Horrors of the grave, unnatural servants of ancient sorceries and dark curses, the Undead exist in dark places across Ageratos. Terrible, powerful, evil, and immortal, the Undead are not common, though any Agera can tell you that they exist in truth. There are many kinds of Undead, from the restless Hungry Ghosts, to the unnatural black Azhag, to the goat-headed underdwellers known as Ghouls, ranging in power, though all are more than a match for the average man (though let it be known that adventurers in Ageratos are often more potent than the average).
Azhag (Tomb Guardians, Demon Shadows)
The Azhag ('ah-ZHAHG'; from Old West-Carmanian azadg, meaning watchman, sentry), called Tomb Guardians or Demon Shadows, are the terrible Undead guardians of the tombs of the Ancient Ones. They were originally bound to the various tombs and crypts they guarded by powerful oaths and spells. Some were bound with more than oaths- their souls were chained to the gateposts of the tomb. But as the ages passed, and the Ancient Ones disappeared, many devious and unfaithful Azhag abandoned the tombs which they watched and protected and wandered away to find blood to quench the burning flames of their eternal hunger. Others, freed of their oaths, remained faithful to former masters and stayed, or were held back by chained souls, and their hunger gradually made their souls feral and wild. Thus, though ancient Azhag can sometimes be found in the wilderness, hiding in dark places, others still can be found dwelling in the dusty porticoes of the tombs of an elder race.
The Azhag can take many forms- a tall, spare man outfitted as a watchman in ancient garb, a shaggy black hound, or a watching black owl. However, when they are enraged, or when they encounter a large threat to themself or their tomb, they reveal their true form: the Azhag have, in self-absorbed madness, not only forgotten their former lives, but all sense of what it is to be mortal. They appear as bone-thin, oily-black-skinned, rotting fanged men with a corpselike appearance. Their noses are sharply ridged. Their bellies are swollen with starvation, and instead of hair, they have thick, heavy tentacles, hanging down to the smalls of their backs. They wear no clothing in this state, and multiple unearthly sexual organs and protruding, purposeless bones emerge and recede constantly from their body as they move. Their eyes are milky green and leak a stream of gray bile, which run down trenches in their long faces. Azhag constantly hunger for blood, which is the only thing that can quench the fiery hunger of their starvation.
Azhag are supernaturally strong and fast, despite their crumbling appearance. They are dull-witted and easily tricked, but they are likewise prone to vile tricks and have a sort of animalistic cunning. In addition to their sharp, curved nails, they can use their tentacle-hair to slap and bite foes. Their tongues can elongate to the length of two feet, and have a pair of deadly poisonous spines at the tip.
Azhag are killed by the severing of their tentacle-hair and by the removal of their hearts. In addition, a mad Azhag confined to the tomb will crumble to dust given the news that it is freed of its oath. Azhag are burned by the touch of sunlight; it reduces the places it touches to ash.
Hungry Ghosts (Bogghon, Blood Drinker)
The Hungry Ghost (from Mysian bogghon, "one who devours") is relatively common, as Undead are. A Hungry Ghost is born when the lower soul (the animal soul of the body, containing physical urges and violences) becomes angered and, rather than descending to the Underworld, lashes out against the living, which, in its instinctive state and having dulled senses, it percieves as enemies who have "wronged" it. The animal soul can be angered in many ways- murder victims, especially those whose murders go uninvestigated or unavenged, often produce Hungry Ghosts. Those who are poorly buried or buried without proper ritual sometimes yield Blood Drinkers. But it is most often the unburied or uncremated dead (or in some cases, those who are not pleased according to local ritual) who give up their Hungry Ghosts.
Hungry Ghosts vary in appearance depending on the person. Often, they manifest merely as an apparition of the person, though twisted and animalistic; others are more monstrous (the Hungry Ghost of King Ytath of an ancient country is a crouching evil shadow with four clawed arms). However, all Hungry Ghosts are semi-immaterial. Their touch is icy cold and often raises blood blisters or wounds on the flesh of the touched. It is dangerous to fight a Hungry Ghost, for in sustaining their touch they cause more serious wounds, and their breath is like terrible slaying ice. They consume the blood and flesh of those they slay.
