Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Table of Contents for Portfolio

Concept Declaration

Necromancy: What is it?

The Corporeal Undead

The Definition of Undead

The Non-Corporeal Undead

Art Critique #1 and Picture

Narrative #1 and Picture

Art Critique #2 and Picture

Narrative #2 and Picture

Art Critique #3 and Picture

Narrative #3 and Picture

1st set of 10 Color Pictures

1st set of 10 Excerpts from Literature

Existing Critique of Art/Literature #1

2nd set of 10 Excerpts from Literature

Dead Space: Downfall Movie Review

2nd set of Color Pictures

The Monkey’s Paw Short Story

List of 20 Images Relating to Concept

List of Websites Pertaining to Concept

Reflection on Assignment, Class, etc

Cover- Almost done (finishing touches)
Pictures- (Need Narrative Pics 1 and 2)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Narrative #3: The Clave of Dark Alma

Day 192, Central city of Panultia, 4,679,847A.A. (Assenette Age), Mid-High-Noon, Yestermorrow
There have been many days before this that I feel I should write about, yet somehow my mind tells my hand to write about today’s events, for they are of the most significance. My name is Nikem Mu d’gaiya. I possess 15 years of flesh-life. I write about the Inauguration Ceremony that took place only a few days ago. The Age of the Assenesens has almost come to an end. We are now entering the Probbrian Age, but A.A. still provides us with power. I stand at an altar and instructed to undress before the council of Nuil Nu’um, and I am terribly uncomfortable. A few of the “waiting” girls in the room giggle almost inaudibly, but I hear them. I glance over at my wife Amaha-o. She is quiet and still, but she looks at my naked body with remembering eyes. She must be thinking back to our first Day of Coalescence. I remember it well, of course. But that is for another time.

The room I stand naked in is dim, but not dark. Candles fastened to the wall cast a oval of pale red light within their territory before succumbing to the darkness. Around the room, there are 12 other Mages such as myself, whose flesh-lives far exceed my own. Among the dark, forms of black cloth and invisible faces, I spotted my master, Lord Ajmabard, standing still as a tree trunk next to the throne that adorned the center of the room. Lord Ajmabard possesses nearly 98 flesh-lives. I extol him for such longevity in my prayers to the Dark Alma, but he seems to think his flesh-lives are unimportant to him. That’s why I respect him so. The altar itself is cast in a thick tan colored marble. I know this because I made it myself. It smells as a stone in our Clave should: bloody and sandy. The room itself smells faintly of gunpowder and ginger. Last ritual, the fool Tompson killed himself accidentally by mixing his potion wrong. The soul he conjured from Underverse slaughtered him instantly. “We as the 456th Clave of Messiara do not condone such ignorance. If he is to die, then Dark Alma permits it,” My master said. I stand just below the step upon which my altar sits, waiting to become one of them. My master makes a swift, silent motion with his robed hand, and 4 black shadows slowly advance on me. I don’t not struggle, of course, for this is a happy day for me, if one could speak of happiness. Two hands are placed on either of my shoulders as I am forced firmly into a kneeling position, my hands on the altar’s center. The Clave brothers’ hands are dry, knobby and thin, like a skeleton with skin stretched over it poorly. The High Lord Sermestho, garbed in quite the contrary white robe with black trim, steps in front of me. By now, the girl’s giggling has stopped completely. The whole room has gone silent as the grave itself, and the tension in the room was thick enough to grasp barehanded. High Lord Sermestho chokes out a coarse, intelligible jumble of words only we Clave may know, and reveals a jewel-encrusted dagger from the nexus of his sleeves. He holds it high before him. Now I can hear it. The other 14 Clave brothers have taken their places along the lines of the circle that is painted on the floor in the center of the room. I look back at my darling Amaha-o, who is staring at me intently, her bottom raised slightly off the seat. She had her hands balled into nervous fists supporting her weight, and her mouth was open just a little. She was worried. Of course she was worried, because I was worried. Tompson’s death was due to his undeserving soul. Dark Alma refused his martyrdom despite all he had done. To reach Dark Alma was to obtain immortality, as my master Ajmabard had already accomplished. The image of Tompson’s lifeblood spilling from his lifeless body kept nagging at my mind as High Lord Sermestho knelt down to me, face-to-face.
“Are you prepared, squalid son of the earth, to sacrifice your flesh-lives and your chastity? Will you serve the one known as Dark Alma, the greatest and wisest being to ever inhabit Underverse, and do so for all time until you one day join him? Will you bleed out your life blood, your soul, your senses and your power in order to seek salvation Dark Alma is so willing to provide you?” He spoke with a voice that shook with fatigue of age but strength of confidence and wisdom. With all of the flesh-lives High Lord Sermestho possesses, I was surprised that he himself wasn’t already Dark Alma. I raised my head and took the dagger from his hands. I croaked out a hoarse “yes”, closed my eyes, and ran the blade of the dagger along my face. I made the traditional ceremonial Scars of Sacrifice: a cross cut, from my forehead to my chin, right over the nose and lips, and then another, from one side of the eye, to the other. Yes, I had taken my own eyes from myself, but when the ritual was over, and if I had survived, Dark Alma would bless my soul with new ones that see all things in Underverse. The pain was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. But we mages are trained to withstand such agony in another way. When we, the sons of Dark Alma, are angered, we feed his power. And in return for this supply of energy for the Black Lord, he provides us, in turn, with our mage powers. “With more rage and hatred comes a slightly more favorable soul for Dark Alma to caress in his eternal black sleep. If you find that you are getting angry, fatigued or simply uncomfortable, pray to our lord. He will relieve you of your energies and provide you with new ones.” My master had taught me.

