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Inhabitants of the Shadowfell, the shadar-kai are servants of the Raven Queen, cursed to serve her for eternity. Legend claims the shadar-kai are the elven followers of a long forgotten queen who sought to achieve divinity in order to restore unity among the elves during the time when Corellon and Lolth were locked in contest.
The attempt failed due a group among the queen’s followers who attempted to take a portion of the power the queen had raised for their own purposes. The queen realized, too late, what was happening and struck at the betrayers, catastrophically disrupting her own working - the end result destroying the queen that was and transforming her into the entity known as the Raven Queen as well as casting her and all of her followers into the Shadowfell.
Within the Shadowfell, the shadar-kai appear old and withered, their bodies ravaged by the effects of terrible magics and the Shadowfell itself. They frequently hide their faces behind joyless wooden or metal masks, living in communities outside the Raven Queen’s Fortress of Memories where they reenact pale imitations of the rituals and ceremonies of their former lives.
Outside the Shadowfell, the shadar-kai take on the youthful appearance of other elves - albeit with deathly pale skin - and tend towards dark cloaks and being heavily veiled. They also have a strong aversion to mirrors and anything else which reminds them of all they have lost.
The shadar-kai have no fear of death and seldom have much concern for their physical body. They know that upon their death, the Raven Queen will capture their souls and reincarnate them in the Shadowfell to continue their service.
The shadar-kai serve two primary purposes for the Raven Queen.
One is to collect memories she wishes to obtain in the form of some trinket or token infused with the emotions desired. If the source of the memory is living, they use their shadow magic to excise the emotions sought. If the source is near death they may attempt capture of the entire soul.
The second is to prepare those deliberately seeking audience with the Raven Queen. They will engage in philosophical discussions with inquiring adventurers on the gravity of emotions, the weight of sorrow upon the soul while traveling the Shadowfell, and how to persevere in whatever test the Raven Queen might require.
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