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He was tall and thin and twitchy, given to flights of rage and subject to sudden spells resembling malarial shakes. He wore a sort of loose black floor-length chemise that concealed a deathly gauntness. He ate infrequently and then only picked. He could have been a famine victim. Threads of silver and gold and glistening black, embroidered or woven into his robe, protected him with dozens of static sorceries.

Bleak Seasons, chapter 35

Longshadow (also known as Maricha Manthara Dhumraksha and Merika Montera) was a reviled sorcerer who dwelt in the extreme southern reaches of the homeworld. He was the founder of the Shadowmasters and a chief enemy of the Black Company and Taglios during both Books of the South as well as Bleak Seasons and She Is the Darkness. He played a major role both in bringing the shadows into the world, and also in keeping them contained to the glittering plain.

Introduction[]

Appearance[]

Longshadow was physically decrepit, and bore some of the hallmarks of extreme old age or advanced disease. The skin on his arms was "both translucent and pus-colored, with speckles of blue beneath, like cheese. He had a fine crop of liver spots. There was almost no flesh on him at all." Murgen spied upon him using his disembodied perspective during the Shadowmaster wars, and described Longshadow's face as follows:

His face, which he kept masked except when he was alone, was skull-like. His waxy, pallid features were frozen in a permanent expression of fear. There was no guessing his birth race. His eyes were a washed out grey with splotches of pink around the edges but I don't think he was an albino.

Personality[]

Longshadow was universally despised. None who knew him among his enemies, slaves, soldiers, allies, or confederate Shadowmasters could tolerate his unmitigated arrogance and furious temper tantrums. His chief general, Mogaba, exercised immense restraint regarding Longshadow's terrible micromanagement and hampering of his strategic abilities. His relationship with Stormshadow, Moonshadow, and especially Shadowspinner was often openly hostile and deeply distrustful, as the four warred against one another before targeting Taglios.

The sorcerer's mental state was scarred by permanent paranoia regarding the shadows and their home, the glittering plain which was near to his castle Overlook. The entities were his source of power but also the bane of his existence.

Before Croaker's Annals[]

Conquering Hsien[]

Longshadow, his apprentice Shadowspinner, and a number of other men of their race originated from one of the 16 worlds linked by the glittering plain. His world of origin is a complete mystery in the Annals, but it seems to be one of the 13 unexplored, unnamed worlds. Bringing "no wives," they departed their world, crossed the plain, entered into the world known as Hsien, and conquered it with shadows and sorcery.

During their tyrannical reign, Longshadow and his kind abused the subjected populations with shadows so terribly that the many diverse peoples of Hsien all eventually came to collectively call themselves "the Children of the Dead." The Shadowmasters especially persecuted a community of Kina-worshipers, a minority group. This group of families chose to escape rather than give up their religion. They secretly manufactured a secret key in Khang Phi to safely transit their Shadowgate. They fled from Hsien, crossed the glittering plain, and entered into the homeworld. They emerged south of Kiaulune and became known as the Nyueng Bao De Duang.

After generations of notorious abuse, Longshadow and Shadowspinner – the last two members of the "race of outsider sorcerers" – were finally overthrown. Along with their subordinates (the shadowweavers and their families) they fled from Hsien onto the plain using a mysterious Shadowgate key. Following the footsteps of the fugitive Nyueng Bao, Longshadow and Shadowspinner entered into the homeworld as well.

