The Company of the Cat is a mercenary company that primarily operates in Essos. It was founded two hundred years ago by Captain Oberyn "Croaker" Dayne, a distant cousin of House Dayne of Starfall who was forced to flee Westeros following Daeron the Young Dragon's conquest of Dorne. They are the second-largest mercenary band in Essos, second only to The Golden Company, and they greatly value their history. Their current Captain is Maekar Targaryen.
The Company of the Cat was founded in the early moons of 173 AC by Oberyn "Croaker" Dayne. Forced to flee Westeros in 159 AC, following his actions in Daeron's Conquest of Dorne (his moniker comes from the sounds his victims made before an unpleasant death), he joined with a now-defunct mercenary company, The Ragged Standard. He fought with them for fourteen years, soaring through the ranks due to his prowess with the blade.
The reasons for the Company's founding are carefully recorded in the first book of The Annals, The Book of Bucket. The Captain (he had abandoned his name when he became Captain of The Ragged Standard) was accused of embezzling funds from the group's treasury, using them to line his own pockets rather than their intended purpose, which was to buy supplies. Outraged, Croaker, who was by now a high-ranking officer, approached him, only to be laughed at. Assassins visited him that night, but Croaker's life was narrowly saved by the brave actions of Malyros "Bucket" Ostah, a new member of the group (who earned his nickname that night--traveling without his weapon when the assassins struck, he grabbed the first thing he could to defend Croaker, which just so happened to be a bucket).
When accused the following morning, The Captain laughed, and remarked, "Were I to hire assassins, I would not hire them unless they were quiet as a cat!" It was from that statement that the Company, a collection of Croaker's friends and allies, took their name; cats could stalk silently, but their roars were too loud to be ignored. Their voices would be heard.
The Company stole away in the middle of the night, taking with them a goodly portion of The Ragged Standard's supplies. Relations between the two were understandably tense.
The Company elected to organize itself around more democratic principles than that of its parent company. The Captain was to be elected from among the members of the Company, and would serve for life, until he stepped down, or until injury rendered him unable to perform his duties. He would appoint a group of officers who would serve as his "Lieutenants". They would be his most trusted council, and were collectively referred to as "The Table" a reference to the table around which they meet--a large, mahogany monstrosity with the Company's sigil carved into the center. The lieutenants are, in theory, equal, but there often exists a clear hierarchy among them.
There are always at least five members (in addition to The Captain) who sit at The Table, though there have, at times, been as many as twelve. Those five seats are as follows.
- The Lieutenant of the Infantry
- The Lieutenant of the Cavalry
- The Lieutenant of the Archers
- The Standard-bearer
- The Annalist
The Company prides itself on its history. Detailed records of its actions are kept by The Annalist, including marches, meeting minutes, and membership changes (individuals joining, leaving, dying, etc). Each Annalist's writings are combined into a book which bears their name (for example, The Book of Bucket, the writings of the Company's first Annalist). The Annalist holds a position of high regard, even if he does not hold direct power. The Annalist will often read excerpts from the older Annals aloud when the Company makes camp for the night.