|Common Nicknames||Banshee, Weeping Wraith, Mournkeeper, Memory Vampire|
Morvali are a very rare form of life after death, being the remnants of emotions and memories once belonging to whole people that now resort to staying alive by feeding off the memories of others, craving the love and affection they never had or were robbed of. Morvali comes to be when a person dies directly as a result of or related to circumstances around a scorned love affair or marriage. Morvali are denied the peace of death as the conflict between their emotions and memories causes their memories to be trapped by their agony and passionate emotions, condemned to drift. They leave their body behind but still manifest physically, hungering for the memories of love returned and passionate moments in others, seeking them out with subterfuge and feeding off them to sate their hunger and sustain their existence.
The exact date of emergence for the Morvali is uncertain, though those who dive into the study of Aloria’s Dimensions and Essence suggest such creatures likely always existed, perhaps back to the days of the Seraph. Supporting such claims are vague stories held within the Tohn Qarma of the Maraya which tell of ashen mourners, who return from death to take one’s love as their own. There is also the ancient Sihai play called “When the Nightingale Calls” which tells the story of a common, mundane Sihai man’s relationship with a ghostly specter with a deep tie to the history of his family, who seeks out a memory to make her whole. Despite these examples, Teledden dismiss such origins entirely to instead favor their own claim that the Morvali are a creation of their Gods. While the early history of the Allorn Empire does not mention such creatures, by the height of the Allorn Empire, texts referring to creatures called “River Crones” appear, and speak of their role as a test of fortitude and skill in Magic. The Crones hunt memory, and due to the importance of memory to the Teledden afterlife, they are seen as a threat to the stability of one’s existence beyond this life. Many Teledden tales speak of specific River Crones, their origins as those who were restless and discontent in the River of Memories due to a terrible life with a great tragedy that prematurely ended them. Somewhat paradoxically, it was sometimes seen as a good thing to become a Morvali, to test your fellows and serve a god, yet also seek out and gain your own rest if your end was undignified by the standards of the Teledden.
However, when the Consolidation ended, and the Allorn Empire experienced its more turbulent years, which accompanied a fracturing of power and the rise of cults, instances of Morvali infestation jumped noticeably, and soon were seen as nothing more than a nuisance, hollow Undead with a paradisiac nature to hunt memory and deprive good, strong Teledden of hard-won knowledge. They became so much of a presence, particularly in regions falling to Void Worship, common prayers and simple spells were crafted to ward them away, if not dispel them entirely. But Morvali did not only appear in Daen, with records of the Banshee proliferating among the Ailor of Old Ceardia, the Regalian Archipelago, and the lands of the Proto-Velheim. They also appeared in Farahdeen, but their history there is complex and layered, drastically changing with time due to the vast expanse of Sariyd History. Finally, in distant Jadeheart, tales like the play mentioned earlier and others continued to circulate throughout Sihai society, of ghostly women or men seeking memories to finally rest. This is how all of it was for centuries leading up to the Cataclysm, with little end in sight for the Morvali phenomena.
But like so much else, the Cataclysm changed everything. While one might have expected the chaos and death this event brought with it to spawn hordes of more Morvali, instead, the opposite happened due to the disruption to Aloria’s Magic, and its ties to the Dimensions. Famed, or rather infamous, Morvali were annihilated and ripped into the plane of death, their hunger irrelevant and quieted. Across Aloria, the Morvali faded into myth, a legend supposedly told by the Altalar which spread to the Ailor and others, and just another word for Undead. That was until 103 AC, when the event now dubbed the Morvali Spring occured. In the span of three months roughly corresponding to the rise and fall of spring within the Regalian calendar, no less than seventeen documented, confirmed, and investigated cases of Morvali appeared within Anglia, Vixhall and elsewhere. Ultimately, the Regalian Empire could not deny the existence of Morvali, and since that time, with the growth in the world’s population, Morvali have continued to emerge. They are despised across Aloria, seen as a plague by Fornoss, Unionism, and Estelley followers alike, but have been able to find a footing in Sihai and Kathar society. Among the Sihai, they are feared but respected, most simply choosing to avoid the haunted places they call home. Meanwhile, among the Kathar, they are merely seen as a challenge to overcome, and an interesting subject of magical investigation. Some are even sought out on purpose to have memories removed, a service some of them are known to offer in wider Aloria as well. This state of affairs is likely to continue for many years to come.
Morvali are known to exist in three forms, but can generally be described as humanoid and lacking any mass, with a huge range of appearances given that they take after how they appeared in life. Their first shape, known as the Hidden or Masked Shade, is very unassuming. Morvali are capable of stalking a target from a distance and acquiring an appearance from their recent memory which can then manifest and appear like that person. In such a form, they are generally quiet and seek to get as close to their victim as possible without arousing suspicion. This is aided by a mesmerizing effect that also triggers when they are in this Shade, keeping an individual’s attention on them while also dulling their other senses. Their normal shade, called the Natural or Unmasked Shade, is them in their natural form. Morvali adopt the appearance they had in life, though with a few changes. For one, their lower body slowly fades away, with no feet seen, while their manifestation of clothing is often more billowing, thin, and pale than anything they wore in life. Finally, their faces will be significantly paler, some known to be entirely missing, while their hair is black and shifts in the air around and behind them as if they are in water. Their most notable feature while in this form though, is the stark lines of crimson along their pale bodies and clothing, marking the points of lethal contact which killed them. Such things appear even on the victims of poisoning, with a faint red line following the mouth down the throat before blooming around the chest area.
