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Benevolent Necromancy, it Exists

Yisareh of the Undaunted

When you hear the word necromancy, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Animated corpses and angry ghosts? That is necromancy, it's true, but it represents only a fraction of what this school of magic encompasses. The fact is that most of what you know about necromancy consists of untruths and superstition. Many of you reading this already dabble with necromancy every day. Soul gems, part and parcel to the widely practiced art of enchanting, are created through necromancy. If you've ever been severely injured, or deathly ill, and had a healer bring you back from the brink of death, you've benefited from necromancy. It's no more good or evil than any destruction spell. It all comes down to how you use the magic.

While a malicious necromancer might pull an unwilling spirit back to our world by force, I simply open a pathway and offer an invitation. I have done so quite often to briefly reunite loved ones, solve mysteries, and bring closure to restless spirits. Prayer and ceremony provide some comfort to the living and the dead, but necromancy serves to empower both, for good or ill. Rather than shunning this practice, the Mages Guild should regulate it. Forcing necromancy into the shadows only serves to drive away benevolent practitioners and conceal those who study it with bad intentions.

With as much war and death as there is in this world, the knowledge to help those cling to life or be released from it has never been more needed.

Zumog Phoom


Of all of the Usurper Queen’s lieutenants, none are as sinister as the Orc necromancer known as Zumog Phoom. Uncover the secrets behind this lord of the dark arts in our latest Meet the Character!

Zumog Phoom, Dark Lord of the Dead

To: Lord Gharesh-ri, Speaker of the Mane

From: Khamira, Agent of the Speaker

It seems that the Usurper Queen’s inner circle grows larger with every passing day. While it has long been rumored that Euraxia Tharn employed necromancers among her Nibenese mercenaries, I have finally put a name and other details to the dark mage serving as her court wizard. They call him Zumog Phoom.

The Orc necromancer, a self-proclaimed “lord of the dark arts,” reportedly hails from the northernmost climes of Wrothgar. I have found no direct evidence for this assertion, but the wilds beyond Orsinium are unforgiving, and life among the Orc strongholds is bleak, harsh, and brutal. I could see the frozen north giving rise to a vile sorcerer such as Zumog Phoom. He presents a proud and powerful visage, totally loyal to the Usurper Queen yet completely devoted to progressing necromancy in all its forms.

Some information paints Zumog Phoom as a ranking member of the Order of the Black Worm and a former student of Mannimarco, but I cannot corroborate these reports. In any event, he has been at Euraxia’s side since her conquest of Rimmen, adding his dark magic to her own skills and abilities. She values his counsel, keeping the necromancer close and making him an integral part of her strategy and planning sessions. For his part, Zumog Phoom takes advantage of the power and prestige afforded him by Rimmen’s unlawful ruler. This, in turn, has brought a small army of lesser necromancers to Zumog Phoom’s side. Like a torch burning in the darkest dungeon, he draws other death-casters to Euraxia’s banner like moths to a flame. They fear their dark lord, but also covet the power and training he offers.

Worse, while we have faced the occasional zombie or other undead monstrosity operating as part of Euraxia’s forces, rumors of so-called “cadaver forges” have begun circulating among the Euraxian troops. These undead factories have begun churning out skeletal warriors and zombie soldiers to bolster Euraxia’s army. One Euraxian mercenary, unaware that I was spying for the Speaker of the Mane, confessed to me that fighting alongside hordes of dead people gave him nightmares that “all the wine in Rimmen couldn’t chase away.” We have yet to experience the products of these vile places, but evidence of grave robbing throughout the region has become more prominent, especially around Ashen Scar and other mass graves from the worst period of the Knahaten flu outbreak. We must make finding these cadaver forges a priority, along with all of the other priorities currently requiring our attention. Moons, who knew overthrowing an illegal tyrant would be so onerous?

While gathering information in Rimmen, I had the opportunity to listen to a couple of Zumog Phoom’s acolytes discuss their master as they gulped down bottles of Bright Moons sweet wine. It was clear to me from their conversation that they both admire and fear the chief necromancer. They spoke in hushed tones at first, but became louder and more animated as they consumed more and more of the wine. “Zumog Phoom’s Orcish visage certainly adds to his persona,” commented the first acolyte. “I love how he wears his death-enhanced powers like a shroud around his shoulders,” agreed the second. The acolytes repeatedly mentioned how they could feel the aura of death whenever they were in their master’s presence. While the sensation obviously disturbed them, they also seemed eager to acquire that level of power for themselves. Near the end of their conversation, the first acolyte (who was quite inebriated by this point) started on about how Zumog Phoom had a plan that went beyond anything Queen Euraxia could imagine. “I can’t wait to start digging up body parts,” he said. “Think how the master will reward me if I bring him ….” Before he could say more, his companion told him to be quiet. “Every tavern has ears, you know,” she warned, proving she had more tolerance to alcohol than her companion. Pity.

