalk. When she moved to attack him, she actually bit into a scarecrow that he had spelled so it would be impossible for her to release her jaw's grip. (She would remain a Company prisoner until her escape on the glittering plain.) Mowfat then arrived and informed Goblin that Mogaba's large clean-up team was heading straight for them, less than a mile away. They ambushed the group of Shadowlanders, delivering heavy casualties.

Later, the Shaded Road group successfully fulfilled their primary mission. They helped foil the Prahbrindrah Drah's betrayal toward the end of the Shadowmaster wars, which Croaker predicted. After a few maneuvers and tricks, they captured the Prince himself, inflicting a dozen minor wounds and trapping him in manacles.

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