Willow Swan was a long-haired blond man hailing from the northern Roses, and travel companion of Cordy Mather. Swan defected from the military after less than six months in service, then drifted south with Mather. Along the way they saved Blade, a mysterious man who had been thrown to the crocodiles by priests he had insulted. Blade became fast friends with his rescuers and a valuable military ally. The three eventually settled in Taglios, where they set up a bar. Due to the limited military experience of Swan and Cordy, the three were drafted to serve as generals by the Princess of Taglios, the Radisha Drah, at the very onset of the Shadowmaster wars. Swan would later be seduced by Soulcatcher, and he helped her entrap the Captured beneath the Plain of Glittering Stone. He became the sorceress's lover during the Captivity, and commanded her new urban police force, the Greys, while she consolidated a sprawling empire called the Protectorate.
She Is The DarknessEdit
In their roles as Royal Guards, Willow and Cordy accompanied the captive Prahbrindrah Drah when Croaker, Lady and Murgen brought him across the shadowgate using the Lance of Passion in search of Khatovar. Among them was Soulcatcher, another Company prisoner. Throughout that hazardous journey across the Plain of Glittering Stone, Willow was seduced by Soulcatcher with the aid of her immense sorcery, unknown to the others. Inside the Fortress With No Name, he removed her bonds, and she was able to spring the magic trap that disabled everyone except her. With Willow's help, she imprisoned most of her former captors in magic stasis in the Cave of the Ancients. These people would become known as the Captured. Then, using the pickax, Catcher and Willow sped back across the Plain on the backs of the tireless stallions from Charm, stolen from Croaker and Lady.
Catcher rewarded Willow, and they became lovers in the 15 year gap between She Is The Darkness and Water Sleeps.
Soulcatcher would go on to win the Kiaulune wars against the remnants of the Company and its allies, and took over Taglios. She established her own tyrannical government called the Protectorate, which included the former Shadowlands, and appointed Willow to be the leader of the Greys, the city's new police force. This appointment ended his former place in the Royal Guards but gave him a seat in the Privy Council. Willow's Greys were comprised entirely of men from the Shadar religion, alienating the majority Gunni population. But Swan's Greys were very effective at cracking down on genuine crime and corruption of all kinds. The last major stronghold of criminal activity within the city which the Greys had to confront was Chor Bagan, a sprawling slum.
By Water Sleeps, Willow's "once-marvelous golden hair had gone grey and stringy" and began balding. Willow was kidnapped in an operation orchestrated by Sleepy, the ranking member of the Black Company. She committed a large number of the Company's remaining fireball projectors to the abduction. Although the operation was a success, she underestimated the destructive power of the weapons. Sleepy was herself almost killed in the fiery carnage as fireballs melted through at least six feet of the stonework of the Palace of Taglios. Soulcatcher appeared personally but could only duck out of the way of the discharge from those lethal weapons. Willow was smuggled to the Company's secret headquarters, a warehouse owned by their collaborator Banh Do Trang. Willow played tonk with three of his captors, Slink and the Gupta brothers, until Sleepy arrived in person to join the game and interrogate him. When Swan learned that the Captured were still alive, he swore aloud. But Slink, a devout Vehdna monotheist, snapped at him not to take God's name in vain. It was later revealed that Soulcatcher had altered Swan's memory of his betrayal of the Company and his invaluable assistance in imprisoning the Captured. He had not known that Croaker, Lady, the Prahbrindrah, and the others were still alive.
Swan would accompany Sleepy's group south, and finally across the shadowgate, guiding them as best as his faulty memory served. Back at the Fortress With No Name, he helped Sleepy incinerate the Books of the Dead and free the first batch of the Captured. He accompanied them all to the strange world of Hsien, where they established a new headquarters, the fortified town called the Abode of Ravens.
Willow Swan was part of Croaker's eclectic group of Company members and allies permitted by Sleepy (who was now officially the Captain) to enter the Voroshk world to get revenge upon Lisa Daele Bowalk. Shortly after their arrival in the strange new world, Spiff and JoJo were killed by shadows under the command of the Voroshk. With conventional weapons, specially-prepared magic fetishes, and fireball projectors, they all subdued Bowalk despite her ferocious forvalaka shape. They also defeated 3 Voroshk wizards, one of whom, Shukrat, was brought by Swan on a stretcher for capture. (Like everyone else present, Swan was awestruck at the young Voroshk woman's beauty.) The group soon decapitated Bowalk and then incinerated her in a huge pyre. Others who were present during this operation were Lady, Murgen, Thai Dei, Uncle Doj, Cratch, Slobo, a group of Unknown Shadows called the Black Hounds, Goblin (possessed by the Khadidas) and the two Chu Ming brothers.
Swan participated in the grueling combat against Mogaba's center force, the Second Territorial, during the costly Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery. He and his longtime friend Blade were killed there along with many highly valued and trustworthy Company soldiers and allies, including: Iqbal Singh, Riverwalker, Li Wan, Pham Huu Clee, the two Chun brothers, Cletus, and Loftus. Sleepy, the Captain, mourned his death after the battle. After his body was recovered, he was buried alongside his friend Blade.