Monday, January 01, 1990

The Citadel--The Restored

Deep within the Keeper Temple, in its innermost sanctum, lie the Restoration Tanks, filled to brimming with the Water of Life. It is in this room that the Keepers perform the Rite of Restoration.

The Rite is the most sacred act of the Keeper religion. The Keepers claim to have received it from Pheric himself, although blasphemers whisper that the dragons seem to have had a hand in it as well. For the result of the Rite is nothing less than the Restoration of life to the dead.

The Rite is quite simple. The body is placed into one of the Restoration Tanks, and a power cable is attached to fill the Tank with the essence of Pheric himself. One of the Keepers throws a switch and the Tank is ablaze with light. Then, with a ringing shriek, the body returns to life. The Keepers exult in that shriek, claiming that it is the dragons, enraged that a soul has escaped them. Heretics proclaim that it is rather the shriek of the Restored himself, returned to life.

The Restored are everywhere in the Citadel. They are used for so many of the dangerous menial tasks that once were performed by the poorest residents. Restored cleaning crews wander the Citadel, cleansing the streets of litter and offal dumped from the surrounding buildings and the Web that hangs overhead. Restored perform the simplest of jobs in the power plants and factories that fill the Citadel. Entire cadres of servants wait hand and foot on the wealthy families of the Citadel. They have many other uses as well. Restored troops are herded into combat, expendables with truly nothing to lose. Restored crews man mist ships sailing far away across the Sea of Mist. They no longer breathe and so do not need the clumsy breathing equipment required by mere mortals.

Not everyone can be Restored, though. The body must be in good condition upon death, something that does not always happen in this violent world. Moreover, younger bodies are preferred. The Restoration repairs much of the damage caused by aging, but still better are those bodies that have never aged at all. Frequently capital prisoners are used for the Restoration. The Keepers claim that all receive a fair trial. Some citizens actually believe them. However, there is an even more basic reason why there are not more Restored.

After the Ritual of Restoration is performed, the new Restored is fitted with a special implant that keeps it calm and docile. Also, when activated with certain keywords, it will allow verbal programming of the Restored. Anyone with the proper knowledge can control one of these poor creatures. Usually the master of a Restored selects the keywords, although it is said that the Keepers implant their own secret words as well.

Those implants are all that ensure that the Restored do not riot in the streets of the Citadel. Unfortunately, no one remembers how to make those implants anymore. One of these days, the Keepers will run out of implants, and who knows what will happen then? Therefore, whenever a Restored becomes non-functional, the first thing that the Keepers do is recover the implant. Then, if the body is still in good enough condition, the Ritual of Restoration is performed again.

Yes, a body can be Restored multiple times. This is often done, especially when the Restored has been useful or knowledgeable in the past. He is placed in the Restoration vats once again and is once again drawn forth to an existence of torment. However, there is a fatal flaw in the Restoration. It cannot truly restore the brain. Even as the bodily functions are restored, subtle decay in the brain slowly degrades the mental capacity of the Restored. The damage slowly spreads, even over the course of several Restorations, until all that is left is a gibbering wreck, useless for anything.

What is done with these mindless Restored? The Keepers refuse to destroy them. They claim that the essence of Pheric has entered them and that to destroy them would be sacrilegious. Instead, they remove the implants from worn-out Restored and release them to a place outside the Citadel to roam mindlessly until they die a final death. Men call them the Howling Lands because of the mindless howling from the hundreds of zombie-like Restored that wander the land. In the dark of night, during the Devil’s Hour, when the machines of the Citadel cease and the voice of Kron is still, the sound of howling drifts from the northeast into the Citadel. It is a lost, lonely sound, like the dying wordless cry of a damned soul. Then the people of the Citadel huddle in their houses, afraid of what the darkness might bring.

And right they are to fear, for not all Restored are under control. Some have been freed from the tyranny of the implant. Not everyone in the Citadel loves the use of Restored. Some fear that their livelihood may be at stake from the free labor of the Restored. Others feel that it is their religious duty to help the enslaved and oppressed. Still others seek to destroy the Citadel by destabilizing it from within. Whatever the reason, many seek out Restored and remove their implants. Some Restored even have the force and strength of will to remove their own implants, although this is very rare.

What these rogue Restored do is anyone’s guess. Some probably flee into the Web, where the strange and outcast are commonplace. Others flee into the wilderness to make their own way in a cold and hostile world. Some even spin stories of an island in the Sea of Mist called the Isle of Refuge, where all who seek asylum from the Citadel’s purges are welcome. The stories say that rogue Restored, Misbegotten, Blessed, and many others live there together in peace. But there are many stories, and if this is true or not, none can say.


Post a Comment

<< Home