Shades (often nicknamed 'Shadows of the Catacombs') are specially trained Excori that are officially allowed to lead tours through the Kezen Catacombs.



Shades are required to be an Excori, as the Ravkan religion is the only ones that have the complete records (and maps) of the catacombs.   Besides that, the exact training to become Shade is unknown, but what is known is that the overall training is considered to be grueling and rather brutal, to ensure the Shade is able to handle the task.

Payment & Reimbursement

Although no Excori is able to have this as their full-time job, those that do this part-time make quite a bit of money doing so. Payments between those wishing to explore the catacombs and the hired Exocri are the business of those two parties; hoever, the Excori is expected to give tithe to the Ravkan religion, so that cost is always built in. Some Shades will take on clients that cannot afford it as service to the Ravkan religion, but because of the dangers of the job, most demand substantial payment.

Other Benefits

Excori are paid as part of their duties, but being a Shade means discretionary income; those that are Shades are quite a bit wealthier than their non-Shade counterparts in the Excori. Some Shades also become famous for their willingness to go into portions of the catacombs where even other Shades won't; in the Ravkan religion, those Shades become minor celebrities.



The Kezen Catacombs are an extensive ossuary system that runs underneath the Kezen capital of Skruj Drae. General tours (led by general Excori) are offered to tourists and Kezens that wish to visit their recently deceased family and friends.   However, many Kezens have an interest in the so-called "historical" parts of the catacombs. If that is the case, the explorer must hire a Shade; to skip this process is punishable by fines or imprisonment. Shades have extensive knowledge of the layout of the catacombs, the dangers (and ways to avoid those dangers) of the catacombs, as well as knowledge of the archives of the Excori, which give information on who is buried where. Most Kezens consider this knowledge worth the price of hiring a Shade.

Social Status

Shades are viewed with a mixture of awe and trepidation: Kezens consider them very brave to traverse the catacombs, but some will say that one cannot travel through the catacombs regularly and be normal. Typically, those that feel the latter way keep it to themselves, as the catacombs are important in Kezen culture and so Shades are necessary.


All Shades are Excori. The split is currently about 50/50 between males and females, although that does fluctuate. There are never many Shades operating at once: to give an idea, there are about a team of twenty that make up the current Shade cohort.



Shades carry a multitude of tools with them, although there are no required tools for the job. Each Shade has their own preferred tools, but most of them carry magical tools (that even non-magicians can use), including enchanted lights, weapons (for the human enemies), and other magical deterrents (the catacombs are supposedly haunted, and so Shades ensure their clients are protected). Often, the more offensive tools are for show, as the Shades' knowledge of the catacombs and its layout is really what explorers are after.

Provided Services

As mentioned, Shades are able to navigate the catacombs (somewhat) easily, and that means a lot to explorers of the catacombs. Shades may take people on "scenic" tours (that is, they just want to explore the catacombs for recreational reasons) or on more "directed" tours (that is, the explorers are looking for specific people in the catacombs, for one reason or another).

Dangers & Hazards

Shades have a lot of hazards in their job (hence the high price of obtaining their services). First, some parts of the catacombs are in disrepair, but Shades known exactly what areas to avoid. Second, it's said that prolonged exposure in the catacombs causes psychological issues. (This has never been proven, but it's a recognized hazard of the job.) Lastly, the sheer darkness of the catacombs means that a Shade must be able to navigate even in the dark. (Shades seem to be able to see in the dark, although how that would be is unknown.)   Quite frankly, this profession is full of hazards.
Alternative Names
Shadows of the Catacombs
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Cover image: Death by PublicDomainPictures


Author's Notes

This article is part of my Spooktober 2022 collection! As such, it's minimally edited, and I'll add more when time allows. Forgive the construction dust!

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