De esas cenizas, fénix nuevo espera;

Mas con tus labios quedn vergonzosos
(que no compiten flores a rubíes)
y pálidos, después, de temerosos.

Y cuando con relámpagos te ríes,
de púrpura, cobardes, si ambiciosos,
marchitan sus blasones carmesíes.

Francisco de Quevedo

lunes, 18 de julio de 2016

Chapter 8. Rise of the Necromantic Land of Thánatos (Necromancia: The First Era)

Versión en español aquí.

As I had promised a while ago, I am sharing with you guys a free chapter of the upcoming high-fantasy novel Necromancia. Progress has just passed 50%, expect it to be fully translated around the first days of august. Thank you for your patience, and here it is: Chapter 8, history of the necromancers, who they are and why did they appear on the surface of Úrim. I hope you enjoy it! (Side note: As you will see, this is just a fragment of chapter 8 :D )

The chapters 3-7 deal with the history of the following people:

Chapter 3: History of the Dwarves

Chapter 4: History of Men

Chapter 5: History of the Elves

Chapter 6: History of the Orcs

Chapter 7: History of the Giants

This map is also included at the first pages of the book, and several more will be added soon on the Facebook Page of the novel:


You can also get your copy of Necromancia in spanish at the Amazon Page and check this chapter on Spanish Here.

8. Rise of the Necromantic Land of Thánatos

Until now the history of each of the main races of Úrim has been recounted; it has been told how the dwarves deforested the north and expanded their territories to the east; the battle against Mekános, the apparition of men, might and magic; the wars of the south, east and west; the birth of the dragons and the orcish and human empires. Of the foundation of several cities of old. But, beyond all o this, what defines the end of the First Era is what appears in this chapter: The creation of the Circle of Necromancers and the cursed land of Thánatos. As an additional note, this chapter took me a great effort to put together. The sources are far too vague and the names and dates vary wildly. Most of what the necromancers had written was either lost or censored at the end of this very same Era, given the destruction that their practices left on their path.

Vomited in Thánatos by the sea, and unable to die, Nergal crept over the volcanic terrain for several cycles. The necromancers that lived in Úrim, helped by both the elementals and the spirits of the dead, soon took notice of Nergal’s existence, the first of the undead, and it did not took them long to set sail to Thánatos. Before Nergal’s arrival, Thánatos already had some dire reputation: a cycle after the Maelstrom was found, the isle was discovered on 777 by Dhabi’s pyromancers. The most encouraging description of the place is synthesized on the note of the captain of the exploration vessel Djinn, Raif Halal:

“[…] a black, impenetrable rock, perpetually covered by the ashes of a volcano that only has a match, if anything, in Thor Mons. It rises as a crown of fire over the almost entirely flat terrain of the island. There is no healthy life that could subsist here. The rain becomes mud as soon as it pierces the atmosphere and has stagnated long before reaching the ground. Soon after, it rots in the ground. It seems that some plants have germinated, but they were born to a perpetual death. Blackened. Intoxicated. From the deck of the ship it seems as if a black, silken layer covered the entire island. It might be the leaves of those plants that give an impression of life. There are several kinds of mushrooms, many more of those that I can name. My men were disturbed by the mere sight of the island. Several craters, from which it seems to stem an ashen humor, are the most common sighting on the plains of the island. Some others spit fire columns that plough the land with their rivers of magma and form the only hills from the land. If it were not from those geological emanations, the island itself would seem to be something segregated from time; a bastard son thrown to an immobile prison; a static image of death. Since we spotted the island we knew that it was twisted. We will not disembark. I am no idiot. Even if I get some sort of punishment back in Dhabi, I will not risk our lives in vain. We will map the estimated extension of the island and we will turn around. ”

