|“||I am the will of the Emperor. I am Death's Hand.||„|
|~ Death's Hand facing the last Spirit Monk.|
Death's Hand (originally Sun Kin the Hand of Heaven) is one of the primary antagonists of the video game Jade Empire. He serves in the game's first half Emperor Sun Hai and in the latter half Sun Li the Glorious Strategist.
He is voiced by Sherman Howard as Death's Hand.
Life as Sun Kin the Hand of Heaven
Sun Kin was born as the youngest child in a trio of royal brothers. While the eldest, Sun Hai, became the Jade Empire's ruler and the middle child Sun Li the Glorious Strategist became the commander of the Imperial Army, Sun Kin became the head of the monastic Order of the Lotus. In this role, his duties included direct protection of and servitude to the Emperor.
Prince Kin accompanied his brothers in the assault of Dirge as part of their campaign to end the Long Drought and steal the divine powers of the Water Dragon, the goddess of rebirth. The Hand of Heaven used his battle prowess to kill many Spirit Monks before facing with the Glorious Strategist on the temple's stairs Abbot Song, the head Spirit Monk. Kin attacked him head-on, and Sun Li cut the abbot down from behind. The three Sun brothers then entered the temple unopposed. What Emperor Sun Hai didn't know was that his younger brothers conspired against him, intending to claim the Water Dragon's power for themselves.
Princes Sun Li and Kin watched as Sun Hai gave the killing blow to the Water Dragon through the portal to the Spirit World and claimed her heart. At this point his brothers decided to make their move, and Prince Kin impaled his eldest brother from behind. Much to his and Li's shock, however, Hai didn't die thanks to the Water Dragon's power. He then struck his brothers with magical energy, sending Sun Li to fly across the chamber and giving him a chance to escape. Sun Kin was trapped by Hai's energy beams and forced to terribly suffer for his treason.
When Sun Hai found Sun Li's discarded armor, he used his newfound powers to trap the spirit of the nigh on dead Sun Kin into it to taunt Li. At this point, Prince Sun Kin became Death's Hand, a mindless puppet of the Emperor. The people of the Jade Empire were told that Prince Kin had lost his life in service to the Empire.
As Death's Hand
For two decades, Death's Hand worked as the Emperor's right hand and nominal adviser. He continued leading the Lotus Monks, corrupting and converting them into Lotus Assassins. With his largely unknown origins and perpetual usage of Sun Li's armor, Death's Hand was feared even among his ruthless Lotus Assassins. The common folk preferred to talk about him as little as possible with hushed tones. He was believed by many to be loyal to the Emperor, but as the years went by and Sun Hai began appearing less in public, there were whispers that Death's Hand had a poisonous influence on the Emperor and was secretly abusing his authority for his own ends. Sun Hai's daughter and heir, Princess Sun Lian the Heavenly Lily, was one of those who suspected as such. However, it was all along the Emperor's purpose to make Death's Hand seem responsible for carrying out his master's orders.
In the beginning of the gameplay, Death's Hand leads the attack to the remote village of Two Rivers and takes captive Sun Li the Glorious Strategist, who had for the last twenty years been training the last living Spirit Monk as his pawn. Death's Hand takes Sun Li back to their brother Emperor Sun Hai, leading the last Spirit Monk to follow their trail across the Empire.
After the last Spirit Monk infiltrates the Lotus Assassins' headquarters in order to find evidence about the Assassins' shady activities for Princess Sun Lian, kills the Assassins' second-in-command Grand Inquisitor Jia and retrieves the last missing piece of the Dragon Amulet, Death's Hand arrives and attacks them. Before he can kill them, he's attacked by the rogue Assassin Sagacious Zu. As Death's Hand tries to slice Zu, he's tricked to damage the two pillars supporting the chamber. He manages to stab Zu with a quick motion, but then the roof falls upon them, giving the Spirit Monk the chance to escape from the grumbling fortress.
Following the deaths of Emperor Sun Hai and the last Spirit Monk along with Sun Li's ascension as the new ruler, the new Emperor goes to the ruins of the Lotus Assassins' fortress and uses the Water Dragon's stolen powers to bind Death's Hand to himself, considering it a waste to let his enslaved brother to rest in peace. As Death's Hand emerges from the ruins, Sun Li tells him that they have to return to Dirge.
