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Shadowspinner (also known as Ashutosh Yaksha and Achoes Tosiak-shah) was one of the four Shadowmasters who established the Shadowlands in the far south of the homeworld. Originally headquartered at Shadowlight, he was a chief enemy of the Black Company during two consecutive conflicts of the Shadowmaster wars which took place at the city of Dejagore. At the 2-day Battle of Dejagore, he was badly injured but was the overall victor. Immediately afterward, he commanded the armies of Shadowlanders who beleaguered the Black Company during the notorious, months-long Siege of Dejagore.

Shadowspinner was personable and intelligent, with very pale skin – whiter than Goblin or Willow Swan – but was not albino. Despite his advanced age, he appeared as a middle-aged man. His magnitude as a sorcerer was significant, and he was powerful enough to be considered a genuine threat by his paranoid fellow Shadowmaster Longshadow. In addition to his command over shadows, he had access to spells of immense destructive power. For example, during the Siege of Dejagore, he hurled a spear of energy that dissolved several cubic yards of stone wall from ballista-range.

Before Croaker's Annals[]

In Hsien[]

Shadowspinner's origin was neither Hsien nor the homeworld. As an apprentice, he and his master Longshadow were members of "a race of outsider sorcerers" who had traveled from one of the unknown sixteen worlds linked by the glittering plain into the world known as Hsien and conquered it. After generations of notorious abuse, he and Longshadow were the last survivors of this alien race, and were finally overthrown. The pair fled from Hsien, across the plain, and into the southern continent of the world of the modern Black Company. They used a mysterious talisman – Longshadow's lost key – to safely cross the otherwise lethal plain, and were apparently accompanied by some number of shadowweavers.

In the homeworld[]

Now in his new world, Shadowspinner infiltrated the Nyueng Bao De Duang community, which was comprised of the descendants of a religious group he had persecuted in Hsien. During this time, he used the alias "Ashutosh Yaksha" (Ashutosh being an old title or name meaning "Despair of the Wicked" and Yaksha meaning "good spirit"). Although he did not disguise the fact that he was a sorcerer, he successfully masqueraded as a mere student who was simply eager to acquire wisdom at the Vinh Gao Ghang Temple of Ghanghesha. His true goal was to determine if they still had their ancestors' key to the Shadowgate and steal it. The Nyueng Bao did not realize he was one of the very tyrants who persecuted their ancestors. When he learned about the traditional pilgrimage the Nyueng Bao made each decade to the Shadowgate, he sent word to his master Longshadow, and introduced the tall, masked man to them as "Maricha Manthara Dhumraksha".

According to Uncle Doj – who was a child at the time and whose account might not be fully reliable – Shadowspinner then went ahead alone to the Shadowgate, where he rendezvoused with 6 other wizards ("would-be Shadowmasters") whom Longshadow had presumably been training in the art of controlling shadows. Longshadow made the pilgrimage with the Nyueng Bao, but did not have the opportunity to discover for himself that their Shadowgate key was a fake. When he, Shadowspinner, and the six others stole the fake key and attempted to use it, they were assaulted by an influx of lethal shadows. Three of them were killed in the incident, and another – the Howler – was gravely injured and fled far north along the great river. In desperation, Longshadow sealed the gate using the power of his true name, making him a target of shadows ever since that moment. (A real key possessed by the Nyueng Bao, the golden pickax, would later be stolen by Soulcatcher.)

Afterward, Shadowspinner, Longshadow, and the only remaining two other Shadowmasters (Moonshadow and Stormshadow) carved out the Shadowlands, beginning with Pityus and expanding to the ancient city of Kiaulune, which Longshadow renamed "Shadowcatch". Shadowspinner himself became ruler of Tragevec, a major city near the most populous and prosperous region of the Shadowlands, renaming it "Shadowlight". And Stormshadow would go on to seize Dejagore, renaming it "Stormgard". But the Shadowmasters did not remain unified, and soon they feuded among themselves.

