|“||Those strange old names. In TelleKurre they had a ring absent in modern tongues. Soulcatcher. Stormbringer. Moonbiter. The Hanged Man. They seemed so much more potent in the old tongue.||”|
The Ten Who Were Taken were ten notorious sorcerers of very high magnitude who were enslaved by the Dominator about 5 centuries before the events of The Black Company. As his most powerful servants and generals, the Ten helped the Dominator establish a cruel empire in the infamous era known as the Domination, which lasted for about a century. After they were overthrown by the White Rose's Rebellion, the Ten were imprisoned in the Barrowland alongside the Dominator and his wife the Lady for 370 years. By the start of The Black Company, they had been liberated and in the service of the Lady's Empire for almost 37 years. They ceased to exist as an organization during the Battle of Charm, by the end of which 5 of their number were killed and 4 thought to be deceased. But, the 5 survivors from that climactic battle would go on to influence affairs throughout both the northern and southern continents, acting independently.
Each of the Ten Who Were Taken were strong enough to easily overwhelm most other sorcerers, and with preparation, they could defeat hundreds of soldiers. And like other rare sorcerers of their magnitude, they were were notoriously difficult to kill, requiring total destruction of their brain to accomplish the task. Due to their supernatural vitality and the advanced layers of protective spells that they placed upon themselves, they could survive horrible wounds, and in at least two instances, outright decapitation.
The group consisted of seven males and three females:
- Soulcatcher (female, sister of the Lady)
- The Limper (male)
- The Howler (male, great-uncle of the Senjak sisters)
- Shapeshifter (male)
- Stormbringer (female, 2nd cousin of the Senjak sisters)
- The Hanged Man (male)
- Bonegnasher (male)
- Nightcrawler (presumably male)
- Moonbiter (presumably female)
- The Faceless Man (presumably male)
The appellations of the Ten were derived from their namesake specialty in sorcery or were descriptors of their appearance. The names are translations from TelleKurre, the language of the Domination.
Before Croaker's Annals[edit | edit source]
The Domination[edit | edit source]
Each of the Ten was an independent sorcerer originally. Then, the Dominator somehow discovered each of their true names. Using this critical information, he went about enslaving them all using a horrible ritual sorcery called the Rite of Taking. The Dominator, his powerful wife the Lady, and the Ten Who Were Taken together established the Domination in the northern continent. This was an era infamous for its cruelty, violence, and the Dominator's absolute despotism.
According to some disputed records, many of the Ten were extended members of the Senjak clan. Of note, Howler was allegedly the great uncle of the four Senjak sisters, while Stormbringer was their second cousin.
Imprisonment in the Barrowland[edit | edit source]
The Ten and their masters, the Dominator and the Lady, were all eventually defeated by the White Rose and her forces during the White Rose Rebellion in the Great Forest. The twelve of them were not killed, however, but instead were buried underground in a place called the Barrowland, trapped there alongside the Dominator's "pet" demons by layer after layer of powerful spells.
While the Lady and the Dominator were interred in the Great Barrow, the Taken were individually buried in separate barrows. Five were entombed in the outer barrows arranged geometrically at the points of a star, and the other five were trapped in the inner barrows, arranged in a pentagon that surrounded the Great Barrow. The outer barrows, numbered oddly and starting at the northernmost barrow and moving clockwise, contained: 1) Soulcatcher; 3) Shapeshifter; 5) Nightcrawler; 7) Stormbringer; and 9) Bonegnasher. The inner barrows, numbered evenly and beginning at the right foot of the arm of the star pointing northward, contained: 2) either the Hanged Man or the Faceless Man; 4) the Howler; 6) Moonbiter; 8) the Limper; and 10) either the Hanged Man or the Faceless Man.
The spirits of the Ten Who Were Taken would manifest above their barrows every 37 years, when the Great Comet which had appeared at their defeat completed its circuit and reappeared in the sky.
Liberation and service to the Lady[edit | edit source]
After 370 years in their barrows, the Ten, alongside the Lady, were liberated from the Barrowland by a group known as the Resurrectionists. To keep power for herself, the Lady orchestrated the liberation such that the Dominator himself, and his demons (like Tracker and Toadkiller Dog), remained trapped. The Lady knew the Taken's true names and guaranteed their continued servitude, now to her alone.
