|Origins||Shendar of the Shadow Isles.|
While Ethereal Magic draws matter from the Exist and allows the user to wield or wear it, Shadow Magic does the opposite, allowing the mage to slip into the Void and bring other objects with them. Shadow Magic provides an alternative to teleportation and telekinesis. However, while teleportation and telekinesis would imply the instant movement of a person or object on the Alorian plane, Shadow Magic instead allows the caster to draw themselves or something else into the Void, manipulate either themselves or the object within the Void itself, before returning either the object or themselves to Aloria in the new position.
The origins of Shadow Magic can be traced back to the formation of the Shadow Council and the Shadow Isles. With Shendar still establishing themselves as a distinct people, their heavy practice in Void Worship and Possession Rites segwayed into the development of a new magic. A Shendar named Timel Petir accidentally discovered Shadow Magic when her own magic went wrong during the ritual. She became the first mentor of Shadow Magic and immediately began teaching the art to neighboring tribes, eventually earning her the sixth spot on the Shadow Council.
The first recorded use of Shadow Magic outside the Shadow Isles was by an Shendar spy a year before the Cataclysm. A messenger for an opposing group found the Elf in his quarters one night, and watched in awe as he quite suddenly stepped back, muttered something in a foreign language, and disappeared into the shadows. Centuries later, those words were roughly translated to sound similar to archaic Elvish, meaning something along the lines of "Deliver me to the shadows."
After that incident, a number of Shendar were captured and interrogated, and word of this revolutionary magic spread like wildfire. While it was outlawed in most societies, underground organizations and criminal groups made heavy use of it, allowing it to spread globally and develop into its own niche.
A number of Elven languages have a similar name for Shadow Magic, making it easy to translate into Common. In common Elvish, it can be referred to “Daeled,” translating to “to go into the shadows.” Due to how widespread it is, other languages have adopted the term from Common and Elvish. The Ch’ien-ji refer to it as “Mofa Yinying,” in Qadiriq it’s called “Sahar Zill,” and in Faraddi it’s known as “Chhaaya.”
While Shadow Magic can be found abundantly in most magical societies, it predominantly exists as the elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about. It’s practiced, but usually not as publically as other magics. In non-magical societies, it’s typically highly outlawed and reserved for individuals who either come from magical societies, or who are a part of underground or covert organizations.
Specifics of Shadow Magic
Shadow mages have two capabilities: to transport and move objects through the Void (Devoid Magic) and to transport and move themselves through the Void (Shadow Meld). Movement in the Void is directly proportional to movement on Aloria, without the impediment of physical objects such as walls or floors. Moving ten meters in any direction in the Void and bringing oneself back will plant them ten meters in that direction, from where they were before. While the risks of this can be great, an excellent shadow mage knows how to avoid them.
Shadow Meld allows a person to travel between Aloria and the Void. The act of using Shadow Meld begins with the hand gesture and the words to cast the spell. If runes are used, they must be marked, tattooed, or carved on the mage’s own body to allow them to move between worlds. A link is created through the veil that allows the person to pass beyond and into the Void. There, they may move about as they please.
- A shadow melder can only bring themselves into the Void. They cannot bring others in with them.
- A shadow melder cannot bring objects into the Void unless they have it attached to them (such as clothing they wear, a backpack, rings, a knife in their teeth, etc.). However, they must keep their hands free to cast.
- A shadow melder cannot return inside another object (such as a wall, unless it were hollow). If they try, they’ll immediately get pulled back into the Void and will have to try to surface again somewhere else. The more they have to try, the higher chance they’ll get permanently stuck.
- Depth Perception: Individuals studying Shadow Meld must have an excellent grasp on depth perception. Shadow Meld mages are often given exercises to test and better their depth perception, such as identifying distances in images or in real life, or being made to go exact distances (sometimes blindfolded).
- Memory: While Shadow Meld mages don’t need a perfect memory, they do need to have a fairly good recollection of objects in their environment to be able to navigate around them without seeing them in the Void. They’re often made to accomplish tasks about both familiar and unfamiliar locations blindfolded, and usually won’t start off shadow melding in a place they don’t know well.
The opposite of Ethereal Weapons, with much fewer restrictions, Devoid Magic allows the spellcaster to draw items around them into the Void and either leave them there, or transport them elsewhere. A practitioner of Devoid Magic can cast on a stone, for example, which will draw the stone into the Void. From there, they can dictate the direction in which it moves. Once it’s stationary again, they can open up the Void once more and drop that item back into Aloria.
