- "The dead are as close to us as ice to snow."
- —Oblast Saying[1a]
- "Help a blind old baba, dearie, there’s a good lad. Here, let me take your hand..."
- —Typical Whisper of an Eyeless One[1a]
There is a tradition out in the oblast to take the dead away into the snow and leave them there, for the ground is far too frozen to be broken by shovels for a grave, and wood is too precious to waste on pyres. According to the old ways, however, the dead sometimes wake and try to find their way back to the stanitsa. To prevent this, the eyes are removed from the body so they cannot see which way to go. However, there are some restless, hungry spirits who will not let this deter them, and they return to life in their old form—though their skin is bleached white, and their eye sockets remain empty. These Undead creatures have nothing of their old personality and hunger only for the warm touch of the living. They hide their deficiency under a deep hood and prey on travellers, sucking out their souls and stealing their eyes. Everyone knows when a traveller stumbles in with empty, bleeding eye sockets, the fool has met an Eyeless One and paid dearly for his kindness.[1a]