Mythology of Remnas #8- War of the Litch King

The Magefolk have a taboo against working spells directly on flesh as such magics tend to warp in unpredictable ways. None of these mutations end well for those afflicted with them and are called curses. Unfortunately, practitioners of curse magic have always lived in the cracks of mage society, eager to carry out curse-killings for a price. The worst case scenario, however, is when a curse-killing goes awry and instead of ending the life of the victim, the afflicted lives on, fundamentally warped with the ability to tap into power from unnatural sources.

No one is quite certain who the Litch King was in life or what country he came from. Many rumors and theories persist such as he was an explorer who sailed across the sea in search of lands unknown to Remnas. He discovered something out there past where the borders of the map end. Something that changed him. But without proof, it remains but a popular tall tale. What is known is that the Litch King was obsessed with a woman who had died and sought to pierce the veil between this world and the next, calling her departed soul back to this side. He robbed her crypt, taking the body far to the north. In a castle raised from black stone and ice, he spent many decades experimenting with spells to make the dead woman open her eyes again and call his name. They speculate he went mad, alone in the icy north with only a corpse for company, continuing his work even after she became a skeleton.

Madness only fueled his innate brilliance. He learned to create bodies from wax, clay and porcelain and discovered how to transfer his own mind between the various vessels. When he was inside one of his “dolls,” the artificial body moved and functioned almost like his mortal flesh did. As he aged, growing physically weaker with time, the Litch King abandoned his bodily flesh to live on in one of his many vessels, transferring again and again if it grew worn or damaged. The work continued and the world was none the wiser until the Litch King tried to use his skill to summon souls.

He could not call back his beloved, but he did wake all the dead on Remnas. At first, it started with animal carcasses and grew until the dead in the cemeteries clawed through their coffin lids and dug out of their graves. Only those that were dead long enough to have turned to bone were allowed to continue their eternal slumber. The risen dead were not who they had been in life. All intellect was gone. They were guided by animal instinct to destroy the living and to walk or crawl to the Litch King’s fortress in the icy north. The only way to destroy them was to burn them. Even if cut into pieces, the scattered parts still twitched with “life.” Once glutted with slaughter, they would wander away, leaving the survivors to tremble in terror. Countries in the north were the worst hit. They were among the first decimated in the early days of the threat and would be struck again and again as hoards of the undead from further south marched through.

An unprecedented menace required an unprecedented response. Enemies laid down arms and made alliances. All the races of Remnas came together in a mass army to go north to the Litch King’s fortress and fight his army of the dead. As long as he remained there, attempting to summon souls, Remnas was in peril as he gained a new foot soldier with every death. Even the elves of the Summerlands, who shunned the lands outside their borders, were affected and agreed to join the campaign.

The great army gathered and pushed towards the Necropolis, as the Litch King’s fortress became known, fighting desperately and courageously. Each mile was hard won and required many sacrifices. The price for the Magefolk was quite high. They took the front lines during the final invasion of the Necropolis, meeting the Litch King’s magic with their own. Their most brilliant and celebrated practitioners used their most advanced and secret arts to defeat the army surrounding the fortress. Many lives were lost and much knowledge lost with them, but Remnas was able to survive. When the alliance found the Litch King, the Minotaurii High King smashed his artificial body and all of his remaining receptacles. With no shell left to inhabit, the dreadful magic of the Litch King finally ceased.

However, that is not to say that the Litch King departed fully from this world. The region surrounding the Necropolis is now called the Dead North. The magics, both unnatural and natural, unleased during the battle mixed and merged, warped and wove together, to create a field of wild magic that subjects the area to unpredictable effects. No creatures can live there. Snow falls but melts once it touches the ground. Few who mount expeditions to the Dead North ever come back and those that do are irrevocably altered. They whisper that some great power dwells at the heart of the Necropolis, a shining light that burns like a star and radiates enormous mystical power. What would happen if someone were to claim it?

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