The idea of an island of death, however, attracted the attention of several groups and, by 800, Thánatos was a prison island; a place for exile for both men and orcs. Ships abandoned them to their own luck; the fortunate ones would die upon landing; those who were not were pushed into cannibalism. Their minds broke and they howled, crazed by fear. Both orc and man degenerated until they turned into ghouls. It was no surprise then that the necromancers that survived the conflict in Glitnir and that managed to reach Midgard —and who gained adepts along the way— decided to establish in that place. Many of them, pariahs on their own lands, traveled to Thánatos seeking to satiate their addition to the magic of death. Nergal, trapped inside the island for over 100 cycles, had adapted to the calcined lands of the island and had found in Thánatos an appropriate ecosystem for his development.[1] The necromancers landed on the island around the decade of 790.[2]

Some cycles after the landing of the necromancers rose a small coastal town named Heracleion.[3] Though it was far too small to be called a city, Heracleion had endured the extreme conditions of the island. The houses and streets of the dock had all the seeming of things that have been under the sea for an eternity. It would be far more precise to tell that Heracleion was speared from the bottom of the sea and that it was dragged up to the shore. Its houses, taverns and buildings were fished, taken from the depths of the Great Ocean Sea. The prisoners learned to love along that immensity without age or a beginning. It was many cycles later that the intervention of mortal hands grinded the unmistakable smell of the tides from those primeval stones to cover them with bones.

The constant stream of prisoners from the capitals of Úrim, which came mainly from Mares Anthal, Shurub´Gul, Dhabi and Granada, provided the necromancers with potential disciples and loads of raw material. It is worth noting that most of those prisoners were not mages and had little to no chance to defend themselves from the necromancers. Some time later, besides the exiles, the great cities of old started deporting their sick ones, most of which died on the journey to Thánatos.[4] Dhabi was the main human output; orcs, on their side, exploited the shipyards of Mares Anthal to their maximum. It has been calculated that at least two ships of each race landed at the shores of Thánatos weekly to get rid of their cargo. Some captains reported attacks while on sea; the most famous case is the incident of 786, in which a pair of pyromancers burned the orcish barge Yafraggan and the orcish retaliation after the loss. Following that skirmish the humans took the northern route to disembark, since the south had been completely dominated by the orcs.

All in all, the island of Thánatos had, thanks to those landings, a semblance of life. Nergal was discovered 6 or 7 cycles after the first generations of exiles disembarked, and he was harassed and pursued by the necromancers until they finally captured him in a pit that was, soon after, covered by metal ceilings. Some of the necromancers, which had learned the basics of the science that Gilgamesh revealed no too long ago in the landmass of Úrim, immediately noticed that the thing that crept, that alien creature,[5] was the only lifeform adapted to the extreme conditions of Thánatos. And so, they sought to unlock its secrets through their crude alchemy. Derived from the knowledge of the jotuns, this science provided them with the ultimate instrument of their survival: a potion that allowed them to adapt to the extreme weather. Several cycles elapsed until the Úrim-born alchemy —where many sought the miraculous properties of the Philosopher’s Stone,[6] a myth until the Second Era— could finally distill a compound that allowed the necromancers to adapt to the volcano, its ash, and the dead ground of Thánatos. The main ingredient of said solution, known as sanguis nigrum, was blood drained directly from the body of Nergal.

To be honest saying “body”, at this point, is inaccurate. The creature Nergal, according to the oldest texts kept by the necromancers —and that reached Úrim through the black markets of Granada—, had a “substance” instead of organs; instead of body, or shape, he had a volume. Aborted by the Guardians, Nergal was a horrid, incomplete mass. Unfinished. Some of the organs that could be seen, without an order or visible structure, teeth, eyes, intestines and hair. This mass, in perpetual change and regeneration, fluctuating between a living being and an inanimate object, was rarely described again.

Though the nature of most of the experiments done in Thánatos dealt with the dead, their other great focus was how to survive the hostile lands that did not adopt nor reject them. Up to this point, it seems to be suggested that prisoners, necromancers and sick people worked in peace, but, if it ever happened, the communal system collapsed soon. The most skilled alchemists and necromancers soon took over Heracleion and monopolized the potions based on Nergal’s blood: those who could not pay the exorbitant prices or had the bad luck of creating enemies with the necromancers along the voyage, were doomed to become ghouls, as happened on the first cycles of their colonization, or to perish on the steppes of Thánatos.

