“It is a Deep Darkness that wouldst have thou forget who thine are, and havest thou for itself.”
Ehden – the Angel of Knowledge.
Also known as Shkard, Oradragul, Ravoths, Wraiths or Demons, these terrifying, demented and deadly spirits are torn fragments of Xaviliax. They are often shifting in form but always shrouded in darkness, as if it’s body were made of the vast night sky itself. It sounds like a throng of people talking or whispering to themselves all at once, and only when it has a desire or goal does the throng of voices focus, tho never entirely.
With an innate instinct to become whole, they devour the ghosts of Isthul, Lichens, Mute, and other beings of the Xaviliaxian essence. In the Golden Age of the Mute civilization, the Mute population was vast, and the souls that passed naturally were easy grazing for the Skaard. But after the Great Sundering of the Minds, Mute numbers never recovered, and the Skaard have languished in their hunger. They have become so disjointed and insane in their lack that they will ravenously devour any unfortunate soul that pass them by, tearing the soul from the body without a thought. The souls of Auolean beings are not of it’s essence, so to devour them makes them more hollow, their thoughts more disjointed, their hunger more dire, and overall more dangerous. They cannot be killed, only torn to finer, weaker pieces.
Despite their penchant for chaos and insanity, they are not without cunning. They often plot schemes by which they can slate their hunger-lust, executing complex plans, playing off the hubris of living souls, even calculating their own insane ways in advance to lure mortals into their snare.
While Skaard are largely present on the metaphysical realm, they are anchored in the physical plane by a fragment of the Xaviliaxian Stump. Very rarely, two Skaard will encounter one another. They do not recognize the other as themselves, but can sense the well of souls within the other, and so ensues a struggle to devour the other, and in the process they fuse to become a more dangerous whole. In the process of doing so, they develop a hard, ridgid shell around themselves, eliminating their movement (devouring oneself is a tiring affair). The two becoming one will rest here for a time, appearing as a terrible and grotesque stone monolith or tree. Humans call them Pandora Pillars, the Ravorii Tree among the Elves and the Ordralith by the Orcs. It’s presence taints the surrounding area in a widening circle, and it is common that odd and alien forms of lichen, plants (and rarely) insects develop. It is because of this unnatural taint that the Church of Taeloc seeks to destroy these when and wherever they pop up. Every time a union occurs, a new kind of Xaviliaxian life form will eventually (if not immediately) come into being. When sufficient time has passed, it will evacuate the shell of it’s rest to feed.
Ifdranulf are one of the beings that formed, and often don’t stray far from a Skaard. Roughly the size of a wolf, they are bi-planal beings (existing equally on the physical and metaphysical planes) that depart in a pack from the Skaard in search of a soul for it to devour, and will drag the individual kicking and screaming to it. Without any traditional sensory anatomy, they perceive the world around them through a combination of echolocation and Thought-sight. While beasts in nature and not intelligent, they can perceive a living being by the displacement it’s thoughts create in they metaphysical realm. The Ævranulf are a smaller, more deadly variant of Ifdranulf that can peel the soul right out of the body. They often hunt with a pack of Ifdranulf, but are lethal enough to hunt on their own if need be. Ifdranulf reproduce sexually with a litter of 3-4 at a time. A Skaard that is served by Ifrdanulf often becomes sedentary, allowing the food to be brought to it.