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Tired of the usual stalemate between priest and Athar denier, Tarragon Balm (Planar / tiefling male / W(necro)12 / Athar / N) set out on a different path. It's his firm belief that the undead ain't actually dead at all, it's just the screed of priests that labels them that way. Before you scoff, listen to a summary of his arguments:
So-called 'Undead' have different forms of blood, biles, galls and humours (the main constituents of a mortal's body). Just as an imbalance of humours causes disease in mortals, so variations in the constituents of 'undead' creatures accounts for their variable natures.
Many 'undead' have links to the Negative Material Plane through which they draw their magical powers. That doesn't necessarily mean they have to be dead, though - after all, a whole group of sorcerers from a Prime world called Zakhara specialise in drawing power from the negative, and they're very much alive.
Tarragon speculates that undeath is actually a disease, rather like lycanthropy, which changes normal mortals into 'undead' creatures. Being magical in origin, it can extend the lifespans of its 'victims' indefinitely, which brings with it an altered perception of mortality (and corresponding moral and ethical changes), as well as render its subjects immune to forms of damage which would harm mortals. The various 'supernatural' vulnerabilities exhibited by these so-called undead are explained as allergens, like that of werewolves and silver, or fiends and cold-iron. Such allergens damage the disease-organisms which have performed the alteration in the body, disrupting the host.
The Necroalchemists claim that the undeath disease can be transmitted from infected creatures to mortals. It takes a few days to take hold, during which time the victim appears to be dead (they're actually in a deep trance while their body's biology drastically alters itself according to the disease's pattern).
'Course, priests claim they can 'turn' undead with their Power's might. Like many things Atharic, the Necroalchemists refute this, saying priests merely use holy symbols which affect the undead as allergens.
This all has a number of repercussions, of course. Since the undead aren't really dead (at least, if you subscribe to this philosophy) while priests claim they are, does this mean they're hiding more basic truths about the Multiverse?
Tarragon argues they are. In fact, he claims that the whole idea of 'death' is a lie cooked up by the Powers! He believes that the powers have used spells like contingency and powerful summoning magics to ensure that they have a steady currency of mortals arriving on their doorsteps. See, Tarragon says that mortals ain't really mortal at all! Like the planar races and the powers themselves, humans and the rest never die - they're just made to believe they do! When a 'mortal' suffers enough damage that he believes he's about to get put into the dead Book, the magical contingencies kick in, and transport him to a Power's Realm.
Here he's made to believe he's a petitioner, and focus his entire soul upon promoting the power. 'Course, his memory's wiped and he's stripped of his identity, but that only makes the disguise more complete. petitioners are nothing more than the slaves of the powers! Worse than that, they're food for the powers!
Tarragon's research continues. The chant is that he hopes to capture some petitioners from the Great Ring and perform experiments upon them to determine whether or not they're really alive. Thus far his screed's not gone unnoticed by the Temples, the Dustmen and the Hardheads, but it's entirely likely that if he's prepared to continue probing into the mysteries of life and death these three groups will put up some pretty heavy resistance.
Copyright 1997 by Jon Winter