Soulcatcher was a member of the Ten Who Were Taken, the ten most powerful servants of the Dominator during the era of the Domination. Centuries later, she was the legate who commissioned the Black Company into the service of the Lady's Empire. She ferried them across the Sea of Torments in that fateful trip to the northern continent. Her sponsorship, and later betrayal, of the Company would set in motion numerous battles, wars, and redrawn maps on both continents of the homeworld. In final two Books of Glittering Stone, she took control of the sprawling empire of Taglios, renaming it the Protectorate. She proved to be the Company's longest-lived human adversary throughout the Black Company series.
It would be revealed that Soulcatcher was the younger sister of the Lady, though they were not separated by many years. A remarkably powerful sorceress, Catcher was exceeded only by the buried Dominator and the Lady at the height of her power. She was notorious for her ability to speak in entirely different voices, widely feared for her madness, and – after the Battle of Charm – recognized as an unpredictable wildcard who influenced history on the grandest scales.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Before the Annals
- 3 The Black Company
- 4 Shadow Games
- 5 Dreams of Steel
- 6 Bleak Seasons
- 7 Water Sleeps
- 8 Soldiers Live
- 9 Gallery
Introduction[edit | edit source]
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Soulcatcher was a short, slim woman with very pale white skin. She shared a striking resemblance to her sister, the Lady. She was somewhat vain and, like many other women of the Senjak family, continued to maintain and enhance her beauty through the use of sorcery throughout the centuries. According to Lady in Soldiers Live, Soulcatcher successfully stopped her body's natural aging process so that she looked "just as sleek as she did on her nineteenth birthday". Yet, like her sister, she rarely flaunted her incredible beauty or used her sexual presence to manipulate others. Instead, Catcher was most commonly observed wearing her favorite garb: tight-fitting but androgynous black leathers, and a black morion to conceal her face. After falling for a pyrotechnic trap set by Goblin in Water Sleeps, Catcher lost the heel of her right foot and subsequently wore a golden, artificial replacement of her own design.
Personality[edit | edit source]
The powerful sorceress was infamous for her unpredictability, and was perceived by everyone who had close contact with her to be insane. In She Is the Darkness, Lady explained her sister, Soulcatcher, as follows:
|“||I have never known why my sister does any of the things she does. She has never been rational. Two does not follow One in her scheme, nor does Three come before Four. She is capable of spending incredible energies and vast fortunes on the execution of a prank. She is capable of destroying cities without ever being able to explain why. You can know what she is doing but not why or you can know why she is doing something but not what. She was that way when she was three years old, before anyone knew she was cursed with the power, too.||”|
Murgen described Soulcatcher as "a force for chaos, seldom giving one rat's ass what happened as long as something did" in She Is the Darkness. Sleepy, who probably considered Soulcatcher to be her archenemy, summarily described her as a "perpetual adolescent chaotic" in Water Sleeps.
The "Thousand Voices"[edit | edit source]
Soulcatcher's most remarkable feature was that the voices of entirely different people came from beneath her black morion. These voices ranged from among a wide variety of seemingly unrelated individuals: a pedantic old man; a young woman; a petulant child; a violent thug; a merry little girl; and others. While some of these voices belonged to still-living people, others seemed to belong to the souls that she has 'caught' over her career. When she became known to the Nyueng Bao De Duang during the Books of Glittering Stone, they referred to her as "the Thousand Voices".
In Water Sleeps, Mogaba surmised that he could identify her original, true voice: "this voice [...] became that of a self-confident woman being conversational, the voice Mogaba suspected was Soulcatcher's own. It resembled closely the voice of her sister, Lady."
Abilities[edit | edit source]
Being a member of the Senjak family, Catcher inherited the family's immense natural magnitude for sorcery, later making her the strongest of the Ten Who Were Taken and rivaling her sister the Lady. She was a powerful necromancer and master in the art of self-preservation like the Limper. This allowed her to survive outright decapitation at the hands of Croaker at the end of The Black Company.
Catcher, like many of the women in her bloodline, was an enchantress, allowing her to control men through supernatural sexual seduction. She stopped the aging process of her body, becoming immortal apparently before her 20th birthday. Her most prominent usage of these abilities was her manipulation of Willow Swan at the end of She Is the Darkness: she used him to remove her bindings and then to move the Captured into the cave of the ancients. However, in this case she partially exploited Swan's infatuation with Lady.
