The Jheck, or Jhek,[1] were a tribe of strange, fur-shrouded night hunters living in the icy wastes of northwest Lether.[2][3][4] The name 'Jheck' meant, roughly, "standing wolves" in the language of the Tiste Edur Arapay tribe which lived nearby. The Arapay were cautious to only travel on the ice in formidable groups as the Jheck preyed upon Arapay hunting pairs. These killers collected various body parts as trophies sometimes leaving only torsos behind. None of the Jheck had ever been captured and they always took away their dead.[3]

The Jheck appeared small and bestial, wearing white-skinned hides and flat white masks to hide their faces. They wielded jagged blades made of black iron as well as claw-like antler weapons and short stabbing spears with glittering stone points.[5][3] They were silent hunters who launched ambushes as if rising from the snow itself and were capable of passing over snow without leaving a trail.[6]

Other populations of Jheck/Jhek were found in the southern icefields of Korel,[7] and in the Ice Fields of the far north of Quon Tali.[8]

In large numbers they could be led by a War Chief who deferred to a group of Elders in all things but the lay of battle.[9] A council of chiefs known as the "Guth-Ull" were responsible for dispensing justice.[10]

Notable Jheck[edit | edit source]

In Midnight Tides[edit | edit source]

Trull, fighting off the Jheck by PLUGO

Warlock King Hannan Mosag sent the four Sengar brothers into the ice fields to recover a gift he had seen in a dream. As Fear, Trull, Binadas, and Rhulad Sengar, with their companions Theradas and Midik Buhn, crossed the icy wastes they were stalked by a group of Jheck. In an ice crevasse, the Sengars discovered a Jheck shrine. Later, the Jheck slipped into their camp while Rhulad dozed on watch to steal the party's food supplies.[12]

When the Sengars retrieved a sword frozen into a spur of ice, the Jheck and their enormous wolves attacked. Rhulad was killed, but the remaining Sengars rushed to escape with their prize. The Jheck managed to separate Trull from the others, harrying and attacking him while he suffered increasingly from injuries and severe cold exposure. The Jheck were unable, however, to kill him.[13] In time, the Sengar brothers realised that the Jheck were Soletaken, whose veered form were the large wolves they had taken to be the Jheck's companions.[14]

Later, thousands of Jheck led by B'nagga joined the Tiste Edur as allies under Emperor Rhulad Sengar's overall leadership in the Edur war with the Kingdom of Lether.They were drawn by the call of the sword they worhipped.[15] B'nagga and his warriors were used as scouts and shock troops, fighting ably at the Battle of High Fort and the Battle of Brans Keep.[16][17][18]

Once the Edur army reached the Letherii capital at Letheras, the Jheck's true agenda was revealed. Their alliance with the Edur had been one of convenience. Over nine thousand howling Jheck entered the city to seek out their newly freed and waiting god, The Pack. With the coming of the Seventh Closure, the Jheck would Ascend with their new god-emperor to lead them. Then the Jheck would devour the Edur in festival of slaughter.[19]

The Jheck, according to Turudal Brizad, were the result of a ritual run wild, attempted under the rule of Dessimbelackis of the Human First Empire. The immortal T'lan Imass had responded by expunging the madness through slaughter, causing the First Empire's collapse. The Jheck were remnants of the ritual who had been driven away, with effort, into the ice wastes by Lether's surviving First Empire colonists.[20]

The gods, Mael and the Errant, stood in the way of the Jheck way to prevent the rise of the ancient cult and a repeat of the T'lan Imass' judgement.[20] They used magic to obscure the Pack's location and recruited Iron Bars and his Blade of Crimson Guard to slay the Pack. B'nagga himself fell at Iron Bars' hands as he attempted to slay the Errant in his Soletaken wolf form.[21]

In Dust of Dreams[edit | edit source]

In the royal palace of Letheras, Bugg had occasion to tell Tehol the Only that in the distant past - before the Jheck had been driven up into the northern Ice Fields of Lether - the Jheck had once inhabited territory that most recently were Akrynnai lands.[22]

In The Crippled God[edit | edit source]

Upon arriving in Kharkanas, Apsal'ara recalled receiving a set of armour from a fallen Imass. Before dying, the Imass claimed to have witnessed an army made up of Jaghut, Tel Akai, Jheck and others.[23]

In Stonewielder[edit | edit source]

Blues, Fingers, Lazar and Shell were pursued by The Chase, the premiere Jhek war party, across the crevasses of the Great Northern Agal between Korel and Stratem. The Crimson Guardsmen had unknowingly trespassed on Jhek land and hunted Jhek caribou. An agreement was reached between the Guard and the Jhek but not before a murderous disagreement broke out among the members of the Chase.[24]

In Kellanved's Reach[edit | edit source]

The Jhek of the Ice Fields in the far north of the continent of Quon Tali were squat, fur-wrapped individuals; with dark, very weathered skin; and wrinkled features with slitted eyes. These Jhek said that, in them, the "beast-blood" was strong. They had priests and priestesses who were able to access the Beast Hold.[25]

In Blood Follows[edit | edit source]

A Jheck horde led by their War Chief conquered Stygg in northern Korel in a day. King Seljure of nearby city, Lamentable Moll, dithered weakly about counter-attacking. Moll was likely saved when the horde stupidly burned the Stygg galleys in their harbours and thus were unable to cross the channel to attack.[26]

In Forge of Darkness[edit | edit source]

The Jaghut historian, Varandas, recorded that the Jheck shared common ancestors with the Jheleck. A long ago civil war resulted in two different peoples and cultures.[27]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Authors Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont each have their own spelling for the Jheck. Erikson uses "Jheck" while Esslemont uses "Jhek".

Quotes[edit | edit source]

"Out of the white
Out of the sun’s brittle dismay
We are the grim shapes
Who haunt all fate

Out of the white
Out of the wind’s hoarse bray
We are the dark ghosts
Who haunt all fate

Out of the white
Out of the snow’s worldly fray
We are the sword’s wolves
Who haunt all fate
"
Jheck Marching Chant[src]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

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