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Eternal return of the same.

Returning is the gnosis of Uldr, the god of undead. His cult, which is comprised of living and undead all bearing his gnosis marks, is called the Returned. The ultimate goal of the cult is to completely eradicate life from Mizahar and replace it with unlife.



Uldr makes no distinction between positive and negative gnosis marks; in a way, all of his marks are cursed as they come with side effects. Uldr can mark the living and dead alike, resulting in slightly different effects; the living gain some basic properties of the undead while remaining alive, whereas the dead acquire more power and abilities. Uldr's undead are categorized depending on how many gnosis marks they possess.

  • Chained Ones - 1 mark - Low-level grunts and enforcers (bound to a physical shell).
  • Wretched Ones - 2 marks - Mid-level agents (their body gains an alternate form).
  • Desolate Ones - 3/4 marks - High-level overseers (can also turn ethereal).

While Uldr's appearance is meek and soft-spoken, he and his cult are based on hatred, as such a feeling is the most effective in spreading undeath throughout Mizahar. Uldr is an egalitarian god - in that he hates everyone equally. To be a follower of Uldr means understanding his hatred, feeling it inside, and recognizing how empowering it is. Uldr's followers are encouraged to hate him back as strongly as they can, though their hatred will never be as absolute as Uldr hates them. As they learn that hate makes the impossible, possible, they are driven to hate each other, and the world at large.

Uldr's cult, the Returned, can be seen as a "pyramid scheme" selling undeath. They spread pain, deceit and carnage, hoping to sow anger and hatred in the hearts of the dead and survivors alike. As more and more people die in hatred, they are easy prey for Uldr to persuade into joining him; the living, too, may embrace feelings of vengeance that will further spread Uldr's influence as avengers rise to avenge the avengers. Agents that 'recruit' many good candidates are rewarded. The top tiers are really the only ones benefitting from the scheme; the rest spend fruitless undead existences trying to impress Uldr, to no avail.

Uldr's gnosi both undead and alive are constantly reminded of their need to work for the Returned - they get powerful cravings that manifest differently for each marked person. Some simply thirst for blood or human entrails, other just long to turn lovers against each other, or lead people to ruin. Some take pleasure in driving others into vice and sin, and some feel the need to see others around them hungry and sick. The type of craving one gets depends on Uldr's desire; in general, it will not hinder the marked person's ability to carry out the task Uldr has set aside for them. The nature of the craving may evolve and change during one's servitude.

The Returned

The Returned are a pyramid, with the Champion at the top (currently Wolkirk, a famed Suvan assassin from pre-Valterrian times). The Champion is invariably an undead, but the rest can be dead or alive - there are no special differences between the two within the cult; however, the living are expected to be turned into undead at some point. They keep serving in life as long as Uldr believes they can pursue his agenda better that way. Hierarchy is simply based on the number of gnosis marks the cultists possess. Once a cultist has spread enough hatred and converted enough victims into new followers, they may be rewarded with a promotion and an additional mark, thereby rising up the ladder. Also, a cultist gains a part of recognition for deeds committed by those they have converted - such is the nature of the scheme.

Uldr's children do not need to congregate in large numbers. In general, they will try to maintain at least one twice-marked Returned and two or three single-marked enforcers in every city and significant town. In places where undeath is more easily spotted, living minions are preferred. Thrice-marked priests and Desolate Ones are rare and will only get involved in major plans and operations, taking command over lesser minions for a period. In general, Desolate Ones take advantage of their ethereal nature to travel from one cell to another, checking on things and making sure everyone is performing at their best.

Every Returned cells is given some independence as to how they fulfill their duties. Uldr tends to only step in when there is a new convert to be fooled into joining with a mark. He may randomly grace cultists with a visit every now and then, dispense rewards and punishments, and then leave again. It is often difficult to tell gifts and curses apart at a first glance.


Uldr is unique among the gods in that he cannot mark those who are not willing to receive it (however, it takes but a minor or ambiguous statement of acceptance to allow him to do so). The main reason is that his mark overrides a part of the receiver's free will and places them under the control of those with a greater number of gnosis marks. When a superior issues an order, an attempt to resist will be met with excruciating, paralyzing pain that all but disables the undead. The only known ways to get free are actual death (hoping Uldr does not claim the soul for a century-long torture session in his corner of the Ukalas) and acquiring more marks of Uldr. The upside is that those ascending to the higher rungs of undeath gain slaves to do their bidding. Of course, getting there is the real challenge.

Mark progression

Note: at every level, the gnosis user can command any other Uldr-marked individual with a lesser amount of marks. These orders are unquestionable, and it does not matter who is issuing them; the undead can command the living and the other way around. In addition, undead have all the strengths and weaknesses typical of their status.

Marked [Cursed] - 1 Gnosis Mark
Living: The marked person is less dependent on the necessities of life. They can survive about half an hour without breathing, and only need to drink water weekly, or eat monthly. Their need to sleep is also reduced to every third or fourth night.

Undead: The undead is a Chained One and receives a new physical body of Uldr's choosing. This body will often be moderately gifted in a single aspect - strength, dexterity, toughness, etc. Depending on the task to be accomplished, the appearance may or may not be monstruous, but the living will be uneasy around it. The undead get stronger cravings than the living do - they cannot be resisted.

Favored [Despised] - 2 Gnosis Marks
Living: Someone receiving the second mark can effectively last days without breathing, and no longer needs to eat, drink or sleep, though they can still do so if they wish. They also acquire a moderate resistance to most poisons and diseases. Their bodily temperature is lower than average, and their heartbeat is quite slow.

Undead: The undead is now a Wretched One with more power and responsibility in Uldr's eyes. Their body will gain a second, alternate form they can shift into. This form is typically monstrous and horrible to behold, but can regenerate by consuming the object of the cravings, be it blood or violent emotions.

Priest/Priestess [Adversary] - 3 Gnosis Marks
Living: A thrice-marked individual does not have to breathe, eat, sleep and drink. They are immune to anything an undead is immune to, but they are still alive and can do anything a live person can. They can fake death by temporarily stopping their heart and other organs, and they can enter a lethargic state to heal their wounds faster. A man with three of Uldr's marks can survive and regenerate wounds that would kill an ordinary person, however severing the head or piercing the heart is still lethal.

Undead: The undead has reached the top tier, being a Desolate One. The main improvement is that their body can turn ethereal at will; however, they need to revert to their material form when they wish to interact with the world. They may also gain additional properties depending on Uldr's whim.

Champion [Nemesis] - 4 Gnosis Marks
Living: This level has never been attained by a living worshipper.

Undead: The Champion of Uldr is the ultimate undead, being able to take on the form and powers of any other undead of Uldr they have interacted with previously. Uldr has immense expectations for this individual, and will be quick to replace them if underperforming. This Champion is also ranking very high on the most wanted lists of many other godly Champions.

Part of a series of articles on Death, undeath and the dead
Concepts Afterlife · Soul
Gods Dira, goddess of death · Uldr, god of the undead
Ghosts Spiritism · Possession · Materialization · Soulmist Projection · Black Rock
Nuit Daek-nuit · Sahova · Zarik Mashaen
Other undead Chained One · Wretched One · Desolate One
Factions Returned
Other Embalming