|“||Whisper replied in a melodious voice that did not at all fit the wide, hard, homely woman... she sounded seventeen and gorgeous, looked forty-five and like she had been around the world three times.||”|
–Croaker, The Black Company
Whisper was a formidable sorceress and a leading member of the Circle of Eighteen who eventually became the first and most prominent of the Lady's new Taken. She brought her military genius to bear during the events of all three Books of the North, first for the Rebel and then for the Lady's Empire. And despite sometimes sharing allegiances, she was for many years a dangerous nemesis for both the Black Company as a whole and Croaker the Company Annalist personally.
As a member of the Circle, Whisper was leader of a significant Rebel force warring against and the Imperial armies of the Lady and her generals, the Ten Who Were Taken. Whisper was a talented general and forced the Lady's armies into a bloody stalemate in the east for years, until she was eventually ambushed by Croaker and enslaved to become one of the new Taken during The Black Company. Her cousin, Harden, became the most senior general of the Circle after her capture. Now commanding armies for her former enemy, Whisper was redeployed to the east, where she would rapidly crush her former Rebel allies. For years afterward, she threatened the Company at various points throughout the remainder of the group's time in the northern continent... even when they were still in service to the Lady. Despite her scheming, however, she was never able to fulfill her desire to exact revenge upon Croaker personally. At the end of the Battle of the Barrowland in The White Rose, she lost all her sorcery. She survived for years afterward, albeit powerless and presumably disgraced.
Before Croaker's Annals Edit
Rebel champion in the east Edit
Before the Black Company was hired to serve the Lady's Empire, Whisper fought ferocious battles against Soulcatcher at Rust, Were, and even across Plain of Fear. By the Lady's own admission, Soulcatcher was the most powerful of the Ten Who Were Taken... and during this time, Whisper earned Soulcatcher's respect as a brilliant and worthy enemy. Whisper's thoroughness allowed the Rebel to maintain their strong presence in the east. Her battles at Rust left thousands dead over hundreds of square miles in the span of three years, forcing the Empire into a gruesome stalemate there. She finally redeployed from the east to help in Lords after another significant member of the Circle, Raker, was assassinated in Roses by the Black Company.
The Black CompanyEdit
Suborning the Limper Edit
Whisper was a loner, and privately conducted research into the true names of the Ten using the writings of Bomanz from decades prior. Her most important finding was the true name of the Limper, which she used to suborn him after his humiliation during the Raker affair in Roses, turning him into a traitor against the Empire. Now secretly in service to Whisper, Limper allowed the Empire to suffer an infamous defeat at Roses. Ultimately he let two whole Imperial provinces – Forsberg, and then the Salient – fall into Rebel hands. Whisper also learned the true name of Soulcatcher, but never got an opportunity to use it against her.
Whisper maintained her base camp in the Forest of Cloud, where she next planned to capture Lords from the Taken known as Nightcrawler. Her plan would then call for the Rebel to attack through the Windy Country and up through the Stair of Tear. While she was away, the Black Company stumbled into this camp and seized it from Whisper's experienced but small amazon (all-women) regiment and a larger body of unprepared volunteers. Elmo found a massive cache in the headquarters building which proved to be Whisper's entire order of battle. But even more importantly, One-Eye used his wizard's skills to detect and unearth Whisper's hoard of Bomanz's writings, which she had buried behind her sleeping quarters. The discovery of these writings allowed the Lady to realize that the Limper had been suborned by Whisper, so the Lady planned a trap.
Ambushed and Taken Edit
Whisper and the Limper planned their next secret rendezvous in an isolated grove of huge evergreens in the Forest of Cloud. They did not know that Croaker and Raven were put in place by Soulcatcher to ambush them. When Whisper arrived, Croaker struck her in her leather helmet with a rounded-off, non-lethal arrow, and charged her, kicking her several times. He pummeled her into submission when she tried to mouth spells and draw her sword, used strips of her clothing to gag her, and cut off her hair to tangle her fingers to prevent her from using spells that only required the movement of her hands. Meanwhile Raven pierced the Limper with three arrows and hacked off some of his fingers. With both enemies subdued, Soulcatcher landed on her flying carpet. After Raven refused to finish off the Limper, another one of Limper's archenemies, Shapeshifter, arrived. But like Raven, Shifter refused to kill his incapacitated nemesis, and left.
Bound and gagged alongside the Limper, Whisper was forced by Soulcatcher, Croaker, and Raven to wait for hours until the Lady herself arrived. The Lady subjected the Limper to appalling torture for an extended period of time with hundreds of fiery snakes, then had him carried off to the Tower at Charm by a massive dragonfly demon. She then turned to Whisper, and revealed that she would subject her to the Rite of Taking. This was a surprise even for Soulcatcher: before this point, it had been thought that only the Dominator had this ability. Whisper suffered unspeakable, epic torment throughout the time-consuming process, including being subjected to the Eye at least twice and being mounted by demons. In the end, she became what she hated most: a loyal servant of the Lady.
Now fighting for her former enemy, Whisper was redeployed to the east, where she would rapidly crush her former allies. She first encircled Trinket and her army at the city of Rust, and eventually wiped them out. Next, Whisper defeated the armies of Moth and Sidle on the Plain of Fear.
At the Battle of Charm Edit
After wiping out the Circle in the east, Whisper joined up with all the other Taken to prepare for the Battle of Charm. In the order of battle, Whisper commanded 1,500 eastern veterans on the left side of the third level. On that same level, next to her, was Soulcatcher, who commanded 2,500 soldiers including both the Tower Guard and allies from the Jewel Cities in the center; and on the far right, Shapeshifter commanded 1,000 western and southern troops. She was joined by Feather and Journey, two additional members of the Circle who had very recently been Taken like her, and the three survived the horrible battle.