We conjure souls and the dead from Underverse. We command them, we build them, and sometimes we even fornicate with them, though I never have. Lord Ajmabard had told me that this act was only to be used for dire purposes, or to make contact with him in a direct and intimate manner, a method of enlightenment only skilled and powerful mages were allowed to practice. The four mages, known as the 4 Haki, for each of Dark Alma’s black creeds, carved similar cuts into my flesh with their owns bladed artifacts. In this way, the flesh was molested, the body readied for eternal fire, and the mind relaxed with the promise of pleasure in pain. This time I didn’t even need to look. Amaha-o was standing up now, on her feet, grasping her hands together tightly as I know she would be. I love her. She loves me. Our arranged matrimony was pure luck, delivered to us from Dark Alma himself. Perhaps he thought me a worthy follower? I don’t know for sure. Our union was blessed by the powers of darkness, and even the High Lord himself lauded such a fortunate match. She has yet to bear me a son, but that will come later. For this moment in time was my moment. My moment to join Dark Alma and reach tainted salvation.

After all the cuts had been applied to the proper places with all the precision of an archer from the Gray Court, the ritual neared its end. High Lord Sermestho stood up, took the dagger from the altar, and I heard the clicking sound. I had heard it thousands of times before. The ceremonial dagger used for this ritual was actually two dagger attached together by a mechanism. With a final shout in Clave tongue and all the imperiousness of Dark Alma himself, High Lord Sermestho thrust both daggers downwards simultaneously. I was blind, but not unconscious, though I wish I was at that point. The feeling of having your hands pierced by anything, small or large, is inexplicable. At that moment, I thought I could truly see him. But I knew that I could not have seen him, for the ritual had one final segment to it: Death. The pain in my hands was ended abruptly by absolute blackness. I heard Amaha-o scream. Perhaps tears ran down her cheeks. The blackness was delivered to me so graciously by the 4 Haki and their Blades of Epitome. Each Haki is given a sword crafted from rubies, and each one is thrust into the 4 main points on the body upon impalement: The back of the head, aimed at the 3rd eye, the chest, aimed at the heart, the stomach, aimed at the pelvis, and the last target area is the lower back, aimed between the 2nd and 3rd lumbar down. These places were essential to provide Dark Alma with the knowledge of our bodies and minds when we died. It was extraordinary. I cannot bequeath unto anyone, even now as words fill my mind, the exact words that describe the ecstasy and serenity I felt at that moment. I died, and then I saw him. High Black Shiin Dark Almamortus Neg o’uron. The greatest dark spirit of them all. “If your enemy is God, then worship Dark Alma. If you seek guidance into Underverse, seek the assistance of Dark Alma. If you wish to die, then Dark Alma will cleanse your soul in pure, black ecstasy.” These are the 3 Paths to Evil in the Messiara Book of Black Virtues. We believe that the power of evil begets a good outcome. Strange though it may be, our entire continent has never seen a drop of war, blood or crime. Our crops are always good, the women are ripe and luscious, the men are strong and fertile, the children are happy and healthy, and the weather is never worse than a gentle sun’s glimmer. All these things we have seen to for thousands of years worshipping a demon god and sacrificing our bodies and bleeding out our bodily juices. When I awoke, I was on fire. Quite literally, actually. Dark Alma’s Ethereal Flames soaked my flesh in pain and sores, but I never felt more alive. The circle of Clave brothers were holding hands and chanting a low, humming dirge, swaying back and forth like a circle of flowers in the wind. At that moment, I felt as though Dark Alma was mistaken, and that I had so much dark power that I could become the new High Lord. But a strong blow to the back of the head quickly subdued me. Everything after that happened as fast. Dark Alma must have heard my arrogance, for he would change my life forever still beyond today. It had been a whole 3 months since my Inauguration into Black Fire had been a success. My wounds had all healed. My muscles and bones were strong again, and finally Amaha-o and I could perform our nightly coalescence like we used to. Of course it’s a duty to most, but we do it because we’re in love. It makes the whole thing a lot easier. She is pregnant with my son, three months now. Dark Alma must have taken pity on my infertile seeds and provided his own. Amaha-o is very sick, but we believe that the sicker she is before birth, the more predisposed to be evil the child will be. What troubled me, strangely enough, was not the health of my wife or my son. No, what plagued my mind was my master, Ajmabard. High Lord may be a mentor and a guide to me, but Lord Ajmabard is more like a strict uncle to me. No blood relation, but I can tell I impress him. At this point in time, however, he is troubled. What it is that pulls at his mind I cannot see on his face or read from his thoughts, but I have a feeling that he saw something in my ritual that he regretted. Or was it regret? I intended to find out.

