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Iron Shadow Fortress

The dreaded and evil Iron Shadow Warlord built his fortress in the snowy mountains of the south west, near the borders with Bharat City. He studied and made himself master of all human skills and raised a vast army so he could claim the Middle Kingdom for himself. He made it all the way to the Forbidden City itself but when he faced the emperor he realized that while he may be the strongest a human could ever be, the emperor is of Heavenly quality. He bent his knee without ever drawing his sword and begged forgiveness. The emperor ordered him and his armies back to his fortress and guard the borders, keeping the Middle Kingdom safe from invaders from the west.

The Fortress has stood for centuries as one Warlord after another passed on the title and duties to their heir. Many of these younger Iron Shadow Warlords would rebel against their imperial master but always they met with the same fate as their ancestors. The current Iron Shadow Warlord is the seventeenth one to carry the name and he has noted that the current emperor is of a young and untested dynasty. Perhaps this time will be different...

His daughter, the eighteenth Iron Shadow Warlord, attends the Scarlet Tiger school.

The Iron Shadow Warlord and his armies are forbidden from venturing inside Shen Zhou City itself but the Warlords are eagerly sought out mentors. They have always had hundreds of students, each of them with the potential to become a great hero or villain.

The Master's Five Shadows

The enigmatic young heroes known as the Five Shadows are direct servants of an undisclosed Master. It's commonly assumed that he is a minister of security of some sort. Whoever the Master is, he never makes public appearances. He talks only through the Shadows by using their cellphones. Any conversation with them usually begins with the words, "I recite...", followed by whatever he whispers in their ears from afar.

The individual youngsters do have their own names although translating them to English can be a bit tricky. The most straightforward reading would be, from left to right: Shadow of Mercury, Shadow of Venus, Shadow of Mars, Shadow of Jupiter, and Shadow of Saturn.

But besides inviting Sailor Moon jokes, such a translation doesn't quite capture their essence. Their names are given in either Chinese or Indian and as such could be given alternative interpretations. For example, Shadow of Mars could also be translated as either "Shadow of the Fire Star" or "Mangala's Shadow." Their Indian names are particularly important because they refer to five Hindu deities with all manner of symbolism and meanings behind them. One wouldn't expect "Shadow of Saturn" to be trained in Ravenous Wings kung fu necessarily, but knowing that "Shani's Shadow" is trained in that art is not so strange, given that the god Shani has a strong association with crows.

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