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Literature
Gateworld Lore ~ The Constructs and Golems
While the Undead form the largest portion of Camboria's Exanima population on the basis of not being alive, they were all once living creatures before arriving at their current state and thus made of flesh and bone. But this is not true of every being within the clade. Either through magical enchantments or the chaotic energy of the gates, it is possible for inorganic material such as metal and rock to also become animated and even sentient.
The main criteria that separates Constructs from Golems is their origin--the first group are entirely former Humie arrivals and are functionally immortal (assuming proper care by their owners); while the latter are artificially created through rituals and typically "live" for only a short time before their energy is dispersed. Though all Constructs feel a very strong compulsion to serve others, they are intelligent beings with a will of their own and may achieve a functional degree of independence as they develop a more dynamic personality over tim
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Literature
Gateworld Lore ~ The Undead Denizens of Camboria
Though relatively small compared to the other clades, the beings that make up the ranks of the Exanima are no less diverse. Whether transformed by the gates, summoned by magic rituals or artificially created through alchemy, the sole unifying characteristic of all Exanima is that they are not "alive" in the strictest sense of the term. Many do not require air, food or water to thrive; some are not even composed of organic matter. Though many can appear as male or female-bodied, such a distinction is completely superficial as all Examina are incapable of breeding and feel no drive to do so whatsoever.
The most infamous and commonly encountered Exanima are the Undead, a motley collection of creatures generally reviled and feared throughout the Brightlands. Continually associated with death, decay, and disease, the Undead are generally encountered in locations such as battlefields and grave sites where spiritual "miasma" is highly concentrated--particularly the dark e
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Literature
Gateworld Lore ~ The Flooftails
Throughout Camboria there are very few races that occupy every single continent or region--no matter how capable and intelligent they may be--either for cultural or biological reasons. For example, the sociable Luminants may be well-received and ubiquitous in cities like Abbadys, Orcheus, and Airum but they (along with other Demons) are largely persona non grata on the Da'nai-controlled Chillwind Plateau. And even the Swarm--the only common race that dares inhabit the extremely hazardous wastes of the Stormlance--are rarely found above the treeline of mountain ranges or other similarly cold places.
But that has not stopped the rodent-like Flooftails from trying to claim all corners of the Gateworld. Smaller than most Silvatica yet among the most prolific and widespread, the Flooftails have thrived in places where many larger and stronger beings with more advanced cultures could not. This owes much to the F
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Literature
Gateworld Lore ~ The People of the Scarlet Rockies
Compared to the relatively well-populated southern and eastern reaches of Camboria, the northern continent (sometimes known as Skytharia) is a desolate place north and west of Abbadys and Eclipse. With its arid and rocky badlands, tall mountain ranges and vast prairies the Scarlet Rockies region remains very much untamed, despite the continued efforts by many races from the southern continent to "civilize" it.
However, the region is far from uninhabited. Though more widespread and aggressive Silvatica such as the Shan-do, Centaurians and Trolls along with anarchic Stygians from the far north also reside there, the continent's interior also contains its own unique cultures--Silvatica who have known the Rockies as their home since the Gateworld's mythic period. They are collectively known by outsiders as simply the "Scarlet Rockies Tribes" or more respectfully as the Six Nations.
Although several of these animal-like races do bear physical resemblance to non-native c
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Literature
Gateworld Lore- The Mangolins
Upon being introduced to the Gateworld and undergoing transformation, Humie reactions to their new forms can be wildly unpredictable. Many respond to the changes--both mental and physical--with a puzzled curiosity, while others may feel great anger and dismay over their new bodies. Some even suffer psychological breakdowns. Still others treat this development with a degree of indifference, either confident in their ability to make the most of their new situation or are simply apathetic.
But there is one race whose transformees are universally happy about their new lives, even looking back on their former humanity with condescension and scorn. The irrepressibly bold and extroverted Mangolins all seem to share this apparent superiority complex, and wouldn't trade their newfound tails for anything.
With both males and females averaging around four feet tall at adulthood, Mangolins are approximately the same size as Hoblins and reside at the smaller end of the Silvatica spectrum. Wi
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Literature
Gateworld Lore- The Kitsune of Hyraal
Formally united by a coalition of several races with the city of Piondashi as its capital in 140-141 Ninth Age, the Empire of Hyraal has slowly grown from a minor player north of the Warmfields to one of the most significant regional powers in Camboria. One of the few stable states ruled and populated primarily by Silvatica peoples, Hyraal's meteoric rise has fostered great economic prosperity and political clout whilst making its older neighbors both intrigued and very nervous.
Prior to the development of Hyraal these temperate and mountainous lands were occupied by numerous warring fiefdoms and tribes, competing for supremacy over thousands of years. Though not the most prolific or first to unify (that honor would go to the rabbit-like Usagi), nor the fiercest or most martial (compared to the brutal half-demonic Giants known as Oni) the highly versatile and intelligent K
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Literature
Gateworld Lore- The Grell and Skelvai
Although a number of races in the Gateworld have a near-singular political and regional identity--including the powerful Anubians, Da'nai, Kitsune and Highbloods--there are just as many who seem to lack either and are fully comfortable blending into Camboria's diverse multicultural fabric. Fortune has always favored the adaptable and clever, either by assimilating into a dominant culture and accepting its norms or thriving in its underbelly.
The reptilian Grell are a fine example of the latter. Though once a tribal species mostly native to the N'Chaengi Jungle, Southern Renoi and Vasssshaz Desert regions they can now be found in virtually every city on the southern continent and as far north as Abbadys; the only thing preventing their further spread is a marked distaste for high altitudes and wintry air due to their semi-coldblooded nature. Though active year round, Grell become noticeably sluggish and can even go into mild shock when exposed to colder weather. A Grell's primary
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Literature
Gateworld Lore- The Masquerade Infernale
Officially founded by the long-lived couple of Satyr entrepreneur Mallus Valleronde and his Nymph wife Anastazia in year 167, Ninth Age and performing on a semi-regular basis since then, the Masquerade Infernale is Camboria's longest running and most successful performing arts troupe. With its combination of elaborate costumework, music, magic and dancing the company has received universal acclaim from nobles and commoners alike in spite of the many racial and political tensions throughout the Gateworld.
Traveling via the Metal Mastodon, airship and caravan, the Masquerade has performed at almost every major city in the Gateworld at some point since their formation. After a few promising early shows in Abbadys, Barcel and Tenebria, word of mouth spread quickly and by the troupe's first Trans-Camboria tour in year 279 the Masqu
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Literature
STARLESS Character Profiles: The Supporting Cast
Other Characters
 
