WildStar Wednesday: Shade's Eve
By Chad "Pappy" Moore - October 31, 2012
Shade's Eve is a popular galactic holiday celebrated by many races across the galaxy. Despite being rooted in ancient Cassian culture, the traditions associated with Shade's Eve have spread to many other planets - especially in light of the continued aggressive expansion of the Dominion, and the Exiles' long flight through the star systems of the Fringe. Although the celebrations of this widespread holiday are mirthful and festive, the historical origins of Shade's Eve are considerably more macabre.
According to ancient Cassian legend, the original human settlers of planet Cassus became infected with a dangerous plague soon after they made planetfall. Although the true cause of the disease has been lost to the millennia, most scholars assume that it was a more virulent strain of Spacer's Plague contracted from indigenous rodents on the planet's surface. After killing its first victim within a matter of hours, the disease spread viciously - decimating a beleaguered crew exhausted by their journey from parts unknown.
Night fell upon the settlers' makeshift camp. Raging bonfires lit up the night, fueled by the bodies of the fallen. The few remaining survivors hid in their shelters, praying their respirators would save them from a horrendous death. But just when it seemed that all hope was lost, they discovered a young girl with a natural immunity to the deadly disease, and her blood was used to create a life-saving vaccine that was quickly distributed amongst the survivors. As dawn broke and the great bonfires burned down to ash and embers, the remaining settlers emerged into the daylight, took off their respirators, and celebrated their salvation - even as they mourned the tragic loss of their dead.
MYTH AND MAYHEM
Each year following the devastation of the plague, which came to be known as the Shades, human settlers celebrated their salvation - and, over thousands of years, a cultural mythology developed to depict the events that had taken place. The plague itself was personified as a dark and sinister figure known as Jack Shade, while the young girl whose blood was used to create the vaccine became known as the Angel. Festive rites and rituals were established based on other elements of the myth, and in time the celebration became known as Shade's Eve.
ARCHIVE NOTE: There is a small but passionate group of scholars who believe that 'Jack Shade' is a derivation of the name of the plague's first victim, and similar theories abound for the child savior now known as the 'Angel'. There are no surviving physical records of the original settlers of planet Cassus, so all such theories are, for now, merely conjecture.
FRIGHTS AND FESTIVITIES
Although there are variations depending on race and region, Shade's Eve festivities follow a common set of cultural traditions. Cities and towns are elaborately adorned with eerie decorations, often characterized by ghoulish spirits, grinning skeletons, and other creepy creatures. Candles flicker wickedly in smoky windows, and large bonfires are lit each night in central plazas and town squares. At the beginning of the week-long holiday, individuals from each community are chosen to dress up as Jack Shade and the Angel - and each night costumed celebrants play games of Creeping Jack and drink steaming cups of spiced bloodberry wine. Late into the evening, groups gather around the bonfires while chroniclers and scribes tell ghost stories, most involving Jack Shade and those unfortunate enough to meet him in the shadows. The festivities conclude with a raucous party on the final night of Shade's Eve - with everyone removing their masks and going to bed as dawn breaks the following morning.
Shade's Eve has cultivated a special significance on planet Nexus, as there are obvious parallels between the original settlers of Cassus, and those brave souls who have made the journey to the Eldan homeworld. Superstitious types whisper about the dangers of exploring a hostile alien world, where archaeologists might unearth some strange and virulent disease as they delve into the forbidden secrets of the Eldan. Perhaps Jack Shade really is out there somewhere, waiting to emerge from the darkness once again...
So! As Shade's Eve approaches - don your mask, hide with care, and do your best to survive until dawn!