DEATH AND THE BROKEN WHEEL

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THE BREAKING OF THE WHEEL

In the center of Yin-Jin there lies a solitary mountain so high that its summit can be seen from nearly every part of the kingdom. At its base lay a massive, but now shattered, gate that stood nearly one hundred feet high. These were called the Yellow Gates, and they marked the entrance to the underworld. The souls of the dead would be drawn through them and into the eighteen layers of the underworld and at last to the great wheel of reincarnation. But that was before…

The wheel is broken now. The last Autumn king went mad and drove his army through the Yellow Gates, he slew the dragon that stood sentry there, and it is said the Autumn spear still lies impaled in its skull. For eighteen days there was no sign of the king or his army, but on that eighteenth day the whole of the land knew something terrible had happened. Massive earthquakes followed by terrible tsunamis reaped a terrible toll, volcanos erupted and ash and heavy rains fell from the sky. But the catastrophe was only beginning…

Thousands were killed in the upheaval, but their bodies did not lie still in their graves. The souls of the recently dead would split in two; the Po, or animalistic side would be drawn back into the corpse where it would reanimate into one of the hungry dead- wanting nothing more than to feed on the flesh of the living. The other part of the soul, the Hun, or higher self would linger as an invisible and incorporeal spirit, drawn to the thing it once cherished in life. But if the Hun lingered more than seven days, it would go mad, driven to now destroy the things it once loved. And on very rare occasions the Hun would possess the will to rejoin with the Po, transforming the body into something dangerous and unspeakable.

Outlying villages and towns were abandoned or destroyed, only in the eight cities was there a measure of safety. The geomantic properties of the cities weakened unquiet spirits, and their high walls and armies could fend off the roving hordes of hungry dead.
Each city was virtually isolated, as overland travel was extremely dangerous, famine and disease were rampant and it seemed as though the end of the world had come.

THE VEILED QUEEN

For decades, life persisted this way for the people of Yin-Jin until the coming of the Veiled Queen. It is said she was a powerful witch of the winter people, and it was true she could drive off the unquiet spirits or even capture them in special lamps she’d crafted. She travelled from city to city, taking four students in each, and teaching them her craft so that they in turn could teach others. In every city save one, they built a great black pagoda in the center, atop which was lit a great beacon. These ghost beacons, together with the geomantic layout of the city, drew the unquiet spirits to them where the exorcists would collect them in special lanterns. At the base of each pagoda was a pool of water called the Yellow Spring, not for its color, but for its connection to the underworld. The lantern containing the unquiet spirit would be floated upon the spring where the light within would slowly die out as the spirit was drawn through the spring and into the underworld. And so the Guild of Exorcists was born.

THE GUILD OF EXORCISTS

Exorcists of the guild each where colored masks to hide their identity from both the living, who might resent their driving away the spirits of loved ones, or the dead who may want to take their vengeance upon them. Their appear to be four orders within the guild marked by the color mask they wear (red, yellow, blue, or green), although the significance of each is unknown outside the guild itself.

When a person dies it is the responsibility of the family to immediately burn the body. Every neighborhood in every city maintain special stone kilns that can be lit and used at a moments notice. The family then contacts the guild who will send an exorcist to confirm that the recently deceased spirit has been drawn to the beacon, or capture the spirit himself if not. The exorcists have many tools they use to help them against the unquiet dead.

Blessed Rice: can be used to create a barrier between the living and the dead, for the unquiet spirit cannot cross a line of blessed rice.

Heavenly Incense: the scent of these will drive all but the strongest spirits out of the locale, usually burned in threes.

Sacred Mirror: these special mirror allow the exorcist to see the invisible form of unquiet sprits.

Holy Bell: it is well known that spirits cannot stand the sound of a ringing bell and it is often used to disrupt the powers used by the unquiet dead.

THE UNDEAD

Hungry Dead: The hungry dead are the risen corpses of the recently dead animated by the will of the animalistic Po. Their skins turn pale with a feint bluish cast, while their eyes turn white and their teeth and nails black. The hungry dead are faster and more resilient than they were in life, and they feel an insatiable hunger for human flesh. They do not decay, and can wander the wilderness indefinitely if they are not destroyed.

Lost Souls: Lost souls are the invisible and incorporeal spirits of the recently deceased. It is the Hun, which lingers and is drawn to the things that were important to it in life. Typically the Hun has very little ability to effect the living world beyond the occasional whispered voices or pale reflections seen briefly. But some spirits with sufficient will can make objects move, and create other poltergeist like effects. If the Hun does not reach the underworld in seven days it goes irrevocably mad, becoming an Unquiet Spirit- now driven to destroy the things it once loved.

Unquiet Spirit: Once the Hun has gone mad it seeks out loved ones and places it once cherished and seeks to destroy them. An unquiet spirit is much more powerful and can effect the physical world much easier now. In addition to poltergeist effects, the unquiet spirit can physically harm others with ghostly attacks, leaving behind bites, scratches, and bruises. The unquiet spirit can create illusions and reveal itself as a nightmarish thing. An unquiet spirit will haunt a place in perpetuity unless driven out or captured.

Revenant: The worst type of undead is a revenant, when the Hun is of sufficient will to recombine with the Po within the corpse-flesh of the body. Such a creature takes on frightening powers that very according to the elemental balances with the individual. Some are fiery, others cold and desiccated, while still others foul and poisonous. They are the most dangerous because they are both tangible and still somewhat lucid (compared to unquiet spirits). This allows them to plot and scheme, and their hatred grows to encompass not just their loved ones, but all life.

DEATH AND THE BROKEN WHEEL

GHOSTS OF YIN-JIN QuietlyQuixotic