Chapter One: Acquisition of Corpses
The arts of necromancy are now illegal in all provinces of this Empire. Due to the Twelfth Truth, Freedom, it is not yet illegal to discuss or write about necromancy. However, few citizens of the Empire have an enlightened view of necromancy, unlike Zenimu. Thus, the acquisition of knowledge about necromancy is often difficult. With this handbook, Zenimu hopes to correct this problem.
The first task is to acquire a corpse. The outlawing of necromancy and the rapid burning of corpses makes this task nearly impossible. The Empire and the Temples will investigate obvious signs of necromancy such as hastily emptied graves or ash stolen from one of their corpse ashpits. That said, a careful and discreet necromancer can thrive by providing his own dead bodies that are unknown to the authorities. The deserts, especially the Kholukkhand, also preserve corpses for hundreds of years in a way that requires very little preparation. Members of the desert tribes are often buried with only a small cairn of stones which are easy to find and uncover. The tribes believe that the body is just a shell for the soul and display remarkable indifference to graves being uncovered.
While necromancy can be practiced on animals, such experiments rarely produce interesting results. The servant’s ability to follow directions seems to be related to the subject’s intelligence in life. While raising the corpse of a man or elf can produce a useful servant, the corpses of animals produce mere guard dogs… at best. Often a raised animal is unable to distinguish its master from the rest of the living, and many amateur practitioners have been torn apart by the animal servants they created. Let such stories be a lesson to you, Zenimu warns.
Chapter Two: The Skeletal Corpse
When raising a skeleton servant, it is most important that the body of the skeleton be complete. If the skeleton is missing crucial bones, the results can be frustrating. One should only attempt to raise skeletons when you are sure that all or nearly all the bones are present.
While the magic involved in raising a skeleton will assemble the bones in the proper order, skeletons may be strengthened considerably by the addition of support on their joints. The most common are leather straps that bind the bones together more tightly. Some practitioners also drive metal spikes between the joints, or bind them with chains, which is more expensive and time consuming, but they protect the servant where it is weakest. Only practice will reveal the best methods of binding and reinforcing the skeletal servant. Amateurs often make the mistake of binding the bones too tightly, limiting the skeleton’s movements and making it useless.
While most undead can be raised again and again, skeletons are often damaged in ways that make raising them again impossible. This is another reason that care should be given to the skeleton’s preparation. Too many amateur necromancers raise every skeleton they see with little or no preparation at all. Given the difficulty of obtaining corpses, this kind of inefficiency cannot be tolerated by our community.
Chapter Three: The Fresh Corpse
Fresh and decayed corpses are those that still have flesh upon them. If their decay is advanced, or if you wish a skeletal servant instead, place the corpse along a coast or in a swamp or marsh. Or toss it to the pigs. Animals are the necromancer’s greatest allies when it comes to stripping the flesh from a corpse.
If you wish to create an undead servant, one need only bring the corpse to a suitable site and enact the proper rituals. However, there are a few tips that a beginner necromancer might want to know. For instance, a decayed servant may be raised many times, even if they have been dismembered by those who do not appreciate our art. If one of your servants comes to an unfortunate end, you may raise the servant again by carefully gathering as many parts as you can find, binding the bones with leather straps as mentioned by Zenimu previously, and sewing the flesh (if it is not too decayed) with catgut or twine. Your servant may be weaker each time this is done, but with care and maintenance, one may raise it dozens of times.
The first step to creating a servant is to soak the decaying corpse in a bath of rock salt for at least one week. This will halt the decay of the corpse, and if the corpse is fresh enough to have an unpleasant odour, the salts will remove that as well. In a moist climate, you may have to apply more salts if they become saturated. Some necromancers remove the vital organs before or after this process, but Zenimu has never found any practical reason for doing this.
The next step is to conduct the proper rituals over the corpse to protect it with magic. This will mean that you have a much stronger servant who will follow your commands with more independence and understanding. Most importantly, it will reduce the risk of your creature turning on you and tearing you to pieces. It is vital to note that corpses raised by necromancy will only obey you as long as the rituals hold strong. If anything disturbs the balance of magic woven through the body, you may lose control of the creature and be unable to regain it. Zenimu knows.
To animate the corpse once the rituals are complete, remove it from the salts and place one drop of blood upon its tongue, or in another place suitable for absorption into the flesh. This blood may be your own or that of another. Zenimu cautions you that the corpse’s powers, attitude, and other factors will depend on the type of blood and the person or creature it comes from.
A final thought from Zenimu: beware disease. One unfortunate and distasteful aspect of our enlightened art is that disease is an everyday concern.