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Bale is a recurring character in Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series (which takes place 6000 years ago in prehistoric Europe during the Stone Age).

History

Early life

Bale was born two years before Torak and Renn as a Seal Clan member. He lived for his entire life in the Seal Islands, the permanent home of his clan, and never visited the eastern Forest further than the seashore. He had a little brother who died two years before the events of Wolf Brother. The little brother died when he and three other Seals were infected by a soul-tearing sickness. Later it's revealed that the sickness was created by the Seal Mage Tenris, who was secretly one of the Soul Eaters and had wanted to experiment his creation.

Spirit Walker

Tenris spreads out the soul-tearing sickness across the Forest in order to draw out Torak, who is related to the Seal Clan through his paternal grandmother. In his search to find a cure, Torak ends up at the seashore where Bale and his two friends — Asrif and Detlan — are preparing to return home. Torak's act of using Forest-made fishing equipment angers the Seal trio because their laws forbid mixing the Sea with the Forest. They forcibly take Torak with them to have him judged by their clan.

After Torak manages to be spared from enduring the usual punishment for upsetting Mother Sea (much to Bale's frustration), he convinces Tenris to help in creating a cure against the plague. The Seal Mage says that he needs for the cure a root of a plant that grows in the Eagle Beaks and has Bale teach Torak how to handle a skinboat. Their continued dislike of each other doesn't make it easy though. However, Bale's dislike of Torak slowly lessens over time.

Torak, Bale, Asrif and Detlan manage to retrieve the root from the Eagle Beaks, though in the process, Detlan is crippled by an orca whale that's searching for the killer of its offspring (which is Tenris). In order to create the supposed cure in time (in Midsummer Night), Detlan and Asrif are left behind while Torak, Bale and Tenris paddle back to the Seal Camp (which is emptied due to the rest of the clan having gone to celebrate Midsummer Night to the Cormorant Clan). A storm separates Torak from the two Seals, and they meet Renn.

Tenris manipulates Bale to believe that Renn has been infected and has him guard her. In the meantime, Tenris betrays Torak and attempts to sacrifice him in order to gain his power as a spirit walker. With Wolf's help, Renn is able to convince Bale of Tenris' crimes and has him paddle them to the Sea. From there Renn is able to help Torak escape by shooting Tenris with her bow. Tenris is afterwards killed by the vengeful orca whale.

After everything is cleared up at the Seal Islands, Bale takes Torak, Renn and Wolf back to the Forest. He and Torak make a promise to meet again and have the Seal visit the Forest. Bale also acknowledges Torak as his kin.

Outcast

A summer after Spirit Walker, Torak is discovered to have been tattooed with the Soul Eaters' symbol (which happened in Soul Eater) and is subsequently exiled from the clans. Bale meets Renn at a clan meeting and is told of what has happened to Torak. He decides to remain in the Forest in order help his kin, regardless of the clan laws that state that an outcast has to be killed on sight and anyone who helps them become outcasts as well.

A month later, Renn and Bale find out that Torak suffers from soul-sickness, has headed towards Lake Axehead and is hunted by one of the Soul Eaters, Seshru the Viper Mage. They travel to Lake Axehead, though at first Bale wants Renn to stay with her clan. However, he's soon forced to admit that he's too ignorant of the ways of the Forest and agrees to work with Renn.

At Lake Axhead, Renn and Bale are caught by the Otter Clan and sent towards east by their Mage. They soon realize that they're far too east from Torak. As they're paddling back to Torak's location, they're caught in a storm. Renn uses her skill in Magecraft to sent two ravens — later named Rip and Rek — in order to help cure Torak's soul-sickness.

After the storm passes, Renn and Bale are stalled for several days with having to fix Bale's skinboat before they find the fully recovered Torak and are confronted by Seshru. The Viper Mage reveals that Renn is her daughter and causes the best friends to run away from each other. Bale catches up with Torak and convinces him to help finding Renn. Soon they discover thanks to Rip that one of the two remaining Fire Opal shards that has been hidden in the knife of Torak's father. Renn finds them soon after and reveals that a flood is about to happen in the area. Bale gives his skinboat to Torak so that he can warn the clans of the area while he and Renn find a safe spot.

