It is rumored amongst most of the intelligent races of Norrath that first came the Dragons. Whether this is fact or Dragonkind propaganda is not important, for which is more vital, the truth or what the truth is believed to be? It is said that thousands of years ago the world known as Norrath was noticed by Veeshan, the great Crystalline Dragon who rules the Plane of Sky. Pleased with the conditions on Norrath , Veeshan deposited her brood onto the frozen continent of Velious. Then, with one swipe of her mighty claws, Veeshan opened several great wounds on the surface of Norrath, thus staking her claim to this promising new world.
Veeshan was not the only being to see the potential Norrath offered. From his Plane of Underfoot, a dark realm of vast caves and endless tunnels, Brell Serilis quietly created a magical portal to a cavern deep in the belly of Norrath. From there the Duke of Underfoot secretly seeded the underworld of Norrath with all manner of creatures. Brell then returned home, sealing his portal within a labyrinthine chamber of mystical Living Stone. It is rumored that the Heretics of Paineel know the location of Brell’s portal and seek to tap its power, but Heretics are tight lipped and rumors are rumors.
Of the Erudites, Necromancy, and the rise and fall of Miragul as told by Aradune Mithara, sometimes historian, more often Ranger Lord, Outrider of Karana.
Over three thousand years in the past humanity was in its infancy. Mankind dwelled in the center of Antonica, spreading out slowly to inhabit the vast and fertile plains of Karana. Villages appeared and prospered, several reaching the size of towns, and two even became cities — Qeynos to the west, and Freeport to the east. Humanity, much to the disdain of the elder races who watched from afar, was strong — it rapidly gained a solid foothold in the world of Norrath and was there to stay.
This is not to imply, however, that humanity was at peace. Early on small groups formed, some linked by similar appearances, others by common goals. Competition was fierce, and when resources grew scarce for one reason or another many groups abandoned the promises and alliances of their past and fought. A few leaders spoke out against the violence, urging the masses to remember why they had fled the cold north. They had broken away from the lands of Halas and their barbarian brothers in the name of peace, and these leaders insisted that humanity adhere once again to those principals to which all had agreed.
Their cry was not totally ignored, and the fighting subsided. Villages were encouraged to trade with one another and to respond to competition nonviolently. An economy based largely on agriculture appeared and the villages and small towns were surrounded by large farms. Most of humanity’s leaders were pleased with this, wanting nothing more than peace and food on every man’s table after a hard day of work. A few, however, wanted more. Even though their people had risen well beyond the standard of living endured by their barbarian brothers to the north, they were not content. Explorers and adventurers returned from afar with tales of elves, dwarves, and other strange creatures, as well as descriptions of ancient abandoned cities. A few even came back with limited knowledge of sorcery and the mystic arts. And when that discontent minority of leaders heard all of this, they became both jealous and determined.
A small, fragile man of great intellect called Erud led this group, and he formed them into a council. They quickly became irritated, even disgusted, by their fellow man. Leaving a small network of spies behind, the remainder of Erud’s followers fled the city of Qeynos and boarded a small fleet of ships. They sailed to the west and landed upon the barren coast of the island of Odus. The land was sparse and uninhabited and quite appealing to the council and their people. They quickly built a city of their own, dissimilar in almost every way to both Qeynos and Freeport, for it was almost entirely a towering castle. Erudin it was called, and within it the scribes and scholars, who called themselves High Men, gathered and analyzed reports, captured books and scrolls, and other artifacts brought to them by their spies. The first human mages were then born – wizards, sorcerers, and enchanters occupied the great halls of Erudin and grew immensely in both power and knowledge.
One of the more adept practitioners of the arts was named Miragul. Unlike and more extreme than the others, he not only abhorred his human brothers on the mainland to the east, but he also grew to hate his fellow Erudites. To him they were both short sighted and narrow. They created schools of thought, categorizing magic into three groups and assigning themselves to three classes: Wizards, Sorcerers, and Enchanters. Miragul found this limiting and thoroughly resented the thought of being restricted to one school of thought or another.
He soon found others who felt similarly. They were a small but growing group of outcasts who often studied forbidden texts and other knowledge generally kept secret from the majority of students. The council was morally and ethically opposed to much of the information gathered afar by their spies. Miragul found that these outcasts not only studied the three schools of magic, but also a fourth. It was called Necromancy and a few lucky spies had returned from a distant underground city (Neriak, it was called, home of the dark elves) with both their lives and also ancient texts describing this art. Miragul was intrigued, and, by using powerful magic, created for himself four identities, four separate countenances and names, and joined all four schools without the knowledge of the council, nor anyone else for that matter.
It came to pass some years later that the council, in its ever growing desire to know all there was to know, both in distant lands and also in its own city, discovered the group of Necromancers. They were branded heretics and great conflict arose. For the first time in several hundred years, the Erudites fought. They engaged in a civil war not entirely dissimilar to that which they had loathed and fled from back on the mainland. But there was one very significant difference – they did not use swords and bows, but rather magic, and the result was terrible. Lives by the hundreds were lost, great buildings and structures destroyed, and eventually the heretics were forced to flee Erudin, to hide and regroup in the southern regions of Odus.
