While the exact reason and process that causes a soul to refuse to evacuate a body upon death in the unique way that causes the "birth" of one of the An Rún Marbh is a mystery, there can be no denying their slowly growing presence within the realms of Cairne. These odd creatures exist outside of time and the trappings of the living, and yet are jovial and relish any aspect of life that they are able to partake in. With no dedicated home, society, or nation to call their own, and no real physical needs to maintain they tend to wander wherever their flights of fancy direct them and engage in any manner of activity along the way that entices their zeal for experience and company.
An Rún Marbh anatomy remains constant with the body they retain from life. Despite being dead, their rate of decomposition is slowed to nearly a halt but the down side of this is that this state leaves them unable to heal naturally from any physical damage they sustain. Wounds must be sutured and cauterized to be closed, and breaks and tears to the internal structure of the body, must be physically reinforced to regain use of the limb. Despite these drawbacks, they are immune to disease, poison, cold, and extremely resistant to Void related effects. They require no sleep physically, though most still continue the ritual. Their unique state of consciousness allows them to continue to dream and in keeping with their passion for experience, dreaming remains a beloved aspect of existing.
The An Rún Marbh are incapable of reproduction, and the means by which they are created is a mystery even to them.
While their decomposition is slowed to nearly stopping, their inability to heal remains a concern in any environment. Certain environmental conditions are viewed as dangerous or potentially damaging to their bodies, these mostly being locations where extreme heat or excessive humidity are a problem. While these matters do little to dissuade these vibrant individuals from traveling to locations of this type, they will generally tend to avoid them in the long term if possible.
The An Rún Marbh have no need to eat, and due to their inability to enjoy it, little drive to endure the pantomime. With their internal systems stalled, if one does indeed go through the motions for whatever reason, the food will need to be removed physically, or it will decompose within them leading to awkward smells and occasionally a build up of gasses that can result in awkward social situations that the majority of them would prefer to avoid.
Not aging or needing to eat means that time and the changing of seasons become little more than a curious shifting of the flow of life around them. As with all things, they remain curious and fixated on experiencing every part of existence that they can, but can grow distant from the day to day over time, as the stretching of time can tend to cause the world view of the older An Rún Marbh to encompass time on a scale beyond those with a more finite experience.
It cannot be overstated that there are none within the world of Cairne that exhibit a vim and vigor for existing as do the An Rún Marbh. Whatever causes them to refuse to lay down upon their initial death, instills within them a genuine passion for the world and all the things within it. They are curious and insightful, and generally kind and even charitable. The lack of material needs in believed to be a large driving force behind this, however, there appears to be something more to it as well as there have been cases of people who, in life were considered foul tempered, mean or even evil that have reawakened into this new experience changed completely to become a kind and gentle An Rún Marbh. There are many speculations as to why, but all of them remain only theories.
There is no defined social structure within the An Rún Marbh, but this does not stop them from gathering when they do meet. They are often more than happy to share stories and adventures with one of their own and will often travel together for a time in order to share experiences. They are surprisingly social and even innocently affectionate people both with their own kind and the rest of the world.
A common characteristic that has become a social standard for the An Rún Marbh is the act of painting the face to express outwardly their nature. This is both a tradition and a means of staving off negative reactions to their nature, as many would assume in some cases that they are one of the denizens of the Void rather than the innocuous creatures that they are.
The An Rún Marbh lead a generally nomadic existence throughout all the realms of Cairne, but find greater acceptance within the Eastern Wastes where larger congregations of them can be found touring through the fringe settlements there and offering entertainment, news, and care where they can.
Generally they will retain the same intellect and educational benefits they experienced in life unless some physical damage to the brain occurred prior to their initial death that could negatively impact this.
For the An Rún Marbh, smell, taste, and touch are sensations that degrade over time, and they suffer to detect more subtle sensory stimuli with these particular senses, however, their eyes are opened to far more than the common spectrum upon reawakening, allowing them to see very clear in the dark using Void Sight.
Civilization and Culture
Beginning with the death and resurrection of Francis Dashwood
in The Greenlands Commonage
, the enigma of the An Rún Marbh has been one that has captured the imaginations and occasionally the ire of many of the people of Cairne. While accurate counts of the numbers of them remain nearly impossible to ascertain due to the nature of the world and their nomadic ways, it is believed that their numbers continue to grow slowly. Their interactions with the living have quickly garnered a great deal of good favor for them, and remains one of the reasons they opt to advertise what they are through the use of colorful face painting, so as to continue this growth of favor.
As tales of their charity and persevering good nature spreads across the lands, their acceptance moves along with it, but there remain those that believe them to be abominations hiding in plain sight, and due to these less than enlightened souls, the An Rún Marbh must always remain attentive to their surroundings so as not to fall prey to those that might do them harm based upon this rare but present misconception.