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Withal was a Meckros weaponsmith and swordmaker from the Third Meckros city.[1][2] He was described as a huge man,[3] who was bald and muscular[4] with massive hands and wrists scarred and puckered with weals.[5] He was a war veteran who worked hard to avoid speaking of his experiences.[6] He despised religion and hated gods, and he thought Ascendants worse than rabid beasts, just as capable of appalling evil as mortals, but immortal and more powerful.[7]

Withal employed a number of boys as his apprentices.[8] He spoke the Letherii trader language.[9]

In Midnight Tides[]

Withal first appeared as the lone survivor of the disaster that destroyed his city. He was rescued and brought to an island holding the tent of the Crippled God. The god enslaved him but told him that he would be set free once he had fashioned a sword of the god's devising. To assist with his task, Withal was given the company and service of three Nachts: Rind, Mape, and Pule.[10]

Two years later, the sword was given to the Tiste Edur of Lether, its location shown to Warlock King Hannan Mosag in a vision. Rhulad Sengar perished while holding the sword and his spirit was brought to the Crippled God's island where he was found by Withal and brought to the god's tent.[11] By this time, Withal also noticed that the Nachts engaged in a regular performance in which Pule built a nest, Mape destroyed it, and Rind watched with hilarity.[11]

The patterns of Rhulad's returns and the Nacht performances repeated again and again and Withal began to fear he was losing his mind. The god had lied about his freedom and promised everything would be made clear if only Withal worshipped him. The swordsmith began to believe that the Nachts were trying to communicate some obvious lesson that he failed to understand.[12]

Concerned for the well-being of his captive, the Crippled God resurrected the Tiste Andii, Sandalath Drukorlat, in order to provide Withal with female companionship. Withal was disgusted by the god's gesture, and despite his loathing of the gods, began praying to Mael, ancient god of the sea.[13] Sandalath and Withal did not get along and quarreled constantly, their mutual dislike leaning towards hatred.[14][15] Withal dedicated all his efforts to praying, hoping Mael took pity on him.[15]

Finally, a storm appeared off the coast of the island, and Withal had an epiphany regarding the Nacht's performances. He toppled the Crippled God's tent upon its shrieking occupant and a boat bearing Mael arrived on shore. The god offered the boat for Withal and the others to escape stating he would see Withal again soon as he had things for the swordsmith to do. Then Mael went to beat the Crippled God senseless.[16]

In The Bonehunters[]

Withal lived in Malaz City and was a regular at Coop's Hanged Man Inn where he was known as Foreigner. Fellow regular, Banaschar, was intrigued by the man's mysterious background and unplaceable accent. The priest refrained from prying too deeply but learned that Foreigner was not troubled by a lost love, was not unfamiliar with drowning, and had been waiting years for something.[17] Foreigner enjoyed sitting with Banaschar and Braven Tooth listening to them argue with each other.[18] He was also friendly with Mudslinger and Gentur.[19] He rarely met anyone's eyes when speaking with them.[18]

When Nimander Golit and his band of Tiste Andii castaways visited the bar, Foreigner decided he could not sit with his usual friends while the Andii were there. With a tremor of fear, he realised he needed to make an important decision upon which rode his destiny.[17]

On the night that Adjunct Tavore Paran arrived in Malaz City with her 14th Army to meet with Empress Laseen, the Adjunct commissioned Bottle to find an unnamed person and bring him back to the Froth Wolf. The mage carried only a doll in the man's likeness that T'amber helped him construct to identify him. The doll had a sliver of iron in its gut that caused constant pain. Its eyes were marked by pain and its forearms were seamed with scars.[20]

The mage went to Agayla who told him she would help him "save the world" and directed him to the Hanged Man Inn.[21] The doll's arm twitched in Foreigner's presence and Bottle delivered the message, "Your long wait is at an end." When Bottle explained they had to leave quickly, Foreigner left to gather his things.[22]

Bottle had not returned back to the ship when it was time for the 14th Army to leave the island. Tavore said that unless Bottle returned with his charge, they had failed. But before the Froth Wolf exited the harbour, they were approached by Cartharon Crust's vessel, the Drowned Rat. Aboard were Bottle, Foreigner (now revealed to be Withal), Sandalath, the three Nachts, and the castaway Tiste Andii. Withal introduced Sandalath as his wife.[23]

In Reaper's Gale[]

