Undying Threat (book)
Throughout the ages, there has been a constant opposition to the forces of advancement, civilization, and order -- to the forces of life, for all intents and purposes. An affront to all that is divine and worthy of respect, a thing that would profane that which we most honor and cherish. There has always been an enemy, hidden away in the shadows, attempting to tear down all that we of Kermoria have built by working together and mastering our true potential.
Some shy away entirely from even discussing this peril that we have faced in the past -- face even today, for it is omnipresent, and challenges us still. They feel that to give name to these enemies, to acknowledge their existence and the power they have over us, the fear we have for them... will only make them stronger, make the threat more real. Or they feel that to study the magics of these enemies only opens ourselves to being corrupted by those same magics -- to know our enemy and his power will transform us into our enemy. This is all hogwash, of course. We must know of our enemy, of our peril at his hands, and of their secrets and magic.
I call them the Undying Threat.
I speak, of course, of the scourge that is the Necromancer. A plague wielding dark magics (magic of blood, death, demons, and decay) and commanding the undead hordes that burn our cities and desecrate our sanctified places.
I said that many are afraid to acknowledge this threat, fearing to give it more power. But these are enemies that we must confront with a stout heart and holy thoughts. We make our enemies stronger not by knowing of them and their power and their ways, but by fleeing from them. Our ignorance of their weaknesses and our inability to challenge their pervasive might, these are the acts they rely upon. The notion that understanding the source of their power will corrupt the heart and soul and transform a good man into an evil one... is merely a notion of their own devise, to frighten away would be champions of what is right. I am but a mere novitiate in my path, but these things are apparent to me. My elders are simply afraid. I am not.
To bring enlightenment and to better confront our adversary, I have been centering my studies on areas of magic others would pretend exist not at all... and on the parts of history my companions and elders try hardest to forget.
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Chapter One: The Origins of Necromancy
From the very beginnings of history on Kermoria, Necromancers -- the masters of death and life, as they fancy themselves -- have played a key role in shaping mortal affairs. At the start, the Dwarves and Elves each possessed Empires that covered all of Kermoria. They ruled it, each with one half of the continent, and they were always at each other's throats. Notable is that the first thing to ever bring these quarrelsome races together was the threat of Necromancy -- a threat that came in the form of a man they would both refer to as "The Fallen Prince."
Regrettably, not even my thorough research could turn up an entirely factual name for this individual, this Fallen Prince. He was evidently called a number of things, and I am not sure which, if any, of the names I discovered is his true name -- I surmise that many of the names he is known by are actually curses and other assorted vulgarities in the languages of ancient Elven and ancient Dwarven. His most well known moniker, though, was derived from the fact that he was one of the sons of the Elven "Mother and Father," believed to be the first of their people. He was, then, a true prince among the Elves, but try finding any Elven texts that speak of him today! Texts and the Elven oral tradition will talk about Bright and Truly and the other children of the Mother and Father, but not this man - - shame, fear, and other lesser emotions allow this supposedly great race to try and blot out the memory of him and what he did. But they know. Even though they won't speak of it, they all know, and remember. So do the Dwarves.
The Fallen Prince turned from his parents, the progenitors of Elvenkind, to walk down a darker path. While they used their magics of life to sculpt beautiful creations honoring the gods, he used his to twist and corrupt the living essence of all he came across. Why? Who knows... ? Perhaps out of cruelty, perhaps out of a desire to surpass his parents and siblings by finding a greater power, perhaps out of something else entirely. It doesn't really matter anymore. He was infected, though, just as the other Elves were, with a hatred of the Dwarves.
The time came when the Fallen Prince used his deathsculpting, as I call it, to create a force of warriors. He twisted the trees of the forests, the beasts of the plains, and he turned them into rotted, undead things that he commanded. With that force, he struck at the Dwarves, hoping to kill them all. And if he did, he surely would have claimed their entire Empire for himself. Half of Kermoria, ruled by the Fallen Prince.
But the Elves, finally allowing common sense to overcome their dislike of the Dwarves, recognized the pure evil of what their brother was doing. And after they got over the horrific shock of how he was using his powers, they joined with the Elves to eliminate this new undead army. Not before he did considerable damage, of course, and not before he demonstrated the presence of the necromantic threat to the world.
