Honor and duty, sacred oaths, immortal love and sometimes plain stubbornness can bind a soul to “this” world, in many stories. The undead are not always victims of curses or mindless automatons animated by fragments of life force.
In the ancient and mystical land of the River, the City of Dead has always stood next to the city of living, a graveyard unlike any other. But now the city of the living has been destroyed, leaving the dead alone.
For over a millennium, the people of the River City buried their dead on the left bank of their holy river, building small houses for the earthly remains of their ancestors. In return, the dead stayed on the left bank, unless the giant Bronze gong on the bridge was sounded. This signaled the dead to come the aid of their living descendants in times war and crisis. When the gong gonged, the doors of the small houses would open, the stone coffins slide open and ancient dead would rise to defend the living.
But for centuries now, the gong has been silent and the dead are starting to wonder about the living. No new inhabitants have been brought over the river for a long time, no new houses been built and the living souls they witness are the increasingly elderly grave wardens patrolling the empty city streets.
So in the afterlife, the dead discussed their options and eventually it was decided that a group of them would rise from their houses and go over the bridge into the city of the living to see how things stood there.
The ones chosen were the most able warriors, the greatest priests and powerful wizards. Their gravehouses’ doors creaked open and there stood a group of ancient dead, ready once again for adventure, at least, a short jaunt over the bridge.
The elderly grace wardens scatter when they see the risen dead screaming in a dialect only vaguely familiar to the dead wanderers. On the bridge, the gong is missing and so is, almost the entire city of living too. Only overgrown ruins mark the spot where once stood a center of an entire civilization.
What happened? Why didn’t the living call upon the dead, when the city of living fell? What shall the dead do now? Maybe they should try speaking to one of the wardens?