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       The Many Deaths of the Black Company, p.1
 

          
The Many Deaths of the Black Company


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  Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Notice

  Water Sleeps

  Dedication

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Chapter 60

  Chapter 61

  Chapter 62

  Chapter 63

  Chapter 64

  Chapter 65

  Chapter 66

  Chapter 67

  Chapter 68

  Chapter 69

  Chapter 70

  Chapter 71

  Chapter 72

  Chapter 73

  Chapter 74

  Chapter 75

  Chapter 76

  Chapter 77

  Chapter 78

  Chapter 79

  Chapter 80

  Chapter 81

  Chapter 82

  Chapter 83

  Chapter 84

  Chapter 85

  Chapter 86

  Chapter 87

  Chapter 88

  Chapter 89

  Chapter 90

  Chapter 91

  Chapter 92

  Chapter 93

  Chapter 94

  Chapter 95

  Chapter 96

  Chapter 97

  Chapter 98

  Chapter 99

  Soldiers Live

  Dedication

  1. An Abode of Ravens: When No Men Died

  2. An Abode of Ravens: When the Baobhas Sang

  3. An Abode of Ravens: A Labor of Love

  4. The Grove of Doom: Night Songs

  5. An Abode of Ravens: Headquarters

  6. An Abode of Ravens: Suvrin’s News

  7. An Abode of Ravens: Night Visitor

  8. Taglios: Trouble Follows

  9. An Abode of Ravens: The Invalid

  10. An Abode of Ravens: Recovery

  11. An Abode of Ravens: Exercise Session

  12. Glittering Stone: Steadfast Guardian

  13. The Land of Unknown Shadows: Traveling Hsien

  14. The Land of Unknown Shadows: Khang Phi

  15. The Land of Unknown Shadows: The Secret Masters

  16. Wastelands: Night’s Children

  17. The Land of Unknown Shadows: The Abode of Ravens

  18. The Land of Unknown Shadows: Due South

  19. Glittering Stone: Sneak Away

  20. Glittering Stone: Mystic Roads

  21. Taglios: The Great General

  22. Khatovar: Invasion

  23. Glittering Stone: Fortress with No Name

  24. Khatovar: The Unholy Land

  25. Glittering Stone: The Revenant

  26. Khatovar: Hunkered Down

  27. Shadowlands: Breakout

  28. The Taglian Territories: The Blind Measures of Despair

  29. Khatovar: The Lords of the Upper Air

  30. Khatovar: Then Start the Fire

  31. Khatovar: The Opened Gate

  32. The Shadowlands: The Protector of All the Taglias

  33. Khatovar: Leave-taking

  34. The Shadowlands: Tobo’s Chores

  35. Taglios: The Message

  36. The Nether Taglian Territories: The Barrens

  37. The Taglian Territories: Somewhere North of Charandaprash

  38. The Taglian Territories: The Dandha Presh

  39. Taglios: The Great General

  40. The Taglian Territories: Below Lake Tanji

  41. The Nether Taglian Territories: Leaves of Misfortune

  42. The Nether Taglian Territories: After Battle

  43. The Taglian Shadowlands: The Shadowgate

  44. The Shadowlands: Gate Repairs

  45. Nijha: The Stronghold Falls

  46. Nijha: The Darkness Always Comes

  47. The Shadowgate: The Repairmen

  48. The Shadowgate: The Warlords of the Air

  49. Nijha: Place of the Dead

  50. The Taglian Territories: The Palace

  51. The Taglian Territories: The Middle Ground

  52. The Nether Taglian Territories: Lady Made Grumpy Noises

  53. The Taglian Territories: A Haunted Wood

  54. The Taglian Territories: The Thing in the Cesspit

  55. The Nether Taglian Territories: Along the Viliwash

  56. The Nether Taglian Territories: The Manor at Gharhawnes

  57. The Nether Taglian Territories: The Resurrection

  58. Gharhawnes: The Traitor General

  59. With the Middle Army: When Guests Arrived

  60. Gharhawnes: Tobo and the Voroshk

  61. The Taglian Territories: Nightfliers in Dejagore

  62. Dejagore: The Occupation

  63. The Taglian Territories: The Middle Army

  64. Dejagore: The Orphaned Army

  65. Taglios: The Palace

  66. The Taglian Territories: Midway Between

  67. The Taglian Territories: Inside the Middle Army

  68. The Taglian Territories: Fire on the Middle Ground

  69. Midway Between: The Unanticipated

  70. Midway Between: The Capture

  71. Midway Between: Unpleasant Truth

  72. Midway Between: The Rescuers

  73. Midway Between: The Rescue

  74. Midway Between: Escape Artists

  75. Taglios: The Palace

  76. The Taglian Territories: Another Origin Story

  77. Above Ghoja: Seeking the One Safe Place

  78. Midway Between: Bad News

  79. The Taglian Territories: In Motion

  80. The Taglian Territories: In Camp

  81. The Shadowlander Military Cemetery: Laying To Rest

  82. With the Company:
Going South

  83. Taglios: Decision

  84. Beside the Cemetery: Confusion

  85. The Grove of Doom: A Big Surprise