Aldus Talgrenn
Father of Vell and Esrae Talgrenn, along with three other children. A farmer and local trader. Initially a reluctant supporter of his children’s venturing outside the family trade; later blames Vell for Esrae’s injuries as a result of her joining the Rigelian Army. Disowns Vell after he failed to attend his mother Brenna’s funeral.
 
Brenna Talgrenn
Former traveling merchant and Aldus’ wife.  Continually sick in middle age after bearing his fifth child; suffers from an undiagnosed cancer that medicine has little effect on. Fears the city’s influence on her children and does not want Vell and Esrae to depart for Rigel. Dies of illness while Esrae is convalescing from her injuries sustained in the war with Tyl.
 
Lihea Silda Talgrenn
Vell’s wife and mother of his twin children. Fellow courier and friend from Vell’s days in the Crown Library and committed spouse that patiently suffered h
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Literature
STARLESS Character Profiles: The Army of Beasts
The Beastmen of Altair
 
Generally Altairian slaves irreversibly transfigured by Vailes’ corrupted magic, the beastmen work for their terrifying new regent in several capacities largely based on the forms they have been altered into. Numbering in the thousands the beastmen form several terrible legions, all of whom serve Vailes as their sole master. They are immune to all forms of mental control other than Vailes’ own, and also have little susceptibility to illusions due to their strong sense of smell. Being that most Altairian mages are enchantrix and illusionists, the Empire’s swift fall was no surprise. Only pyromancers were able to mount an offensive capable of destroying beastmen en masse, yet their relatively small numbers made victory impossible. 
Beings torn between their former humanity and their emerging animal instincts, the beastmen are often tortured with feelings and urges that are alien yet compelling to the point of madness. The
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Literature
STARLESS Character Profiles: The Usurper
Vailes l’Veir - “The Prodigal Destroyer”
 
Gender: Born male; female from an unknown date
Race: Aija
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 95
Hair Color/Type: Grayish-white/Wavy, extends to lower back, unkempt
Eye Color: Scarlet
Skin Tone/Features: Ghostly pale, necrotized and rotting flesh on parts of body
Handedness: Unknown
Age: 270
Nationality: Altair
Occupation: Altairian Prince, Arcane Mage
Languages: Altairian, Rigelian; probable knowledge of other languages
Magic Type: Both Runic and Innate; full extent unknown
 
The last child of the l’Veir line and Grand Empress Miura’s sole offspring, to say that Vailes was born into odd circumstances would be an understatement. Though supplied with all the trappings and entitlement of royalty, and the otherwise brutal Empress lavished affection upon the boy and loved him deeply the child soon found himself stewing with a vast and pervasive resentment. Born greatly underweight, Vailes was a si
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Literature
STARLESS Character Profiles: The Tyrant Empress
Grand Empress Miura l’Veir
 
Gender: Female
Race: Aija
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 130
Hair Color/Type: Silver-white/Straight, extends to mid-back
Eye Color: Jade green
Skin Tone/Features: Pale
Handedness: Right
Age: 347
Nationality: Altair
Occupation: Enchantrix, Grand Empress of Altair
Languages: Altairian
Magic Type: Innate (Enchantrix)
 
The l’Veir royal family has a very long history—existing before the formation of the Empire itself and rising to prominence well over a thousand years ago, they have ruled the territory virtually unopposed. Miura’s ancestors were all known for their innate magical proficiency, particularly in the realm of mental control and illusions, and she was no exception. Born over three hundred years ago to previous Empress Nirva l’Veir, Miura was quickly spotlighted as an enchantrix of incredible might and eventually became the longest-ruling Empress in Altairian history. 
Uncomfortable with being stuc
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Literature
STARLESS Character Profiles: The Elite Mages
Fleor d’Hadar
 