Miragul, being a member of all four schools, was not blind to the implications when the conflict began. He left the heretics before they fled the city, abandoning his fourth identify and siding apparently with the council. But this was only a ruse in order to buy time. He soon gathered every artifact and tome he could discreetly steal and then left Odus entirely, taking a ship back to Antonica and to the city of Qeynos. The lands of men, however, were not only to his dislike, but also filled with Erudite spies. Miragul grew afraid, even paranoid, and soon fled again. He headed far to the north and then to the east, wishing to avoid the barbarians of Halas. After many weeks he found himself near the great lake called Winter’s Deep and he hid there for some time.
While Miragul waited in secret his mind was not idle. He schemed and planned, and looked over every letter of every scroll and tome he had taken from Erudin. Time passed and his understanding and power grew. But he was unsatisfied and a deep hunger for even more arcane knowledge ate away at him. He soon left his hiding place and began to travel long distances in search of more ancient texts and artifacts. His power had grown and confidence overcame his fear of Erudite spies. Once again he cloaked himself in false identity and countenance and traveled the lands of men.
Not far to the south of where his cache of artifacts lay, Miragul soon found another of the new races, the Halflings, and their town Rivervale. The mage feared these small people and their propensity to sneak and to steal, and as his treasures grew in both size and value, he eventually made the decision to move even farther north, and away from all intelligent life. He traveled leagues and leagues, far beyond the range of both Erudite spy and curious Halfling, and eventually came to a vast tundra. This land had no name, and was not until centuries later referred to as merely the Frigid Plain. This frosty and remote environment appealed to Miragul’s heart, for it had grown cold, obsessed with only knowledge and the abstract, and filled with only hatred for others. Creatures with intelligence forced him to be discreet and slowed his acquisition of knowledge and items. He had as little to do with them as he could, only hiding amongst them when absolutely necessary.
Under the icy ground of the Frigid Plains, Miragul created a large network of tunnels and rooms in which to hide and study his collection. He used no labor, but rather deep magic to remove the earth from his way. Room after room, passage after passage, he did create to house his store of artifacts. He split his years, spending one score out in the world, exploring and amassing knowledge and items, returning them to his cache, and then the next dabbling with them, experimenting in one of several laboratories he had created.
Many years passed, even centuries. Miragul grew old, even though he did his best to extend his life using magical means. There was a limit to his enlightenment when it came to aging, and he soon acknowledged that one day even he would die. Only one aspect of death did he fear, and being no longer able to learn and collect wrought him with terror. As his skin grew wrinkled, and his breath short, Miragul’s time was spent less exploring the world of Norrath and more studying the existential. He soon discovered the various hidden dimensions that neighbored his own, the Planes of Power and Discord. He discovered means by which he could traverse these planes, making portals that led between them. But his strength was leaving him, and his journeys into these realities were short and often unprofitable. More and more, his own mortality limited his reason for living, and the specter of death haunted him daily.
The mage’s research into life and death was built upon a foundation he had learned from his fellow outcasts centuries before in Erudin. Necromancy, more than any other art, became Miragul’s obsession. Eventually he discovered a means by which to create portals within his own plane and made them to travel great distances in mere seconds. He traveled back to Odus, to its southern regions, in search of the other Necromancers. Perhaps, he mused, they had unearthed by now a way to cheat death.
The mage soon found that the heretics of Erudin had built a city into a great hole that led to unknown depths beneath the earth. This chasm was apparently the result of that huge civil war from which Miragul had fled centuries earlier. The city, called Paineel, though somewhat suspicious, allowed Miragul to enter and after a time he earned its inhabitants’ trust. Many humored the old man and his claims, while a select few respected him and were willing to trade knowledge for knowledge, power for power. They revealed to him the true power of necromancy, the ability to raise the dead, creating zombies and wraiths obedient in every way to their master. Many of the heretics planned to assault Erudin with vast armies of undead, to wreak revenge upon the council that had exiled and made war upon them in centuries past.
One important aspect of their necromancy interested Miragul, the fact that the undead ceased to age. Their lives appeared endless and the elderly mage knew that he must discover a way to be like them. He feigned interest in the heretics’ goals, learning spells to raise the dead, helping them raise their undead army. All the while, however, he was experimenting himself, hiding much of his research in the small home he was given in Paineel. After some time he discovered that which he had sought, a way to transform a living being, as opposed to a corpse, into the undead. Unfortunately, time was scarce, for he was tired and almost dead himself, his body deteriorating with age, and the heretics were almost ready to make war once again.
Miragul then left Paineel, using a small portion of his dwindling life energies to make a portal back to his cache hundreds of leagues to the north. Upon arrival, he withdrew silently to his most secret laboratory and prepared his final spell. Dreaming all the while of endless exploration and discovery, he slowly made ready his ultimate experiment. The enchantment laced with necromancy was finally made, and Miragul hid his remaining and fragile life within the phylactery, a small device he had pilfered from the other necromancers. Clouds of mystical energy gathered and then dispersed, revealing a shell of the man Miragul once was, an undead mage, what ancient scripts and legends called a lich.
In his haste, however, Miragul had made a miscalculation. The lich, while retaining all the mystical power of his formal self, lacked a spirit. Only the mage’s soul, now locked within the phylactery hidden deep in the cache, retained the ambition and desire to amass knowledge and power. The spiritless lich possessed none of these human traits, and Miragul’s soul screamed in silence as the undead creature began to aimlessly wander his menagerie of wisdom and enlightenment, his rooms filled with artifacts of power.