Day 217, Panultia, 4,679,849A.A., Sunmorning, In-Now-Time (Present)
For days now my master, mentor and idol Lord Ajmabard had been acting strangely. Before, he would always fold his belongings neatly. He would wash his clothes and bathe daily. Now he is the exact opposite. He does not bathe as often as he should. Dark Alma appreciates clean, unmolested flesh when not gifting to him sacrifices. He leaves his clothes for the waiting-girls to attend to, and refuses to eat a normal diet. He talks to random objects and appears to have the disheveled look of a guttercrawler on his face. Guttercrawlers, they are called, for they’re lack of appreciation for the vessel’s Dark Alma gave to them. They are scum; criminal, unjust, Godless scum. May Dark Alma’s almighty wrath find and rape your souls upon death. Let death come quickly to those who do not worship his dark highness. And my master was no guttercrawler, let me tell you. He fought in the Great Arakki War between the 291st Clave of Messiara and the Arakki of the Gongee Clave from South Narwicci. That is an impressive battle to have fought in and survive. Of those survivors, my master, High Lord Sermestho and a few others of our Clave were among them, the 4 Haki included. Now my master spoke in strange verses from the readings of Semulhult, and old text I’ve never laid eyes on before. My grief got the best of me. I decided to bitch to the High Lord about master’s troubles. When we are troubled, it is always good to bitch to Dark Alma, but I asked him to forgive my tactlessness and seek out High Lord Sermestho for answers. He, without a paucity of wisdom or strength, told me what I thought I would hear.
“Ah, Master Ajmabard is readying himself for the end.” He said it knowingly, like it was meant to happen. I was beside myself with distraught.
“You mean his flesh is going to die?” I asked as politely as possible.
“Yes. Dark Alma has been preparing for this day for many years now. Master Ajmabard is worthy. This is to be celebrated and rejoiced.” He scratched his forehead absent-mindedly. Though the High Lord’s words comforted me, I still had questions. I pressed onward.
“I confess, High Lord, that I am worried by Master’s health. Will he rendezvous with Dark Alma quietly?”
“One can never guess what Dark Alma wants for his children. Even one as old as me cannot read his thoughts. Dark Alma will take Master Ajmabard when he feels it is necessary to take him. Do you understand this?”
“Yes, High Lord. I understand.”
“Excellent. Now, why don’t you go practice your cadaverous summoning, hmm?” He said it with a kind smile.
“I will, High Lord. Thank you for your time.”
“Oh, not at all, young shadowkiller.” Heh. Shadowkiller is the term that describes me well: young, inexperienced but willing to bend even the darkest shadows. It is a phrase that means “pupil of Dark Alma’s religion”. I felt giddy due to such high praise from one higher than the praise itself. “By the way,” he interjected just as I was about to exit the room. I turned around and stood at attention again.
“Yes, High Lord?”
“How is Amaha-o doing? You’ve shown little to no concern for her well-being, despite the fact that she will birth your first son soon. Does her anguish not trouble you? If this is so, then I will pray to Dark Alma and see that she does not see the Underverse until her flesh-lives are through.” Again, I felt so happy I could cry and scream and shout with glee. Such praise and laudability from the High Lord himself.
“It’s not that I am not troubled by her pregnancy. The very idea that she labors with my son keeps me awake at night. But Master Ajmabard has been like an Uncle to me and you a father. I weigh his value to my worthless flesh-lives just as much as I weigh my wife’s.”
“I see. Very good, shadowkiller. A fine mage you will become in the future I think. However, if Dark Alma permits it, then—“
“Let it be done.” I finished the saying for him.
“Exactly. And since I think you already know the meaning of this saying, I also believe you will say no more of Master Ajamabard’s declining health. He may die in his sleep or writhing in agony, choking on his last breath. In either case, you will leave him be and let Dark Alma take him, piece by piece if he deems it necessary. Do you understand?”
“Yes, High Lord Sermestho. I understand.” I left the room.

Day 278, Panultia, 4,679,849A.A., Darkfall Night, In-Now-Time (Present)
I write now in great haste. I’ve hidden my son and wife away in the Upper Keep. All that remains is Otem, a wise mage with many flesh-lives, 2 of the 4 Haki, and I. High Lord Sermestho has been murdered. By whom do you ask? None other than Master Ajmabard himself. Many sad days ago, Master Ajmabard reached the Dissension Period of Life, where death encroaches quite quickly in the elderly and the ancient. Insanity, our ally and one of Dark Alma’s many forms, had taken possession of my master’s mind and drove him to kill many of the mages. He slaughtered roughly 20 of them, and even 2 Haki, before high Lord Sermestho intervened. The battle was fierce. Sermestho summoned forth his mightiest undead to fight for him, but Master Ajmabard’s madness was too great, and he over powered our High Lord. I crouch now behind a rock as I scribble unintelligibly on a scroll of parchment. It is difficult, listening to the screams of my family all around me. I will set this down now, and confront my master, who sits patiently on High Lord Sermestho’s throne, motionless, while awaiting the waiting girls to give themselves to him one at a time.

