Malazan Wiki
Malazan Wiki

Interpretation of Itkovian and the Grey Swords at the siege of Capustan by Merlkir

The Siege of Capustan was the assault by the Pannion Domin forces on the city of Capustan. It lasted several days, and saw the slaughter of many innocents.



Allied Armies[]

Pannion Domin Attackers[]

The Siege[]


As the Pannion Domin expanded northwards conquering Maurik, Setta, and Lest, Prince Jelarkan made preparations for their inevitable appearance at Capustan. Since city law prevented him from expanding the Capanthall city garrison beyond two thousand soldiers, he contracted the Grey Sword mercenary cult to defend the city.[23] He also significantly drained the city treasury purchasing bows, arrows, ballistae, mangonels, and other weapons of slaughter.[6]

Interpretation of the Grey Swords by dejan-delic

When the Grey Swords arrived in Capustan, they recruited from the local population expanding their forces from 7000 to 8200.[24] Mortal Sword Brukhalian assumed that a breach of the walls was inevitable and planned a defence of measured, organised contraction. The city's unusual construction--open concourses surrounding self-contained tribal camps--required little effort to convert into killing grounds. Strong-points built of stone, wood, and soaked bales of hay were placed at various approaches so that any enemy caught in the open was subject to enfilading fire.[6] Ancient fortress-like structures within the city, such as Jelarkan's Palace and the Grey Sword barracks, served as natural defensive points.[25] Additionally, the Grey Swords secretly constructed tunnels that made use of the city's extensive underground barrows. These were converted into defensible shelters to hold as many as twenty thousand citizens.[26]

Capustan received some additional forces from cities that had already fallen to the Pannions including companies of the Lestari Guard and Prince Arard's Coralessians.[27][28] Despite Brukhalian's advice, members of the Mask Council insisted that hundreds of their Gidrath defend the redoubts outside the city's eastern and southern walls.[29]

Meanwhile, the legions of the Pannion Domin under Septarch Kulpath made their way north. First Child Anaster went to Bastion, Outlook, and other cities gathering his hordes of Tenescowri.[30][31] The Pannion Seer sent dozens, and possibly hundreds, of his undead K'ell Hunters to cut off the city from the outside world.[19][32] The K'Chain Che'Malle attacked caravans and killed travellers across the Vision Plain, even attracting notice from the Barghast shamans of the Barghast Range.[33]

Several opportune alliances were made by the Grey Swords in secret in the final weeks before the battle. First, the Grey Swords were contacted by the newly allied forces of renegade Malazan High Fist Dujek Onearm and Warlord Caladan Brood. The mercenaries accepted their help with suspicion, but with the knowledge that the two armies were six weeks' travel away.[34][19]

Also, while on patrol outside the city, several wings of Grey Sword cavalry led by Shield Anvil Itkovian came into contact with the Seer's K'ell Hunters for the first time. Only the coincidental gathering of an army of Kron T'lan Imass and T'lan Ay in the same area prevented disaster for the Shield Anvil. The T'lan Imass deemed the presence of the K'ell Hunters a danger to their gathering and were intrigued by the possibility that the Pannion Seer was a Jaghut. They offered their support against the K'ell Hunters until such time as their obligations took them elsewhere.[35][36]

While Brukhalian made outward promises of success to the Prince and the Mask Council,[37] his true expectations may have been more pessimistic. Itkovian claimed that the Mortal Sword shared his view that their efforts were ultimately meaningless.[38] As the Pannion hordes began making their way across the Catlin River to encircle the city, the Shield Anvil argued with the panicked prince that any attempt to flee to safety would result in their entrapment and slaughter. Their only choice was to defend the city and their nearest reinforcements were weeks away.[38]

First Days[]

Septarch Kulpath's army made its way across the Caitlin River by barges and pontoon bridges[39] and gathered in view of the city to the south and east. His original plan called for sending eighty or more K'ell Hunters against the city's North Gate. Once the creatures had broken inside they were to strike terror in the defenders through the scale of the ensuing slaughter. Then the Urdomen were to be sent against the other three gates bringing the siege to a quick conclusion by nightfall.[40]

