He was a simple soul whose thoughts and actions were guileless and almost childlike. His face normally had a gawking expression or a wide smile. Fiddler described him as a "runt of a mage". He had very low self-esteem as a result of his upbringing and did not think of his magic abilities as being anything out of the ordinary. He told everyone he met he was stupid and had enlisted in the Malazan Military to be among his own kind, earning him few friends among his fellow soldiers. Even his fellow mages seemed discomfited by his nervous babbling about his love of magic. One mage burst into tears in his presence leaving him frightened and confused. Beak only understood he was not liked.
Sorcery was nearly the only thing he knew anything about and his knowledge was enormous. Beak's first tutor in magic had called it his "lone candle in the darkness". When his "brain had put out all the other candles" the candle of sorcery had grown brighter and brighter and he was accomplished in every Warren.
As a result of his family trade in horses, he was a skilled rider.
In Reaper's Gale
Adjunct Tavore Paran clashed with Empress Laseen at Malaz City and took the Bonehunters rogue, following the Tiste Edur fleet that had ravaged Sepik back to Lether. Tavore invaded the Letherii Empire, burning her transport vessels on the shoreline and spreading the marines in isolated pairs of squads across thirty leagues of coast. The marines moved forward into the Letherii countryside with orders to kill Edur by night and stir the occupied Letherii into rebellion. Each squad had a mage responsible for hiding their presence and confusing their enemies.
Captain Faradan Sort's role was to maintain communications with the scattered squads and Fist Keneb's main following force. After a short interview with Beak, during which she found out that he was able to access all of the Warrens, Sort chose Beak to accompany her during the invasion. He immediately his value by revealing an extraordinary knowledge of the potentially harmful sorcerous history of Keneb's proposed campsite, leading them to abandon it.
Captain Sort used Beak's extraordinary ability to sense magic to make contact with the various squads as the marines penetrated, guerrilla style, into Lether deep behind enemy lines. Beak identified marine mages at work by the "candles" (or warrens) they employed. At a Letherii stable, he used fire and illusion to secretly secure himself and the captain mounts for the remainder of the campaign. Beak chose a gentle bay he named Lily.
Once the Edur response became more organised and effective, Beak and Sort were forced to remain with Fist Keneb's troops. Beak exhausted himself keeping the marines hidden, unused to keeping his candles lit for so long. Eventually he reached a point at which his candles could not be put out.
The squads eventually regrouped with Fist Keneb as they got closer to Letheras and on a plain outside the city near Kravos Hill faced a large force of Hanradi Khalag's Tiste Edur warriors on one side and the Letherii Imperial Brigade on the other. When the Letherii mages staged a massive sorcerous attack, Beak erected a dome shaped barrier around the 800 marines. The Edur found they had been betrayed by the Letherii and targeted by the same attack, but Fiddler waved them forward to take shelter within the dome and Beak extended its parameter to enclose the Edur as well. All were shielded from the sorcerous onslaught of the Letherii. Beak sacrificed himself to save his friends, opening all of his Warrens simultaneously in order to power the barrier. While his body was reduced to bone and ash, those he protected were cleansed and came out of the protective dome with white hair, healed scars, and polished weapons and armour. The only exceptions were Gesler and Stormy, whose appearances took on a golden aspect even more fiery than before. In the aftermath, the Imperial Brigade withdrew to confront the Adjunct's much larger force approaching the capital from the river.
Hood himself met Beak at Hood's Gate, sending him through to be tearfully reunited with his brother. Over Beak's remains, the Bonehunters erected a barrow consisting of buckles, clasps, fetishes, coins, broken weapons, and other personal belongings, including Hellian's flask. The barrow reached nearly the height of a man by the time the marines continued on for Letheras.
Later, Bottle speculated whether Beak's sacrifice was truly worth it, as the lives of eight hundred marines could not possibly be enough to compensate for the life of a single natural High Mage. Quick Ben was the only mage with comparable abilities, but he was elsewhere. Sinn was available, but Bottle considered her insane. Deadsmell reported that whatever had happened the area around Beak's barrow had been forever drained of magic.
Beak had an unrevealed and "more boring" name when he was born into a very rich Quon Talian noble family of horse breeders. Growing up, he had been beaten regularly by most of his tutors who also convinced him that he was stupid. Beak guilelessly recalled that his mother would crawl into his older brother's bed when their father was away and that he himself used to pretend to be asleep when that happened. On one occasion however, he had sat up, and she had beaten him to the extent that, according to the House healer, he had almost died. On another night his mother had shown him all the places where she liked him to touch her. Beak's father was little better, raping the household's nurse then sending her away.
He appeared to have been treated poorly by nearly everyone in the household but for his brother, a Seti witch who was in charge of the family stables, and the household's half-Fenn blacksmith. The witch recognised his talent for magic (see Magical talent below) and the blacksmith fashioned him a knife and urged him to enlist in the army to escape his regular beatings.
Beak's brother was broken by their mother's sexual abuse and to Beak's dismay often retreated to cry in solitude. Beak witnessed his brother's suicide firsthand and tried to rescue him but was too young and/or too simple to understand what was happening and failed. He could only hold onto his brother's legs as he choked to death in the noose.
It was likely that he was responsible for the deaths of his parents and tutors. After the blacksmith had been whipped and driven off for giving him the knife, Beak recalled they had tried to take the weapon away. Instead, he had showed them the full light of his candle, they had died, and he still heard their screams. It was the same night he left to join the army and he had never been beaten again. Beak was probably twenty-nine years at the time.
Beak called sorcery "poetry"--a word he picked up from his mother's use of the phrase "mystery and poetry" on the night she had nearly beaten Beak to death as he observed her sexually abuse his older brother. After his recovery, he claimed that was how he learned about poetry--possibly referring to his discovery of his magical talent.
Beak was initially taught magic by a Seti witch who was in charge of the stables at the family's country estate and who showed him the Seti ways of magic. Later, she also found other servants who taught him what they knew about other Warrens. According to the family's half-Fenn blacksmith, Beak eventually had gained access to every Warren there was.
Beak called the Warrens "candles" and each one had its own colour:
- Blue (various shades) for Kurald Emurlahn, Kurald Galain (deepest blue), Rashan (deep blue)
- Blue with 'skuzzy' foam for chaotic power/sick power
- Green for Ruse
- Grey for Mockra
- Orange for Tellann
- Purple - possibly for Serc
- White for Hood
- Yellow for Thyr
- It is unclear if Beak's reference about discovering poetry after the trauma of nearly dying led to him discovering magic or whether it led to him being sexually abused by his mother in the same way as his brother.
- Probably the area surrounding Beak's barrow was devoured by the energy of the unleashed sorcery, creating otataral.
Notes and references
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, UK BCA edition p.393
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, UK BCA edition p.391
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.747
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.629
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.365/366
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.365/366/367
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.367
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.356
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.361-365
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, UK BCA edition p.391-395
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, UK BCA edition p.735 (example)
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.404-406
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.482
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.636/638
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, UK BCA edition p.735-742/749-759
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, UK BCA edition p.759/760
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, UK BCA edition p.812/813
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.748
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, UK BCA edition p.816
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.753
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, US HC p.689
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, UK BCA edition p.392/393
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.482
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 21, US HC p.637
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.366-367
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 22, UK BCA edition p.753-755
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, UK BCA edition p.394
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 17, US HC p.483
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, UK BCA edition p.392
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, UK BCA edition p.393
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, UK BCA edition p.435
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, UK BCA edition p.436