Gender: Female
Race: Aija
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 160
Hair Color/Type: Black/Straight, extends to lower back, parted in middle, short bangs
Eye Color: Wine red
Skin Tone/Features: Lightly tanned
Handedness: Generally right for majority of tasks; ambidextrous while casting magic
Age: 68
Nationality: Altair
Occupation: Pyromancer, Acting Headmaster (Order of the Starless Aeon)
Languages: Altairian
Magic Type: Innate (Pyromancer with limited proficiency in dominus)
 
Born to a high-ranking enchantrix and an unknown father within the Altairian Empire, the nation’s totalitarian and eugenic culture has done much to shape Fleor d’Hadar’s twisted nature. At the age of five she demonstrated huge latent potency in the ability of pyromancy—discovered when she severely burned one of her half-sisters by accident in the middle of a sibling quarrel. Immensely pleased with this revelation, her mother subsequently spent a g
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Literature
STARLESS Character Profiles: The Orphan
Kve
 
Gender: Male
Race: Hija
Height: 5’2”
Weight: 100
Hair Color/Type: Brownish-green/Wooly and thick, shoulder length, unkempt
Eye Color: Dark brown
Skin Tone/Features: Olive, heavily freckled on face and shoulders, tattoo of large blue swirl on face
Handedness: Left
Age: Unknown; approx. 12 to 14
Nationality: Rigel (village in the Nihal foothills)
Occupation: Hunter-Gatherer
Languages: Local Hija dialect; knows a handful of Rigelian words
Magic Type: None
 
A long-haired, gangly and curious youth of hija descent, Kve (pronounced kee-veh) lives in the sparsely populated foothills of the Nihal range on the easternmost boundary of Rigelian territory. Kve is the last known survivor of his village, and has been on his own for an indefinite length of time. His fellow hija—including the village’s unusually young mother and elderly shaman—were ferociously slaughtered and partially eaten by strange and inhuman assaila
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Literature
STARLESS Character Profiles: The Gifted Mariner
Rydia Ain Aevos
 
Gender: Female
Race: Aija
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 155
Hair Color/Type: Purplish-black/Loosely curled, falls to mid-back, sometimes worn under a headscarf
Eye Color: Violet
Skin Tone/Features: Medium brown, beauty mark under left eye, flayed scarring on back
Handedness: Right
Age: 41
Nationality: Aldebaron
Occupation: Captain of the Talitha
Languages: Keidan, Rigelian, Porriman
Magic Type: Innate (Lady of Good Fortune, potential Seer)
 
A native of the picturesque island Aldebaron, Rydia has spent her entire life in harmony with the ocean. Born in a humble shantytown to a single mother and the middle child between two brothers, Rydia took to boats at a very young age. She started working aboard trawling vessels when she was eight, and soon found that she had a great gift for innate magic. As a fledgling Lady of Good Fortune she was able to aid the fishermen in her care in obtaining large catches and guide them home to port in unfavorabl
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Literature
STARLESS Character Profiles: The Grindel Trio
The Grindel Company
 
At full strength the Grindel Company contained roughly eighty operatives, most of whom associated directly with Rand the Crimson at some point or another. As a result of the war many left the company as money and resources dried up, were killed in action, or defected to other organizations. By the time of Rand’s capture, only three mercenaries remained in his full-time crew. These were his most trusted and skilled lieutenants, and despite Rand’s steady lack of funds agreed to stay on until he could pay them back for their time—though at least one had other motives.
 
Rivan Blackporte
 
Gender: Male
Race: Aija
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 180
Hair Color/Type: Graying black/Straight, military cut above ears
Eye Color: Gray
Skin Tone/Features: Fair, scars across right eye, several scars on face and arms
Handedness: Right
Age: Unknown; approx. early forties
Nationality: Porrima
Occupation: Soldier of Fortune, Sapper
L
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Activity


While the Undead form the largest portion of Camboria's Exanima population on the basis of not being alive, they were all once living creatures before arriving at their current state and thus made of flesh and bone. But this is not true of every being within the clade. Either through magical enchantments or the chaotic energy of the gates, it is possible for inorganic material such as metal and rock to also become animated and even sentient.

The main criteria that separates Constructs from Golems is their origin--the first group are entirely former Humie arrivals and are functionally immortal (assuming proper care by their owners); while the latter are artificially created through rituals and typically "live" for only a short time before their energy is dispersed. Though all Constructs feel a very strong compulsion to serve others, they are intelligent beings with a will of their own and may achieve a functional degree of independence as they develop a more dynamic personality over time.

The most common Constructs, Dolls are a mainstay of Camboria's higher social circles as they are frequently employed and dressed as house servants. Though some Dolls bear animal features the vast majority are humanoid, either resembling pre-pubescent figures of modest size or lanky marionettes that can approach eight feet tall. Their limbs, hands and feet contain many delicate joints, giving Dolls a level of dexterity that meets or even exceeds their Humie equivalent. Thanks to their total absence of organs or blood, Dolls are much lighter than their stature would suggest. Most weigh less than the average adult Hoblin and are easily portable.

