Malignant spirits are foul beings that wander Corthis, bringing ruin and desolation to any mortal land they pass through. They are neither loved nor worshipped, except by the most depraved of individuals. Their origin is unknown as they manifest without warning almost anywhere in the world. Their end is equally mysterious. They exhaust themselves and fade away like foul vapor in the wind only to re-emerge later.
Some philosophers suggest that the malignant spirits are imperfections in creation that gain a rudimentary type of sentience. Only when the world is perfected will the malignant spirits cease to exist. Other traditions claim the malignant spirits are a punishment on humanity for foul deeds to the spirit world or to each other. When the crimes cease and are atoned for, the spirits will vanish.
The most common type of malignant spirit brings disease to humanity. They are rapacious, resilient, and take myriad forms. Plagues brought by the disease spirits have depopulated large swaths of Japethe and Shamach several times in the past. Since the Age of Discovery began, the spirits found fertile ground in the newly-revealed continents of Ascuta and Everique. One spirit after another crossed the ocean, hiding in the holds of the wooden ships, bringing illness and death to the natives of those two continents. The death toll has been staggering, as entire nations have been consumed by the disease spirits.
Other malignant spirits include uncontrollable fires, drought, famine, and other disasters that have tormented humanity throughout history.
Manes are (or, more accurately, were) the lesser spirits of Japethe. They appeared in a seemingly endless variety of forms, usually some variation of an animal crossed with human features. No two looked or acted alike. It is these spirits that inspired alchemists to attempt the first chimera. Ancient philosophers held that the manes lived in a world other than Corthis, which can be reached through underground caverns, in the depths of forests, or other dark and forbidding locales. The manes abound in ancient tales in such number that the spirits must have lived under every rock in Corthis.
Setting aside the drunk, the invalid, and the confirmed liars, no one has seen a mane in centuries. The fate of the manes is unknown to modern philosophers. Some have speculated that the world from which they come is drawing further away from Corthis. Others believe that, as philosophy has progressed, Japethe has become increasingly uncomfortable for them. Regardless of the truth of these theories, the continued existence of the manes has grown more unlikely with each passing year. Today, they exist only in the imaginations of the playwrights and poets.
Most spirits of Corthis are tied to a nexus, which is a particular location or object where the spirit can manifest and is strongest. However, there is a class of spirits who are not tied to a nexus and are free to wander the world as they will. Because of their lack of a nexus, wandering spirits are temperamental, appearing and disappearing on a seeming whim.
Most wandering spirits are tied to elemental air. The greatest of these are tied to the winds of the four cardinal directions. As wandering spirits, the winds are constantly moving, and their temperament also changes as they move across Corthis. There are countless more wind spirits that dance about Corthis. The most famous wind spirits to Japethan philosophers are the eight winds of the Mezinne Sea that blow between Japethe, Aphrike, and Shamach.
The currents in the great oceans also house spirits that travel. Some philosophers argue that, if a current follows a predictable pattern, it is not in fact a wandering spirit. Most malignant spirits are wandering spirits, which may explain why they burn themselves out and fade away.
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