Author: Thalion Krisman
During the War of Power, the war turned from being a war between men, to become a war between men and beasts as the Dark One unleashed his hordes of Shadowspawn upon his enemies. Many of the Shadowspawn were made from human material, which those who served the Shadow twisted into horrific nightmares. These creatures were designed to breed true, which was an easy and less costly way of increasing their numbers, than having to create each of them in a laboratory. One of the major contributors to the creation of the Shadowspawn was the Forsaken Aginor, who had turned to the Shadow for the reason of being allowed to do such experiments. Shadowspawn cannot survive passing through a gateway (KoD, Ch. 19).
The Trollocs, the most common of the Shadowspawn, are the soldiers of the Dark One. During the War of Power, soldiers were the prime need of the Shadow, and therefore the scientists, Aginor to mention one, set about to create the perfect soldier. They blended human and animal genetic material to create a warrior that was powerful and fierce in combat, and were intelligent enough to take orders and fight well in combat. The scientist used natural aggressive creatures, like wolves, bears, rams and so on, and blended it with human stock to produce the Trollocs.
The Trollocs were, and still are, large and powerful soldiers, standing about eight to ten feet tall and with the face and characteristics of the animal that it was originally created from. They are stronger than both the human and animal that they were crafted from, and able to run as fast as a horse. They have human eyes and faces that resemble the animal they were crafted from, making them often have horns, tusks, muzzles or beaks. Some of them also have hind legs of their animal heritage, resulting that some of them have hoofs or paws instead of feet. Though several have hind legs from their animal heritage, almost all of the Trollocs have humanlike hands with thick nails, which allows them to carry their lethal weapons. The Trollocs are vicious creatures that will kill for no more reason than the pleasure of it, and due to their size and strength they are also very difficult to kill. In these ways the Trollocs were a success, but as the ultimate warrior that the Shadow had hoped for they were an utter failure. The Trollocs manifested the instincts and animalistic drives of their animal heritage, and the worst kind of human characteristics and a very limited, intelligence, compared to a human. This led to that the Trollocs didn't have the discipline or ability to take orders, which a good soldier needed. Though sheer numbers could make up for that.
The only way to make them follow an order was if they were driven by fear, and if they met an enemy that they feared more than their commander, they would flee the battlefield, they would also at times trample or kill their commander in order to escape. In the beginning their lust for killing made it extremely difficult to use them in situations where you needed to distinguish between friend and foe, or if their commanders wanted to take live prisoners. The Trollocs were rather just left to run loose and kill whomever they wanted.
The scientists of the Dark One were trying to make use of the few assets that the Trollocs had, and make use of them in a better way. But the answer to the problem with the Trollocs, ironically, didn't come from the scientists, but from the Trollocs own throwback offspring: the Myrddraal.
Though the Trollocs were designed to breed true, they sometimes give life to throwback offspring. These offspring are from either the human or animal of the Trollocs ancestral basis, but where the throwback from the animal side die shortly after death, the throwback from the human side survive. These offspring, which are most commonly called Myrddraal, look like a tall human male, but have been twisted by the Shadow. They lack even the smallest trace of eyes, but can still see with the sight of an eagle. Their skin is a pale white, and their hair is pitch black. All Myrddraal are male, and most likely sterile, and where the Trollocs, from which they come, from have a wicked and vicious sense of humor, the Myrddraal have none at all. They are not as social creatures as the Trollocs are, and are seldom seen in large groups. They also keep a distance from the Trollocs they command.
The Myrddraal does not have any distinguishing marks, save those that are gained after birth such as scars, and look like they have been cast from the same mould. Where the Trollocs at times like to distinguish themselves with different hairstyles, tattoos or other such things, the Myrddraal have no such needs. They were scale armor and are armed with swords that are as black as their hearts. These swords are made at Thakan'dar, at the slopes of Shayol Ghul itself. Even the smallest wound from one of these swords will give the victim festering wounds, which will not heal without the aid of the One Power. And without the aid of the One Power to give healing, they will eventually die from it.
A Myrddraal is much harder to kill than a Trollocs, and will never completely die, even if mortally wounded, until the sun sets on them.
They are adept sword fighters, and more than a match for an ordinary soldier, but their most dangerous weapon is their eyeless stare. Their stare can cause paralyzing fear. Fear so strong that even the most experienced soldier has been known to tremble under its stare. The Myrddraal are, unlike the Trollocs, able to carrying out orders using both great stealth and cunning.
