The Shadow Realm is a different world, hidden behind an invisible veil, vastly different from Dunia. Not many know how to access it and even fewer have any idea how to survive it's poisonous, toxic atmosphere. The vast majority of people who visit either flee in terror, or die to shadow sickness.
The dungeon was dry as death and Runeig found it hard even to breathe. She had regretted her participation in this expedition several times over since they passed through the gateway into the Shadow Realm, but never had she regretted anything more than she did now.
The dungeon was just a single corridor, lined with iron bars with doors leading into six cells. There were bodies in them. Three, maybe four or five in each cell. Some frozen in some twisted, horrific shape as if they'd died convulsing. Each body was pale as death itself and their faces contorted in grimaces of fear and torment. From their eyes, mouths and noses were thick, black lines, as if black tears had flowed down their faces. Runeig gasped and gagged, struggling to prevent herself from vomiting.
"By the goddess!" she exclaimed, incapable of holding back her horror. "What has happened to these poor souls?"
Dr Ergyn, the expedition leader, gave her a cold stare.
"This is what happens to anyone who stays here for too long. That itch you feel in the back of the throat? That feeling of sand in your lungs as you breathe? That's only the beginning." he said with a small chuckle that turned into a cough. He adjusted the stained mask that protected his mouth.
Suddenly there was movement in the corner of Runeig's eye. A scream rang out, hoarse and terrible, lacking any resemblance of a Kykr voice. A vindral woman threw herself at the bars and from her lips came a plea:
"Lu' ghus dah ghoj'tah!"
The vindral was beset by a terrible hacking croup before falling to the ground and exhaling that characteristical breath of one who has taken their last gasp of air.
"Let me die with honor." Dr Ergyn commented.
"Excuse me?" Runeig was still in shock. She had backed into the bars on the opposite side of the corridor, and her hand was covering her mouth in shock.
"That's what she said. It was Qaj. These people must have come from Morvátu. He was utterly unmoved by the scene before them.
What is the shadow realm?
There certainly are speculations. Hard facts are hard to come by as the only information available is thousands of years old and written in a language long since dead. Some are just ramblings of fanatics and cultists.
The Shadow Realm is some form of parallell universe or metaphysical plane of existance, separate from Dunia by something dubbed "The Veil". One can pass through the Veil by a few methods and end up in the other realm. The two realms seem to partially correlate space and time, but not fully and in very unpredictable ways. Time passed in one world isn't necessarily the same or even relative to the other, nor is space. One can move in one world and come out near or similar to where one would end up if one moved in the other world, or one can end up days or even weeks of travel away.
As far as the kykr know, no one has figured out how the two worlds relate to one another or made any observations that point to a repeatable experiment how time and space correlate between the two realms. Sometimes a place can exist in both worlds, but on different time scales. A building that is a ruin in the Shadow Realm can be complete in Dunia and vice versa. In some places, particularly the shadowscars, both worlds can exist in the same place and time, at the same time, forming a ghostly "middleworld".
Also known as the Black Death, shadow sickness is a fatal toxic reaction to the energies of the Shadow Realm.
Native to the Shadow Realm, this hive-minded species is made up of a multitude of biological castes, each designed to fulfill one role or another. They are highly aggressive towards invaders of their realm and lethal in combat.
The Shadelings are goo-like creatures who haunt the shadow scars of Celenia.