Shadows

Overview:

The shadows are a communal invention of the Zelda OC Club, created through a combination of roleplay and collaborative theory.

Not to be confused with the Shadow Messengers of the Twili, they are also known as shadow-spirits, shadowbeasts, the shadow-kind, or shadowkin. They represent the forces of change — often unexpected and unwelcome, and sometimes disastrous.

Origin and History:

The legend of creation is known to all: when the Three Goddesses created the world, Din shaped its lands, Nayru gave it law, and Farore gave it life. In most versions, the Three then depart for the heavens, leaving behind the Triforce.

Few remember that the legend contains another passage. Before the Goddesses left their newly-created world, they came together and made seven Spirits of Light and seven Spirits of Shadow. Between them, the two sides were to maintain a balance between order and change. But they were forbidden to fight each other directly, because a conflict of that scale would do too much damage.

Over time, more light spirits and shadows came into being. Light spirits sprang from order and harmony to join the Seven Lights, or Siderans. The shadows spawned from dissonance and upset, and spread their mischief throughout the world.

However, not all of these followed the Seven Shadows, or Zalmunna. Some remained independent, congregating at Lycoris along with fallen light spirits. One rebellious faction of the shadow-kind even took up residence in the Dark World, and were changed by it to one degree or another (see Dark World Shadowkin).

Description:

Shadows can look like virtually anything, from creatures of all descriptions to people, though the resemblance is often superficial or distorted in some way. Most are darkly colored, and spines, hornes, claws, and extra limbs or eyes are very common. No matter their number or color, however, a shadow's eyes will always glow.

Some shadows are also marked with glowing geometric patterns. To a knowledgable observer, these markings can be used to determine the shadow's power, and which of the Zalmunna they follow (if any). The markings also indicate a shadow's health, emotional state, and power level — dimming when the shadow is wounded, depressed, or depleted, and brightening during intense emotion or use of power.

Most shadows are essentially spirit beings, and as such are functionally immortal. Because they are literally made of shadow, and not of flesh and bone, they are not limited by biological needs like sleep or oxygen, and aren't affected by non-magical toxins. For sustenance, they eat the shadows of other living things — or their fellow shadow-kind. Between this cannibalism and the constant infighting, most of the countless newling shadows don't survive long enough to gain any significance.

Shadowkin originating in the Dark World, or affected by long-term residence there, tend to resemble mortals more than spirits, and may even have relatively normal biology comparative to that of animals or humans (though this varies by individual).

Abilities and Limitations:

Shapeshifting: A shadow has only to change its surface to take any shape, like pouring water into a differently-shaped glass. However, this isn't the same as taking another form — past the outside appearance, they're still shadow inside, and there are more than a few clues as to their true nature. (Shadowkin acclimated to the Dark World tend to have a constant shape, and thus little to no ability at shapeshifting.)

Shadow-melding and shadow-walking: The shadow-kind can enter the shadow cast by anything, living or non-living, as long is there is sufficient contrast to form a doorway. From there, they can travel between shadows and exit from another shadow somewhere else. Unlike other races with shadow magic such as the Twili or Sheikah, the shadow-kind can also access the immortal realm of the Shadowlands, which lies deep within every shadow ever cast.

Magic: As spirit beings, all shadows have the capacity for magic, according to their individual level of power and training. For most of the lesser shadows, that isn't much. However, it's common for the mid-level shadows to know at least one or two spells, and some of the higher shadows are equal to or better than the most powerful human mages.

Vulnerable to light: Shadows are affected by light according to power. Lesser shadows are unable to tolerate even indirect sunlight, and have some trouble with firelight and lamplight. Mid-level shadows can generally withstand indoor lighting and possibly indirect or weak sunlight, and might briefly survive direct exposure to the sun. The highest shadows are not affected by sunlight, though magical or divine light may still be a problem.

In addition to these near-universal characteristics, individual shadows will often have their own unique talent, power, or specialization; some of which can be quite peculiar, or only mildly useful.

It should also be noted that the Zalmunna, having been created by the Goddesses, are far and away the most powerful of their kind. None but a Sideran can match a Zalmunna, and none but a deity may defeat one without taking a severe beating in the process. Such is the power of the Zalmunna that they are almost impossible to destroy, but can only be sealed.

The seven Zalmunna are owned by Mel/Lock-of-Hyrule (Majora), Pettyartist (Abyss), and Winna/Asraniel (the other five); by permission, rueyeet sometimes plays Dimas.

Society and Culture:

While the loosely organized bunch of competing individuals and factions among the shadows can scarcely be called a "society", there are a few aspects that do remain constant, whether in the Shadowlands or the Dark World.

Shadows are naturally chaotic creatures, without much in the way of morality (at least, not by human standards). Thus, much of a shadow's existence is a constant struggle to accomplish its own goals without getting stepped on by someone else. Some seek to rule others, some prey upon those weaker than themselves, and some just want to carve out enough space to be left the heck alone. Being a shadow is all about how much you can get away with.

Complicating things further, while at the same time keeping the whole mess from disintegrating completely, are the few higher shadows powerful enough to attract followers. In the Dark World, the renegade known as Dark maintains a tight grasp on power; in the Shadowlands, the Zalmunna compete with each other through their hierarchies of servants. Despite the nominal leadership of the Eldest, each of the Zalmunna is largely autonomous from the rest, and their hierarchies are almost sub-cultures of their own.

The language of the shadows comes in two forms. The first is the language of the Zalmunna as spoken at their creation. This is a language of power; the sound of it makes most other beings uneasy, and mortals can't speak it without physical harm to themselves. This ancient tongue is written as a syllabary, and its words or glyphs are often used as anchors for powerful shadow-magic. Only the Zalmunna and some of the highest, oldest shadows ever actually use it in conversation. Derived from this is Zalmun, which is the living form of the language that is used in general conversation. Zalmun is written as a simplified alphabet, and is not useful for spellcasting.

Other than legends and gossip, the shadow-kind have few to none of the common references that would constitute a culture, other than a near-universal hatred of Light Spirits.

Notable Characters:

The Zalmunna - Tenebran, Majora, Dimas, Abyss, Stygia, Naharl, and Oscuri
Dark World Shadowkin - Dark, Rath, Ophila, Jonel, Ottilde
Aligned shadows - Gamedi, Menteur, Onir
Unaligned/independents - Alchera, Booger, Shabti

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