The History and Teachings of Kigot/Contents

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The History and Teachings of Kigot

by Xerasyth

Part 1: Life and Death

Kigot is, in many ways, the true founder of the Philosophy of the Knife, though he died long before before its current iteration came into being. This is not to say that he created necromancy -- that would be not only wrong but incredibly stupid, as many, many people before his time had either dabbled or plunged fully head-on into arcane magics dealing with death and other pieces of what is commonly called necromancy, with deeply varying results. No, what Kigot created instead was the moral underpinnings that separate the Philosophers from mere practitioners of necromancy. What he created was the beginning of the Great Work.

Jonathan Kigot lived from approximately 250 AV to 300 AV. From all evidence that still exists (which isn't much), he was a cleric in his early life, and we know that he went by the title of Friar Kigot. We cannot be certain, but it is a strong possibility that he was once a member of the Hounds of Rutilor. It is very likely that it was during the crusades against necromancy which were common at the time when Kigot came upon a book entitled "Investigations Toward an Alchemy of Flesh". What is known for certain is that come upon it he did, and, deciding that knowledge was power, he became convinced that studying this tome was the best way to truly fight necromancy.

Soon after its discovery by Kigot, copies of what is now known more simply as the Alchemy of Flesh began to propagate through the academic circles, including Asemath Academy. Those who studied its teachings and took them to heart, including Kigot, became the first generation of the Philosophers, and they practiced what Kigot called "necro-alchemy". The first generation had direct access to the Alchemy of Flesh and its teachings, spells, and methods. All evidence points to there being dozens of these first-generation Philosophers, which, of course, soon prompted a response from the Hounds of Rutilor in the form of a purge in 287 AD. The Hounds were never an organization that took upstaging, or what they saw as corruption and betrayal, well.

The purge was widespread, brutal, and thorough. Every known copy of the Alchemy of Flesh was burned as the knowledge was considered far too dangerous to exist. Whole villages were razed in Zoluren and in Therengia under the command of both the Clerics' Guild and Prince Belirendrick Sorvendig II of Zoluren in an attempted to wipe out even the memory of the book and the practices that had come from it. Hundreds of scholars were killed in the slaughter, including at least a quarter of the students at Asemath Academy -- far more people than the first generation of Philosophers had killed in their pursuits, and more than even most Perverse cults tend to manage, certainly within the same given time. While a small number of the first-generation Philosophers did survive this purge, there are none known that still live today.

Kigot escaped the initial purges, and gained strength in the next years, eventually earning the title of Necrolord, though he tended to eschew such trappings. He went on over the next several years to write and to teach, though far less openly than before. Among his most famous works was a book called "The Philosophy of the Knife", which took the backbone of what Kigot learned from the Alchemy of Flesh and added a moral code to the practices therein. Essentially, the Philosophy of the Knife took what was once simply an alternate approach to necromancy and synthesized from it an entirely new way to look at phenomenological existence, along with a framework for how to seize the means of crafting said existence in full, true freedom.

Armed and illuminated through Kigot's new writing, of which multitudinous copies were made, many scholars had an ideological conversion and began to practice what the book taught. This gave rise to the second generation of Philosophers -- those who read the Philosophy of the Knife and began to follow its teachings.

The crusades came for Kigot again, but he had grown considerably in strength since the last attempt they had made on his life. Living in far western Zoluren at the time, nearly at the border, the Hounds of Rutilor tracked him down with a large hunting party. Though the Hounds were victorious over him, they were only just so, with most of them dying in the attempt. Kigot was killed, his body cremated, and his ashes buried on the Crossing Temple grounds in an unmarked grave. However, his legacy still lives on in his teachings of the Philosophy of the Knife, now passed from those few who remain from the second generation, under the steering of Zamidren Book, to an even larger base of students, those that you, reader, almost certainly number amongst: the third generation.

Part 2: The Philosophy

The original book of the Alchemy of Flesh has been lost to the ages and the crusades of the Hounds of Rutilor. Likewise, most copies of the Philosophy of the Knife have been destroyed by the Hounds and similar small-minded fanatics, with only a few full copies rumored to exist in locations unknown. Loose, individual pages of the book, and, more rarely, contiguous clusters of pages have been found and are closely guarded as precious by those who keep them. Zamidren Book, unsurprisingly, has what might be the largest collection of passages amassed to date, though it still falls short of being the complete book.

For those of you not lucky enough to obtain direct access to portions of an original copy, but yet too driven to be satisfied with Markat's condescending primer on the matter, the Philosophy's moral code consists of three basic tenets: the Great Work, the shunning of the Demonic, and the Triumphant.

The Great Work

Simply put, the culmination of the Great Work is an end to death for all living creatures. It begins with the necromancer, yes, but it continues to the unshackling of all Elanthia from the unremitting cycle of life and death.

This is a very lofty goal, and one not to be taken up lightly. It requires sacrifices. First and foremost, the Philosopher, just like any necromancer, is a monster, and must never forget that fact. The ritual to open one's eyes to the cracks between the real and the unreal, that warping of natural perception into unnatural perception that allows for seeing and manipulating a frequency of mana that doesn't even really exist, comes with a cost. When you see beyond the natural, that which exists beyond the natural begins to see you. Many are consumed by what they see with their altered perceptions, figuratively or literally, falling to madness or simply disappearing altogether. There is also sacrifice in that being a necromancer, whether you call yourself Philosopher or no, is a very solitary path filled with individual triumphs and failures that are ultimately very difficult, if not impossible, to truly share with others -- then those who involve themselves in similar pursuits. You will never know a true commonality of existence with another.

