Ironia The Zombie

Saint Ironia (a.k.a. The Zombie)

...and the ϛaint said to the god ᛗαωϵᚾ; 'I hast had mine arm devoured, mine flesh ripped off, mine bones charred, mine visage tainted, mine eyes gouged out;   none hath aye hurt me.'
— Decay and Rebirth 7:19
  Saint Ironia of Sheleg (birth marked as the year 0 of the mortal age, died/ascended between the years 72-93), also known as Child of the First Snow, The Zombie or Goddess of Decay, is a controversial figure in the history of the human Kingdom of Album and the primary idol of worship in the Church of the Black Zombie.      

Early Life

 
According to 'Child', the first book of the Black Teachings, Ironia's birth was the sign to the start of the mortal age. As retribution to the Albians declaring war on four gods, they had their immortality taken away. It was then that she emerged out of the first Albian carcass in history, as Mavet, the god of decay, breathed snow into the world for the first time.   Little is known about the early life of the saint. The opening chapters of the teachings only mention the infant crawling nine days and nine nights, from her mother's dead womb (The First Tomb) to the town of Sheleg - a rite known as the Pilgrimage of Snow. Upon arriving at the town border, she was picked up by a young couple out on a stroll. They saw the long trail she had left in the snow as they lifted her, leading back to the mountains. She was thus adopted by them and given the name Ironia ('ever-enduring' in Albic). The names of her caregivers seem to have been purposefully excluded from the texts.
Young Ironia
A Likeness Of Young Ironia by rikia
  Unauthenticated legends of her childhood and adolescence still circulate today among Sheleg's townsfolk and are present in several archives across the Albian realm. Some tell of her mystical healing abilities, her invulnerability to dark magic, and other extraordinary miracles that caught the eye of Album's throne. The Black Church hasn't officially endorsed any of these writings, yet many scholars regard 'Before the Zombie' as reliable history.

 
 

Curse of Mavet

  As she grew in renown across the realm, Ironia's foster parents were requested to send her off to the capital, Eilith, to serve as a priestess of Lotov Albis, the king of the Album.   However, on her way to the great city, she encountered Mavet, disguised as a handsome young noble. The man told her he had recently inherited a large plot of land, but - since he was unmarried - by the laws of the kingdom, he would forfeit it to the crown. Some argue that although she had already been on her way to more incredible wealth and fortune, Mavet's influence on her was insuppressible. She was then tricked into unholy matrimony with the dark god and had his curse placed upon her at the altar.
Divine Classification
Saint, Ascended Goddess
Species
Conditions
Ethnicity
Date of Birth
Day of the First Snow
Circumstances of Birth
Born to the first dead
Circumstances of Death
Uncertain
Birthplace
Parents
Children
Biological Sex
female
Hair
'As white as the snow she was born in'
Skin Tone/Pigmentation
Charred black bones

Books of the Black Teachings
Nobleman
Mavet, Disguised As A Nobleman by rikia
It is written that as he held her hand in wedlock, the nobleman's eyes oozed dark filth and his earthly body rotted in front of her. He held her in place as his chest opened up to reveal a massive set of twisted teeth that bit her arm clean off. Then, At the edges of her shoulder stump materialized Rikavon - the curse of rot - chewing at her flesh.   Entirely in god form now, Mavet appeared before the whimpering girl. He revealed to her the circumstances of her birth and declared that she had always been his. His creed was one of decay and disorder, and so he would not tolerate his vessel helping the kingdom of Album. For every deed she would do for her kind, she would slowly be eaten away by the rot. Though, whatever horrible suffering she would go through, the curse would keep her mortal body breathing.
...yet thou shall not die; Rik'ævon ends none.
— Child 19:7




The Zombie

  The most famous part of Ironia's life - the second book and the better half of the Black Teachings revolves around the Zombie's quest years. Bent on defying the decree of the dark god, she set out on a decades-long journey to vanquish the seventy-two Limbs of Influence that Mavet had established around the mortal realm.   The book itself is full of her chronicled adventures, morals and parables. Many of these stories are still discussed and diversely interpreted to this day. Out of the seventy-three chapters in the book 'Zombie', seven stand out among the rest:
Mystery Savior
The Mysterious Savior + Essa's Blade by rikia
 
In the third chapter, it is written that as Ironia arrives in the Underground City of Tadama, an agent of Mavet is sent on her path, appearing as an innocent young girl. Fooled again by His tricks, she follows the child through the city's tunnel-alleyways to a dead-end. The girl then blocks the exit behind her and Ironia is left no choice but to face her adversary, now transformed into its hideous proper form; Hand of Contempt. Overwhelmed by the threat, she is saved at the last moment by a mysterious individual who intervenes and slays the foul creature. The shadowy figure disappears just as quickly but leaves behind its enchanted weapon, Essa's Blade. This introduction to one of Mavet's Limbs reveals to the saint the perils of her undertaking.

