Name: Shadowkin

Category: Monsters, Pets

Type: Mammalians

Size: Medium

Region: Forest, Jungle and Mountains (particularly found in the Fae Forest?, Yondallar Rainforest? and Dusky Mountains?

Rarity: Exotic; Exotic pets (if you can call them that)

Lifespan: Varies

Appearance

While shadowkin can memorize the forms of and therefore become a multitude of animals, they seem to prefer their natural form. This resembles an over-sized house cat with short taupe gray fur that's mottled by a splattering of black spots. The pattern for every shadowkin is unique, and some can be quite fascinating. Every shadowkin on record has had eyes like pits of fathomless darkness, with swirls of lighter gray forming what passes for irises. The only color their bodies boast other than black and shades of gray is the soft pink of the inside of their ears and mouth, as well as the whiteness of their teeth. Even the pads of their paws and their retractable claws are a deep black.

When a shadowkin takes the time to learn the behavior of the sort of animal it intends to mimic, it can effectively gain the abilities and other advantages of that form while retaining the strengths and weaknesses of its own race. Yet instead of taking on the full appearance of the animal, the shadowkin's original coloration and markings will be translated over. This includes the eyes and claws, however they may be interpreted according to the new form.

Behaviour

When a shadowkin is encountered in the wild, it's most likely because it wanted to be found. They are masters of stealth, and their ability to phase from shadow to shadow usually keeps them well ahead of any potential predators. Yet they are known for their curiosity, and though they are usually solitary in regard to their own kind, humanoid settlements within shadowkin territories claim that the cats come over for "visits". Such events are said to involve the shadowkin performing tricks for children, the chasing of some very confused dogs, and the making of friends with a few well placed body rubs. Some villages consider their shadowkin to be blessings from Xanth, and they treat them very well indeed. Of course, there are also rumors that those who mistreat the felines come upon long spells of increasingly bad luck, from attacks by wild animals to infestations of vermin. More than one village has found the means to win back the shadowkin's good graces, and eventually their so-called "bad luck" ceased.

When a shadowkin finds the individual they instinctively know is meant to be their Chosen One, a lifelong bond is immediately formed. It's unknown as to what races this bond is limited to, but it is assumed that thus far only humanoids have been given the honor. The amount of time it takes for the bond to develop an empathic link seems to vary upon how quickly the shadowkin's personality conforms to that of its Chosen.

Bonded shadowkin want to be with their Chosen all of the time and everywhere. Whether they fuss at not being the focus of their Chosen's attention depends on how their personality develops after bonding. For the most part, bonded shadowkin just want their Chosen to be happy. Thankfully due to the eventual empathic bond, shadowkin are usually able to tell precisely what they can do to promote such happiness. If the shadowkin's acting like a complete goofball makes their Chosen feel warm and fuzzy, then that's what they'll do.

When bonded, shadowkin try to take care of their Chosen. That means providing them with proper meals, since far too often their poor ignorant two legged Chosen do not know how to hunt for themselves. If you find yourself being bonded with a shadowkin, then be prepared to wake up next to some interesting "presents". If a shadowkin's Chosen doesn't like what they bring, then the shadowkin will just keep trying till they figure out what their bonded likes best. No amount of protestation will convince your shadowkin that you really don't need it to fetch you breakfast, lunch, or dinner, depending on what meal your shadowkin prefers to supply. Some shadowkin try to cover all three, but this is a rarity.

Diet: Shadowkin mainly hunt small creatures such as mice, cheefle, fae squirrels, and just about anything else they can get their paws on. Sometimes they attempt larger animals, but this usually requires them to change to a shape larger than their intended prey. However, while they are without a doubt carnivorous, shadowkin have been seen munching on various plants.

Habitat: Wild shadowkin make their dens in a variety of places. They seek out cool and dry areas that are easily hidden. These can just as easily be an underground burrow leading to a cozy chamber or a hollow log half stuffed with dried leaves. They relocate often, but always within their marked territory.

Bonded shadowkin adapt easily to whatever their Chosen may provide for the feline's personal space, though they will still prefer something cool and dry. Shadowkin that live in rural areas often curl up on their Chosen's beds, sofas, chairs, rugs, or whatever else that isn't exposed to bright light while being soft and inviting.

Breeding: Though shadowkin are a common enough sight if one knows where to look, this is mostly because the unbonded ones live for so long. Admittedly, it is difficult to keep track of the precise number of shadowkin in existence, but those that have been counted in recent years number less than 50.

