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One Who Leads Eight Who Serve was the designation chosen by Longshadow's chief shadowweaver spy in Taglios in Dreams of Steel. As Longshadow's secret emissary, this "wrinkled little man" was instructed to persuade the Taglian court wizard Smoke to visit the Shadowmaster in person. Despite being impressively articulate, a master of negotiation, and also fluent in the Taglian language, One Who Leads' unwieldy designation revealed that he never saw himself as anything more than Longshadow's pawn.

Dreams of Steel[]

A statement from Soulcatcher indicated that One Who Leads and his seven subordinates were all flown into the city by Longshadow's hated ally the Howler aboard his small new flying carpet.[1] Also, Smoke ascertained that they must have arrived in Taglios as replacements for an earlier set of spies that had been rooted out and killed by the Black Company many months earlier.[2]

Meeting with Smoke[]

The eight shadowweavers all "were wrinkled little brown men unlike any Taglian native" who took up residence together in a dangerously dilapidated tenement in "the worst part of the city"[3] (possibly Chor Bagan). They removed the roof of their room on the fourth floor and used bats to keep tabs on Smoke.

Longshadow summoned one of his shadows using his crystal sphere in Overlook to deliver orders to "create the agent" to One Who Leads.[4]

The shadow traveled from the city Shadowcatch to Taglios and delivered this message. Acting immediately, six of the subordinate shadowweavers found Smoke and led him to their room. One Who Leads – the only one who could speak Taglian – conversed with Smoke and persuasively presented several reasons for him to accept Longshadow's "friendship" without the knowledge of the Prahbrindrah Drah. He carefully appealed to Smoke's fear of Lady, the Stranglers, Kina, and the dreaded Year of the Skulls. He also lied extensively about Longshadow's motivations, future plans, involvement in the ongoing Shadowmaster wars, and made false promises for a lasting peace. One Who Leads allowed Smoke to depart after their first meeting, and immediately abandoned that room for at least one more slum tenement.[5]

Later activities[]

One Who Leads is not seen alive again in the Annals. But subsequent events outline some of his later activities, and most importantly, prove that his eloquent appeal to Smoke was ultimately successful. Evidently he and Smoke met at least once more (and were spied upon by crows belonging to their mutual enemy Soulcatcher). Soulcatcher later told Croaker that Smoke agreed to be flown by the Howler to meet Longshadow in person at Overlook.[6] This was One Who Leads' true mission: to get Smoke to expose his vulnerability. There, the false promises made by One Who Leads were laid bare: instead of being treated like a respected ally, Smoke was tortured gruesomely by Longshadow in a "poor man's Taking" and transformed into a slave with sorcery.[7]

One Who Leads must have plotted with Smoke after the newly-enslaved wizard was dropped back into Taglios by the Howler. Smoke was aware of the shadowweavers' new secret location.


One Who Leads Eight Who Serve and his seven subordinates all wound up strangled by rumel-wielding Stranglers. The killers believed they took their orders to strike the shadowweavers from Lady, but these orders actually came from Soulcatcher who was masquerading as her sister during this time. When Smoke went to meet One Who Leads in a tall slum tenement, he discovered all eight shadowweavers' corpses. A menacing stranger among the corpses turned out to be Soulcatcher's imp Frogface in human disguise.[8]

Subsequent events[]

Soulcatcher did not stop her attacks on Longshadow's agents with the strangulation of One Who Leads and his group. She also sent a hideous, fanged demon to kill Smoke himself in the Palace of Taglios. But this assassination attempt was interrupted by the Prahbrindrah, leaving Smoke in a coma.[9]

Some years later, an alliance was brokered between Longshadow and the Stranglers despite the history of deadly violence between them.[10]


  1. Dreams of Steel ch. 33
  2. Shadow Games ch. 31
  3. Dreams of Steel ch. 25
  4. Dreams of Steel ch. 21
  5. Dreams of Steel ch. 25
  6. Dreams of Steel ch. 33
  7. Dreams of Steel ch. 39
  8. Dreams of Steel ch. 49
  9. Dreams of Steel ch. 51
  10. Bleak Seasons ch. 14