Hungry Ghosts have dull senses- they see only poorly, in shades of grey, black, and very dulled color; they hear screams, cries, and sobs very clearly, though laughter they hear not at all. They cannot feel, and when they eat they taste only ashes (some mad Hungry Ghosts consume vast amounts of food and wine in attempting to taste again). Hungry Ghosts are not harmed by bright lights, but rather, avoid it, for its brilliance overwhelms their poor vision.
Crawling Ghosts (Yabuj, Brown Ghost, Lonely Beetle)
The Crawling Ghosts (from Parsic "yabuj", "it crawls") are the loathsome, disturbing ghosts of those who die lonely and rejected, shut-ins and the forgotten. Scuttling in the places where the lone dead once inhabited, the animal soul takes on the form of a huge brown insect, a cockroach or hornless beetle, as long as a man's body and as wide as a platter, endlessly lonely and full of sadness. They are chained to the places where, in their former lives, they once frequented- Crawling Ghosts often scuttle about a single room or tiny cell. Crawling Ghosts seek out living ones to ease their loneliness, but seem unaware of how much horror and fear their presence causes. They are little appeased when, invariably, those they approach flee in terror.
Crawling Ghosts take only one form- that of a huge brown cockroach or hornless beetle. Their snapping jaws drip a foul brown fluid, and their feet trail a similar stick substance. They smell horribly, as if they were a manifest presence of rot; this stench is often the first sign of their presence, along with trails of vaporous residue along the walls, ceiling, and floor of a room. Their eyes are small, black, and gleaming, and their antennae wave furiously when they are agitated.
Crawling Ghosts sense very little- they can barely feel through their stiff shells, save pain and the aches of their existence. They see very poorly- beyond about 40 feet, they see very little other than a grey fog. They have no sense of smell, though it seems that they have a more acute sense of taste than Hungry Ghosts, for they relish garbage and rotten things and are repelled by fresh food. Crawling Ghosts can speak, but unless they speak very slowly and quietly, it is nearly impossible to understand them through the insectile stone-scraping squeal of their voices. Crawling Ghosts rarely sense what they have become- many attempt, at first, to go about their old routines or lives, even attempting to stand and dress despite inexplicable difficulties such as strange aches and whirling limbs where there never were any before. This makes them even lonelier, for in attempting to go about normal human existence, they cause even more horror, and become ever lonelier.
Ghouls (Ghulas, Eaters of the Dead)
Below the surface of the Earth, dwelling in darkness and forgotten catacombs, the goat-headed Ghouls, dark spirits of murder, feast on the dead. Ghouls dwell in old, forgotten places, luring others down into the grasping claws of their evil tribes. Ghouls rarely appear in the daylight, though it causes them no harm, for it serves their secretive tendencies better to be shrouded in darkness. Ghouls have their own loathsome gods, terrible, nihilistic deities who mortals have luckily forgotten.
Ghouls are human enough in form from a distance, or in their preferred darkness, with two arms and two legs, despite a somewhat hunched stature. But when approached, the truth becomes clear. Their spatulate feet and hands are horrible splayed claws, stained a rusty-brown with dried blood. On their meaty chests, there are bloody wounds where their hearts should be. Long tufted tails hang from their backs. But their most inhuman aspect is their heads, for they have the heads of goats, with filthy, blood-crusted grey hair and curving black horns. Their red, strange-pupilled eyes represent the terrible evil of their former lives.
Ghouls seek only to do evil, for one reason or another. Some claim ulterior motives for their vile deeds, while others refute such rationalizations. Ghouls often spin elaborate fantasies to clothe their existences in, fearing to see the truth, that they may slay themselves of it. Some ancient, powerful Ghouls have made wickedness into an existence in itself, and do not even think that they do anything different than any other being. Young Ghouls are often vilely clever, and devise elaborate means to trick mortals into their lairs or traps. Elder Ghouls, having had centuries or even millenia to gain knowledge and power, are vastly intelligent, and more sagely even than mortal sorcerors (some ill-intentioned mortals seek out these elder Ghouls for forbidden knowledge, though the price is often far too high).
Ghouls can see in the dark, and have a taste for human flesh and blood. They use the skins and bones of their victims to create elaborate sculptures macabre and grotesque. Some Ghouls dwell in large tribes- such a life makes it easier to trick mortals by having the aid of others.