  86. Beside the Cemetery: More Confusion

  87. Glittering Stone: Fortress with No Name

  88. Fortress with No Name: Recruiting Excitement

  89. Beside the Cemetery: More Confusion

  90. By the Cemetery: Still More Confusion

  91. By the Cemetery: Even More Confusion

  92. By the Cemetery: Confusion Piled Higher

  93. Beyond the Grove of Doom: Confusion Grows

  94. Beside the Cemetery: Sorrows Gathering

  95. Fortress with No Name: Down Below

  96. The Shadowgate: Bad News, Bad News

  97. Beside the Cemetery: Among the Dead

  98. Above the Cemetery: Mogaba Accedes

  99. By the Military Cemetery: Missing Persons

  100. Taglios: The Palace

  101. Beside the Cemetery: Plans

  102. The Palace: Better Housekeeping

  103. Beside the Cemetery: Search for a Lost Soul

  104. Taglios: View from the Protector’s Window

  105. The Palace: The Great General’s Place

  106. The Palace: View from a High Place

  107. Taglios: Soldiers Live

  108. Taglios: Someone at the Door

  109. Taglios: No Excuses Accepted

  110. Taglios: Misfortunes

  111. Taglios: Sleepy Flew

  112. Taglios: Under Siege

  113. Taglios: Attack

  114. Taglios: Bad News, White Crow

  115. Taglios: The Special Team

  116. Taglios: Outrageous Fortune

  117. Taglios: Night and the City

  118. Taglios: A New Administration

  119. Taglios: Messenger

  120. Taglios: Thi Kim Was Always Here

  121. Taglios: Sleeping Beauty

  122. Taglios: Unknown Shadows

  123. Taglios: Crow Talk

  124. Taglios: The Sandbar

  125. Taglios: An Afternoon Off

  126. Taglios: Royal Return

  127. Taglios: And My Baby

  128. Taglios: Another Great General

  129. Taglios: Open Tomb, Open Eyes

  130. Taglios: Khadidas

  131. Around Taglios: Aerial Recon

  132. Taglios: Wife and Child

  133. Glittering Stone: A Dangerous Game

  134. Taglios: Best Served Cold

  135. Taglios: The Mad Season

  136. Fortress with No Name: Godstalking

  137. Taglios: The Melancholy Wife

  138. Taglios: The Lost Child

  139. Taglios: The Great General

  140. Taglios: Brain Surgery

  141. Taglios: Family Matters

  142. Glittering Stone: Bitter Desserts

  143. Fortress with No Name: Sleeping with the Demon

  144. Fortress with No Name: Arkana’s Tale

  145. Glittering Stone: Then Shukrat Came

  146. The Voroshk World: Stronghold Rhuknavr

  147. Fortress with No Name: Putting the Pen Down

  148. Glittering Stone: And the Daughters of Time

  Tor Books by Glen Cook

  Copyright

  Water Sleeps

  Book Three of Glittering Stone

  For John Ferraro

  and all the wonderful

  Ducklings, all in a row.

  It was a great

  little party.

  1

  In those days the Black Company did not exist. This I know because there were laws and decrees that told me so. But I did not feel entirely insubstantial.

  The Company standard, its Captain and Lieutenant, its Standardbearer and all the men who had made the Company so terrible, had passed on, having been buried alive at the heart of a vast desert of stone. “Glittering stone,” they whispered in the streets and alleys of Taglios, and “Gone to Khatovar,” they proclaimed from on high, the mighty making what they had been so determined to prevent for so long over into a great triumph once the Radisha or Protector or somebody decided that people ought to believe that the Company had fulfilled its destiny.

  Anyone old enough to remember the Company knew better. Only fifty people had ventured out onto that plain of glittering stone. Half of those people had not been Company. Only two of those fifty had returned to lie about what had happened. And a third who had come back to retail the truth had been killed in the Kiaulune wars, far away from the capital. But the deceits of Soulcatcher and Willow Swan fooled no one, then or now. People simply pretended to believe them because that was safer.

  They might have asked why Mogaba needed five years to conquer a Company that had passed on, squandering thousands of young lives to bring the Kiaulune domains under the Radisha’s rule and into the realm of the Protector’s twisted truths. They might have mentioned that people claiming to be Black Company had held out in the fortress Overlook for years after that, until the Protector, Soulcatcher, finally became so impatient with their intransigence that she invested her own best sorceries in a two-year project that reduced that huge fortress to white powder, white rubble and white bones. They might have raised these points. But they remained silent instead. They were afraid. With cause, they were afraid.