In the homeworld[]

According to Uncle Doj, Shadowspinner infiltrated the Nyueng Bao community using the name "Ashutosh Yaksha." They had no idea he was one of their ancestors' tormentors. Meanwhile, Longshadow was training 6 new apprentices from the homeworld, including at least two members of the Ten Who Were Taken (Stormbringer and the Howler). Spinner soon introduced the Nyueng Bao to his master, Longshadow, who used the name "Maricha Manthara Dhumraksha." Longshadow accompanied the Nyueng Bao on one of their ceremonial pilgrimages to the Shadowgate, where he led them into a trap. Shadowspinner and the 6 new apprentices were waiting, and they stole the Shadowgate key from the Nyueng Bao elders. However, they did not know that the relic was a false key. When they attempted to tinker with the Shadowgate, they were rushed by an influx of killing shadows. Three of the apprentices were killed, and the Howler was "cruelly injured" and fled to the faraway swamps between Gea-Xle and Thresh. In desperation, Longshadow used the power of his own true name to help seal up the Shadowgate. This meant the shadows knew his name and would hunt him if they leaked through. But a benefit was that his apprentices would dare not kill him: his death would break the Shadowgate, bringing an onslaught of death from the plain into the homeworld.

Growing the Shadowlands[]

Longshadow, Shadowspinner, and the two remaining apprentices (Moonshadow and Stormbringer, using the new alias "Stormshadow") became the 4 Shadowmasters. They took over a place called Pityus, but their first major conquest was the southernmost city of Kiaulune, which Longshadow renamed "Shadowcatch." There, he forced the population to begin construction on his fortress, Overlook. (In Dreams of Steel, 17 years after the building began, Overlook was still incomplete.) The Shadowmasters went on to carve out the Shadowlands from formerly peaceful regions. Eventually they planned to use their control over the shadows to conquer the world. As their conquests grew, the group often fractured and feuded. They reunited to conquer Taglios but the initial Shadowlander forces were defeated by Willow Swan, Blade, and Cordy Mather, foreigners who had been hired by the Taglian prince, the Prahbrindrah Drah. The Shadowmaster wars had begun.

Shadow Games[]

Upon the arrival of the Black Company in Taglios, the war quickly turned against the Shadowmasters again at the Battle of Ghoja Ford. While the other Shadowmasters were fielding armies, Longshadow spent his time hidden away in his fortress, Overlook, as he watched the Shadowgate. His only real contribution to the early war effort was dispatching small groups of shadowweavers, specially trained men who used small shadows and animals like bats as spies to monitor the actions of the Company. He also coveted the knowledge that Lady possessed, and attempted unsuccessfully to have her kidnapped. His rivals, the other three Shadowmasters, are all eventually killed at Dejagore, with Stormshadow killed at the Battle of Dejagore and Moonshadow slain in the aftermath.

Dreams of Steel[]

Longshadow sent emissaries to the Howler in his swamp kingdom along the great river between Gea-Xle and Thresh. Howler, one of the surviving Ten Who Were Taken, proved to be an invaluable ally, although the two men would detest and distrust one another. Together, they combined their talents and created a small, new flying carpet for the Howler. The Howler seeded Taglios with Longshadow's spies using this priceless conveyance. The first group of Longshadow's spies were rooted out and killed by the Black Company. Later, Longshadow sent eight replacements – a group of shadowweavers led by One Who Leads Eight Who Serve – who successfully persuaded the Taglian court wizard Smoke to visit the Shadowmaster at Overlook. Longshadow tortured Smoke, subjecting him to a "poor man's Taking" which transformed him into a slave with sorcery. Soulcatcher, an unaligned wildcard sorceress of immense power, had One Who Leads and the other shadowweavers killed by Stranglers, and sent a hideous, fanged demon to attack Smoke in the Palace of Taglios. Longshadow communicated briefly with Smoke before his agent was badly mauled by the demon.

The Howler and three of the best Shadowlander soldiers from Overlook headed up Longshadow's final attempt to capture Lady. But the Howler kidnapped her sister Soulcatcher, who was masquerading as Lady, instead. During the kidnapping, Croaker stabbed the Howler with the Lance of Passion, unintentionally inflicting a "poisonous sorcery of tremendous potency." That same night, Shadowspinner was assassinated by Lady and her allies during the Siege of Dejagore.

