|“||Swan, once upon a time all us old farts were young loudmouths like you.||”|
–Smoke, Dreams of Steel
Smoke was the court wizard and high adviser in service of the royal family of Taglios, though officially he was merely the chief firefighter of the city. He was short, immediately recognizable for discolorations on his skin, and was well-known for his cowardice. He 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.
Smoke, the Prahbrindrah Drah (the Taglian Prince), and the Radisha Drah (the Prahbrindrah's sister) were deeply concerned about the 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 win Taglios's 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, when she traveled to hire the Company.
Dreams of SteelEdit
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 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. However, his precautions were defeated after he was flown by the Howler on a new, small flying carpet to Shadowcatch (possibly 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 the imp Frogface, who reported it back to his mistress Soulcatcher. She in turn shared it with her captive Croaker.
Later, Smoke entered his sorcery-protected room and did outreach to the Howler, Longshadow's commander in Taglios. He informed the Howler 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 as Ram). As Smoke communicated with the Howler, a demon presumably sent by Soulcatcher burst through a pinhole in his sorcery protections and savaged him. After Soulcatcher was abducted by the Howler, Croaker was free to expose 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.
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. He informed Croaker and together they took turns using this incredible power in strict secrecy. As their duties in the Shadowmaster wars became more burdensome, the two shared this 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 inability to properly cope with the disorienting effects of traveling through time with Smoke's spirit is the reason why his Annals for Bleak Seasons were so troubled and disjointed.
She Is The DarknessEdit
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 until he was guided away.
Smoke was brought along for the Company's campaign against Longshadow. Once they reached Overlook, Smoke started recovering from his coma. He was mysteriously assassinated before reaching a complete recovery.