Day 279, Panultia, 4,679,849A.A., Shroudnight (Midnight), Yestertime (A while ago)
I am God now. At least that is the only way to describe it. I am the new High Lord and Master in one. I write as I sit on the edge of my bed, wife and child sound asleep behind me. Even now as I write, my hand shakes with fear, fatigue, and ecstasy all at once. It began when I revealed my hiding place from the overturned altar during Ajmabard’s attack on our Clave. As another waiting girl removed the remainder of her clothing, I stood up and shouted one of our primary offensive spells.
“Anadon Groff!” A black bolt of lightning struck my former master directly in the head from the ceiling. This attack requires great physical training, as a single spell in directly linked to our flesh. I barely felt the soon-to-be overwhelming fatigue that would surely follow soon. When the dust cleared, Ajamabard sat as he was on the throne. A translucent barrier shimmered around his body and the throne. He was smiling. A defensive spell. Of course. Though Insane, he was still a Mage Master, therefore killing him would require the help of Dark Alma himself, none of which I was certain I would receive. He cackled, his voice like metal knives banging together.
“Is that all the power you have, shadowkiller? I thought I at least taught you how to kill an insect on the table!” He thrust a clawed hand forward through his barrier and screamed, “Adarious Rogue Balbolt!” A balbolt level spell was beyond my study. It can’t be blocked of parried except by being matched by the same exact spell. I dove behind my altar just as it touched the floor. The altar and a good sized portion of the floor was now a blackish crater. I stood up and dusted off my robes, and listened to more cackling.
“Ahahah! You’ve actually managed to avoid my balbolt, eh boy? I must say I’m impressed with you still. If I weren’t so powerful, I’m sure you would have counterattacked already! NyahahahaHAHAHAAH!” His laughter grew more hoarse and menacing. I raised both hands to the ceiling and chanted, “Ada gura mada natsuron. Ada gura mada natsuron. Ada gura mada natsuron. Quitayk!” I shot my hands forward at him. Between my body and his was a length of 30 feet or so. A jagged orange snake like protrusion sprang from my hands and launched itself at the crazed laughing man in the throne. This spell was a barrier-crushing blow, meant to dispel barriers by introducing a counter-current of power. The orange, snake-like whip struck the barrier’s edge head-on. I heard him give a cry of anger.
“GRAGH! You little bastard! How dare you defy my power!?” I wasted no time. The torches posted around the room were essential to our rituals. They were filled with oil and the wick was fed through the hole at the top. I crossed my arms over each other and pointed two fingers from each hand at a torch on either side of the throne, like a gun. I yelled, “Imperious Lightning Dreamscorch!” A pale red blast of needles assaulted the air, and slammed into my targets dead center. A wave of oil lacquered Ajmabard’s entire body. He laughed haughtily as he stood up.
“AHAHAHAHA! I think you missed, boy! Don’t think I’ll just keep giving you all these chances to take me out! Now DIE!” He pointed a flat, open-handed palm at me. “Harsh Gale North Wind!” he shouted, as a flurry of greenish sparks cascaded from his palm. The North Wind spell was meant for long distances, and I was practically on the opposite side of the room. Luckily for me, the room was lined with pillars that kept it structurally sound for millenniums at a time. I ran behind one as the floor where my feet where standing was corroded by the wind-powered spheres of green evil. North Wind corrodes matter and turns it to dust. I ran around the pillars, ducking and diving behind each one as a sphere would strike the one behind me and barely miss my robes. If one of them even grazes me, I’m talcum powder. I slid to a halt between two pillars. I was now standing at his 9 o’clock, or he at my eleven. I dropped to the ground and rolled back the other way, underneath the flurry of homing North Wind spheres as the last of them struck the pillars and the floor. The whole room began to shake violently. I hadn’t planned on this happening. But of course after it happened, I realized that the ceiling was coming down. We were miles underground you see, so the collapse of the ceiling was a trepidation-inducing phenomenon. Rocks and ceiling dust fell first. I wasted no time. I had one final spell to cast before my plan could reach fruition. I saw that his confidence in his own maddened power made him arrogant and stupid. I raised my hands, and clasped them together, lacing my fingers together. I chanted, “Uda mei oda mon congesensodon. Uda mei oda mon congesensodon. Uda mei oda mon congesensodon. Flamespark Blizzard!” I unhitched my fingers and, keeping my palms and wrists touching, opened my hands horizontally, fingers flat and palms straight, like an open mouth. A phosphorescent orange light gathered in my hands. Ajmabard’s eyes went wide with fear. He realized my plan but all too late. I thrust my hands forward and a flurry of tiny red embers flew at him like a blizzard of red candle heads. I could hear my crazed teacher try to chant a counter curse, but he didn’t start early enough, and the full force of the flecks of flame struck the entire throne area. Instantly, the whole area was alight with fire. A pale, almost white fire that ate at the floor and crept towards the walls. Of course, fire is our best element, so it would never harm us, but a spell is indiscriminate, so the flames would burn Ajmabard’s flesh and he would die. I sat against the wall and slid into a squatting position, telling myself that it was over. Then, through the crackling of the flames illuminating the center of the vast room, I heard more laughter. This time, however, it was not quite human. A figure walked appeared in the fire, like a piece of burning wood still standing erect despite the fact that the rest of the structure it was a part of had been burned to the ground. Instantly, the flames subsided as quickly as I had made them. A scorched, charred black humanoid man stood in the center of the room. He looked as if he had had thousands of pieces of burnt bits of paper glued to his flesh. His eyes were pale and gray. He cackled louder than ever before.
“You stupid, stupid child! How dare you try to burn me with the very spell I taught you!” I couldn’t help it. I was insulted. The thing I was doing battle with was no mentor of mine. No, The High Master Kikitoy Ajmabard had already crossed over into Hell. The thing that stood before me was nothing but the malice his flesh left behind, animating his corpse. We mages follow the rules of the Assenette Shamans, therefore we can become immortal if we transfer our souls to other bodies, have another vanquish our malice and spite, and reinsert our souls to reboot the body. But my master never began this ritual, so this creature before me, this tainted Wight, was just a swarming mass of pure human evil.

