The Deathless Child
Alternative: duty, fire
Walkena is the god-king of the city-state of Mzali in the Mwangi Expanse. A child-sized, undead creature of great power, he is a boy prince of the truly ancient fallen empire that once had its capital in Mzali. He commands his people to drive out the foreign invaders and restore the glory of his homeland.1
Walkena, a member of Mzali's old royal family that claimed descent from the Old Sun God Chohar, was born a few decades before his family's fall.23 He ruled his people as a child-god, sternly interpreting the laws of the land, but did not possess the cruelty he does today. He embodied the harsh, purifying nature of the sun rather than its life-giving aspects, and is still tied to its power today (see Appearance below).4
Walkena died of natural causes at a young age, and was mummified using techniques similar to those of Ancient Osirion. His body and clothes were preserved using a lacquer taken from local plants in order to protect them against the stifling humidity of the jungle.5 He was buried in a tomb intended for a famous gladiator, so when the Council of Mwanyisa overthrew Mzali's rulers and destroyed their mummified bodies in 3967 AR, they missed Walkena's.3
At the beginning of the 46th century AR1, members of the Council of Mwanyisa received a vision prophesying the resurgence of their empire. Soon after, they discovered Walkena in one of the city's many tombs and put him on display in Mzali, where he attracted a great deal of interest from the region's Mwangi people. As word of this discovery spread, thousands came to pay homage to him, bringing gold, salt, gems, and other treasures, and reinvigorating the flagging city's economy. Word of Mzali's new prosperity eventually reached the leaders of the Sargavan city of Kalabuto, who mustered a small army to sack the newly prosperous settlement.67
In 4610 AR, when the Sargavan army marched into Mzali, the mummy of Walkena came to life, rising as an undead creature and destroyed the invaders in a rain of fire.2 All traces of mercy and compassion that Walkena had possessed in his lifetime were now absent. Since then, Walkena has taken over rule of the city, and is attempting to establish an empire that will span the entire Mwangi Expanse. He preaches that the Mwangi are all brothers, and that all non-Mwangi, especially the Chelaxians of Sargava, should be driven from the region. Those Mwangi who consort with outsiders are traitors. Even though he had not yet moved against Kalabuto itself, local sources claim that it is only a matter of time.16
Since the native peoples of Sargava overthrew their colonial overlords and established the new state of Vidrian without Walkena's help, many of his subjects have left Mzali for Vidrian, enraging him and stirring rumours that he might be planning an invasion soon.7
Because Walkena's powers and very existence as an undead creature are tied to his deific ancestors, he is dependent upon one of their divine aspects: the sun. When exposed to direct sunlight, the Child-God appears as close to his living self as he can. At dawn, he is joyful and amiable, and prefers to make public appearances, performing miracles. At noon, he is analytical and usually meets with the council.8 At dusk, he grows paranoid and vengeful. At night, he shrivels into a knotted corpse the size of a toddler, and refuses to be seen; only the secret police's leader is allowed an audience, and they must avert their eyes. Walkena and his followers do their best to downplay his undead nature in front of his followers by dressing him in elaborate costumes, anointing him with rare oils, and only letting him be seen in full daylight.49
As a result of his early death, Walkena cannot truly grow from the boy he was when he died. Despite his tactical mind and judgement, his immaturity is obvious from his jealousy, temperament, and cruel streak.8
Church of Walkena
The Child-God lives in a massive palace at the centre of Mzali known as the Temple of the Deathless Child. In the territory controlled by Mzali, the word of the Child-God is law, and his edicts are carried by the shamans of his faith to the people of the southern Mwangi Expanse. Those who support Walkena are rewarded with skill on the battlefield or trade in the marketplace, while those who offend him suffer the Punishment of Seven Angry Suns.16
Walkena forbids any trade with non-Mwangi, and anyone found doing so is branded a traitor. His edicts, combined with the needs of a rapidly expanding empire, means that many residents of Mzali, especially those who were dependent on foreign trade, live in abject poverty.47
