The Withered, also known as Cursed, Lost, and Gifted are a type of demons and the main antagonists in the John Wayne Cleaver Series. They are called "demons" for a lack of better word, but the term doesn't really apply to them, as they are not the evil creatures from any of the major religions, but something far stranger.
Any known Withered were once human long ago, far enough in the past to predate the birth of Indo-European language, which is at least ten thousand years ago during the Neolithic Era, or possibly even further. All that is known from this period is that the "world" of human civilization consisted of "just a valley" with a mountain nearby and from this single point the different Withered later spread out.
Those individuals lived in the same city, though there were a few from other places around the valley, and were part of a group led by Rack and Ren, who were the ones to come up with the idea of a ritual to gain eternal life. Although the exact specifics of what the ritual consisted of are vague, it is known that, to obtain immortality, each participant had to give up something of their humanity that not only defined them, but that they also deeply hated about themselves . Elijah Sexton, for example, speculates that he might have committed some terrible act to want to forget it by giving up his memory. Once done, they lost their humanity and called themselves "Gifted", and, at the dawn of human civilization and in the following civilizations born after the end of the Stone Age, they became worshipped as gods: Hulla was a goddess of beauty and love and Meshara was a god of dreams, while Rack’s name became the root origin for the word "king" and other similar titles in Indo-European languages.
They all went their separate ways, and spent millennia sometimes as kings and queens, sometimes as gods. Eventually though, they declined and became shadows of their former, glorious selves, with many of them falling apart at the mental seams, exhibiting symptoms similar to mental disorders. Now called Withered because of their sorry states, most of them turned to violent acts, motivated by their need to fill the hole of what they are "missing" by stealing from people whatever they lack: some require health, others youth or beauty; some need their victims' memories to stay sane, while others pass on their illnesses to stay alive.
Apparently, the US government and many other nations have been peripherally of the existence of the Withered for decades, but with no real way to deal with them.
There's no one quality the Withered share beyond their near-immortal lifespans and their capability for destruction. While some act like demons as thought of in popular culture, possessing humans ormanipulating them to their will, others have their own outwardly normal bodies. Some are physically monstrous or beguilingly gorgeous; others are nondescript and as average as any other individual.
So while the Withered can all be taken out with a swift decapitation, some are easier to put down than others. After they are killed, a Withered's body decomposes into a sort of black ashy sludge called "soulstuff", which some Withered believes is either their body free from physical form, or is actually their souls, which are too corrupted to go on in the afterlife and stay behind after the physical shell is gone .
- Rack/The Hunter — King
- Mkhai/Bill Crowley/The Clayton Killer
- Kanta/Clark Forman
- Cody French
- Agarin/Mary Gardner
- Meshara/Elijah Sexton
- Yashodh/The Spirit of Light Collective/Brother Christopher
- Beth Gleason/Attina