Zombies are reanimated dead creatures. After death, anything can be turned into a zombie. What follows is the tale of a necromancer’s experiment.
“Zatirre’s First Zombie” by Zatirre, Lord of the Zombies — Taken from the memoirs of a necromancer who travelled through the Commonlands to demonstrate his zombie creation process.
They said it could not be done, this raising of the dead to do the work of the living. They said it was folly to attempt such a thing. Yet I, Zatirre, have done just such a thing and have lived to tell the tale. Be forewarned — this is not the tale with which to put the children to sleep!
Animating the dead requires much concentration, luck and intelligence. Fortunately, I am blessed with an abundance of these virtues for I am Zatirre! After studying remnants of the Arcane, I learned that I could reanimate any corpse and not only bring it to life, but command it to do my bidding! Yes, I am thinking, this is perfect, for a being that I raise from the dead will surely appreciate me more than the ungrateful living.
I waited breathlessly for the perfect night. My thoughts were focused on the corpse of a young ratonga that had been dead barely seven days. Thus, it would be less rotted than other corpses. And being that of a small creature, even more likely to bend to the will of Zatirre! From the morning of the preceeding day, I began preparing my spell.
The perfect night came, clear and calm. Except for the call of the hyenas, it was quiet. Yes, a perfect night, chosen by Zatirre! As I stood over the ratonga’s grave, I could see its earth churning slightly, then crumbling apart as my ratonga zombie’s arms broke through. Within minutes, the zombie stood before me. Yes, the fur was matted from being buried, but it was alive again, thanks to my efforts.
“I am your master,” I said to it. “I am Zatirre, Lord of the Zombies!” It raised its black-furred face toward me. I could see the hollowness of its gaze, the lack of any conscious thought in its mind. Yet, it seemed to consider my words and ponder their meaning. “Speak!” I commanded, causing the zombie to shudder violently. I stepped backward — could I have waited too long to recall this one? Had I, Zatirre, inconceivably made a mistake?
And then — it spoke! Its jaws worked back and forth. I could hear the ligaments in its neck and jaw breaking apart as the creature opened its mouth — a mouth that had been closed shut by the stiffness of death for seven full days! Dust poured fourth from its slightly parted lips as it struggled to form words. “I am…” said the zombie in a thin, reedy voice, “…hungry.”
It spoke! Yes, the zombie brought forth from the dead spoke and I, Zatirre, exulted! I stood beside the opened grave and danced, praising aloud my skill. I turned to the zombie, that seemed fascinated by the cakes of dirt hanging from its dull fur and taking it by its shoulders, rotated it this way and that. My specimen was complete, if filthy.
And then, something I had not anticipated happened. Yes, even I, Zatirre, had not foreseen this circumstance. The zombie held its hand out before it, turning it this way and that, holding it up before its face. Tilting its head quizzically to the side, it spoke yet again. “I am hungry,” it said, and then it took a very hearty bite of its own arm!
As I stared in amazement, I could hear its teeth cracking within its skull. It frowned, causing its fur to stretch across its forehead, before bursting open to expose a glint of bone. The zombie turned to me and a vague recognition filled its dull eyes. “I’m hungry,” it said through its broken teeth and slack-skinned mouth, reaching out a stiff and dirty hand toward me. I felt its fingers close in upon my arm, piercing the flesh with an unguessed strength.
Quickly, I evoked another spell and cast it hastily upon the zombie, which fell to the ground in a heap of lifeless fur and bone. My escape was narrow but my experience broadened. I, Zatirre, set this in writing to enlighten others of the way of the zombie.