The fate of Death's Hand
After twenty years, Death's Hand leads the Imperial Army and the Lotus Assassins back to Dirge high in the mountains to crush the recently resurrected last Spirit Monk and their followers once and for all. He approaches one of these followers, Sky, and offers to resurrect his deceased daughter Pinmei in exchange for providing him the Spirit Monk. Sky pretends to accept the deal in order to trap Death's Hand, telling the Spirit Monk his plan after he rings the temple's bell as a signal for Death's Hand. As the other followers hold off Dirge's defenses, Death's Hand enters the temple with a small group of Assassins, approaching Sky and the Spirit Monk confidently. Sky then springs his trap and uses explosives to bring rocks down upon the Assassins, killing all but Death's Hand. The Spirit Monk then engages in a duel against Death's Hand and wins.
Emperor Sun Li appears as a magical projection and orders Death's Hand to continue fighting. The Spirit Monk then uses their newly realized abilities to draw the conscience of Prince Sun Kin from the armor of Death's Hand to battle Sun Li's control over him. If Sun Li wins, Death's Hand crumbles without Sun Kin's vanquished conscience and dies. If Sun Li loses, the armor-bound spirit of Sun Kin is left for the Spirit Monk to decide his fate.
If the Spirit Monk decides to show mercy, they release Sun Kin from the armor and allow him to enter the Great Wheel. If they decide to bind him to themselves, Death's Hand serves as one of the followers for the remainder of the game. If the Spirit Monk goes through the Closed Fist ending, Death's Hand continues his old role as the ruthless enforcer and eventually transforms into something more fearsome due to his master's growing power, with Sun Li's armor becoming too small for him. If the Open Palm ending occurs, Sun Kin regains control in the following weeks and decides to wander the Empire to seek redemption, continuing to use Sun Li's armor to remind himself of the monster he didn't recognize in himself.
Outwardly Death's Hand appeared to be an utterly ruthless warrior incapable of feeling remorse or pity. He believed in leading the masses with fear, including his Lotus Assassins. This dreadfulness combined with his mysteriousness led many to believe that he was secretly hording power from Emperor Sun Hai, when in reality he was created as nothing more than the Emperor's puppet. He also displayed overconfidence with the way he taunted Sagacious Zu for attempting to fight him despite knowing it to be futile, failing to realize that the rogue Assassin just bid his time. He also failed to consider the possibility that Sky's loyalty for the last Spirit Monk would outweigh his fear of Death's Hand and longing for his deceased daughter.
The real persona of Death's Hand, Sun Kin the Hand of Heaven, isn't as explored as those of his brothers. What is known is that he had a neutral alignment between the Way of the Open Palm and the Way of the Closed Fist. It isn't made clear if he allied with Sun Li to betray Sun Hai just out of lust for power or for the good of the Jade Empire. When his spirit is summoned to retake control from Sun Li, he expresses weariness from all the years of enslavement and remorse for following his brothers in their madness, saying that if he had known what would happen, he'd have fought to stop them both. He asks to be allowed to rest in peace, expressing gratitude if allowed so and warning the last Spirit Monk of their ambition if they choose to bind him to their service.
Powers and abilities
Before becoming Death's Hand, Prince Sun Kin was an expert fighter who could match both of his elder brothers. Both before and after his corruption, he fought with a set of two dark blades, one of them being long and the other being shorter. By being linked to the stolen power of the Water Dragon as Death's Hand, he possessed enhanced strength and resilience, able to rise from every defeat by his master's summoning.
|“||You knew you could not beat me, exile.||„|
|~ Death's Hand after delivering a fatal stab to Sagacious Zu.|
|“||Very good, Sky, you have proven a useful tool.||„|
|~ Death's Hand walking into the trap set up by Sky.|
|“||Rrrgh! You have a better grip on your fellows than my master thought. The plight of a dead child is difficult motivation to resist.||„|
|~ Death's Hand commenting to the last Spirit Monk about Sky's loyalty to them.|
|“||The will of the master guides me. The strength of the dragon empowers me. I cannot be defeated. I must obey.||„|
|~ Death's Hand describing himself.|
- Death's Hand has a bit of similarities with Darth Vader. Like Vader, Death's Hand is the top enforcer of an emperor wearing a black armor and a masked helmet. They're both swordsmen who come from a defunct monastic order (the Jedi Order and the Order of the Lotus). The past of both characters is a mystery for the first part of their franchises. They are related to two of the protagonists (Vader is the father of Luke and Leia, while Death's Hand is the uncle of Dawn Star and Sun Lian the Heavenly Lily). They also kill the person who hid one of these protagonists and was somehow aligned with them (Vader kills his former Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi who had hidden Luke on Tatooine, while Death's Hand kills Sagacious Zu who defected from the Lotus Assassins in order to rescue and hide Dawn Star).