Negative emotions: Emotions that are generally considered to make you feel bad, such as sadness, irritation, trapped, doubt, or fear.
Destructive emotions: Negative emotions that have a harmful impact on your and/or other peoples lives. Anger is always considered destructive because of how powerful it is. Depression, Phobias, terror, or other long-term or severe emotions are considered destructive.
Inanimate shadows are the natural by-product of normal negative emotions. They are not sentient, and fairly harmless. They do not usually last long, but have the potential to build and "awaken". These shadows provide nutrition, but do not increase the feeder's power. It can be wiser to leave them be than eat them, since negative emotions help a person sort through certain issues, such as the death of a family member or close friend. Not allowing someone to use these emotions to work through a problem can result in the emotion coming back later stronger.
The biggest difference between animate and inanimate shadows is that animate shadows are sentient. They can tell if you are able to see them, and if they are strong enough they can even attack back when attacked. Only shadows of the shadow eater's top accessable tier and the tier above that will attack. These shadows "awaken" from inanimate shadows if they have occurred for too long, or are too severe. The exact point at which this change occurs changes from case-to-case. Theoretically the inanimate shadow is just the incubating version of the animate shadow. Like with an egg, not all of the eggs will hatch. These are the shadows that hatch. Animated shadows can spread from one person to another with varying degrees of effectiveness dependent on the emotion. The easier it can spread, the weaker the shadow tends to be.
Tier I: These are the weakest of the animated shadows. They are most likely found with anger and arguments. They have little power on their own, but they quickly spread to other people. When a large group of people have these shadows feeding off of them, the shadows build off of the increasing emotions. When an argument explodes into a fist-fight, the shadows have reached Tier II, since they are inspiring physical injury. Still, they are easily overcome with a little will power and can be eaten fairly easily.
Tier II: These shadows inspire physical injury. Whether it's self inflicted (such as caused by depression), or through the attacking of someone else (Anger, desperation), these shadows love physical pain. They are also the first tier that can cause injuries with their own power, though they, like all shadows, only attack shadow-eaters. This seems to be only a self-defense mechanism, since they want their victims to live for long enough for them to mature. Unlike Tier I shadows these shadows do not spread quite as easily between one person and another, assuming that the other party is not being effected by a shadow. These shadows, however, do create a "spark" that can elevate tier I shadows to tier II shadows.
Tier III: Much like the tier two shadows, these shadows usually cause physical harm, but they are far more severe injuries in comparison. The difference between tier II and tier III is the difference between a fist fight and murder. These shadows, however do not try to inspire suicide, though the first seeds of though might appear in the victims mind. These shadows have a very hard time spreading, though the people most sensitive to the spread of these shadows are the ones closest to the victim. For someone who is depressed, this is when they might start pushing away their friends and family, or for fear this is when the victim starts really avoiding whatever is the cause of their fear.
Tier IV: At this level the shadow is mature, and may push their victim to suicide. What ever emotion it is begins to completely consume the person's life, making it impossible to live normally. These shadows almost never spread to others as the person ends up generally secluding themselves from any relationships. Sometimes a person with a will that is strong, but not quite strong enough, might develop a mental illness such as dissociative identity disorder, dissociative disorder, psychogenic amnesia, and other illnesses that form as coping mechanisms.
Tier V: These shadows have either disconnected themselves from their victims, or their victims have died. If they have disconnected themselves, the person may slowly recover from the shadow's influence, though this is a rare occurrence and takes a great deal of will power. What is more likely to happen is that the victim slowly wastes away or is left insane. If you have ever entered a room or a house or have otherwise had a passing feeling of explained uneasiness, anger, fear, or some other emotion, then you've just passed through one of these shadows. They have a hard time spreading, but they can last centuries, and there is always that one person who they can spread the seeds of their emotion to. These are by far the most powerful shadows.
The stronger the shadow that is eaten is, the more power it grants to the shadow-eater, but they also get increasingly more difficult to overcome. A shadow-eater cannot eat a shadow that is affecting them, and shadows attached to shadow-eaters seem to gain from this a way to avoid being effected by any shadow-eaters until the shadow eater reaches a similar amount of power as the shadow. Of course, that is when the shadow will attack those shadow-eaters. The victim can do nothing to help the other shadow-eater but to try to ignore the negative emotions the shadow pours into the victim as a by-product of the fight.
Shadows are also only visible and able to do anything when a person is actually experiencing an emotion. Someone suffering from depression may have a tier III shadow attached to them, but if they happen to be in a good mood, that feeling is repressed and "hibernating". This does not mean the shadow is gone, but that it is hidden. When the person becomes depressed again, it is the same shadow feeding off of them. It takes shadows time to develop, and they 'hibernate' so that they can only feed on emotions that will further their evolution.
Shadow Eater Powers:
Alex has powers that are derived from the consumption of animated shadows. Shadows are the essence of negative emotions. They have two types, animate and inanimate. Animate shadows are the sentient shadows and the cause of extreme or enduring emotions. Their power varies and is separated into five tiers. The power of shadow-eaters, the term for people like Alex, also gets gradually stronger. His power works in the physical realm as well as on Shadows.
In order to use stronger powers, not only does he need to have eaten enough shadows, but he needs control of his emotions. For each level of power, Alex must be able to cope with the negative feelings that a shadow of that tier would inspire in a person. Right now, for Alex that level is rather low. See list above for current known/ accessible powers.
