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|Title||The Eye of Twilight|
|Release Date||March 24, 2010|
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- For outdated and now non-canon lore entries, click here.
- Story #1
- Story #2
|Among the secretive, Ionian warriors known as the Kinkou, Shen serves as their leader, the Eye of Twilight. He longs to remain free from the confusion of emotion, prejudice, and ego, and walks the unseen path of dispassionate judgment between the spirit realm and the physical world. Tasked with enforcing the equilibrium between them, Shen wields blades of steel and arcane energy against any who would threaten it.
An enigma to the spirit realm, as well as the mortal world, Shen belongs to neither. Although born to one of the most revered families of northern Navori, it was his father’s role as the Eye of Twilight that set his destiny in the Kinkou Order.
As the son of Great Master Kusho, he was immersed in the order’s culture, and its core tenets were as familiar to him as the Ionian sunset. He knew the necessity of Pruning the Tree, the determination of Coursing the Sun, but above all, he learned the wisdom of Watching the Stars. He meditated and studied throughout his childhood, and was considered exemplary by all his teachers.
His closest friend, the only one who could match him in practice bouts, was the young acolyte Zed. They grew up as brothers, often confiding in each other their personal hopes and dreams. Shen could turn to Zed for a fresh perspective on any matter, and the two became known as the Kinkou’s most promising students.
As their skills developed, Kusho brought them on dangerous missions, including a hunt for the Golden Demon plaguing the province of Zhyun. Their search took years, but Shen stayed committed even after uncovering countless gruesome murders. When they at last captured the “demon”, it was revealed to be Khada Jhin, a mere stagehand from a traveling theater. Instead of execution, Great Master Kusho ordered the criminal imprisoned.
Though he and Zed both thought the killer deserved heavier punishment, Shen accepted his father’s decision. He strived to emulate the Eye of Twilight’s dispassion, and so found himself failing to console a bitter and resentful Zed.
Even when Noxian invaders threatened the peace of the First Lands, Shen reluctantly supported Kusho’s inaction. But when Zed abandoned the Kinkou to join the fight, Shen stayed within the temple walls.
Many of the provinces were soon occupied by the enemy. Despite this, Shen focused on maintaining Ionia’s spiritual harmony. So it was, when he was far from home, he felt a jolting imbalance within the Kinkou Order—rushing back, he came upon the survivors of a bloody coup. From them, he learned Zed had raised acolytes of his own, and seized the temple.
Worst of all, Shen’s father had been slain by the man he once saw as kin.
Repressing his anguish, he led the remnants of the Kinkou to safety in the mountains. Shen took up his father’s spirit blade, as well as the title of Eye of Twilight. His role was not to seek vengeance, but to rebuild the order. Following the core tenets, he began to recruit and train others, hoping to restore its strength.
One acolyte in particular showed boundless potential. Shen taught the girl, Akali Jhomen Tethi, to master the arts of stealth and subterfuge. Her mother, Mayym, had stood alongside Kusho as the Fist of Shadow, and it seemed as though her daughter could follow the same path. Even so, Shen found himself forced to urge restraint whenever Akali would seek to strike back at their mortal foes.
When Noxus finally withdrew, many Ionians celebrated the victorious resistance. Others, like Shen, endured the consequences of war—he persisted in his duty, while in private he wrestled with his hatred for Zed, and doubt in his own ability to lead. The years of conflict had taken a heavy toll on the First Lands, and Shen was uncertain whether the rebuilt Kinkou would ever be able to redress the balance.
Indeed, even as Akali became the new Fist of Shadow, he felt her beginning to drift away. In time, she openly denounced his teachings, and left the order.
Shen meditated, watching the stars, and understood that Akali would need to find her own way… and so would the Kinkou.
Sometimes, between unseen struggles in the spirit realm, Shen still contemplates the value of his beliefs. He has never let his emotions stop him from preserving tradition, but the question remains: how long can one man walk two worlds, before the acts of one destroy the other?
|"The Eye is blind to fear, to hate, to love – to all things that would sway equilibrium."
“It was no tempest. It was a spirit” said the fisherman, still rattled by the shipwreck he’d barely survived two nights ago. The man told of his fishing vessel being sunk by a creature, large as a house and quick as the wind.
Shen listened to the tale, silently weighing the facts as presented.
“Show me where it happened” said Shen.
