Created on a whim, shadowshifters, or Varnas'erroia as they called themselves in the beginning, are a race closely connected to Death.
Shadowshifters were created from the properties and appearances of a mix of others, both angelic, demonic, fae and others. During their original creation by Death, the immortal picked out properties of the races that he found most favorable. They have a very basic, bred in look to them that can have certain variations depending on their lineage and the area they came from.
* Hair can be wavy or straight, sometimes it comes in curls. Most often it is black, but can have variations.
* Eyes will often either be completely black, or have black sclera. Occasionally they will have normal pale sclera.
* Their skin is often ivory white, but can range from pale peachy to dark, depending on bloodlines.
* Their lips can be either pink or black naturally. Sometimes a sort of lavender in between.
* Most shadowshifters are sleek and wiry, and average size. Some can get into the six foot range, though it is not often.
All of these traits are heavily dependent on bloodline. Hybrids can differ in appearance dramatically.
There are multiple sexes that present at birth:
(rare) Flat chested / vagina
(rare) developed breasts / penis
(extremely rare) True Hermaphrodite - both penis and vagina, fully functional.
The last three are most common born from the joining of two males. Given the presence of a womb in males there can be variations to the anatomical growth.
Attitude and culture:
Their close connection to Death has given them a hunger for life, a hedonistic interest in all the pleasures that living has to offer. Their culture is focused on pleasure and sensation, exploration and wonder. Life is extremely precious to them, they know all too well how delicate and easily snuffed the living can be. Their deities are Life and Death, one and the same, the shifting, ever changing.
They are very appreciative and welcoming of the arts and science, yet have a very close connection to the earth and its little wonders. A very grounded race.
Shadowshifter children mentally mature very quickly and adults keep that fact in mind when dealing with their young. To take advantage of anyone below the age of sixteen is HIGHLY looked down upon and discouraged. The importance of not abusing trust and healthy sexuality is highly stressed and children are taught from a young age what is ok and what is not.
Gender and sexuality of all kinds are welcomed and encouraged. Given their god's ability to change with fluid ease, intersexed, genderfluid, genderqueer, transgender, and more are looked upon with acceptance. To them it is normal. Ones exterior does not reflect what is inside.
This is more so important given the rare additional sexes that present themselves.
An example of such:
Zanarin presents as male, responds only to male pronouns
Jasper presents as femme but male, responds to male pronouns
Anselm is genderfluid, has no preferred pronouns
Polygamy is extremely common among them. Mating multiple people, forming tight knit families and raising children, all common practicies. A mating is often marked by a bite, but given the fast healing rate of shadowshifters, bites do not always last. To mark one as their own, there is often a shared mark that both either have tattooed or somehow scarred into their skin - often on the fleshy part of the shoulder. That, or the personal mark of one is placed upon the other as a symbol of their connection. This is their form of marriage, the absolute form of their love branded into their flesh. Multiple mates often produces multiple marks, such as with Exodus - for each mate he has a different mark, usually teeth prints given his body's slower, less efficiant ability to heal.
A delicate subject. The shadowshifters, at one point, where so feared as to be thought of as Death themself whenever one was seen. Their abilities were fearsome, but many of them have been forgotten by younger generations and are only remembered by the few ancients still alive. One explanation as to why is the difficulty of mastering most of these skills.
They have the ability to shift, mainly through shadows, from place to place. This is the easiest skill to learn, an essential to survival. Shadows may be formed into formidable weapons with enough practice. They are born with distinct 'shadows' of their own, which are almost like extensions of themselves and can feel and think, the older they get, the more they learn. They are capable of mimicking their host's voice to speak, but it is a rare skill. They are a fun thing to play with during sex or a good tool during battle. There too is Shadowshifters' quick level of healing, major wounds the body's priority, reknitting and repairing anything short of a severed head or limb. Minor wounds and scrapes for the most part heal at a normal pace. Afterwards they are weak and in great need of rest and food.
Shadow puppetry and necomancy were a rare skill even at the height and is all but lost.
And the most feared trick, the ability to manipulate a soul out of the body. It is one of the traits so unknown that many now believe it is myth.