Speaker, we must find a means for dealing with Zumog Phoom and his followers before they provide Euraxia with an unlimited supply of soldiers. The Defense Force cannot repel an army that does not tire and can be ceaselessly replenished. Our best chance lies in locating the undead factories and destroying them before they can be turned up to full capacity.

And if we can kill Zumog Phoom, so much the better.

One way or another, if you wish to help the Khajiit free their homeland, you need to deal with Zumog Phoom and his undead army. In the right hands, his knowledge of the dark arts could be an undeniable boon. Are you planning to face this dread necromancer when ESO: Elsweyr launches? Let us know on Twitter @TESOnline, Instagram, or Facebook.

Reanimation Experiment Findings


Common animals are proving an interesting challenge among our reanimators. Those with a lack of understanding of these beasts anatomy inevitably find their creations hobbled and deformed. While the remains are pliant, lacking the strong bonds between body and soul that more advanced beings possess, they are also mostly devoid of awareness, mindless puppets that must be directed with total concentration. A skillfully conducted ritual can produce undead with, at best, an instinct similar to that of the living counterpart. Regrettably, these creatures are often uncontrollably disturbed by their condition.

Cadaver Preparation Findings


While not applicable to his immediate plans, the master has discovered that thoughtful removal of certain anatomy prior to reanimation cultivates a stronger, more versatile specimen.

Most internal organs no longer serve any function and only encumber the cadaver, and while the skin can offer some protection, it often becomes host to rot that spreads to more useful tissues.

Ligaments and muscle, on the other hand, greatly increase durability, stability, and mobility provided that they remain undamaged.

This may explain why the draugr guardians of the Dragon Priests were mummified before reanimation.

On Soul Shriven


It is by the grace of my lord and master, Molag Bal, that I, Mannimarco, was gifted this meager knowledge regarding the process of creating the Soul Shriven. Those debased and pitiful entities that serve as fodder for the bestial Daedra and objects of torture for the dremora are more than just remnants — they are critical to Molag Bal's scheme to absorb Nirn into his own demesne.

I pored over the scriptures given unto me by the Master to determine the nature of the Soul Shriven, for their very existence seemed in defiance of the accepted theory that all stolen souls travel not to Coldharbour, but to Soul Cairn. Nevertheless, in the confluence of events that followed foolish Varen's bid for Divine investiture, it seemed that all souls taken from that moment forward went not to Soul Cairn, but to Molag Bal's own clutches.

And thus, the first of the Soul Shriven were formed in Coldharbour — wretched creatures bereft of soul, an accretion of Oblivion-matter in the form of an echo of what the creature was in life. Interrogation and vivisection followed the arrival of this first Soul Shriven. Between wild spasms of hysteria, followed by deep states of ennui, the Soul Shriven expressed feelings of emptiness, hunger, and desire that no sustenance provided to them could fill.

Of course, this means little given the state of sustenance supplied within Coldharbour, but the diagnosis was hardly difficult to determine. The lack of a soul caused these feelings, just as the trauma of their sacrifice and soul entrapment caused the fluctuating emotions.

Further, and to my surprise, the Soul Shriven showed extreme endurance. They could sustain injuries of all sorts to a far greater degree than a living creature might, and they could be set to work for long periods past the point where a living slave would collapse from exhaustion. However, the Soul Shriven were not invulnerable; the eventual death of the Soul Shriven subject resulted in its complete annihilation, so utterly final that not even a trace of its essence could escape to Aetherius.

I would later learn that this complete destruction had another, unforeseen effect — a soul destroyed in such a manner empowered Molag Bal himself.

The soul gems that contain the remnant essences of the Soul Shriven are like any other. Their power can be used to create or reinforce enchantments on mundane objects, or fuel particularly potent spells. The machines of the Daedra are similar in this regard, using the raw, unfettered energy of a stolen soul to fuel their operation.

Possessing a soul gem on one's person renders the holder wholly immune to the aggressive actions of the respective Soul Shriven, and with sufficient training, one can even command the Soul Shriven to do the holder's bidding. Naturally, it is impossible to carry every single soul gem made since the Planemeld began, but particularly troublesome individuals can be brought to heel if their will is too strong to break through conventional torment and toil.

