The Wandering is a descriptive term for a collection of beings with the same origin. They make up the bulk of the known undead on Khadaka.
Every member of the Wandering is a sentient being, usually a human, cursed at some point to be beyond the reach of death. This is usually described as them being invisible or intangible to death or some god of the dead. This curse is taboo and often illegal across Khadaka, and as such there are no known written records of what the curse entails or how many versions of it exist. Most members of the Wandering do not know exactly how the curse was laid upon them, and some claim not to even know who laid it upon them. The select few who claim to have laid it on themselves or to have willingly submitted to it have given few, and sometimes contradictory, descriptions on how it was performed.
The Wandering, as a class of being, has been known at least since the earliest written records, though the types have had various names through the years and a collective name was not established for them until the -6th century Reformed, in an attempt to categorize the various known supernatural and sentient beings for the High Council of the Order of Branu. This was largely a military treatise, and was focused on how to hunt and destroy the Wandering rather than on giving much information on them. However, due to the constant interaction the Order of Branu has had with nations around the world, the term quickly stuck.
There are a number of ways that the Wandering manifest, but the most notable divide between them is the corporeal and the incorporeal.
Corporeal Wandering are any class of undead who actively inhabit a physical body. Most members of the Wandering spend some amount of time in this state, often in their own dead body, as they spend some time either unsure how to move on or unwilling to do so. The general classifications of Corporeal Wandering have some overlap, but are:
- Golem: A cursed soul who has formed a body for itself, or has inhabited an artificial body made by someone else, out of nonliving matter.
- Jockey: A cursed soul inhabiting a formerly living body that was not theirs in life. This applies both to those who take on already dead bodies and those who, usually through magic, take over the body of someone who was alive.
- Leech: Any cursed soul inhabiting a body that they attempt to keep fresh by leeching life from elsewhere. This is rarely successful for very long, and can take a number of forms including blood drinking, ritual sacrifice, or arrangements with mages who focus on healing magics.
- Lich: Any cursed soul inhabiting a body they attempt to keep largely functional through their own magical skill. Often, the focus on maintaining function and magical aptitude causes them to lose track of their physical appearance. This causes most liches to look gaunt, strangely colored, and unnaturally frail, though they lose no physical ability for it.
- Zombie: A cursed soul still inhabiting and animating the decaying body they had in life.
Incorporeal Wandering are any class of undead who do not inhabit a physical body. Most Wandering spend some amount of time in this state, even if it is simply an occasional inconvenience between the irreparable failure of one body and the acquisition of another. There are three primary classifications of Incorporeal Wandering:
- Damned: A cursed soul who is, for all purposes, outside the physical realm. These cannot be perceived through physical senses and cannot affect the physical world in any way. They can only interact with other Wandering, select spiritual beings, and practitioners of certain magics. Sometimes called the Lost.
- Ghost: A cursed soul who is intangible and partially invisible, but able to interact with the physical world at will. This influence varies in strength, but is usually used to be heard.
- Wraith: A cursed soul who has constructed a body out of raw energy. This is usually done with magical energy, and is often a later stage for a Lich. Their ability to interact with the world depends on what kind of energy they are made of.
Advantages and Limitations Edit
Eternity and Madness Edit
The most obvious advantage to being a Wandering is that they simply cannot die, at least not by any normal means. This, however, is often the very essence of their curse, as their bodies are not rendered immortal and therefore they must go through the process of dying at least once, sometimes decades after the curse was laid on them. Most, who jump from body to body as needed for a time, end up going through the entire experience of physical death repeatedly, and this (coupled with the progression of time and detachment from the living world) often drives them mad.
Expanded Senses Edit
Some of the worst effects of continued existence and repeated death can be mitigated through particular magics that focus on maintaining the mind or body. Since most Wandering did not choose their condition and rarely fully understand it or how to address it, they often turn to mages skilled in these arts and offer their aid in any way they can in return for a more comfortable afterlife. This usually takes the form of watchmen - all Wandering have the ability to fully perceive and interact with invisible and spiritual beings, including the gods and their agents, regardless of physical form or lack thereof. They can, in turn, warn the mage of impending danger without the mage having to spend all their time and energy on opening up their own senses in this way. The more skilled among them may even fight on behalf of their mage.
The Hunt Edit
It is believed that Raeshi, infuriated at the act of shielding any dead from her sight, offered a deal to the world shortly after first learning of the Wandering. Anyone who could find and deliver to her 5 Wandering would be given the opportunity to meet with the gods and ask any two questions of them, for each of which they would receive an honest and direct answer or a boon. She also commissioned priests specifically loyal to her to hunt down and kill anyone who creates a Wandering, branding them with a secret mark that she would recognize in Raeshnacht and deal out special punishment.
Some suggest that this offer ended after Lophael spoke with Denbora. Phaelism holds that Raeshi does grant some kind of reward for returning the lost dead to her, though official teachings are much less clear about what form this reward normally takes.
The Second Curse Edit
In the wake of the Great War, it is believed that Kelcid damned all Wandering with a second curse, which ensured that any pain they caused living people would be revisited back upon them. This means that any Wandering that engages in violence suffers along with their victims, and this often speeds up the process of the cursed soul turning mad. Many Wandering respond to this with absolute pacifism. The Epic of Hadral, in its poetic form, suggests that the impact of this curse was immediate on the Forsaken, who was stripped of most of his humanity in one fell swoop as penance for the thousands he killed. As Lophael did not record this detail in his own book, Orthodox Phaelism denies it outright.