Many apologies, my good readers. Real life has interfered, and I have not been diligent enough to work up a backlog -- so we're going to have to postpone this post. For now, have some filler -- the history of the Blightbound we discussed last time.
The origin of the Blightbound – the walking dead – is the history of Blightshifting. Early in the City’s history, dead was dead, but many Crafters were dissatisfied with that. They felt there must be an opposite force to that which controls life, and so they reached for power in death and decay. Beyond life, they found a vasty void, with here and there the aimlessly floating spirits of the dead. The Crafters spoke to the dead – and, more importantly, found a way to bring the spirits back to the world and bind them into their earthly bodies. These spirits-in-bodies became known as ptoma, and gave these early Blightshifters a wealth of information on the afterlife. However, they quickly found a problem: after being bound to a body for a short time – usually minutes or hours, weeks at the outside – the spirit would spontaneously return to the void, leaving the body lifeless again. No matter how they tried, the Blightshifters could not resurrect any spirit a second time.
Meanwhile, the noble houses recognized an opportunity, if only the spirits could be made to stay with their bodies more permanently, the City would have a ready source of disposable soldiers and slave labor. They encouraged the Blightshifters to find a more permanent solution. They did – and called it Blightbinding – but it came with certain unfortunate caveats: First, once bound to a body, a spirit would never return to the void, not even once their body was but dust; and second, once the spirit tried to tear itself away, the risen would find themselves in terrible pain – forever.
Upon learning the side-effects of their new technique, most of the Blightshifters were horrified – but due to pressure from the noble houses and the Monarch of Light, binding became a major industry. Over the next century, the City’s industrial backbone was the dead – who, of course, had no rights. Eventually, however, the Blightbound and their living supporters contrived a revolt against the system. The Bound threw off their chains and fled into the wilderness. At this time, the Monarch of Light decreed Binding too dangerous, and forbade it from the City under penalty of exile – thought Blightshifters still regularly bring back ptoma for short-term purposes – emergency soldiers or workers, to find a man’s murderer, etc.
Eventually, the tortured dead who fled the City formed themselves into a coalition of sorts, motivated solely by their hatred of the living – for, with no need for food or sleep, and with pain overshadowing any attempt at art or leisure, what else had they? Over the centuries, the Dead Tribes – as they came to be known – raided the outlying farms and town relentlessly, even going so far as to assault the City (resulting in the Dead-Blooded. After the attack, the City’s retaliation was brutal, decimating the Dead Tribes’ population and reducing most to spirits bound to a few bones or handfuls of dust. The Tribes learned several lessons: they could interbreed with the living, and they have used this information to supplement their ranks on occasion since then; that, for good or ill, their fallen would never truly leave; and to never again face the City directly. At the time of this writing, over half of the Dead Tribes date back to the origin of Blightshifting, another quarter were created since by rogue Blightshifters in the City or amongst the Tribes, and the last quarter are Dead-Blooded, the result of rape or the (very) occasional love affair between a Bound and a living person.