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Swan, once upon a time all us old farts were young loudmouths like you.

–Smoke, Dreams of Steel

Smoke was high adviser to the royal family of Taglios and secretly a well-trained wizard. Officially he was only recognized as "Lord of the Guardians of Public Safety" (boss of the city's fire brigade); he was the single person who knew every room, hall, stairway, and entryway of the historic, sprawling Palace of Taglios. He was short, immediately recognizable for discolorations on his skin, and was well-known for his cowardice. Smoke was no friend of the Black Company, but, after a supernatural attack left him comatose, his disembodied spirit became an incredible asset for the Company during the Shadowmaster wars.

Shadow Games[]

Smoke, the Prahbrindrah Drah (the Taglian Prince), and the Radisha Drah (the Prahbrindrah's sister) were deeply concerned about the looming threat of invasion posed by the mysterious Shadowmasters from the south. Smoke shared a premonition with the royal siblings: he had a vision that Taglios would emerge victorious despite the obviously dismal odds. In response, the Prahbrindrah decided to employ the Black Company to help prosecute the Shadowmaster wars. Smoke protested this choice because as a historian he was familiar with the Company's horrible violence in the region more than 400 years prior. But he ultimately obeyed. He (along with Willow Swan, Blade, and Cordy Mather) accompanied the Radisha, and they all traveled north along the great river to hire the Company.

Upon meeting the Black Company, Smoke encountered Frogface and was immediately frightened. He reported to the royal siblings and their advisors that:

[Frogace could be] maybe ten thousand [years old]. An imp. I dared not investigate lest it recognize me as more than a silly old man. I don't know its capacities. But definitely a supernatural entity of great efficacy. My question is how an adept of a capacity as limited as the One-Eye creature obtained control. I'm superior to him in talent, skill, and training, but I can neither summon nor control such a thing.

Though Smoke was not privy to Soulcatcher's machinations, he correctly surmised a very powerful adept was at work.

Dreams of Steel[]

Although Smoke was pleased with the Black Company's triumph over the Shadowmasters' forces at the Battle of Ghoja Ford and the smaller victories on their march toward Dejagore, he was very relieved with the Company's defeat at the Battle of Dejagore. He observed the battle from afar alongside Willow Swan, Blade, and Cordy Mather. His companions, especially Swan, did not share his satisfaction.

Smoke opposed Lady's rise to power during Dreams of Steel, but could do little to prevent it. During this time, he was contacted by Longshadow's secret emissary One Who Leads Eight Who Serve, who persuaded him that he could save Taglios by betraying the Company and making peace with the Shadowlands. Though Smoke already hated the Company, he still deeply distrusted Longshadow. His precautions were foiled after he was flown by the Howler on a new, small flying carpet to Shadowcatch (presumably into Overlook itself), where he was enslaved by Longshadow using a sorcery ritual that was a simpler, "poor man's" version of the infamous Rite of Taking. He then acted briefly as Longshadow's spy. All of this information was collected in secret by crows and the imp Frogface and reported to Soulcatcher. She in turn shared it with her captive Croaker.

When Smoke found One Who Leads and his seven shadowweaver companions had been choked to death by Stranglers, he fled to the Palace of Taglios. Royal Guards began breaking down the door to Smoke's sorcery-protected room on orders from the Prahbrindrah. Desperately, he did outreach to Longshadow, and informed him that Lady was in Taglios with her bodyguard Ram. (He was tricked by a ruse, however: this was actually Soulcatcher masquerading as her sister Lady, with her prisoner Croaker disguised by a glamour as Ram). As he communicated, Soulcatcher's Palace demon burst through a pinhole in his sorcery protections and savaged him. The demon's assault was interrupted by the Prahbrindrah Drah after the Guards destroyed the door, before the wizard could be killed. The royals brought Smoke medical attention to keep him alive.

After Soulcatcher was abducted by the Howler on Longshadow's orders in an explosive ambush, Croaker was free to expose the full details of Smoke's betrayal to the Prahbrindrah and the Radisha. Croaker used his medical expertise to bring Smoke to consciousness long enough for him to share his story. He remained in a coma afterward.

Bleak Seasons[]

Sometime after Dreams of Steel but before the current-times narrative of Bleak Seasons, One-Eye, while trying to heal Smoke's coma, discovered by accident that a person sleeping near Smoke could actually make contact with the court wizard's disembodied spirit. By essentially riding Smoke's consciousness, he could spy on people in faraway places. Smoke's spirit could even be used to time travel as an observer to almost any events that transpired back until the attack that left him comatose. One-Eye informed Croaker and together they took turns using this incredible power in strict secrecy.

As their duties in the Shadowmaster wars became more burdensome, Croaker and One-Eye shared this priceless secret with Murgen, who often took care of Smoke moving forward. Murgen likewise took full advantage of the ghost-walking ability to spy extensively on the Black Company's enemies. Murgen's prior emotional trauma and his inability to properly cope with the disorienting effects of traveling through time with Smoke's spirit is the main reason why his Annals for Bleak Seasons were so troubled and disjointed.

She Is the Darkness[]

Although Smoke's spirit lacked normal self-awareness, it had a kind of fearful instinct which would cause him to refuse to approach people, places, or events that terrified him. That which most terrified his spirit was Soulcatcher: if sufficiently close to the sorceress, his ghost would exclaim the phrase "she is the darkness!" fearfully while attempting to move away. Murgen learned that if he applied sufficient emotional force, he could coerce Smoke into witnessing some frightening events. But, such effort would cause Murgen to be physically exhausted upon returning to the waking world.

Smoke was trundled along during the Company's campaign against Longshadow. Murgen continued to use his spirit to flesh out his chronicles throughout She Is the Darkness and to supply critical intelligence to the rest of the Company. Once they reached Overlook, Murgen even forced Smoke to witness parts of a shocking event, namely, when Kina manifested physically near the Daughter of Night and assaulted the Howler and Soulcatcher in Longshadow's tower.

Eventually, Smoke started recovering from his coma. He was mysteriously assassinated near Kiaulune before reaching a complete recovery. It was later revealed that his assassin was Soulcatcher, who was disguising herself as Sleepy during this time.