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In the first part of The Deed of Paksenarrion (Sheepfarmer's Daughter) by Elizabeth Moon, the main character is part of a force garrisoning a fort at a place called Dwarfwatch. This fort is then essentially sieged twice, first by the Halverics Company to whom they surrender, and again shortly after that by the forces of Siniava.

The reason for the second siege is reasonably clear, given that Siniava wants to somehow conquer all of Aarenis. However, after finishing the books, I cannot recall any explanation why the Halverics attacked Dwarfwatch.

Given that they are a mercenary company, they were obviously hired by someone to do so. Is it ever explained who their contract was with?

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As far as I remember, the book doesn't reveal who the Halverics are working for. When the Halverics are coming to Dwarfwatch the following conversation takes place:

"Halverics," breathed Donag beside her. "Now what'd they be doing up here? Could the Duke have sent - no, surely not." Paks glanced at him; he seemed more puzzled than worried.

So it's pretty clear that the Duke didn't (especially since the Halverics captured the fort).

Later on when talking about what to do when captured, Bosk says:

"Don't talk about the Company to them - mostly they won't ask; it's bad manners. And don't ask about theirs."

Considering we're seeing the story from Paks' point of view, we don't know any more than she does.

On another note, since Aliam Halveric trained Kieri Phaelan (the Duke) and they formed the Mercenary's Code together, I would expect Halveric troops to know to keep their mouths shut about Company business. As Stammel tells Paks' recruit group (pg 169 of Sheepfarmer's Daughter):

"Just remember that any landlord loves gossip, and can no more keep a secret than a pig can weave. Anyone who talks about the Company's business will be explaining it to the captain."

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  • So I didn't miss anything. It just seems weird, since given their later behavior this could have been a major plot point. Immediately after lifting the siege on Dwarfwatch, the Halverics basically team up with the Phelani and others, while it would seem that they should still have another contract to fulfill.
    – Maeher
    May 31, 2016 at 12:28
  • I think there was mention that the Halveric had voided his current contract because of the violation of the Mercenary's Code. The only enforcement of the code was by companies who kept to the code. Without such enforcement, the Code would be meaningless. May 31, 2016 at 13:49
  • I'll have to see if I can find that bit about the Halveric voiding the contract. I know of three Companies who kept the code (there may be more) since they were the ones who created it. The Duke's the Halverics and Aesil M'deirra's Golden Company. It makes sense for the Halveric to have voided the contract if the person/group hiring them was violating it (especially if the employer was secretly working for the Honeycat). Maeher, from what I can see the Halverics do go straight from Dwarfwatch to join the siege at Rotengre.
    – Katdragon
    May 31, 2016 at 14:27
  • It also depends on what the contract said. If it was to take and hold Dwarfwatch, the Halverics did that and presumably some wounded soldiers would be left behind at the fort. The Duke says "You already know the other companies are with us: the Clarts, the Halverics, Vladi's spears...until this vengeance is complete, I will consider no other contract, and all I have will support this campaign". So presumably the Halveric was of the same mind as the Duke and wouldn't pick up another contract.
    – Katdragon
    May 31, 2016 at 14:28

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