In the time of Forge of Darkness, it was a common Tiste practice for a High House family to guarantee a treaty by holding one or more young hostages from a family of equal status. Victors of a war imposed hostage demands during negotiations to end military hostilities. The procedure was political, and strict rules prevented mistreatment of hostages unless the treaty was violated. Hostages were kept for a specified term lasting several years, and the host families usually regarded them as part of the family.
- Haut: "Your treaty with the Tiste demands from you hostages – of your own blood. You cannot borrow one from someone else in lieu of the sacrifice you must make. The Tiste will accept only Jheleck hostages."
- Sagral: "But they offer none to us!"
- Haut: "Because you lost the war, Sagral. You were faced with a simple choice: concessions or annihilation. By your presence we see which choice you made; now you must live with it or plunge once more into war."
- ―Haut, a Jaghut, explaining the hostage system to Sagral, an angry Jheleck[src]