Taralack Veed was an outlawed warrior of the Gral. He was described as the sole remaining survivor of the "Eroth bloodline", with forearms decorated in a swirl of arcane tattoos and wary, glittering eyes. Veed had an unpleasant habit of grooming his hair with his own phlegm which he spread over his swept-back black hair with a gesture that temporarily disturbed the flies which customarily crawled over his scalp and through his hair. On long trips through the desert he recaptured and drank his own urine.
He admired former Malazan Emperor Kellanved's skill at rooting out and slaughtering enemy cults in Seven Cities, but thought current Empress Laseen too prone to make mistakes. He had seventy-five avowed enemies, including the Empress, whom he "ritually cursed" at every sunrise and at every sunset.
He thought of himself as possessing a viper's charm, alluring and mesmerizing, but ultimately deadly. He wore a hide shirt. He also wore a hooded cape (probably a Telaba) wrapped around his upper body.
In The Bonehunters
Taralack Veed was secretly an agent of the Nameless Ones. He hoped to earn enough gold and clout in their lucrative service to raise a company of mercenaries to deliver justice on those in his village who had betrayed and outlawed him. Then he would become a warleader of the Gral and lead his people to victory. His ostracism may have resulted from a domestic dispute in which he had murdered his lover's husband, only to discover after she denounced him that the woman had used him to free herself for another man.
On assignment, he followed a gathering of twelve of the cult's priests to a tomb where they planned to resurrect Dejim Nebrahl. From afar he heard Spite's betrayal of the other cultists as she left them to be devoured by the newly released T'rolbarahl, then began following the creature's trail. The spy, Mebra, learned of Veed's involvement and suspected the Nameless Ones were hunting someone. This knowledge likely led to his assassination. Veed's task was to make sure the T'rolbarahl was successful in its hunt.
Veed had been assigned by the Nameless Ones to take over as Icarium's constant companion as soon as Icarium's current companion, Mappo Runt, could be removed. Dejim Nebrahl ambushed Mappo and Icarium, grievously wounding both and seemingly sending Mappo plummeting to his death over a cliff. Veed nursed Icarium back to health over several days. When the amnesiac Jhag regained consciousness, Veed acted as if he had always been Icarium's companion and the Jhag was none the wiser. Veed told Icarium that the Jhag had been chosen by the gods to free the world of a great evil. He prepared Icarium to become the Nameless Ones' weapon using the words the cult gave him,, emphasizing the Jhag's supposed sense of harsh justice and the many grim and unpleasant deeds it required. Now he said there was a new enemy, the mad emperor, Rhulad Sengar, who ruled the evil Tiste Edur of the Letherii Empire, and only Icarium was powerful enough to oppose him.
The Gral brought Icarium to the shores of the Olphara Peninsula where the sea was filled with the ships of the Third Edur Imperial Fleet. Preda Tomad Sengar and his fleet traveled the world seeking a champion to face their emperor in mortal combat and chose Icarium at Veed's insistence. The Preda quickly began to second guess his decision when the Jhag spent his time aboard ship clutching himself and weeping at the prospect of killing the emperor. Veed regularly argued with Twilight, the Preda's liaison, over Icarium's power. Under threat of being thrown overboard to the sharks by the Edur, Veed worked hard to bolster the Jhag's morale and convince him of the righteousness of their cause.
The Preda chose to test Icarium's martial prowess by sending him and Veed along with the Edur and Letherii raiding party that assaulted Drift Avalii to face Traveller. Finding the Throne of Shadow seemingly destroyed and abandoned, they journeyed instead to the chamber of the First Throne to face the child soldiers of Minala's Company of Shadow. As they readied to fight against the Throne's guardians, Icarium made clear that he no longer trusted the Gral and believed Veed had been lying to him about their long friendship. Veed cursed himself for being careless, assuming the Jhag had been oblivious to his surroundings.
Taralack Veed pushed Icarium into the fighting and the Jhag soon entered a rage, killing friend and foe alike. At the sight of the Jhag's power unleashed, Veed was gripped by terror and lay huddled and weeping against the cavern wall. Only the intercession of the Eres'al kept the Jhag from slaying everyone within the chamber. Her touch rendered Icarium unconscious, and Veed recruited Varat Taun to drag the Jhag back through the magic gate to the Edur fleet. Of the entire Edur and Letherii assault force, only Veed, Icarium, and Varat Taun survived.
