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Undertakers and the Umbra in the Sea of Stars (A to Z)

24 April, 2021

Among the tombs . . . and ghosts?While knowledge of the heavens and the hells, really the entire afterlife, has been severed from the day to day life of the people of the Sea of Stars, people still die and their bodies must by put to rest, dealt with, disposed of.  Cultural traditions remain, is some cases unchanged from before the Sundering, in many places, so burials remain common across vast swaths of the lands.  Though cremations have become more common as time has gone on.  One of the easiest solutions, from a practical standpoint, of simply tossing the bodies over the edge of an island to plunge into the inky void of space has been adopted only by a very few of the cultures of the Sea of Stars, though many starship sailors ask for such an end for their mortal remains.

The profession of the undertaker remains important, though of varying status, throughout the various lands and states, while not always burying or entombing the dead, they also oversee cremations and other forms of setting corpses to rest.  In a world with necrourgic magics, the unliving and the unbound, proper care of the dead assumes a greater importance, no one wishes to unleash a plague of unhappy spirits or hungry dead.  So, undertakers are skilled on the method of releasing spirits trapped to bodies, warding fresh corpses from beings that may possess them and for the warning signs of necrourgic reanimation.  They seek to insure that the spirit, soul, or whatever their culture calls the animating spark of life, moves on to the Umbra, which is agreed upon term for place beyond life.

Remember mePeople still wished to be remembered after death and ancestral worship is . . . allowed if not always encouraged so tombs, memorials even the occasional mausoleum are constructed.  Depending on the culture, elaborate ceremonies may accompany the internment in equally elaborate resting places, others prefer simpler mourning rites and graves.  The dragons are especially found of honoring their dead with grand monuments and extensive tombs as symbol of the wealth and power of their Draconic House.  Such displays of wealth and prestige occasionally lead to competitions between (or within) Draconic House to build such grand monuments before anyone has even died.  (Dragon tend to think of themselves as immortal, so it is only the very rare dragon that leaves behind a proper plan of action to follow their death.)  Others are wise enough not to try to compete with those dragons who wish to built such grand structures, finding other ways or other places to construct their memorials.

Those draconic lines that have died out, their monuments are usually abandoned and left to the elements until someone brave, or foolhardy, decides to try and rob them.  The dragons will not, at least not directly, rob from their own dead, perhaps such reminders of mortality are disturbing, but they may hire others or purchase items that have come from such sites.

Tombs and graveyards are warded and protected from necrourgic magics as best each community can, no one wishes to see their relative turned into an unliving worker by some unscrupulous necrourgic wizard.  Even those societies that do allow the open practrice of necrourgy have strict limit are whose bodies can be reanimated through their magics.

While few know what lie beyond death now that they gods are gone, it is known that powerful enough magics can restore life to the body and pull the spirit back from the Umbra if used soon after death.  Except for dragons and dragonkine, their deaths are always final, their trip to the Umbra (and beyond) is strictly one way.

Notes: Death follows life even in the Sea of Stars and their must be those who see that the bodies are properly cared for and that the grieving relatives and friends have some sore of closure.  And beside, who does not want the chance to loot the tomb of a dragon?

Images, upper, Subtle_Invitation by Timm Suess used under a CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license, lower, The Knill Monument by John Stratford and used under a CC Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

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