Shadowlords, from Ultima V
The Shadowlords are spectral embodiments of the antitheses of Britannia's three cardinal Principles, representing the primal forces of Falsehood, Hatred and Cowardice. Their manifestation and subsequent rise to power through the corruption of Blackthorn comprises the core narrative of Ultima V.
The Shadowlords have their origin in Mondain's Gem of Immortality, which was shattered by the Stranger that the hero might slay the enchanter. When this occurred, three shards of the jewel fell into the Sosarian earth, festering beneath the soil for years before coming again to light. These pieces of evil resurfaced when a confluence sealing of the eight dungeons and of the magics used to raise the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom created a vast underground network beneath the realm, allowing wayfarers to finally reach the bowels of the Underworld where the shards lay buried.
When the ship of one Captain Johne, known as the Ararat was pulled into these underground depths by a chance maelstrom, the mage found the remnants of the gem, and their dark power drove him to madness. Amid this insanity, he slew the three members of his crew, spilling their blood upon the shards. From this union of mortal cruor and Mondain's magic, the Shadowlords were born: Faulinei, Shadowlord of Falsehood; Astaroth, Shadowlord of Hatred; and Nosfentor, Shadowlord of Cowardice.Lord British as he journeyed through the Underworld on a voyage of discovery and thereafter imprisoning him in the dungeon Doom. On the surface of Britannia, they wrought a citadel known as Stonegate, binding the daemon Balinor to serve as doorwarden.
The triad then worked upon the person of Lord Blackthorn, the noble who had assumed the regency in British's absence - perverting his soul and twisting his interpretations of the Eight Virtues, such as that he declared martial law, enforcing morality by the sword. The Shadowlords thereafter took to haunting the eight cities which had been dedicated to the Virtues, warping the minds of those within as they spread the virulence of their signature sins. Comets in the skies heralded their foul presence, and those who stood against them were either slain outright or suffered the lingering agony of being pierced by their black arrows.
Eventually, the Avatar was summoned back into Britannia by the combined efforts of the hero's friends, who had managed to rally despite their persecution by Blackthorn and his Oppression. Immediately, upon the Avatar's return to the realm, the Shadowlords confronted them, grievously injuring Shamino before the hero beat them back with the power of the Codex Coin. Taking on the burden of freeing Lord British and destroying the shades, the champion of virtue sought out the means to slay the spectres, as they soon found them impervious to all manner of conventional attack. Eventually, the Avatar recovered the three shards, casting them into the Eternal Flames of Truth, Love, and Courage that the Shadowlords might be banished.
Despite this seeming victory, it is uncertain if these evils were truly laid to rest. During the Avatar's strange adventures on the distant plains of Mars, the hero was again confronted with the three specters in the course of their dreams, being told that they were mere eidolons for the ever present and eternal evil in men's hearts. Within the depths of the hero's subconscious, these shades were imbued with the power of speech, and tauntingly told the hero of their immortality.
Assaults on Cities
During Ultima V, each Shadowlord will occasionally attack each of the eight cities of Virtue, staying in the vicinity for the course of one day.When they are present, the player will be informed with a message saying that an "air" of hatred, falsehood or cowardice surrounds them. While in the city, the Shadowlords will affect the behavior of the citizens: Astaroth will make them violent and drive them to attack the party; Faulinei will make them deceptive and prone to lying; Nosfentor will make them fearful and thieving. Should the player approach a Shadowlord while they are present within a city, it will transport them to a dimension of its own making, where it must be defeated or driven away in order for the player to survive. Between the hours of midnight and 1:00 AM, however, a Shadowlord will remain immobile.
Shadowlords in Combat
Shadowlords are capable of teleportation, invisibility, summoning daemons, possession, sleep spells, and hurling magical bolts of energy. Their physical attacks cause considerable damage and can further cause poisoning. A Shadowlord dissipates once killed in combat, but must be defeated twice before it vanishes from a city it is targeting. This effect is only fleeting, and the shade will return the next night.
The best strategy for defeating a Shadowlord in combat is to use the Crown of Lord British to negate its magic powers, and then employ Time Stop and Summon scrolls to kill it while it is immobilized. Another option is to use a glass sword found in the Serpent's Spine mountains against it. Unfortunately, only one of these items may be carried at any point in time.
If a player should engage a Shadowlord while in possession of Sceptre of Lord British, the artifact will instantaneously be reclaimed by the specter, and it will vanish from the character's inventory, instantly returning to its place at Stonegate.
- Three people in the course of Ultima V are struck with the Shadowlords' bolts and survive: Shamino, Mariah and Kindor.
- In the book Warriors of Destiny in Ultima VI, the Shadowlords' abilities of transportation are explained by them "drawing on the Vortex," a magical methodology similar to that claimed by the Xenkan Monks of Serpent Isle.
- In Martian Dreams, the Shadowlords are given definitive genders and personalities during their conversations with the Avatar. Astaroth and Faulinei refer to themselves as males, while Nosfentor is regarded as a female. Their dialogue in this game starkly contrasts their presence in Ultima V, during which they were portrayed as mute.
- The Shadowlords are portrayed as having glowing red eyes in Ultima V, while they are green, red, and orange in Martian Dreams.
- Richard Garriott revealed in the Ultima IX Hint Book the Shadowlords were originally to be connected to the origins of the Guardian. In this outline, the Gem of Immortality had resonated with the Stranger at the time of its destruction, capturing the dark impulses of the individual which shattered it and coalescing them at a later time into the Shadowlords. After their initial banishment, the energies which formed the three shades were to have met and integrated in the Void, forming a new entity which would become the Guardian
- The Shadowlords at ultimainfo.net: a website containing the dialogue trees for the three Shadowlords as they appear in Martian Dreams.
- The Tale of Captain Johne: a popular fanfiction by Michael D. Hilborn, which was used as the canonical background of the fan-remake Ultima V: Lazarus.
- YouTube - The destruction of the Shadowlords