Other names: Living Dead, Corpsewalkers
A dead body brought back to unholy half-life.
General attributes: The dead returning to life en masse and drowning the world in an unending night of undeath has been an enduring theme in popular literature and plays since even before the Fall, and possibly even before the Judgment War.
While most stories involve some sort of virulent disease that makes all dead come back to life if infected, thankfully those zombies encountered in real life possess no such attributes. Certainly, their rotting teeth and nails contain all manner of harmful bacteria that could cause deadly harm if left untreated, but the bite of a zombie is no guarantee of death.
Rather, the living dead are animated through dark magic, whether by powerful demons or corrupted humans. To such masters of the necromantic arts, anything that lives can be killed and turned into a puppet, until thousands of dead creatures may march at their behest. Such a massive force requires considerable exertion, however, and a human necromancer more often will only control perhaps a few dozen or less. Still, zombies do not tire, and can remain watchful for intruders almost indefinitely. Their masters can also use them as eyes and ears, seeing and hearing through their rotting senses.
Of curious note, a passing reference was found in a journal of King Renoir I of Saniel, when discussing the advent of magical abilities among humans on Terranis, shortly after the Fall. He wrote, “The living dead of Spero are all but forgotten now, but even so, I do not fear a repeat of that calamity.” I can find no other reference to this event or place, and so its connection to the use of magic remains unknown. This was the only pre-Fall reference to the dead returning to life that could be found.
Like most Undead, zombies are technically creatures of Earth, and so Fire magic only serves to invigorate them. They remain vulnerable to Holy attacks, however. In some rare instances, they have also been observed directly draining the life essence of their unfortunate victims.
Symbolism: Tales of the living dead remain consistently popular generation after generation perhaps because they touch on some of mankind’s darkest fears. The physical embodiment of unstoppable death can certainly evoke a feeling of helplessness. Some tales take a cynical look at mankind and darker acts of desperation, while others may offer a more optimistic view of humanity’s enduring spirit.
In either case, encountering a walking corpse in real life can be a terrifying experience, especially if it’s someone familiar.