The powers work by manipulating a shadow that is connected to the Shadow-Eater, hence the shadow-eater needing to be able to overcome the emotion. If they do not, the Shadow can just grow stronger off of the shadow-eater, and even use the shadow-eater to physically harm others once that Shadow-Eater attempts to manipulate them. Of course, a shadow-eater can use higher levels of shadows and be stronger than their normal strength, but when they do, there is a good chance that the shadow will take them over, and it would take a lot for them to be calmed down-such as someone they care for throwing themselves in the way. Even then, the shadow-eater might not be able to stop in time. When a shadow-eater is taken over by a shadow, the shadow becomes visible to the normal person, appearing as a sort of dark shapeless mist, akin to a swarm of millions of tiny gnats. The more powerful the shadow is, the more condensed the shadow appears, with a level IV and V shadow appearing completely solid, and the shadow-eater barely visible as more than a few glimpses of colour -though a shadow eater's mind has developed to see both the thickness of the shadow, while also seeing the world as a normal person can. Similarly, a shadow eater can force their shadow powers to be visible as well, though it drains from their strength. All shadow powers are by default invisible to the normal eye, even the ones that are used as various powers.
The ultimate use of shadow power would involve being able to manipulate a tier V Shadow- a shadow that is free from a host. This would allow the eater to not only use shadows as weapons on his own, but to send the shadow out to attack someone far away. This, however, is not something easily done, and Alex is a long way from getting even close.
The side effect of his powers that occurs on all levels is that anyone struck with his power feels, if only temporarily, a negative emotion equal to the strength of the power of the weapon or ability.
There are three ways to manipulate shadows of each tier: Defensively, offensively, and ranged. While a shadow-eater may not learn to use these ability in this order, his control over his own emotions allows him the ability to learn them in this order. All three ways are able to be manipulated at one time, once the shadow-eater has learned how to use it. Learning these abilities is mostly instinctual, and so they are discovered as needed once the shadow-eater has the ability to use them. Differences in how a shadow is used changes depending on personality, and can change drastically based on a major event occurring. As it stands, Alex's abilities will progress as shown below:
Defensive: A shield is summoned that is capable of withstanding about twice a normal human’s strength. That is the base strength of a shadow. The shield is only about two feet across and four feet high in a slightly curved rectangle shape.
Offensive: Shadow encases the striking limb- be it arm, leg, or even head. The shadow is what actually impacts with the opponent, striking with the same strength as Alex can, but is harder than a fist- making it more seem like the opponent has been hit with stone.
Ranged: Tentacle-like pieces of shadow materialize from Alex, and these can be used to restrain most human-strength creatures. It would not be able to restrain say, one of those body builders. It can also be used to trip or carry things, though attacking with them is rather ineffective, since they do not cause harm themselves, they only can basically grab on to something. Any harm that is caused would be caused by the person fighting against the restraint, or landing after getting tripped. These ‘tentacles’ only have a range of about 20 feet.
Defensive:A half-shell can be created that blocks a full 9 by 9 foot half-circle area. Any frontal attacks would be blocked and pushed off to the side. However, the half-shell also cannot be held for more than an hour at a time, needing at least ten minutes of rest between each use. If it is used for less than an hour, then he must rest for relatively as long. For example; if he uses this shell for a half hour, then he must rest for five minutes.
Offensive:Shadows work much like the first tier, except he can also move faster now, twice the normal human speed. Using this he wears out twice as quickly, but it offers him much harder of a punch, to super human levels. Also, he can run faster and dodge faster.
Ranged:With this power he can allow someone to see shadows as he can for 15 minutes. With every extra tier of ranged he gains access to, he is able to increase this time by 5 minutes for a max of a half hour.
Tier III: Defensive:Up to two other people within a foot of Alex are protected by a sort of shell that is difficult to break. It would take an extreme amount of force to break, but it is also not able to block things such as bullets. Pressing against the edges of the shell from the inside would also shatter it. Any injuries of the people in the shell are healed at a much faster rate, so that something like a broken arm can be healed in a matter of four or five hours. This follows the same rules as the half-shell for use. Offensive:For this level, he can send out his shadow and have it wrap around a person's neck and chest. It can't kill someone through suffocation, but can cause them to pass out. Ranged:Alex can send out a line of shadow, the end of which raises off the ground at various levels. He can see from the end of this shadow. At first he will need to close his eyes, but through use he can learn to see both places at once. This works for up to 1000ft, and can travel through cracks, even ones only small enough for water.
Tier IV: Defensive: The same as the tier III defensive shadow, except it can only hold one other person, and is now virtually impenetrable. Offensive: He can channel his shadow to emit from his skin an extreme heat or cold. Both of these can cause burns to others, varying in severity based on how long they are exposed and how directly. Ranged:By manipulating his shadow he is capable of rendering himself invisible, including his clothes. He still creates sound as normal, however.
Tier V: Defensive: The same as tier IV except it can now also be created for up to two other people at a distance. Offensive: Alex is capable of making copies of himself at this level. They have actual mass, though the more there are, they weaker and less accurate each one is. He may also cause them to be only vaguely human shaped while still looking like shadows. Ranged:When he learns this ability, he can share his shadows with anyone nearby, willing or not.
How Shadows are Eaten: Shadows can be eaten at a range, though it is more difficult that way, like when you are drinking something thick through a long straw. The easy way to eat a shadow is to come in contact with it. That way, it can be absorbed through the skin. In order to eat a shadow, the shadow-eaters must be able to cope with the emotion that they eat. The process of eating also brings with it a basic sense of the cause of the emotion. The process of eating an animate spirit involves a sort of internal emotional battle. To lose this battle can cause physical internal injury and exhaustion. If the shadow was far too strong, it could even result in death.