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necromancy

Unhallowed Legions

Author: 
Phrastus of Elinhir

It is an indisputable fact that necromancy, the foulest of all magical endeavors, is on the rise. Word of unsettled spirits, shambling corpses, and worse spreads across Tamriel, planting seeds of fear in common folk. There is good reason to be concerned, and it is my scholarly duty to inform the ignorant in hopes that a more educated populace will be better prepared to recognize and face undead dangers.

Necromancy, as you likely know, is the manipulation of souls, soul energies, or corpses of the dead. Unwilling spirits are often involved, and in the eyes of any rational being, the “study” of this type of magic is repellant. It should not be surprising to you that much knowledge of necromancy is attributed to Daedric forces, specifically those of the abhorrent Molag Bal, further cementing it as a sphere that must be shunned.

I present to you now an accounting of the general types of undead:

The Reanimated

These monstrosities are formed when a necromancer summons and instills an enslaved spirit into a corpse or construct of bodies. Reanimations take many shapes, from the lowly skeleton (favorite of novice necromancers) to the hulking flesh atronach. The need for unconsecrated corpses poses a danger to communities, as it is known to drive wayward mages to murder in their lust for power. To minimize encounters with reanimations, avoid poorly-kept graveyards and hidden caves or ruins, and report any suspicion of necromancy to your local authorities for investigation.

The Returned

Ghosts, wraiths, and spectres manifest for a variety of reasons. Some are bound to Nirn through powerful curses, some are summoned forth through rituals, and others find their souls unable or unwilling to depart due to unfinished business. Some are even ancestors bound by their own families, a practice the Dark Elves claim is not necromancy at all—guarwash!

My recent studies into the phenomenon known as the Soulburst indicate a tie between it and a surge in returned sightings and activity, strongly implicating a persistent disruption in natural post-extant soul conveyance. Detractors to this theory, notably the misguided Lady Cinnabar of Taneth, have yet to produce any counter-theories that do not crumble under the slightest scrutiny.

The Accursed

Undeath is not always a product of renegade mages tampering with souls and rotting flesh. Cursed diseases such as Noxophilic Sanguivoria can corrupt the living. The result is an undead creature that requires the blood of the living for sustenance. Vampires have a tendency to organize into reclusive clans, hiding away beneath the ground and surfacing only to obtain more thralls to feed upon. In some cases, though, their minds are known to degrade to the point of insanity, leaving a raging husk of a creature with no mental capacity commonly called a “bloodfiend.” Any sightings of such creatures should be reported to a local Fighters Guild.

Abominable Miscegenations

Some undead defy simple classification. The lich, for one, is a corpse that is self-reanimated by the soul it bore in life. Typically, only powerful spellcasters seeking immortality achieve this state. Luckily for common folk, liches are often focused obsessively on continuing their own studies, and they are not likely to be encountered by travelers that keep their noses out of ancient ruins.

Now that you are more informed about this vile art and its repellent products, hopefully you are better-prepared to assess undead threats. It goes without saying (though I will certainly say it) that we all have a responsibility to report and combat necromancy, especially in these times. Do not let anyone convince you that there is some kind of benefit to be had in exploring these detestable magics—any reasonable individual can see the madness in such a claim.

Anchorite's Log

Author: 
Anonymous

With the arrival of the Chancellor, a crusty Nibenese politician named Abnur Tharn, the atmosphere at the Castle of the King of Worms has taken a decidedly more amusing turn. He barks his pathetic orders and expects us to pander to his every whim. When we ignore him he storms about like an infant, shouting "Do you know who I am?" and "Mannimarco will hear of this!" The King of Worms thinks him a ineffectual buffoon. I have heard him say as much, myself.

But Tharn is no idiot. I feel certain he suspects that he has outlived his usefulness. With his daughter on the Ruby Throne and Lord Mannimarco filling her head with delusions of grandeur, Tharn's power isn't worth the breath it takes to declare it. The Empress Regent is easily manipulated with trinkets, silks, and rare delicacies. She has little fondness for her father and, to my knowledge, hasn't even expressed curiousity regarding his absence. And despite his years of political experience in the Imperial Court, the old man isn't half the manipulator that Mannimarco has proven to be.

Tharn's greatest miscalculation is that he believes he still has value here. In the grand scheme of things, we are all expendable, he most of all. All of the power in Cyrodiil means nothing to the Lord of Brutality and Domination.

