Saturday, August 28, 2010
Death and Alignment
Goodwife Sera wrung her hands together in the candlelight, her tiny children beside her nervous with glistening cheeks. Across from the bed stood her wrinkled old gran, watching intently as Jiro, the village physician, worked on Sera's broken husband. Sera had warned her husband about buying the ill-tempered Loro: even she knew plow-beasts should be docile and determined. Some warrior would have gotten better served by the thing, and now here her husband was, trampled nearly unto death.
Or unto death.
The physician stood up, put his instruments away, shook his head sadly at Sera, and left the family alone to watch as the unconscious farmer's breaths grew shorter and more ragged, and then stopped altogether. Well, that was that then, thought Sera, by necessity putting her tears aside - her family would need her to be strong now, at least until she found a new man to support them. She reached out to pull the blankets over her dead husband's face, but then jerked her hand back with a stifled scream.
He was burning hot! Within seconds, the famer's body was consumed by heat, dissolving into a hissing steam that quickly dissipated into the humid air of the cottage, leaving behind only sterile bones, and clothes and blankets seemingly unmarred by the heat. Sera and her children gawped.
Gran looked at them, her toothless mouth open in a lop-sided grin. "Ayup," she said with a chuckle, "told ya so!"
Death and Alignment in the world of Omegea
When the vast majority of human Omegeans die, their bodies slowly and normally decay, for they are Unaligned (or "Neutral"), and no supernatural forces hold sway over their bodies or souls. But for those who have committed themselves to the service of Law, or of Chaos (or have been born to one or the other, such as with the races of Aelfar and Trogha), death is not so natural and gentle a process.
The bodies of those sworn to Chaos spontaneously combust, their flesh consumed by heat, fire, smoke, and steam (or some variation thereof), leaving behind only a clean, white skeleton. Strangely, the heat of this consumption never harms anything the body is laying upon or touching.
Conversely, the bodies of those who obey the powers of Law quickly stiffen and petrify, turning into white marble. These marble bodies do not weigh much more than their living selves, for they are somewhat hollow, and can be crushed if one tries hard enough.
The bodiless souls of most, unaligned, folk go to the endless Underworld beneath Omegea. The souls of the servants of Chaos, however, return to the raw essence of the world. Some become spirits of the water or air, others of the fires in the roots of mountains, and some even become mindless parts of the unseen magical energy that twists and winds through all things.
The souls of the servants of Law go to the wide Land of Steel and Crystal, where lies the City of the Gods, where they tend the endless gardens, pleasure domes, palaces, and bureaucratic institutions of the gods (ironically those of both Law and Chaos, it is rumored).
Naturally, those who serve both Law and Chaos have been promised an afterlife of unimaginable Paradise once one side or the other wins the Eternal War. But the majority of souls, those great masses of the Unaligned, haunt the endless corridors and pale gardens of the Underworld, engaging in the search for passed loved ones, crying out to the heavens for succor, holding grand fetes and poetry readings, and other unliving pursuits, as they wait for the End of All Things.
Coming Back from the Dead
Bringing someone back from the dead is a complicated and iffy process. Of course there are infamous spells of "Raising the Dead" and "Resurrection", but all they really do is open a portal to the Underworld (or the Spirit World or the City of the Gods as the case may be). It is up to the mortals wishing to retrieve them to actually go in there and do so - and they'd better have a damned good reason to, or they risk drawing the ire of the gods.