Reigan Shen is the Lone Monarch of the Rosegold Continent on Cradle, on the Path of King's Key.
Reigan Shen, the Emperor of Lions, is one of Cradle’s Sacred Beasts and a Monarch who rules over the Rosegold continent — the homeland of House Arelius, where millenia ago Ozmanthus Arelius was Monarch.
Reigan Shen is the creator and sole practitioner of the Path of the King's Key. Centuries ago, he consulted an oracle and grew to believe that he was destined to rule the world. He seeks to make that vision a reality. He fought the Eight-Man Empire to a standstill, though they eventually drove him off. He has stolen Northstrider's prey.
Only about six years ago, Shen killed his neighboring Monarch on the Rosegold continent, Tiberian Arelius, who had approached his neighbor with a plan to destroy Dreadgods together. He approached the lion against advice from his young advisor, Eithan Arelius. After Shen killed Tiberian Arelius, and almost killed the Arelius Sage of a Thousand Eyes, he took control of the entire Rosegold Continent, making him the lone monarch of the Rosegold continent. He left Eithan's country in literal ashes. House Arelius is his enemy.
Allies & Enemies
On command from former queen Leiala, the lion king is considered one of the Ninecloud Court’s greatest enemies, though everyone below the Queen is instructed to treat him as an honored guest, should he arrive. Footnote: the new young luminous queen Sha Miara did not seem to inherit her mother’s distrust of Shen.
Supposedly, he allies with all four Dreadgod Cults and with Seshethkunaaz and his dragons. Doubtless it’s a false alliance. He’ll betray anyone and everyone to attain his grand goals, to fulfill the Oracle’s vision of him.
His Herald, Yushi
Shen’s Herald and closest companion is Yushi, female. Is she a lion, too? She is on the Lightning Path, and Eithan probably gets lightning scales from her, in negotiations with Shen (lightning madra is needed for Pure Storm Baptism. “Yushi will be at the service of your Sage for one year beginning tonight.” Yushi was a Herald on a lightning Path, and one of Reigan Shen’s closest companions. She was colloquially known as the Thunder Fairy, a name she hated. There were children’s rhymes about her. Eithan had written one himself. (Wintersteel ch 10)
Reigan Shen is an ancient Sacred Beast, born a lion, now a man, yet with clear leonine features and behaviors. He is a rare white lion, the emperor of lions.
Monarch Reigan Shen ‘was shorter than Northstrider, but just as broad, with chiseled and handsome features that looked as though they belonged on the statue of an ancient king. Lindon had heard that the Monarch of the House of Shen was a sacred lion, and indeed this man’s gold-tinged white hair and beard blended into one majestic white-gold mane. He was dressed like the Arelius family in a white linen skirt that fell to his feet and a white wrap across his chest. In contrast to Northstrider, the newcomer’s simple clothing looked like intentional fashion. The cloth was pristine, his belt was made of shimmering goldsteel links, and jeweled rings glinted on every finger. He held a golden goblet in one hand’ (Uncrowned, ch 10)
Reigan Shen is a creature of ambition. He was born to a pride of regal white lions on the western plains of Rosegold continent, a prince of this line of sacred beasts.(-Uncrowned, ch 14)
Shen takes his image seriously and totally buys into the concept of himself as Lion King. He is a shrewd and skillful opponent in battle. A powerful warrior, he won the very first Uncrowned King Tournament centuries ago — the tournament was initiated directly after ten Monarchs died in the Dread War (Uncrowned, ch 14)). Entitled as they come, he views himself as born to rule over all, and as better than all. (See Oracle section below). He believes everything belongs to him. He is often seen with a golden wine goblet in his bejeweled fingers. He’s prideful and vain.
