Shadow People are shadows that float through the air. They have no eyes or other distinguishable features. They are creatures from the Underworld (as opposed to the spirits of the dead). They have no solid form, no precise shape, and are not (nor were ever) alive, but are about the size of a person. You can see through them, as if they are made of smoke. Weapons have no effect on them. Swords and arrows go through them. You could not hide from a shadow person, they could see you anywhere. The touch of a shadow person causes the person's whole body to blister and swell and finally split open. It can not be healed by the gift. No one touched by a shadow person has ever survived. Like most creatures of the underworld, the presence of an underworld beast's bone confuses them, making them think the person with it is one of their own. Also, like most underworld creatures, they are vulnerable to the magic of the Sword of Truth, which causes them to flare into nothingness, the smoke of their form spinning, as if caught in a vortex of wind, before coming apart with a scream and a howl.
Panis Rahl was able to summon shadow people to the world of the living and used them in his war against the Midlands. Whole battalions were found killed to a man. The shadow people were eventually stopped by Battle Horns conjured by Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander that, when blown, would sweep the shadow people away like smoke in the wind. These battle horns were the first of its kind used in at least 3,000 years. Panis kept making modifications to the spells used for summoning, requiring Zedd to modify the enchantments on the horns in turn. One such modification was used successfully by General Brainard near the Kern River, against a D'Haran unit led by Urdland.
Another way to summon the shadow people is through the use of a Night Stone. Whenever a night stone is removed from its leather pouch, shadow people will be summoned from the underworld to the vicinity around it and will gradually move toward it. The shadow people could also be found in great numbers in the King's Port pass through the Boundary between Westland and the Midlands. After the weakening of the boundaries, some shadow people were able to escape and take the living. Darken Rahl could hear the voices of the shadow people in the Underworld wherever he was.
While in the Underworld, the Shadow People can take on the appearance of loved ones to the living (at the same time appearing different to different people) where their pleas to join them (even sometimes using the loved one's voice) were very difficult to resist. This phenomenon occurred at the Boundaries, where the living could look into the underworld. Often victims would strain to hear the shadow people and understand their murmurs. Like the shadows, their minds would drift smoothly, quietly, gently and make them long for dead loved ones and remember joyful, easy times with them and long for those times again. The shadow people would whisper that it could be like that again, that they wanted to help to reach that place, to be released from loneliness. Whispers like sweet music would wash over their victim in gentle waves, soothing fears, giving soft light to the mind's dark places. The victims would often go toward the shadows so that they could stay in the bathing warmth of the enchanting murmurs, the breath of music, embracing death. The shadow people within the boundary would often even haunt the memories of those who had seen them and could pull the spirit of the person into the underworld just by their memory.
In the King's Port pass, where the definition between living and dead was less clear, the shadow people could appear to take on faces that were sad and gentle, with kind, pleading countenances and slow, easy smiles. Like seeing dead loved ones, the faces of the shadow people would bring on confusion in those who saw them and make them feel less afraid, less tense and would gentle their caution, their alarm, and make their hearts pound with the need for rest, for peace, and for the shadows' company. The shadows would then come for their victim, initially causing searing pain, but promising that there would be no more pain after joining with them.