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Soldier of Darkness was a mysterious designation used by the Nyueng Bao to refer to members of the Black Company throughout the Books of Glittering Stone. The Nyueng Bao used this term interchangeably with "Bone Warrior" and "Stone Soldier" and refused to explain their meanings for many years. All three terms were spoken in the Taglian language when addressing Company personnel and also in the Nyueng Bao language in their private conversations. The term "Soldier of Darkness" was also used by Nashun the Researcher, one of the Voroshk patriarchs.

In Murgen's Annals[]

The term "Soldier of Darkness" first appeared in the Annals when it was used in conversation by Ky Dam – the Speaker of the Nyueng Bao – to address Murgen, the Black Company standard-bearer during the Siege of Dejagore.[1] It would be spoken by Uncle Doj, Ky Gota, Banh Do Trang, and Thai Dei in the ensuing years. Murgen wrote several times that he disliked the inscrutable designations Soldier of Darkness, Stone Soldier, and Bone Warrior and resented the Nyueng Bao lack of transparency regarding the origins of these terms. But he occasionally incorporated these terms self-referentially into his own Annals.

In later Annals[]

After Murgen's disappearance, the next Company Annalist, Sleepy, also recorded that she was addressed with these terms by the Nyueng Bao. After more than 15 years, Uncle Doj finally revealed to Sleepy that he believed his Nyueng Bao ancestors were themselves a Free Company like the Free Companies of Khatovar, and were therefore Soldiers of Darkness too[2], although this history of the Nyueng Bao would later be disputed by Tobo.

Later, during Sleepy's time on the supernatural glittering plain, she received revelations about the Free Companies of centuries ago in her dreams. She learned that the term "Soldiers of Darkness" had originally been reserved for those Bone Warriors and Stone Soldiers who survived their stint in a Free Company:

The companies sent out were not swarms of fanatics. The plain was dangerous. Few men wanted to cross it. Most of the soldiers were conscripts, or minor criminals under the rule of a few dedicated priests. They were not expected to return. It became the custom for the conscripts’ families to hold a wake for their Bone Warriors or Stone Soldiers before they departed—even though the priests always promised they would be back in a matter of months. The few who did return usually came back so drained and changed, so bitter and hard, they came to be known as Soldiers of Darkness.

Water Sleeps ch. 79

Nashun the Researcher, one of the Voroshk patriarchs, told Croaker that "Never will any Soldier of Darkness be permitted to return [to his world]" during a heated conversation.[3] This conversation was held in the language of Juniper which Nashun had learned from Lisa Daele Bowalk.