Soulcatcher was a profoundly dangerous presence in physical combat and even more so as a director of battlefield sorcery. She was supernaturally effective with a blade in close quarters combat, demonstrated during the assassination of Harden. Her namesake spell transformed her into a wall of darkness which seemed to consume the souls of those it touched instantly. And, as evidenced during the Battle of the Middle Ground, with some time to prepare she could use terrible sorcery to incinerate hundreds of men in their tracks while still protecting her own forces from the same spells.
In addition, Soulcatcher was a master summoner/conjurer. Her ability to call forth demons and bind them to her will is virtually unrivaled. During the Domination, she had a significant number of prehistoric, ancient demons at her command. Referring to these demons in The White Rose, the Lady confided to Croaker that "Soulcatcher had minions who antedated the tree" which were buried with them in the Barrowland. Tracker and Toadkiller Dog were implied to be among this number. Centuries later, she would conjure and command the powerful imp called Frogface, and also, a beastly demon that helped her escape Overlook.
She had a talent for controlling and communicating with animals. She held a particular preference for crows which she used as her eyes and ears throughout the course of the Black Company series. During Soldiers Live, Mogaba comments that Catcher also controlled bats and rats once her crow population was reduced.
Soulcatcher also had the ability to shapeshift, as well as create illusions and glamours. During the Books of the South and Books of Glittering Stone she was successful in passing herself off as a tree-stump, allowing her to spy on the Black Company and Shadowmasters. On top of this she was able to infiltrate the Black Company encampment by taking on the guise of Sleepy towards the end of She Is the Darkness.
Like the rest of the Taken, she was capable of piloting flying carpets. However in Water Sleeps, Willow Swan states Catcher disliked flying, and it was clear she lacked the talent demonstrated by the Limper and the Howler. In spite of this, by Soldiers Live, she had taught herself enough to create her own, if somewhat crude, flying carpets.
True name[edit | edit source]
Like everyone gifted with the talents of sorcery, Soulcatcher kept her true name a closely-guarded secret, and her true first name is not specified in the Annals. But, if it is true that there were only four Senjak sisters (Ardath, Sylith/Silath/Sileth, Credence, and Dorotea), then her first name is Credence by simple process of elimination. "Dorotea" was the first name of her sister the Lady. And, both "Ardath" and "Sylith" were ruled out when the Dominator attempted to close the Rite of Naming against the Lady by guessing both of those names (at the Battle of Juniper and at the Battle of the Barrowland, respectively). Since the Dominator knew Soulcatcher's true name – having performed the Rite of Taking on her back during the Domination – he would not have used Soulcatcher's name as one of his guesses to disarm the Lady.
Soulcatcher and the Lady both knew one another's true names, but because they were somehow "protected from one another only by the most tangled web that could be woven", they never used true names against one another. Instead, they referred to one another by the "cover" names that had actually belonged to their deceased sisters. In Soldiers Live, Soulcatcher referred to Lady as "that bitch Ardath", and Croaker and Lady discussed Soulcatcher using the name "Sileth".
Before the Annals[edit | edit source]
Soulcatcher was one of the four daughters of Baron Senjak, originating from a western kingdom. She and her three sisters competed against one another in their beauty. Soulcatcher would go on to become an immensely powerful sorceress, one of the most formidable in the northern continent.
The Domination[edit | edit source]
One of Soulcatcher's younger sisters, Dorotea, hid her true identity, took on the new persona of the Lady, and married the infamous sorcerer known only as the Dominator. The Dominator then began using the true names of his ten most powerful competitors and enemies in an agonizing ritual known as the Rite of Taking to enslave them. Soulcatcher would become the most powerful of these Ten Who Were Taken. Thus began the period known as the Domination. Catcher was forced to become one of the Dominator's enforcers and generals, but presumably was also one of his subordinate lords with control over much territory.
Soulcatcher, the other two female Taken (including Stormbringer), and Catcher's other two sisters, would all become the Dominator's lovers. Soulcatcher personally reveled in the "pomp and dark glory" of the Domination. Meanwhile, her sister the Lady, despite being the Dominator's wife, would remain a virgin in their unconsummated political marriage.