“You are no mentor of mine, foul demon! Dark Alma scoffs at your pitiful form!” I said with a confident laugh of scorn. I had empowered my esteem a bit, but he was, as always, a little bit ahead of me. He raised one hand into the air and the other was lowered in front of his waist. I knew this stance. He was going to call forth the souls of the dead to fight for him. This spell was only used by those who personally won Dark Alma’s favor and respect. But I was quicker and more accustomed to this spell’s procedure. I raised my hands and positioned them in the same manner as the Wight’s. We began to chant, my voice falling just a fraction of a second behind his, copying the spell word for word and syllable for syllable. To perform or even chant a spell incorrectly always yielded disastrous results. The ceiling was yelling at us now, the sand and bits of grain that once tittered to the rock floor were overpowered by larger chunks of stone and earth. The whole room seemed to shake as our vile energies amassed to call forth Dark Alma’s Slaves. Slaves are what we call them, the spirits of the lower planes, Underverse, as we call it. As our chanting increased in pitch, so too did the density of the room. The very air around me seemed to be choking me, grasping tightly at my throat and asphyxiating me, hoping that by some small notion I would vacillate, and thereby chant the spell incorrectly. We ended together as I had already heard the last part before. But I was victorious, and the floor beneath us roared as it split apart violently and suddenly. The cracks in the rocky floor glowed with the phosphorescent red aura only Dark Alma himself could emit. We thrust our hands forward at each other and squeezed out the last of the incantation.
“So now I ask you, fiends of flesh and blood and bone! Skin thy enemy; destroy his body, his soul! Reap his squalid, wretched heart, and feed it to the dark one, and let us never be apart!” The cracks in the floor suddenly gave a violent shove apart, accompanied by the sound like a jet airplane soaring just a few miles above your head. The roaring winds in the room were halted abruptly, and the dust settled like it weighed a copper’s worth in weight, because we could hear the moaning. Slowly, like from a dream, skeletal figures crawled carefully out of the reddish crevasses in the floor. They moaned and drooled and snapped and cracked. They were like horrid, putrid, rotting puppets with fermented strings and sour, rusted gears. The undead spirits, soldiers in Dark Alma’s army. To control them was no easy task, and I realized how foolish I had been to mimic my former master to create this spell. But I had cast it, and since my flesh did not burn where I stood, Dark Alma must have accepted my sacrifice in words. I was not completely out of luck quite yet. The creatures that came towards us were not the least bit human. Some had no head or limbs at all. Just skeletal rib cages floating in a watery sphere of darkish light. Pure souls. These were the creatures that gave us our power. To use their might whilst they are in our world is both risky and fulfilling. Each one has the strength of 10 men and the intellect of an infant. All that raw power at our disposal at the snap of the fingers or the wink of an eye. They hobbled towards the center of the room, shaking and clacking and breaking like twigs under pressure. Some were even clad in decayed armor. Some carried rust-eaten weaponry, such as swords, axes, shields, and other artillery I’d never seen before. They had no eyes, just empty, black sockets. There was barely any flesh on their bodies, if one could call them bodies. Their moaning was not audible in a human sense. Their moaning resonated within our minds. Normal humans would never be able to see Dark Alma’s children, but the Slaves are always there, skulking in the shadows, waiting to take a soul back to Underverse with them. Skeletons, they were. Bare-boned warriors with ne’er a notion of neither pain nor fear. They, as Slaves, serve us until either we die, or the spell is rescinded. They gathered in the crumbling epicenter of the room, shaking and snapping and moaning. It was almost sickeningly unbearable to see such extreme death. This was to be the fate of Tompson, or anyone else that either lived a life of damnation and crime, or went against Dark Alma’s wishes. Then my eyes and the eyes of the Wight crossed each other’s. I’m sure he was thinking the same thing I was. Why did they not attack? Had we performed the spell incorrectly? Were they here only to kill us both for performing the same spell at the same time? Well there was no time to waste, so I made the first move.
“Children of Dark Alma! High souls of the dead and the dammed, hear me!” I cried imperiously, trying to emulate Master Ajmabard’s imperious tones during lectures. The entire hoard of them turned to face me. There had to be at least 50 of them in the room. I almost lost track of myself. I regained composure and went on.
“You have all been summoned to do the bidding of the one who summons you! Dark Alma has prepared another child for you all. Look, there! See the blackened creature over yonder?” I pointed menacingly at the Wight. They slowly turned on him. The Wight’s face was a mask of intense fear.
“W-what!? No! You imbecile Slaves! I summoned you to kill an infidel defiler of Dark Alma’s ways! Would you forsake you own maker!?” How shouted in that un-human tone of voice. They slowly turned back to me, but I already prepared my counter attack. I opened my mouth to administer the final blow.
“If I am a traitor to Dark Alma, Ajmabard’s Wight, then what does that make you? A higher being? A God? No, it does not. Soldiers of death, hear me now. You stand before two children of Dark Alma, bickering over who will command your awesome power. But who is it that is more prepared to meet him? Look upon me! I am healthy, without sickness and in fine mental condition! Dark Alma be praised for such traits at an young age! Now look upon the black creature in front of you! Why, Lord Dark Alma’s hand’s are nearly wound around his entire body. Can you not smell the death on him? Do you want God to take mercy on his soul and purify him? What then, if a soldier of Dark Alma’s is lost to him? You will never find peace in Underverse UNLESS YOU DO WHAT IS NECESSARY AND BRING DARK ALMA HIS HEAD!” I was screaming now in a voice that was nothing like my own. The armies of creaking skeletal warriors were now all turned to face Master Ajmabard’s Wight. The Wight shrieked with protest!
“NO! It’s not possible! They are just stupid souls! They do not see reason! Dark Alma, why do you forsake me!? Is it because I sent you my wife? TELL ME!!” He was on his knees now, eliciting sounds that I could only guess were what he could muster to be crying. The creaking mass of bone and stench advanced on the Wight. I turned away as I heard a disembodied voice that shook my insides like an earthquake.
Well done, my son. Your soul is black indeed. For this, you are granted passage into Underverse as you please.” I didn’t need to guess whose voice it was. Dark Alma spoke to me through Underverse. I still held my held squeezed shut as my mind returned to the present and was met by the horrible sound of screaming and noisy sounds of flesh being eaten alive by gnashing mouths, sharp, fanged teeth, and hungry limbs. The room began to spin as my vision went blurry, like I was underwater. I suspected as much. A spell as great as this would kill me. I fell to the ground soundlessly as the noise all around me died down to absolute silence.