The necrotic potions,[7] as the future necromancers would call them, —and also, as they were known worldwide until the rediscovery of The Chemical Wedding on 1627 of the Fourth Era— allowed the necromancers to extend their dominion to the south, and by the 830 they finally approached the base of the volcano. Soon after that, between 835 and 838, the future capital of the Circle of the Necromancers would be founded: The city of Thánatos.

The migration of the seat of power between those cities was gradual. The mere journey between Heracleion and Thánatos became a rite of passage of sorts, since those that had not acquired a Raven’s Blood would never reach the new city. The creature Nergal was transferred to Thánatos by 850 and this marked the definitive change of power. Heracleion was left as an arrival station for prisoners, as if they had reached their first age, and Thánatos would host an ever growing amount of necromancers.

It is believed that in 850, the necromancers agreed to create a superior power of sorts, called the Circle, which would be ruled by the 7 most powerful mages of the island. Each one of them would guide a particular experiment, would have their own followers and they would be completely independent and autonomous in each one of their functions. They would be responsible for the decisions that each one of them took within his or her own borders and the Circle would be gathered each 3rd cycle to discuss any advances on necromancy. As it has been already been said, the necromancers came from almost every race from Úrim, —except from giants— and the Circle turned out to be a very diverse group. Amongst those of us that defend the necromancers as a population that might have prospered, if they were not blinded by their zealotry, lies the Grenadian scholar from the Third Era, Fahrid ibn Diab. He argues that, if it not had been because of Nergal and the repulsion that many felt towards necromancy, Thánatos might had become the first great capital of the ancient world. Amongst his arguments in their favor, he states that the necromancers were the first true multilingual beings —they had to speak perfectly in orcish, human and elven; this without taking into account the tolerance between those races— and that they had created a new, common tongue for all of them to speak. This, sadly, has been lost. He also verified, compiled and provided the names and the greatest amount of data that we have about the Circle to this day, and I present them here:[8]


The Second Necromancer, and the first one to actively seek necromancy, was Nut’s favorite during the First Era and the one who brought the idea of commanding death to the consciousness of the people of Úrim. During the Second Era it was argued that he might have brought balance to the magical schools; what remains true in any case is that he landed on Thánatos on 791, as Raif Halal,[9] captain of the Djinn, later admitted, with several other necromancers that would become part of the Circle. Elven necromancers had the unique characteristic, and betrayer of their pact with the spirits, of having a dark skin; they all became dark elves. Osiris, it is also known, was an intimate friend of the elven leader Imhotep.


He was a follower of Osiris since the elves left Iunu-Ra. Little is known about this elf, other than that he seemed the executioner of Osiris’ will. He was later associated with chaos and disease, even though the leader of the circle was Osiris himself. Some believe that he was born some time after the battle against Mekános and, besides his participation in both Thánatos and the Great War, there is no additional information about him anywhere.

Fátima Abicarán and the Coven

Born in Granada, she became one of the greatest ethermancers on the surface of Úrim. We know that she was an important pyromancer at the court of the Al-Hayek dynasty, though she later met Osiris. She knew the myth of how the dragons had come into Úrim and followed the necromancers in 789. It is also known that while they traveled, she asked the necromancer about the ether, and, while he knew nothing about it, he promised her that she would have all the time and privacy to practice her summonings at the island of Thánatos. It seems that it was finally this search for power that pushed Fátima into the core of the Circle of the Necromancers. The creatures that she was able to summon would have no match for a long time after her demise.

