They are everything that can live. They can be whatever they meet. They do not know what they may become. I am sorry I found them. By finding them, I think I have destroyed them.
'Malit Vek' related by Doras Malit Ush-Vek
Shadow is deep and wide and many things exist, and many of them are the Ushfa. Doras Malit Ush-Vek
The Ushfa are an odd race by anyone’s standards. Their story is one of loneliness and repressed intelligence that blossomed due to magic’s interference. The shadow of origin for the Ushfa lay deep in the Black Sway, near the Black Zone but the many shadows the Ushfa are found on are not tributary realms of Chaos.
The Ushfa are a race of creatures who naturally shapechange. For uncounted years they did this with a sense of frustration and loneliness that was unclear to them as a race. Then a shadow-walker named Malit Vek arrived in one of the shadows of the Ushfa, damaged, near death, and horribly mage burned. He arrived in a world of lush vegetation and incredibly diverse life forms. There a creature found him, and touching him, gained self awareness, languages, social powers, and a way to express the unspoken intelligence of his race. The wild beast ushfa became Doras Malit Ush-Vek.
Over the many years since the meeting of the Ushfa and Malit Vek some UShfa became shadow walkers. A few went to Chaos. There they found what seemed kindred spirits, shapeshifters, able to become anything they wanted. For a time the UShfa that went to Chaos felt they had found a home. But that changed. Something happened that turned the Ushfa away from the denizens of Chaos and as a race they kept that ilk at bay.
The creation of the Jeweled Road changed things for the Ushfa. Suddenly the call of the Green place of Mandalay reached them and they flocked there. By the Jeweled Road and by shifting shadows toward the sirens call. The Ushfa consider themselves part of the Realm of Mandalay.
Ushfa are natural shape-shifters of great ability. They are highly intelligent and individualistic. They have a very unusual life cycle. As a race they have no basic shape. Two Ushfa who decide to mate also decide which form to mate in. Their offspring is born to that form. So two frog Ushfa have Ushfa offspring, except they would have only one tadpole. Two Ushfa cats would have one Ushfa kitten offspring.
When they reach maturity at 8 years old they gain full sovereign use of their shapechanging abilities. The base form must be an animal form. Two human Ushfa would have a human Ushfa offspring. This means a child body of 8 would house a fully mature Ushfa. He could then opt to continue growing according to his birth species or simply assume an adult form. Ushfa form is completely unable to conceive with any other life form except an Ushfa. There is, of course, no problem with sexual interaction otherwise.
This is the most important aspect of their abilities.
Tericad Ush-Vek, a powerful Ushfa wizard descended from Doras Malit Ush-Vek , reasoned that if contact between Ushfa and others caused the change then perhaps contact with imprinted items did the same. To test this he made a powerful ring that when it was touched to an individual, taking a strong impression of the person. At a latter date they were able to take this ring, wear it, and become an close duplicate of the person touched.
Over the centuries more of these rings, of different thoroughness were created. The acquired persona would know the memories, mannerisms, values and appearance of the original. It would also have the Ushfa individual as the guiding intellect. The upshot of this is that incredible amounts of trouble can be caused using these rings.
It has turned out that only a few individuals among the Ushfa gain higher order powers. Yet that has meant that they can pass these powers own to their children.
This exchange seems perverse on the surface but seems to suit the Ushfa well. Doras Malit Ush-Vek, director of the Ushfa council of Practices, has explained it by pointing out that in the exchange the Ush receives a duplicate of the values and morals of the individual imprinted but are not required to act within those confines. The Ush also receives knowledge, experiences, and in some cases the abilities, of the imprinted. They can then pass these skills to others sometimes. They have gained powerful skills at magic. They have received extraordinary amounts of scholarship, secrets and tricks. They occasionally even improve their statistics by the acquisition of different types of thought processes. A tiny few have gained the power to shadow-walk. The Malit Vek line being one of them.
There is a ritual that is easily performed by a ritualist magician that blocks the Ushfa's power to imprint. This was discovered by Malit Vek after he recovered to prevent the creation of a might race of shadow walkers.
The Ushfa have become amongst the best intelligence operatives. The Ush may learn everything a person knows. Thus an operation may be run just to touch an individual with an Ushfa Ring in the hopes that they can gain information from the source.
Ushfa mages teach each other by merely passing on their information. Thus the preponderance of Malit Ush-Veks. The title means the individual has received the imprint of Malit Vek, transmitted down the centuries from the original Ush-Vek. As one might guess by this Ushfa are amazing sources for researching the past.
The Mazirm Circle is the basic form of Ushfa leadership. A council is comprised of the speaker for a Rinar Circle. Rinar Circles have between 2 and 500 people. A Mazrim can not be convened with less than 7 speakers. Thus a Mazrim may represent between 14 and 3500 Ush. Beyond that number generally cause new circles to form. The methods for transference of leadership are complex and differ from circle to circle.
E.G. The Hansirs Mazrim Circle, based in Northern Serma, has 11 speakers. The speakers represent the Rusit Rinar, the Grust Rinar, and the Fali, Krad, Jucton, Dunto, Grabit, Manis, Fodk, Srop, and Gandit Rinars. This is a total of 2380 mature Ush. The First speaker of the Hansirs Mazrim Circle is Handin Higiris Ush-Mok.
On rare occasions the Malit Council meets. This is a council of first Speakers. It is lead by Amonif Coura Malit Ush-Vek. This is the oldest living Ushfa. He was the original Ushfa who met Malit Vek and all Malit Veks since trace through him. When the Malit Council meets one of the things that occurs is the transference of gained experience to Amonif Coura.