devils tell you that your soul is theirs. You have seen them deal in soulstuff. Yet you have seen the dead walk and know their words for a stretching of the truth.
once you die?
The truth is, no one knows.
Yes, there are the trolls. The Empyreal grants arcanists knowledge. Devils walk among us
using the residue of the living as power. We command great sorcery. Yet this
still remains hidden from us.
Let us begin
with our knowledge.
tell us a story before the Devils came and blotted out all the stars from the sky. Magic was easier. Mages mastered dozens of different types
of spells and magic, drawing their energy from something they called the 'inner
planes'. Whatever sources of great power existed—there are cut off from us now.
Legends tell of walking among gods and traversing the multiverse. Those doors are closed to us now. All
attempts at such magic fail. Animation of the dead was once performed by
utilizing the flow from the radiant to the necrotic, as energy flows along a
wire. Those ways are now lost.
of the arcane are familiar with the Hexad. These are the realms from which we
bind living spells. Amecetere the vortex, Metallion the lattice, Cruori of
blood and growth, Mintis of thought and mindfire, Skadus of darkness and
suffering, and Specere of reflection and reversal. Our theorists believe that these are fundamental and base energies present in the universe. Commanding these fickle
and virulent powers is far more difficult then the ease with which the ancients
said to have returned from the dead, hence their solid eyes, ashen skin, and
dark hair. Rarely do they speak to outsiders, preferring their craft be
practiced in secrecy, deep in their halls. Few trolls ever wish to speak of
their experiences, though those that do tell us of a lost and shifting maze,
and the screams and agony of the dead. They claim that they escaped this dark
realm into their bodies. Perhaps this is so.
description leads one to theorize perhaps their souls were trapped in some
labyrinth on Skadus. Few have ever seen the Skadus, and none has seen a labyrinth. Those that have experienced the Skadus speak of
a tempest whipped darkness, surrounded by fugue and shadow, minds lashed with
despair, and time and distance floating erratically with only the most tenuous
connection to our physical realm. Indeed practitioners of Skadus magic can
confirm its malign influence upon the living.
What we are
say, when we die our souls are sent to the river Lethe, where they are
cleansed. They say that great power comes from those who serve the devils;
promises abound to mortal servants that they will be powerful masters if they
serve loyally. Yet this is likely not the case. There are no records of any
living being being 'raised up' by their infernal masters. This hope of future
wealth turns the world into a mess of temporarily inconvenienced arch-devil
nobles. No man becomes a devil that remembers he was a man. We have seen the
soul stuff they trade in, and are told it is the remains of our mortal life.
Yet I have held it, and it was as spider web wisps and feathers in my hand. It
did contain great power, but it was nothing more than an empty shell. What of
have been to other hells or have heard dark whispers say that it indeed is what
remains of the soul. They say infinite realms are devoted to extracting such
power by torturing neigh uncountable souls in a task of unfathomable enormity.
It seems too extreme to be true, but watch our masters long enough and you will
know how they value life. There is truth to this.
But all souls? Hardly. Why would the trolls lie? What of the living dead? What of our
ability to even raise the dead-how could such a soul reach a person if it were
no longer the person? Perhaps it is a simulacra. There is no way to know.
What the Dead
So we return
again to speak of the dead. They clearly exist, even though the devils say they
should not. How is this possible?
common type of undead is a phantom soldier. You will often see regiments of the
dead seeking work or employ in the army of some powerful human or devil. These
skeletal creatures are animate and can speak as well as follow orders. But they
maintain only the most base impression of their former selves. Their function
as a unit installs some mystical tether that leads them to pantomime their former
task. There is no intelligence, soul, or spirit contained within. Examination
of such in the Empyreal shows only the influence of Metallion, making it
nothing more than a clockwork.
most common type are the dead raised by the influence of powerful Devil lords
such as Dauthaz or other demons or devils. These too have no natural
intelligence. A cursory examination upon the empyreal will show that these
bodies are nothing more than corrupted puppets manipulated at a distance by the
fiend lord, though the machinations of her servants.
there are the dread lords, death lords, liches, vampires, wraiths, and various
other "intelligent" dead. Some of these members are even rumored to reside
among our order. These creatures all have special circumstances around their creation, and the commonality among them all is that their souls remain tethered
to their body, even though the body no longer lives. Often there are quite
arduous tasks that must be accomplished to maintain this tether; Vampires for
example must consume Cruori energy by most commonly drinking the blood of the
Then, there are rituals that raise the dead. The dead returned are, in this case, nothing
more than skeletal goblins. They are animated with evil energies and intend
malice to all, including their masters. The ritual simply formalizes the
procedure in which inanimate matter becomes animate due to acts of wickedness.
This is significantly less useful than fire, being that fire can be controlled
and does not seek murder its summoner as a matter of its innate nature.
Those who are
raised often remember very little. Darkness, confusion, pain, light, and
perhaps waking up once the spell is cast.
It it possible to bind actual souls to corpses? Some necromancers claim to have such power, though I have never seen it. Perhaps you will ask a necromancer yourself; a task not recommended.
remains unknown to all of us. Theories abound. A leading theory is that the
souls traverse a labyrinth somewhere on Skadus, hunted by reapers who send the
souls to the appropriate place. Indeed, those knowledgeable in arcana can in fact see the marks on our souls from such higher beings. Perhaps we wander in this realm until found.
We will all know the answer to the journey in due time.