Perhaps their most distinguishing feature is their smooth, featureless skin that has the consistency of wood or porcelain and is slightly warm to the touch. Though Dolls seemingly do not feel pain, their bodies are fragile and can crack if subjected to enough force; when damaged they are quite expensive to repair as the usual healing spells are ineffective. All Dolls possess outstanding hearing and eyesight (even in pure darkness), but their weakened to nonexistent taste and smell--due in part to the absence of a mouth--make them rather poor cooks. Like other Constructs Dolls do not require food, water or even air to survive and loss of a limb presents relatively little concern to them outside the fear of displeasing their "master."

A Doll's typically passive demeanor, servile nature and frail body should not mislead one into believing they are defenseless. This is far from the case. Despite a strong reluctance towards inflicting harm to others, all possess a powerful affinity for arcane magic and will often protect their masters if threatened. Though Dolls cannot verbalize in the conventional sense, they can speak to others through a disembodied, often childlike voice; whether this is a form of telepathy or some inborn magical technique remains a mystery.

Less frequently encountered than Dolls but often working in a similar capacity, the mechanical beings known as Winders loosely resemble clockwork toys. Inside their metallic skin reside gears, spindles, springs, ratchets and other parts all serving the same basic functions that their Humie organs, joints and bones once did. The most notable feature of all Winders is a large key sticking out of the back; they must be rewound using this key on a regular basis in order to stay functioning. Most Winders also consume oil or grease to keep their innards running smoothly and rust-free.

Compared to the often gentle and soft-spoken Dolls, Winders are quite energetic. High-spirited and restless, they are constantly moving; those with voice boxes are very talkative and frequently express boredom if given nothing to do. Though they lack their porcelain relatives' magic, Winders are quite strong and even child-sized ones can lift heavy objects without damaging their parts. The largest Winders sport rather intimidating thick plates and often work as armed guards, ceaselessly marching in front of locked doors or gates.

Though susceptible to rust and sinking in water, a Winder's most enduring fear is winding down to a stop--an event that they liken to a form of death. As they run out of time their movements slow and they gradually become weaker; most will frantically plead for their owners to rewind them. It is for this reason more than anything else that Winders rarely achieve the same degree of freedom and autonomy that Dolls can. If allowed to come to a complete stop, Winders lose all their memories and are essentially "reborn" when wound back up again. Most Winders in this state will have to be retrained in their tasks. Despite the inconvenience, some particularly cruel masters will periodically allow this to happen to ensure that Winders remain forever tied to their estates.

The giant beings known as Elementals, "True Golems," or simply Golems are something of an anomaly even within the Exanima clade. They exist in a physical form vaguely similar to the notorious Zephilim--typically rock, soil or crystal held together in a loosely humanoid shape by summoned magical energy. Some shorter-lived examples are composed of flowing lava, sand, ice or even snow. Regularly three to five meters tall with some reaching up to ten, Golems are among the largest regularly encountered Exanima.

Unlike the dangerous Spiritia of the Stormlance, Golems completely lack sentience. They have no wills of their own and operate solely at the whim of their summoners. Slow and deliberate with massive reserves of strength, Golems are typically called upon for construction jobs or defensive roles. Due to the great concentration it takes for their mage to keep them active, most Golems operate for only a few days at a time and are dispelled when no longer needed.

However, a "runaway" Golem may continue to exist after being dispelled; this usually occurs in places with a high concentration of starshards (such as mines) or other areas teeming with magical energy. Still mindless and generally limited to aimlessly pacing around, in this state Golems can be quite dangerous due to their great size and power and have crushed careless observers that failed to give them a wide enough berth. Some runaways have caused cave-ins, avalanches and collapsed mine shafts; and have destroyed buildings by blindly plowing through them. It often requires several experienced casters to bring a runaway to heel by banishing its energies, returning the Golem to an inert state.

Often considered a form of Golem though their true origin is mysterious, the grotesque oceanic amalgams categorized as Abyssal or (more colloquially) Eldritch by naturologists are some of Camboria's most terrifying inhabitants. Possessing characteristics from various forms of sea life mashed together into a hideous slimy chimera, no two Abyssals exist in the same configuration. Their main shared attribute is enormous size--most Abyssals are well over four meters tall, and the largest can approach forty meters and weigh many tons. Capable of speedy regeneration from most injury, their skin is often covered in a dense layer of coral or shell armor rendering most non-magical efforts to destroy them fruitless.

It is unknown whether the Abyssal are collectives of living creatures or reanimated dead--at any rate they do not require air or sustenance of any kind despite the numerous mouths, gills and other organs they may possess. Seemingly autonomous but incapable of communication, little knowledge has been gleaned about these abominations. Due to the strange glyphs found on their bodies it is possible that they were created through some benighted and obscure Meeri ritual, though the Meeri themselves seem to fear Abyssals as much as anyone else. A few naturologists have also theorized that the Abyssals are the warrior spawn of an unknown aquatic race dating back to the Mythic Age, but no evidence has been found to confirm this as of yet.

