Shadows are shapeshifting creatures made of the blackest insubstantial shadow. While primarily incorporeal, they can become solid enough to be dangerous
Shadows form in places of great tragedy and darkness, such as battlegrounds and tombs. They are not quite ghosts, as they are not the imprint of a departed soul, but they share a number of characteristics and often legends mix up the terms. But while ghosts motives can vary, shadows are inherently dark and will not be benevolent.
Shadows traditionally appear in the dark or at night, and seek to drag anyone near them into the darkness with them, possibly to increase their numbers or size.
Traits and Behavior
Shadows appear to be a dark shadow, and will adopt the shape of the things and people around it to hide. It will be slightly darker than a standard shadow and may not fill the entire space it is hiding in, leaving patches of lighter shade around the edges of the shadow. If it has large enough space, it may show limbs or extremities, but largely attempts to remain unnoticed.
Shadows cannot stand any form of light, either artificial or natural, and will flee from it at all costs. If exposed to light, the shadow will be burned away until it either manages to escape or vanishes entirely. Supposedly, they will smell of burnt sugar and oil if this occurs.
Shadows gain strength, and size, based on the amount of dark energy is in an area. Dark energy gathers in areas of tragedy, such as murder and battle, or in homes with domestic abuse or even particularly miserable working environments. The more horrific acts are committed in one place, the larger amount of energy a shadow can feed off of. To keep the flow of energy available to them, they often seek to scare or even kill anyone who enters the area, and are responsible for plenty of ghost stories.
They do not need to kill to gather energy, and in some cases may prefer not to do so. Fear and anger are equally viable forms of energy, and often shadows will seek to scare people rather than directly cause harm. They may knock things over or breathe cold air down a persons neck, or even trip people walking by. Some have the ability to whisper, but they cannot actually speak and can only produce unclear imitations. Their presence usually drains electricity from nearby electronics.
Shadows remain incorporeal unless they are actively trying to effect humans, and can slip through walls, floors and other surfaces so long as the surface is covered in shadow and there is any hint of a gap (such as between floorboards). They can move freely through a darkened space. They can even split their bodies into multiple parts if they are large enough; the pieces will be able to move independently and can be considered new shadows. As shadows do not procreate, this is the primary method by which they reproduce. They can also come into being in a new location at the moment a surge of dark energy occurs. This is often magical in nature, but can occur from human intervention.
When not hiding, shadows can hold almost any form, so long as they don’t exceed their maximum size. Some prefer to appear as humanoid shapes, others as animals, and some as less definitive figures, often appearing to observers as masses of tentacles and limbs. They can shrink down from their maximum size, and if they do so their mass takes a more solid, three dimensional appearance resembling a sludge. They will always be dark, but can take on an iridescence when in the sludge-like form. Their texture is reported to be cold and flimsy, but otherwise indescribable.
As they cannot travel in light, shadows will remain at their birthplace unless it is no longer an option. Their activity will get frantic and more violent if their home is threatened, but it unclear if this is because they truly understand the threat or if it’s a reaction to the light and noise large amounts of humans bring with them. If they are forced out, they will seek out the nearest available food source, and will make efforts to not be noticed until they have been able to settle into a new space. They may in very rare occasion seek to make a new food source by causing fear, anger or death, but this seems to only occur if they have no better options.
While shadows can be found almost anywhere, they are most often found in graveyards, battlegrounds or sights of accidents. They seek places that are visited by survivors or mourners in particular as they offer a constant food source. During the day they will find hiding places wherever they can, under tree roots or furniture, inside mausoleums or inside floorboards. At night they go out and appear to socialize with other shadows in their area, although their method of communication is unknown.
There are reported shadows that seek out haunted houses or theme parks and feed off the fear there; these shadows may even assist in startling humans going through these attractions. Because humans seek out these places, there is not as much energy available from those interactions, so the populations of shadows in these areas will be lower.
Shadows can hide almost anywhere, but can become trapped if completely surrounded by light on a surface they can’t sink through (i.e. something that has no gaps to slip through or is lit from below). When they run out of places to flee to, the shadow will shrink in on itself until there is no space left; shadows can be trapped in a dark container at this stage, and will not be able to escape if the container is sealed. They can often be safely released into a graveyard at that point. As mentioned earlier, they will burn up if exposed directly to light long enough to burn away their body entirely.
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