Privileges of the Dead
by Sato Voria
Many, of late, have called for a ban on Necromancy. The ancient art, these voices claim, is an abominable practice which defiles the body and soul, disrespects the laws of Arkay, and preys on the well-deserved rest of the dead. Such superstitions are quite common in the provinces, especially in heathen Morrowind and in the northwestern regions which have had much to suffer from the foul Mannimarcean practices. Petitions have been made in the Elder Council to forbid the Necromantic practice, an action supported by many leading scholars in the Mages Guild.
I freely admit that acts of Necromancy as practiced by primitives like the Reachmen or by the avaricious servants of Mannimarco should be persecuted whenever possible. But to consider such amateur displays as similar to the refined art of Nibenese necromancy, the ancient privilege of the battlemage aristocracy, is nothing short of an insult. Do we condemn a master of Destruction for the actions of every arsonist hedge-witch? Do we persecute a skilled alchemist for the misdeeds of every skooma-brewer? Of course not. Yet, to the opponents of Necromancy, every two-bit Worm cultist appears to be a peer of the esteemed Taxidermists of Mir Corrup.
First, it must be understood that Necromancy is not merely a school of magic, but an aspect of the foundational death-rites at the heart of Ald Niben. To attack the institution of Necromancy is to strike at the very ties that bind the Niben people to their ancestors and birthrights. Worse, even, is that these arguments can just as easily apply to other ancient and noble practices - such as the worship of the ancestor moth. After all, what is the weaving of ancestor silk but the capturing of a soul in enchantment? Are we to persecute the noble Order of the Ancestor Moth, too? Shall we burn our sacred silks to appease these boorish and anti-intellectual notions? This may seem farcical to some, but it is an easy step to make.
Second is the great importance that Necromancy has played in the advancement of magic and arcane learning. The involvement of the Mages Guild in all this is quite puzzling - after all, their members benefit greatly from the Corporeal Redemptions Act through which the Empire donates the bodies of executed criminals to trusted scholars. In this way, many great discoveries have been made in the fields of Restoration, Alteration and Alchemy,as well as lesser fields of study such as anatomy - a fact that the esteemed Magisters are keen to forget. How, I wonder, will the ambitious masters of the Arcane University continue their studies without the Imperial Prison's constant supply of research material? Will they go out at night and rob the tombs, as some Breton wizards are wont to do?
Third, we must recognize that not only the study, but also the fruit of Necromancy is of great importance. Not in the way of servile revenants, as some no doubt assume, but as the priceless artifice and masterworks found in the strongholds of both the battlemage and merchant aristocracies. Many noble Niben families have their entire capital bound up in the shape of a reanimated chrysophant fish, a rare albino mudcrab, or a delicate facsimile glyphmoth. Such wonders - worth their weight in gold when alive, and many times more after the Taxidermist has wrought his craft - stay in families for generations, and are often worth more than the palaces and manors they reside in. What will happen to this treasure trove if the provincial factions have their way? Will we burn the greater part of the Niben's wealth on a pyre? If so, we would not only lose countless works of art, but also most capital in the Niben basin - an economical collapse would not be far off.
Finally, we must not forget the sheer artistry of proper necromancy. The true necromancer does not murder or prey on the weak, he does not use his art to strain his life to unnatural lengths, and he does not call forth shambling horrors to serve as menial labor. A true necromancer delights in the delicate play of tendons and bones, the joy of making something that was once full of energy and vigor come to life again, the intellectual pleasure of tracing the workings of the mortal sphere - so skillfully designed by the Divines, who no doubt would condone and encourage such curiosity in their children. Through Necromancy - proper, thoughtful, noble Necromancy - we meditate on the significance of death, and so we come to understand the designs of the Divines that much more clearly. No form of magic could be more virtuous.
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A book defending the Imperial permissive attitude towards necromancy, which explains the difference between normal, mannimarcean necromancy and the native Nibenese practice. The author is a member of a prominent battlemage family from Mir Corrup.