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Shoma

(Show-mar)

The Shoma are a quiet but brutal race. They prefer to keep to their own colonies and don’t usually get involved with the affairs of others. Before the Void War they constantly vied for territory with the Shareal but it mainly amounted to border skirmishes. When the Dral appeared and declared war on the AFS the Shoma leaped at the opportunity to get aid in finally destroying the Shareal and claiming their lands. Shoma society is led by the Dark Sovereign; the most powerful among them, be it power from strength, guile or the ability to call on powerful allies to do his bidding. His word is akin to a conduit of The Dark Mother, their deity. All Shoma are taught to manipulate the Shadow Element almost from birth. Even the weakest among them can still traverse the shadows. The Shoma are the most numerous race of the Vaq, however they are quite scattered and their mostly subterranean cities act more like a massive extended family. That doesn't prevent family brawls however, which break out several times a day. It may result in a new pecking order but normally doesn't result in grudges. Each member has an assigned task based on ability and the results of brawls; it is almost unheard of to step out of these roles. Even Shoma farmers are still capable warriors.

Outlook:

The Shoma want to be mainly left alone with their private war on the Shareal. They will however crush any that stand in their way of this war. They have an easy going personality until annoyed or angered - which happens at the drop of a hat - and then they are totally focused on correcting the cause of this annoyance, usually by beating it to a bloody pulp.

Physical Appearance:

The Shoma have leathery skin of a dark-purple verging on black that constantly swirls in a hypnotic pattern. While it can be completely stilled by concentration most Shoma allow it to swirl unhindered. Those that care to study can often tell the mood of a Shoma by the swirling patterns, assuming they don't get hypnotised in the process.

They have broad muscular shoulders that are the topmost point of their body. Their neck protrudes horizontally roughly 30cm to 50cm from the normal humanoid position to then become a head. Their mouth looks similar to a cuttlefish's and their eyes are a perpetually burning black or purple flame. The fingers on their secondary hand extend into 15cm long claws that the Shoma use for tearing opponents apart. Their dominant hand is closer to a human's which they use for more intricate tasks. Shoma walk in a squatting position, utilising their hands for balance similar to a gorilla. This position makes Shoma ready to pounce at any moment. Shoma have absolutely no hair and are 165cm to 180cm in the squat position. They weigh between 80kg and 120kg, most of which is muscle.

Racial Abilities:

Shoma are naturally muscular and have the uncanny ability to get out of harm's way. They have concentrated on perfecting the Shadow element and stealth to strike from anywhere. Constant brawling has toughened their hides. They are quick to anger and often prefer to claw someone to death rather than talk about it. Their hypnotic skin is very useful in dealing with other races and distracts them into giving the Shoma whatever they want.

Shoma are highly attuned to the Shadow element and as such nearly all of them can manipulate to some extent. This attunement allows all Shoma to see as clearly in the dark as they can in daylight; however all colour is removed in darkness.

Outcasts and Champions:

Outcast Shoma have coped the bad end of the stick. They are weaker than their brothers; however they are better at hiding and avoiding physical attacks. Also there is something disturbing about their skin swirl pattern. It doesn’t have the same hypnotic effect as everyone else but can cause severe nausea, especially those prone to sea sickness. Outcast Shoma are less attuned to the Shadow element and thus find it difficult to learn and implement. They will never master the shadows to the same extent as their brethren, though can be still quite knowledgeable compared to other races. Other Shoma see this as a sign that The Dark Mother is upset with this particular Shoma and thus don’t associate with them unless absolutely necessary.

Champion Shoma are physically capable of dishing out and receiving damage, as well as more capable of leading. For the last 400 years all Dark Sovereigns have been Champions. These Shoma are almost one with the shadows, weaving them as if part of their body. This ability is viewed as a blessing by The Dark Mother, and simply being in the presence of a Champion is considered one step closer to Her. The touch of a Champion is a high honour, and the Shoma feel that even enemies slain by a Champion is blessed.

Interspecies Relations:

The Shoma don’t have any real feelings towards the other Vaq species, but they have a strong hatred for the Shareal. They have been at war for about 150 years and few remember why it started.

Lands and resources:

The Shoma are the main practitioners of Shadow manipulation and thus are very important in countering the AFS elementalists. The Shoma and Reshadri are the only Vaq races that can readily manipulate elements however, unlike the Reshadri, the Shoma will instruct other allies in the Shadow element. Because of this the Shoma are the ideal assassins, a task they perform enthusiastically. Their large numbers make them ideal shock troops that attack out of any sizeable shadow.

Religious Beliefs:

The Shoma see patterns and behaviours in the shadows that they feel can only be explained as sentience. The Shoma worship this entity as a deity they labelled The Dark Mother, and through this worship believe she grants the ability to manipulate the Shadows. She lets her chosen know her will by invading their dreams with violent and brutal visions of what she wants accomplished. This is more likely psychopathic nightmares, but it all comes down to perspective. No other races claim to see these things, nor do they receive these dreams, which to the Shoma confirm they are the chosen race of the Dark Mother.

Naming Conventions:

Unknown. When they storm over an opponent they don’t usually stop to give their personal details.

Enlisting Reasons:

It is very unlikely that a Shoma would align with the AFS unless completely shunned or violated by Shoma society. There are rumours of an AFS friendly Shoma, further information on this individual can be found in The Gatekeeper Trilogy. Shoma society is displayed more prominently in The Keeper of Sin.

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© AJ Watson