Unlike the mindless elemental Golems and generally placid Flesh Golems, Abyssal are singularly hostile towards surface dwellers. While sightings are few and far between, many legends have been told of Eldritch attacks on ships and coastal towns, causing widespread death and destruction. It is certainly true that the gruesome giants are well-equipped for warfare, using their numerous claws, tentacles, fanged mouths and sprayed toxins along with their immense bulk to quickly annihilate any opposition they face--if their penchant for paralyzing onlookers with borderline insanity-inducing fear isn't enough. No one knows why these terrible monsters haven't attempted to spread beyond the Gateworld's oceans, but those unlucky enough to encounter an Abyssal and survive certainly agree that they should remain in the depths where they belong.
Gateworld Lore ~ The Constructs and Golems
As promised, the second half of the Exanima entry! You can find the rest of it here.

Sorry to disappoint but no April Fools entry here. Also, fuck pears. Stupid deformed apples. :shakefist:
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Though relatively small compared to the other clades, the beings that make up the ranks of the Exanima are no less diverse. Whether transformed by the gates, summoned by magic rituals or artificially created through alchemy, the sole unifying characteristic of all Exanima is that they are not "alive" in the strictest sense of the term. Many do not require air, food or water to thrive; some are not even composed of organic matter. Though many can appear as male or female-bodied, such a distinction is completely superficial as all Examina are incapable of breeding and feel no drive to do so whatsoever.

The most infamous and commonly encountered Exanima are the Undead, a motley collection of creatures generally reviled and feared throughout the Brightlands. Continually associated with death, decay, and disease, the Undead are generally encountered in locations such as battlefields and grave sites where spiritual "miasma" is highly concentrated--particularly the dark energies that necromancers and Oni priests tap into--or in benighted lands like The Fade where little else survives. Interestingly the Undead contain many former Humies among their numbers, anatomically unaltered aside from their status as living dead. Despite many centuries of study the reason for this remains unknown.

Thanks to Zombies teeming in the wastes, the Undead as a whole have received an undeserved reputation for being violent, ravenous and dim-witted. Although rarely considered pleasant company by the living--due to their foul rotting odor and social quirks more than anything else--much of Camboria's Undead citizenry is unfairly maligned and frequently misunderstood.

The Undead are loosely grouped into several informal castes based on their level of intelligence, autonomy and magical acumen/spiritual power. At the very bottom of the hierarchy are Zombies which are little more than shambling corpses capable of only the most rudimentary functions, existing in a perpetual state of undying necrosis. Slow-moving yet tirelessly persistent and gifted with a good sense of smell, Zombies dine almost exclusively on flesh--preferably that of the living, though they are not terribly picky eaters and will sometimes even try to consume each other if there is nothing else available.

"Wild" Zombies are among the most social of Undead and are frequently found in large groups. The roaming hordes lack any sense of coordination or unity and will advance on any food source they find as a disorganized rabble--often tearing each other apart in the process. Despite their oblivious stupidity, a herd of hungry Undead should not be underestimated thanks to their relatively high durability and complete immunity to fear and pain. A badly wounded Zombie with several amputated limbs--sometimes even after the head has been severed--will continue to crawl after its quarry completely undeterred by the damage. Though fire is frequently employed by magic users to exterminate the Undead, even after being engulfed in flame it can take up to several minutes for a Zombie to cease its attack. For this reason the most effective non-necromantic means for disposing of an unruly Zombie is to freeze it solid, thus rendering it immobile.

While many Zombies are Humies (or "Humie-like") it is possible for almost any Gateworld species in any state of transition to become a Zombie. However the Zombies themselves are rarely contagious, despite a very popular misconception likely carried over from the Humie world about their origins. It is far more likely--though still relatively rare--for the dead to be raised as Zombies en masse through necromancy, working as mindless servants under their new master. When summoned this way, the Zombies are only a danger if ordered to attack and will frequently ignore even fresh meat in order to complete their assigned tasks.

If their master dies it is possible for the summoned Undead to achieve a level of intelligence and autonomy as they carry out an imitation of their past lives, banding together in small villages and homesteads. The Humie variant of these beings are frequently referred to as Ghouls, while the mindful Gateworld Undead are dubbed Wights. Though it is less common, both Ghouls and Wights can be new arrivals or created through alchemy as well. 

Outside the company of their kin both forms are more aware of their malodorous nature and avoid other races, tending to relatively peaceful hermit-like existences. Though they can eat virtually anything without fear of being poisoned, many refuse to prey on living creatures and instead scavenge for carrion and compost to satisfy their appetites. Some make a honest living as undertakers and street cleaners, doing work that many would find menial or unsavory. Others look into various academic studies, particularly alchemy in order to either reverse or cease their body's slow decay.

Just as durable and resilient as Zombies, Ghouls/Wights are often found living well outside civilization and in rather hostile environments with only extreme cold or humidity posing problems for them. To prevent parasites from burrowing into their skin and keep parts from rotting off they often wrap their bodies in bandages, sometimes taking on a mummy-like appearance. Appropriately enough, the Vasssshaz Desert is a rather popular destination for Ghouls/Wights as the extremely dry air helps keep their flesh preserved--it is possible for them to survive in this fashion for hundreds of years.