Longshadow spent six days, without any sleep, curing the Howler at Overlook. But he did so only because he feared the power of the Lance and still needed strong allies; otherwise, the Howler was expendable to him. Meanwhile, Soulcatcher was awakened by her imp, Frogface, and with the aid of a monstrous demon, she easily escaped from the last Shadowmaster's giant fortress. Longshadow attempted to assassinate her in New Dhar with a gigantic shadow, but she defeated the entity and became one of Longshadow's most dangerous enemies.

Bleak Seasons[]

With the other three Shadowmasters dead, Longshadow became the "number one boy on the Black Company shit list" for the next several years. As the Shadowmaster wars continued, the Company led armies of Taglians deeper and deeper into Longshadow's extensive territories south of the Main. As the Company pushed south, Longshadow sent larger and more powerful groups of shadows to attack. Due to the fireball projector weapons developed by Lady, however, the shadows proved largely ineffective as a fighting force, and failed to halt the advance of the Company.

To compensate for his losses, Longshadow collected new generals and allies. He made a deeply unpopular alliance with the Living Saint of the StranglersNarayan Singh. He also accepted Blade, a former ally of the Company who had a mysterious falling out with Croaker, to command some of his Shadowlander forces. Most importantly, he brought in a noteworthy Black Company deserter, Mogaba, to be his chief general. Mogaba's excellent generalship of Longshadow's forces would soon mark him as the worst traitor in the band's long history.

She Is the Darkness[]

Through his ally the Howler, Longshadow unleashed millions of shadows during the Battle of Lake Tanji. The Black Company was prepared, and with their fireball projectors they exterminated the supernatural wave of darkness.

Longshadow next suffered an immense defeat of his conventional armies at the Battle of Charandaprash. During this event, Blade revealed that he was a mole planted by the Black Company and surrendered a major portion of the army of the Shadowlanders. Additionally, Longshadow foolishly micromanaged Mogaba, his best general.

Finally, at the massive Siege of Overlook, Longshadow lost all his soldiers and shadowweavers and was captured by the Company. The Company sewed his mouth shut and his fingers together so he could employ no sorcery, and he lived in a filthy, miserable prison for months. When he realized he was being sent through the Shadowgate, the source of all his fear, he tried screaming through his sealed mouth continuously. But Croaker was unmoved, and Longshadow was carried through the gate, along with two other prisoners: Soulcatcher and Lisa Daele Bowalk. He remained with them as key members of the Company and their allies marched out onto the glittering plain in search of fabled Khatovar. Approximately 15 people died, but Longshadow and about 34 others from that party subsequently became the Captured, hostages placed by Soulcatcher in the cave of the ancients, beneath the fortress with no name at the center of the plain. Left for dead among his enemies, he would remain frozen there with limited or no consciousness for at least 15 years.

Water Sleeps[]

Longshadow was spotted by Sleepy upon her first entrance into the cave of the ancients, findings him untouched with most of the other Captured. She made certain not to disturb his magic stasis, because doing so would result in his death. Since his true name was still tied to the homeworld's Shadowgate, his death could cause the Shadowgate to fail... an event that would bring about the end of the world. She looked forward to the day when the Shadowgate could be properly restored, so they could finally execute him. She changed her mind mere days later, however. Upon entering the world of Hsien – the very same world Longshadow had conquered before ever entering the homeworld – she learned that both the File of Nine and the Court of All Seasons were still itching for revenge against the man who had tyrannized their world several generations ago.

Sleepy liberated him on one of her later expeditions back and forth between the cave and the Abode of Ravens in Hsien. Although freed, he was kept on a very tight leash, and was forced to participate in Tobo's extensive training in sorcery.

Soldiers Live[]

The Company used Longshadow as a bargaining chip to gain the cooperation of the File of Nine in Hsien. They did this to buy the time they needed to recover and re-arm for the eventual battle against Soulcatcher in the homeworld. He was later surrendered, as promised, to face the bitter justice of the rulers of Hsien.


Shadowmasters
LongshadowShadowspinnerStormshadowMoonshadow
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