Let us begin with their arrival. With the Shattering, Raquestia, the old moon, was destroyed. With the debris, they came. It was not clear at first. They seemed to hide in the rocks, barely visible in the corner of the eye and a faint whisper. Most assumed it was just a result of the terrible stress of the cataclysm. When your town is reduced to ash under falling rocks and the sea rises up to swallow what's left, a few visions of fancy are the least of one's worry.
The first town to be put to the torch was the old city of Mossy Stone. While it is commonly known that the soulless can provide host to our enemy, it is also possible for a fully souled being to be puppeted at the strings of them. The process is slower, and does not result in the terrifying monstrosities seen with the soulless, but a being bereft of his own will is just as dangerous. The gate was down to accept the shadows when they came for Mossy Stone. The alarm bell did not begin to ring before the screams of victims rose up into the night sky.
It is important to remember that wherever the shadow are, they bring with them the Malaise. The Malaise is a terrible oppression of all beings. I have not experienced it directly, but by all accounts, it is like being in a burning building. Your eyes will water, your mouth will dry. Your heart will beat as never before, but you will feel short of breath. It is difficult for even our bravest to mount effective defense in these conditions. This effect is lessened during the day, and for the soulless, who ignore much of its foul presence.
This was only weeks after the Shattering. We did not know of the soulless or their abilities. Our guards and soldiers fought, but it was a hopeless battle. Those inside the city scrambled to fled, but they very walls that had once secured them were now the jail bars that kept them from leaving. A few, desperate, beings hurled themselves from the walls, some of those even survived. Others, birds or air mages, could fly, and the wise ones fled. The rest were left to face the army of the shadows.
It was first believed that all had perished in the massacre, but this was not so. The shadows did kill many, but many more were possessed and controlled. Their numbers were reinforced with our lost, with beings whose eyes were as empty as a newborn soulless.
Take heart, gentle reader. The shadows are not an invincible enemy. A stout spear driven through their core will put them down, though sometimes a second run through is required. Swords, axes, and magic will destroy them, but they are tough. I have seen a shadow beast lumber through a battle with three arrows in its skull, only to be felled with a mace across its brow.
These beasts seem to come in a few distinct breeds:
Types of Shadows
The Feral: Shadows of this nature appear like great four, or more, legged animals. They lash out with teeth and jaws. They seem to display a feral cunning, but lack in higher function. Most will not attempt to use machinery, and rarely can they speak. Many seem a parody of our ancestral forms. Bears, wolves, and other predators wrought in cloying shadow.
The Formless: Malignant gatherings of dark cloud. Pure shadow. Their presence is made clear when the Malaise intensifies. They do not attack, physically, instead sapping the will of beings and eventually controlling them. They are most often alone, or working with other breeds in support of them. Most are very resistant to physical weapons, due to their lack of solid form. Magic and fire is recommended.
The Non Being: Dark mirrors of ourselves. They appear as beings, just dark and malign. They are the most capable of using our tools against us, and the most likely to speak, though the words of shadow are rarely anything any good being wishes to hear. Properly clothed, and in cover of dark, a Non Being can pass for a normal being, at least in silhouette. If you are serving as a city guard, I cannot emphasize how necessary it is that all gates have sufficient lighting to unearth such horrors before they reach our cities.
Other: Some shadows appear in shapes beyond our understanding. Of beasts we have no name for, with limbs, the natural use of, we cannot fathom. Most tend towards the feral spectrum of things, but assume nothing but trouble when dealing with the shadow.
On the reproduction and family cycle of shadows, nothing concrete has been discovered. Where do they come from? Why do their numbers not thin despite the battles? This remains something of a mystery. A popular theory holds that there are especially large fragments of Raquestia that house and facilitate the source of shadows. This would mean that any offensive against them would have to cross a wide no man's land of devastated turf before they could be combated. Add in a nauseating swarm of shadows, and it is easy to see why none of these theoretical rocks have been discovered or destroyed.
There are some who ponder the motivation of the shadow, beyond the destruction of us and ours. I shall refrain from comment. They have shown little willingness to negotiate or parley. Many, brave but foolish, beings that have gone with the highest of intents to stop the conflict have been lost to us. I praise their fine Creator's spirit, but mourn their lack of survival instinct. These are a foul people, if they deserve to even be called as such. Gird yourself, and travel with caution. They are coming, and they do not carry peace in whatever they call a heart.
Origins of Shadows
In light of events that transpired some years ago, the origin of these creatures has been revealed by a shadow proffering peace to our people. If it is to be believed, Shadows were created by the Creators as a tool to wipe us out once our time had come. The full transcript of this discussion is available here.