The Journals of Sparrowhawk
Information gained from wearing the glass crown
About the black shadow
There is a process for propagating the curse. The basis of this seems to revolve around infusing living creatures with the curse and letting the curse slowly
dominate the will of the individual. The infected creature then starts to exhibit unquenchable thirst and hunger. At this critical point the victim is harvested and
exposed to the amber light, to the point of the creatures death, but not to the destruction of the shadow. The resulting black mist is collected and stored within the
pyramid, the very shape of which acts as a catalyst to an alchemical process that transforms the black mist to the final curse. There are a number of steps in the
process whereby various attributes are added to the curse as an attempt is made to tailor it to specific needs but this involves lots of alchemical and alien
practices that you don’t understand. This alchemical/scientific process is the province of the Ethergaunts.
The curse has been engineered to eat away at the elements, consuming divine spells more quickly than arcane spells.
§ Positive energy will kill the curse but, like a virus, only a small amount needs survive the attack and eventually it’ll regrow. No world that has ever encountered
the great shadow have been able to eradicate it, and most are utterly consumed by it eventually.
Up to a certain size, the smoke just drifts on the wind and its path is predictable. After a certain point, at around 40 cubic feet, it can resist the flow of the wind
as if it had a greater mass and also seems driven by some kind of primordial set of instincts, mainly centred around its drive to consume sentient life.
§ The name of the city you’re in is Lacc and exists on the Plane of Shadows. The denizens of the Plane of Shadows seem immune to most of the curses
effects, though clearly this has had a very tangible effect on those that live in its presence. These denizens now almost exclusively lack any feeling or emotions
beyond those needed to feed. Reproduction among a species slows down greatly and any form of cohesion among groups is lost completely. The almost
complete lack of will on most of these subjects at least make them easy to compel in to service.
About how the black shadow is used
The curse is a last resort against a world and is there as a vengeance weapon. Should a world be deemed unconquerable, or unfit for conquest, then the
curse is released to devour the world. You notice a few stories of worlds that have fallen to this fate and their various stages of struggle against it though details
are difficult to recall at this time.
This pyramid acts as a vehicle not only for the curse’s creation but also its transportation – though not all pyramids are used in this fashion. Until the pyramid
has been sealed, and the smoke secured, the amber lights will destroy any black smoke that escapes the necrotic process. This light is also extremely
deleterious to undead and many of the inhabitants of the Plane of Shadow and so helps in keeping curious creatures well away.
There are sets of retrievers that travel to desolated worlds and gather up those that have previously been consumed by the curse. These victims are effectively
incubators and are then used as a convenient way of transporting and replicating the curse on another world.
By order of Carcosa himself, no trace of this necrosis is allowed on the Carcosa world. The curse is to be taken directly from the Plane of Shadow to the target
world, with the two worlds in conjunction while the curse is being manipulated. Anyone who counters this order will be “returned to the sands” and their soul
The history of the shadow
The only world considered to have successfully protected itself against the plague is a world that later changed its name to Sadalmelik (Lucky Star of the King)
which created a great sphere in the sky that emitted positive life force energy in the form of light. A note, that while this destroyed the curse it only put off the
inevitable. Eventually Carcosa raised enough forces to take over the world – though the final conquest took another 800 years before it began in earnest and a
further 500 years before the final battle was fought.
Of the Death Giants
The “Death giants” (Anuija Kath-sakai) were from Irah Jhira-kor, a desert world almost totally devoid of light and vegetation. When the Carcosans went to
conquer and consume the world they found the Death Giants shared their appetite for destruction and they quickly joined forces. The giants have a useful skill in
being able to trap the minds and souls of the dead, allowing the accumulated knowledge of a hundred generations to be handed down. Some giants can also use
this skill against unwilling souls whom they have slain. Often, the sages of distant worlds are brought to these Giants who slay them and extract their knowledge.
This knowledge has helped in moving the Carcosans from being little more than herders of swarming insect plagues to where they are today, capable of building
great pyramids and all-conquering. Through specially crafted receptacles, these giants are also capable of transferring this knowledge to others allowing for a
rapid increase in understanding, capacity and ability – though Carcosa has decreed a severe limitation on how much of this help an individual can acquire.