It is probably one of the things that lead to their eventual destruction.
Sex is a normal activity among them, talked of freely. Sexual maturity is reached between 16-20 years, when heat begins to manifest.
Males and females both have the ability to bring new life into the world, each possessing of a womb. Males are only viable once a year for two weeks to a month when heat presents. All males are born with a womb and a passage that connects it to the outside, which is sealed most of the year. Upon entering heat the hips begin to widen and the passage opens, the space between testes and anus now a usable opening. The testes retract into the body, the body rendering the seeding aspects impotent.
The transition is uncomfortable but the passage is extremely sensitive, as if making up for the discomfort. It is a time of agonizing need and desperation, only slackened by satisfaction. They remain in this state until the seed of their chosen lover has taken hold, or the heat comes to an end. It is much the same for the females and both sexes, upon orgasm, clamp down upon the shaft and stay viced for five to ten minutes, continuously spasming through mini-climaxes, milking the organ of every drop of seed. It is in essence a reverse knotting.
Males, upon pregnancy, will not revert back until the child has been carried to term and is born. Pregnancies can last anywhere from three to nine months. Male pregnancies tend to last three to five months, females five to nine. They are ravenous eaters during this period and tend to sleep a lot as their bodies are working in over time.
Those of the other sexes are found to have difficulty becoming pregnant and will either be sterile or need aid in conceiving but still experience the same symptoms of heat, sometimes more mild, sometimes to an extreme.
An example of such a state would be Anselm, who experiences extremely intense heats, but it only lasts three weeks at most.
Birth is the same for everyone. The babies are born via passage or vaginally, and tend to feed on either blood or milk, sometimes a mixture. Given their body using nearly everything they eat and drink, both blood and milk is highly nutritious.
Male pregnancies have a higher rate of male or other sexed children, female pregnancies have a higher rate of female children.
Fun facts aka various information:
Humans and shadowshifters CANNOT successfully breed without heavy magical aid.
Due to carrying Death's bloodline, human seed does not take, nor does shadowshifter seed in humans. Fetuses tend to die immediately or fail to develop.
1. Shadowshifters for the most part do not have a set sexual preference. When something clicks between them and a person they often take them as their lover or possibly a mate. The connection between mates can be incredibly strong, even going to the point of vaguely feeling the others emotional state.
2. The royal bloodlines are said to have wings. Whether or not they are aware of them or are able to use them is the question at hand! They really have no use for them, but it was a display of power for those of royal blood in the olden days. Angelic hybrids will sometimes have them as well.
3. There are a large number of noble rankings, similiar to various human noble ranks. Most of the nobility was either destroyed or driven out/ enslaved. The highest bloodlines of course, would be royalty. As an example, Exodus is not royalty, but he is a high ranking noble, which was the main reason he was requested to create younglings with Lazarus, whom was of pure royal bloodlines. Since shadowshifters have any number of skills, there was a much larger middle class then there was of noble.
4. While Shadowshifters can breed with just about any magical race, they breed best with those that some of their races characteristics were based upon! They breed especially well with angels/death angels and those unions can often create a strong, healthy child that can work with both magic and shadows.
5. Shadowshifters are not the best at magic, in fact, very few can work it. Necromancy is something they were very good at, though that skill is hard to learn and few knew it.
6. Poisons and excessive drinking are two of the things that can spell death for a shadowshifter. While their bodies heal fast, poisons and alcohol poisoning can make it so hard for the body to heal, that a person would be able to hack a shadowshifter to death before they could recover. Poisons were one of the most successful agents in the near destruction of the race. Many shadowshifters can not cope with very much alcohol. It goes to their heads pretty fast. However, over the years, some immunities have been bred in ( hybrids have a much easier time with alcohol then a pure blood) to both alcohol and certain poisons.
7. Shadows are part of the shadowshifter. Though they are part of them, they also have a mind of their own in ways. Shadowshifters can manipulate their shadows to create beasts or even, as Exodus has perfected, create a sort of 'beast form' with his shadows, which he uses to protect his body and also makes it easier for him to fight multiple enemies. Very useful in warfare and was once a very feared aspect when shadowshifters were hired as mercenaries.