They couldn’t shoot an object like a projectile; it must be stationary to come back into Aloria. Assuming they have good spatial perception, they could feasibly move it behind walls, under or above other objects, or out of sight. This magic is very similar to telekinesis -- but while telekinesis would theoretically work on Aloria, this ability only works in the Void. They cannot move an object until it’s passed into the immaterial plane.
- If a devoid mage tries to move an object while it’s still on Aloria, they will fail. It must be sucked into the Void before it’s moveable.
- The object must be stationary before it’s moved. This means a devoid mage cannot put the item into the Void if it’s in motion, nor can they bring it back to Aloria until it’s unmoving. However, a devoid mage could summon an object in midair and drop it on a person.
- If a devoid mage tried to bring an object back to a spot that would interfere with another (e.g. put one object in another, like transporting a stone into a wall), they’d be physically incapable. In fact, they would lose hold of the object they were trying to transport. Objects cannot be placed within other objects unless the other object is hollow (A mage could place an object inside a hollow glass bauble if it fit, but it couldn’t at any point overlap with the glass itself).
- Items can be lost in the Void. Chaotic antimagic can accidentally bring them back.
- Depth Perception: Individuals studying Devoid Magic must have an excellent grasp on depth perception. Shadow Meld mages are often given exercises to test and better their depth perception, such as identifying distances in images or in real life, or being made to go exact distances (sometimes blindfolded).
Shadow Magic is one of the riskier magic forms. The dangers of using it are not to be taken lightly, especially with how directly it deals with demons and the Void.
A shadow mage has to constantly focus on the connection to Aloria in order to maintain it. If this concentration is broken, they will become entrapped in the Void. The Archdemon is constantly attempting to break this, no less, by either providing enough distraction for the mage to lose focus, or attempting to crush their mind in order to break it. Eventually, most people who are trapped in the Void succumb to the Archdemon and lose their ‘light’ -- that is, their spirit and autonomy. In short, they cease to exist. Entrapment is more likely to happen to mages who are tired, stressed, or sick, as it weakens their ability to maintain a healthy connection and focus on Aloria.
The most dangerous risk to the mage and others is demonic possession. Those who succumb to Behesael’s will (and do not become mindless beings trapped in the Void through the effects of entrapment) will take a demon to Aloria with them, thus becoming demonically possessed. As icing on the cake, demons are able to 'latch' onto a shadow mage the instant they pass into the Void. Once someone enters the Void, they become seen by the Archdemon, who will send His minions after the mage at once. As they return, demonic essence will latch upon them and use them as its physical connection to Aloria. They become more susceptible to possession the more they go into the Void.
- When a possessed individual practices Shadow Magic, there is no coaxing by Behesael, and no essence follows them out of the Void aside from their own. Those possessed will notice the Void is jarringly quiet, and those who have been possessed longer than they’ve been practicing the magic will most likely not be aware there ever was a voice.
- Once a shadow mage enters the Void, it is considered an out of body experience. Upon properly casting the spell, the mage's body will disappear from Aloria, but once they're in the Void, they will not be able to feel it. Looking down, they won't see their body. They won't feel their hands, or won't note a heartbeat. Likely, they won't even be able to blink. All movements must be spurred almost solely by the mind and practice.
- One typical training method used on shadow mages is the blindfold training, where the novice or lower is blindfolded and asked to complete various tasks. Some are simple, such as moving about a room, while others are much more convoluted, such as traveling to the store and purchasing goods for the mentor, cleaning the mentor’s home, and caring for the mentor’s children. In one drastic case in 216 AC, a mentor had his novice perform acrobatics blindfolded in front of a live audience. Needless to say, it wasn’t the Void that ended him.
- An Ithanian woman named Amelie Carrier claimed to have discovered a way to bring people back from the Void who had become trapped. Her last journal entry claimed to have developed a means to do so. No more journal entries are seen after that, and it is assumed she was sucked into the Void. However, when Shadow Mages go to the Void, they cannot hear her voice.
- Only one person has ever been able to take another person to the Void in recorded history. This was Ulrich von Lenzburg of 67 AC, though he kept it a closely-guarded secret and took it to his grave.