The man led him to a beach in the bay, where a team of villagers worked to recover the drowned bodies of the mariners. Shen knelt to examine a piece of wreckage. The gashes in the driftwood were deep and savage, the work of powerful claws.
“How many dead?” he asked.
“All but me… Six” responded the fisherman.
The spirits are strong, thought Shen, digging through the wreckage for any further evidence.
At last, on the edge of a splintered portion of the hull, he found it: a small tuft of gossamer hair. Most people would overlook it, or if they did see it, they’d never believe a creature that could break a ship in half could leave something so delicate. But Shen had seen hair like this before. Any doubts he’d had about the veracity of the fisherman’s tale faded as he watched the fine, silvery tuft dissolve into nothing at his touch.
“A demon” Shen remarked. “You must have sailed into its path.”
The fisherman nodded grimly. Spirits of all kinds were known to mingle with the physical world, especially in Ionia, where the barrier between realms was thin and passable. The ethereal and material planes were in constant contact, sliding peacefully past one another like oil atop water.
As the Eye of Twilight, it was Shen’s duty to walk between the worlds, ensuring neither side overwhelmed the other. To humans, he was a ghost, vanishing in the space between breaths to reappear many miles away. To spirits, he was a human, flesh and bone who ought never to venture into ethereal realms.
He knelt on the beach to examine one of the corpses that had been recovered. The man had been torn in half, just below the ribs. What was left of his innards dangled from a pale, bloated torso.
“You need not worry. I shall have the monster before nightfall” said a voice from behind.
Shen turned to see a holy man sent by the local temple. Several acolytes stood around him, carrying an assortment of mystical trinkets and oils. They were beginning a cleansing ritual to root out any spiritual disturbances in the area. The holy man stared at Shen, as if sizing up his value.
“Can we count on your help, sir?” the man asked.
“Balance will be restored” said Shen with an assuring nod.
He parted ways with the holy man and continued to follow the faint trail of gossamer hair. He thought of the dead seafarers and the cost he’d need to exact from the demon. The words of his father still rang true: “The hardest part is finding the point of balance in all things.” True neutrality, the precise center of all forces at work in the world - that is what the Eye must be able to distinguish.
Enforcing that equilibrium was its own struggle. For the task, Shen carried two blades on his back. One was an Ionian steel saber that could cleave through a person in one blow. The other was a sword of pure arcane energy. It was used for dealing with spirits, and had been passed down through many generations of Shen’s ancestors. He had slain countless demons, ghosts, wraiths, and sprites with it over the years, and fully expected to take one more before the day was done.
At last, Shen came to a secluded inlet, quiet and devoid of human activity. On a sandbar in the shallows lay the demon, its fine, glossy coat shimmering in the dusk. The creature swelled as it rested, engorged from consuming the mortal essences of its victims. Shen crept through the rushes, silently edging toward the sleeping demon. He could see its massive ribcage expand and contract with deep, restful breaths. When he was but a few paces from the sandbar, he drew his spirit blade, readying his strike.
Suddenly, a distressing sound stayed his hand. It was a shrill, ghastly cry, emanating from the very air itself. It sounded familiar, but before Shen could identify the noise, he heard it again. And again. And again, culminating in a chorus of blood-curdling shrieks. These were the cries of dying spirits. Shen’s eyes darted back to the demon, now beginning to stir from its slumber. Shen took one more look at his spirit blade, calmly weighing his options. He then clasped his hands together, carefully focusing his ki, and disappeared in a vortex of crackling energy, leaving the demon alone on its sandbar.
A moment later, Shen reappeared at the site of the shipwreck. All around, smoldering pools of black ooze evaporated into the air, coupled with the lingering reek of terror.
Shen counted the dissipating black puddles, each the remains of a slain spirit. His tally was interrupted as the holy man entered the clearing with his acolytes. One of the men held a cord of flax and silver. Tethered to the other end was a smaller spirit - an imp of no significance. It struggled against the choke of its leash. It wailed as it saw the remains of its brethren.
“Would you care to dispose of this one?” the holy man asked Shen, casually, as if offering him a bowl of soup at dinner.
Shen looked at the sticky, smoldering pools that were mighty beings of the otherworld just moments ago. Then he turned his gaze toward the priest and the wailing imp.
“I am sorry for this, Your Holiness” he said. He placed his spirit blade back into its scabbard and drew his steel saber instead. It was not the sword he had expected to use that day.