After a hard battle against Foot of Shame, the twenty-fifth chapter takes a pause to tell of the myriad of miracles the saint has performed - such as the miracle that occurred at the Monolith Citadel of Etzi. Upon walking through the etirian slums, Ironia brushes the cheeks of several slaves with a gentle stroke. Immediately, the sentient trees glow and bear enough fruit to feed the entire sector - an area that had known no fertile tree-shaman for close to a decade. Not dependent any longer on their masters to provide sustenance, this begins a chain of events that would eventually lead to the Second Etirian Revolution.
Rephaite
Rephaite by rikia

The forty-first chapter mentions not what Ironia and her followers are doing in the bowels of a Rephaite, only that the colossus' stomach acids would dissolve every person that had a lover waiting for them. Ironia never disclosed who was hers at the time, but as evidence, her own flesh tears itself from her entirely and leaps into the acidic fluids. Now a skeleton from the neck down, she bellows in agony but manages to cut her way out of the beast's belly using Essa's magical blade.
Tail Of Wrath
Tail Of Wrath by rikia

After relatively light-hearted tales and many a Limb destruction, the sixtieth chapter signifies a tone shift in the book, which earns her her infamous title. A letter from the Albis royal family sends Ironia to one of their estates near Eilith. There, she meets princess Kentova, who presents her with a secret relic passed down the royal lineage; the Black Book. Made by the rotting god himself, the book has the power to entrap or release his influence in the mortal realm. On her trail, however, was the most vicious of the Limbs, Tail of Wrath. The evil force descends upon the estate in a fell swoop, engorging itself with everyone and everything. Protected by the curse, Ironia uses the book to swallow up the tail but fails to rescue the royal family. She limps away from the massacre to an audience of appalled onlookers. Silence prevails until a voice in the crowd cries 'Zombie!' and the rest follow suit to join the chant. She says not a word to her defense, seeing her exposed skeleton now scorched as black as night.

Although seemingly just an interlude, one may find three Names of Invocation, planted with intent in the sixty-eighth chapter. When written down with one's own blood, these powerful words can complete a dark binding ritual. However, this practice has long since been forgotten, and Album's law strictly forbids any mention of it.

Lastly, the seventy-second and seventy-third chapters parallel each other and bring the book to a sudden close. In the former, Ironia parts with her companions, ready to enter the Putrid Grove and face the dark god himself. Each verse in the chapter puts the whole journey into perspective and remarks on what she has gained through the years' hardships. This blends seamlessly into the latter chapter when she faces the avatar of Mavet and is reminded of the grave losses she had suffered and what is yet to come.
Ironia Vs Mavet
Painting Of The Final Battle by rikia
In a last-ditch effort, the saint attempts to read out the Black Book to trap Mavet. However, a trump card the god has been saving turns the tide on her. Arm of Pride - the same one that he had devoured on that day at the altar - lashes out from the pit in his chest and latches onto her face, gouging out Ironia's eyes. Blinded, she can no longer use the book. She desperately stabs the abomination with her blade until it disintegrates and - being the last of his corrupted Limbs of Influence - banishes Mavet from the mortal realm.

Allies

 
The Black Pillar
Great Black Pillars by rikia
Throughout those years, Ironia had gathered numerous companions, that in time became disciples of her teachings. Mavet had managed to eradicate many of them, erasing their names from the pages of history. Still, the Great Black Pillars remained:  
  • Decessia I, queen assassin of the Tapja Vaal, was the Mook Islands' first to make a commerce pact with Album.
  • Dregori, once champion of Eilith, was declared a traitor to his kingdom when king Lotov eventually turned on Ironia.
  • Xusfia, apostle of the Hidden Covenant, was the witch who introduced shroud to the Albian kingdom.
  •   It is by these three that the Black Teachings were written down, and eventually, the church was founded.




    Pearls of Za'haph - Death & Ascension

     
    A     nd there she laid with the god under a severed moon; her eyes shone gold with the glare of ζα'ℏαρℏ and one piece of skin to protect all whom looked 'i too deep.
    — Decay and Rebirth 1:1
     