But the Septarch did not account for the city's T'lan Imass allies. The Kron and T'lan Ay intercepted and destroyed the K'Chain Che'Malle, leaving Kulpath and his forces in disarray.[41] For five days the Pannion army waited immobile and confused, giving Itkovian, who commanded the city's defences, more time to prepare.[41]


Day 1[]

Then the wait was over as the Pannion forces began assembling and Itkovian made his way to his command post atop the Grey Sword barracks on the southeast wall.[6] Over a hundred catapults sent balls of fire into the city in waves from the north and west setting the city afire.[42] At the same time, Beklite infantry surrounded and assailed the East Watch and South Watch redoubts.[6]

Beklites, heavily armoured Betaklites, Urdomen, Scalandi skirmishers, and Seerdomin shock troops attacked the Port Gate in the east with battering rams amidst arrow and ballista fire into the gate's towers. The gate was defended by Grey Swords, Capanthall, and Lestari, and it changed hands several times. At one point, the Scalandi made it as far as the barricades on Inside Port Street before finally being driven off by crossbow and arrow fire.[43] Amidst this fighting, Stonny Menackis, who had volunteered and assumed a leadership role, had her fateful encounter with one of the Seerdomin.[44]

From his position on the wall, Itkovian watched as the Gidrath held against multiple Beklite assaults on the East Watch redoubt. By dusk, the Pannion siege engines were launching boulders at the redoubt's walls.[45] Pannion assaults on the North and West Gates proved to be poorly executed feints.[46] The main attacks continued on the eastern and southern walls where Desandi engineers attempted to scale ladders while the Beklites and Betaklites used battering rams on the gates. They made no attempts to protect themselves and were slaughtered in large numbers, but managed to make their way into the city. The city's layered defences proved effective as the intruders were driven back by arrow fire and the fleeing invaders were cut down by disciplined sorties.[47]

Evening 1[]

By nightfall the city was aflame, but the walls, gates, and redoubts still held. There was no rest for the city's defenders as Kulpath renewed the attack with fresh troops and the fiery bombardment resumed.[48] Thousands of Beklites and Scalandi raised ladders on the east wall and swarmed the battlements, once again siezing the Port Gate and the square of New East Market. The city's southern Main Gate was breached by catapult fire, and Jelarkan Concourse was occupied by a legion of Betaklites. The Capanthall West Barracks went up in a massive blaze after being struck by a fiery bomb. The North Gate was breached by Urdomen and Seerdomin shock troops who invaded the Nildar Camp and slew everyone inside. Jelarkan Palace remained impervious to attack.[49]

Itkovian directed the city's response from his rooftop position. He sent Grey Sword Manes and Wings to reinforce the East Inside, West Inside, and Ne'ror Towers that controlled the exits from Jelarkan Concourse. He sent more Manes to retake the North and East Gates and to rally the Capanthall at Tular Concourse. Then he summoned one of his Trimasters to lead a sortie of Wings out to the East Watch redoubt to retrieve any Gidrath survivors.[50]

At this time, powerful new allies of the city made themselves known. The caravan guard captain Gruntle was so enraged by what had happened to Stonny that he awoke from his drunken despair and sought vengeance. He organised an ad hoc group of Capanthall, caravan guards, and civilians to retake the North Gate slaying all the Urdomen and Seerdomin who stood in their way.[51] Then his group fought and killed the Urdomen besieging Lestari House before making their way to the occupied West Gate.[52]

While Gruntle was leading the resistance on the street, the merchant Keruli entered the chambers of the Mask Council at the Thrall. Clearly demonstrating the favour of K'rul, Keruli forced his way onto the Council to serve as Rath'K'rul. His first act was to reveal that one of the Council members would prove to be a traitor to the city. Then, directing the Barghast, Hetan and Cafal, he created a glowing, defensive shell around the Thrall.[53]