The gun in his hand was simply a tool—but a perfectly crafted one. Gold type was inlaid into the blackish-green metal. It spelled the smith’s name: This detail spoke of its creator’s pride and confidence. It was not a Piltovian weapon—those gaudy things that attempted to function with the minuscule amounts of magic available in those lands. This gun was made by a true forge master. Magic pulsed from its bronze, Ionian heart.
He wiped the gun’s stock a fourth time. He couldn’t be sure it was clean until he wiped it down four times. Didn’t matter that he hadn’t used it. Didn’t matter that he was only going to stow it in the bag under the bed. He couldn’t put it away until he was sure it was clean. And he couldn’t be sure it was clean until he had wiped it down four times. It was getting clean though. Four times makes it clean.
It was clean, and it was wonderful. His new patrons had been generous. But did the finest painters not deserve the finest brushes?
The scale and precision of the new device made his previous work with blades seem insignificant by comparison. Understanding firearm mechanics had taken him weeks of study, but evolving his chi techniques from blades had taken months.
The gun held four shots. Each bullet had been infused with magical energy. Each bullet was as perfect as a Lassilan monk’s blade. Each bullet was the paint from which his art would flow. Each bullet was a masterpiece. It didn’t just cut apart the body. It rearranged it.
The rehearsal at the mill town had already shown the gun’s potential. And his new employers had been pleased with the work’s reception.
He had finished polishing it, but with the gun in his right hand, the temptation was too great. He knew he shouldn’t, but he unpacked the black, eel-skin bodysuit. He drew the fingertips of his left hand across the slick surface of the clothes. The feel of the skin’s oily surface quickened his breath. He picked up the tight, leather mask, then—unable to help himself—slid it over his face. It covered his right eye and mouth. It constricted his breathing and removed his depth perception…
He was putting on the shoulder armor when the bells he’d hidden on the steps leading up to his room sounded. He quickly folded up the weapon and removed the mask.
“Hello?” the maid asked through the door. The lilt in her voice hinted to an upbringing far south of this town.
“You did what I asked?” he said.
“Yes, sir. A white lantern every four yards. A red lantern every sixteen.”
“Then I can begin,” Khada Jhin said as he swung open the door to his room.
The woman’s eyes widened as he exited his room. Jhin was well aware of how he looked. Normally, it elicited pangs of self-conscious loathing, but today was a performance day.
Today, Khada Jhin cut a slender, elegant figure as he walked out with a cane. He was hunched, and his cloak seemed to cover some huge deformity on his shoulder, but a jaunty stride belied this. He forcefully tapped the cane ahead of him as he marched toward the window. He tapped the frame rhythmically—three beats, then a fourth. His gold sparkled, his cream cloak flowed, and his jewels glittered in the sun.
“What...what is that?” the maid asked, indicating Jhin’s shoulder.
Jhin paused for a moment to study the woman’s cherubic face. It was round and perfectly symmetrical. A dull and predictable design. Removed, it would make a terrible mask.
“It’s for the crescendo, my darling,” Khada Jhin said.
From the inn’s window, he had a clear view of the rest of the town in the valley below him. This performance had to be wonderful, but there was still so much work to do. The councilman would be returning this evening—and so far, all of Jhin’s plans for tonight seemed... uninspired.
“I brought some flowers for your room,” the woman said, walking past him.
He could have used someone else to place the lanterns. But he didn’t. He could have changed clothes before opening his door. But he didn’t. Now she had seen Khada Jhin in his finery.
The inspiration he needed was so obvious now. So preordained. There was never a choice. There was no escaping the Art.
He would have to make this maid’s face... more interesting.
The candied pork glistened on top of the five-flavor broth. The aroma entranced Shen, but he set aside his spoon. As the waitress left, she smiled and nodded in approval. The fat had yet to melt into the broth. Doubtless, the soup was already excellent, but in a moment, the flavor would be at its peak. Patience.
Shen considered the interior of the White Cliffs Inn. It was deceptively simple and rough. The wood weavers had been masters, removing the tree bark and living leaves only where necessary.
The candle on Shen’s table flickered...wrongly. He slid away from the table, retrieving his blades from under his cloak.
“Your students are as quiet as a pregnant worax,” Shen said.
