The shadowweavers were minor wizards in the service of Longshadow prior to and throughout the Shadowmaster wars. Their founder and leader also referred to them as skrinsa. The shadowweavers operated in groups of six; three such groups appeared in the Annals, one each during Shadow Games, Bleak Seasons, and She Is the Darkness. They conducted valuable spying and messenger operations using bats and tamed shadows, and would later be given command of much larger, killer shadows to assassinate enemies. Longshadow "took a lifetime to train them" and they were high-priority targets of the Black Company.
Although the shadowweavers were initially presumed to be natives of the Shadowlands (that is, originating from the homeworld), later findings would uncover that they actually hailed from another world entirely: either Hsien or Longshadow's mysterious world.
Longshadow had apparently already completed the long and laborious process of training his shadowweavers before the consolidation of the Shadowlands. They were unrelated to any of the native Shadowlanders of the southern continent, so they were easily spotted among the ethnic groups of Taglios when Longshadow sent them north against the Company. And, by the time of Bleak Seasons, apparently all were of advanced age.
In Shadow Games, a group of six shadowweavers was dispatched to coordinate a mob of armed Shadowlanders in an attempt to assassinate Croaker, Lady, and other Black Company members and allies. They used very tiny shadows to relay messages between their men and were operating out of a hollowed out hilltop south of Taglios. This group was observed by Goblin, who described them to Croaker as follows:
|“||there was this hilltop that had been sort of hollowed out, like a bowl, and down in the bowl there was these six guys all facing a little fire. Only there was something weird. You couldn't see them right. It was like you was looking at them through a fog. Only the fog was black. Sort of. Lots of little shadows, I'd guess you'd call them. Some of them no bigger than a mouse's shadow. All buzzing around like bees... I think they were seeing what we were doing in the flames, then sending those shadows out to tell their boys what to do to us and how to get into our way.||”|
Before Goblin could ambush them, these six shadowweavers were killed in a violent explosion of high-magnitude sorcery sent by either Soulcatcher or Shapeshifter. A snake imp (a demon loyal to Longshadow) which the shadowweavers had in their possession was confiscated by Goblin and nearly assassinated Croaker later.
Although the shadowweavers initially did not use shadows bigger than a cat, by the time of Bleak Seasons they were using shadows large enough for assassination missions. In this way they came to be much more feared than the conventional armies of Shadowlanders. As Murgen would recall some years after his experiences fighting them: "I had seen what those stinking little shadowweavers could do. I had seen men scream out their lives while something invisible gnawed at them".
Ambushed at the GroveEdit
After Longshadow created an alliance with the Stranglers, six of his remaining shadowweavers met with the chief Strangler jamadar, Narayan Singh, at the Stranglers' holy place, the Grove of Doom. During the meeting, the Grove was unexpectedly ambushed by a team of Black Company men and allies, including Murgen, One-Eye, Goblin, Thai Dei, Wishbone, and Wobble. Though most of the Stranglers were executed while under Goblin's sleep spell, Narayan escaped and the six shadowweavers were unaffected. They remained unseen by the Company soldiers inside an ugly shelter, where, it would be discovered later, they quickly contacted their ally the Howler, for the purpose of evacuating Narayan and the Daughter of Night. The shadowweavers then sent a sizable shadow out of their hiding place to attack the Company. It almost reached Murgen, but his Nyueng Bao bodyguard Thai Dei saved his life. Their shadow was killed by the Company's swift, fiery counterattacks. This was the first time the Company encountered shadowweavers in league with the Stranglers. The defeated shadowweavers now eagerly announced their surrender in the language of Taglios. Wishbone mocked them because they, and others before them, must have rehearsed the phrase beforehand since it was not their native tongue. Wishbone asked if there was any use for them, so Murgen ordered them to keep two as prisoners. The other shadowweavers were executed with the help of Thai Dei. The captives were brought to the Palace of Taglios, where one shadowweaver died (succumbing to fright, according to One-Eye). Murgen, in his spirit-walking form, later spied on the meeting between Longshadow and Mogaba during which the Shadowmaster learned about the deaths of these shadowweavers. Longshadow did not explode in one of his typical rages but for once admitted his personal fault.
She Is the DarknessEdit
Longshadow lost another 6 shadowweavers north of Lake Tanji to Company infantrymen just prior to the Battle of Lake Tanji. They were killed by fireball projectors, which, though they were designed to kill shadows, worked quite well against human targets as well. Immediately before the subsequent Battle of Charandaprash, the Howler wisely advised Longshadow to train new shadowweavers as quickly as possible.
The very last shadowweavers were summoned and holed up with Longshadow himself in Overlook. They were all killed in the grueling, room-by-room fighting inside the tower during the Siege of Overlook, the final battle of the Shadowmaster wars.
|“||And there was no one at the Taglian end trained to manage and communicate with shadows. That was a rare talent indeed and the Black Company had exterminated the brotherhood who had shared it back when they were still running things their way. Soulcatcher had scoured the Shadowlands, whence those people had sprung, length and breadth. She had turned up just a few old women and very young children who had survived all the wars and purges. They seemed to be a people unrelated to any other in the south, had been unknown there before the advent of the Shadowmasters, and among themselves had a oral tradition of having come from an entirely different world. Those old women and babies had lacked any useful knowledge or talent.||”|
At some point after She Is the Darkness and before Soldiers Live, Soulcatcher searched the breadth of the Shadowlands (now part of her Protectorate) for surviving shadowweavers, to compel them to work for her. But they were truly extinct. She only found a handful of their elderly wives and very young children, and none of those had the requisite talent for sorcery required to become shadowweavers themselves. Her research uncovered that they were not from the Shadowlands – or even the homeworld – at all. Her findings suggested that they accompanied Longshadow when he first crossed the glittering plain into the homeworld. This would mean they traveled with him in his exile from Hsien. Before that, their own ancestors may have come from the unknown, mysterious world from which he originally hailed.