I looked into the Otherworld, the faerie realm of Spells
I looked into the Netherworld, the corridors and cells
I looked into the Overworld where the Eddar came to dwell
I looked into the Underworld, and drank the stench of Hell
I shall dwell within the Living World to draw the curse of death
I shall dwell within the Living World to staunch the Living Breath
I shall dwell within the Living World to lead the dead astray
I shall dwell within the Living World and bid them to obey.
~Excerpt from the Tome of Saibryn Desh, Djinn Nethermancer
Its beginnings shrouded in obscurity, the religion of Nethermancy has grown into one of the most influential in all of Aeryn. Xyric, the god of Nethermancy, helped to create the Sanctuary of Artanna and his disciples take the Covenant very seriously. Destruction of the demon Ixiel is perhaps the highest mandate of the Xyris Mortum. Of all the faithful in Aeryn, Nethermancers are arguably the most confident that Ixiel will one day fall. Their oldest prayer reminds them that, “All things must die.”
Nethermancers deal in the powers of the Netherworld, Ungerok. It is to Ungerok that the souls of the dead normally travel before moving on to other realms of existence. The Prayers of the Nethermancer interrupt this eternal cycle. A disciple of Xyric can cause the souls of the departed to return to the living world to carry out his wishes. He can steal the life-force of his enemies and rob them of their vitality. Nethermancers listen to the voices of the dead, and their temples shiver with the sound of their wailing cries. Since the coming of the Demon Lord, Nethermancers have suffered the loss of some of their former might. While still formidable, Nethermancers arduously strive to reclaim their lost power. Many see the recent Covenant of the Gods as a convenient means to a desperate end. Only when the Demon is destroyed will his hold over the Netherworld crumble.
From the earliest days, Nethermancers have been charged with the task of preparing the dead for burial and leading restless spirits to the embrace of Xyric, who then ferries them into Ungerok, the Netherworld. This customary ritual is simply known as “the Crossing”. While no longer in direct contact with their god, Nethermancers still view death rites as their sacred rituals. People from all races and walks of life often seek out a Nethermancer when a loved one dies. This not only helps ensure that the soul of the departed will find its way into the next world. If a petitioner is willing to serve the disciple in the event of his own demise, the Nethermancer can place ritual marks on the corpse of the slain – preventing it from being raised by any act of Nethermancy. Thus, the family of the deceased can be sure that their loved ones are not led astray on the perilous road to Ungerok.
Historically, this ancient practice has time and again come under the scrutiny of the Emissaries of the Eddar. The Druids have been particularly vocal, condemning the act of raising undead as an assault upon the Natural Order. The Crusaders joined their brothers and saw the coercion of distraught families as the darkest of crimes. Healers pointed out that very often a Nethermancer would ignore very real methods for saving lives in order to carry out their dark rituals
Slowly, over the course of nearly a hundred years, the custom was abolished and the religion of Nethermancy went into hiding where they could carry out their dark rituals unobserved by the Emissaries of Light. Since the Covenant, however, more and more Nethermancers are leaving their hiding places, and are demanding the right to perform the Crossing. In the spirit of the new unity, the Eddar Cathedrals have slowly begun to relent.
Nethermancers follow a hierarchy that is unique among the clerical classes of Aeryn. All Nethermancers are considered equals in the Citadels. No matter their ability to cast prayers, age, or amount of knowledge, all Nethermancers are considered of an equal caste under the gaze of Xyric. It would seem that this communal approach would make Nethermancers unpredictable – even disorderly, but such is not that case at all. In fact, the priesthood is one of the most disciplined. Nethermancers do not need to look long into the hollow eyes of servant undead to know that Xyric awaits them in the Netherworld. They know that their devotion to Xyric will be judged in Ungerok by no other than the God himself.
While there is no “body” to the Nethermantic beast, there is no mistaking its head. From the Xyris Mortum come the commandments that bind all disciples of Xyric. From there, three hand-picked Nethermancers – called Requis – strive to interpret the will of the Councils of Spirit and Bone. These councils are the supreme authority of the faith, and it is believed that they meet directly with the god in the netherworld. Every member of the councils is nothing short of a long dead Nethermancer who has developed the ability to communicate – and sometimes even manifest – in the mortal world. Little is known about how many council members there are, but it appears that each is headed by a figure that binds them. Always there is a Lord or Lady of Bones, and a Lord or Lady of Spirits. The commandments they issue are interpreted by the living Requis and passed down to all Nethermancers.
The Three Sabbats define the ancient commandments of the Nethermancer. It is believed that there may be more, though whether these missing Sabbats have been lost or are simply not spoken is unclear.
The First Sabbat
I shall uphold the Covenant, for what was lost must be reclaimed.
The Second Sabbat
I shall not bow to mortal law, for I shall be judged in the Netherworld.
The Third Sabbat
I shall not fear death, for all things must die.
The Breaker of Cycles, Xyric is the Sh’ddar god of the netherworld, Ungerok. In a distant age long before the rise of Ixiel, Xyric created two powerful demi-gods – Tyrannoch, the Bone Lord, and Lilith, the Spirit Queen. Together, these two forces wandered Aeryn, relentless in their search for mortal souls who had fallen to Death. Once found, they would bring these souls to Xyric who would in turn lead them on the perilous journey across the Hadathrang, the Bridge of Night.
All of this changed when Ixiel, the Demon Lord, escaped his prison in Erebus and made his war on the gods.
Like all the six living gods, none can say what fate befell Xyric after this time. It is clear, however, that Xyric had something to do with the formation of the Sanctuary. The Obelisk of Death is a potent symbol of his power in the lands of Artanna. The Nethermancers say that Xyric continues his ancient vigil over the realm of the dead, and that in those writhing corridors, he is building an army of the dead that he will lead against Ixiel during the third Aerynugeth – the prophesized final battle against the Demon Lord.