|Common Nicknames||Unliving, Ul’s Rejected, Loa’s Disquieted|
The Undead are a strange creature known to roam Aloria for unknown reasons and are vilified in the minds of most as abominations. However, this has not always been the case. When the Allorn Empire reigned across the world, the Undead were valued as servants and heralds of Ammu-Loa, working from his Grand Temple in fulfilling the needs of Altalar citizens. The Cataclysm has since seen Undead roam free and cause chaos, particularly so in Etosil. Undead remain a minor issue in most rural regions of the Regalian Empire but rarely exist in large numbers near population centers, allowing most to relegate them to scary stories told in the dark.
The Undead have dated back millennia and were initially seen as a positive thing. For the Altalar of the Allorn Empire, Undead could be a way to survive and persist after death, albeit with a more singular or devoted purpose: that of protecting and serving the will of Ammu-Loa. At his Grand Temple, those seeking a dignified death could be granted it and be embalmed, as was Altalar tradition. His Undead attendants guarded the Temple, and their nature was widely lauded by the Altalar for centuries, even as the Allorn Empire declined. But it seems that with the Cataclysm, the Wildering, and all the changes since then, the Undead have earned a somewhat darker reputation. The Grand Temple fell into disrepair, and the Undead populace grew aggressive. As for wider Aloria, the Undead had an abysmal reputation among the Human Races, mainly for religious reasons. A majority of Ailor faiths saw the resurrection of the dead as unnatural and an abomination against the will of the universe and their gods. Human souls returned to or entered a new plane after leaving Aloria, and it was torture and unjust to drag them back and force them to remain. Unionism specifically developed practices to prevent Undeadism, such as removing significant organs and decapitating someone after death--though such practices were only common among the upper class who could afford the process. The same proved true in many other faiths that emerged as the decades wore on after the Cataclysm, but the real anti-Undead fervor broke out several decades ago.
The leading cause for these feelings was continued problems with the Undead on Etosil, which were actively concerning the Regalian Empire's military officials. But then came an event that changed the course of Alorian history. Emperor Justinian II, the last Ivrae Emperor of Regalia, had three sons: Therin the youngest, Juvi, the middle, and the elder Augustus. In 279 AC, Therin attacked Juvin and slew him in his bed-chamber, after which he proceeded to confront Augustus to do the same and claim the throne for himself. While Augustus overpowered his brother and had him formally hanged, Therin rose from the family catacombs in the night as an Undead and sought his revenge. He crept back into Augustus' bedroom and murdered him in his sleep. The guards arrived too late and were horrified to see the corpse of Therin gnawing on Augustus’s throat. This single Undead attack distinguished the future of the Ivrae family. Justinian II had no male heirs left, and his brother had only sired daughters. The throne passed to House Kade 23 years later, where it has remained to this day. Opinions against the Undead have increased since that evening, and they have long been slain on sight across the Empire as a result. This situation has continued into today, though ironically, Etosians and the Undead are at somewhat of a stalemate or barely holding peace thanks to the Undead’s attacks against the Bone Horrors during the Bone Horror Crisis several years ago, thus saving most of Etosil.
Undead have a large variety of physical appearances for apparent reasons. A majority are the corpses of matured bodies, as children Undead are scarce. Additionally, based on the location of death or form of burial, their bodies may be in various states, from highly intact to significantly degraded.
The Undead are generally varied based on decomposition rates, and the Race an individual originally was before their death. However, there is a further distinction within the ranks of the creatures: that of intelligent Undead. The veracity of these claims has varied over the decades, with the Bone King of Etosil being the most consistent over the decades. Altalar scholars insist it to be true, given their own Race’s history with the creatures. Still, a majority of Ailor and Regalian citizens believe such a concept to be impossible. The reports of “living Undead” are instead chalked up to being Zikiel Vampires, or dark sorcerers myth has come to call necromancers (as none have been encountered with any veracity by impartial authorities).
Life Span and Development
The Undead are generally assumed to only last as long as one’s flesh remains together, but certain Undead have been witnessed as nearly full skeletons still twitching around. Therefore, it is assumed that the creatures have no real expiration date, save perhaps when they are either finished off as mercy by a combatant or when whatever has kept their body going over the years fails.
Despite their seemingly mindless drive to attack the living, the Undead do have several mental features. For one, a majority seem locked into performing motions or actions that they did as they were dying or in their final days. Undead in ancient temples, for example, have been observed to be mindlessly attempting to clean the building, while others have wandered onto their former property intending to cook food for themselves since their last act when alive was to cook a meal. The Undead also hate Bone Horrors, and the two groups have been noted as slaughtering each other whenever they come into contact, mainly because the Bone Horrors immediately attack the Undead.
Territory and Groupings
In rural or wild regions, Undead tend to be grouped, often forming small mobs that shuffle and shamble around one particular location, such as an ancient ruin or a former graveyard. In urban regions, however, they are often more singular cases, and it is rare to encounter more than one Undead in a single square mile within a Regalian city, even if you count its livable sewer system depths. The one location that positively teems with Undead is the remains of the Grand Temple to Ammu-Loa, which despite decades of regional Altalar efforts to clear, has only seemed to produce more Undead as time goes on.
- A rumor for nearly two decades after it happened was that the Emperor couldn’t bear to kill his last remaining son, despite his Undead status. Instead, he kept him chained and secured away in the deepest reaches of the Imperial Palace.
- The Bone King, despite most believing him to be a myth, is very much real. However, his exact nature is unknown, though he seems to control rather than lead a host of the creatures. His assistance in the Deathling Crisis has long been kept vague, but it is assumed by most who know of his involvement to have been rewarded by an amnesty from all future crimes given the dire straits of that time.