When Icarium awoke back aboard ship, he felt more refreshed and hopeful than he had ever been, while Veed lay curled up in the hold, bitter and angry and wracked by shivers. The Jhag's mind had been healed by the Eres'al's touch and he claimed to no longer needed Veed to tell him who he was.
In Reaper's Gale
Icarium's spirits remained high during the journey across the sea, and he spent his time on ship sharpening his sword, oiling his bow, and checking his armour for flaws. By the time the fleet finally arrived in Letheras, Taralack Veed was sick with worry at the thought of the destruction to come and he anxiously foresaw his his own death. When the Jhag first set foot on Letherii soil, the earth shook sending thousands of birds to flight and collapsing Scale House deeper in the city. Veed claimed that Burn herself had flinched at his step, but Yan Tovis refused to believe him.
Once ensconced in the compound housing the gathered champions, Veed became more convinced the Nameless Ones were misguided, involving him and Icarium in a war among the gods to whom they meant nothing. He was no longer sure that Mappo's choice to betray the cult in favour of his friend had been an act of evil. When he discovered the no longer catatonic Varat Taun recovering in the compound from their shared ordeal, the Gral insisted on aiding him. Seeing that Taun's eyewitness account had finally convinced Yan Tovis of Icarium's danger, he advised her and Taun to get as far away from the city as possible before it was reduced to rubble and its citizens slain. However, Veed vowed he would stay to meet his fate.
Taralack Veed joined Icarium in his explorations of Letheras. On one trip they were spotted by fellow champion, Karsa Orlong, who still held a grudge against the Jhag for their last unresolved encounter. The Teblor casually swatted the Gral aside as he struggled to break Karsa's grip on Icarium's arm. Veed lay unconscious on the ground for the remainder of the confrontation.
When the contests between the Emperor and the gathered champions began, Veed spent time with Senior Assessor, whose cult of the Mockers worshipped Icarium. Veed thought him mad. Meanwhile, the monk recognised Veed as a member of the Nameless Ones. The monk warned the Gral that he had never been forced to give up his name by the cult because they never considered him an actual member. He was only a tool to be discarded when his use was over. If the Gral ever returned home, as he so desperately wished, the cult would send an assassin to eliminate him.
As Icarium's time in the arena with Emperor Rhulad drew near, Senior Assessor warned Veed to be ready. When Icarium slipped away from the champion compound amidst the unrest of the economic collapse and the Bonehunters' invasion, the pair followed. Icarium travelled to the site of a device he had constructed millennia ago at Scale House. When activated, it opened a glowing door and buildings began to crumble. Once Icarium stepped inside the device, an explosion of liquid fire obliterated the neighbourhood. Veed had a vision of his home village at peace and thought of how he had killed his wife and her lover, as well as the man's brother when he had proclaimed a feud over their deaths. Then the village of his vision was consumed by fire just as a block of falling stone took off the top of his head.
In Dust of Dreams
Veed was an eighth 'wanderer' in the Wastelands of Lether. Veed arrived separately at the abandoned K'Chain Che'Malle "edifice", some time after the other seven, who had gotten there all at the same time: Asane; Breath; Last; Nappet; Rautos; Sheb; and Taxilian. Veed then proceeded to 'deal' with each of the other wanderers, one by one. This activity by Veed seemingly catalyzed the reunification of the - up until then - separate parts of the "ghost" - who had had an omniscient connection to each of the original seven wanderers - thus allowing for a single individual to coalesce from the pieces.
Notes and references
- The Bonehunters, Prologue, US HC p.30
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US SFBC p.173-175
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.162
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 9, US HC p.220
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.400
- The Bonehunters, Prologue, US SFBC p.27-33
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 3, US SFBC p.121
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 4, US HC p.143-144
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US HC p.217-218
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US HC p.322-324
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 6, US SFBC p.265-267
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.399-401
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.491-494
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.689
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 11, US SFBC p.494
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.687-690
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.813-818
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.960
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 24, US SFBC p.966/968/971/975-976
- The Bonehunters, Epilogue, US SFBC p.980
- The Bonehunters, Epilogue, US SFBC p.980-981
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 7, US HC p.160-165/168
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 9, US HC p.219-220/226-227
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 11, US HC p.292
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 15, US HC p.435-436
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.622
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.770-771
- Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.771-772/795-798
- Dust of Dreams, Prologue, US HC p.31-33
- Dust of Dreams, Chapter 18, US HC p.564-567/581-584