Thirty years ago, the town of Lilbr was utterly commonplace. It wasn’t deep in the wilderness, nor was it convenient to any large cities. Its people were not renowned for any great craft or service. They lived unremarkably, and no one paid them any mind.
Then a virulent diseased spread rapidly throughout the land, touching every community. Its victims died horrible, retching deaths. Many attempts were made to cure it, but they seemed powerless to stop or even delay the spread of the terrible malady. Like an avatar of death, it killed the ones it chose for itself, and ignored the rest completely. Even those who tried to keep themselves completely separated from society had no luck escaping the scourge of what came to be known The Death Cough, after its distinctive first symptom.
The disease raged for only three months, but in that time it nearly halfed the size of most communities. Some towns were reduced to a tenth of their previous population. Everyone was scared, and mourning, and many towns were abandoned because their devastated citizenry could no longer support themselves. It took a few months before people started to realize that in all the shuffling, no one had heard anything, from anyone in Lilbr.
Scouts were sent to investigate. They discovered what everyone had feared. Not a single person in Lilbr had been left alive. Upon inspection, no new graves were found. There was no indication that anyone had taken the time to bury any of the numerous bodies curled up in their homes and in the streets. It was apparent that the Death Cough had afflicted all the people of Lilbr at the same time, and had not spared anyone as it had elsewhere. Even the livestock were seen curled up and motionless, apparently dead from the disease which had only been observed affecting humans before.
With the threat of the disease still fresh in everyone’s minds, no one even dared bury the bodies. That would require being near them for far too long. Instead, it was agreed that no one should approach within 20 miles of Lilbr until 10 years hence. The number was arbitrary and unscientific, but to the farmers and other peasant folk who made up the surrounding villages and towns, it seemed like a safe bet.
Signs were posted warning travelers away, and indicating safe detours. For a decade, no one set eyes on Lilbr. And when the 10 year quarantine finally drew to a close, the emboldened villagers sent a small band to purge the village. They were to bury the bodies—no doubt skeletal by now—and burn the buildings and fields. The band returned three days later, each of them as pale as death. They said there were no bodies to bury, because the dead of Lilbr walked the streets as though they were alive.
Fearing the worst, a party of adventurers was hired to investigate further. They found that, indeed, the people of Lilbr had been raised as zombies. But even the adventurers, widely traveled though they were, had never seen anything quite like what the town had become.
While on the surface the town appeared to be overrun by completely average zombies, the adventurers discovered them to be anything but. For one thing, they did not attack the living on sight. In fact, they completely ignored the adventurers until the group destroyed one of the shambling corpses. When they did that, every zombie in town immediately attacked, and the adventurers thought for sure they would be devoured by the sudden onslaught. But the moment they stepped outside the city limits, all pursuit ceased. The zombies stopped running, picked up the remains of the one who had fallen, and went about their business. Stranger still, the following day, the adventurers saw the same zombie they had destroyed walking about as though nothing had happened! That shouldn’t be possible. A destroyed zombie cannot be reanimated a second time, it is common knowledge.
Still more strange, the adventures noted that the zombies did not mill about aimlessly as mindless creatures are apt to do. They seem to be living the same lives they had before the plague came.The farmers farmed, the millers milled, the children played, and friends stood around chatting with one another. It would be an idyllic scene, if the participants were not dead. The running children moved in a stilted, rigor-mortised shamble, and every conversation was nothing but guttural noises produced by lungs and throats which no longer functioned as they were designed to.
Unsettled by this news, the surrounding villages began to empty. No one was comfortable living near such a horrifying place. It wasn’t long before the village of the dead was surrounded by a dozen ghost towns. Occasionally, a group of paladins have taken it upon themselves to destroy Lilbr, and rid the world of its foul mockery of life. Many died trying, unprepared for the vicious coordination of the zombie counterattack. And before a more organized force could raze the town, necromancers began to arrive from all over the world.
Lilbr was unique. An absolutely unparalleled opportunity to study naturally occuring necromatic phenomena. Every powerful necromancer in the world wanted to be a part of it. Many went so far as to build their towers within sight of the town, forming a very loose coalition. They quickly noticed something the adventuers had failed to recognize: each zombie’s actions are exactly the same nearly every day. Down to the number of steps taken and the tones of the guttural conversations. Very occasionally, once, or perhaps twice a year, the zombies deviate from their routine. For a day, everything is different. They have a festival, or a trial, or a war. So far none of these odd days have repeated themselves, and no one is quite sure what they represent.
Entire towers have been filled with tomes pertaining to the bizarre puzzle of Liblr. To this day, no one actually knows what is going on.