Death's Hand is a villain right out of the Bioware
playbook; characters early in the game will lead you to believe one thing and of course plot twists will turn the whole plot on its head.
Death's Hand is the imperial enforcer. As head of the Lotus Assassins, he is the mysterious power behind the imperial secret police in the Jade Empire. The Lotus Assassins state that they are the will of the emperor and are devoted to his power. Death's Hand leads them to be the most powerful institution in the empire, usurping even the army in power. Silk Fox
believes that Death's Hand is not content with being the Emperor's right hand man but actually has designs on seizing the power of the thrown through manipulation of what she believes to be her weakened father. As the game progresses, the player is lead to believe the showdown with Death's Hand is ultimate battle to determine the outcome of the player's quest.
However, Death's Hand's true identity and role are not what the player originally believed. Instead of being the mysterious, power hungry head of Lotus Assassins, manipuating the emporer and seizing power, he is literally a puppet. The emporer murdered his brother and kept his soul attached to his armor, a slave to the emporer's bidding. He is truly a sign of evil in the empire but not in the way suspected. The fight with death's hand is no where near the final show down that the player must face.