But Tharn's impotent tantrums remain a source of great mirth. I imagine I will tire of them eventually. On that day, I will pour a glass of fine wine and take enjoyment watching him thrash about, as his soul is torn from his body, like so many thousands before him.

Aldimion's Journal

Author: 
Aldimion

A strange request, indeed!

I was on my evening stroll, having a bite to eat in a back alley, when I noticed that the Imperial neck I feasted upon bore a golden medallion. I recognized the trinket at once as the sigil of the Cult of the Black Worm. While I considered this, I heard the dull thwack of a blunt object hitting flesh and bone, and my world went black.

I awoke in a cave, bound to a chair, my head throbbing with bittersweet pain. A number of hooded cultists surrounded me, each with the unmistakable gleam of murder in his eyes. I quite liked them.

One of the cultists seemed different than the others, and I recognized him as their leader almost immediately. He had a cold, yet calm demeanor and seemed completely unafraid of me.

He introduced himself as Abnur Tharn. He was somewhat displeased that I had made my evening meal on one of his most loyal guards. Normally, he explained, I would have been discorporated for such an infraction, but he said he liked my style and my … violent proclivities. He said he saw a lot of promise in me, and would like to propose a mutually beneficial arrangement.

If I agreed to join the Worm Cult, I could replace this agent. I would reside in a conveniently placed underground lair within the city limits, which would assure me a continued stream of meals, along with a virtually unlimited supply of black soul gems.

The agreement did sound promising, but just to play Daedra's advocate, I asked what my alternative might be. In answer, Tharn opened a portal to Coldharbour right at my feet. My chair began to teeter, and the screams of the damned filled my ears. Lovely to listen to, but not something I wished to experience firsthand.

Needless to say, I chose servitude. Now, I while away my days guarding this wretched cavern while prowling the city streets after dusk. It's not a bad existence. In fact, I've even begun to take up the study of necromancy. At some point, perhaps Tharn will consent to teaching me the finer points himself. Time will tell. And I have all the time in the world, don't I?

Touch of the Worm's Tongue

Author: 
Anonymous

Day 13: It has been discovered that strict reliance on the preserving salts, while undesirable for outward appearances, contains the highest rate of conversion success.

Day 17: Before the dark fluids are returned to the vessel it is necessary to purge all remaining blood, most especially from the primary organs.

Day 19: Though it pains the host enough to occasionally result in death, forcing water into the lungs may prevent future spasms of pus-coughs.

Day 23: Only under rare circumstances should the vessel exhibit symptoms of its former life. Should this become a problem during the initiation stage it is often best to discard the work.

Day 29: It was revealed today that the host can reject the vessel if not carefully prepared in the specific manner in which we have been instructed. This is a grave affront to the host and not something that will be taken lightly should your work on the vessel be sloppy enough to cause this.

Day 31: There are two recent shortcut practices which have been found to cause unreliable lifespans for the vessels. It is important to not take any shortcuts during preparation. Those responsible for the propagation of the false knowledge have been dealt with.

Day 37: The first shining example of our future has been created. The host and vessel are joined perfectly and the resulting power is breathtaking.

The Legend of Vastarie

Author: 
Afwa, a Student and Friend

Necromancy's known to many as a binding of souls to a form prepared—or in some cases, manufactured—by the conjurer.

While technically accurate, the implication is that souls bound in this manner are imprisoned against their will with no hope of release.

Further implied is the idea that souls occupying the construct are always sentient—the souls of men or mer—a fallacy perpetuated by the practice of animating corpses for martial or manual labors.

It is this misunderstanding and a potential for abuse that led to the vilification of necromancy and the expulsion of Mannimarco and his peers from the Isle of Artaeum.

Enter Vastarie, a student of the Psijic Order and contemporary of such notables as Vanus Galerion and Mannimarco.

While Mannimarco sought power through the direct application of necromantic energies, Vastarie's purposes were far more esoteric. She sought a way to delay the release of a sentient soul upon death that it might be consulted, its knowledge recorded for the ages.

It is to this end that she worked with Mannimarco after leaving Artaeum, searching for a way to trap souls as one might capture lesser Daedra.

Believing the secret lay with Molag Bal, the two conspired to enter Coldharbour and wrest it from the father of vampires himself. Together, they hatched a plan.