  The Taglian empire under the Protectorate is an empire of fear.

  During the years of defiance, one unknown hero won Soulcatcher’s eternal hatred by sabotaging the Shadowgate, the sole gateway to the glittering plain. Soulcatcher was the most powerful sorcerer alive. She might have become a Shadowmaster to eclipse those monsters the Company had pulled down during its earlier wars on Taglios’ behalf. But with the Shadowgate sealed she could not conjure killer shadows more powerful than the few score she had controlled when she worked her treachery on the Company.

  Oh, she could open the Shadowgate. One time. She did not know how to close it again, though. Meaning everything inside would be free to wriggle out and begin tormenting the world.

  Meaning that for Soulcatcher, party to so few of the secrets, the choice must be all or very little. The end of the world or making do.

  For the moment she is making do. And pursuing continuous researches. She is the Protector. Fear of her steeps the empire. There are no challenges to her terror. But even she knows this age of dark concord cannot endure.

  Water sleeps.

  In their homes, in the shadowed alleyways, in the city’s ten thousand temples, nervous whispers never cease. The Year of the Skulls. The Year of the Skulls. It is an age when no gods die and those that sleep keep stirring restlessly.

  In their homes, in the shadowed alleyways or fields of grain or in the sodden paddies, in the pastures and forests and tributary cities, should a comet be seen in the sky or should an unseasonable storm strew devastation or, particularly, if the earth should shake, they murmur, “Water sleeps.” And they are afraid.

  2

  They call me Sleepy. I was withdrawn as a child, hiding from the horrors of my childhood inside the comfort and emotional safety of daydreams and nightmares. Any time I did not have to work, I went away in there to hide. The evil could not touch me there. I knew no safer place till the Black Company came to Jaicur.

  My brothers accused me of sleeping all the time. They resented my ability to get away. They did not understand. They died without ever understanding. I slept on. I did not waken fully till I had been with the Company for several years.

  I keep these Annals today. Somebody must and no one else can, though the Annalist title never devolved upon me formally.

  There is precedent.

  The books must be written. The truth must be recorded even if fate decrees that no man ever reads a word I write. The Annals are the soul of the Black Company. They recall that this is who we are. That this is who we were. That we persevere. And that treachery, as it ever has, failed to suck the last drop of our blood.

  We no longer exist. The Protector tells us
so. The Radisha swears it. Mogaba, that mighty general with his thousand dark honors, sneers at our memory and spits on our name. People in the streets declare us no more than an evil, haunting memory. But only Soulcatcher does not watch over both shoulders to see what might be gaining ground.

  We are stubborn ghosts. We will not lie down. We will not cease to haunt them. We have done nothing for a long time but they remain afraid. Their guilt cannot stop whispering our name.

  They should be afraid.

  Somewhere in Taglios, every day, a message appears upon a wall, written in chalk or paint or even animal blood. Just a gentle reminder: Water Sleeps.

  Everyone knows what that means. They whisper it, aware that there is an enemy out there more restless than running water. An enemy who will, somehow, someday, lurch forth from the mouth of his grave and come for those who played at betrayal. They know no power that can prevent it. They were warned ten thousand times before they gave in to temptation. No evil can preserve them.

  Mogaba is afraid.

  Radisha is afraid.

  Willow Swan is so afraid he barely functions, like the wizard Smoke before him, whom he indicted and tormented for his cowardice. Swan knew the Company of old, in the north, before anyone here recognized it as more than a dark memory of ancient terror. The years have seen no calluses form on Swan’s fear.

  Purohita Drupada is afraid.

  Inspector-General Gokhale is afraid.

  Only the Protector is not afraid. Soulcatcher fears nothing. Soulcatcher does not care. She mocks and defies the demon. She is mad. She will laugh and be entertained while being consumed by fire.

  Her lack of fear leaves her henchmen that much more troubled. They know she will drive them before her, into the grinding jaws of destiny.

  Occasionally a wall will carry another message, a more personal note: All Their Days Are Numbered.

  I am in the streets every day, either going to work, going to spy, listening, capturing rumors or launching new ones within the anonymity of Chor Bagan, the Thieves’ Garden even the Greys have not yet been able to extirpate. I used to disguise myself as a prostitute but that proved to be too dangerous. There are people out there who make the Protector seem a paragon of sanity. It is the world’s great good fortune that fate denies them the power to exercise the fullest depth and sweep of their psychoses.

  Mostly I go around as a young man, the way I always did. Rootless young men are everywhere since the end of the wars.

  The more bizarre the new rumor, the faster it explodes out of Chor Bagan and the more strongly it gnaws the nerves of our enemies. Always, always, Taglios must enjoy a sense of grim premonition. We must provide them their ration of omens, signs and portents.

 
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