As dawn approached, Itkovian's forces had successfully retaken the North and East Gates. Mortal Sword Brukhalian took two Manes, two Wings, and 600 recruits to Jelarkan Concourse to battle over a thousand Beklites for the South Gate. At the West Gate only the arrival of Gruntle and his forces prevented calamity. Senar Camp had fallen and Jehbar Tower was besieged. Gruntle rallied the Tular Camp to his side using the bloodied tunic of a slaughtered Senar child as evidence of Pannion cruelty. Then gathering scattered squads of Grey Swords, Capanthall, Gidrath, and Coralessians he had marched to the relief of Jebhar Tower.[54]

By now, Itkovian's Trimaster returned reporting that he had successfully retrieved the surviving Gidrath from the East Watch redoubt. But he also warned that the Tenescowri were finally on the move. The Shield Anvil ordered the tunnels below the city opened and the citizens evacuated to them.[55]

Day 2[]

As the sun rose, Gruntle and his fighters just outside the West Gate dispatched a company of Beklites sent to reinforce the ones already slain inside. Five hundred more Beklites flanked by Urdomen and Betrullid marshalled nearby masking the arrival of thousands of Tenescowri. Gruntle pulled back inside as masons and labourers worked to repair the gate. A representative of the Grey Swords arrived to offer Gruntle and his troops official sanction and supplies. Then the former caravan guard took his rag-tag militia back to his tenement on Old Daru Street to make their stand there. A late arriving Itkovian was stunned to see in Gruntle the power of Treach, Tiger of Summer. It was a sign that Fener, the Grey Sword patron, was descending and the Shield Anvil's hopes fell with him.[56]

The necromancers, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, successfully defended their estate in the centre of the city from Urdomen then used the battle's casualties to form their own guard of the undead. Afterwards they took crow form to fly over the city, now completely ringed by a thick band of over 300,000 Tenescowri. The necromancers attacked the peasant hordes surrounding their master Anaster in the east with magic and summoned demons, but were rebuffed by sorcery.[57]

Interpretation of the Tenescowri by Jeanfverreault

The Tenescowri swarmed every wall breaking through the gates and flooding the city. A raving mob soon surrounded Itkovian and three Manes of Grey Swords outside their barracks. The Shield Anvil was dragged down from his warhorse and severely wounded before Brukhalian and Karnadas led a force to his rescue. But the Grey Swords were nearly eliminated as an organised force and the Destriant gave his life pulling Itkovian back from the brink of death.[58]

At Gruntle's tenement, a human tide swept through the bottom floors forcing the defenders upwards. The halls and rooms of the building were packed chest high with the enemy dead. Stonny fought along side Gruntle's second-in-command, a former Lestari sergeant. Treach's influence manifested as blackened stripes across Gruntle's face and preternatural fighting skills. As he and his soldiers retreated further up towards the roof, the Lestari identified Gruntle as Trake's Mortal Sword.[59]

As the city succumbed to the inevitable Brukhalian received word from Rath'Fener at the Thrall. The priest invoked Fener's Reve to summon the Mortal Sword and the Grey Swords to his aid. To Brukhalian, the request was a clear act of betrayal luring the last of the Grey Swords to their doom. But the words of the Reve were to be obeyed and vengeance would have to be left to Itkovian. Outside the Thrall, the Mortal Swords's force of 400 was met by Septarch Kulpath and five thousand of his elite. Itkovian, still hovering near death, saw their fall in a vision and declared that Rath'Fener the betrayer would be his.[60]

At Bauchelain's estate the Tenescowri hordes and a company of Beklites were no match for the necromancers' sorcery and undead guardians. Those attackers who did not join Korbal Broach's army filled the compound's courtyard in ankle-deep ash.[61]

The City Falls[]

"But I am not done yet."

