Thursday, January 31, 2008

Creatures: Spirits

Spirits - Not all souls trapped in the inbetween are there on a permanent basis. Spirits are souls who have remained on the inbetween, stubbornly refusing to be taken to the demons' plane of Immigration, but still able to enter the astral sea in order to dream and maintain both their sanity and sense of identity. While being dead does not degrade the sanity of spirits, the actual process of dying might, so spirits can still be just as dangerous and psychotic as ghosts, depending on the individual. As a whole though, spirits are far more stable than ghosts, and in most cases, preferable to deal with.

Asides from their personalities and behavior, spirits largely have the same powers and limitations as ghosts. One exception is that a spirit's astral body will reform overnight after destruction, instead of taking weeks, months or years. This makes getting rid of an unwanted spirit far more complicated than removing a ghost.

Anima - One of the more common kinds of spirits, anima were usually spirit animals in life. Like many lesser ghosts and spirits, they cannot move very far from their site of death, and an anima's ability to manifest its astral body in the material realm is limited. What anima can do however is take possession of a creature that falls asleep within its territory. When it does so, the creature "dies" and its soul is sent to the afterlife, but its body lives on, controlled by the soul of the anima. Gone over in more detail in the spirit animal entry, if an anima decides to never possess a fellow godtouched or sentient animal, it is set free of its shackles after 100 years and can both move from its site of death and project an astral body. Anima who achieve this state often become guardians of forests, specific creatures or even a family line, if they wish to repay a debt.

Banshee - Banshees are the spirits of women who were the last person in their family or circle of friends to die from some drawn-out catastrophe. They have an unusual connection with the nature of death that is not entirely understood. It allows them to manipulate the threads of fate to cause people to die by crying mournfully. Hearing the wail of a banshee is not instantly fatal - instead it is far more insidious. It places a curse on a person so that their luck becomes increasingly dire. Without spiritual treatment, the victim is usually dead within three days. The cause of death is often unusual, and morbidly humorous to impartial observers.

Phantom - Particularly powerful spirits, phantoms can easily manifest their astral body into the material plane, and do so with impunity. Some phantoms are talented enough at this that they have lead double lives, fooling people into believing they are living, breathing people. Other phantoms, shamed by their undead state, have sealed themselves away and viciously attack those who attempt to bring them out of their seclusion.

Possessed doll - Occasionally a spirit will gain the ability to possess an object that is not, and perhaps never was alive. If a doll, statue, mannequin or puppet had some strong emotional connection to the spirit, the spirit might be able to make it a new body. Objects possessed in this way will slowly twist and re-shape themselves in order to make movement and communication possible. Because children most often have the emotional connections with anthropomorphic objects like toys and dolls, most possessed dolls are the spirits of dead children, who refuse to admit or cannot conceptualize that they have died. This makes them violent and irrational. In fact, one famous case of a possessed doll was a child who would viciously attack and kill any who refused to help it find a precious, lost toy - the very doll it was possessing.

Puppeteer - A rare kind of spirit, puppeteers have learned to master the manipulation of objects in the material realm. They will attack with psychokinetically manipulated objects such as weapons, and in some cases they will even "possess" a suit of armor or a number of lesser puppets in order to attack their enemies. They can manifest their astral body, but will almost never do so unless forced to by magic. Puppeteers are often malevolent with an agenda of their own, and they have been known to attempt to psychologically manipulate people through bribery or taunting, just as easily as they move their puppets.

Grave tree - While many would not consider a grave tree to be a spirit (specifically, a type of noncoroporeal undead) grave trees are in fact powered by spirits, and have virtually nothing to do with any necromantic activity or Nectos' necrotic infections. The emotional trauma preventing a grave tree's soul from moving on to the afterlife is so powerful, the spirit literally cannot stray from its dead body. Over time, the body will begin to "grow" into the root system of a tree - in actuality a very solid, if inaccurate, projection of the spirit's astral body. This projection has many peculiar properties. It grows as any other tree, but appears dead and never develops leaves, needles or flowers. The astral body that the tree represents retains the shape the spirit had when it was alive - which is highly unusual, because astral bodies and their real-world projections are usually visually identical. Also unlike many other projections, damaging the tree with any weapon, even normal ones, will damage the astral body of the spirit in an appropriate location. Finally, if the spirit of a grave tree is persuaded to move on to the afterlife, the tree will instantly dissolve in a spectacular display of flower petals.

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