- Long long ago, Li Markuth was the Grand Patriarch of the Li clan in Sacred Valley. He founded the Li Clan, and thought much of himself. This was about 2000-2500 years ago, judging by this excerpt:
No one had left Sacred Valley for a hundred generations. It was a desolate landscape beyond the mountains, a nightmare from the lowest hells. All the books said so. (Unsouled, ch 11)
- In his lifetime, Markuth saw the (Dreadgods) escape from the Labyrinth in the mountains around his valley. When he returned in book 1, he asked, “Tell me, have the Four Beasts come home?” (Unsouled, ch 9)
- He held a deep grudge against the original Wei clan founder, for reasons unknown (Unsouled ch 10)
- He eventually ascended into the Way, where the Abidan organization maintain order and control chaos.
- Recently, Markuth decided to return to Cradle, to his home in Sacred Valley, and set up shop as a king. This meant breaking the Abidan rules of ascension. It also meant killing several Wei clan members attending a festival competition, including the Wei Patriarch and the clan soulsmith, Wei Shi Seisha, the mother of Wei Shi Lindon Arelius.
The ascended version of Li Markuth is covered in diamonds and garbed in rich black furs. His hair is silver striped in white. He has huge black and white bat-like wings and fangs.
When he appeared in the circle, he stretched his wings. They unfolded at least thirty feet from tip to tip, and the structure of bones and tendons were coal-black. But the skin that stretched between them was pale and colorless, as though he'd stripped the wings from some giant arctic bat. He grinned, flashing fangs. “There is nothing so grand as a second chance.” The Li clansmen all but collapsed to their knees, grinding foreheads against the dirt. (Unsouled, ch 9)
- However, Suriel, the sixth Judge of the Abidan, a Phoenix of healing and restoration, undid the evil Li Markuth had done, restoring everyone to life, effectively erasing their memories. She sent Markuth away, to face trial. His crime: spatial violation and attempted domination of local inhabitants.
“Li Markuth was not permitted to return to this world. His attack was a deviation from fate, which I have reversed. When I depart, it will be as though your festival continued uninterrupted.” (Unsouled, ch 11)
- Li Markuth's illegal entry into Cradle had a positive if unintended consequence. It paved the way for Lindon to meet Suriel, and to learn about the fate of his valley -- eventual destruction by a Dreadgod.
One boy in particular caught her attention—tall, broad-shouldered, with a wooden badge and a rough face. He was the oldest of the group, and he won as easily as someone of his size should defeat younger children. The crowd treated him with disdain, but he seemed to carry himself with pride, as though pushing nine-year-olds out of bounds was an achievement. She looked a little deeper, examining his soul. She spotted his flaw immediately. He'd been born with a madra deficiency; that could be corrected, given time, but primitive clans like these often ostracized or marginalized the weak. (Unsouled, ch 11)
- Suriel decided to favor Lindon because he stepped up to shove his Palm into Markuth's gut, even knowing himself "unsouled" and the weakest of the weak -- knowing he would most certainly die for it. She viewed him as the sort of person the Abidan were meant to help, and even potentially, possibly, future Abidan material.
- So Suriel gave Lindon her distant patronage. She took him on a brief tour of world powers (Northstrider hunting sea dragons, Larian of the Eight-Man Empire, a young Luminous Queen Sha Miara of Nine-Cloud Court). She offered him some truths and encouragement, and showed him where he could find a helper, a ragged teenage girl named Yerin.
- Before she left, she gave Lindon a small blue marble.
- Another unintended consequence -- Eithan Arelius sensed the rift when Suriel entered the atmosphere. That's what really drew him to the Desolate Wilds, where he met Lindon and Suriel (see book 2)