Evening 2[]

By nightfall, rain fell over a city of gutted buildings and smoldering ruins. The Tenescowri feasted on human flesh roasted over huge bonfires. Squads of Pannion soldiers, unaware of the Grey Sword tunnels, angrily searched for the city's residents. Gruntle's tenement was surrounded on all sides well above ground level by piles of enemy corpses.[62]

Itkovian awoke to find that he was the last of the Grey Sword commanders. Only 137 Grey Swords remained, of whom 96 were Capan recruits. The Grey Sword barracks were burned and no one knew the fate of Jelarkan and his palace.[63]

While the enemy chiefly surrounded the Thrall, the Shield Anvil organised an expedition to scout the palace in force. There they found Anaster and his Tenescowri occupying the main hall feasting on the cooked remains of Jelarkan and his guards. The Prince's skin hung from pikes near his throne. Itkovian confronted the First Child, startling and enraging him by claiming to sense his despair. Itkovian's offer to take that despair upon himself to unburden Anaster broke the First Child who ordered his hidden Seerdomin to attack and escaped weeping. The Grey Swords cut down the remaining Tenescowri and forty Seerdomin to take the palace.[64]

Afterwards, Itkovian ordered Jelarkan's skin to be sewn back onto his body which was then placed upon his throne.[65][66] Brukhalian had asked Itkovian to hold the city for six weeks, but the Shield Anvil had given him less than three days.[67]

The Tide Turns[]

"Hello, Capustan. The Bridgeburners have arrived."

At the beginning of the Malazan march towards Capustan, Whiskeyjack sent Ganoes Paran and the Bridgeburners to the Barghast Range to secure an alliance with the White Face Barghast. After Trotts successfully defeated the Barghast champion in combat and Quick Ben informed the clans that the spirts of their ancestors were imprisoned under the city, war chief Humbrall Taur joined their cause.[68]

Approximately 70,000 Barghast marched south with the Bridgeburners. At night from a league away, they could see the city burning, and Barghast scouts reported that the siege was over.[69] Captain Paran and Trotts were eager to take vengeance and led the Bridgeburners to the North Gate. They used Moranth munitions to punch their way through 200 Betaklites outside the gate. But to their shock, what they took to be piles of Pannion dead along the wall were revealed to be over a thousand sleeping Tenescowri. Cussers and Sharpers cleared the way for the Bridgeburners to enter the city.[70]

From the gate they made their way towards the still glowing Thrall. In the Daru District they came upon a tenement surrounded by over ten thousand corpses which formed a siege ramp almost to the building's roof. There they met Gruntle and his last twelve remaining soldiers. All but Stonny now featured the striped skin identical to their leader. The Bridgeburner healer Mallet used magic to save the mortally wounded Stonny's life.[71]

Meanwhile, Taur sent the Barahn and Ahkrata clans to the southeast to seize the enemy's brudges, barges, and landing points on the Catlin River. The Senan and Gilk clans made for the city while the rest were to capture the Septarch's main supply camp between the city and the river.[72] At the river landings, the Barahn and Ahkrata clashed with newly arrived Betaklite and Betrullid reinforcements. The Pannions broke and slaughtered the Barahn, but Gilk reinforcements enabled the Ahkrata to drive their enemies into the shore and nearby marshlands. The Pannion reinforcements were annihilated.[73] The Pannion camps soon fell as well and were picked over and looted for spoils.[74]

Taur's own Senan clan entered the city sending tens of thousands of Tenescowri into a panicked rout which disorganised the remaining units of Pannion soldiers. While a flood of humanity made its way to the city's southern and western gates, units of Beklites, Urdomen, and Seerdomin formed a ragged rearguard. One Seerdomin's troops held Jelarkan's Concourse while other fled through the South Gate.[75]

Two leagues west of the city, Dujek and Brood's forces arrived in time to strike the Pannions fleeing the city. The Malazan Heavy infantry, Marines, and Heavy cavalry working in disciplined concert eliminated a division of Pannion Betaklites. Companies of Beklites, Scalandi, and Desandi were also defeated. At the same time, the Tiste Andii nullified the Pannion Mage cadre while the Ilgres Barghast and Rhivi skirmishers broke the Urdomen and Seerdomin. In the chaos, Septarch Kulpath was killed by a well-aimed Rhivi slingstone.[76] The Pannion army was irretrievably broken and the siege was over.