After the flood has passed, the clans still want to kill Torak who's defended by Renn, Bale, Fin-Kedinn and Aki (the son of the Boar Clan Chief who was saved by Torak during the flood). Seshru appears to claim the Fire Opal shard. When Torak is about to smash the shard, Seshru lunges forward and is shot with Renn's bow by Bale. With the Soul Eater and the Fire Opal gone, Torak is accepted back to the clans.

Bale helps Fin-Kedinn in adjusting Torak's outcast tattoo so that he can belong to all of the Clans. While doing that, he expresses a belief that the last Fire Opal shard (the one Tenris possessed before his death) is still in the Seal Islands and that the remaining Soul Eaters have been trying to locate it there.

Oathbreaker

Almost another summer has passed and Bale is now nearly seventeen summers old and nearly full-grown. He's helping Torak, Renn and Fin-Kedinn in locating the last Fire Opal shard in the Seal Islands by keeping an eye out for the Crag. However, when it is a turn for Torak and Bale to keep watch over the Crag, Bale reveals Torak his intention to ask Renn stay with him. Angered, Torak goes away and leaves Bale alone on the watch-duty.

Deceased Bale's hand

Bale's hand shown after his death

While on watch-duty on the Crag, Bale sneaks up on one of the Soul Eaters, the Oak Mage Thiazzi, who has just found the last Fire Opal fragment. Bale attacks Thiazzi in order to stop him, but Thiazzi overpowers Bale and kills him by throwing him off the cliff. Torak is consumed with guilt for not being there with Bale and swears by his three souls to avenge him by killing Thiazzi, saying Bale's name at the same time. (It is forbidden to say the decedent's name for five summers after their death, because the act will call their souls to haunt you.)

During Torak's search for Thiazzi, he's haunted by Bale's ghost who seems to be angry with him for not being there with him. Eventually, Torak gives up vengeance so that Thiazzi might let Renn live. Following Thiazzi's demise, Bale appears in Torak's dream one more time to say fond farewells.

Personality

Bale is a proud young Seal and one of the most respected members of his clan. He is the best paddler among the Seals, and his skinboat is a dear companion to him. Causing damage to his boat is a personal insult towards him. He's highly prejudiced towards the Forest and its inhabitants due to having never gone there, but his adventures with Torak and his firsthand experiences in the Forest humble him. For instance, when he sees Torak's totem, a ragged wolf pelt, he thinks wolves to be pathetic creatures. When he finally sees Wolf, he changes his mind about wolves and bows respectfully.

Bale is initially hostile towards Torak for fortuitously damaging his beloved skinboat with Forest-made fishing hooks and cannot believe Torak would be his kin and be totally ignorant of the ways of the Sea. However, having to teach Torak paddling and working with him to prepare a cure for the soul-sickness makes Bale protective of him. It is implied that he sees Torak something of a substitute for his late little brother, whose death still affects him.

Bale has a strong sense of fairness in him: even during his initial hostility towards Torak, he doesn't treat him in a petty manner as much as Asrif or Hord. In Spirit Walker, he is strict to the letter about keeping the Sea and the Forest separated, but his growing friendship with Torak and the unveiling of Tenris' crimes make him less strict. When he hears how Torak has been branded an outcast that is forbidden to be helped and obliged to be killed on sight because of the Soul Eaters' mark forcibly tattooed on him, he decides to remain in the Forest and help Torak anyway he can.

When Bale leaves for Lake Axehead in search of Torak, he wants Renn to stay behind because in his clan, women stay at home and don't come to men's boats. However, the realization of his ignorance of the Forest forces him to work with Renn, and they gain an amount of respect for each other. While he knows how vile Seshru is, he can't bring himself to attack the beautiful Viper Mage when she appears to be unarmed. However, when she later lunges at Torak with a knife, Bale takes Renn's bow from her and kills Seshru with it.

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