Withal, Sandalath, the Nachts, and the group of young Tiste Andii remained aboard the Froth Wolf for over a year as the Malazan fleet crossed the ocean to invade the Letherii Empire.[24] During that time, Withal met regularly in secret consultations with the Adjunct about the sword he had forged for the Crippled God. Mael had told him to wait in Malaz City for her, but he was not confident in the war she was bringing them to. He felt that he, Tavore, and Rhulad Sengar were all merely tools of meddling gods.[25] Meanwhile, there was some resentment among the Bonehunters for Withal because of those they had lost at Malaz City to retrieve him. None of the soldiers had heard a word of thanks or apology from the blacksmith for their sacrifice.[26]

Sandalath became a surrogate mother to the young Andii, something which the mentally unstable Phaed deeply resented. Sandalath easily saw through the girl's spiteful behavior, shrugging off the girl's contempt and meeting her mute histrionics with amusement and even mockery.[27] When Phaed vowed to kill Sandalath before Nimander, Nimander feared for Sandalath's safety.[28]

At the start of the Malazan invasion, the Adjunct made her headquarters at Second Maiden Fort and Sandalath and Withal found a room in the island's port town. On the eve before the Bonehunters were to leave the island, Phaed set out to murder Sandalath in her sleep. She crept into Sandalath and Withal's rooms during a torrential storm and attempted to stab her nemesis with a knife. But Nimander thwarted the plan by following Phaed and breaking her wrist as the knife plunged down. When she tried to scratch out his eyes he broke the other wrist before attempting to strangle her. The altercation between the two woke Sandalath and Withal, who first assumed Nimander was the guilty party. Withal pulled Nimander away before Phaed was revealed as the assassin.[29]

Sandalath sought mercy for Phaed's act, but when she went to summon help, Withal threw Phaed out a window to her death. He refused to believe his wife would ever be safe while Phaed lived and pleaded with Nimander to agree that Phaed had committed suicide. When Sandalath returned with Lostara Yil and Banaschar, she was followed close behind by the other Andii. Withal lied about Phaed's death and a distraught Sandalath begged Nimander to tell her if he told the truth. Nimander confirmed Withal's story.[30]

Later, when the fleet made landfall on the Lether River near Letheras, Withal returned to the island of the Crippled God with the three Nachts. He found Karsa Orlong had slain Rhulad and left the cursed sword in the sand. The blacksmith informed the Teblor he had come to destroy the weapon on the forge where it had been created and told the Crippled God he had lied when he said the weapon was unbreakable. Karsa sent him tumbling with a back-handed slap before he departed, telling him not to forge such a weapon again. Then Withal began the work of destroying the sword as the Crippled God bawled to the sky.[31]

In Dust of Dreams[]

Withal accompanied Sandalath as she pursued the Shake into Kurald Galain where she was once held hostage.

In The Crippled God[]

Withal tried to keep Sandalath sane as she relived the horrors of life in Kharkanas before the Andii exodus. Her crippling memories and the loss of her son proved to be too much for him to heal, and Withal left her on the throne to help defend the First Shore with the Shake. He fought during the final stand of the Shake, surviving with Yan Tovis to witness the return of the Tiste Andii to Kharkanas.

Notes and references[]

  1. Midnight Tides, Dramatis Personae
  2. Midnight Tides, Prologue, US SFBC p.26-28
  3. Midnight Tides, Prologue, US SFBC p.26
  4. Midnight Tides, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.586
  5. The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.679
  6. Midnight Tides, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.273-274
  7. Midnight Tides, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.506/520
  8. Midnight Tides, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.587
  9. Midnight Tides, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.586
  10. Midnight Tides, Prologue, US SFBC p.26-28
  11. 11.0 11.1 Midnight Tides, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.270
  12. Midnight Tides, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.506-507
  13. Midnight Tides, Chapter 16, US SFBC p.515/519-520
  14. Midnight Tides, Chapter 19, US SFBC p.584-587
  15. 15.0 15.1 Midnight Tides, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.663
  16. Midnight Tides, Epilogue, US SFBC p.769-771
  17. 17.0 17.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.826
  18. 18.0 18.1 The Bonehunters, Chapter 17, US SFBC p.677-679
  19. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.861
  20. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, US SFBC p.855
  21. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.887-888
  22. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.922-923
  23. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US SFBC p.951-953
  24. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.357
  25. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.364/370-372
  26. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 14, US HC p.409
  27. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 13, US HC p.370-373
  28. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 16, US HC p.471-472
  29. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.601-606
  30. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 20, US HC p.606-608
  31. Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24, US HC p.756/821-822
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