Itkovian watched the Pannion's change in fortune from Jelarakan's Palace which he had defended from assault for four days since driving the Tenescowri out. Once the streets were clear he and his 112 remaining Grey Swords made their way towards the Thrall escorted by Barghast warriors. The buildings of the Daru District were almost completely burned or collapsed except for Gruntle's tenement which nearly buckled under the weight of the Pannion corpses inside.[77]

Arriving at the plaza where Brukhalian had died outside the Thrall, they were greeted by Humbrall Taur, Gruntle, Ganoes Paran, and the Bridgeburners. Keruli and the Mask Council soon joined them from the Thrall, its protective glow now faded away. Itkovian ordered Rath'Fener seized, and charged him with betraying Fener and the Grey Swords. He invoked the Reve and delivered Fener's judgement by cutting off the priest's hands. Then the Shield Anvil, knowing that the fallen Fener no longer awaited in his realm, took Rath'Fener's pain upon himself to free his soul to Hood. Itkovian's embrace then expanded to include all of the dead of Capustan, releasing them to Hood's Gate and cleansing the city of their pain.[78][79]

While the Barghast dug mass graves north of the city for the dead, twenty-thousand non-combatants were released from their underground refuges.[80] Approximately two hundred thousand demoralised Tenescowri huddled a league and a half west of the city, but Whiskeyjack refused to send his troops to slaughter them en masse. He argued that the starving peasants were victims of the Pannion Seer. Only Anaster and the Pannion officers would face Malazan military justice if captured.[81]

The Mask Council eventually coronated Prince Arard as the city's new ruler.[82]


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Memories of Ice, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.101
  2. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.244-245
  3. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.460/468
  4. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.468
  5. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.470
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Memories of Ice, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.354 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name ":7" defined multiple times with different content
  7. Memories of Ice, Chapter 13, US SFBC p.427
  8. Memories of Ice, Chapter 2, US SFBC p.82 - normally 38, but Quick Ben was unconscious throughout
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.455
  10. Memories of Ice, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.208
  11. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.308
  12. Memories of Ice, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.356
  13. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.285
  14. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.279
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Memories of Ice, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.352
  16. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.542
  17. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.464
  18. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.481/490
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Memories of Ice, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.355
  20. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.453
  21. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.462
  22. 22.0 22.1 Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.572
  23. Memories of Ice, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.101
  24. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.244-245
  25. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.239-242
  26. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.481/484
  27. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.460/468
  28. Memories of Ice, Dramatis Personae
  29. Memories of Ice, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.362
  30. Memories of Ice, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.344-345
  31. Memories of Ice, Chapter 12, US SFBC p.413
  32. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.453
  33. Memories of Ice, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.219-236
  34. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.243-246
  35. Memories of Ice, Chapter 7, US SFBC p.251-258/285-286
  36. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.454
  37. Memories of Ice, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.362
  38. 38.0 38.1 Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.455-456
  39. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.572
  40. Memories of Ice, Chapter 10, US SFBC p.465-355
  41. 41.0 41.1 Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.467
  42. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.461-462
  43. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.461-467
  44. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.465-466
  45. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.467-468
  46. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.468
  47. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.468
  48. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.468-470
  49. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.473
  50. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.473-474
  51. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.474-475
  52. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.476-478
  53. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.471-472/475-477
  54. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.478-480
  55. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.481
  56. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.482-486
  57. Memories of Ice, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.486-492
  58. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.530-535/539/546-547
  59. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.536-538
  60. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.539-544
  61. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.544-545
  62. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.544-546
  63. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.546-547
  64. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.549-554
  65. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.554
  66. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.585
  67. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.550
  68. Memories of Ice, Chapter 12
  69. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.559
  70. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.560-566
  71. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.566-572
  72. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.560
  73. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.572
  74. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.583
  75. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.572-573/584
  76. Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.610-612
  77. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.583-588
  78. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.588-598
  79. Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.635
  80. Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.613/615
  81. Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.612/616
  82. Memories of Ice, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.861
  83. 83.0 83.1 Memories of Ice, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.542-544
  84. 84.0 84.1 84.2 Memories of Ice, Chapter 20, US SFBC p.783-784
  85. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.552
  86. Memories of Ice, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.547
  87. Memories of Ice, Chapter 18, US SFBC p.612
  88. Memories of Ice, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.598
List of abbreviationsPaginationsHow to reference an article