Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Bright Company

This group of murderers is rightly feared for their habit of preying on travellers. They present themselves as going on the same journey, and ask to travel together for protection - a common and wise practice, unlikely to be refused.

They may be compared to the tugees of Hindoostan, with the difference that they have no known religious basis, nor do they rob their victims. The Bright Company carry knives, but are happy to use any means at hand, in contrast to the tugee's invariable strangulation by means of a sacred silk cord.

It is said that they recruit new members by always leaving one victim alive, and forcing them to eat human flesh, so that they are ashamed to associate with anyone other than the Company. Yet members who have been captured seem not to resent the group. They also display a horrible lack of remorse, even to downright jollity. One that I interrogated rejected the idea that he had been forced into the Company by ceremonies of degradation. He denied even being threatened, claiming that once the members had murdered his family they simply talked to him, and made him see the benefits of such a life. He spoke as one who had been engaged in some mild foolishness, and had been brought to his senses by well-meaning friends.

Stories differ as to what happens to corpses of their victims. Some say that they extract their victims' fat, using it for cosmetics for fine ladies. Others say that the eyes, lips and tongues are sold to merchants to be placed in the foundations of new shops; the eyes to help customers see the new business, and the lips and tongues to spread word of its existence. Yet others say that the heart and lungs are 'harvested' and given to entities unknown. Some of these stories may be misapplied tales of the practices of the Court of Miracles or other criminal gangs.

Some say that members of the Company travel continuously. Others say that they live settled lives for part of the year (in some accounts, losing their memory of their murderous activities). There are tales of hidden villages with no roads where they dwell. Others say that they bribe the rulers of certain kingdoms, and are provided with positions in royal courts.

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