Refugees from the Shadows
Escaping a threat from their home Plane of Shadow transformed the tycho. Where the hilada gain immortality in their transformation, the tycho lost it but regained an ability to make children. They seek to bring their kind to Theia, somehow a place safer than their original home.
The Cataclysm of Shattered Iron was a sudden and unpredicted apocalypse in Theia, but in another world, it was a glacier, its movement obvious and inevitable. On the Plane of Shadow, the ancestors of the tycho were facing a crisis. The details are now lost in the shadows of over two millennia, but what is certain is that their fertility was plummeting, and the lack of new citizens was threatening to topple their burgeoning empire.
Two organizations stepped forward to study and resolve this problem. The tychan priests found their divinations into the future of the Plane of Shadow blocked and their gods unresponsive. The scientists and arcanists, on the other hand, discovered that their physiology was changing, slowly becoming intolerant to the very shadowstuff they lived upon. Some blamed natural changes, others perverse scheming by evil creatures festooned in chains and hooks, and others remained agnostic to the cause. The only solution the technocrats saw was to take advantage of the upcoming Black Moon, when the Plane of Shadow would be coterminous with Theia, to migrate to that world of light.
This proposal was not received warmly. Aside from those loathe to leave their homes for a strange world, the priests found that their divinations, though blocked when directed at the Plane of Shadow’s future, revealed that Theia was about to undergo one of its periodic cataclysms. While those who clearly saw the threat of demographic collapse argued strenuously that the risk of the cataclysm was far less than that of remaining, most of the population chose to dismiss the warnings as alarmism. The Emperor forbade further research into transplanar migration.
A few researchers ignored the dictum. Working in secret over centuries they built their portal and then waited for it to open. It did, and the researchers, their families, and a scarce two thousand believers stepped through it onto strange soil. Their leader, Hlapraska, activated a device anchoring them to their new home, and they became, truly and irrevocably, Theians.
Finding themselves in an uninhabited region of Barshiin, the tycho refugees immediately set about the grim business of survival. They planted gloomberry trees and rows of blackbutter leaf, dug irrigation trenches, and filled spawning pools with more broods than any of them could have expected. Their children were laying their first clutch when the Cataclysm swept over Theia. They changed then, the remnants of shadowstuff in their bodies migrating and forming an extra pair of arms, and developed the ability to reach into a tiny demiplane in their homeland.
In the centuries that followed, they established themselves among the great civilizations of Theia. They built the metropolis Respite and then Restoration above it. They began trade and information exchange. And, most importantly, they continued research, this time to rescue any tycho who might remain stranded on the Plane of Shadow.
To those used to the flora and fauna native to Theia, tycho can appear disconcerting. The bodies that once incorporated shadowstuff are impossibly thin, with skin tight on pelvises and rib cages. Their legs and arms are proportionately far longer than any other race’s, each ending in three digits. They balance lightly on the tips of their toes, and their long fingers move in quick, graceful gestures.
In addition to their spindly physical limbs, tycho have two limbs made of shadowstuff attached just below their ribcage. These waver like shadows cast by a candle flickering in the wind and are barely substantial. To most tycho, losing access to their shadow arms is as inconceivable as a human losing their thumbs, but the epitomes somehow do without. Exposure to the planar energies linking Theia to their home plane returns them to their ancestral state, more individually powerful but also lacking these limbs.
Most unusual, perhaps, is their coloration. Their skin, in most light, is an utter black, though bright daylight reveals hints of red, turquoise, or violet lying beneath. Speckled along their flanks, heads, necks, arms, or collars are tiny bioluminescent patches like stars on the clearest night. These constellations are unique to each tycho, and pulse along with their heart.
At the top of the technocracy—at least in theory—are the epitomes, tycho who have either only recently arrived as refugees from the Plane of Shadow or been warped by the planar energies released by their research in Restoration.