- "Interrupt a Dal Honese death dirge and you'll know a thousand thousand lifetimes of curses, your bloodlines forever. Hairy old women will steal your children and your children's children and chop them up and cook them with vegetables and tubers a few precious threads of saffron...and Dal Honese warlocks wearing snake girdles will lie with your woman and she'll birth venomous worms all covered in curly black hair—"
- ―Balm asking not to be interrupted
Balm was a Medium infantry sergeant in the 9th Squad of the 8th Legion in the Malaz 14th Army. He was described as a tall, young, wide-shouldered Dal Honese, with midnight skin and heavy eyebrows. Fiddler had been impressed by Balm's cool indifference to pressure. However, Balm, right before battle sometimes suffered a temporary forgetful state of mind known as "the Confusion", which could cause him to "lose track of everything" until fighting actually started.
Members of Balm's squadEdit
Balm was part of Adjunct Tavore Paran's punitive expedition against the Army of the Apocalypse. On the road from Aren to Raraku, his squad had done their share of the fighting, and their names were well known amongst the other soldiers in the legion. When Lieutenant Ranal was briefly made captain of 9th Company, Balm was concerned with the lieutenant's rearranging of the squads and announced it likely the noble born officer was going to get them all killed.
After the Battle of Raraku, Leoman led the Army of the Apocalypse westward to Y'Ghatan and the 14th Army followed. Upon reaching the outskirts of the city, Balm went to a nearby cemetery to craft a death-mask — a custom for Dal Honese who thought they were about to die. Bottle found him in a looter's pit wearing gazelle skins, his face streaked with ash, singing a strange and monotonous death dirge, and dancing in tight circles. Frustrated and angered by Bottle's interuption, Balm threatened to curse his bloodline and ran off.
In the hours before the Last Siege of Y'Ghatan, Balm engaged Moak in a game of Troughs, but soon became overwhelmed by "the Confusion". He knocked over the board, unclear who he was and what he was doing. His corporal, Deadsmell, led him to safety from an angry Moak while congratulating Balm on a clever ruse for ending a losing game. Balm could not respond because he no longer understood what language Deadsmell was speaking.
Adjunct Tavore launched the attack on Y'Ghatan by sending the army's sappers to breach the city's wall under the cover of night. First into the city were the Malazan marines, followed quickly by the heavy and medium infantry. Once inside the city, the Malazans immediately came under attack from swordsmen on the ground and archers in the buildings above them.
Balm's squad pushed forward well beyond the other Malazan troops and took cover in a building filled with bolts of silk. While Galt and Lobe watched the street from the windows, Throatslitter, Deadsmell, and Widdershins went to investigate a noise upstairs. The three soldiers discovered the walls of the entire building had been filled with olive oil. Realising what Leoman meant to do, Balm's squad attempted to report their findings to Fist Keneb. But it was too late. When enough Malazans were engaged in street fighting inside the city, Leoman sprung his trap. The city's olive oil-soaked buildings were set alight and the streets quickly became an inferno.
Fleeing from the flames, they soon joined a mixed group of survivors from Hellian's, Fiddler's, Cord's, and Gesler's squads, who made their way to the Temple of the Queen of Dreams. Balm ordered Throatslitter to kill Corabb Bhilan Thenu'alas, who had also taken shelter there, but was stopped by Galt.
Balm and his squad were among the small group of soldiers who survived Y'Ghatan by tunneling their way out from under the city. They spent three days crawling on their hands and knees through the dark led by Bottle and his rat. During the ordeal, Balm quarreled with his soldiers and experienced bouts of heat rash and panic accompanied by screaming. When the group found and ingested an ancient cache of Carelbarra, the drug induced slumber prompted each to dream of various gods and goddesses of their people. Balm dreamt of himself meeting a menagerie of disgusting Dal Honese deities.
After the survivors rejoined the 14th Army on the coast of the Kokakal Sea, Gesler and Stormy were given back command of the Silanda. They requested that Balm and Fiddler's squads serve as their crew. Balm and the other officers on board argued how the Adjunct's achievements would be negatively misread back hone, with Balm being particularly vociferous in Tavore's support.
The Adunct's fleet travelled to Malaz City where Empress Laseen awaited Tavore in Mock's Hold. The Silanda joined Tavore's flagship, the Froth Wolf, to moor at the city pier while the rest of the fleet remained anchored in the harbour. The entire city seethed with magically induced anger against the 14th Army and the soldiers of the Silanda prepared to defend their ship from the mob after the Adjunct was escorted away. Fiddler, Gesler, and Stormy quietly slipped into the city on their own business leaving Balm the only officer in charge besides Keneb. The usual pre-battle confusion came upon him, but once the fighting began Balm ably directed the defense of the pier.
Balm was a lapsed warlock of mediocre talent who ran away from the savannah of Dal Hon to become a soldier and escape a life herding cattle, hunting monstrous beasts, and drinking bull blood and cow milk.
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 House of Chains, Chapter 22, UK MMPB p.846
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.323
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US HC p.226-227/245-246
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 House of Chains, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.711
- ↑ House of Chains, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.711-712
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.239/242
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.278-279
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.287-295
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.301-303
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.307-309/316/322-323
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.368/370
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.334/341
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US HC p.285-289
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US HC p.285-286
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.716
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.721
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 22
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.889-890/911/940
- ↑ The Crippled God, Chapter 4, UK HB p.102
- ↑ The Bonehunters, Chapter 7, US HC p.286