- "Twice now, we avoided the hangman’s drop,” Lieutenant Farrier told me soberly. “The men decided we could use a reminder there won’t be a third."
- ―Lieutenant Farrier
A company of formed from criminals. Their insignia is a golden noose on a red background.
In an effort to calm Callowans, the legion inducted native Callowans into the Fifteenth Legion. The recruits mostly consisted of thieves and murderers who were given a choice between the hangman's noose and enrollment into the military. The recruits were spread throughout several companies in order to prevent rebellion within the legion. Despite their induction desertion became a common action of these men. Catherine's first tactic was to execute any who were caught deserting as was legion common practice. After a mass desertion by her countrymen after the Skirmish in Summerholm, she decided instead to form a company composed of all captured deserters. She revoked many of their rights as soldiers and execution by any officer who felt that these soldiers were disobeying a command was authorized. This was because she felt their life was not theirs anymore, they were now hers in payment for not upholding their vows to the legions. Though, she did state that those whom served the rest of their terms out without issue would be pardoned of their crimes and allowed to return to the regular ranks.
At the Battle of Marchford, Catherine commanded the Gallowborne personally, giving them the task of holding back the hordes of demons. While it was a a high order for any company to follow she felt that if she could not trust these soldiers with this task then they were not worthy to be alive.
It was on the march towards the battle of the corrupted that the company began singing "Here they come again"
Since their creation Catherine has become increasingly fond of her company of soldiers who were forged through battle with demons. She created her own personal guard from the ranks of the Gallowborne and it is common for her to spar with 5 or 6 of them at a time. It is also commented by Ratface that a few officers have feelings for their leader. Nauk later mentions that the Gallowborne are rabidly loyal to Catherine, even mores than the rest of the Fifteenth, drawing steel and spilling the blood of those that spite Catherine.
After First Liesse, they are officially recognised by the Empire as a formal company, doubling their numbers. Catherine takes them around as a personal retinue during her duties as a Ruling Council member, which helps increase their fame. It is to the point that Callowans consider it somewhat of an honour to join the ranks and Praesi guards recognise their insignia.
They take heavy casualties during the Arcardian campaign, eventually culminating in the near-extermination of their ranks during the Battle of Dormer by the Immortals and Duke of Green Orchards, with only five of the two hundred surviving the battle.
After Akua's Folly, Catherine reforms the Gallowborne company from Akua's surviving Praesi soldiers, whom surrendered and knelt in exchange for not being summarily executed. The second incarnation of the Gallowborne bears even less rights than the original, as Catherine is unable to forgive them for helping cause the Doom of Liesse. Unlike the first incarnation, the new Gallowborne would not be allowed to return to the regular ranks and would serve unto death. Catherine also stops using them as a personal retinue.
- Book 2 - Chapter 29: Stand
- Book 2 - Chapter 11: Report The Kingdom of Callow had its own military traditions, more than just the now-disbanded knightly orders. My girlhood hero Elizabeth Alban, the Queen of Blades, had tried to invade the Duchy of Daoine once – though back then it had been an independent kingdom. Well aware that the Watch would inevitably make a butchery of whatever troops she sent in to breach their strongholds, she’d founded a new division in the Callowan host: the Forlorn Hope. Criminals, traitors, deserters – she’d conscripted all the scum at the bottom of the barrel, armed them and sent them first into the grinder at every occasion. Using the worst of the Kingdom to do the Kingdom’s best work, she’d famously called it. And now here I was, with hard battles ahead of me and a full company of deserters. There were lessons to be learned from the past, if one was willing to look in the right places.