Voice for the dead
One of the most powerful spells, voice for the dead empowers a departed person to speak to the living for a short time. It has obvious application when investigating serious crimes, but has even seen use as an interrogation tool on battlefields. The corpse subject to this spell can see, hear and speak and may have some limited ability to move its eyes or head, but that is all.
This spell does not work on corpses that have been dead for an extended period; the powerful ritual Whispers through the Black Gate is needed to communicate with a deceased character who has been dead for much longer than a few minutes
The spell has been the subject of a great deal of superstition and was once the subject of a failed attempt to interdict the spell by the Sevenfold Path. Defenders of the spell point out that there is no evidence that the spell interferes with the passage of a soul through the labyrinth; as far as anyone has been able to demonstrate it does not "summon" a departed spirit at all. Rather they claim that the magic temporarily strengthens the connection between the consciousness of the deceased and their dead flesh. Many magicians have agreed that using this spell is like speaking to a copy of the dead person, rather than to the dead person themselves.
While there have been countless experiments, magicians have been unable to gather any real information about what happens to someone after they die. The experience of actually dying often seems to be intensely personal, and there is little consistency. Dead people commonly mention experiences such as a sensation of falling into darkness; of seeing a bright light towards which they are drawn; of a slow fading of consciousness; or of a sudden sharp cessation of awareness. It certainly appears that awareness of the mortal world ends at the point of death.
This spell can also be cast on ghosts and other representatives of the undead creatures, even if they have been dead for longer than ten minutes. Some of these beings find communication with the living to be difficult and need additional magic to allow them to speak.
Roleplaying a corpse
This spell is a good opportunity for a last interaction with friends or enemies. You are not compelled to answer questions nor to speak truthfully if you do not want to, any more than when you were alive. You have no awareness of anything that happened after the moment of your death - but remember that a dying or terminal character is aware of everything that occurs around them. You may certainly share what you believe is going to happen to your soul (assuming you think you have one), but this spell cannot be used to learn about the labyrinth, the howling abyss or any other sort of afterlife experience.
It is up to you, and your sense of drama and characterisation, as to whether you know you are dead or not.
- Type: Regular spell
- Cost: 1 Personal mana
You enable a corpse that is still being phys-repped to speak. The target must have died in the last 10 minutes. This spell lasts five minutes.
You may also cast this spell on a ghost or other undead creature that otherwise lacks the ability to speak.
Sample Spellcasting Vocals
- (evoking the Door) You who stands at the gates of the Labyrinth, on the last threshold, wait. I call to you, I wear a crown of stars, and my voice is a summons. Pause for a moment on your final journey. We stand on opposite sides of the final gate, I reach out my hand, I command you. Speak!
- (singing or chanting) You come and stand at every door / But no one hears your silent tread / You knock and yet remain unseen / For you are dead, for you are dead / You need no sleep, you need no breath / You need no fruit, you need no bread / I ask for nothing for myself / Take my last gift, voice for the dead.
- (painting the appropriate Runes on the subject) With Hirmok's claw I catch you; you who are slipping away. With Gralm's hand I grasp your fraying skein. By mana and my will I bind you to this world a little longer. Fulfil your final duty; speak now at my request.
- It is cold where you are now, it is dark. It is warm here by the fire, and there is hot wine. Speak to me, far traveller. Speak to me with the voice of the dead.
- Rune Magic: Irremais, the rune of wisdom, is often evoked with this spell, although some magicians might trace Hirmok, the rune of domination on the forehead of a corpse as the spell is cast. Some cautious magicians may scratch a warding rune such as Queros on the ground between themselves and a body to ensure nothing else returns with the summoned spirit ... Evoking Evrom when the spell is cast, and then Yoorn when the spell ends is seen by some mystics as a sensible way to ensure the dead consciousness does not linger.
- Astronomancy: The constellation of the Door has a strong symbolic resonance with this spell.
- Dramaturgy: The persona of the Witch is very appropriate to this spell, but a magician might also take on the role of the Doctor, especially in her aspect as a harbinger or agent of death. The Bishop, who deals with spiritual matters, is often a good fit for this spell, but a magician who takes a more commanding or authoritative mien may evoke the Prince. The instrument of the Lantern works well with this spell - either as a glowing beacon to call the target back for a short time, or as a dark lantern whose fire is visible only in "the underworld".
- Other traditions: This spell is usually a solemn business. Some Highborn carry a small bell to use with voice for the dead - it is believed that the sound of bells reminds the dead of their mortal lives. A Navarr tradition when using this spell is for the magician to cut or bite their thumb and use it to smear a little fresh blood on the lips or eyes of the target corpse - to literally share a little life with the dead.
- Realms: This spell is strongly associated with the realm of Winter, which deals with dark matters such as death, ghosts and spirits.