"Stop whining. You're just dead. Get up and walk it off."
— Lugal Sherdasu
  Death is a multi-stage process for most on Adin.   All of the species of Adin accept souls and reincarnation as fact. Upon death, the soul can be bound to the corpse or allowed to leave and be reborn into a new body. Except in the case of extreme physical damage that prevents it, a person who has "died" will know that they are dead, but are still able to move and speak while the soul resides in the body.   They retain their shaping abilities through this stage of life. The dead no longer require food or drink, but must consume ambrita fairly often if they are still using their abilities to shape. Otherwise, their shaping talents will fade quickly with use or just the passage of time. Once they lose this connection to their shaping skills, it can not be recovered during this lifetime. The dead are also not able to reproduce.   If an individual dies alone, and unable to find help to bind their soul for more than a day, the body dies fully. The soul can not be preserved and it is believed to be reincarnated into a new body.  

Death in the Five Nations

The soul of someone who has recently died can be easily bound to the body in a temporary fashion by a simple ritual that can be performed by anyone, using nothing more than a certain combination of herbs and prayer to one of the Gods. This is thought to be a lesser form of the Kursu ability but present in everyone on Adin, aided by foci and mnemonics in the same method used by lesser skilled material shapers of Sherdasa. A non-kursu must repeat the ritual of prayer every three hours to maintain the binding.   The herbs and prayer are not required for a kursu to bind a soul. Once the soul is bound by a kursu, the binding is permanent until reversed. Since kursu spend most of their time in the Underworlds, it is common for loved ones to accompany their dead to the nearest Underworld to be preserved.   While the soul can be permanently bound, the body itself is still dead and experiences decomposition. This means that the deceased must spend the rest of their undeath in the Underworld, tended by the kursu to reverse this sort of hyper-aging daily. In exchange for what can be an eternal afterlife, the dead will labor in the Underworld. Some continue with the profession they held in life Above, but others will settle into their new surroundings by taking on new duties instead.   Different people have different takes on life after death. Some simply use this borrowed time to get their affairs in order, then release their souls to be reborn. Others hang on indefinitely, or maintain undeath until their mate or other family members have also passed and then release their souls together.   Being dead or kursu is not a requirement to live in the Underworld. Everyone on Adin shelters in their various Underworlds during the solar conjunctions that occur every eight years, and some take to Underworld life and decide to reside there full time alongside the dead. Living souls that share a strong bond with someone who has died often move to the Underworlds with their deceased loved one, and carry on life together much as they did before.   The eventual release of one's soul is done with varying degrees of ceremony, again up to the wishes of the deceased. They may simply ask the kursu to release them, or may throw themselves a wake to bring their friends and family to the Underworld to celebrate the occasion.   Disposal of the empty husk left behind after soul death is also in the hands of the undead. If they still have loved ones Above, they may ask the kursu to rapidly decompose the body and deliver the remains and belongings to their loved ones in an urn or more commonly as soil in a potted plant. Otherwise, they can be used as fertilizer for the mycots or other plants in the Underworld, and have only their personal possessions sent Above.   Since the arrival of the golems, there is another option. Once the soul is departed, some will donate their bodies to the kursu as repayment for their care. The kursu can then implant a Shem into the skull and wire in other components to create a flesh golem from the remains. Flesh golems must also undergo constant regeneration by the kursu, but such a gift gives the kursu an eternal laborer to help build new structures, expand the Underworlds, and tend to the food and needs of people during conjunctions.   These golems are widely considered by those Above as being less useful than one made from metal, stone, or polystick since they have the same limitations as a creature of flesh and bone. However, the sacrifice being given to the kursu is revered and cared for just like they were when the soul still occupied the body, and unlike other types of golems, every kursu has the ability to repair and maintain these flesh golems.  

Death Among the Udug

Losing one's life in Sherdasa is a completely different situation. The Sherdasans, particularly the Udug, do not share the same respect for the dead as the Adinites in the Five Nations. Their kursu are feared and reviled, known for forcing the souls to stay in the dead and enslaving them to eternal labor in their Underworlds.   While they prefer those corpses that still contain a soul, many of the Udug kursu will resort to animating any dead they can find to do their bidding, keeping them as mindless minions that require a close proximity to the kursu to maintain. These are less desirable as they require constant repairs from decomposition, and are not able to function unless the kursu is awake and focused on their charges.   The deathwalker kursu of the Udug travel the land in thick robes, masks, and hoods, always searching for the dead or dying to press into service. While Adinite kursu are sought out as doctors to mend bones and save lives, the people of Sherdasa will hide the sick and injured from their kursu to keep them from eternal suffering. This has led to funerary practices being developed by the Sherdasan species. Instead of delivering their dead to the Underworld to be cared for, they will bury their loved ones deep enough that the kursu can never find them, burn the corpses, remove the organs and drain all the fluids from the body, dessicate them with salt or mineral baths, whatever it takes to make the remains of their loved ones unusable as undead slaves.  


The dead of the Nommo are of particular concern due to a common infection known as Pale Ache. Once its host is dead, the fungus turns more aggressive and begins devouring the Nommo's corpse unless the soul is immediately bound by a kursu. The resulting mushrooms that grow out of the body are heavily altered by the Nommo's strange genes, and become mycocephs.   Dozens of mycocephs may spawn from a single Nommo, and they are extremely dangerous creatures. Therefore, a dead Nommo is typically burned in a pyre to ensure the safety of all. Udug kursu will rarely utilize a dead Nommo because of this, as even binding the soul or creating a flesh golem from the corpse of a Nommo still carries a risk of spawning mycocephs in the future.


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11 Jan, 2022 21:45

Remarkable! I haven't seen death itself treated as such a treatable condition before. It's not good to be dead on Adin, but it's certainly not the worst thing that can happen to a person!

25 Jan, 2022 23:56

First of all, a big compliment. It seems as if you have told the story of a whole world and its species during World Ember (+ the bonus around the mushrooms and the more detailed fleshing out of the golems). That is really enormous. Of course, it would have been more reader-friendly in parts if there had been more links, that would really be something you could add in, but since I just read as much as I could, I ended up with virtually everything again.   What I particularly liked about it was the concept of death linked to the Kursu (hence the comment here). This vivid elaboration of rebirth, combined with the concept of leaving the soul in the body first, so that farewells can be said, re-entering the cycle together (and other things), is really outstanding.   What I would still have been interested in would have been a deeper look into the things that can happen to you worse than just death (unless this is limited to the Udug Kursus, those have been explained), a deeper look at these underworlds and overall more on the species themselves, apart from their history. Oh. And on the gods, of course. It would be really nice to read something on that. But until then, thanks for the insights into the world so far.

29 Jan, 2022 19:24

Thank you so much! There will be better links and far more information soon. I know minor edits are allowed to articles from WorldEmber, but I sort of took the month off between the end of contest and the ceremony to wind down from writing and focus on *maps!* for a bit. I was also a new user to World Anvil, only having written a few stubs before WE started. So you can track my progress with learning World Anvil by the links you see in these articles. They will all get a good pass with the Autolinker after the awards ceremony. :) The individual cultures for each nation, each species, and in fact for each separate Underworld still needs to be fleshed out a little more. I thought history was more important to nail down first, because that is the biggest difference in what each group has experienced in their time on Adin, so it strongly affects each one's current culture. There is more to come about death (and other similar illnesses), but I truly appreciate the time you've spent exploring what I have so far. Thank you for reading! :)