Shadows of the Heart
Sombra’s curse, more commonly referred to as Shadow magic, is a potent force in the Northern Empire. This magic has different abilities for each race, and if it is even rumored that the mutated creatures of the Wasteland show it differently than their pure blood relatives. Civilized ponies view the magic as a necessary, albeit annoying, evil. With fighting raiders, bandits, and the monsters that come from the aftermath of the war, they find themselves using the Shadow Magic just to put themselves on even ground.
Of course, it doesn’t help that when ever someone tries to get a little shut-eye, they can hear the malicious whispers of Sombra. He, if it can even be called a he anymore, takes control of that creature’s dreams. The dream is different for each creature, but one thing can be universally agreed upon: They all call to that creature’s darkest desires. Whatever Vice that creature has can expect to be fully expanded upon in the dream. Only the visions of a memory orb can stop the dreams and allow the creature’s body, mind, and soul some peace. However, too much memory orb use has its own drawbacks…
Another point that is universally agreed upon is that using Shadow magic is like a drug. It can heal your wounds and strengthen your body, for those without any form of visible magic, that is. For those with magic, it always amplifies it in some fashion. A dragon’s fire turns darker and burns hotter, a unicorn’s magic is tinged in shadow and is freely used while the weather magic of pegasi and griffins are black as night and have an extra kick. Using the magic can bring about feelings of euphoria and grandeur, and there are some, usually raiders, who are thought to be addicted to its use.
While its power is seductive, the towns and outposts all have the same rule. ‘When you can see the Shadow’s Taint, turn that thing’s blood into paint!’ Accumulate enough residue of the shadow magic in your body and it will mark you, changing you into something of a Nightmare. Pointed fangs and claws, scales and slitted eyes.
Gather too much residue in your body and your shadow will come to life, tearing out a piece of your body and soul before it tries to kill you. This is called a Manifestation, and it is something that, unless the creature has some good friends with good weapons and a quick swing, will kill that pony.
Manifestations are always a mirror image of the creature they come from. They know and can perform every bit of magic, every trick of the creature they are mimicking. They can even conjure what ever equipment that creature is wearing, gaining whatever bonuses that equipment has to offer. Manifestations have been seen feeding on Corrupted ground as well as Sombra’s Monoliths, but it takes quite a bit of ambient shadow magic and time before they regain any power they lost in a fight.
A Manifestation who manages to kill the creature they are mimicking becomes something… more. They become a True Manifestation, and are extremely hard to kill. Not only do they possess every skill of the creature who manifested them, but it is much easier for them to feed on shadow magic and ambient corruption. True Manifestations are rare things, thankfully.