After about a century of the Dominator's tyranny, they were all defeated (but not killed) by a mysterious woman called the White Rose and her armies during her famous rebellion in the Great Forest. Soulcatcher, alongside her sister the Lady, the Dominator, the other nine Taken, and a considerable number of horrendous demons, were all imprisoned in the Barrowland. Catcher specifically was imprisoned in the northernmost/topmost of the five "outer barrows" which were arranged at the points of a star. The imprisonment was meant to last for eternity.
Liberation and the Lady's empire[edit | edit source]
Several decades before The Black Company (and 370 years after being interred in the Barrowland), Soulcatcher, the other nine Taken, and the Lady were freed from their prison by a group known as the Resurrectionists. Soulcatcher was the very first of the Ten to burst forth from her barrow when the awakenings began:
|“||A tremendous shock rattled the earth. Bomanz staggered. Out on the Barrowland the mound containing Soulcatcher exploded. A painful glow burned from within. A figure rose from the rubble, stood limned against the glow.||”|
To keep power to herself, the Lady orchestrated this event such that the Dominator and his "pet" monsters remained imprisoned. Catcher and the other Taken went on to help the Lady build the Tower at Charm, and next, to establish her own empire by prosecuting the consolidation wars.
A few decades later, before Soulcatcher was sent by the Lady to hire the Black Company, she fought many battles against Whisper, who was the most dangerous Rebel general of the Circle of Eighteen. The battles between these two ranged from Rust to Were and even across Plain of Fear. Soulcatcher came to respect Whisper as a brilliant and worthy enemy.
The Black Company[edit | edit source]
Annexing Beryl and hiring the Black Company[edit | edit source]
When the Black Company was in service to the Syndic of Beryl, Soulcatcher arrived aboard her massive imperial flagship, The Dark Wings, serving as a legate from the Lady's Empire. She was no doubt involved with the mysterious lightning strike that came down from a clear sky and damaged Necropolitan Hill.
She collaborated with the Black Company to remove the Syndic from his station — permanently — in order to facilitate an imperial takeover which would turn Beryl into just another puppet state of the northern empire. Soulcatcher also agreed to take on the Black Company's commission, bringing them into the service of the Lady. She left her Imperial force in Beryl and ferried the Company across the Sea of Torments aboard The Dark Wings. Later events would strongly suggest that her best ally among the Taken, Shapeshifter, secretly assisted during this mission.
Fighting the Rebel; rivalry with the Limper[edit | edit source]
Soulcatcher was the Black Company's sponsor during their first year in service to the Lady. Its members wore Soulcatcher's emblem — a silver skull with eyes and mouth ablaze on a field of black — and primarily reported to, and received orders from, Soulcatcher herself. The Black Company discovered that the Ten Who Were Taken were endlessly feuding, and that Soulcatcher's principle foe amongst the Taken was the Limper. Repeatedly, Soulcatcher and her ally Shapeshifter and the Black Company embarrassed the Limper both by winning victories over the Rebel which had long eluded the Limper, and also by dealing him personal injury.
At the Battle of Charm[edit | edit source]
During the Battle of Charm, Soulcatcher was given command of the Tower Guard and a force of soldiers from the Jewel Cities. This force was situated near the Black Company on the topmost level of the earthworks outside the Tower at Charm. She attempted to murder Croaker at least three times at the Tower: first, with an "out-of-control" ballista that she was actually manipulating with her sorcery; second, by sending the forvalaka to maul him; and third, by using her namesake spell to directly assault him. She was revealed to be a traitor against the Lady and the northern empire when she sabotaged the flying carpet flown by the Howler, causing him to smash at high velocity into the Tower. Lady initially thought that Soulcatcher was working to advance the cause of the Dominator, but later determined that Soulcatcher was playing her own game, hoping to usurp both the Dominator and the Lady and rule the empire in their stead. The Lady took Croaker with her on the backs of magic black stallions in a frantic pursuit of Soulcatcher through the lines of battle, and Croaker managed to shoot Soulcatcher with ensorcelled arrows before decapitating her with a sword stroke.