Sidhlot was the next most significant Necromancer to rise up. He is a far more complex case -- driven not only by the usual motivations but also by an unquenchable desire to destroy his former leader (some say mother? some say lover? The relationship between Sidhlot and his nemesis is quite murky) Morganae, Queen of the Mountain Elves. He led away exiles from her stronghold Garnedhren, exiles as eager to see her dethroned as Sidhlot. Much of what he has done over the years has had, as an underlying cause, the goal to eliminate Morganae's power and influence -- take, for instance, Sidhlot using his necromantic powers to corrupt the Iron Clan, turning them into foul and evil tools, a living weapon he could aim at Morganae's heart.
I don't know precisely the magics he used to twist the essence of a living mortal being, but it was a truly lethal usage of power. I am thankful that such magic has rarely, if ever, been utilized since, by Sidhlot or by any other Necromancers. As to other Necromancers, perhaps none of them, either, knew the secrets behind that particular magic, and so could not match it. But Sidhlot... I am at a loss at to his failure to use such powers again. To make my most educated guess, I would put forth that this power was likely extremely draining on Sidhlot, prompting him not to utilize it again. In later years, other Necromancers as well as Sidhlot himself, would concentrate their powers on dead beings, rather than living ones.
An ironic historical note regarding Sidhlot and his followers. When first the Dwarves of Forfedhdar (for the enclave of the Bone Elves does lie deep within the mountains that serve as boundary between Ilithi and Forfedhdar) encountered the Bone Elves, they were stunned by the magics these Elves were using. The Dwarves beheld monsters and beasts, as well as Dwarven warriors, felled by the Necromancers, and observed that the Bone Elves were quite literally draining the life from them via magical means. They coined a term for these Necromancers, calling them the "valpatur" -- translated, it means <soul rhythm> (I am not sure of the precise correlation between that translation and what the Bone Elves specifically did, but perhaps it loses something in the translation, or perhaps the Dwarves were being poetic). The Dwarves would later tell their allies, the Humans, of the Bone Elves, during the Elven-Human War. Valpatur that drained the life from a living being... of course, here, again there were problems with translations.
The Dwarves equated the heart with life, and in relating this tale to the Humans, the Humans believed the Dwarves were describing beings that would, literally, drain the heart from a mortal... and in passing those tales down to the next Human generation and the next, it eventually became a tale of blood-suckers! And of course, the Human tongue butchered the Haakish words the Dwarves used... so the term "valpatur" was twisted into something the Humans could pronounce more easily. As the Human generations continued to go by, the tales of blood consuming vampires became more and more engrained in the folklore of the race, and the folklore grew ever more fanciful with each retelling. The telling that exists today, a story of evil creatures, used to scare little children... scarcely resembles the actual accounts the Dwarves originally passed along. As a scholarly sort, I recount this example to establish how faulty and unreliable oral tradition really is. It's good that, as a civilization, we've all moved beyond that.
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Chapter Two: The Undead Menace
The most identifiable, and likely most dangerous, aspect of the Necromancer's power is the ability and desire to create undead. These monsters are soulless beasts of pure evil which have been enchanted into a mockery of the life given to all Elanthian creatures by the divine pantheon. They are neither alive nor dead -- beings that have already died, but are given a new false life in order to further the goals of their evil masters.
They are profane beings used in profane ways. One example of such is the Necromancer Emuin, who created undead which he set loose upon the holy grounds of the Five Provinces, using them to eliminate the sanctified natures of those places. Shrines, temples, and reliquaries were not safe from Emuin's undead. He would destroy the sacred blessings which enabled an altar to function and perform the will of the Immortals... and he sacked places of refuge, stealing and destroying holy artifacts, such as the divine Chalice. All of this he accomplished by relying upon beings he created through undeath magics. The Necromancer Emuin created a particularly dangerous and fearful breed of undead which he called Bony Fylgja.