Reigan Shen stood on an elaborate golden pedestal that held him high above the others, so that he looked down on the rest with hands crossed behind his back. Like Northstrider, he was a powerfully built man, and his fine hair and beard blended into a white-gold mane. The sacred lion paced on his platform, wearing a look of obvious discontent. (Wintersteel chapter 1)
This Monarch is conniving and shrewd, manipulative and deceitful. Generous enough to his own people, cruel to others. He’s the kind of cat who’ll invite you for tea, poison you, and carve your bones into buttons. But apparently he takes care of his own people. And occasionally keeps his word, if not the spirit of it. Also, he is skilled at soulsmithing.
He practices the Path of King's Key, using Force Madra combined with the Authority over Space, which he was lucky enough to inherit from a Remnant of a Sage (an unknown Sage)
King’s Key Closet
Shen likes to surround himself with nice things, and he especially collects the best weapons on the planet, keeping some in his King’s Key void space.
A wide wall of gold curved behind Reigan Shen, displaying his treasured weapons. Priceless works of art, and most could be considered the peak of Soulsmith craftsmanship. Not as devastating as the ones he kept in his King’s Key, but deadly and beautiful, every one of them. (Wintersteel chapter 3)
Shen has an Abidan-level box among his treasures:
Reigan Shen pulled an oblong rectangular box. To the eye, it seemed to be made of seamless, unblemished steel polished to a mirror’s shine. No force in Cradle could break this container. It was an Abidan artifact, one of the few in Shen’s possession. The Way stirred around him, affected by an artifact of such incredible significance. If he held the hand exposed long enough, it might manifest an Icon. (Bloodline ch 13)
Over 500 years ago, Reigan Shen was a young ambitious Underlord. He became highly motivated to attain supreme strength and glory when he witnessed the immense power of the Dreadgods, who killed ten Monarchs and billions of sacred artists in the Dread War. From that time onwards, he’s been striving for world domination, as he believes an Oracle foresaw:
Reigan Shen is the creator and sole practitioner of the Path of the King's Key. Centuries ago, he consulted an oracle and grew to believe that he was destined to rule the world. He seeks to make that vision a reality. He fought the Eight-Man Empire to a standstill, though they eventually drove him off. He has stolen Northstrider's prey. He is considered one of the Ninecloud Court's greatest enemies, though everyone below the Queen is instructed to treat him as an honored guest, should he arrive. A few years before the series begins, he finally slews his longtime rival. (Will Wight, https://www.abidanarchive.com/events/1/#e140)
In Uncrowned, we learn that Reigan Shen's longtime rival was no other than Tiberian Arelius, the Arelius Monarch of House Arelius part of the Rosegold Continent. Against advice from Eithan Arelius, Tiberian had approached his neighboring Monarch Reigan Shen in good faith with a plan to end the Dreadgod problem. However, after listening and learning, Shen killed him and wrought havoc on his House, because he wants the power of Dreadgods for himself. Moreover, Shen knows Eithan, and had mocked him for running away to the Blackflame Empire after Tiberian died.
Northstrider v Shen
‘Northstrider had clashed with Reigan Shen many times. He had gathered more information on the Emperor of Lions than anyone else alive, and his construct had analyzed the Path of the King’s Key a million different ways. But it had taken Dross to bring all that together. Now, his weapon was complete.’ (Wintersteel ch 26)
A brief summary of each book, only the scenes featuring Reigan Shen.
Shen has no scenes in book six, except in the epilogue of Underlord. Shen recruits the four Dreadgod Cults to his cause, and to represent him in the upcoming 18th Uncrowned King Tournament. This entire bargain is based on a lie. The lion is comfortable with breaking his word.
Shen recruits the Dragon King Seshethkunaaz to join forces with him. In return, he gives Sopharanatoth an advancement elixir. He lies to Sesh, at least by omission, saying he has a plan to wake and kill the Dreadgods, by luring them to the Western Labyrinth, where its security defences will supposedly weaken them.
