It is the year 3582 on Earth and nothing is as it should be, my 1998 encyclopedia describes a beautiful, peaceful world. How do we get that world back? How do we close these gates and restore the Earth?
The lead New Earth Government of the Cosmic Era
The sky is drab and gray, almost completely covered in rainclouds. What gaps there are open up to show yet more gray. Much like mortal demesnes, the weather is unpredictable, but every so often the clouds unleash their burden of water on the residents of this boring land.
Welcome to the Hell of Half-Nothings. Your stay will be boring, we guarantee it.
The Road… traverses Time—Time past, Time to come, Time that could have been, and Time that might yet be. Some people have the ability to access the Road and travel it from Time to Time and world to world.
As long as any can remember, these certain paths allowed one to travel up to and over 20 extra miles a day by using them. One moment one was deep along a small trail, the next he would find himself 20 or more miles farther down the path without realizing it. All was fine until recently. Reports returned talking of the failure of these areas which revealed miles of ancient paths. The protection hiding them has finally failed. Will it release monsters of ages past or reveal magic of unknown worth?
The Jiangsi was the name of an undead being in Chinese folklore and mythology. Usually translated as zombie or vampire for Western palates, the Jiangsi was really neither. They appeared as simply risen, fresh corpses. They moved (peculiarly!) by hopping rather than walking, and sought out the living to suck the Qilife force from their victims.
Perhaps significantly more interesting than the Jiangsi itself, was the lore surrounding them. "Zombie wranglers", or "Corpse Herders", usually Daoist priests, were men tasked with delivering these undead beings back to their respective home towns. Tradition in China placed great importance and emphasis on the return of the dead to their homes and families, and thus the corpse herders came to be. By using magick words and talismans they would animate the dead, and by placing specially inscribed parchments of paper over the Jiangsi heads and faces, the corpse herders would be able to control the hopping corpses. Then like pied pipers, they would lead processions of subdued undead, across many miles, rhythmically chanting and ringing tiny bells.
Special inns were built across China to house these undead caravans, as the zombies could only travel by evening and night, the sun anathema to them. Rows of doors opening to barely a closet-space, lined the walls of these special establishments. Behind these doors, the corpses would be stored upright while the corpse herders rested in rooms.
The Jiangsi under the control of a corpse herder were quite harmless, merely hopping after him, silently and without complaint, for weeks and months. If however, the magicked parchment would somehow be removed from their faces, the creatures would immediately seek living humans to kill. Their thirst for Qi was unquenchable.
The job of a corpse herder was an interesting one to say the least.