The Ten helped the Lady build the Tower at Charm. Then, they served as the Lady's generals in the consolidation wars, helping her establish her own dominion, the Lady's Empire, over a huge span of the north. This would exceed the Domination, the former realm of her husband, in size. However, the three female Taken would begin to undermine the Lady by secretly working to free the Dominator.
The Black Company[edit | edit source]
The Taken were instrumental both as combatants and as generals in the numerous battles against the Rebel armies loyal to the Circle of Eighteen during the events leading up to The Black Company. One member of the Circle, Harden, caused the first fatality among the Taken in history by immobilizing the Hanged Man with powerful sorcery and then fatally wounding him with a sword through his skull.
At the Battle of Charm[edit | edit source]
Leading up to climactic Battle of Charm, the 8 active Taken hurriedly ferried in soldiers from distant armies to the Tower at Charm a handful at a time aboard their flying carpets. (The Hanged Man was dead and the Limper was imprisoned within the Tower for treachery.)
With the massive armies of the Circle of Eighteen arrayed outside the Tower, the three female Taken each betrayed the Lady in service to the Dominator or themselves:
- First, Stormbringer grievously injured Shapeshifter and did so without being immediately identified as the attacker. Shapeshifter, thought killed in this incident, would later be secretly "salvaged" by the Lady sometime afterward, and was sent south.
- Stormbringer then attacked and killed Bonegnasher, who reportedly killed her too. Though Bonegnasher was truly dead, Stormbringer survived and fled to pursue her own agenda.
- Moonbiter and the Faceless Man fought one another, and both were killed. Moonbiter was the third female Taken by process of elimination if the Faceless was really male.
- In the final betrayal of the female Taken, Soulcatcher sabotaged the Howler's flying carpet so that he plowed into the Tower at great speed; this is what spurred the Lady and Croaker to take up their intense pursuit of Soulcatcher, which ended in her decapitation. The Lady genuinely believed the Howler was killed in this incident.
It was initially believed that 8 of the remaining 9 Taken (the Limper being the exception) were killed in combat. Later events would prove this assumption incorrect for half of them. Shapeshifter was secretly rehabilitated by the Lady, and three others (Stormbringer, the Howler, and Soulcatcher) either faked their own deaths or simply survived their wounds and fled from the north. Those three escaped amidst the chaos of battle, and began to pursue their own independent agendas far south of the Lady's Empire. The other four are genuinely considered to have been killed. Bonegnasher is never mentioned again after it was reported that he and the traitor Stormbringer killed each other. Similarly, the Faceless Man, Moonbiter, and Nightcrawler are reportedly killed on the same night of this battle; years later, the Company would record testimony from Imperial survivors that these three "really did bite the dust". The Faceless Man and Moonbiter killed one another, whereas Nightcrawler was actually killed by the Circle.
Except for the Limper, many of the vacated roles of the Ten original Taken were filled by new replacements, the new Taken.
The third female[edit | edit source]
Since Croaker the Annalist only observed a handful of the Taken at first, he was under the impression that only the Lady knew which were the men and the women. Soulcatcher dressed in androgynous full-body leather garb, a face-concealing black morion, and a cloak which was sufficient to hide the fact that she was female. Croaker referred to her as "he/him" until the very end of his first chronicle when he finally observed her face.
Of the three Taken which were women, only two were confirmed as such by Croaker: Soulcatcher and Stormbringer. Although the the Black Company works extensively with the Lady and her armies, three of the Taken (Moonbiter, Nightcrawler, and the Faceless Man) are not closely observed by Croaker, and thus virtually nothing distinguishing about them is recorded in his chronicles. Since the others are known to be male, the third female must be either Moonbiter, Nightcrawler, or even possibly the Faceless Man, as some of the Taken wore masks and full-body garb. If the Faceless Man was truly male, Croaker's writings about the deaths of all three strongly suggests that the third woman was Moonbiter.
|Ten Who Were Taken|
|Soulcatcher • The Howler • The Limper • Shapeshifter • Stormbringer|
The Hanged Man • Bonegnasher • Nightcrawler • Moonbiter • The Faceless Man