As Southerners travel North and settle into foreign lands, their traditions are not always so easily accepted by the natives. In the South the dead are not buried, burned, or offered to other creatures, but are preserved by being placed in shallow, extremely saline lakes. The bodies decompose very slowly (if at all) or are eaten by local fauna, the few that brave the heat at least. The salt crystals that form on the bodies are then harvested and kept, usually in glass vials or pouches worn around the neck or in glass pots kept in houses and buildings. It is believed that the dead will watch over and protect any who have the crystals near them. This particular individual is on guard duty to keep pesky scavengers from pecking at the bodies.
The traditional Southern (and to some extend South Eastern) belief is that the first people were born from the crystals and the salt lakes, and that all must return to the shallow expanses of reflective water, to be born again as crystals. It is said that for two or three nights a year the dead will rise and walk along the sky-waters and in a spectral form, their glittering outlines reflecting in the mirror-like waters. This phenomena is actually attributed to a small larva that lives in the harsh, salty environment for nearly a year, then during the hottest season it will molt into its winged adult form during the night when it is coolest, and will put on a massive bioluminescent light show to attract mates. Once mating and egg laying is done they will all perish, and provide food for their young.
I haven’t figured out what to name these guys yet, so if you have any suggestions please share them! I imagine the word sounding sort of harsh, with hard consonants and such (no tongue or lips to make softer sounds with).