With a brash courage known only to the young, Mannimarco and his followers held open a portal to the Prince's realm. Ever thirsting for adventure, it was Vastarie who entered its depths and returned with a cache of black crystals the likes of which they had never seen.

To Mannimarco, they were perfect. Small, capable of containing even the most willful of souls, and apparently indestructible. To Vastarie, they were deeply flawed, for enchantment was the only safe way to free a soul from their depths.

Even so, she set about the task of reproducing the stones, breaking them down, testing them with a variety of substances until, by happy accident, she created something new: the first Sigil Geode.

Clear as crystal, this new device was capable of holding sentient souls within its depths, but unlike the gems wrested from the Lord of Domination, it was exceptionally fragile and would only hold its charge for a matter of days.

Once imprisoned, souls could be transferred between geodes, but applying them as one would a soul gem effected a soul's release, instead.

Vastarie had found what she was looking for, but Mannimarco was furious. What use was a soul gem that could not be used to fuel an enchantment? He demanded Vastarie find a way to modify her creation to his purposes.

Realizing her friend would never stop searching, and that further discoveries made with him would only advance his goals, she gathered up her research and left with Telacar, her husband and a powerful necromancer in his own right.

Together, they fled Mannimarco's grasp, eventually hiding in an Ayleid ruin deep within Valenwood. There, they lived for many years, as quietly as they could while perfecting their art. For decades, they had each other and seemed happy—until the day Vastarie left.

In the years that followed, she wandered the surface of Nirn, exploring places of power. She visited Wayrest, Alik'r, the Crystal Tower, and the libraries of Dune, searching for some answer to a question that gnawed at her very soul.

In time, she found what she was looking for and returned to Valenwood. There, she built a tower and took on apprentices, teaching them her particular brand of necromancy and furthering her research.

Using her Sigil Geodes, we bound the souls of lesser Daedra, postponing their return to Oblivion as one might with a soul gem. We then worked on a way to manifest the trapped spirit into the world.

Early attempts had unexpected, even dangerous results. Geodes shattered, sending shards of broken crystal into the flesh of our fellow students—misapplied energies bound the souls of the living into the tiny stones—but as we studied we corrected our mistakes and refined the process.

Eventually, Vastarie had it down to a science. By applying a Sigil Geode at the moment of death, a soul could be suspended within its depths. Through applied conjuration, it could be drawn into an ectoplasmic shell where it could be consulted at leisure.

She wrote the foundling Mages Guild of her discovery. Vanus Galerion himself came to witness her demonstration, which involved consulting an old groundskeeper who had volunteered to demonstrate the process.

He was horrified when she bound the soul into her apparatus, and when the process was completed, with the old groundskeeper was released and allowed to return to Aetherius, he was white as a sheet.

Slowly, he stood to address the assembled students. He spoke with vindictiveness and an anger none would expect from his unassuming mien. When he was finished, he turned and left.

Some followed him. None could blame them, he wasn't wrong—the Sigil Geode was a dangerous creation. Misused, it could spark wars and bring about destruction unheard of in our history.

Vastarie was undeterred, convinced that Galerion's willful ignorance would lead to his undoing, but something else would gain her attention in the years to come. A vast ruin was discovered beneath her tower's foundation, concealed from sight and scrying by the power of a Daedric Prince.

In time, she walked into those ruins and never came out. Some of us still await her return.

The Eight Steps of Mummification

Author: 
Fezmani of the Steady Hand, Priest of Tu'whacca

— Step the First: Consecrate the body with the Blessings of Tu'whacca.
— Step the Second: Remove all internal organs before they can decay, causing unsightly stains.
— Step the Third: Remove all brain tissue. This is to be done through the nostrils using the hook-spoons, so as to avoid damaging the skin of face and head.
— Step the Fourth: Dehydrate the body by coating it in parch-salt, and placing packets of parch-salt within its cavities.
— Step the Fifth: Replace lost volume within the body with inert material, paying special attention to restoring the features of the face.
— Step the Sixth: The layers of wrapping: wrap the body in one hundred paces of linen, then coat the linen with warm juniper resin. Do this three times.
— Step the Seventh: The adorning of amulets: array the body in amulets and bracelets that represent the station of the body in life.
— Step the Eighth: Place the body in a prepared sarcophagus. Proceed to burial in the necropolis.