Fátima led a group of witches, human females that were not older than 21[10] when they originally reached the shores of Thánatos. They were all redheads that had fled from the courts of Toledo, Granada and the surrounding settlements. The witches possessed extraordinary knowledge about herbalism and human reproduction —they were all raised as courtesans in the service of the sultans, but they embarked on the ships as lovers of the captains or camouflaged as slaves. Their seduction, makeup and potion and salve crafting skills allowed them to contact with the necromancers once they reached Thánatos. Fátima herself chose and trained those witches in the arts of ethermancy. It is believed that the spirits of the tenochcas had a certain influence over Fátima, and that she spoke and guided the young women on their dreams. The Coven would play a key role on 939, when […].[11]

Rashida al-Jalil

Descendant to a family of traders, Rashida was sold as a slave to a pair of pyromancers when she was still 14, on 780. The mages kept her as a sexual slave for some months. The young girl, however, far from accepting that fate, awoke the powers of pyromancy that her mother had inherited her on 783 and she could finally escape her masters. She survived as a thief for some cycles on Granada, and after being captured and raped by the royal wards she was sent to the prison of Toledo. For an entire cycle she was held prisoner but she managed to escape on 787 and headed back to Granada. She wandered for some days at the shores of the Mizar Lake until she met the group of Osiris and Fátima, The young sorceress joined their group and became a ferocious necromancer after abandoning the magical arts that saved her life.

Ulreth Matharieth

The orc Ulreth was heir of one of the greatest berserkers under the command of Alzamag. When the Emperor fell on 582, the berserkers were removed from the vanguard, which left the Empire with hundreds of unemployed orcs. The chieftain of the Matharieth clan teached the arts of berserking to his descendants, which kept it alive until well into the Third Era. Ulreth, born in Insh-Muthar in 689, moved to the capital soon after and learned the basics of electromancy when he was still very young. When the necromancers reached the Utgard region in 788, his clan was summoned to exterminate them. However, a part of the Matharieth clan, including Ulreth, decided to let them escape the capital Shurub’Gul in exchange for their magical knowledge. The orc offered himself to escort them to the foothills of Thor Mons, from where they could reach Lemuria and ask the giants for some kind of transportation. They reached Dhabi in 790 after being denied any help from the giants in 789. Ulreth met Osiris at the human docks. They had an argument, but, after being defeated by the necromancer, he sworn him absolute loyalty.


One of the great shamans under the command of the Golgoth dynasty, Xel-Ungor starts doubting the skills of the new Emperor and seeks the Mouths of Morug to assassinate him.[12] However, the assassins like how M’ur Golgoth is acting and Xel-Ungor exiles himself from his land and his race. He travels for several cycles, hunting in the plains of Utgard and locates Ulreth’s group on 788. He follows them and makes contact with the berserker. They abandon through the borders of the Glitnir forest and they keep on marching to the east for some time. They meet the dwarf Jørmund Lokesson along the way and they reach together the docks of Dhabi.

Jørmund Lokesson

Little is known about the motives of Jørmund when he joined the ranks of the necromancers. He never abandoned his dominion over earth in favor for necromancy, but he obeyed any order without a doubt, no matter what said order was. It is also known that he was highly independent and is remembered by his ferocious use of combat geomancy. Some historians of the Second Era, and mainly, M’Kor Kethal, point out the parallelisms between Jørmund and the mythic dwarven betrayer, Mjødvitner. It would come to light during the Second Era that Jørmund descended from the lost dwarven clan of the bjørn warriors, the Nordstein, making him the first one to be seen in centuries. .

It is partially thanks to him that we know that this clan, that was already mentioned earlier, grew desperate with each passing cycle and with the sight of an unending forest. When they realized that they would never find a second Bael-Ungor —unaware, of course, of Radsvinn and his people’s triumph—, the Nordstein dug near the shores of the Tláloc, north, far to the north of Midgard. They dug too deep and, judging by what we know about thanks to Lokesson, it seems that they could finally settle there.[13]

After the foundation of the Circle of the Necromancers, the people of Heracleion and Thánatos had a surge, of which we will speak now.

