Among the tribal peoples of Omo Toao in the Sea of Os’r, the rare zombie can be found carrying out chores as a way to repay a debt that could never be repaid in life. The arrangement has a number of strict rules involved, including the authorization of the village chief and several witnesses being present at the time the contract is agreed upon. In addition, a witch doctor who initially revives a body and binds its service to another must terminate the arrangement and zombie after an agreed upon time - usually not more than a year.
More commonly found there are the undead parrot heads, or “makemanu”. These are highly prized as novelty items but also have some practical use. Through a process carefully guarded from outsiders, an Omo Toao witch doctor takes a parrot trained to repeat sentences, kills it, and revives only its head - somehow managing to preserve the bird’s ability to speak and repeat short phrases. Each makemanu’s ability varies, but generally only the best birds are used for this purpose. Repeating a phrase to it several times while holding it close to one’s face (a rather unpleasant experience) imprints the sounds. Thereafter, the head will hoarsely squawk the phrase every few minutes. For this reason the heads are usually kept stored away in small baskets tightly wrapped in cloth, especially before being transported.
Makemanu are most often used during yearly celebrations where they’re pitched on poles. Typically in these settings, they’re used to playfully shout insults at passersby or sometimes in tandem with another; one telling a joke and another its punch line, over and over. During the celebration of the vernal equinox, they’re used as a way to convey amorous sentiment. A short love letter or verse is spoken to the makemanu before being hidden somewhere for the target of affection to find at a later time.
They are fragile items, and tend to lose their feathers and fall apart after a couple of years. It is traditional to dispose of a makemanu by fire as destruction by any other method is considered very bad luck. The blue feathered makemanu are most rare and possession by anyone other than King Gramatira or the royal family is a crime punishable by death. He carries a scepter with a makemanu mounted at its apex, and any time the king clears his throat, it announces “That paragon of potentates is going to speak!” Anyone who interrupts this announcement is also punishable by death.
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