When I awoke, I heard a strange sound. It sounded like crying, but it was too high-pitched to be an adult’s cry. I sat up in my bed and looked around. I was in my room! I was alive! Dark Alma must have taken pity on my worthless soul yet again and saved me from death. I tried to focus my eyes onto the source of the wailing. My eyes came to rest on a woman sitting in the bed next to me, holding a bundle of blanket to her chest. It took me a moment to process what it was, but then it hit me like a slap in the face. My son! He had been born while I fought with the Wight! And so soon, too. Dark Alma must have sped up the pregnancy for me, though I don’t understand why. As I reached for the whining child being held in my wife’s arms, I looked back on the clash between me and my master and wondered to myself: Am I worthy to be a father, a mage, a man and alive?

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Non-Corporeal Undead

Zombies and Skeletons and Vampires, oh no! Oh no? Not yet. There are other things to be feared in the world of spiritual folklore. yeah zombies are scary, but their cousins are just as scary. Meet the non-corporeal undead. These guys (or girls) break all the rules, as they cannot create a physical form for whatever reason, and haunt us from "beyond the grave". While "corporeal" means they somehow have a body to inhabit, these guys do not. Here they are:

Ghosts or Spirits- A general, collective term for ectoplasmic spirits that are still tethered to the world as a result of an unfulfilled goal they had in life. They are the spiritual embodiments of the ones they were in life, and can either be benevolent, or malevolent, depending on how they were in life.

Specter- A mental representation of some haunting experience that takes the form of that experience. It usually reflects a past mistake one has made or a sin they have committed. If the guilt is strong enough, the specter would be strong enough to influence their victim to the point of insanity or even suicide.

Wraith- The word "wraith" is a Scottish dialectal word for ghost, which can usually be seen shortly after a person’s death. The movie “Ghost” with Patrick Swayze incorporates the “wraith” idea when he is shot and killed, and his ghost (wraith) jumps out to chase down his murderer. In old Scottish legends, a wraith, if it rises fast enough, can take its murderer with them to hell.

Will o’ the Wisps (European term)- This term is derived from the Latin term “ignis [fire] fatuus [foolish]”, also called a “friar’s lantern”, they are mostly seen in bogs of swamps, and attempt to lure stray travelers into their midst. They are so named because they appear in the form of an enticing ball of flame that puts the viewer in a trance. They are lead to the bog/swamp/etc and drown themselves against their own will.

Mylings- A Norse mythology term. Also called an “utburd” which means “that which is taken outside”, they are said to chase lone wanderers at night and jump on their backs, demanding to be carried to the graveyard, so they can rest in hallowed ground. Mylings are thought to be enormous and apparently grow heavier as they near the graveyard, to the point where any person carrying one (or more) could sink into the soil. If one should prove unable to make it into the cemetery, the myling kills its victim in rage.

Poltergeists (German term) “polter” means “to make noise” and “geist” means “ghost”. The term is seen in the story of Dr. Friedbert Karger who was one of two physicists from the Max Planck Institute who helped to investigate perhaps the most validated poltergeist case in recorded history. Annemarie Schneider, a 19-year-old secretary in a law firm in Rosenheim (a town in southern Germany) was seemingly the unwitting cause of much chaos in the firm, including disruption of electricity and telephone lines, the rotation of a picture, swinging lamps which were captured on video (which was one of the first times any poltergeist activity has been captured on film), and strange sounds that sounded electrical in origin were recorded. The physicists, journalists, and the police did not prove fraud despite intensive investigation. The effects moved with the young woman when she changed jobs until they finally faded out, disappeared, and never recurred. Later, they relaized, that Ms. Schneider had already died three weeks before. They make themselves know by making noise, banging things, or just moaning, in order to frighten its victims.