Necromancy in Modern Tamriel

Author: 
Wafimeles Masteret (Lorekeeper)

Eternal slumber was once taken for granted. But now, necromancy has appeared in numerous locations across Tamriel. Anonymous spies have pinpointed the Cult of the Black Worm as the insidious force responsible. This sect, once hidden from view, is spreading, and offers the weak-willed what seems a guaranteed rise to power. Its chief opposition is the Mages Guild, but with the Guild in disgrace in Cyrodiil and banished from the Imperial City, the Order of the Black Worm seems ascendant.

Hidden cells of these necromancers are called Worm Nests, led by a priest of undeath who takes the mantle of Worm Anchorite. Such priests may even have converted to undead form, after which they're called Worm Eremites. They are never apart from undead protectors, either summoned or reanimated. The leader of this cult is the Altmer mage Mannimarco, whose name is never spoken aloud by the cultists; he is instead invoked (with a whisper) as the King of Worms. No more must be written about him; his tendrils of power and influence snake far and wide.

Ascendancy: Pathway to Lichdom

Author: 
Gullveig the Ascendant

At last, I have discovered the secrets to casting off the shackles of mortality! I record them here for those who dare to follow in my footsteps. Pledge yourselves to me, swear ever-lasting allegiance, and you too can ascend to this lofty plane!

The first element is the will to force your body into death and beyond. Without this ultimate power of mind over body, the transformation cannot begin. Few have the courage for even this initial step; many falter and are lost when pain and horror overcome what little willpower they had.

Given the strongest of wills, great necromantic knowledge is next required. Willpower provides the force but knowledge focuses the will and directs the glorious transformation. Only the most intelligent and daring of necromancers delves deeply enough into forbidden knowledge, gathering the spellcraft needed to achieve blessed lichdom. I am one of those.

A plentiful source of souls is needed as well. These must be wrenched from their owners, as painfully as possible. The higher the degree of torment among your sacrifices, the purer the ascent to lichhood, the greater the power gathered in undeath. You ascend on a glorious stairway of screams and horror!

Lastly, a mighty magical relic is needed. An evil-aligned relic will suffice, but a good-aligned artifact that can be perverted to this purpose is ideal. This relic is the casting focus for Urelu's Loathsome Coercion, the spell employed to wrench the required souls from their erstwhile owners. The more powerful the relic, the more painful the soul-rending.

Will, knowledge, souls, and power—these are the required elements of this most exalted of transformations. Attempt it if you dare!

Necromancy: The Great Debate

Author: 
Anonymous

How dare they? Hypocrites! Pretenders! What gives the Mages Guild the right to call my particular practice of magic the Black Arts? And to forbid our use of these precious and ancient arts on pain of death? Ludicrous! Don't they understand? We control death! It is ours to command and we do not fear its cold embrace! No. We welcome it.

Only the foolish and the fearful refuse to grasp power due to its source. They call us evil, but we are merely prudent. They call us irresponsible, but we understand the concept of risk and reward. They claim we bring terror and misery to the world … well, at least on this matter we are in agreement. The world should fear us! For we have embraced the power of the dead and made it our own. Let the fools in the Mages Guild play at their conjurations and alterations. We are necromancers, and our magicka cannot be stifled or restrained.

I have heard it said that a great debate rages in the halls of arcane academia. These so-called scholars argue the relative merits and risks of necromancy, but they do so from ignorance and fear. There is no need to debate the issue. Necromancy is the one, true path to power. It is our path. And we will not be denied!

Mannimarco, King of Worms

Author: 
Horicles

O sacred isle Artaeum, where rosy light infuses air,
O'er towers and through flowers, gentle breezes flow,
Softly sloping green-kissed cliffs to crashing foam below,
Always springtide afternoon housed within its border,
This mystic, mist-protected home of the Psijic Order:
Those counselors of kings, cautious, wise, and fair.

Ten score years and thirty since the mighty Remans fell,
Two brilliant students studied within the Psijics' fold.
One's heart was light and warm, the other dark and cold.
The madder latter, Mannimarco, whirled in a deathly dance,
His soul in bones and worms, the way of the necromance.
Entrapping and enslaving souls, he cast a wicked spell.

