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The Shadow Lord

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The Shadow Lord

Kill him. And bring the tube to me. ~ The Shadow Lord first hears of the Cardboard Tube Samurai


A mysterious criminal figure, whose mysteriousness was matched only by his criminality. The Shadow Lord went by a multitude of pseudonyms over the course of his life and his true name is utterly unknown (if he even had one). He was usually described as tall, broad-shouldered, with short black hair, an ageless face and "hard, iron-grey eyes". He did not wear unusually dark clothes; rather, it was said that he caused shadows to lengthen wherever he went. He was a master of crime, manipulation, alchemy, martial arts and dark magic.




The Oriental Tales of the Wang Kingdom claim that he first appeared in the late 1,030s and lived for more than two thousand years after that. This has led many to question whether was really just one Shadow Lord or many men working under the same title. Most likely he was genuinely immortal; given that he arose in the aftermath of the Vampyric Wars it seems plausible that, while he appeared to be entirely human, he might have inherited his immortality from a Vampyre ancestor.


After uniting all the thieves in the Wang Kingdom under his rule in 1,038, the Shadow Lord staged a coup in which he leapt from criminal ganglord to secret ruler of the Kingdom. His mastery of the criminal afforded him powers even greater than many of the High August Jade Lotus Emperors. He used three consecutive High August Jade Lotus Emperors as puppet rulers as he increased and consolidated his power, finally doing away with all pretence after the death of the third Emperor in 2,062, when he ordered the execution or exile of all remaining heirs of the three clans and began to rule the Kingdom personally.


A wandering hero named Donu-Ishu became known to the Shadow Lord in 2,282. By 2,300, Donu-Ishu and his Donu-Ishu Seven had assembled an army large enough to storm the Shadow Lord's Imperial Palace. The battle ended with Donu-Ishu's entire army slain but the Shadow Lord forced to flee the Palace alone. He would remain underground and incognito for over a thousand years, his reign of terror becoming the stuff of old legends and scary children's stories.


In 3,400 the Shadow Lord - almost certainly the same man, despite the enormous span of time since his last appearance - burst back onto the scene with an army of bandits, seized control of the Imperial throne and once again installed a puppet ruler. However it would not be long before wandering heroes began to arise once again. Tobun spent thirty years battling his evil before retiring. Then it was the turn of the Cardboard Tube Samurai, whose one-man crusade against the Shadow Lord is the very stuff of legends. The Samurai successfully assaulted the Imperial Palace single-handedly only for the Shadow Lord to flee as he had centuries before. He made it to the foot of Mt Wang, which he began to climb with the Cardboard Tube Samurai in hot pursuit. Both then passed out of history.


The final fate of the Shadow Lord, like much of the Wang Era, is unknown.


Works featuring the Shadow Lord


The Shadow Lord's first rise to power is told in Oriental Tales of the Wang Kingdom, Volume 1, "Reins of the World". In this novel he is the central character and protagonist; for later novels he would fulfill a more traditional villain role.


His first defeat at the hands of Donu-Ishu is told in Volume 2, with his eventual return is heavily foreshadowed.


The Shadow Lord's return to power is mostly inferred from incidental references and not directly recorded anywhere in canon. His second defeat and disappearance at Mt Wang forms the final third of Volume 4. He also gets some significant references in Volume 5.


The Shadow Lord is also the main character of Hats of the Ages and the Genealogy of Epicness. However this work is rather difficult to read due to the shear madness bestowed to its pages by its author.

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