Walkena believes that northern colonists will bleed the Mwangi Expanse dry and never grant native peoples peace and freedom. As a result, the Mwangi must brutally oppose exploitation and create peace and freedom for themselves. He hopes that when all invaders are chased back to their homes, Mzali will return to its former glory, and the Mwangi Expanse will embrace him as their king.4
Walkena's cult has one holiday: the anniversary of his rebirth, which involves painting faces, eating meat pies, and dancing in the street, and ends with a great parade around the Temple of the Deathless Child. Participation is optional, but those who stay at home are watched closely in the following weeks. Walkena has noticed that the celebrations have become less fervent as the years pass.10
Belief in Walkena is not an abstract concept, as many of his followers have seen the god with their own eyes, and have experienced his miracles and terrible destruction first-hand. This immediacy tends to inspire a fierce and intense devotion that is intensified by the fact that his faithful are not promised wonders in the afterlife, but tangible benefits in this one.11 Small bands of Walkena's faithful constantly patrol the borders between Sargava, now Vidrian, and the Mwangi Expanse, hoping to catch non-Mwangi or foreign sympathizers. If caught, their victims are simply slaughtered, hanged, or skinned alive.12
Walkena picks his councillors for their contributions to the temple and their loyalty to Mzali and Walkena himself. All are xenophobic but not all are fanatical, since Walkena sees the benefit of different perspectives.9
It is an open secret that Walkena's followers and foes are raised as undead after they die. These undead are usually kept hidden, guarding Walkena's most private sanctums. Mzali's citizens try to talk about them as little as possible.13
Many people in Mzali live in fear of Walkena, believing him to be a reactionary ruler, nostalgic for a long-dead kingdom, who treats them no better than the white colonists would. They still follow Walkena's rule to the letter, so he would not subject them to the Punishment of the Seven Suns.13
After Walkena's rise, his priests smashed all other deities' statues and temples in Mzali, edited history to his liking, and destroyed the rest. The Old Sun Gods, whose faiths were already declining, became all but forgotten, their names erased from records and remnants co-opted by Walkena, before their recent re-discovery. While Walkena and Chohar are both gods of justice, and Walkena claims to be Chohar's descendant (when he acknowledges the Old Sun Gods at all), Chohar hates Walkena's cruel, merciless justice, and intends to show his 'descendant' the true meaning of righteousness.148 Luhar finds it revolting that people took Walkena's corpse from his crypt and put him on display, and intends to give him an even more beautiful death than his first one.15
Walkena considers gods of the night, moon, or darkness to be antithetical, and forbids their worship in Mzali. People are allowed to worship gods of agriculture and the light but not hold them above Walkena.13
Not everyone in Mzali is happy with Walkena's iron-fisted rule. A group calling themselves the Bright Lions has emerged recently, preaching not only against foreign exploitation, but also the overthrow of Walkena and his followers, and the restoration of the ancient Mwangi gods.416
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 128. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “History” in The Mwangi Expanse, 18. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “History” in The Mwangi Expanse, 19. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “Walkena (Mummy)” in Undead Unleashed, 56–59. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “Rituals of Mummification” in Shifting Sands, 70. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “Mwangi Campaigns” in Heart of the Jungle, 38–40. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Mwangi Expanse” in World Guide, 88. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Mzali” in The Mwangi Expanse, 226. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “Mzali” in The Mwangi Expanse, 227. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “Mzali” in The Mwangi Expanse, 224. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “Generic NPCs” in NPC Guide, 45. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Racing to Ruin” in Racing to Ruin, 35. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Mzali” in The Mwangi Expanse, 225. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “Religion” in The Mwangi Expanse, 135. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “Religion” in The Mwangi Expanse, 139. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “Sihar” in Legends, 98–99. Paizo Inc., 2020 .