Nymphogeist (German) “Nympho” means or refers to something “sexual” or “sex”; a somewhat different brand of incorporeal undead being, they are said to be the angered, restless souls of young women said to be killed by their husbands, or raped or defiled in some way. They appear to sinful men in their sleep, seduce and make love to them, and as they do, they drain their life energy away, until the man, who is usually a criminal or a sinner in some way, dies of a heart attack, a stroke, or some other bodily malfunction. They were thought to be the cause for “Nymphomania” in young girls when Adolf Hitler was in power in Germany. Nymphogeists sometimes possess the bodies of flamboyant, vibrant and spunky young women and cause them to commit acts of murder so they can corrupt their souls and make them join them in eternal damnation when they die. Another way to think of these haunted harlots is the Christian version of this being, the Succubus. Succubi are female demons that seduce and mate with temple monks while they sleep, causing them to fall victim to vice, such as lust and alcohol. Inccubus or Inccubi are male demons, and the do the opposite to women in shrines.

The Corporeal Undead

So, you think you know a lot about the undead, eh? Just how many types of undead can you actually name? Did you knwo there's a difference between a corporeal and a non-corporeal undead? Here's a nice list detailed just for you. It outlines the world's views and experiences with that strange "other side" and their takes on it.

Skeleton- utilizing necromancy to revitalize the decayed skeleton of a once deceased organism. It is believed that a single skeleton has the strength of a full grown man and can reassemble themselves if they are struck or damaged in some way. Unlike their brethren the Zombie, a skeleton is incapable of infecting other humans if bitten, scratched, etc. But they possess the nasty ability to open a portal to the Netherworld, a place between Hell and purgatory where revived souls dmaned forever dwell, and drag its victims into the void to feed on. A zombie could very well be a skeleton summoned from the Netherworld.

Zombie- a dead body that has been revived by a supernatural force. Zombies are the main type of undead depicted most often in the media, but in actuality they are quite frail. They aren't as strong as Skeletons, so they can be muscled into submission and dealt with, but it was also belived that they carried the "Plague of the Devil". When a zombie manages to break the surface of the skin by any means, they introduce a viral toxin into the body that gradually turns the vicitm into a zombie as well. They are also the subject mattter of zombie video games and movies, such as Resident Evil and House of the Dead.

Ghoul- a mythological monster from ancient Arabian folklore that dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places.

Lich (German)- the result of a transformation, as a powerful magician or king striving for eternal life uses spells or rituals to bind his intellect to his animated corpse and thereby achieve a perverse form of immortality. Their bodies are desiccated and skeletal; however, they are not zombies, as they have a certain dominion over lesser undead beings.

Ghast- Carnivorous creatures. The ghasts are a race of fearsome humanoids. They are much larger than a man and have a vaguely human face, albeit missing a nose. Their skin is rough and knotty. Their senses are unusually acute; they can see in the dark and have a strong sense of smell. They hop about on a pair of hooved, kangaroo-like legs, and are swift, strong, and agile. Ghasts prefer to dwell in complete darkness and have no tolerance for natural light — sunlight will kill them instantly. Ghasts were believed to be the end result of a vampire breeding with a human or another undead being.

Mummy- A respectful Egyptian style funeral in which the body of the departed is embalmed, dried with salts and powdered chemicals and wrapped in gauze and bandages for burial. They have immense physical strength, but their intelligence is non-existent. A mummy can chant a curse of the Underworld and drag unlucky grave robbers down to hell with them if they are uncovered.

Wight- A living creature, especially a human being; A being of one of the Nine Worlds of heathen belief, especially a nature spirit, elf or ancestor; A ghost or other supernatural entity; brave, valorous, strong, benevolent spirits. Depending on the religion they are depicted in, they can be useful and even heroic, or demonic and acursed.

Draug/ Draugr- A Norwegian specter that preys on drunkards or homeless people, and makes them commit terrible acts of violence. Was supposed to be the oldest explanation for the multitude of Norwegian crackpots and "corner-crazies".

Hematophagia (Blood-suckers/drinkers)- the ancient art of consuming the blood of living organisms dates back far beyond the Druids. The act of drinking the life blood of organisms was thought to be a way to communicate with the various gods of death. With the sacrifice of blood, which was thought to be the main source of life for all living things, was an offering to the gods, and in exchange, the practitioner would hope to receive great supernatural powers.

Revenant- A visible ghost or animated corpse that was believed to return from the grave to terrorize the living; a sentient creature whose desire to fulfill a special goal allows it to return from the grave, e.g. Brandon Lee in “The Crow”. unlike most of its corporeal brothers, a Revenant is highly intelligent, depending on the body brought back, and possess the strength, speed and agility of a demi-god. It was even believed that they could even reproduce sexually, but there was no record of an offspring between a Revenant and a human. The price for such great other-worldy power is just as great. A Revenant must utilize some sort of a spiritual medium, an object of spiritual power through which they can 'house' their spirits as their bodies remain immortal and indestrcutable. In the case of Brandon Lee's "The Crow", the corw itself was Eric Draven's spirit carrier. It could also have been his guitar or his favorite necklace. Or his engagement ring.

