Life, Undeath, and Everything

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By Herkimer Corpsescryer

The two most powerful forces on this planet are death and life. Few would argue this point. The two most powerful essences, indeed, must then be that of positive and negative magics. And, finally, it can be assumed that the two most powerful magic wielders would have to be the vivomancers and the necromancers.

But what is it about these forces that make them so powerful? One could say that it is simply a matter of equating them.

Vivomancers, perhaps, have the least scope in their effect. The energies of life, unlike all other energies, do not exist outside of a living vessel. Life needs something to contain it, otherwise it dissipates into nothingness. This means that it is necessary to sacrifice in order to use such magic.

Not that it is necessary to sacrifice of oneself. Indeed, in order for life to exist, other life must be sacrificed, even in the simple process of eating. Thus goes the cycle by which life energy is reintegrated into existence. Such things are unheard of by Vivomancers (I personally use the capital "V"), even though they admittedly have been known to draw life energy from willing donors to put into those who need it most. Perhaps they merely act as channels, linking their energy to another. I, of course, have no interest in investigating this.

Yet, while life energy is limited in its scope, it is this limitation that has granted trained vivomancers (I use the lowercase "v") the most miraculous of gifts . . . the ability to restore natural life, complete with all of the benefits that go with it. The ability to breathe once again, feel the sun on your skin, touch and taste and experience all of those things that might have been deprived of you by unnatural force.

Necromancers, though, as I can attest to, are by no means outclassed by such endeavors as the pursuit of life. The energies of death exist almost everywhere except within the bodies of living things. If there is any proof as to the strength of vivomancy, it is here, in the constant battle between the forces of life and death.

It is for this reason that many necromancers willingly submit to the process of the animated death. By infusing themselves with necromantic energy, they can have a constant source of necromantic energy, even while traveling through the fields of Luminii ... at night, of course.

A living body is infused with life energy, every pore burgeoning with it. Although different people have life energy in different densities, wherever there is life, there is life energy. That is within the body, yet without the body, negative energy seeks to overcome and extinguish that life energy. This becomes easier and easier as a person ages and that person undergoes the natural, gradual waning and dissipation of his life energy. Always, there is the constant pressure from the negative energy surrounding the body.

When negative energy finally overcomes positive energy, they cancel each other out. A corpse is created. A person uneducated in the forces of negative and positive, death and life might only see death. But death is a constant process. Unless something is dying (or being sustained), there is no death energy within it. I am sure a person studying the magics of vivomancy would agree to this same process being involved in the act of living. Without positive or negative energy binding a soul to the body, the soul becomes free, a neutral force drifting away.

The spirit. It is pure will that allows a spirit to either be removed from or reconnected to a body. During life, it is possible for the spirit to leave the body with enough focus as long as it remains a positive entity with the same energies as its body. In death, though, a spirit first leaves the body as a neutral entity, the absence of life -- only a neutral or positive entity can enter a neutral shell.

It is when the body is a corpse, when there is neither negative nor positive energy within the shell that a corporeal undead creature is created. Either through its own force of will, or through the focus of a necromancer, the spirit is bonded to the body, either plucked from beyond or drawn from the environment around. The shell is then made negative.

A peculiar etymology developed in reference to those living a negative life. A normal body follows its normal course, infused with positive energy that naturally wanes over time. This is life. When positive energy is removed, death occurs. In the state of death, no energy exists within the shell. When negative energy infuses the body, then the resulting creature is experiencing the opposite of life, sustained by negative energy. It is not dead. Since positive energy is necessary to sustain life, and negative energy is necessary to sustain this perversion of life, it is called unlife -- the opposite of life. Some have actually taken to calling this negative state undeath. They are mistaken, since even the truly living can be considered "undead."

It is a life force that animates the living and bonds the spirit to them. It is a death force that animates the dead and bonds the spirit to them. A life force only follows through its natural course. But a death force is different. The body does not live, but unlike the living body that suffers under pressure from a constant, ambient negative force, the dead body does not suffer from this. It is immune to disease (even if it may carry it), wounds inflicted do not grow worse over time, it is immune to aging. But it will suffer from a positive force.

A spirit easily and willingly accommodates to an empty corpse, since a spirit without a body lacks the ability to perceive the world through anything other than sight and sound. It needs a body in order to fully experience its negative life. Over time, though, a corpse decays, growing less and less intact. It is the necessity of appropriate design that determines how much a corpse resists entering a vessel. It is also the composition of the body that determines how much a corpse resists being dominated.

A fully intact corpse will generally refute forced necromantic resurrection. But partly a desire to exist and the realization that a vivomancer will not be coming for it can easily convince a decomposed corpse to submit to the services of a necromancer. The longer a spirit spends removed from its body, the more jarring the experience of forced necromantic resurrection can be. Naturally, corpses that have been gone the longest are the most easily resurrected and the most easily dominated.


Note: This manuscript was donated by Arch Redux (1/28/2002)

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