Shadow Games[edit | edit source]
Thought dead for years, Soulcatcher re-emerged during the Black Company's long trek south following the disastrous Battle of the Barrowland. When she realized that her sister was in love with Croaker, she dedicated herself to striking at Lady's heart by separating her from Croaker. Initially, planted a spy amidst the Company's ranks, an imp called Frogface whom she contrived for One-Eye to acquire. With her spy in place, she stalked Croaker in particular often reminding him of a walking stump when he would occasionally glimpse her from afar. Using endless murders of crows as spies, Soulcatcher followed the Black Company all the way south of Taglios before finally making her move against Croaker and Lady during the assault on Dejagore. She struck Croaker down with an arrow that pierced his heavy armor, and then abducted him and snuck him away from the battlefield.
Dreams of Steel[edit | edit source]
Soulcatcher, still carrying her head inside a box, now had two prisoners: Croaker (who was still pierced by Soulcatcher's own arrow) and Moonshadow (still impaled upon the Lance of Passion). At the beginning of Dreams of Steel, she interrogated Moonshadow to no avail, but upon looking at him unmasked, was stunned to see that he was not one of the Ten Who Were Taken. She incinerated the powerful Shadowmaster. Then she continued south, with Croaker suspended in the air behind her, her murder of loyal crows, and two newly-stolen black stallions in tow.
Hiding in the Grove of Doom[edit | edit source]
Now hiding in the temple of the Stranglers inside the shunned Grove of Doom, Soulcatcher helped Croaker heal and regain his strength. There, she revealed to her prisoner that she had read Smoke's hidden, ancient Black Company Annals, and that the Company had sacrificed 100,000 prisoners of war in the Grove centuries earlier. More importantly, she informed him she was keeping him alive to bring pain to her sister, Lady:
|“||Once I've nursed you back you're going to help me... And you will. Because it will keep both of you alive. We all want to live, don't we? I want her to live because I want her to hurt. I want to live because I want to watch her hurt. You want to live because of her, because you revere the Company, because... Because where there's life there's hope.||”|
–Soulcatcher explains her motivation
Head reattached[edit | edit source]
Croaker learned that he was also needed to surgically re-attach the sorceress's decapitated head, which was still very much alive and vital due to the enduring power of her sorcery. Frogface materialized to assist in the operation, surprising Croaker, who had assumed the bizarre imp had belonged to Shapeshifter. With her body restored, Soulcatcher regained her full measure of power. She began a long campaign to seduce Croaker, trying to force him to betray his love for Lady. She built a frightening suit of armor which duplicated her sister's Lifetaker rig. She also sent Frogface to steal Croaker's Widowmaker rig from its hiding place beside Murgen's bedroll within the besieged city of Dejagore.
Intervening to save the Company at the Siege of Dejagore[edit | edit source]
Soulcatcher now acted as a wild card in the ongoing Shadowmaster wars between Taglios and the Shadowmasters. In an effort to keep the siege of Dejagore from ending in a decisive victory for the Shadowmasters, Soulcatcher and Croaker appeared as the Lifetaker and Widowmaker characters devised by Lady. Soulcatcher used her immense powers to drastically tip the tide of battle against the Shadowmaster armies on the night they were about to capture Dejagore. Although the siege continued, Soulcatcher left Shadowspinner gravely injured and the enemy forces depleted, disturbed, and completely confused.
Abducted by the Howler[edit | edit source]
Next, Soulcatcher dragged Croaker — now under sorcerous glamour to appear as the man Ram — to the city of Taglios proper. There, she impersonated her sister and began to worm her way into the confidences of the Prahbrindrah Drah. However, before Soulcatcher could complete her nefarious plans, she was kidnapped by the Howler under the orders of Longshadow, both of whom had mistaken Soulcatcher for Lady. Howler escaped Taglios aboard his crumbling flying carpet, and took the unconscious Soulcatcher to Overlook. Kept in a stupor in a cell, she was awakened only with the direct intervention of her imp Frogface. She sent him back out to prevent Croaker from reuniting with Lady. Then, she used her superior magic to generate sufficient heat to melt through the stone walls of her cell. When Overlook's garrison approached to recapture her, she summoned a ferocious demon which plowed through the unprepared men. On foot, she immediately set out to continue her plot to torment her hated sister.
