The Siege of Taglios was the last major engagement fought by the Black Company in the Annals. It marked the conclusion of the Company's war against the Protectorate, and their attempt to reinstall the Prahbrindrah Drah as rightful ruler.
The combatants were:
- Sleepy, commanding the Company, including a number of wizards and several thousand well-trained soldiers from Hsien; and,
- Mogaba, commanding the defenders of Taglios (the remnants of the Second Territorial, the City Battalions, the Greys, and the Royal Guards).
The siege of Taglios was preceded by the Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery. During this event, Mogaba's Second Territorial was routed in grueling combat, and Sleepy prevailed without the help of sorcery and despite many noteworthy Company losses.
The failed Palace raid Edit
As Sleepy approached Taglios and prepared to besiege the city, she sent an ill-advised raiding party to abduct Mogaba and Ghopal Singh from their headquarters, the sprawling Palace of Taglios. Booby-traps containing Soulcatcher's last remaining shadows were accidentally triggered, and among the Company's fatalities were Murgen and three significant allies: the Howler, the First Father, and Nashun the Researcher.
Explosion over the Palace Edit
Sleepy suffered yet another setback after she ordered some airborne reconnaissance of the Palace. During this recon, she lost her chief of staff, General Chu, and her young assistant, Mihlos Sedona, in a gigantic explosion which flattened about an acre of the Palace. Two of the Company's priceless Voroshk flying posts – the rheitgeistiden – and a pair of the shefsepoken protective robes were also lost in the detonation.
Main engagements Edit
Sleepy divided her forces, probing Taglios for the most opportune location to focus her siege. Her key points were a waterfront area on the great river and the South Gate. Mogaba (having defeated Sleepy many times during the Kiaulune wars) anticipated the young woman's strategy and attempted to keep his forces prepared to deal with either thrust. When Sleepy applied pressure on the waterfront, Mogaba arrived and personally led his bodyguard in a devastating counterattack that knocked the Black Company back to its starting point.
Once the Black Company began pouring through the South Gate, Mogaba permitted about half of the enemy force to enter the city proper. Meanwhile, he had a special team, consisting of Ghopal Singh's family members, hiding within the gate's defense complex. They were ready to spring a mechanical trap, which had originally been designed to assassinate Soulcatcher. This team waited until Sleepy herself entered the kill zone with a small party of her command staff and a dozen other Company men. Sleepy and her companions were all trapped by falling stones, struck with poisoned darts, and then slain by boiling oil, without any chance of escape. Croaker immediately ensured that Sleepy's Lieutenant, Suvrin, replaced her as Captain of the Black Company.
Aridatha Singh, having undertaken obligations and pledged himself to Mogaba, supported Mogaba and Ghopal Singh against the besiegers. When Mogaba informed him that Sleepy and many of her command staff were killed in his elaborate mechanical trap at the city gate, Aridatha worked himself to exhaustion fighting off the invaders. One night during the battle, his room was invaded by Arkana, who was wearing her protective shefsepoke and riding a rheitgeistide, and a whole force of Unknown Shadows. She asked him to order his men to lay down their arms, to spare the city any further bloodshed, but he refused, instead asking her to find a way to get Mogaba to surrender. Some Unknown Shadows remained behind, preventing him from getting much-needed rest.
Throughout the worst fighting, Aridatha kept the City Battalions busy removing and identifying bodies for the closure of Taglian families.
As the battle turned against them, Mogaba, Ghopal Singh, and two of Ghopal's unmarried second-cousins secretly fled the city so that they could save face, while simultaneously giving Aridatha the opportunity to end the bloodshed. They commandeered a fisherman's boat on the great river. Shortly after embarking, they were accosted by Soulcatcher's haggard white crow, which demanded that they turn around and continue the fight for the city on her behalf. Mogaba replied in no uncertain terms that he would obey her no more, and Ghopal even swatted the bird with his oar. The next moment, they were swamped by the young sorcerer Tobo's most lethal Unknown Shadows. Mogaba, along with Ghopal and his two cousins were tortured extensively and eventually killed by the monsters. Croaker's discovery of their assassinations forced him to realize that Tobo had lost control, and was abusing his power on a misguided quest for revenge for the loss of both his parents earlier in the campaign.
When Soulcatcher (speaking through the same haggard white crow) informed Aridatha that Mogaba and Ghopal had just been killed, she demanded that he continue the fight. Without hesitation, however, he had the bird subdued and ordered immediate end to all hostilities.
- Murgen: high-ranking Company officer and former Annalist
- The Howler: second-to-last surviving member of the Ten Who Were Taken
- The First Father: refugee Voroshk king/chief patriarch
- Nashun the Researcher: refugee Voroshk prince/patriarch
- General Chu: Black Company's chief-of-staff
- Mihlos Sedona: Sleepy's assistant
- Sleepy: Captain of the Black Company
- Mogaba: Great General of the Protectorate
- Ghopal Singh: high-ranking Protectorate official
- The Prahbrindrah Drah: rightful Prince of Taglios
Prahbrindrah killed; Mass funeral Edit
When the Prahbrindrah Drah and the Radisha Drah marched into the city, Aridatha's poorly-trained marching band attempted to provide a bit of pageantry. The Khadidas, who was hiding with the Daughter of Night within the Palace, was cornered by Tobo. In a last ditch effort, the Khadidas used a deadly spell, but it bounced off Tobo, who was an experienced, heavily-protected sorcerer. However the spell ricocheted and struck the Prahbrindrah, killing the rightful ruler of the city with no successor. Aridatha became the clear popular choice as the new ruler of Taglios. As Croaker summarized:
|“||Aridatha Singh had become the most powerful man in the Taglian Territories, despite having done little to acquire that power--except to be competent and a nice guy. They say that when the hour comes, so will the man. Sometimes fate will even conspire to put a competent, honest man in the right place at the right time.||”|
Aridatha oversaw the public funeral ceremonies for those who died on behalf the Protectorate. Sleepy's body could not be identified easily, as the oil had caused extreme burns. But when it was finally identified, the Company "sent Sleepy off in more style than she could have hoped for while she lived".
Aridatha earns power Edit
Aridatha used careful, transparent negotiations to restore the city after the battle. He also shielded himself from the Unknown Shadows by sleeping in an airtight office in a City Battalion barracks. This proved to be a wise move. Tobo, out of control and on a misguided quest to avenge the deaths of his parents Murgen and Ky Sahra, sneaked into Aridatha's office to murder him. But Aridatha was prepared: a bodyguard delivered a terrible blow to Tobo's skull, and the comatose young sorcerer was thrown into a cell. The Unknown Shadows raised a ruckus throughout the city to get their beloved master back, but Aridatha refused to be intimidated and did not release the attempted assassin.
Tobo smuggled from prison Edit
Later, Croaker hatched an unsanctioned plot to get Tobo back to the Company to fulfill several goals: so the young man could be healed and reprimanded; so he could help restore Lady's failing health; and because in principle the Company tries not to leave men behind. Croaker, Shukrat, and Arkana – with the help of Tobo's beloved Unknown Shadows – kidnapped Aridatha aboard their rheitgeistiden, and threatened to drop him out of the sky if he did not disclose the location of Tobo's cell. Aridatha cooperated, and waited with Arkana on the north bank of the great river while Croaker and Shukrat smuggled the dying young wizard out of his confinement. Aridatha was unharmed in this incident, and was restored to his popular position as Great General with the Radisha Drah as regent. The Company left the city in Aridatha's capable hands and marched back southward, headed once again for Hsien.