A Shift is a portal, rift or opening of sorts between worlds. The first Shift we saw was an eerie but beautiful portal that looked almost organic (and which sent April to Marcuria upside down). The Shifts since have been something like very bright patches of blue light in midair. When April first opened a Shift using her artistic talents, it appeared as a rippling effect over her painting that finally became a doorway.
Not a lot is known about the nature of Shifts and Shifting, but the general consensus is that it involves having a strong imagination, giving you an ability to reach the world of dreams in a waking state and pass through it to your destination.
A Shifter is, as described by Vestrum Tobias Grensret, "Someone capable of opening doors between worlds, a Shift, a portal between the realms of Stark and Arcadia. Only a Shifter's own power can allow her to travel. No one else can do this for her."
Shifters often start to demonstrate their powers while they're dreaming. However they can get help from a powerful being, such as one of the Draic Kin, to channel their talent and open a Shift while awake. Lady Alvane has also demonstrated this ability to help, to a slightly lesser degree, though she appears well-informed about Shifting too.
While it is never said, it seems unlikely that non-humans would be able to Shift, given that Vestrum Tobias told April that the magical races required Arcadia to exist. (There is, however, the exception of the Banda who mistakenly falls through the Divide into the Fringe Cafe. If we are to accept him, however, we must also accept Fiona and Mickey as Shifters, as they seem to fall through the Divide while watching the Screen the same night!)
Known Shifters Edit
- April Ryan - Her first experience with shifting was in her sleep, but she gains some control of her abilities on her journey. She is helped by Cortez, who channels her powers to send her to Arcadia on her first conscious Shift.
- Brian Westhouse - Although not being a confirmed Shifter, he traveled to Arcadia via a Shift from Tibet in 1934. The journey through the shift, which is normally instantaneous, took him 300 years, so it has been speculated that the shift he traveled through was not of his own making, and that this caused the long lapse of time in the World of Dreams.
- Adrian - The 12th Guardian: an 11th century native of Stark who, having remained in the Guardian's Tower for 2 centuries longer than was intended, abdicates, returns to Stark, and is abducted by the Vanguard. He is rescued by April Ryan from the Morning Star space station and travels with her to the Guardian's Realm, where he performs the Changing of the Guard ritual with Gordon Halloway.
- Gordon Halloway - The 13th Guardian: a 23rd century man, also a native of Stark, who was twisted by Jacob McAllen's experiments into a divided persona. He is a cold, analytical man in Stark and is represented in Arcadia by a destructive Chaos Vortex (which was a Vanguard champion in the invasion of Marcuria). He is the leader of the Vanguard's 'black' operations before he is united with his erstwhile, chaotic self in the Guardian's Tower by April Ryan. He did not complete his thousand year term before the Two Worlds were reunited.
Jacob McAllen also shows April glass tubes in his office and laboratory where he claims to be breeding 'Warrior Shifters' who will eventually serve him. How they were created and what happened to them after McAllen's disappearance is unknown.
Dreamfall EditIn Dreamfall, April tells the reborn White Dragon that she has 'lost' the ability to Shift (or 'Travel' as Na'ane and Chawan put it). The White of the Kin tells her it's not something she can 'lose,' but that she may have forgotten (an apparent psychological block probably caused by her fear of returning to Stark.) As Cortez once did, the White Dragon is able to channel April's own abilities to open a Shift. While it is now possible to Shift directly to the Guardian's Realm, the White also claims that April cannot Shift without Crow going with her , coinciding with the White's statement that "everything has changed, and everything is still changing."
In her discussion with Zoe Castillo, thinking she was a Shifter, April explains that Shifting, once learned, is "like blinking, with your mind."