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Desolate One

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Desolate One

Alone within and without
Major featuresVapor form
AbilitiesMiasma of undeath
PopulationAbout a dozen
Most common inFound throughout Mizahar
ReputationHated and feared by most

A Desolate One is an undead who has received three marks from the patron god of undeath, Uldr. A terrifying priest to its god, the creature is the epitome of undeath. It can turn into a smoky substance called miasma and travel vast distances among the clouds. No place, no matter how remote, is safe from a Desolate One. On top of retaining and perfecting their Wretched One powers, they also possess an array of undeath-related abilities that make them fearsome to confront.



It is perhaps revealing that these creatures had no name in the ancient tongue, but were variously designated as "they" and never mentioned directly in speech. Most likely, there was a hand gesture that people may have used when referring to Desolate Ones. In their superstition, early humans probably believed that the mere act of naming them could bring one upon the settlement. The term "Desolate One" is therefore a relatively recent one, and refers to the creature's tendency to exist in solitude, moving from one place to another. Mizahar is home to many frightening beings, but what really strikes about the Desolate Ones is that they can get anywhere, and target anyone, at any time. The tallest mountain, the deepest cave, the thickest forest; none of these can stop a Desolate One from doing its grisly work for Uldr.

Desolate Ones are few, rarely numbering more than twelve at any given time, but they are deadly in their capabilities, being able to hold their own against a Druvin. They are Wretched Ones with the ability to metamorph into a smoky substance commonly referred to as miasma. While in this state they are sometimes mistaken for ghosts, but even the weakest Desolate One is still far more powerful than most ghosts. Miasma is the very essence of undeath, and is very harmful to the living while gifting dead tissue with the properties of unlife.

Desolate Ones have a few weaknesses. Even in their miasma state, where they remain more or less invulnerable to normal attacks, they are still sensitive to some forms of magic as well as all gnosis-based abilities of any alignment. Also, high-level practitioners of Spiritism have learned to adapt their tools and rituals to affect these nightmares. Still, even the most seasoned Spiritist will generally avoid confrontation with a Desolate One if given the choice. The danger is simply too grave.


A Desolate One has gained mastery over its Wretched One powers. This means their transformation into the Other (alternate form) has gotten quick and seamless. A Desolate One will very rarely lose control over the transformation. They have learned how to exploit their powers to the fullest extent. Some Desolate Ones stop using the Other altogether, so great are their new abilities. If the undead used to be a Nuit, their body can now be worn indefinitely.

The defining trait of a Desolate One is the metamorphosis into miasma. Miasma looks like thick smoke, the color unique to the individual and linked to its personality. Unlike ghosts, which can either materialize or stay hidden, miasma is always visible if concentrated enough, but the Desolate One can choose to only transform a portion of their body into miasma. The process looks like the undead is on fire, but with no actual flame: thick, coiling smoke rises from the body as it seemingly comes undone, revealing the rotting flesh and organs underneath. As with all things Uldr-related, it is not a pretty sight.

While ghosts are limited to hovering, a miasma cloud can float at will and reach great heights in the sky. Desolate Ones can fly high and let the winds carry them with the clouds. Some even suggest they hold their secret meetings on the moon, and while this is probably a legend, nothing prevents them from exploring the cold outer space if Uldr wills it. Miasma is not truly and fully ethereal in the way a ghost's Soulmist is: like any gas, it cannot pass a solid wall and it cannot be used for Projection. It can, however, flow through the smallest opening such as a keyhole or a crack. Coupled with the undead's ability to solidify at will and even just partially, this can be used to great effect in combat. By turning one arm into miasma, they can confuse the enemy with a screen of toxic smoke that burns the lungs if inhaled. They can even wrap the miasma around someone's neck and turn it into a solid hand for strangulation.

It should be noted that miasma can get arbitrarily thick or thin. If the creature spreads itself too thin (or is dispersed through such powers as air Reimancy or a Stormwarden's gnosis) it cannot turn solid until it recovers its density once more. Also, it cannot solidify if it does not have enough room to do so. In the famous fairytale, Jack and the Four Evils, the titular character faces a monster heavily reminding of a Desolate One and manages to trick it into a small jar, which he seals shut and buries deep underground. While anecdotical, this account shows that a Desolate One can indeed be trapped in a small space.

Miasma also has other frightening properties. Endowed with the very essence of undeath, it can attach these properties to any dead tissue it touches. Unlike a ghost, a Desolate One cannot possess the living, but it can enter a corpse and reanimate it. If the entirety of the creature's miasma enters a cadaver, it can be worn like a glove for however long it wishes. This works like a Nuit's body switching, except it is vastly more effective and almost instantaneous. This allows the Desolate One to kill someone and take their body to infiltrate a protected location, among other uses. The undead can inhabit a corpse regardless of its state of decay, and can leave at any time without consequence.

The Desolate One can even raise a number of corpses with tendrils of its miasma. These puppets will do its bidding as long as the miasma remains inside the bodies - the Desolate One's main body is diminished accordingly. The more bodies are raised at the same time, the less miasma is available to do so, and the less effective these minions will be. A Desolate One is at its strongest on the scene of carnage, where it can raise dozens of bodies and toss them at its enemies.

A Desolate One still feels the cravings of Uldr's chosen. It can choose to ignore them for a time, but if it does not indulge its nature for too long, it will lose the ability to turn into miasma. This is often the key to destroying them: if their desires can be understood and prevented, they will eventually be grounded and limited to their Wretched One powers, thus becoming much more vulnerable.


Desolate Ones do have weaknesses, but by and large the first cause of ultimate death in these creatures is Uldr himself. The god has very high expectations of his commanders, and when they fail to meet such hopes, they are often killed off - or worse, turned into grotesque playthings. A Desolate One spends almost all its time in the service of Uldr, either directly carrying out orders or coordinating Returned cells. There are, on average, two Desolate Ones in every region of Mizahar at any given time, but during times of great activity up to six can be in the same region. Desolate Ones are highly mobile and switch cities and regions on a regular basis. Any of them will eventually travel all over Mizahar and come in contact with most of Uldr's minions. While they command their local underlings, they do not "own" them exclusively. Wretched and Chained ones are accustomed to taking orders from every Desolate One in existence.

As a consequence of this, Desolate Ones can and do regularly come into conflict with one another. Their power struggles are notorious and very vicious, with Uldr finding them very amusing and encouraging them to a degree. It is not unheard of for two Desolate Ones to give different orders to the same underlings, who find themselves bound to obey both leaders or suffer great pain. When the orders received are mutually incompatible, the underlings are literally damned if they do and damned if they don't. When the situation gets out of hand and becomes detrimental to Uldr, the god will simply send his Champion to set things straight. Needless to say, heads will roll.

Known Desolate Ones

Laetitia Sarkanis, the Unmother - Aide to Champion Wolkirk, she craves the blood of infants that she smothers in their sleep.

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