: Stealthy, Deceptive, Dangerous, Genderless
Height, Width, Length, Weight
: Varies based on age.
: Shifts have been found in all regions of the world, though whether they originated there, or were simply imported is difficult to ascertain given their nature.
Varies depending on form and age. Younger Shifts are typically quite small, reaching only the size of rodents. Adolescent Shifts are larger, and can anywhere between the size of a dog to a deer. Adult Shifts reach the size of elk, moose, or even bears. Ancient Shifts are seldom seen, but could presumably reach the size of truly large creatures, bordering around fifteen to twenty feet in height with only a few examples granting that number throughout history.
A Shift in its natural form appears quite similarly to a Yludih, albeit they typically move upon four legs and are bestial in stance. They lack discernible facial features, other than a mouth, though they do have clearly defined heads, and limbs. They are formed entirely of light or dark blue crystals which jut outwards from a central mass in sporadic fashion, giving them the appearance of something quite sharp to behold.
A Shift in an adopted form will take on the appearance and mannerisms of its chosen creature, imitating them almost perfectly; a trait which makes the Shift extremely difficult to identify properly.
: The Shift has been found throughout the entirety of Idalos, which makes it difficult to discern where they prefer to live. Typically, however, they are found in greater concentration in more temperate climates, choosing to avoid extremes such as the Heart of the World or the plains of Oscillus if at all possible. Nonetheless, Shifts can be found anywhere. They are known to burrow into the side of cliffs, or to hide in the tops of trees when possible.
Lifespan and Development
A Shift has four distinct stages of development.
Youth/Childhood – 0 – 1 Arc At this stage, the Shift is at its weakest. It spends most of the first trials after its birth attempting to observe and better imitate the behavior of its first chosen creature. They are typically more cautious and easily frightened than in other stages. Shifts are this level of development usually only imitate a single type of creature, and rarely transform into others.
Adolescent –2-4 Arcs. At this stage, a Shift has grown more attuned with its abilities, and takes far less time to observe and adapt its own mannerisms to fit those of a target creature. Adolescence is highlighted by an incredible increase in transforming behavior, and an Adolescent Shift can change dozens of times in short succession as it attempts to find the best pattern to imitate. Inversely to most creatures, Adolescent Shifts are typically the most passive of their kind, and focus more upon seeing the outcomes of their different forms than on actual hunting.
Adult – 5-75 Arcs. At this stage, the Shift has typically grown comfortable with a chosen pattern, and whilst capable and willing to transform, will often stick to a set of five or six regular transformations in their hunting. They are far more dangerous than their younger counterparts, and focus more upon the act of hunting as a result of their increased metabolism due to greater size. Shifts become capable of Shattering; their strange form of reproduction, at this stage. They are incredibly territorial in regards to other Shifts, which plays into the act of Shattering. Shattering occurs when a pair of Shifts meet in the wild, and proceed to fight one another. The victorious Shift will tear the other into small shards, usually about a foot in length, and proceed to hoard them in its den. It will then lay near the shards, transferring small amounts of its life-energy slowly into the shards over the course of several trials. Eventually, these shards will begin to bud new crystal fragments, at which point they are abandoned by the victorious Shift. These fragments will grow for something like thirty trials until they become a litter of Youthful Shifts.
Ancient – 76 Arcs-Onward. The number of Shifts which reach this lifespan can be counted on two hands. Little is known about these gargantuan creatures, though they are known to exist through word-of-mouth and written testament. Stories of brave hunters confronting vicious beasts only to encounter crystalline behemoths are not so uncommon as to be thought completely false. It is assumed that these Shifts behave in a similar way to their Adult counterparts, but in truth, they are far from their younger brethren. Ancient Shifts hunt down truly large beasts as prey, typically swallowing down hundreds of pounds of food before ascending to the tops of mountains or deep into the darkest depths, and then slumbering for nearly an entire Arc before returning from their self-imposed coma.
: Shifts are technical omnivores, though their preference for meat is so great that they might as well be carnivorous. Their typical meal is taken from living beings, though they take three different portions from their prey. First, meat and flesh are taken to act as general fuel for the creature, and to sate its metabolism. Second, bones are taken to allow for further calcium buildups, and crystalline growth and mending. Third, latent electrical energy is absorbed via prolonged contact with prey, and is theorized to affect the innate life-force of the creatures. This means that their standard hunting pattern is to suddenly spring upon a creature from their disguised state, remove its ability to move, or disable it, and then slowly suck away their fill of electricity before consuming them.
: Differs depending on age of creature, as defined above. Shifts, especially Youths and Adolescents, can be coerced into becoming ‘pets’ by feeding them, and most are unlikely to assault something which feeds them… however, caution is advised, as once a Shift reaches Adulthood, it tends to lose much of its trust in mortal-kind. One curious aspect of their kind is that they typically embody a temperament more suited towards their disguise. A Shift dressed in the coating of a Squirrel is likely to be flighty, whilst one dressed in the guise of a Bear is more liable to be aggressive. It is unknown whether this is simply the creature attempting to better imitate its chosen animal, or whether there is a more mental change which occurs when the animal shifts.
Shifts are possessed of many abilities.
First and foremost, they are capable of transforming their appearance by means of shifting crystals into that of nearly any animal, though this requires some observation of their appearance and behavior to pull off well. Intriguingly, Shifts are effectively incapable of becoming two-legged beings, because they lack the coordination required, as well as the ability to make two of their limbs simply cease to exist for the purposes of the illusion.
Second, Shifts are hardy crystalline beings, which means that their hides are extremely resistant to cutting implements. Their hide is typically on par with average steel plate, which means that it can be pierced, though doing so is a difficult matter.
Third, Shifts cannot be properly imitated by Becomers. That is to say, their natural forms may be possessed and taken as totems by the Becomer, but their ability to transform is lost in translation in the process, though the reason for this is difficult to discern, and the subject of much study and research.