Hsien (referred to as the Land of Unknown Shadows by the Nyueng Bao émigrés) is one of the 16 worlds linked up by the glittering plain. The various peoples there refer to themselves as the "Children of the Dead". Hsien was the strange new world entered into by the Black Company at the very end of Water Sleeps, and was one of the key locations of the early events of Soldiers Live. It was the world from which the original Nyueng Bao emigrated.
Inexplicably, the physical geography of Hsien very closely resembles the topography and features of Croaker's homeworld as well as a third one called the Voroshk world. However, Hsien features entirely different moons, constellations, wildlife, and human civilizations.
Before the Annals[edit | edit source]
Conquered by the Shadowmasters[edit | edit source]
The civilizations in Hsien lived in a relative golden age at first. Then, "a race of outsider sorcerers" called the Shadowmasters came from one of other worlds linked by the glittering plain, crossed the shadowgate, entered into Hsien, and conquered it using their power over shadows. These mysterious, all-male conquerors were excessively cruel and destructive. The First One, apparently the leader of the Shadowmasters, transformed a number of shadows from the plain into very different entities called the Unknown Shadows.
Escape of the Nyueng Bao[edit | edit source]
Fleeing the Shadowmasters, a group of families created a shadowgate key and escaped across the plain into the southern continent of a different world, where they became known as the Nyueng Bao. There are conflicting origin stories about the Nyueng Bao. In one story, they promised to return to Hsien and overthrow the Shadowmasters. But over the generations, they abandoned or forgot this promise and instead simply feared that they would be recalled back to their accursed world of Hsien. In another story, they were the vanguard of what was supposed to be multiple waves of further émigrés. In this account, they even sent their shadowgate key back to Hsien to permit more escapees to join them. But no one ever did.
Final 2 Shadowmasters exiled[edit | edit source]
In Hsien, the "outsider sorcerers" were eventually reduced to merely two surviving Shadowmasters: Merika Montera (later called Longshadow), and Achoes Tosiak-shah (later called Shadowspinner). These two were finally, somehow, overthrown and exiled, and they escaped Hsien by fleeing into the plain with their shadowweavers. (They then entered Croaker's homeworld, following the footsteps of the Nyueng Bao, and soon established themselves as as conquerors in that world, carving out the Shadowlands.) Meanwhile, the peoples of Hsien, although now free, still lived with the mental scars of their subjugation. They subsequently referred to themselves as the "Children of the Dead". Additionally, since the flight of the Shadowmasters, all the peoples of Hsien agreed to root out and kill any wizard that became known. This persecution of magical talent is the origin of the phrase "All Evil Dies There an Endless Death", a saying which was associated with the world, and also explains why the Black Company found no sorcerers there.
Rise of the File of Nine[edit | edit source]
In the power vacuum left behind by the Shadowmasters, there was "terrible chaos" and widespread violence. Then, a council of anonymous warlords called the File of Nine created a fragile peace. Whenever some warlord attempted to gain additional power, the File would gang up to restore the status quo and preserve the existing balance of power. The File of Nine ideally sought to re-establish the golden age that existed before the arrival of the Shadowmasters. Another significant organization in Hsien was the Court of All Seasons, based in Quang Ninh City which was very far away from Hsien's shadowgate. It was comprised of aristocrats called "Noble Judges", who, though they were "little more than decorative" and had no significant finances, did enjoy "demonstrative moral authority". A third organization of note was the collective of the universally-respected monks of Khang Phi. The monks posted a permanent watch on the shadowgate, in case the dreaded Shadowmasters would ever return.
Soldiers Live[edit | edit source]
The Black Company, a mercenary band from an entirely different world, escaped to Hsien after rescuing the Captured at the end of Water Sleeps. They were immediately spotted by the vigilant monks of Khang Phi, and soon established a wary peace with all the local warlords. Near Hsien's shadowgate, the Company built up their strength, recruited about 8,000 mostly young men from the local populace, built a sizable military city called the Abode of Ravens, and trained their newest wizard Tobo (son of Murgen and Sahra). Tobo quickly befriended the Unknown Shadows, mysterious entities native to Hsien, that had been living in hiding for generations and were little more than spook stories to the humans of Hsien.
The Company vied for the knowledge to repair the shadowgates so they could return to their world and destroy Soulcatcher. They infiltrated the great library of Khang Phi and stole the knowledge. In response, the File of Nine formed an army to attack them and prevent them from reopening the shadowgate. The File feared that Shadowmasters might return to subjugate them, and also they wanted custody of Longshadow, the Company's prisoner, to take revenge upon him. Tobo used the Unknown Shadows to torment the advancing army until it was disbanded. The Company left Hsien and was now comprised primarily of thousands of soldiers recruited locally. Although many of them signed on for only 1 year in the field, they were loyal because they "wanted to shed the feudal chains of Hsien" in hopes of making fortunes.
Later, Tobo disentangled the homeworld shadowgate from Longshadow's true name. Only then did Shivetya permit Longshadow to be sent out of the fortress with no name and back to Hsien, so that the Children of the Dead could enact justice upon him at long last. What they did to him was not recorded, but was presumably horrid.
Black Company men from Hsien[edit | edit source]
- General Chu: a brigade commander, and later, Sleepy's chief of staff
- The Chu Ming brothers: two soldiers who were trustworthy enough to be given a shadowgate key
- The Chun brothers: siblings who were noteworthy fatalities of the Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery
- Li Wan: a noteworthy fatality of the Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery
- Lucky: a commando; birth name: Tam Do Linh
- Minh Bhu: an excellent ranger and one of the best Company soldiers from Hsien
- Panda Man: an older-than-average hardcase and solid veteran of Hsien's warlord conflicts
- Pham Huu Clee: a noteworthy fatality of the Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery
- Spook: an older-than-average hardcase and solid veteran of Hsien's warlord conflicts
- Tam Duc: a soldier who was killed in an accident shortly before Soldiers Live
- Tea Nung: a cavalry officer appearing in the Annals after the capture of Gharhawnes
- Tso Lien: a fiercely loyal officer
- Vanh: a sergeant