In the months after the Battle of Charm and before the events of "Tides Elba: A Tale of the Black Company", Whisper continually fought leftover Rebel armies in multiple hot-spots in the east. Her main force was shadowed and assisted by the Black Company, which numbered about 640 men. Then, the Black Company went into garrison at Aloe.
During Shadows Linger, Whisper arrived at the city of Frost on her flying carpet. There, on orders from the Lady, she would make 3 trips to transport a total of 10 Company men to the Barrowland. On the first trip, she picked up Croaker, Elmo, and Kingpin. Each man carried 50 pounds of gear each, plus another 100 pounds of other material. She asked them if they used the latrine before their long flight, and then winked at Croaker, recalling him from the ambush in the Forest of Cloud that allowed her to be Taken. During the flight over the Plain of Fear, at least one flying manta attacked, so Whisper let her carpet free-fall for a stressful few moments to fend it off with sorcery. She was of course wise enough not to strike first at the bizarre creatures of the Plain. By morning they were flying in Forsberg, near Deal, and then, directly over Oar at very low altitude. Finally she crossed over the southern portion of the Great Forest and landed on a street at the Barrowland, where they disembarked. She spoke to the Eternal Guard in Forsberger, and then departed to fly Goblin and two more Company men to the Barrowland three days later. On Whisper's next flight, she brought the last 4 Company men.
During the next 5 weeks at the Barrowland, Croaker found Whisper and another new Taken, Feather, to be remarkably accessible (unlike the original Ten Who Were Taken). Then at the 5-week mark, she made several more trips to ferry additional Company brothers to the Barrowland. At this time, privately she was made aware of the threat of the Black Castle at the city of Juniper, but did not yet inform the Company. Merely one week later, she assembled the Company men and informed them that 25 from their number would be an advance team to Juniper, and she would be ferrying them across the northern continent into Juniper.
Whisper played a major role in defeating the Black Watchers and destroying their Black Castle at the Battle of Juniper. At great risk to herself, she dispensed terrible sorcery onto the Castle and its inhabitants. After landing her damaged carpet near a sapper's tunnel that was opened by One-Eye and a sergeant called Shaky, she applied what Croaker described as an "egg of fire" (a sorcery weapon that actually emits very little heat) to the underside of the Castle. She then personally led a force of armed men into the Castle from the bottom, helping foil the Dominator's scheme to escape his prison.
Before the Battle of Juniper was even finished, the senior members of the Black Company fled the city. They were tipped off by their Captain about a plot to eliminate them. It was soon revealed that this plot was headed by Whisper and another member of the new Taken, the now-deceased Feather. It was not sanctioned by the Lady. Although the Captain died, the Company leadership and most senior members sailed to Meadenvil. Whisper was ordered by the Lady to return west, but, she and the Limper completely disobeyed her. The two Taken somehow conscripted at least 50 Company brothers who were left behind at Juniper. Whisper and the Limper pushed overland from Juniper with this new group of former-Company subordinates, led by Shaky, and entered Meadenvil. Whisper did not encounter the Company, but her co-conspirator the Limper was hacked to pieces in Croaker's ambush in the countryside. The Lady soon contacted Croaker mentally and informed him that Whisper was punished for her disobedience and scheming. But Whisper's damage had been done, and the Company was now on the run from the Lady's Empire.
"Shaggy Dog Bridge"Edit
Whisper and her Imperial forces harried the Black Company throughout their four-year march eastward across the northern continent after they Battle of Juniper. During "Shaggy Dog Bridge" she maneuvered her prey up against the west cliff of the Rip, a massive geological cavity in the earth about 700 miles long and often more than a thousand feet deep. They narrowly escaped her attempt to corner and crush them by discovering and crossing an ancient, hidden bridge.
Whisper and at least 3 fellow new Taken clashed with Blind Emon, an ancient sorceress who had been Taken by a mighty, forgotten sorcerer called the Master. Both antedated the Dominator himself. Whisper incorrectly believed that the Company planned this encounter, when it had actually been a stroke of fortune for them. As overheard among her own men, Whisper specifically put a bounty on the head of Croaker. Emon, in a brief alliance with the Company, killed a significant number of Whisper's Imperials by blasting them off the bridge.
The White RoseEdit
Whisper continued to serve the Lady, now in the campaign against the New White Rose Rebellion which included the Black Company. Her primary target was Darling, who for two years had been directing Rebel activity from a cavern called the Hole out in the Plain of Fear. The Lady initially stationed Whisper alongside Journey in the village of Spit as part of the imperial encirclement of the Plain. At Spit, she and Journey raised their stellae and held the western bounds of the Plain.
Whisper later participated with the rest of the Lady's Taken at the Battle of the Barrowland, during which the Dominator was finally killed. In the aftermath of the battle, Silent named the Lady's name, stripping her of all her magical power. Whisper was stripped of her power too, alongside the other new Taken. She survived, however, and continued living in the Empire's domain, albeit still without her sorcery (and presumably disgraced). This was mentioned in Bleak Seasons, during which Otto and Hagop reported reliable testimony from Imperial officials that Whisper (as well as Journey, Blister, Creeper, and Learned) remained alive. Whisper and Journey have the unique distinction of escaping death despite membership in both the Circle of Eighteen and the Taken, two groups with grim odds of survival.
|Whisper • Journey • Feather • Benefice • Blister • Creeper • Learned • Scorn|