The Funerals of the Hillmen of Nazhgah
The Hillmen of Nazhgah represent the last pockets of civilisation before the realm of chaos holds full sway over the land. They live in mined out caves and valleys in the foothills of the Abyssal mountains, clinging to their culture and their humanity in the face of the monsters that spill from the rift. Their environment is constantly under duress from the waves of chaotic energy that travel through the ether from the abyss, and as such their way of life is unusual, but none more so than their funerals.
The funerals of the Hillmen have evolved over time. Initially, many hundreds of years ago, they were similar to many human rituals: burial of the body beneath the earth. Then, as the tear between the mortal rift began to widen, more and more components were added, to ensure a proper rest for the departed, and the safety of their kin.
First the body is cleansed physically and spiritually, with both tasks usually being performed by the eldest relative of the deceased. Then the body is taken to the centre of the settlement, displayed, and pronounced dead in front of all the inhabitants. This is so that should the individual be seen again, all will know it is some apparition or demon who has taken their form. The body is then drained of blood which is collected and poured into a nearby chasm, removing a potential source of food for the monstrosities that wander the mountains. The corpse is then placed into a carved out rock face, and a heavy stone is placed in front of it, making it much harder for the corpse to escape the tomb should it become reanimated. Finally, a rune of protection is carved into the stone covering the tomb, cursing any who would remove it. High ranking chiefs are sometimes cremated on large wooden pyres, however wood is scarce in the rocky mountains, and this honour is reserved only for the greatly respected.
Components and tools
A Cltak stick is used throughout the entire process. The stick is a little over a foot in length comprising of an iron rod with a steel pickaxe at one end and a sharp blade at the other. In life a Hillman will spend a little time each day carving out their own tombs in the mountainside using the small pickaxe, ensuring that it is the proper depth and height for them. The bladed end of the Cltak is covered in leather strips, which the individual will cover in small trinkets precious to them or their deity. When a Hillman dies, their Cltak is passed on to their eldest relative, who will use the trinkets in a ceremony unique to each individual to ritually cleanse the body. ONce the body has been displayed, the leather straps are removed, and the knife is used to cut the major arteries of the corpse and allow it to drain. Finally, when the corpse has been properly interred, the Cltak is used to carve the protective rune into the rock slab covering the body. It is then stuck into the earth near the tomb, to be used to destroy the corpse should it reawaken and escape. Hillman legend suggests that a reanimated corpse cannot be properly laid to rest unless it has been staked through the heart with their own Cltak stick.