Reanimation should not be taken lightly. Costs, both mundane and spiritual, can be very high. Intent is everything. Too much emotion may create a creature so consumed with anger and hate its every action is perverted by its pain. Too little creates a mindless husk with little more than the ability to follow the simplest of commands. A calm mind, its thoughts well-organized and its plans well-considered, is the most necessary ingredient for animating the dead.
The soul is necessary, of course, as are many other ingredients listed at the end of this chapter. But as to the body … take caution. Any corpse may be reanimated, regardless of age or state of decay, but the most useful are those that are mostly intact (or can be made intact with little effort). A whole skeleton is better than a fresh, but mutilated, body.
As to freshness, be careful in this consideration as well. Have you ever wondered why there are so manyskeletonsamong the reanimatedundead, fewerzombies, and only a scant few revenants? The longer a body remains inanimate, the less hold its original owner has on the corpse. A spirit can stay tied to its remains for days, weeks, or even years—the shorter the time, the more likely the spiritual umbilicus exists.
A wise necromancer does not wish to fight for control of his creation with an angry spirit seeking a way back into the world. Best to be certain all of a creature's soul has departed before reanimation begins. Even should the necromancer win the battle, it is a cruel victory, tormenting a spirit on its way to rest.
Raising the dead so recent that the soul has not yet fled is ill-advised, as true resurrection is not the purview of the necromancer, but something best left to gods and priests.
Zumog Phoom, Dark Lord of the Dead
To: Lord Gharesh-ri, Speaker of the ManeFrom: 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.