With time, the discovery that the Myrddraal could link with the Trollocs also came. This link allowed the Myrddraal to override the Trollocs mind, thus creating a fighting force as deadly and well disciplined, as the Trollocs had been intended to be when they were created. The drawback with this was that if the Myrddraal were killed, it would kill the Trollocs linked to it as well. The Myrddraal are given control of units of Trollocs known as fists, which contain from one hundred to five hundred Trollocs. It is also known that a circle of thirteen channelers, using thirteen Myrddraal as a sort of filter, can turn anyone who could channel to the Shadow.
They also have the ability to vanish wherever there is a shadow, and able to travel by stepping into an area of shadows one place, and re-appear somewhere else. How they did this even Aginor, who indirectly made them, couldn't explain.
The Myrddraal, which is also known as Shadowmen, Halfmen, Fades, Neverborn, Lurks and the Eyeless, have their names in the Trolloc tongue. Their reflection will not show in any mirror, save a misty form where it should be. The wind won't touch them either, making it so that even if the wind howls around them, their cloaks will hang motionless on their shoulders. The Myrddraal have one known weakness, and that is a fear of running water. Which makes them avoid crossing any stream, river or channel whenever they can. Only the greatest need can make them overcome this, and so it can be used to make them end any casual pursuit. Though this will not aid those who are a Myrddraal's direct target.
Notably different from the other Shadowspawn, the Gray Men are not constructs of the Dark One's scientists. They are ordinary men and women that take the step of actually giving their souls, where Darkfriends merely pledge them, to the Father of Lies. The Soulless, as they are called, still move about and think, but are dead in every way. They work as assassins for the Dark One, since the effects of giving their souls to the Shadow are that they become so ordinary looking, that even the sharpest eyes can let them slip by without ever noticing them. This effect has clear advantages and allows them to infiltrate almost anywhere with ease. The victims have even been known to not even see the Gray Man after he has struck. Even those who have witnessed the deed, have on occasions been unable to see the assassin
The Darkhounds, unlike the Trollocs, Myrddraal and Draghkar, were not made from human genetic material, but rather from canine genetic material. They are pitch black and weigh from two hundred and fifty to three hundred pounds. They only resemble hounds in their basic shape, and can become the size of a pony. The eyes of a Darkhound shine like silver, and its teeth resemble gleaming metal. A Darkhounds bite is an almost certain death, as both its blood and saliva are poison. Even a small drop of its saliva on a person's skin will be lethal unless there is an Aes Sedai close to immediate heal that person.
The Darkhounds run in packs of ten to twelve individuals, and it isn't possible to use two packs together as they are more likely to turn on each other than on whatever they were sent out to hunt down.
Some sources claim that the Darkhounds were shifted, at least partly, out of reality and that this is the reason why a Darkhound will leave tracks on the hardest rock, but not leave a mark on the softest ground.
The Darkhounds do not like rain or thunderstorms, and will go to great lengths to avoid venturing into both, but if they are one someone's trail rain and thunder will not stop them. A Darkhound can run faster than a fast horse, and able to maintain that speed much longer. The best one can do when being followed by Darkhounds, is to place running water between yourself and the Darkhounds, since a Darkhound, like a Myrddraal, will not cross running water. Since the Age of Legends only the most skilled with a weapon, such as a bow or a sword, have been able to kill a Darkhound. Recently there have also been sightings of a new breed of Darkhounds, which can apparently only be killed with the One Power. When cut to pieces, even with Power-wrought weapons, they melt into a liquid shadow and form back into a living Darkhound ready to continue its attack.
A Draghkar is just as dangerous a Myrddraal, although the danger is poses doesn't lie in its combat ability. The scientists who served the Shadow deliberately made the Draghkar, unlike the Myrddraal, which was an accident, and although it is humanoid, it bare even less resemblance to a human being than a Myrddraal does. The Draghkar looks like a like a tall man wearing a dark cloak. This cloak is in reality a pair of wings, similar to those of a bat, which allows the Draghkar to fly, thus being useful to the Shadow as both a scout and an assassin. The face of a Draghkar has little resemblance to a human face. Its eyes are much to big for a human, and its mouth resembles an open wound with sharp pointed teeth. The Draghkar's other abilities also make it suitable as an assassin. It can lure its victim into its lethal embrace with its song, and when the victim is in its grasp the Draghkar kills the victim with a kiss. The kiss of a Draghkar is said to drain away the victim's soul, and when the Draghkar has drain d the victim of both soul and personality it kills the victim by devouring its life. Those who are killed by a Draghkar are as cold as if they had been dead for days, even just moments after they have died. There are marks upon the victim, which is one of the reasons the Draghkar is used as an assassin. Those few who survive the kiss of a Draghkar are left as empty soulless shells, and its reckoned that it is better to die by the Draghkar's kiss, than to be rescued to late.