Shadow Games[]

Shadowspinner was a key leader of the enemies of the Black Company during the 2-day Battle of Dejagore, chronicled in Shadow Games.

Battle of Dejagore: first day[]

During the Battle of Dejagore, Shadowspinner commanded the Shadowlander military encampment which had been built about four hundred yards outside Dejagore's southern city wall. He was estimated to have at least 10,000 men-at-arms. Croaker's Black Company and the 3 legions of Taglios under his command as Liberator arrived not long after their victory at the Battle of Ghoja Ford and set up their own camp. The next morning, Shadowspinner came out, "seated in the lotus position, all in black, floating five feet off the ground", and went to the head of his disorganized but huge force. He was battered badly after being struck by several hits from ballista shafts loosed by Cletus, Loftus, and Longinus, but his protective sorceries kept him alive. At the same time, his men were mauled by Croaker's war elephants, and they all retreated back into the military camp. Croaker considered his enemy Shadowspinner to be "useless as tits on a boar hog" regarding his lack of personal participation as a sorcerer in that fighting. (Croaker guessed that Shapeshifter was curtailing his sorcery, and it was later revealed that Longshadow was handicapping him as well.) Later that very same night, Croaker and his best soldiers and allies fully circumvented Shadowspinner's camp, seized the city itself, and killed Stormshadow.

Battle of Dejagore: second day[]

The next day, Moonshadow arrived with a relief army from the southern hills, which Croaker approximated to number about 15,000. Right after Croaker neutralized Moonshadow, Shadowspinner and his forces departed their camp and eventually turned the tide of battle against the Company and the Taglians. He first used several loud "killer spells" to frighten a force of armed prisoners Croaker had sent, but was next injured by another barrage of ballista shafts. Enraged, Shadowspinner replied with a spell that blasted Cletus, Loftus, Longinus, and their siege engines right off the wall. He then silenced the explosive sorcery which Goblin and One-Eye had started to use to protect Ochiba's legion. In the end, Lady surmised that it was the advent of Shadowspinner's troops from his encampment which "caused a shift in momentum that could not be reversed", and the Company was defeated and forced to retreat behind the walls.

Following the deaths of Stormshadow and Moonshadow, Shadowspinner besieged Dejagore alone with the combined Shadowlander forces.

Dreams of Steel and Bleak Seasons[]

Shadowspinner was the primary enemy of the Black Company during most of the infamous Siege of Dejagore. These events were chronicled by Lady in Dreams of Steel and by Murgen in his flashback chapters in Bleak Seasons. Throughout the early portion of the siege, his powers were dampened by his former ally Longshadow. Shadowspinner eventually made a brief alliance with the Howler, who "cut Longshadow's webs of control" to help him recover his strength. He was also assisted by Soulcatcher who arranged for Longshadow to be distracted while the Howler rendered his aid. Spinner conjured a mist which would allow his shadows to enter the city with little resistance. Murgen commented even Longshadow would have feared such sorcery.

On the night that Shadowspinner was on the verge of finally recapturing Dejagore, Soulcatcher intervened while disguised as Lifetaker, and used her formidable sorcery to stop him. Though Catcher permanently robbed him of the resources to capture the city, he was still able to maintain the siege.

Shadowspinner narrowly escaped death after Loftus fired One-Eye's spear at the Shadowmaster from a ballista. But it missed, fatally wounding his mount – one of Lady's stolen black stallions – forcing Spinner to flee on foot. Subsequently, Lady rebuilt the army of Taglios and tried to reclaim Dejagore. In response, Shadowspinner flooded the city so he was not forced to fight on two fronts with Mogaba. Shadowspinner was eventually killed and dismembered in his own tent during a night attack on his encampment by Lady (wielding a rumel) and her allies Narayan Singh, Ram, at least two other Stranglers, as well as Blade.

Shadowspinner's head, with the brains removed and destroyed, became the Company's temporary totem until the Black Company standard was returned by Croaker.


Shadowmasters
LongshadowShadowspinnerStormshadowMoonshadow
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