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AU Shadows for Silence.jpeg
Tipo Sombra cognitiva
Mundo Treno
Universo Cosmere
Aparece en Shadows for Silence

People on Threnody are afflicted with a particular ailment that—upon death—sometimes turns them into what we call a Cognitive Shadow. I will leave aside the nature of whether or not a Cognitive Shadow is actually the soul of the person— this is a question for a theologian or a philosopher.

—Khriss on the subject of shades[1]

A shade is a type of Cognitive Shadow that is native to the Forests of Hell on Threnody.[2] Spirits of dead Threnodites, the shades haunt the Forests preying on travelers and can only be defeated with silver. The shades are dangerous and feared by all inhabitants of the Forests, as their touch can cripple and disfigure and may even kill a person and turn them into a shade.


The origin of the shades is unknown, but they were likely created or at least altered in some way by the fight between Odium and Ambition. It is implied that once shades may have been made intentionally rather than as a product of being killed by a shade.[3] Originating on the smaller of Threnody's two continents,[1] the shades rendered all predators on the continent extinct due to the violation of the Simple Rules.[2] The shades were first discovered by the Forescouts, adventurers who called these lands the Forests of Hell due to the shades. Following the destruction of the Homeland, mankind fled to the Forests, abandoning their old lands to the Evil. They developed the Simple Rules in order to survive life among the shades in the Forests and Forescouts trained their children to fight shades. The presence of the shades has shaped their society and culture greatly. The Simple Rules forbid the lighting any kind of fire, which has strongly stifled innovation, preventing inventions such as gunpowder and steam engines from taking root. It has also led to a unique service, fire merchants, which sell fire to those without so they do not have to kindle their own. The prohibition on drawing blood has removed the ability for traditional war to be fought and led to the development of methods for killing both humans and animals that do not require the shedding of blood. The presence of the shades in the Forests has led to the establishment of Fortress Towns in the mountains. Waystops guard against shades with concentric rings of silver inset into the ground, providing spaces secure from the shades, but most Homesteaders cannot afford such protection and allow shades to move around inside their homes. At some point after the creation of the shades, the Ire has deployed forces around the border of Threnody's subastral to prevent their escape and has developed devices capable of detecting the shades.[4]


The Threnodites termed the shades as ghosts, naming their home the Forests of Hell as they believed that they were the home of the damned.[2] It is said that shades steal the souls of others, and that some legendary figures such as the White Fox are able to violate the Simple Rules without risk to their souls. Some believe that shades can linger around the places that they once lived, guarding them, such as the shade that was believed to belong to Silence Montane's husband, which was said guarded her waystop. The fighting of shades is said to draw other creatures, such as the Deepest Ones. Folklore among the Forest Homesteaders hold that pigs ward away the shades. They consider any who eat pigs, such as fortfolk to be crass. People who have been permanently withered by shades are viewed as tainted and may never wed.

Appearance and Behavior

Don't kindle flame, don't shed the blood of another, don't run at night. These things draw shades.

—The Simple Rules[2]

Shades exist in two general states, enraged and non-enraged.[2] Shades are enraged when those around them violate the Simple Rules by moving quickly at night, lighting a fire, or drawing the blood of another. Whether or not a shade is enraged impacts both the behavior and appearance of a shade wildly. During the daylight hours, non-enraged shades are fully transparent and therefore invisible and respond to violations of the Simple Rules more slowly than they do at night. When night falls, non-enraged shades appear as ethereal, translucent, white figures that glow softly in the night. A shade's own luminescence is faint, but they may be illuminated more strongly by glowpaste. They move lazily, floating just above the ground with waves of white an arm's length long trailing behind them. As most shades are formerly people, they take the shape of the person they were before becoming a shade. However, older shades begin to lose their distinct human forms and their features begin to shift and become indistinct. A shade's eyes are said to be dead looking, void of emotion and any sign of life. Unlike many species of Cognitive Shadows, shades are not as self-aware as other Cognitive Shadow.[5] They may retain some memory of the people they once knew in life, but even this is uncertain.[2] They do not typically react to people or events in the Physical Realm, although whether they cannot see or simply do not care is unknown. In their normal state, they wander aimlessly and without purpose unless their attention is drawn and they enrage. Shades are naturally lightly repelled by living creatures, unless they have become enraged. Therefore walking slowly and carefully is usually enough to avoid accidentally touching one. Populations of shades in specific regions of the Forests fluctuate, which can dictate how many people travel through that area.

Violation of the Simple Rules is the only known way to cause a Shade to enrage and take notice of the Physical Realm.[2] Quick motion will only draw their ire during the night, and appears to be the least dangerous rule to violate as shades enrage more slowly. If a shade begins to enrage due to quick motion, falling still may cause the shades to return to their more placid state. Kindling a fire also is a violation of the Simple Rules and will draw the attention of a large number of shades. However, the light of a flame blinds shades, leaving them confused and dazed. If a fire is kindled shades will enrage quickly with no hope that they will calm down until they have tried to attack the perpetrator. They are drawn first to the source of the fire and then will look for any quick movements around it. It is worth noting that it is the act of lighting a fire, not the presence of fire itself that enrages the shades. Fire-crazed shades can still be fought with careful strategy and coordination, defeating the nearby shades and moving away from the source of the fire. Drawing the blood of another person enrages shades the quickest and causes them to be the most aggressive and dangerous. They will seek to kill the person who drew the blood first, but their rage puts anyone nearby in extreme danger. It is worth noting that blood produced by accidents or normal body processes does not enrage the shades. The blood must be exposed to the air in order for shades to notice it; the Threnodites believe they can smell it. Even if blood is drawn in a place protected by silver, shades will still throw themselves at the barriers and attempt to enter. Enraged shades will still be drawn to recently deceased corpses that are still warm, which they will still wither away.