The former, Galerion had magic bold and bright as day.
He confronted Mannimarco beneath gray Ceporah Tower,
Saying, 'Your wicked mysticism is no way to wield your power,
Bringing horror to the spirit world, your studies must cease.'
Mannimarco scoffed, hating well the ways of life and peace,
And returned to his dark artistry; his paints, death and decay.

O sacred isle Artaeum, how slow to perceive the threat,
When the ghastly truth revealed, how weak the punishment.
The ghoulish Mannimarco from the isle of the wise was sent
To the mainland Dawn's Beauty, more death and souls to reap.
'You have found a wolf, and sent the beast to flocks of sheep,'
Galerion told his Masters, 'A terror on Tamriel has set.'

'Speak no more of him,' the sage Cloaks of Gray did say.
'Twas not the first time Galerion thought his Masters callous,
Unconcerned for men and mer, aloof in their island palace.
'Twas not the first time Galerion thought 'twas time to build
A new Order to bring true magic to all, a mighty Mages Guild.
But 'twas the time he left, at last, fair Artaeum's azure bay.

O, but sung we have of Vanus Galerion many times before,
How cast he off the Psijics' chains, bringing magic to the land.
Throughout the years, he saw the touch of Mannimarco's hand,
Through Tamriel's deserts, forests, towns, mountains, and seas.
The dark grip stretching out, growing like some dread disease
By his dark Necromancers, collecting cursed artifacts of yore.

They brought to him these tools, mad wizards and witches,
And brought blood-tainted herbs and oils to his cave of sin,
Sweet Akaviri poison, dust from saints, sheafs of human skin,
Toadstools, roots, and much more cluttered his alchemical shelf,
Like a spider in his web, he sucked all their power into himself,
Mannimarco, Worm King, world's first of the undying liches.

Corruption on corruption, 'til the rot sunk to his very core,
Though he kept the name Mannimarco, his body and his mind
Were but a living, moving corpse as he left humanity behind.
The blood in his veins became instead a poison acid stew.
His power and his life increased as his fell collection grew.
Mightiest were these artifacts, long cursed since days of yore.

They say Galerion left the Guild, calling it 'a morass,'
But untruth is a powerful stream, polluting the river of time.
Galerion beheld Mannimarco's rise through powers sublime,
To his mages and Lamp Knights, 'Before my last breath,
Face I must the tyranny of worms, and kill at last, undeath.'
He led them north to cursed lands, to a mountain pass.

O those who survived the battle say its like was never seen.
Armored with magicka, armed with ensorcelled sword and axe,
Galerion cried, echoing, 'Worm King, surrender your artifacts,
And their power to me, and you shall live as befits the dead.'
A hollow laugh answered, 'You die first,' Mannimarco said.
The mage army then clashed with the unholy force obscene.

Imagine waves of fire and frost, and the mountain shivers,
Picture lightning arching forth, crackling in a dragon's sigh.
Like leaves, the battlemages fly to rain down from the sky,
At the Necromancers' call, corpses burst from earth to fight,
To be shattered into nothingness with a flood of holy light.
A maelstrom of energy unleashed, blood cascades in rivers.

Like a thunderburst in blue skies or a lion's sudden roar,
Like sharp razors tearing over delicate embroidered lace,
So at a touch did Galerion shake the mountain to its base.
The deathly horde fell fatally, but heeding their dying cries
From the depths, the thing they called Worm King did rise.
Nirn itself did scream in the Mages' and Necromancers' war

His eyes burning dark fire, he opened his toothless maw,
Vomiting darkness with each exhalation of his breath,
All sucking in the fetid air felt the icy touch of death.
In the skies above the mountain, darkness overcame pale,
Then Mannimarco Worm King felt his dismal powers fail:
The artifacts of death pulled from his putrid skeletal claw.

A thousand good and evil perished then, history confirms.
Among, alas, Vanus Galerion, he who showed the way,
It seemed once that Mannimarco had truly died that day.
Scattered seemed the Necromancers, wicked, ghastly fools,
Back to the Mages Guild, victors kept the accursed tools,
Of him, living still in undeath, Mannimarco, King of Worms.

Children, listen as the shadows cross your sleeping hutch,
And the village sleeps away, streets emptied of the crowds,
And the moons do balefully glare through the nightly clouds,
And the graveyard's people rest, we hope, in eternal sleep,
Listen and you'll hear the whispered tap of the footsteps creep,
Then pray you'll never feel the Worm King's awful touch.