With the Daedric machines working constantly to empower the portals and drive the cogs that control the anchors, it is no small surprise that Molag Bal requires so many thousands of soul gems. Each one passes through my castle sooner or later for inspection, some bearing unusual qualities depending on the individual trapped within. Indeed, those whose souls were condemned to Coldharbour through the sacrificial ritual tend to display these gem qualities more commonly than others, and it should be little surprise that they contain more latent power than "simple" black soul gems.

The differing qualities of these gems are mostly academic, consisting of odd protuberances or scintillating color patterns within the crystalline structure of the gem. However, one came across my table recently that was actively changing as I watched it over the course of several days. My measurements were as perfectly meticulous as they ever are, and I was able to confirm what my eyes and spells were telling me — the gem was actually growing larger, smooth and sharp in some places while being jagged and rough in others. Its color patterns would shift from dark purple to red and blue and green, in all colors of light visible to mer and men.

And indeed, the power within the gem itself was growing stronger. The mind shivers with delight at the enchantments or rituals such a gem could fuel should it continue to grow.

What could it mean? What caused this particular gem to be so malleable?

Theories abound on how this gem came to be, but I suspect its owner was involved in the uprising that took place in the slave pits near the Wailing Prison. Within Coldharbour, all things are muted; colors, emotions, willpower, even basic senses. But if a Soul Shriven were to escape…

It seems that even Daedric princes are not without their foibles. Molag Bal clearly did not prepare for this contingency, of a Soul Shriven escaping captivity. Now, sundered from their soul and set wandering in the waking world, they "live" without life and cannot long be grasped by death's clutches. As they grow in power, their soul responds in kind, trapped within its tiny, cold prison.

I wonder at this vestige's motives. Who were they? Could they have been a useful ally? Could they still be one? It is doubtful — stealing one's soul tends to create resentment, after all. Nevertheless, I shall keep all of my options open in regards to this Soul Shriven and its gem.

Sorcery is Not Necromancy!

Divayth Fyr

A mage of supreme power and erudition such as myself may be called upon to exercise his skills in almost any corner of farflung Tamriel, so for a native of Morrowind I am widely traveled. Thus I can tell you with the authority of personal experience that petty local officials, regardless of race or culture, are universally suspicious and ill-informed. "A sorcerer, eh?," they say. "Well, we'll have none of your raising the dead in this jurisdiction, is that understood?"

I cannot tell you how many times I have been subjected to some variation of the above conversation. These ignorant and self-important functionaries have no conception whatsoever of distinctions within the arcane arts. As far as they are concerned, every manipulator of magicka is just waiting for midnight before skulking off to the cemetery to animate the corpses of their neighbors and ancestors.

Imbeciles. Fools. BUREAUCRATS.

Now, it is true, of course, that conjuration is a common tool of sorcery, and we sorcerers often resort to summoning aid from Oblivion when a problem is best solved by judicious application of vicious brute force. It is also true that summoning Daedric spirits to possess and animate corpses, or calling up the souls of the dead for information or other services—in short, necromancy—is a subset of the art of conjuration, albeit inherently distasteful and degrading. However, to infer from this that all sorcerers are de facto necromancers as well is false, misleading, and libelous.

That said, everyone was young once, and it's typical of youth to experiment with things dangerous and forbidden. It is long since I was a lad in Tel Aruhn, and my memory of the early First Era is inexact, but it's just possible that as an apprentice I may have tried out an animation spell or two—never on corpses of anyone I knew, of course (or at least, nobody I knew well), and never for long. To my recollection.

So, at any rate, I know whereof I speak when I say to you: sorcery and necromancy—there IS a difference.

The Scent's the Thing


You were lucky last time. How many times do I have to remind you—if you're going to work with the plague husks, you need to wear the husk scent. I know, I know. It smells terrible. But that's the point! It makes you smell just like the plague husks. That's the only way to safely move among the vile creatures.

Remember what happened to Kenie? She refused to apply the husk scent, too. Complained that it got in her hair and wouldn't come out no matter how many times she washed it. And what did her vanity get her? A plague husk ate her face!

Do you want that to happen to you? I certainly don't! Now, get your nchow together and remember to apply the husk scent. I don't want to have to tell you again.

Practical Necromancy


Chapter XXII: Summoning, Binding, And Questioning Spirits of Aetherius

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Previously we've discussed the reanimation of crude matter for labor (Chapter XVI). It is time to delve into deeper, more rewarding subjects.

