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War elephant Dejagore by Didier Graffett

One of the Black Company's war elephants charging during the Battle of Dejagore, with either Widowmaker or Lifetaker alongside. Art by Didier Graffet.

The great grey pachyderms smashed into the Rebel horde. The mahouts had great fun, charging their beasts back and forth, trampling Rebels by the hundred, totally shattering their morale. They pulled the mantlets down. They lumbered across the bridges and went after the siege towers, toppling them one by one.

Croaker, The Black Company

War elephants played a prominent role at the Battle of Charm in The Black Company and in two key battles of the Shadowmaster wars. These were: the Battle of Dejagore in Shadow Games (taking place at least 15 years after Charm), and, several years after that, the Battle of Charandaprash in She Is the Darkness. Before Charm, Croaker the Annalist had only seen war elephants one time before, during his very first year with the Black Company.

The Black Company[]

The Lady, no doubt using sorcery, had 24 war elephants secretly transported from the southern continent and across the Sea of Torments to her Tower at Charm. They were kept out of sight and unheard behind the retaining walls at the first of the three tiers outside the Tower. During a critical juncture at the Battle of Charm, the elephants were unleashed against the besieging Rebel masses, which had never seen such beasts before. This occurred when the Rebel broke the Imperial infantry formations on the first tier, and were making significant footholds on the second. To counter these enemy gains, the retaining walls were demolished at a dozen spots upon signals by Feather and Journey (the newest of the new Taken). The armored grey pachyderms charged forth, two from each opening, to terrify and trample hundreds of Rebels, pull down their siege towers, and wipe out their morale. Some were driven mad by wounds or left directionless when their mahouts were killed. Soon after, the remnants of the Circle of Eighteen used sorcery to kill or disable more of the beasts, but the Circle was quickly neutralized by the Ten Who Were Taken. The remaining elephants were finished by the masses of Rebel reserves which poured forth from their camp.

The Lady had significant personal interest on her war elephant counterattack. She ordered Croaker, an historian, to her side to view the elephants from on high so that the events would be "properly recorded in at least one place". This was also the first time Croaker realized Feather and Journey had been Taken (when they signaled the elephants to enter the fray).

Shadow Games[]

Battle of Dejagore[]

Battle of Dejagore by Didier Graffet

Battle of Dejagore by Didier Graffet, depicting a war elephant in the background

Croaker, now the Black Company Captain, had war elephants at his disposal in his capacity as Liberator of Taglios. He brought them south to the large city of Dejagore, which was occupied by Stormshadow and had been renamed Stormgard. The beasts played a key role in both of the two days of the fighting at the Battle of Dejagore. On the first day, they "thundered up the aisles" through the 3 Taglian legions and smashed into the Shadowlanders who had come out from their military camp. This occurred simultaneously as Cletus, Loftus, and Longinus fired ballista bolts from Dejagore's walls directly at the Shadowlander commander, Shadowspinner. The Shadowlanders retreated back to their camp, and the imp spy Frogface reported they were badly demoralized by the elephants.

The next day, Moonshadow arrived with a relief army from the southern hills, which Croaker approximated to number about 15,000. Croaker lined up his war elephants and their numbers appeared to be tripled on account of illusions set by One-Eye and Goblin. They were ordered to trample Moonshadow personally, so the Shadowmaster replied with battlefield sorcery:

He cut loose with every spell he had ready. For ten seconds it seemed like the skies were collapsing and the earth being racked. Elephants and parts of elephants flew around like children’s toys.

The surviving elephants hurled Moonshadow in the air until Murgen impaled him with the Lance of Passion. However as the battle turned against the Company and the Taglians, these elephants were soon "pricked by enough darts and spearheads and swords to go mad with pain" and were lost.

Aftermath[]

Immediately after the battle, as Lady recounted in Dreams of Steel, she scrounged the clutter that had been carried by a deceased war elephant for "a few pounds of dried food, a skin of water, a small jar of poison for arrowheads, a few coins", and some other things. She discarded half of it soon afterward but shared some of the food with her new allies Narayan Singh and Ram.

As Murgen recorded in Bleak Seasons, the corpses of the war elephants were a feature of the landscape for a long time afterward:

The elephants are the worst. They take forever to rot. They tried burning them once, but all that did was irritate the buzzards. So where they could they just dragged the bodies over and incorporated them into their ramps.

She Is the Darkness[]

After Dejagore, Croaker continued the Shadowmaster wars and accumulated both war elephants and work elephants. At the Battle of Charandaprash, the Prahbrindrah Drah used 12 war elephants to spearhead an assault against Longshadow's Shadowlander forces. However, Mogaba had trained his men how to deal with elephants, and the beasts were quickly killed alongside many of the Prahbrindrah's Taglian soldiers.

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