BaRukh and Sukra were followers of a nature goddess, Kishar. They were also Kalashtars, beings with twin souls. One soul existed on the material plane and the other in the Dream Realm. There, they shared memories of their twin self. The couple lived a simple and happy life. They were even happier when their daughter, Senari was born.
Kalashtar children are precocious and begin learning at a very young age. Senari was trained for years by her parents. She too became an acolyte of Kishar, valuing life above all things. Once she came of age she was tasked with her last trial before become a fully fledged priestess. She didn’t go alone, a small group of seasoned travelers in the village were accompanying her. Only her parents could not go, she had to complete her trial on her own without their safety net.
They were a unique village, in that they followed a goddess instead of simply the Path of Light. They believed in both but also believe that maintaining a balance in nature helped them maintain in inward balance that kept away the insanity that often plagued their kind. This control allowed them to lead happier lives and reduced the amount of people they lost to suicide every year. It wasn’t fool proof but it did help many. They existed in a small valley tucked into the foot of a vast mountain range, that helped keep their village hidden and safe.
BaRuhk rested his hand on Sukra’s shoulder as they watched Senari head off with the seasoned travelers. They knew many of them personally and trusted them to keep their daughter safe. The group walked out of the village and Senari experienced the outside world for the first time. She was ecstatic to see all the differences in the woods beyond her own. She didn’t hop around like most humans would but instead took the scenery in with wonder filled eyes. A faint flush of excitement rose on her cheeks.
For days the group traveled. Through woods and glens. Sometimes they used the roads and other times they went through the woods, following the weave of their dreams to find new experiences. They were traveling through just such a wood when they felt a wrongness in nature. Something felt amiss in the fading light of day. As the sun was disappearing over the tree line they came upon a clearing. In the center was stick that had been pounded into the ground. A rope led from the stick to a small waist. It was a child.
The child’s back was turned to them. Senari was the first to act, wanting to save a child from the impending cold that night would bring. Even from behind she could see that the child was dirty. Ragged clothing hung over the child. Shoulder length brown hair was matted and tangled with debris from the forest. Red scratches marked the skin where it was visible, probably from the brambles and lower branches. Senari walked up slowly. The other travelers followed her into the open clearing wanting to stay close in case of trouble.
She held up her hand and softly called to the child, asking if they were alright. When there was no answer she placed her hand on the slender shoulder. The child turned slowly and revealed a pitiful face. It had once been a girl child, now it was a zombie. The girl’s eyes were missing along with her nose. Her teeth snapped together suddenly and she lunged for Senari. The other travelers pulled her out of reach and began backing out of the clearing towards the cover and safety of the woods.
Branches snapped and crackled all around them as a horde of zombies stepped out from behind the cover of the trees. They were surrounded, trapped inside the clearing by the circling undead. They stepped into the clearing and overwhelmed her companions. Blood sprayed and screams filled the night air until the last one died away with a whimper. Senari was the last one left alive. The horde stared at her in unison for a long moment. They surged once more and carried her, screaming, into the night.