Aside from the traditional ritual components (Chapter III), you will need:

* The HIDE of a slaughtered animal, cleaned and dried in the approved manner.
* A measure of dried NIGHTSHADE, crushed with a pestle of pure ebony.
* An ANIMUS GEODE containing the tortured spirit of a man or mer.

Prepare a circular ritual space no less than three paces across. Isolate the space with a circle of one part chalk, one part salt, and one part ash. In the center of the space, prepare your ritual tools. Jam a pike or spear into the earth, point up. Write the name of the spirit you wish to summon on the piece of animal hide.

Be sure you have no injuries that might spill blood in the circle. Trapping one's own soul in a summoning circle is rarely fatal (see Chapter XXV for exceptions), but is sure to provoke the mockery of your peers.

After desecrating the circle (refer to Chapter X), light the candles in the following order: EAST, WEST, NORTH, SOUTH. Burn a pinch of nightshade in the RITUAL BOWL. Impale the animal hide onto the PIKE. Finally, take up the ANIMUS GEODE and release its power while holding in your mind an image of the deceased.

Once summoned, the spirit is tethered to the animus geode; the geode will act as a beacon, allowing you to call the bound shade to your side whenever you wish.

Arkay the Enemy

King of Worms(Apparently)

Hear me, children. Once I was a lowly man such as yourselves. By my will I entered the ranks of the gods. By your unquestioning devotion, you can share my glory.

Most Necromancers are fools and weaklings. Fodder for the witchhunters. But you, my servants, you are among the chosen. In the days to come, few will dare to stand against your might. But one obstacle remains, and his name is Arkay.

Once he was also just a man. The similarities between his mortal life and my own astonish even me. It is only proper that we should be enemies.

Arkay's Blessing prevents the souls of Men, Beastmen, and Elves from being used without consent. Arkay's Law prevents those buried with the proper rituals from being raised to serve my children's will. As you know, my children, Arkay's Blessing is flexible to those with daring, but Arkay's Law is unwavering.

To the Scholars: Humiliate the priests of Arkay. Reveal their primitive burial customs to be mere superstition. Befriend kings with honeyed words and bind them to your will. Look to my children in Cyrodiil for guidance.

To the Priests: Use your servants sparingly, let none be seen by the living. Let the memories of the undead waste away from the people. Send missionaries to the unbound dead, to the Vampires and the Liches. Let all the nations of dead carry my banner and my banner alone.

To the Hidden: Wait, as always, in the darkness.

For soon we shall strike. The Temples of Arkay will be torn stone from stone. The blood of his priests will sate our thirst; their bones will rise as our servants. The name Arkay will be struck from the records. Only I shall hold sway over life and death. Only one name shall be whispered in fear. The name of your lord and master.

— KW

On Summoning Skeletons


Many options present themselves for the industrious necromancer who wishes to raise undead minions to serve or protect. Vengeful ghosts, of course, and other types of incorporeal spirits abound, but they have little substance and can often be difficult to control. Corporeal dead provide more muscle, which comes in handy when you need manual labor or an instant fighting force. Plus, if you use minor Daedric spirits to animate them, corporeal undead have no sense of self or memory of past lives. They are more malleable, easier to command, and capable of following simple orders. In short, they make perfect servants for most of a necromancer's minion requirements.

While some necromancers prefer to animate zombies to perform tasks, other practitioners of dark magic prefer to deal with skeletons. First, skeletons, by definition, consist primarily of bone, with few or no organs or fleshy bits remaining. In other words, skeletons don't have the habit of dropping bits and pieces of themselves all over your ritual circle or lair, unlike their zombie counterparts. Second, skeletons tend to be more sturdy and dextrous than zombies, making them noticeably faster and, in many ways, more dangerous.

You have two sources when it comes to obtaining skeletons to raise and command. One is to pull the bones directly from a fresh corpse (or even from a living victim, if you have the appropriately powerful spell at the ready). The newly dead provide strong, sturdy bones that can deal and withstand punishment with equal facility, depending on the demands of your service. Newly dead skeletons also tend to exhibit more agility and speed, albeit with the clumsiness common to all new-born creations.

The second source to draw upon when seeking to raise skeletal minions remains the tried and true market favored by most practicing necromancers—the graveyard. Of course, any depository of the dead will do, from an ancient necropolis to a long-forgotten battleground ripe with the corpses of fallen soldiers. Older bones often house great power, and the magic you employ will gather the scattered fragments and knit them together with necrotic bindings. Older bones may crumble and shatter before the bones of the newly dead, but they often compensate for that liability with the extra power trapped within these relics and awaiting your command.