[1] Though it has been previously spoken about the natural adaptation of giants, Nergal was the first evidence of modern science to determine that this change or mutation seems to depend 100% on the emotional and mental stability of the jotuns Without balance, the body freezes into a previous state and it becomes impossible for it to adapt to a new medium. In the particular case of Nergal, it seems that his emotional part was so damaged that it is difficult to say that he “accepted” the land of Thánatos; my personal belief is that his mind entered some kind of lockdown. The discovery of an incarnation so accurate of death —death as he understood it, at least; the devastation of an era, the surgical removal of an entire species from the world— broke this seal, for he recognized the barren lands of Tenochtitlán within the shores of Thánatos.

[2] We are certain that Osiris disembarked on 791.

[3] Since the necromancers preferred direct experimentation over the registry of facts and events that happened on Thánatos, the exact foundation date of Heracleion remains uncertain. However, the latest estimates calculated that, at the latest, it happened by 810.
[4] The amount of corpses, in fact, was so great that the necromancers themselves decided to use bones as a building material for the edifications of Heracleion.

[5] Nergal’s transformations will be retaken on the chapter “Resurrection”

[6] The Philosopher’s Stone, for alchemists through all ages, is a red powder that dominates the vital energy of plants and animals alike, allowing them to heal –when eaten– or sprout –if used as a fertilizer– almost instantly. Its main property, however, was the transmutation of quicksilver and lead into gold.
[7] Those potions would become one of the longest lasting ones ever created. Its effects, which included an extended lifespan for the imbiber, an increased regenerative capacity and a greater resistance to weather —a thing that was vital in Thánatos— could last for over 50 cycles after the initial ingestion, and during the Second Era the recipe that the necromancers used was reconstructed. This recipe disappeared during the hunt of the alchemists during the Third Era and reappeared not too long ago. The main ingredient, sanguis nigrum, has long banished from the surface of Úrim. Here it is, as it appears on the treaty The Chemical Wedding, written during the Second Era:

Necrotic potion (Sanguis Nigrum or, more frequently, Raven’s Blood):

It is vital to begin the mixture at 11:30 pm, facing east, the day prior to full moon. If it is not done so, even if you follow the instructions to the letter, this recipe will not work. Eight drops of sanguis nigrum diluted in ½ liter of seawater. The mixture is heated for 22 minutes. The temperature is regulated by removing the recipient from the flames for brief periods. 11 minutes exactly after this process has begun, you must also add 8 drops of your own blood. After your own blood has been added, you must double your precaution with the fire. If it boils it spoils. 22 minutes after the process has begun, most of the water must have evaporated. If done correctly, a small pearl should appear at the bottom of the flask. The mixture must rest for 8 minutes after it has been definitively removed from the fire and, exactly at midnight, the pearl must be removed from the flask with a metal caliper. The pearl is to bathe in moonlight for 5 minutes. At the 6th, it is transported to its final recipient: a small glass flask. If everything was done correctly up to this point, the pearl will break in half and from its center it will flow the Raven’s Blood, filling the flask.

If a larger flask is used, either because you wanted to extract more blood from the Creature or because you had no other one in the final moment, the Raven’s Blood will evaporate inside the flask and it will be lost forever.
[8] Taken from: Ibn Diab, Fahrid, “The Circle of Death”, chapter 3 in The Paths of Necromancy, pp. 36-38

[9] I cut Ibn Diab’s description, for I have already annexed it some pages before. It is known that after discovering Thánatos, Raif Halal was tasked with a round trip to its shores. When he returned safe and sound, Granada decided to begin the exile process that has been already been quoted, and Raif was one of the most prolific ferrymen of that period. He died on the attack that finally sunk the Djinn on Solaris of 799.

[10] I make the clarification of the witches’ original age for, as you might remember, the Raven’s Blood potion allowed the mages to live almost indefinitely. Unlike the methods discovered in other era, those who drank the necromancers’ potion would never age again.

[11] I cut Ibn Diab’s description, for I will speak of the invasion of 939 on the following chapters.

[12]The general population suspected some things about the orcish guild of assassins. It was a popular belief that those who asked too much about them would appear with their tongues pulled off some day.  
[13] The Nordstein clan and its history will be retaken during the Second Era.

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