A common adage among those who study the Undead is that for every hundred Zombies there will number one Ghoul; and out of every two hundred Ghouls there may rise a Lich. Nobles and aristocrats among the Undead, Lich are extremely rare beings that have achieved immortality by ritually binding their spirit to a location or object, or even the land itself. As a result they lead a very powerful yet limited existence, unable to travel far from where or what they are bound to. Lich can continue surviving without a physical form, but they are imprisoned until they are able to find a living being to possess. Once within a body they are completely immune to natural aging and no longer need food or drink to sustain themselves, though their host's flesh and hair will often take on a ghostly bluish or greenish pallor before long. 

Due to their defiance of death itself, Lich are widely considered to be among the most powerful sorcerers in Camboria's history. Even the Highbloods of Orcheus will wage war on Lich in Purgadian territory and destroy anything in their domains, considering these highly intelligent and devious Undead one of their few major sources of competition. Mostly specialized in the suppressed dark art of necromancy, Lich are able to call upon scores of Undead to do their bidding, building great castles and necropolises within the lands they have made their own and raising armies from the grave to defend them accordingly. In addition to Zombies, the dreaded Dullahan often serve under a Lich as their personal "knights," obeying their commands without hesitation.

Despite their terrible reputation as tyrannical and depraved overlords, many Lich are relatively isolated due to their limited range and pose little threat to the outside world. Some will even negotiate treaties with local townships and fiefdoms of the living if it is in their interest to do so. However over centuries their necromantic influence will gradually spread, altering nature itself into a horrifying perversion of "un-life." This can only cease after the Lich's physical body has been obliterated and its spirit sealed away. Though it is virtually impossible to completely extirpate a Lich, once entrapped they are essentially powerless.

Similar to Lich in the sense that they are often bound to a specific location, Ghosts (AKA phantoms, bogeys, poltergeists, etc.) are restricted even further to a non-corporeal state and are unable to physically interact with their environment directly. However they often have a very strong magical affinity, and use their energies to create illusions and levitate objects. Some Ghosts are capable of limited verbal communication, though due to the strange nature of Delingo most can only form disassociated words and phrases rather than coherent speech.

Ghosts are commonly created through one of two means. A new arrival can become a Ghost through the power of the gates, either dying immediately and coming back in spectral form to continue their transformation into another race; or dying midway through their change and remaining locked in that state after becoming a Ghost. The second method typically involves a death curse, which roots the victim's spirit to a single location after their physical form is killed. Though impossible to revert a Ghost back to flesh and blood, it is possible to sever the curse and lay the afflicted spirit to rest if its caster agrees to do so.

Though Ghosts are not inherently dangerous or violent they are often emotionally unstable, initially unaware of their condition--it is considered unwise to expose their new form as they may become quite distraught and very unpredictable. More "mature" Ghosts that come to terms with their state of being are often very beneficial; those bound to haunt certain residences serve as house guardians and form an affection for the families that claim them. Roaming or "free" Ghosts are much less magically potent than their domestic kin, but the latter will rapidly weaken and partially disintegrate into an ill-defined mist if they travel too far from their homes.

Perhaps the least maligned Undead though still greatly feared and respected, the enigmatic, wandering creatures known as Banshee have a strangely graceful appearance. Similar to Humies except of a snow-white complexion and hair along with an extremely gaunt androgynous build, Banshees are often associated with the Fae despite the two having little to no contact with each other. This is perhaps due to their unexplained connection to the sinister Unseelie--sometimes as allies, but more often bitter enemies. Though believed to be essentially immortal Banshee are equally likely to appear old and hag-like as they are young and beautiful, and frequently wear dark cloaks to hide their features. Despite being Undead, they do not exist in a state of decay and thus lack the overpowering stench of Zombies and Ghouls.

Due to their nocturnal habits and generally secretive natures, precious little is known about Banshee society. Only a scant few transformations have ever been accounted for by researchers--it is said to be a gradual yet relatively quick process, with most new Banshees formed after several nights of living in the Gateworld. They are commonly seen in the magically flourishing Wyldefree region but they can also be found walking in graveyards and tombs, especially in the night(s) following a burial.

Entering a coma during daylight hours, Banshees are active solely from dusk to dawn. Both "males" and "females" (any differences are skin-deep at best) are renowned for their enchanting voices; they often serve a vital role as funeral singers and mourners. Their wordless songs are said to herald the death of rulers and nobles, along with soothing angry spirits. Banshees are also responsible for creating the latter as their ear-piercing shrieks rapidly drain the life out of their victims and curse them to an eternity as Ghosts. Fortunately Banshees rarely need to feed and this crueler aspect is not often witnessed but it is still prudent to avoid invoking the wrath of these capricious Undead, lest you end up on the receiving end of their unearthly wail.

