Shining children are cruel, alien, light-wreathed astral creatures born from a traumatic process involving quintessence and the metaphysical debris of demiplanes and are native to the Astral Plane. On Golarion, they are also known as shining children of Thassilon, as they were first summoned to Golarion by Thassilonian wizards.
Underneath their luminous aura, shining children have an almost-humanoid form. Their skin glows with many colors and their eyes and mouth constantly emit beams of light. They have prehensile tails, and each of their hands has four fingers. The shape of a shining child's head varies between individuals, though a skull shape has been documented. A shining child's telepathy allows it to communicate a discordant psychic inferno to anyone who speaks a language. It can also speak in a worn, scraping voice.
Shining children are born on the Astral Plane, when quintessence adheres to the brightest sparks of light and energy that result from the creation of demiplanes. Shining children created by the same demiplane can identify their 'siblings' with some sixth sense via the distinctive imprint left behind by the demiplane. The number of shining children created by a single demiplane can range from zero to scores. Shining children seethe with spite for their unjust, traumatic birth, and dedicate themselves to scholarship in a futile attempt to understand it and their role in the Great Beyond as a whole.
Shining children appear not to be bound by the laws of normal life. They are not subject to gravity, do not eat or sleep, and may not even be able to die. Rather than leaving a physical body behind when destroyed, shining children explode into light and leave a shadow-like after-image on a nearby surface. This burn always seems brighter than the surrounding terrain, even in daylight. Descriptions of the shining children's heads are very variable, which may indicate sexual dimorphism or a difference in life stages.
Pelagic children are shining children that have been magically merged with the anatomies of anglerfish and amphibians that breathe through their skin, turning them into aquatic creatures. Pelagic children look gaunt and fish-like, with slimy skin and webbed feet.
Shining children were discovered millennia ago as an unforeseen consequence of teleportation experiments by a group of Thassilonian researchers. The shining children were very recalcitrant about their nature, but strangely call their kind "the shining one" rather than using a plural form. They allied with and allowed themselves to be summoned by Thassilonian wizards, but do not hold the lives of others in high regard, and only reliably follow commands if able to torment sentient beings as a result. However, as wards of Thassilon's most valued artifacts, as vanguards of its armies, and as teachers of alien truths to its scholars, the shining children were incredibly valuable. Those summoned to guard gravesites or treasuries may still be maintaining their duty millennia later.
There are several theories about the shining children's origin. Some think they come from another dimension, are a highly advanced race who shed their physical forms to become beings of pure light, are celestials from a utopian future who see Golarion's present denizens as horrifically evil, are from the edge of reality, or are projections of a vast, sentient star whose dying agony sends psychic ripples through time and space. The number of theories about these creatures is commensurate with the number of scholars who research them—there is little agreement.
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