For fourteen years, Alohutz had dwelt in this hut in the mountains, fleeing his former position as one of the Autarch’s highest mandarins and a fine palazzo in the City of Sparrows. Casting off his fineries and foppish accoutrements, he had borrowed a rusty axe from a nearby hermit, and had chopped wood until his body was bronzed and lean and he had carven away all the fat of the city life. He hunted for his own food, and used a magic prayer taught him by the hermit to purify his water. When the hermit finally died, Alohutz burned his body in the clearing in the woods, speaking the chant the hermit had told him was to ward off the living dead.

It was chill, and the frozen wind battered against the ramshackle walls of Alohutz’s hut. Outside, he could hear the fierce howling of the winter storm. He took a sip of resinous tea. He sat with his back to door.

Sitting, he considered what he would hunt the next day. Thoughts of hunting led to thoughts of killing. Thoughts of killing led to thoughts of his crime.

His reverie was broken; what was that noise?
Steps, in the snow. He could hear them very clearly. A forlorn sound, louder than it should have been, a slow crunching walk of someone lurching unbent against the wind.

Alohutz was surprised it had been so long. He had known it would come, as soon as the hermit had read to him from the frightful black tome which had belonged to the legendary Sarkukai (Alohutz had burned that tome with the hermit; he had no desire to read of the lore within it’s manskin cover). Any moment now he would be punished for his crime.

The door opened. Alohutz’s back tensed instinctively against the cold, but it was not just the blizzard which raised the hackles on his neck and arms, and sent an icicle tingle down his spine.

“You killed my family. You had me executed.”

Alohutz sipped his tea. “It was the wish of the Autarch,” he said, not offering excuses, merely stating a fact.

“No.”

“How did you find me?” asked Alohutz.

“I knew; and when I did not, I asked.” The zombie’s voice was monotone, but something about it irritated Alohutz’s ears and made him shiver; each word brought with it a reek of funereal incense.

There were slow steps across the packed-earth floor. Ice-cold fingers and a chill, broken dagger slipped against Alohutz’s neck. His eyes turned upwards- the shadowed figure above him stared down with eyes of cold rage.

“You killed me.”

—————————————————

There are those who, in death, cannot rest. Possessed of a consuming hatred or rage, or with an unfulfilled vendetta, or perhaps having taken a solemn blood-oath which remains unfulfilled, these spirits are denied the peace of the underworld, and lurk in the region of their corpse, disturbing the patterns of of the world in strange and inexplicable ways. Eventually, these spirits grind away all of the sanity and humanity and mercy from their souls, and are left with but one thing- vengeance.

At this fearful time, the revenge-driven ghost seeks out it’s corpse and re-inhabits it, giving to it a state of hideous living death. These zombies claw inexorably from their graves, be they dirt, wooden, or even stone, in seeking out the fulfillment of their vendetta. When they reach the surface, they immediately and instinctively seek out their target- their only desire is to kill.

Zombies naturally appear as corpses in various states of decay, depending on what stage the spirit has chosen to reinhabit the body. Those which have not been entirely denuded of flesh exhibit a dark-grey stain across their bodies, and their inner parts, including their tongues and their throats, are a deep, inky black in hue. Those which retain facial musculature appear to be constantly snarling in a bitter rage, or possess a smoldering glare of hatred. No matter what the state of decay, zombies retain their human eyes, even if otherwise totally skeletal; their victims inevitably shudder to see the true eyes of their enemy staring at them.
Zombies are accompanied by the sickly-sweet breath of decay and the reek of attar or myrrh. They usually speak very little; they have toneless and dull voices, very like their voices in life, but with an eerie hard edge to it which is difficult to hear but vaguely frightening.
Belying their decayed appearance, zombies are supernaturally quick, often appearing to be in several places at once for a series of moments. Some have exhibited the ability to climb like an insect; others seem to be inhumanly strong. Regardless, all zombies are very fast, beyond human capabilities and certainly beyond the natural momentum of a corpse.

Zombies are not stupid and animalistic like hungry ghosts, spectral beings in a similar vein. They are fully as intelligent and clever as living beings, without any scrap of mercy or sense of forgiveness, without any sense of empathy or shred of humanity. They are supernaturally tenacious, and will not be stopped by anything short of complete destruction by fire. Even if dismembered or partially destroyed, their remnants will attempt to continue towards their vendetta. They are not random killers- they generally ignore any living or unliving being which does not impede their path, but any who attempt to halt their revenge or who get in their way will be annihilated. Some zombies have been known to search out information regarding their vendetta if they somehow have difficulty finding it. Zombies possess a level of common sense- when they know that they are possibly overmatched, they will flee and seek an escape (if it is simply an impediment) or an opportune moment to attack again (if it is their target). They also know not to be seen, and will do their best to travel in places and ways which will not net them extra attention.

Only two things destroy a zombie with finality- fire and the fulfillment of their revenge. Either of them will reduce the zombie to pale ashes which can be distilled into a virulent poison.
If the original revenge a zombie seeks is somehow impossible, the zombie will seek out alternate methods of carrying it out. For instance, the zombie will carry on a vendetta to the descendants of their original target. If somehow their vengeance cannot be resolved, the zombie becomes something more dangerous- a purposeless wandering zombie, lost in a world of rage. Such killer corpses often never cease to walk the world’s lonely places, leaving behind only the bodies of those unfortunate travelers whom they encounter on the way.
Animals instinctively fear zombies; hounds howl and snap in their presence, and horses and other pack animals will not cross in front of a zombie. Many animals will not cross the trail a zombie has walked for up to four days afterwards.

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We really ought to make an 'undead' classification.

Also, this is for Remaking the Undead, but I can't figure out how to put it in there.