Fearful of Penance
In Uncrowned, ch 20, Shen is at the Uncrowned King Tournament, as are all Monarchs. An Abidan lesser Hound of Heaven representative named Kiuran suddenly pops into the tournament. He invites contenders to ascend when they advance far enough, sneers at the Monarchs, and offers a prize to the winner of the tournament. It is the arrow Penance, a heavenly weapon of certain destruction created by Ozmanthus, Founder of House Arelius / aka Judge Ozriel. It will kill anyone with just a word — including Monarchs and Dreadgods. (Uncrowned, ch 20) Shen grows concerned.
Shen is at the Tournament, waiting to see who will win and hedging his bets. He is aware that the arrow Penance could be used to kill him, so he doesn’t want his enemies to win the tournament. In Wintersteel, Shen begins to fear that Eithan might win the Tournament, so he bargains with him. He also tries to meet privately with Yerin Arelius to bribe her to throw the game, but Akura Malice prevents this. (So later he tries to get her kids killed).
Agreement w/ Eithan Arelius
After watching Eithan defeat Sha Maira in nine seconds flat, Shen strikes a bargain with him: If Eithan will throw the match, Shen will give him a void key for his tournament prize, cloudracer The Bounding Gazelle. He will send Rootfather Garrylondryth, a green dragon Herald who heals nature, to restore the war-torn Arelius homeland. He will also pay a billion scales to House Arelius and lend one year of service from his own Herald, Yushi, “the Thunder Fairy” on a Lightning Path, with her year of service beginning immediately. He will also ensure evacuees from the Blackflame Empire are allowed safe passage when the Dreadgods attack. He will give Eithan his soul forge, kept in a void key. And new clothes. (Wintersteel ch 10)
👘”I need new clothes!”
Shen’s Ambush Plot
When it’s clear that Yerin Arelius will win the tournament, Shen tells the Sage of Red Faith to oversee an ambush against Akura Mercy and Akura Pride. Shen bribes several cultists to murder these young sacred artists. He persuades Prince Daji of the Seishen Kingdom to open a portal for the ambush. This occurs at Sky’s Edge. Because of his machinations, several young sacred artists are murdered and gravely wounded by higher-ranking assassins. However, because of Eithan and Lindon, Mercy and Pride survive, as does Naru Saeya.
“We’re going to kill Akura Mercy and her brother, Pride. Come with us, and Reigan Shen can extend your life.” She (Sophara) recognized the Sage of Red Faith, as well as the half-dozen people behind him. Calan Archer, Yan Shoumei, and Brother Aekin had competed against her, and the other three were Overlords from Redmoon Hall that she didn’t know. (Wintersteel ch 26)
At the end of Bloodline, amongst all the turmoil of evacuation, Shen sneaks into the Labyrinth through the Nethergate on Yoma Mountain. He enact his plan — the scheme he’s been plotting since killing Tiberian Arelius. It all centers around Subject One, a Dreadgod, though few people know it.
In the Labyrinth
In book 10, Reaper the truth becomes clear. Shen is still in the Labyrinth, working on information Tiberian Arelius gave him some years ago. His Dreadgod cult minions are waging war outside, keeping the other Monarchs away from him.
Shen takes the core binding from Subject One, to whom he swore an oath and broke it, before killing him. He takes the ancient soulforge of Ozmanthus Arelius. He battles Lindon and the team, but Lindon wins control of the Labyrinth.
It is stated that Shen really wants the Dreadgods to kill all the other Monarchs so he can rule the world himself. As the Oracle foretold. It’s also stated that he keeps the remnant of Tiberian Arelius in his void key, to use as a weapon.
His Dreadgod Scheme
At the end of book 10, Shen proudly displays the core binding he took from Subject One after killing him. He mistakenly thinks he’ll become the most powerful being ever.
He would fuse with this binding and become the new Slumbering Wraith, attaining immortality and power beyond the dreams of Monarchs. He had intended to take over the labyrinth first, then recover his power, then become the new Dreadgod. He was doing things a little out of order. But it would all be worth it. All of it. . .once the Dreadgods were awakened. (Reaper, ch 23)