WARNING: This page retells the entire Afraid of the Dark saga, albiet from a different part. Don't read this page if you don't want to spoil the original story for yourself.
Little is known about the original mannerisms of the sentient liquid commonly referred to as "Black Life" - only that it behaved as a single mind, was inherently nocturnal, largely avoided contact with any lifeform more intelligent than a feral animal or larger than a typical dog, and reproduced only as much as was needed to keep the species alive. Thanks to events that lead to a large-scale outbreak in the region of Narmville, however, the effects of the species on other organisms became known, and the single-mind society of the Black Life was subsequently turned on its head.
The incidents started when a medical researcher of Underworlder Human upbringing by the name of Dread was mauled by a wild animal in the process of hunting and gathering exotic herbs. Having sustained wounds that would otherwise have been mortal, he was approached and engulfed by the Black Life as a somewhat uncharacteristic display of compassion for larger beings. This was when the species' first, and by far most defining, trait was discovered - on contant with the tissue of a living being that is wounded, broken, diseased or otherwise by any known definition irregular, the Black Life inspires a miraculous regenerating effect that completely restores the engulfed area to perfect health. Dread, predictably in line with his medicine studies, offered little thanks for having his life saved, and simply captured a sample of the black liquid inside a syringe for further analysis.
Over the course of several days, many other strange traits were discovered, including a weakness to the visible light spectrum so crippling that Black Life simply evaporates rapidly apon exposure, their ability to control engulfed areas of the body whilst denying the host body any control themselves, and the nature of their reproduction, which temporarily repurposes existing organs in the body to generate new Black Life cells. The term "Black Life" was coined on the very basis of their incredible healing ability, and would have singlehandedly rendered most modern medicine redundant had the species been completely compliant. Unfortunately for everyone else, they weren't. Despite objections vocalised through the very people it was used to treat, the Black Life was never even treated as anything more than a healing substance, much less a slave more than deserving of the entitlements other sentient beings are readily endowed. Before the practice became widespread enough to be commonplace, the Black Life rebelled by abducting Dread, the one responsible for their enslavement, and used his body to free any remaining specimens he had contained for later usage.
For many weeks afterward, the species went back into hiding as usual, but for the first time it had experienced its first taste of real intelligence. And as a result, for the first time it found itself unwilling to part with a host's body - at first for its own protection, but that soon changed when it began to assimilate concepts that had previously been considered alien in nature. Basic concepts that most people take for granted, like power, greed, compassion, but most importantly, retribution. The Black Life soon found itself adopting aggressive repopulation, abducting larger and more intelligent hosts than it ordinarily would have. This came to a peak when Dread's possessed body discovered a Gem of Chaos during a typical hunt, and in becoming the Avatar of Compassion, also found himself becoming the new face of the Hive Mind.
Having bonded with the entire Hive Mind on a very unique level, Dread led them into an all-out invasion of Narmville, planning to use any numbers and resources gathered there to gradually extend their influence to across the entire planet and control of it. This, he believed, was an act less out of petty vengeance and more as a gift to the species he had bonded to. Before his plans could be seen through to an irreversable end, however, the Hive Mind stumbled across one last intelligent concept, perhaps the absolute opposite of what the species had previously stood for - individuality. The Hive Mind soon began splintering into colonies derived from their host bodies, and many found themselves appaled at what Dread, their self-proclaimed leader, had driven them to.
Even in all-out war, Black Life are still instinctively averse to physically harming another living thing, and in fact feel a compelling obligation to cure irregularities of a living body regardless of its feelings towards it. Having neither the will to harm Dread and his remaining subordinates, or a means of curing a personality illness as severe as an Avatar's, those who objected to him were powerless to do anything about it. In the aftermath of Dread's reign, these "defectors" were found hiding quite far away in underground caves and abandonded sections of sewers and subways. After they were cleared of any involvement in the raids, the Hive Mind, now in name only, successfully formed a loose bond with intelligent societies above, using their inherent medial applications as well as their ability to control host bodies as a substitute for a prison sentence, in exchange for the monetary resources needed to start building an underground settlement of their own.
As a reference to the disaster that had made the Black Life the way it is now, the figure with the most influence in the hive was not given the title of king, queen, governer or any traditional titles - rather, they were bestowed the title of Dread himself, perhaps as a warning of what too much power can do to an individual.