The Shadebeasts are a species of insect-like creatures native to the Shadow Realm. While the term "shadebeast" can apply to any creature of the Shadow Realm it's usually used to denote creatures who have been corrupted by Shade near any of the Shadowscars of Celenia as those are the creatures that the Kykr most often encounter.
The true Shadebeasts of the Shadow Realm are few and far between in Dunia as the world is as toxic to them as the Shadow Realm is deadly to the Kykr. The Shadebeasts that are in Geislheim are usually found in and around the Shadowscars, as the Veil there is thin and the nature is saturated with Shade, allowing the creatures to survive.
Classes of Shadebeasts
There are two main forms of Shadebeasts and their main distinction is their origin. The creatures of Geislheim who are corrupted by Shade are called either corrupted animals or simply Shadebeasts. The other form is the true Shadebeast, the one who's origin is the Shadow Realm itself.
These creatures once used to be animals found in Geislheim. They still resemble their origin to some extent, but all share common characteristics such as dark pigmentation or fur in black or purplish colors and their eyes have taken on a purple color and slight luminescence. They can be bears, stags, foxes, wolves and other animals and regardless of their previous position on the food chain, they are now all driven insane, violent and predatory, feeding on everything they can.
These creatures exude a dark purple smoke as they move about, indicating their corruption by Shade. This smoke is actual Shade leaking out of their bodies. Through long term light exposure they've been gradually corrupted by the Shade, but slowly enough that their resistance to the harmful effects of Shade have been strengthened as well.
If a corrupted animal was removed from the corrupting Shade, eventually it would return to its normal form, but likely mentally and physically warped. It is not likely it would survive the ordeal.
Nightmare Fox: The nightmare fox looks similar to a normal fox, but with fur in different shades of black and purple. It's usually veiled in a thick cloud of Shade, hiding from sight. It feeds by stalking its prey for hours, projecting horrifying images into its mind, slowly driving it insane. The Nightmare Fox feeds on the very mind itself and especially on fear, doubt and terror.
The true Shadebeasts originate from the Shadow Realm itself and are part of a large group of subspecies belonging to one overarching species. They are all vaguely insectiod in appearance and are partly hive-minded, requiring a mental connection to the hive mind to function. Without this connection they will quickly be driven feral and violent, functioning only on primitive instincts and fear.
Individual smaller Shadebeasts do not possess the mental strength to uphold this mental bond on their own. They instead require local overlords to stay nearby as amplifiers of the mental signal. These overlords form the head of a brood of Shadebeasts.
There is no central being, at least not physically, that commands and directs the Shadebeasts. Instead it's a communal hivemind, built up from every single individual creature in the species. With every death, the hivemind grows weaker, and with greater numbers, the hivemind grows stronger and smarter.
The hivemind could be considered a supermind, an entity on its own with a will of its own. It functions as the leader of the Shadebeasts. Its will is absolute and it possess the capability to directly control individual creatures that constitutes the hivemind. In general it will only work through gentle suggestion, disseminating its will through the overlords. The overlords are also capable of directly controlling creatures, but only creatures of its own brood.
Common SubspeciesOverlord: Looking a bit like a big, floating sack of flesh with eyes lining its centerline. On it's "front" side there's a cluster of eyes above a large mouth, lined with razor sharp teeth. It has several long, tentacle-like appendages hanging from its bottom. These tentacles can be used to manipulate objects like hands and are relatively strong, allowing the creature to snare a victim and deliver a very strong electrical shock through them. The Overlords function as amplifiers for the mental signal of the hivemind and act as leaders for individual broods of Shadebeasts.
Warrior drone: Strong, bipedal warrior drones are the mainstay of the Shadebeast army. These creatures have a black carapace covering their body and sharp claws with which to rend their targets asunder. The carapace is strong and rivals that of iron breastplates. These creatures are deadly in combat.
Worker drone: Looking similar to the warrior drone but is much smaller and not quite as strongly built. Their carapace is softer, allowing greater mobility and utility and they lack the lethal claws of the warriors. These smaller creatures are versatile and are the most numerous of the Shadebeasts. They tend to the hive and its grubs, building habitats and gathering food. Harvester/Hatcher: A gigantic creature, standing easily 20 feet tall and 60 feet long, this large, wormlike creature exists for one purpose only. It eats and eats everything in its way and when it has eaten enough, it will lay eggsacks in a safe place, to be tended by worker drones. These eggsacks will eventually hatch into grubs. Grub: Large, larva-like creature. Born from eggsacks laid by hatchers, these grubs carry the genetic material required to morph into whatever the hive needs. From these creatures, any other Shadebeast may be born through metamorposis in a cocoon.