When the Simple Rules are violated, and a shade begins to enrage, their appearance changes as well. They come to a complete halt and their forms bleed to a deep black color as they enrage. As their earthsight engages, their eyes burst alight with a glowing green color that trails a misty light and they look around and take notice of events in the Physical Realm. In the case that blood is drawn, their eyes turn from green to crimson as they enter their most enraged state. Enraged shades move more quickly than those that are non-enraged. Once a shade has enraged and attempted to punish the violation, it will eventually return to its more placid behavior.

Nature and Abilities

A spirit infused with extra Investiture will often imprint upon that very power. Much as the spren of Roshar become self-aware over time because of people's focus on the Surges as being alive, this excess Investiture can attain the ability to remain sapient after being separated from its Physical form.

—Khriss on the creation of shades[1]

Shades are a Cognitive Shadow generated when a person[2] or another animal[6] is killed by another shade[2] It is uncertain what mechanism controls this process. However it is known that the Cognitive aspect of the person is imprinting on extra available Investiture, allowing this Investiture to remain sentient after the death of the person's Physical form.[1] This is due to the high levels of ambient Investiture on Threnody,[7] possibly left over from the death of Ambition. The absence of any Shards on the planet itself however impacts the shades, causing them to behave differently than other Cognitive Shadows.[8] This is possibly the cause of their diminished self-awareness. The exact population of shades is uncertain but is known to number in at least the thousands and is in reality likely much higher.[2] As shades are themselves composed of Investiture, they struggle to leave Threnody's subastral, but would be able to survive elsewhere if they managed to do so.[9] Other types of Cognitive Shadows that travel to Threnody do not become automatically shades themselves.[10]

Shades in the Forests during the day

One doesn't merely decide to become a shadow! It's an important rite! With requirements and traditions.

—Nazh to Kelsier[3]

Shades are almost entirely incorporeal, able to pass through solid substances like walls.[2] The most dangerous of a shade's ability is its touch. A touch from a shade withers and blackens flesh, causing it to pull in towards the bone. Black tendrils rise on a person's skin. The skin on a face touched by a shade pulls in towards their eyes and cheeks, lips pulling towards their teeth. Their eyelids shrivel up and their eyes feel dry as their vision goes cloudy, eventually leaving their eyes milky and blind. A shade's touch causes a sensation of icy cold pain and numbness in the affected body parts. The fingers of a shade are their only corporeal component, able to grip and hold their prey. While the hands are the only tangible part of a shade, touching it at all is harmful and accidentally walking through one is deadly. A person who has been badly withered may not survive and are often rendered crippled for life. They will often sleep for long periods after they are withered and some components of their body may refuse to return to their old state if the treatment takes too long. Damaged body parts appear withered and skeletal and must be removed afterwards. Prolonged contact over a large area of a person's body can cause death. In a person's final moments, they will tremble and spasm, arching their back. Their head may crumble in on itself and their eyes may sink into their head. Upon their death, the shade will turn a person's flesh to dust and simply leave behind a blackened and ruined skeleton and their clothing. A person killed by a shade's touch will become a shade themselves at some point after their death.

The withering touch of a shade can only be reversed in a few specific ways. Application of silver powder may reverse a person's withering, either by application to the affected area or swallowing the powder itself.[2] The silver is consumed in this process as well, sparking with light and then blackening like silver used to wound a shade. This treatment also stops the freezing pain and numbness of a shade's touch, although some lingering cold remains for a few months afterwards. Unfortunately, if the withering is not treated quickly before it sets in, it becomes impossible to reverse. The blackened portions of their body will fade to grey with time however. Making use of gold Feruchemy can heal withering, as well as burning aluminum.[11] Shades can also be wounded with weapons made of silver, creating a shower of white sparks whenever they come into contact with the metal.[2] Despite a shade's incorporeal body, silver blades experience a slight tugging when they pass through a shade. Badly wounded shades may be cut nearly in half or collapse to the ground, rendered unable to attack further. However, once the silver is used it blackens and is ruined, making silver an expensive but crucial commodity on Threnody. Silver set into the ground also serves as a barrier to shades, they are driven away from it, although that silver too must periodically be replaced.[2] As technology has developed, it appears that a type of Invested gun may have been developed that is capable of firing shades as projectiles, causing anything it hits to wither and crumble away.[12]


  • It is possible for non-intelligent organisms to become Shades, although this doesn't happen naturally.[13]


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Windrunner (talk) 03:25, 5 July 2018 (MST)

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