At New Dhar[edit | edit source]
Longshadow was outraged that his prisoner escaped, so he summoned a gigantic shadow and sent it to assassinate Soulcatcher. She and Frogface were prepared, however, and outwitted the entity. The two led the shadow around New Dhar, a large city in the Shadowlands, and they tricked it into killing key residents, with the goal of enraging the populace against the Shadowmasters. Then she sealed the shadow inside the vault of the corrupt governor. Soulcatcher then departed with her imp, and fulfilled her promise to set him free once they exited New Dhar.
Bleak Seasons[edit | edit source]
Sometime during the events of Bleak Seasons, Soulcatcher slaughtered the masters of the Path of the Sword and stole the golden pickax from the Nyueng Bao priests at the Vinh Gao Ghang Temple of Ghanghesha. Using the artifact, she safely crossed the Shadowgate without been seen by the vigilant Longshadow, traversed the glittering plain, and entered the fortress with no name. There, at the feet of the immortal, imprisoned golem Shivetya, she tinkered haphazardly with the prehistoric machinery that Shivetya used to maintain the sorcery of the plain. Her careless activity caused the gigantic earthquake that occurred at the end of Bleak Seasons. It created deep fissures not only on the plain, but also reached back into the homeworld, taking thousands of lives, most especially in the city of Kiaulune which is nearest to the Shadowgate. Later evidence in the Voroshk world suggested that her earthquake also devastated the southern portion of that world, as well.
Water Sleeps[edit | edit source]
During the events of Water Sleeps, Soulcatcher was known by the people of Taglios as "The Protector". She commanded the sprawling empire using the Radisha Drah, the Privy Council, and Mogaba the Great General as her pawns. She had occupied that position for fifteen years when the remains of the Company departed to rescue the Captured.
Soulcatcher was mostly concerned about reigning over Taglios and controlling its troubled people and many religious fanatics. Because of it, she made feeble efforts to restrain the petty attacks from Sleepy and her group. Then, Willow Swan, the Radisha, and two high members of the Council were captured right under Catcher's nose. It made her reorganize her priorities and start a hunt to arrest the Company members.
While Goblin was trying to escape the Palace of Taglios, Soulcatcher identified his presence and started a chase. When she was close to getting Goblin he used one of his tricks in a trap and as result Catcher lost the heel of her right foot. Crippled she tried to use a flying carpet but it had been sabotage and she fell from a high height into a frozen lake getting even more injured.
She sped to Kiaulune in a vain attempt to stop Sleepy and her fugitive group. She got there in time to see her enemies crossing the shadowgate, but before she could act she was suddenly attacked by Khusavir Pete using a fireball projector. While she was distracted, Uncle Doj destroyed her flying carpet and rejoined the others. Soulcatcher was now forced to travel by foot and had no hope of stopping the Company's escape.
Later she was seen transporting the captive Daughter of Night back to Taglios.
Soldiers Live[edit | edit source]
Soulcatcher believed that the remnants of the Black Company would never return to the homeworld after they fled through the shadowgate at the end of Water Sleeps. Four years later, Soulcatcher and her crows hunted for her niece, the escaped Daughter of Night, and the young woman's guardian, Narayan Singh, throughout the outskirts of her Protectorate. Her crows reported that some of their number were being killed when they were alone. Investigating this, she was suddenly attacked by a mob of Unknown Shadows, which were highly intelligent variations of the killer shadows she already had in her own employ. At the expense of most of her own trained shadows, Soulcatcher killed off the attacking entities and learned of their origin: the Black Company had somehow reconstituted itself and was coming for her. She immediately knew that the Company's goal would be to defeat her personally and overthrow her dictatorial regime in Taglios. She traveled north on foot to muster her forces. Meanwhile, Sleepy and her 10,000 soldiers (mostly recruited from Hsien) marched inexorably northward from the shadowgate. They speedily disarmed the Shadowlands, crossed the Dandha Presh, and captured Protectorate sites like Nijha and Gharhawnes.
