To raise the dead is to wield power over the soul. Not the souls of the dead, mind you. To raise a dead thing—to animate the flesh to do your bidding—is to give them a piece of your own soul. Your essence becomes the spark that sustains them and binds them to your will. You see, the souls of the dead do not tarry, but when summoned, whatever remains entwines with the necromancer’s own like black webs seeking, clinging to the life once known. Look into the eyes of the dead and you may yet see that fleeting glimmer of life. But is it the shadow of the dead soul you see, summoned back from the abyss? Or is it the soulspark of the necromancer on which the undead thing feeds? Perhaps something else entirely has been pulled through the veil, for even the most learned necromancer does not truly know what lurks beyond death itself.
Summoning the departed is the most intimate of rituals. In an instant, you will know them—know what they were when they lived. It is as if you wear their skin like it were not quite your own. You feel the echo of a once beating heart, the feather touch of ghost blood flowing through veins, hear the whispers of their thoughts, their dreams, their memories. An unskilled mage should never attempt to raise the newly dead, for all of these things are too close to the surface, waiting to draw you down. Often, the newly dead have not yet come to accept that they no longer have a place amongst the living but by the necromancer’s command. They are the most difficult to control for their appetite for life can be voracious, consuming a novice necromancer whole and leaving only an empty wraith in their place. Such a creature must be destroyed, for they are a void—a breach in the veil through which the dead can cross unbidden.
A necromancer proves their true skill, not in who or how many they can summon back from the final darkness, but in how many they can release before the dead souls bind to their own, nibbling away at the life that sustains them. But even the dead that are released—through destruction or by the necromancer’s command—still take something of their master back with them into the depths.
That is, if the necromancer chooses to release them at all…