The final form of the Morvali is known as the Banshee or Madness Shade, which occurs when they are violently confronted or are ultimately denied the memories they seek with much effort and time put into the effort. In this form, their body’s limbs lengthen and thin, while the fabric that once billowed behind and around them narrows and tightens, ripping into rags or torn strips that lash like ribbons in the air. Similar to the limbs of the body, the hands see the finger bones lengthen and gain large glowing claws. Their faces also become far more menacing, a sickening green glow filling their eyes while their mouth gains fangs, and takes on a more canine appearance, a sort of maw forming to help the creature unleash its monstrous screams. The red lines on their body also flare to life with phantasmal flames. When a Morvali is defeated, the only remains they are known to leave behind are a combination of red and bioluminescent green dust.
Morvali have a wide range of appearances due to their universality, and being tied to emotional circumstances rather than specific acts or beliefs carried out by only one group of people. However, some factors unite or distinguish the Morvali. The first of these factors is that they are female at a ratio of five to one, male Morvali much rarer for generally unknown reasons. The other factor is their physical form. Fat and maimed Morvali are almost unheard of, as upon death, the form adopted is like that of the victim, but without any of their obesity, ill-health, or mutilated features. At most, such figures will have a glowing phantasmal replacement, leaving some with missing eyes or limbs being quite distinct.
Life Span and Development
While many groups might have their own ideas on the birth of Morvali, scholars of the arcane and the Undead, of which Morvali are an exotic form, are aware of the true methods for Morvali formation. It occurs when one in love, requited or not, dies in a highly violent way in a situation that involves the subject of that love. They might die together, hunted to the brink of desperation, or a family member might kill the victim for betraying family loyalty. Some situations are also known to involve suicide, death bought by one’s own hand after uncovering a deeply disturbing fact about the subject of their love. Ultimately, the soul that forms from this death does not carry on. Instead, within the span of anywhere from an hour to a month, it reforms as a Morvali within close proximity to its body. However, from there, it can roam free, some Morvali are known to travel what are likely miles from their origin point to seek what can sustain them. Ultimately, Morvali live as long as they are allowed to by the world. While some records do speak of “satisfied” Morvali sighing, and ascending, leaving no trace as they pass into the afterlife with peace, many more will face combat and be destroyed through the use of Magic or weapons designed to disrupt Soul Essence. A few have even been known to fall to conventional weapons. The oldest known Morvali is a former Kathar now called the Madame of Memory, who has apparently been draining memories from willing victims within her den found in the Dread Empire since around 50 AC.
A Morvali’s main drive is the quest for one thing: memory. Specifically, positive memories or memories of love. Using their various Shades, a Morvali will lull their prey (but in other cases, willing victim) into a sense of ease by taking on a familiar form before, once close enough, beginning to drain the memory the Morvali, and sometimes the victim, has chosen. When they do this, they lose their disguise but have fully enthralled their target, opening their mouths wide and beginning the draining process. Observations of this act have noted wisps of pale white vapor emerging from a victim’s mouth, ears, and eyes as they shudder, not violently, but like they are cold. When the Morvali is done feeding, it will release its victim, who is unconscious for between five minutes to an hour, and temporarily fade out of sight. However, the Morvali will eventually reappear, and begin the process all over again. Morvali are single-minded in their pursuit of these memories but are capable of socialization, though only among their own kind. So-called “Memory Covens” gather each time Haggoron is at its zenith, where the Morvali present will swap stories and fragments of their greatest devoured memories. Morvali will also reject, often aggressively, their origins or past selves in favor of going by no names, save those given by others, even if they are unflattering.
Territory and Groupings
Morvali have no set territory and do not meet in groups except for the aforementioned Memory Covens. However, despite this, many still do haunt a particular area, building, village, or city which serves as their hunting ground. Morvali are not territorial, and two going after the same prey is unheard of, thus conflict never emerges.
- It is said there are as many stories about the origin of the Madame of Memory in the Dread Empire as there have been Dread Empresses. The most credible story is perhaps the most boring, that of a young Kathar whose mother engaged with the young man the future Madame herself loved deeply. The mother then killed him for some ritual, leaving the young female Kathar alone to commit the act that would make her become the Madame of Memory.
- Some believe that the Morvali are unable to be controlled, but some records of the Allorn Empire, and tall tales from lands like Farahdeen, speak of Mages commanding singular or small groups of Morvali to serve their dark purposes.
- The most well-known male Morvali is Ithanian, known to haunt the city of Bijoux-vert-plusse-rême where he targets almost exclusively noblewomen. Unlike other Morvali, his origins are unknown, and even rumors of how he came to be are suppressed by the city’s elite. He lacks a local name, though outsiders call him the Tarnished Jewel.