However, it is not becoming a monster that is the true sacrifice involved in the Great Work, nor the changes to self, nor the separation from others. No, the truest sacrifice is that of the freedom taken from every creature murdered in the pursuit of the Great Work. Yes, murdered. A Philosopher has no room to lie to themselves on this. Though true freedom for all is the end result of the Great Work, its path is littered with the freedoms prevented with the taking of every life. The truest sacrifice is that of those who may not even understand why it is made. If you see the deaths of your subjects as anything else, you are not a Philosopher and you do not understand the Great Work. The world is a charnel house, and a lack of participation in it will change nothing -- just look to the Empaths -- but that does not mean that the methods of true change are any less horrific than the current status quo. Kigot would say that you are a monster within a monstrous system, but knowing what you are and making it have a real meaning instead of simply revelling in it is what makes a Philosopher a Philosopher.

Though housed within the frame of this intentional atrocity, the undertaking of the Great Work is set out as a calculated three-fold path that is often presented as scientific: experimentation, observation of results, and the application of those results to refine further experiments until such time as Transcendence is achieved. Invariably, the tool used for this experimentation is a knife -- a simple tool, but one that allows the necromancer to viscerally manipulate the connection between flesh and life.

The Shunning of the Demonic

Demons are powerful extraplanar beings that indirectly influence the Plane of Abiding through manipulations both subtle and not so subtle. These creatures are as varied as they are strong. Two of the most widely known demons are Maelshyve and the Hunger. While Maelshyve seems content to lie dormant in her swamp for the most part, the Hunger is actively known to want to turn all of Elanthia into nothing but the undead -- thus starving the Immortals and feeding itself.

Despite what many think, the Immortals are not exactly demons. The Immortals are powerful extraplanar entities, yes, but they mostly deal in Divine and Holy magic as opposed to the more volatile Arcane (or the even more bizarre magics we fail to define as anything other than 'sorcerous' for want of an accurate term) used by demons. The Immortals are also fed by the Red Spiral, while demons are not. This means that the Immortals are similar in many ways to what we discuss here as demons, and may just be the things that got there first, but they have settled themselves into a more subtle version of oppressor -- the gardener as opposed to the clear cutter.

The Philosophy shuns demons because, even if they would be allies in changing the reality created and enforced by the Immortals, it is not to the benefit of the Great Work to make any extraplanar beings stronger, nor is it to their benefit to shackle their efforts to the whim of any creature, regardless of its power. If the end goal of the Great Work is true freedom, then you can see why this would be just as outright stupid and hypocritical as it could be dangerous. While Philosophers give up some of the more powerful tools at a common necromancer's disposal, the Great Work is not really about short term power. In most cases, the ends justify the means even within the Philosophy, but in shunning the demonic, the Philosopher seeks to avoid an equally undesirable end.

The Triumphant

Embedded in Kigot's book, the Philosophy of the Knife, we find mention of the Triumphant -- an individual destined to lead all other Philosophers in pursuit of the Great Work. Part prophecy, part tenet, the Triumphant is the individual who brings the Philosophers united under one banner, one teaching, one vision. For better or for worse, depending on your viewpoint, this individual is currently the Philosopher Zamidren Book, and he will remain the Triumphant unless he truly dies, which at this point is, shall I say, unlikely. To this purpose, he spent many years creating a safe haven for students to study, then judged those students harshly before committing to teaching them.

The Triumphant has several responsibilities, all centered upon ensuring the survival of the Philosophy and, therefore, the Great Work. The first is to teach. This is considered an immutable aspect of the Philosophy's survival, as individual Philosophers may fall prey to any number of internal idiocies or outside dangers, and the stewardship of both each individual effort at enlightenment as well as increasing the number of those undertaking the Great Work are necessary to this end.

From this responsibility to teach comes another responsibility of the Triumphant -- to coagulate the free-flowing streams of insight, to distill the individualized breakthroughs so that what would have been impossible to teach can become teachable. This is perhaps the most difficult of his duties, as necromantic study is by essence highly personal. To take such personal paths and pull from them teachable truths is no small feat. The last I will mention has been to keep the Philosophy secret -- mostly. There are no secrets that are not eventually revealed, but with a careful dance between placating the Temple and screening potential new necromancers, the Philosophy has remained relatively safe underneath his care. Note that I say the *Philosophy* has remained relatively safe, not Philosophers. No one Philosopher is worth the success of the Great Work itself -- nor any ten, nor any hundred.

It is on that thought that I will leave you to ponder. I myself am no Philosopher, though I follow much of Kigot's teachings and consider myself an ally to those who are. My origin as a creation of necromancy prevents me from ever being one in the deepest sense. What are you, reader? Will you take up the Great Work, will you fall from the knife's edge as you go like so many chattel, or will you jump into the abyss like an idiot more entranced with appearances than freedom?