Alone and dressed like a merchant, Zed entered the inn. Brushing past the waitress, he sat down three tables from Shen. Every part of him wanted to dash at his foe. To avenge his father. But such was not the way of twilight. He calmed himself as he realized the distance was too far... but only by the length of Shen’s index finger.
Shen looked over at Zed, expecting to see him grin. Instead, his rival sighed. His skin was sallow, and dark folds hung beneath his eyes.
“Five years, I have waited,” Shen said.
“Have I misjudged the distance?” Zed asked wearily.
“Even if my head is cut off, I will still close and strike,” Shen said, sliding his foot backward and cocking it against the floor. Zed was ten paces and one half of a finger length away.
“Your path’s closer to mine. Your father’s ideals were a weakness. Ionia could no longer afford them,” Zed said. He leaned back in his chair, keeping himself just outside of the range Shen would need to strike a killing blow. “I know that’s not something I can make you understand. But I will offer you a chance for vengeance.”
“I do not act because of vengeance. You defy the balance. For that, you are damned,” Shen said as he inched forward to the edge of his chair.
“The Golden Demon escaped,” Zed replied.
“Impossible.” But Shen felt a hollowness had caught in his chest.
“Your father’s greatest victory. And now, again, his foolish mercy has tarnished his legacy.” Zed shook his head. “You know what that... thing is capable of.” Then Zed leaned over the table, well within Shen’s range—his neck intentionally exposed. “And you know that we are the only two people who can get close enough to stop him.”
Shen remembered the first time he’d seen the body of someone killed by the infamous Khada Jhin. His skin prickled from the memory; his teeth clenched. Only his father had been strong enough to still believe a merciful justice could be served. Something in Shen had changed that day. Something in Zed had broken.
Now, that monster had returned.
Shen put his swords on the table. He looked down at the perfect bowl of soup in front of him. Little droplets of the pork fat’s oil shimmered on its surface, but he wasn’t hungry anymore.
There was still no sign of Zed. It was disappointing. Very disappointing. He certainly must have sought out his former friend. It was likely Zed was hiding, watching. Jhin needed to be careful.
From the jetty, Jhin looked back to the foreign ship. The tide had come in, and the ship would be leaving in a few moments. He would have to return soon if he was going to perform in Zaun next month. Risk on top of risk.
He stopped to check his reflection in a puddle. From the water, a worried, elderly merchant stared back at him. Years of acting practice combined with his martial training had given him total control of his facial muscles. It was a common face, and he had given it an unexceptional expression. When he walked up the hill, Jhin blended easily into the crowd.
He checked the white lanterns above him, counting the distance. If Zed appeared, he would need them. At the inn on the top of the hill, he glanced at the planters where he had hidden traps. Sharpened steel blades, shaped like flowers. They protected his escape route in case anything went wrong.
He thought of how the metal would slice through the crowd and splash the building’s freshly painted teal walls with red. It was tempting.
He was pushing through the crowd when he heard the village elder speaking to Shen.
“Why would the demon attack her and the councilmen?” the elder asked.
Shen, dressed in his blue outfit, didn’t answer.
Another kinkou, a young woman named Akali, stood beside Shen. She walked to the doorway of the inn.
“No,” Shen said as he blocked her path.
“What makes you think I’m not ready?” Akali asked, annoyed.
“Because I wasn’t when I was your age.”
At that moment, a town guard stumbled from the entrance, his face pale and hollow.
“Her flesh, it was... it was...” he said. He took a few steps, then collapsed to the ground in shock.
“He saw it. He saw the flower!” Against the far wall, the tavern’s owner laughed. Then he began weeping—his face painted by madness.
These were not people who would forget seeing Khada Jhin’s work.
Shen scanned the faces of the onlookers.
“Clever boy”, Jhin thought, before fading into the back of the crowd.
He checked the rooftops for Zed as he walked back to the ship.
The work was inescapable. Together or apart, Zed and Shen would chase the clues he had left. They would follow them back to the Blossom Festival. Back to Jyom Pass. And when they became desperate, then they would have to work together again.
It would be like it had been when they were young. They would huddle together in awe and fear.
Only then would the great Khada Jhin reveal himself...
And his true masterpiece would begin.
- Shen's Champion Page
- Universe of League of Legends Page
- Champion Update: Shen
- Champion Sneak Peek: Shen, the Eye of Twilight
Journal of Justice