A letter of reply from the University of Arcana about the realms, magic, necromancy and the warnings that come with each.
My dear Sir Dale, Edit
We were delighted to receive your request regarding the history of magic, and the studies of Necromancy. While we do not actually teach the ways of the Shadow Arts at our school, we do have extensive records on its history and practice in the realm, and are happy to share what information we can with a fellow learned scholar.
The Chancellor and I look forward to meeting you in the Spring, and trust that this reading will satisfy your curiosity until we meet in person, and have the opportunity to discuss these things at greater length.
On the Realms, Edit
Elgardt, as you know is the name of the Material Realm which sits below the Heavenly, and is sandwiched between the
Ethereal Plane, and the Realm of Shadow. It is also the title of the lands which extend from the Desert of Shifting Sands in the South, The Dragon Isles and Talon Coast to the West, the Kingdom of Delman in the North, the lands of Amaroth to the East, with the Odean Mountain Range separating East and West.
It was the will of Alphamus, the Creator God known as "The Great Composer", that all mortal creatures who inhabit the Material Realm are possessed of both free will, and an eternal spirit. Freedom is a necessity for any creature to experience love - for there must be an option NOT to love in order for the choice TO love to be of any value.
However, where there is a choice, there are always those who will choose not - and would take the path away from goodness and light. To this purpose, the Mortal Realm is also a testing ground for the souls of men. When a mortal perishes in the Material Plane, their soul - or Shade, which is the shadow cast by all the deeds of their life, is set upon the Path in the Stars which leads to enlightenment, and oneness with The Song of Eternity. Each step on the Star Path, or each star, is representative of an experience from life - a lesson that must be learned in order to continue along the path. Many of these lessons are abstract, and each persons journey is different.
The void between the stars is representative of the pilgrims character in life, and where a good man might have an easy walk, a man of poor character might be forced to leap a greater distance between the stars - and an evil man will find the distance insurmountable. Only by meditating and learning from the experience presented to the pilgrim can the Stars be brought closer together, and for some - this may take a very long time. Conversely - there are those rare heroes whose deeds set them apart from all others, and whose Shade is so pure that no further trial is necessary. These heroes can be seen in the night sky as shooting stars, as they bypass the path entirely and enter into the Heavenly Realm to sing the song of Eternity.
If a Shade falls from the Star Path, they descend into the Realm of Shadow. The Shadow Realm is not, as many believe, a place of torment - or at least it was not originally intended to be. The Shadow Realm is closely linked to the Material Plane - like the world behind a mirror. Spirits in the Shadow Realm can travel throughout the reflection of the Material Plane, and may see all the goings on of the world - with every shadow cast in Elgardt becoming a window out of which the inhabitants of the Shadow Realm can peer. A spirit might spend a lifetime peering from the shadows, watching over their family, friends, or keeping tabs on their enemies - but all of these things simply pile grief upon grief for the life they have left behind.
On Maelanon Edit
Maelanon, the Wife of Alphamus was installed as the Overseer of the Shadow Realm because of her motherly instincts - her compassion, empathy, and wisdom. It was to her that fell the task of comforting those who had fallen, providing them with guidance, counselling, and when they were ready - set them once more on the Path in the Stars. Nobody knows exactly when or how Maelanon fell into darkness - but it seems that somehow the Shadow corrupted her, and her compassion eventually waned.
She became jealous of the Light, of the love shared between her husband and his creations, and the nature of the Shadow Realm began to change. Maelanon no longer cared for the Shades who found themselves in her realm. So long had she been confronted with the worst of Mankind, that she grew to hate them, despising them for what they are, and yet desired that they should love her nonetheless. She created the race of Dwarves, hoping that in them she would feel the love that Alphamus shared with his creation; but they were a greedy, materialistic people. The Dwarves loved the things of the Material Realm more than they cared for their creator - metal, gems, fine craftsmanship, and the working of stone. They too paid homage to Alphamus - the Lord of the Land who gave to them their mountain home. This filled Maelanon with jealousy, and a white hot rage - but that is a whole other story.
Now, young Dale, while all of this might seem irrelevant to your original question – I have included it to set the scene for what is to come. To undestand the work of the Necromancer, one must first understand the history of the Queen of Shadows – for it is she who controls the Shades of the dead, and it is to her that a Necromancer must submit if he is to rob her of those Shades, even for a short time – to animate the bodies of the deceased.
On Magic, and the Undead Edit
The first of the Undead did not appear until the Third Age of Elgardt - following the period known as "The War of the Shadow King". It was during this time that the Dragons descended into Elgardt, sent by their father, the God of the Moon, to defend the people of Elgardt from the falling darkness. Up until this point, the Dragons had lived on the Moon, and were the only companions of the un-named God who resides there. He gave up the Dragons to Elgardt at the behest of Ashovillia - the Goddess of the Sun, whom the Moon God loves above all. With the Dragons came the knowledge of magic. Neither the Dragons, nor Magic were actually created by Alphamus, and as such - have no true place in the realm of Elgardt. After completing their task, the Dragons soon found that the Realm of Mortals could not sustain them, for they had taken on mortal form, and began to grow.
Their growth could not be stopped or slowed, and they soon required more sustenance than the land could provide. In an act of self sacrifice, they placed themselves into a state of permanent hibernation, laid down, and turned to stone. The "Dragon Graveyard" as it was then known now makes up the region known as "The Dragon Isles". The islands around the dragons have grown over hundreds of years, and entire cities have been built upon their backs.
Magic is a dangerous force. It draws upon the swirling energies that permeate the space between the realms, and channels it through the body of a living being. This can be extremely dangerous, and many a careless Mage has met their end from a simple miscalculation while channelling the Arcane. Magic by its nature takes reality and bends it. The difficulty is that when you bend something too far, or if you bend it too often, it will to break. Reality is also quite set in its ways, and has a tendency to snap back quite violently - which can lead to a certain amount of backlash. By pulling energy across the barrier that divides the realms, you also put strain on that barrier, and weaken that which separates one realm form another.
On Necromancy Edit
Of all magic users, Necromancers walk the most narrow and dangerous path. Not only do they channel Arcane Power through their mortal flesh, but they purposefully draw energy from the Shadow Realm - temporarily denying the Shadow Queen the Shade of the Dead. For this reason, Necromancers who do not pay homage to Maelanon do not tend to live very long - for the Mistress of Tears will not be denied her dues, and has powers and servants in the Mortal Realm who respond to her will without question. Furthermore, those who walk the path of the Necromancer will never see the end of the Path in the Stars - for the Song of Eternity has not part for them to sing, and they can look forward to spending all time in the company of the Queen of Shadows. It is therefore best for the Necromancer not to incur her wrath...
I hope this information has been of some use to you. I would encourage you not to pursue the study of Necromancy unsupervised, at least not until you join us here at the university. Furthermore, I would advise that you avoid any books that are bound with lock and chain, and not to respond should any parchment speak to you in an audible voice during your studies.
Kind Regards -
Glyddenhál Pilkinton, Arch-Mage of the Lexicon and Chief Bibliographer to the University Arcana .