The Oshu'Erhhsk family, a group of prominent S'Kra Mur Necromancers, has frequently brought trouble to the regions of southern Zoluren where it resides. The most significant Necromancer of this family is one known as Lasarhhtha Oshu'Erhhsk, creator of several types of undead -- the Germish'din, the Seordhevor Kartais, and zombie S'Kra Mur, for instance. All powerful, lethal, and truly foul in every sense of the word. Beholding these monstrosities is not pleasant... especially the germish'din, for they are stitched together, rotting beasts.
Lasarhhtha has utilized necromantic poisons (something upon which I shall delve into greater detail, below) to assassinate influential figures, such as members of the Moon Mage High Council. He has nearly sparked a necromantic civil war by stealing objects from Sidhlot and his Bone Elves -- while some might rejoice at such an inner war, one must bear in mind that countless innocents would be caught in the midst should such an affair break out. Lasarhhtha has also sought after, and regrettably acquired, many a powerful artifact -- from sorcerous tomes to shards of the fourth moon, Grazhir, to the truly dangerous Deceiver artifacts.
The Dragon Priests (of which the Oshu'Erhhsk family was a part) were known to frequently rely upon Necromancy in their time. In fact, studies of the Dark Hand show that it is almost purely Necromantic magic that was used to corrupt that land, turning a beautiful stretch of the Ilithi landscape into a realm out of nightmare, a land where undeath is concentrated and ever growing.
More to the point, though, the Dragon Priests also used scientific and alchemical experimentation, combined with dark necromantic magics, to breed creatures for their armies. One of the things that allowed the Dragon Priests to conquer so much of the Five Provinces was their ability to create a horde of undead beasts that would do their bidding unquestionable, and were infinitely replaceable, whereas mortal soldiers... once dead, were dead.
Another contemporary Necromancer who was had a profound impact on the goings-on in Kermoria is the woman known as Lyras, who used her power to create a vast undead army, with which she ravaged the lands to the west -- driving many refugee Prydaen and Rakash to Kermoria.
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Chapter Three: The Necromantic Plague
Many are unaware of this, but it is actually possible to create necromantic diseases -- that is, a poison which infects the body, destroying it, and spreading to others, enhanced by the powers of the Necromancer's dark magic, which enable to diseases to act in a more powerful way, to do things a normal disease could not, or to spread faster. Some of the most disastrous plagues our lands have contended with were not natural in origin, but were in fact a creation of evil.
Perhaps the most profound and significant example of such Necromancy comes to us not from Kermoria, but actually from the southern continent, Albaria. Once, on Albaria, there stood a great civilization, the Luethrans, which rivaled the Elves and the Dwarves at the height of their power. The Luethra race was innovative in architecture, magic, trade, government, and the arts. They spanned the entire Albarian continent, as well as Kermoria's Qi Archipelago. So quite clearly, their influence was expansive, to say the least.
Their eventual downfall came in the form of a plague, what they called the "Rasman Plague," so named for the first victim of the plague, a man by the name of Osaen Rasman, a ruler among his people. This plague crippled the Luethran people as it spread, causing devastation, riots, death. Documents we have now, though, cause us to suspect one of two scenarios: first, that Rasman was a Necromancer whose experiments went poorly, thus resulting in his own death; second, that Rasman was a target of Necromancers, who assassinated him. Either way, we do know that his death was not natural -- it was the first recorded instance of a necromantic disease or a necromantic poison... and as such instances go, this was a memorable one (a necromantic disease that brought down an empire). This is a threat that our people would have to contend with multiple times throughout history, these necromantic diseases, and they have always been unpleasant -- brutal in the scope of their devastation as well as the manner of death they inflict, the suffering. If anyone still doubts the significance of the Luethran devastation by way of the necromantic Rasman Plague, though, consider this: it was the plague that allowed the Gorbesh to come to power in Albaria, allowing them to create an Empire that has frequently threatened, invaded, and overpowered Kermoria. These are the results of Necromancy.
Other examples of necromantic diseases and poisons... include the destruction of the village of Promado, in the Journelai Mountains, the region known as Sorrow's Reach; and the contemporary case involving the assassination of a Prince of Zoluren by his Necromancer nephew, Sirolarn, a situation full of complex political history.