    Za'haph
    Za'haph, God Of Fortune by rikia
    In this fashion opens 'Decay and Rebirth', last book of the teachings, set approximately twenty-one years after the banishment of Mavet. Historians and philosophers alike have argued on the exact date this took place, or what transpired during that long unmentioned period. It is reasonable to assume she had been on the run from the king's vengeance. A few documents (such as the parchment, 'Solitude Withstanding') testify to a long self-inflicted exile of the saint, blind, despaired and aimless.   Whatever the case was, it seems unlikely that by sheer happenstance after all those years, Ironia would gain an audience with yet another god - Za'haph, the god of fortune. Not only that, but to have bed him, acquired two of the pearls - his magical eyes - and cut a piece of his skin for herself.   One version of the common folk claims that the third book is pure fiction and that she had already perished by then, expelling the Rikavon via the Black Book and dying in the process, alone and miserable.   Another version, endorsed by disciples of the Black Church, is that she had searched the entire known world for a portal to the realm of the gods for all those years. Once there, she had been captured by the golden god and taken prisoner. A toy to the all-powerful, he shoved the artifacts in her empty eye sockets, giving her her sight back, but at a grave cost - All who would stand in front of the two celestial eyes would solidify into gold, dead at the spot. Through her cunning, she managed to sneak as he slumbered and cut his skin with Essa's blade. She then used the piece to cover one eye, as it was the only material strong enough to block the effect.
    Golden Mavet
    Statue Of A Terrified God by rikia
           
    The rest of the book describes her escape from his chamber and her misadventures in the land of the gods. Each of the divines reflected a different part of the saint's life, forcing her to face past mistakes and grow past them. When she met Mavet again at long last, it is with a calm resolve that she decided to end him. As he attempted to seduce her one more time, she removed the golden skin to reveal the Pearls of Za'haph. Without uttering a word, the god transfigured into a golden statue. It is written that on that day, by a unanimous vote of the gods, she ascended to fill in the vacant spot as the new goddess of decay. It is also written that a golden statue of a terrified god still stands in her divine palace as an ornament.



     

    Controversy

     
    forsaken by the pain, she now lays to rest; ᛁᚱΘ₦ᛁᚣ
    — Decay and Rebirth 28:1, fin
     
    The Black Skull
    Emblem Of The Black Church by rikia
          Much is uncertain about the life of the saint, and even today it is a controversial subject. Descendants of the royal family still pursue and persecute the Black Zombie's disciples, forcing the practice outside Album's borders or in secret.   There is no one version of the teachings that is agreed upon, even within the church. The consensus is that she is of sainthood, but even today, there are several different active sects, each with their own view on who the Zombie was, and what sort of world she wanted to leave behind.






    Ironia, Goddess of Decay and Rebirth
    Ironia
    Ironia The Black Zombie by rikia




    Cover image: by rikia
    Character Portrait image: by rikia

    Comments

    Author's Notes

    *ALL images are HeroForge assets, edited by rikia (myself)*


    Please Login in order to comment!
    18 Jan, 2021 08:00

    This is such a cool and interesting article, and I really, really like it a LOT :D   Also, that model of Ironia is absolutely fantastic ^_^

    Author of Cenorad ; a bleak-dark sandbox of creativity.
    19 Jan, 2021 06:08

    Thanks! Glad you liked it! I had a lot of fun writing it.


    Let us unite against the enemies of Album!
    28 Jan, 2021 04:20

    Gorgeous article, well done!

    29 Jan, 2021 22:27

    Thanks for reading!


    Let us unite against the enemies of Album!
    Sage eccbooks
    E. Christopher Clark
    11 Feb, 2021 18:24

    Such great names for things throughout this whole piece, starting with "Church of the Black Zombie" and going from there. Nice work!

    11 Feb, 2021 22:48

    Thanks :) and good on you for noticing! I do give a lot of attention to naming as an integral part of writing a story.


    Let us unite against the enemies of Album!
    14 Feb, 2021 21:19

    It is really nice the way the hero and the mythology plays around with the common ideas and one person's hero and saint is another's demon enemy and criminal.

    15 Feb, 2021 01:23

    Thank you for your comment and for reading! Yeah I was trying to avoid the goody two-shoes hero archetype. Glad it worked for you :)


    Let us unite against the enemies of Album!
    17 Feb, 2021 22:16

    Mavet: "You dare help people, you'll rot for it." Ironia apparently: "Watch me, <censored>."

    Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
    18 Feb, 2021 00:07

    Great TL;DR! haha


    Let us unite against the enemies of Album!
    Sage GeekzAnonymous
    Zeuk the Dungeon Master
    26 Feb, 2021 00:17

    Very nice layout! Great writing! Interesting article! I especially love the quote blocks with the portraits overlaying. Kudos!!

    Welcome to Oryth

    27 Feb, 2021 22:09

    Thank you for reading! I put a lot of heart into the layout, so I really appreciate your comment.


    Let us unite against the enemies of Album!
    27 Feb, 2021 20:18

    This is really, really good! 6 stars out of 5.

    27 Feb, 2021 22:10

    I think this is the highest rating I've ever gotten! Thanks for reading :)


    Let us unite against the enemies of Album!