Though there is frequent dispute among naturologists over whether they are "true" Undead or simply a form of organic Construct, the macabre reanimated patchworks categorized as Flesh Golems are often confused for Ghouls and Wights. Typically large and lumbering humanoid monsters made up of various tissues and organs stitched together and bonded through magical and alchemic processes of the most haphazard variety, a Flesh Golem's appearance depends entirely on the species it was reconstructed from. Many are undead chimeras of a sort, with parts scavenged from several races.

Usually possessing fairly limited sentience, Flesh Golems are slow and somewhat clumsy but incredibly strong with a vast resistance to pain. To this end it is relatively common for their creators to employ them as assistants and laborers. In exchange they are often rewarded with the preservative chemicals and elixirs needed to keep their bodies functioning and free of rot. Unlike the aggressive Zombies, Flesh Golems are even-tempered, obedient and slow to anger--whether this is due to their dulled awareness or another side effect of the procedure used to create them is uncertain.

Flesh Golems that break free from their creator's control are another matter entirely. Though often naive and bumbling in their initial attempts to socialize, if met with even token resistance they can be driven to towering rages and are nearly impossible to calm. In addition to their tremendous capacity for destruction Flesh Golems have a relatively high resistance to sleep spells and other non-lethal magical means, leaving elemental attacks as the most reliable way to stop their rampages. Due to a long history of incidents like these Flesh Golems are frequently banned from Brightlands cities and towns, and the "dark arts" of reanimation and necromancy have largely been allowed to lapse into obscurity.
Gateworld Lore ~ The Undead Denizens of Camboria
(Art by Danger-Cat, used by permission)

A major entry and expansion of the Exanima! Zombies have been mentioned at length before but this is a more in-depth and long-overdue look at how they along with the rest of the Undead "live."

Constructs and Golems are coming soon (by that I mean before the end of this week, not over a month), so watch this space =)
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Throughout Camboria there are very few races that occupy every single continent or region--no matter how capable and intelligent they may be--either for cultural or biological reasons. For example, the sociable Luminants may be well-received and ubiquitous in cities like Abbadys, Orcheus, and Airum but they (along with other Demons) are largely persona non grata on the Da'nai-controlled Chillwind Plateau. And even the Swarm--the only common race that dares inhabit the extremely hazardous wastes of the Stormlance--are rarely found above the treeline of mountain ranges or other similarly cold places.

But that has not stopped the rodent-like Flooftails from trying to claim all corners of the Gateworld. Smaller than most Silvatica yet among the most prolific and widespread, the Flooftails have thrived in places where many larger and stronger beings with more advanced cultures could not. This owes much to the Flooftail's very sociable and opportunistic habits along with a high birth rate. Though they frequently come across as meek and skittish, Flooftails are hardy and resilient with a very strong resistance to disease and can be often found in settlements abandoned by other races.

Though all are rarely over a meter tall standing and many are even shorter than that, a Flooftail's physical characteristics otherwise vary widely from region to region--even across clans only a day's travel apart. Skin and fur color/pattern, coat length, ear length, tail length/fluffiness, and other traits can be used to easily separate one population from another. This is magnified by the fact that most Flooftails are foragers and hoarders with no shared cultural identity as such, and often utilize and wear whatever materials they can get their paw-like hands on.

Flooftails can be universally identified by their very long, constantly growing incisors--they frequently chew on bark and other hard materials to prevent their buck teeth from becoming too large--and their elastic cheek pouches in which they can temporarily hoard great quantities of food. Though most have a strong liking for seeds, fruits and other plant matter, Flooftails will occasionally eat Swarmlings along with the eggs of other creatures if they are desperate enough. There have even been reports of wild Flooftails killing Redcaps and other Fae for food but between the Flooftails' rather nonthreatening disposition and the small Spiritia's powerful magical defenses this seems very unlikely. The Sapliniers have a near-universal disdain for the squirrely folk, based on the (generally mistaken) belief that Flooftails dig up and consume the seeds that Sapliniers are born from. 

Between their small size coupled with great agility and strong senses of smell and hearing, there are few places safe from a truly determined and/or hungry Flooftail. They are very active climbers and diggers, and prefer to build their settlements either well above the ground or under its surface. Though they are capable of bipedal motion it is quite common to see them rapidly scurrying about on all fours as they forage for food, iconic tail held aloft. Like Fae many Flooftails will colonize the houses of larger races, where they sometimes make pests of themselves by stealing food or supplies to furnish their small but cozy homes.

In the working world, more urbane Flooftails tend to prefer occupations where their diminutive stature and great dexterity can be put to best use. They are often seen working as carpenters, tinkers, tailors and house servants. However, the job for which they are perhaps best known is mechanic; they are small enough to go inside the complex innards of airships and other large machines, bringing appropriately sized tools with them and fixing any defects they may encounter. Several Flooftails aboard the Metal Mastodon have become world-famous for their labor over the past few Ages, tirelessly servicing the enormous railbound juggernaut's internal workings. Some have said their own knowledge of the Mastodon outstrips even that of the Gargoyles, who claim primary ownership of the mysterious train.

