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The Dark Wings by Didier Graffet

The Dark Wings (with the Lady's Eye hovering menacingly overhead). Art by Didier Graffet, from the back cover of the 1998 French edition (La Compagnie noire) published by L'Atalante

A ship was rounding the Island, a great lumbering beast that dwarfed the dhows and feluccas. A silver skull bulged in the center of its full-bellied black sail. That skull's red eyes glowed. Fires flickered behind its broken teeth. A glittering silver band encircled the skull [...] I'd never seen a galley sporting five banks of oars

The Dark Wings was the massive ship built by Soulcatcher to be the flagship of the Lady's Empire. It was a colossal quinquireme, sporting five banks of oars. Its impressive black mainsail displayed Soulcatcher's frightening personal sigil with animated sorcery.

The Black Company[]

Soulcatcher and her Imperial force sailed south across the Sea of Torments from Opal, one of the Empire's major cities, to Beryl, which was another member of the Jewel Cities but still independent. As the vessel rounded Fortress Island, its shocking size and appearance caused universal confusion and unease throughout Beryl, most especially for the Syndic, who recognized the threat to his power.

Eventually Soulcatcher entered the city with her force of veterans. Later, she took de facto control of Beryl for the Empire and brought the caged forvalaka aboard the The Dark Wings. Soon after had the surviving members of the Black Company ferried from the Pillar of Anguish to the ship. On board the vessel, Soulcatcher pinned badges displaying her sigil (a fanged, fire-breathing skull finely crafted in silver, on jet) to her new mercenaries. The Black Company would soon adopt this symbol as their very own standard, permanently replacing their original, 400-year-old banner. Then, the vessel set sail on the Company's fateful journey to Opal.

The Dark Wings Black Company by Vladislav Asadullin

Art by Vladislav Asadullin, from the interior of the 1993 unauthorized/pirated translation of the The Black Company (Десять поверженных)

Shadow Games[]

Croaker, One-Eye, Goblin, Otto, Hagop, and Murgen (the last survivors of the Black Company) along with Lady sailed from Opal to Beryl in The Dark Wings in Shadow Games. Croaker had originally chartered a grain barge for the trip, but Lady canceled that arrangement and instead ordered The Dark Wings to be readied. Their trip south was smooth sailing, and lasted only three days. Even the notoriously aquaphobic One-Eye, who needed to be drugged to be put aboard, agreed it was an easy and swift passage. This was only the second time that vessel had made port in Beryl. Like its prior visit (during The Black Company), the arrival of the colossal ship was the talk of the town. After the Company and Lady disembarked at Beryl, the Imperial crew of The Dark Wings set sail for Garnet to begin an extended patrol against pirates and smugglers.

The Silver Spike[]

A vessel perfectly matching the description of The Dark Wings was deployed to the Sea of Torments to deny the Limper passage across the sea from the southern continent. The Limper was returning north to claim the silver spike, an eventuality which would spell the Empire's doom. The vessel was part of a complex series of traps, evacuations, and diversions that delayed and nearly killed the Limper, forcing him across the long land route on a brutal odyssey.