- "Thousands of years ago, all of our people lived in peace and prosperity, until the attack of the Dweller-in-Darkness. He came with his army, devouring every soul in their path, and with each kill, they grew stronger. After decimating our largest cities, they were headed to your universe to do the same. The leaders of Ta Lo sent their strongest warriors here to stop them from reaching the portal to your world. But our ancestors were no match for them."
- ―Ying Nan[src]
The Dweller-in-Darkness was the leader of the Soul Eaters, creatures with the ability to absorb and feed on souls. Thousands of years ago, the Dweller and its army attempted to destroy Ta Lo until they were imprisoned inside a mountain by the Great Protector. Milennia later, the Dweller tricked Xu Wenwu into releasing it, deceiving him into believing that his deceased wife Ying Li was the one trapped behind the seal. After being freed by Wenwu and taking his soul, the Dweller attempted to drain the souls of Ta Lo's people. After a fight with the Great Protector, the Dweller was killed by Shang-Chi using the Ten Rings.
An ancient extra-dimensional entity, the Dweller-in-Darkness attacked the world of the Ta Lo with its army of Soul Eaters. During its conquest, many of the world's great cities were laid to ruin, and attempts to fell the beast all failed. However, the Dweller-in-Darkness was eventually defeated by the combined effort of Ta Lo's people and the Great Protector, a benevolent dragon. The people sealed the Dweller away behind a door, trapping it and its Soul Eater servants away. The villagers would guard the gate for many years after the beasts' imprisonment, and the Great Protector, too, would patrol the lands.
Over the centuries, the Dweller would lure people to Ta Lo in an attempt to use them to free itself, promising their greatest desires, though all attempts to reach Ta Lo and free the Dweller failed.
By 2024, the Dweller had reached out to Xu Wenwu, the Mandarin and the leader of the terrorist organization known as the Ten Rings. The Dweller impersonated the voice of Wenwu's deceased wife, Ying Li, and reached out to Wenwu, convincing him that his wife was alive and imprisoned by the people of Ta Lo in their world. This further radicalized Wenwu, and he organized an expedition to the realm to destroy the village and free his wife, unaware it was the Dweller seeking freedom.
After Wenwu had reunited with his children, Shang-Chi and Xu Xialing, he attempted to explain how he had been hearing 'Ying Li.' The circumstances laying out the Dweller's impending release soon fell into place; Ying Li had gifted her children the Eyes of the Dragon, which revealed a path through the maze leading to the portal to Ta Lo. After the escape of both his children, Wenwu remained resolute on his plan, and the Dweller, with the voice of Ying Li, assured him they would all be together as a family soon.
Wenwu soon attacked Ta Lo with the might of the Ten Rings organization, and he progressed to the sealed door. As Ying Li, the Dweller-in-Darkness implored him to free it, crying out in Ying Li's voice. Using the power of his rings, Wenwu damaged the door, causing the Dweller's Soul Eaters to escape and attack the village, stealing souls to bring back to the Dweller.
Once its Soul Eaters had harnessed enough souls to restore its strength, the Dweller broke free, much to the horror of both Shang-Chi and Wenwu. The Dweller then grabbed Wenwu and consumed his soul as well, before flying toward the village, its army of Soul Eaters by its side. The people of Ta Lo and the Ten Rings joined forces to fight the Dweller's forces, and the Dweller was soon attacked by the Great Protector. They then fought against each other but the Dweller gained the upper hand as its minions provided more souls to boost its strength, grabbed the Great Protector and began consuming her soul, however Katy Chen fired her last Dragon Scale Arrow right into the Dweller's throat, hurting him and freeing the Great Protector from his grasp, the Great Protector then began heading towards the water with the Dweller following closely. The Great Protector began to trap it once more as Shang-Chi and Xialing attacked it. Using his rings to push the Dweller deeper into the water, Shang-Chi pushed the rings deeper into the Dweller, causing it to explode.
The Dweller-in-Darkness was intelligent and manipulative. It used voice mimicry to lure people to its prison, using the voices of their loved ones to get them to free it. The beast knew how best to manipulate its unknowing saviors, and was able to trick Xu Wenwu, the leader of the Ten Rings. In addition, the Dweller was incredibly destructive, seeking to consume all the souls it could to gain more power.
Powers and Abilities
- Soul Eater Physiology: Unlike all other soul eaters, the Dweller-In-Darkness was a large dragon filled by the powers of every soul sucked by the other soul eaters, as the leader of the pack.
- Superhuman Strength: The Dweller possessed a tremendous level of strength, able to break out from the Dark Gate with ease when it had been weakened. It could match the Great Protector in combat and slowly overwhelmed her after it consumed enough souls to increase its size and strength.
- Superhuman Durability: The Dweller was incredibly durable and shrugged off many physical attacks unfazed, even able to survive a dragon scale-tipped arrow that Katy Chen fired to its throat. However, its durability had limits, when Shang-Chi forcibly had it swallow the Ten Rings, their powers combined with the aerokinesnis and using Ta Lo fighting style that he learned from his aunt Ying Nan were proven to be too great to handle, which resulted in the Dweller's destruction.
- Superhuman Speed: The Dweller possessed superhuman levels of speed, though it had shown to be slower than the Great Protector.
- Superhuman Agility: To be added
- Superhuman Stamina: The Dweller had incredible stamina, being able to withstand various attacks from the likes of the Great Protector, and Ta Lo. Further, it was able to bear the attacks from the Ten Rings of Shang-Chi and Xu Wenwu before getting destroyed by it.
- Regenerative Healing Factor: The Dweller can easily heal from normal wounds owing to its high healing factor.
- Longevity: The Dweller possessed a very long lifespan and could wait for four thousand years to be liberated from its imprisonment.
- Flight: The Dweller could use its massive wings to fly through the air.
- Telepathy: The Dweller reached out to potential saviors using mental pleas, usually in the voice of a loved one.
- Soul Absorption: The Dweller had the ability to absorb souls, growing larger and more powerful with every soul it devoured. As well as being able to take souls itself, as it did with Xu Wenwu, it could also deploy its minions, the Soul Eaters, to harvest souls for it, and return them to it for consumption. The Dweller consumed the souls orally, seemingly the only way it could do so. It was also a process, though quick, it was not instant, as the Great Protector was able to be saved from having her soul drained. The process can also be stopped if its throat is injured, as seen when struck by Katy Chen's dragon arrow the resulting injury from the blow prevented it from absorbing the Great Protector's soul.
- Master Combatant: The Dweller was a highly skilled and formidable combatant, being able to outmatch the sheer power and skill of the Great Protector itself, after absorbing many souls.
- Master Tactician: The Dweller was a highly skilled tactician, being able to manipulate and outsmart Xu Wenwu, which cause him to come to Ta Lo and successfully freed it from the Dark Gate.
- In the comics, the Dweller-in-Darkness is a Fear Lord, an enemy of Doctor Strange and the creator of D'Spayre.
- Characteristics of the Soul Eaters in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are more resembling that of Kkallakku, one of the Fear Lords along with the Dweller-in-Darkness.