Battle of the Middle Ground[edit | edit source]
Soulcatcher summoned her Taglian forces and divided them into three armies. Mogaba remained with an army outside the city of Taglios itself. The small Southern Army gathered outside Dejagore. Finally, the large Middle Army was assembled in lightly settled country midway between Dejagore and the fortified crossings over the Main at Ghoja, with Soulcatcher in direct command. She secretly seeded the ground at strategic points with incredibly destructive "deathflower" spells.
As the Company approached, Soulcatcher eventually formed the Middle Army into three successive lines, with a hundred yards of separation each between them. The Battle of the Middle Ground was fought. Her first line crumbled quickly and the second soon after. The third line held for much longer. Only then did Soulcatcher finally reveal her dreadful battlefield sorcery. Her "deathflower" spells began to instantaneously burn whole lines of Company soldiers in violent flower-shaped flashes. The soldiers were partially melted in such a way that they appeared to be sunken into the earth up to their ankles, hips, or further. Croaker calculated that roughly four or five hundred men died in these traps. Sleepy halted the infantry advance to reevaluate the battlefield. Soulcatcher's presence near this battlefield was the reason why Tobo withheld the Unknown Shadows from the battle, for their own safety.
Meanwhile, the Company attempted to cancel Soulcatcher's power. Croaker and Murgen used fireball projectors to saturate locations where they thought she was hiding. Tobo and the Howler were aboard a flying carpet and were prepared to fight Soulcatcher directly if they could pinpoint her. But she never exposed her location. Then, unlike earlier points in the infantry battle, Soulcatcher's incendiary traps started killing her own men. She was no longer actively maintaining the deathflower spells, so the Company realized something must have happened to their nemesis. They charted a path around Soulcatcher's killing field and turned their airborne power at the Middle Army itself. Shukrat used her rheitgeistiden to soar over Soulcatcher's lines and pummeled them with a fireball projector. Tobo and the Howler dropped firebombs among their ranks.
After the Middle Army retreated, the Black Company unexpectedly discovered Soulcatcher nude and unconscious in her own command tent. She had been overcome by two of her prisoners – the Daughter of Night and the Khadidas – who had been assisted by the demon/goddess Kina. The Company took Soulcatcher prisoner but could not revive her.
Inside the white crow[edit | edit source]
Croaker realized that Soulcatcher's condition mirrored that of Sedvod, a young man who had also been secretly put into a lethal coma by the Khadidas. Eventually, Croaker, Lady, Tobo, Howler, Shukrat, and Arkana flew out to the glittering plain with the dying, comatose Soulcatcher (and another prisoner, Gromovol). Then, beneath the fortress with no name, they deposited her and their second prisoner in the cave of the ancients. But the absence of all these wizards from the Company's ranks in the homeworld gave Soulcatcher's Great General, Mogaba, the opportunity to inflict major casualties during the concurrent Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery.
Soulcatcher remained frozen by sorcery within the ice cave for the rest of Soldiers Live. But, she maintained a mental connection with a special white crow. During the Siege of Taglios, she used the bird to try to cajole Mogaba to rejoin the fight after he fled the city upon the great river. Her bird barely escaped Tobo's Unkown Shadows, which arrived at that moment to assassinate Mogaba. Her crow next informed Aridatha Singh that he was now in command of her forces. But he had the bird subdued and announced an end to the bloodshed. Her regime in Taglios – the Protectorate – was finally overthrown.
Soulcatcher, still behind the white crow's eyes, then followed Croaker, who permitted its presence. She even grudgingly became an ally. She directed Arkana on the correct spells to deposit Croaker's recently-deceased child, the Daughter of Night, a scant few yards from her own frozen body. When Arkana left Croaker trapped in the fortress, Croaker spent many hours talking with Soulcatcher via the white crow. Though she could communicate the spoken parts of the magic to free herself from the stasis using the crow's voice, the bird could not do the accompanying gestures, so she genuinely was trapped. Next, she assisted Croaker and Shukrat in their rescue of Arkana from Rhuknavr. She even offered to help heal her sister Lady, her oldest enemy, which Croaker turned down. Soulcatcher remained Shivetya's agent and presumably became Croaker's when he finally switched places with the entity at the end of the Annals.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
|Ten Who Were Taken|
|Soulcatcher • The Howler • The Limper • Shapeshifter • Stormbringer|
The Hanged Man • Bonegnasher • Nightcrawler • Moonbiter • The Faceless Man