Most plentiful on the southern continent, Flooftails can be found in virtually any Camborian climate save for the harshest or most corrupted of wastelands and the open ocean (though some have been stowaways aboard ships). There are four main breeds or sub-races, as follows:

  • The Common, Forest or Domestic Flooftail is the most widespread type, and the one that most frequently comes to mind whenever the race is mentioned. Their skin and medium-length fur are usually a uniform or mottled shade of tawny red, grey or black; and their pointed, furred ears are relatively short. Befitting their name these Flooftails bear enormous tails the length of their bodies and pride themselves on keeping this appendage clean and well-groomed. They are most often encountered in temperate forests but are quite common in many cities, and have been seen as far afield as Miklacel and Rygdea. The forest-dwelling clans prefer to build small huts up to thirty meters above the ground, and cache their food supplies in the hollowed out trunks of trees.
  • The Ground, Plains or Canyon Flooftails are generally similar in build to the forest variety but they possess shorter and significantly less fluffy tails; long pale stripes along their backs and sides; longer tufted ears; and coarser, thinner fur either brown or red in color. Some also bear white spots on their coat as well as the stripes. This is the most prevalent Flooftail variety in the Scarlet Rockies and Vasssshaz Desert. Much more cautious and less confident than their forest kin, Ground Flooftails construct their homes and supply caches underground in large burrow networks--much to the chagrin of Minos and Centaurian ranchers. They are sometimes preyed upon by larger Gateworlders including Lyexi, Coiye and Trolls.
  • Found only on the Chillwind Plateau and nearby mountain ranges, the Snowy or Tundra Flooftails are quite striking with their all-white fur and black-tipped tails. Well-adapted to very cold weather with thick layered coats and a stocky build, Tundra Flooftails also have shorter ears and tails to reduce heat loss. Many live on the outskirts of Osthrogard and other Chillwind settlements, where the haughty Da'nai merely tolerate their presence at best--Flooftails are often blamed for shortfalls in local food supplies and are widely seen as nuisances.
  • Living almost exclusively in the Warmfields and Hyraal regions, the Hyraalian Flooftails or Momonga are a regional breed of Flooftail with a culture and biology all their own. Their most unusual feature is a furred membrane of loose, elastic skin that spans from wrist to ankle. This allows Momonga to glide between trees and tall stands of bamboo, speeding their travel through the mountainous woodlands of Hyraal. Their very soft coats of dense grey fur and large eyes also set them apart. Very unlike other Flooftails, the Momonga all see themselves as part of a close-knit society and have very strong familial bonds. As peasantry they primarily work as farmers, messengers and traders and are widely respected by the Kitsune and other members of the Empire for their cordial demeanor, boundless curiosity and cleverness. Lately the Momonga have been seeking broader representation within the Hyraalian bureaucracy, and some even work in the military as spies and scouts.


Humie-to-Flooftail transformations are noted for their exceedingly chaotic nature--it is a unique experience for every new arrival. Some take mere hours to complete the transition; others may take years, slowly shrinking down and developing the personality quirks and animalistic features over time. The process is often accompanied by both gender changes and age regression, though again this is entirely random and can even occur up to a decade after the other changes have completed.

At roughly 50-60 years average lifespan is generally shorter than Humies, and native Flooftails are considered fully mature adults at the age of eight to eleven. Momonga have a slower maturation rate and thus tend to live quite a bit longer than their non-Hyraalian kin; they also have a marginally stronger affinity for magic, and some have been known to adopt ritualistic practices similar to Kitsune priests.

Gateworld Lore ~ The Flooftails
A race of adorable squirrel-people, because buck teeth and big floofy tails =P There are other more generalized rodent traits in there too.   

"Momonga" is the Japanese word for flying squirrel. It's also part of their species' scientific name (Pteromys momonga).
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Almost fell out of my chair looking at the view counter today... I think I've fainted.

Thanks all for checking out my very text-heavy corner of dA! I'll have plenty more coming over the winter and spring so keep stopping by. :)



-S

deviantID

A-viewer
S.
United States
Almost fell out of my chair looking at the view counter today... I think I've fainted.

Thanks all for checking out my very text-heavy corner of dA! I'll have plenty more coming over the winter and spring so keep stopping by. :)



-S

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:iconzephyrstranded:
ZephyrStranded Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2017
What is Gateworld?  Is it a webcomic? 
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:icona-viewer:
A-viewer Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2017
It's a fantasy/sci-fi joint project founded by TheDangerCat: thedangercat.deviantart.com/ga…
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:iconzephyrstranded:
ZephyrStranded Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2017
So, is it creation of a world and characters in it, but with multiple storylines?
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:icona-viewer:
A-viewer Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2017
*nods*
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:iconarianetorelli:
ArianeTorelli Featured By Owner May 14, 2016  Student Digital Artist
thanks for the fav ^^ 
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:icona-viewer:
A-viewer Featured By Owner May 15, 2016
Welcome :)
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:iconkatinae-chivers:
Katinae-Chivers Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2016
Thank you very much for the watch, favorite and comments. :D
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:icona-viewer:
A-viewer Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2016
You're very welcome :)
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:iconarianetorelli:
ArianeTorelli Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2016  Student Digital Artist
thanks for the watch =D 
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