The rumors of the time when Belirendrick's reign first began indicated that the Prince had his brother-in-law, the nephew's father, killed, in order to ensure Belirendrick's ascension to the throne. Sirolarn's mother, Belirendrick's sister, died in childbirth -- or so they say, at least. In any event, it was essential for Belirendrick to have his brother-in-law killed before Sirolarn's death, else the infant would take the throne. He succeeded, becoming Prince, and when Sirolarn was born, the Prince had the boy taken in. It may well have been these events which led to Sirolarn becoming a Necromancer -- he feigned studies as a Cleric. Eventually he used his necromancy to create a magic poison, which he used to assassinate the Prince, and so for a time, he ruled over Zoluren. Sirolarn, to establish some additional context, is one of the few Necromancers to rule a nation in the modern era -- truly a dangerous fellow there.
As an additional example of these diseases, there are shreds of evidence to suggest that the plagues inflicted by the Imperial rogue known as Jomay... were necromantic in origin.
Lasarhhtha's method of assassination when he killed members of the Moon Mage High Council was yet another necromantic disease, which he spread by way of a hapless madman that Lasarhhtha deliberately infected with the magical disease.
Then there was the case of Ralel, who devised extremely dangerous creatures infected with a necromantic poison... a poison which they would then spread. Ralel employed these monsters to further his goals as an Elven separatist, who sought independent sovereignty for the city of Leth Deriel. He was also a member of the court of Queen Morganae -- interesting, that, considering that her greatest rivals are Necromancers. Perhaps she employed Ralel, and gave him such wide latitude in his affairs, in order that she may have a counterbalancing force against Sidhlot; one Necromancer to combat another. This is only speculation on my part, though.
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Chapter Four: In Closing
It is fortunate from our perspective that the Necromancers of Elanthia are so often at each other's throats. These Necromancers recognize the threat they all pose to each other, and they recognize that their greatest enemies (the individuals capable of inflicting the most damage upon them and their plans) are other Necromancers. For instance, the driving enmity between the Bone Elves and Lasarhhtha is well known, and almost laughable -- the Bone Elves marginalized and hunted Lasarhhtha, who would later steal necromantic tomes from them to enhance his own powers; Sidhlot would then send his daughter and son-in-law to reclaim those possessions and attempt to kill off Lasarhhtha.
It is this inner chaos and strife... this inability to work together and cooperate as a cohesive and organized group... that has so often proved the ultimate failing of Necromancers in general. As an example of what Necromancers can do when acting in such a structured manner, one need look no further than the Dragon Priests, whose army-like organization allowed for mass destruction and conquest. Whereas the Guilds of Kermoria act as a single, organized force with a rigid hierarchical structure which allows for comprehensive plans and unified decision making... greatly enhancing their power... the Necromancers do not. They are paranoid, afraid and resentful of each other, and utterly disorganized.
This, I feel, is their greatest weakness, and it is at this point that we as a civilization must strike. Only by exploiting their weaknesses can we combat them, and destroy them.
The threat that the Necromancers pose to our safety and way of life cannot be underestimated. We must continue to learn all we can of their magics and of what gives them strength, so that we can... someday soon, I pray to Murrula!... eliminate this Undying Threat.
I shall endeavor to continue my studies of Necromancers, their origins, and their magic and powers. I shall continue to seek ways to undermine their strength and help bring the good people of the Five Provinces to victory over this menace. Now that I have concluded my tome, my compendium of study on the Necromancers, I will be departing at once on an expedition to further seek knowledge that may aid us. This is a dangerous task I have set for myself, but I am reassured in that I will be accompanies by my closest and truest friend and ally, Dwarath Hvawst, a Paladin that I have known since my childhood. While I read books and practiced spells and sought ways to gain knowledge... he prayed, and honed his skill at the sword and shield, becoming a true-hearted warrior of the gods. With him at my side, I am assured of victory in this journey.
By my hand, Zamidren Book
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Post Publication Note: While we are greatly indebted to Mr. Book for his efforts, we must sadly pass along to the reader that neither he nor Dwarath have been heard from since departing on their journey to seek out the source of necromantic power and combat it. We pray for their return to us.