This is largely due to the fact that shadowkin rarely breed with their own kind. They keep to their personal territories until they find their Chosen and are bonded, and do not go in search of a mate once they age past their first century. Shadowkin females may continue to go into their heat cycle past the century mark, but only should they remain in a form other than their natural one long enough to be influenced by that form's cycle. Then the female will mate with a male of her adopted form's species. Sometimes such matings result in offspring, but shadowkin do not always breed true.

On rare occasions, a shadowkin male and female meet, and sometimes the female will have a small litter of no more than 1-3 kittens.

No matter how their birth came to be, kittens tend to stay with their mothers for approximately five years, over which they learn to hone their abilities and survive on their own. Shadowkin are different from most felines in that there are no known incidents in which the mother has forced her kittens to leave the den, even after the five year period is over. One kitten was reported to have remained with its mother for just over ten years before seeking its own territory.

Special Information

Strengths/Abilities:

  • Shadowkin are highly intelligent, and put this trait to use for several purposes.
  • These felines are natural shape shifters, but they are limited to the forms of small to medium sized animals that they can comprehend. As kittens, shadowkin cannot manage shifting into anything larger than a small animal.
  • When in shady areas, shadowkin can be near undetectable. Their stealth is a combination of careful movement and camouflage. Indeed, their coats seem to partially blend into the shadows around them when they do not wish to be seen.
  • As they are genetically tied to the element of Shadow, shadowkin have developed an ability to phase and move from shadow to shadow. The distance they can cover between "jumps" is limited, but their range expands with age and experience.
  • It is believed that shadowkin are immortal until they are bonded. This can be perceived as a strength in the species, but also a weakness in that it has kept their numbers low.
  • If a bonded shadowkin and their Chosen prove compatible, an empathic link will be formed. This link initially covers a distance of up to 50 feet, but the range has been known to increase with time.

Weaknesses:

  • This species is notoriously curious about everything, and it can get them into trouble. This is especially true when they are young.
  • There is a good reason that shadowkin avoid bright light. Not only does it hurt their eyes, but it can diffuse their bodies. Long exposure to bright light may eventually kill a shadowkin, but this has yet to be confirmed.
  • It is believed that shadowkin are immortal until they are bonded. This can be perceived as a strength in the species, but also a weakness in that it has kept their numbers low.

Uses:

  • In the not so distant past, some bonded shadowkin deigned their Chosen able to clip their claws and sell the clippings to interested parties. Reportedly the clippings contain a portion of the Shadow element that grants shadowkin some of their extraordinary abilities and long lifespan.
  • Due to their rarity and elemental properties, shadowkin pelts, claws, blood, and various organs have come into demand on the black market. These tend to be incredibly expensive, but some collectors and wealthy alchemists are willing to pay the price.

Origin: Many centuries ago, a Skotadi Warrior female and a Therian male who specialized in felines, whose names have been lost to history, came together. The result was a child neither had expected. It was a "throwback", born a beast rather than a humanoid, and his form was of no animal yet known, though it did vaguely resemble a feline. Ashamed of what came of their liaison, the two left the infant in the forest, presumably to die. Some say that Xanth took pity on the baby and altered him so he became balanced between the two halves of his heritage, enhancing his ability to shape shift as well as his affinity with the element of Shadow. Regardless if such is true, all shadowkin can trace their lineage back to him.

Other Info: There has been one case in particular in which a bonded pair's empathic link broadened into a telepathic one, but no one remembers how this was done.

There is a rumor floating about the black market that there are three shadowkin talismans yet remaining of what was once a set of five. These were fashioned from an ancient shadowkin's claws, blood, and tendons and purportedly enchanted with dark magics to enhance the wearer's ability to blend into shadows.

As Shadowkin are so rare and develop such a deep bond with their Chosen, they can only be purchased as exotic (medium) pets (ΞΆ1,500 from the Prize Shop) in a purely out-of-character transaction, and must also be discovered by your character through roleplay.

It is believed that, unless a shadowkin meets an untimely end, they will live indefinitely until they choose to form their bond. When they do find their Chosen One, then their life energy becomes intimately tied to theirs. This allegedly assures that the shadowkin's body will fade upon their Chosen's death so their spirit may move on to be with them in the afterlife.

Creator: Colleen?

Creatures Monsters Pets Medium Forest Mountains Mammalians Jungle Bonded Exotic Exotic Pets