Hominis Nocturna/Nosferatu/The First Vampire: When Christ was nailed upon the cross, naturally he bled greatly. When the life left him at last, his blood was lapped upon by a bat. As divine blood it was, God punished the animal for feeding upon his earthly son. Agony ripped through its body as it grew in size and its appetite for destruction and blood increased to almost demonic proportions. It had become immortal.
As further punishment, God ‘blessed’ the resulting creature with emotion and self awareness. This was perhaps the most bizarre of punishments, as the beast recognized its great sin when Christ rose again and met it in secret, before his return to the world of men. It wept in front of him, but had not the tongue to beg forgiveness. This frustrated it, for if the son of God could not see its despair through its tears, how could he claim that his father was all seeing and all merciful? Thus, during the next two hundred years this frustration grew to hatred and hatred to madness. The first true Vampire was born, damned in soul and hungry for the life of men. When it finally accepted the beast within, God’s damned son, Lucifer, granted it the power to reap many men, for it was more akin to a man-sized bat and just as delicate as his smaller kin. After 777 days in hibernation, it awoke to a new body, with great girth and strength most unholy. Its claws were like those of a bear (as was its new, terrible height), and his teeth grew to frightening extent. After his days asleep, the creature found he could shape-shift into all a manner of objects, including man.
As part of his bargain with the Devil (who better to speak to a beast than a fallen Angel?) it could make companions from man, but their souls would be set loose for Lucifer’s servants to occupy the resulting host body. The transfer of vampiric genes would not be perfect, and each generation would be more human than the last, but the strength and the hunger always remained. Other stories include the tale of Kain and Able from the Bible. Kain killed Able out of jealousy when he saw the God favored his brother's offerings more so than his own. As punishment for his sin, God cursed Kain with immense strength, immortality, and an insatiable urge to devour human flesh. He would remain immortal, but he was the very first "technical" vampire. Technically speaking, the term "vampire" is also an adjective, describing one who is vampiric, one who sucks the life from other organisms in order to survive, almost parasitic. Blood isn't what vampires orignally wanted, some legends say. It was believed at one point in history that vampires sucked at human necks because it was a transfer point to reach the main stream of energy in a human, which was what kept thei undead bodies animated. But they couldn't spearate the energy without taking out the blood, so they sucked on anyways, taking out the blood as well.

Soucouyant- The soucouyant or soucriant in Caribbean and specifically Dominican, Trinidadian and Guadeloupean folklore is a creature that lives by day as an old woman at the end of the village. By night, however, she strips off her wrinkled skin, puts it in a mortar, and flies in the shape of a fireball through the darkness, looking for a victim to drain blood from, usually a female victim. Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called Jumbies. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans. Others believe that soucouyants were actually elder women, who experienced many bodily changes unbearable to their neighbors. The neighbors, by this line of thought, would mock them for their wrinkled skin and fear their association with witchcraft. In the French West Indies, specifically the island of Guadeloupe, the Soukougnan or Soukounian is a person able to shed his or her skin to turn into a vampiric fireball. In general these figures can be anyone, not only old women, although some affirm that only women could become Soukounian, because only female breasts could contain the creature's wings.

Pontianak- Pontianak, Indonesia is named after this creature, which was claimed to have haunted the men who first settled there. It is said that if you have your eyes open when a Pontianak is near it will suck them out of your head. In folklore, a Pontianak usually announces its presence through baby cries or assumes the form of a beautiful lady and frightens or kills those unlucky enough to come too close. It disguises itself as a beautiful young woman mainly to attract its victim (usually male). Its presence can sometimes be detected by a nice floral fragrance identifiable as that of the ‘kemboja’ (Plumeria), followed by an awful stench worse than a rotting cadaver afterward. A Pontianak kills its victims by digging into their stomachs with its sharp fingernails and devouring their organs. Pontianaks must feed in this manner in order to survive. In some cases where the Pontianak desires revenge against a male individual, it rips out the sex organs with its hands. It is believed that Pontianaks locate prey by sniffing out clothes left outside to dry. For this reason, some Malays refuse to leave any article of clothing outside of their residences overnight. It is also said that their spirits are said to reside in banana trees.

Homunculus and Forbidden Alchemy- The end result of a forbidden form of alchemy. Alchemy is the art of manipulating the structure of a compound by breaking it down scientifically from one thing, and then reassembling it as another element entirely. The idea was that an ordinary rock could be “transmutated” into a solid lump of pure gold was what headed this stoic scientific belief. Alchemists are ancient scientists that attempted human transmutations as well, trying to create “humanoid chimera” after the first readings of Semuhlhult, a book written about the first Grecian monsters in an old Latin text. by creating such a creature out of yourself, you could attain immortality and the strength of the gods. A homunculus is similar to a zombie and a revenant, depending on the materials that you use, in that they were once human, but they were broken down and reassembled genetically, into a chimera-like creature. They are sterile, usually freakish in appearance, and are the end result of an alchemists desire to either transmute or revive a loved one. It is said that if the transmutation is unsuccessful, then the homunculus will return from the Underworld in the form of the one the alchemist attempted to revive, as a constant reminder that they shouldn’t play God. Such works as ‘Homunculus Wife’ by Kurt Geiserburger and a Japanese anime series called “Fullmetal Alchemist” are themed around the forbidden study of alchemy and human transmutation. But alchemy isn't just reviving and combining stuff. It is basically "magic mixed with science", and incoporates the beliefs of the anceitn ones with the most up-to-date science. transmutation was belived to allow one to create a material knwon as the "Philosopher's Stone". This "stone" could only be made if the souls of millions of innocent lives, especially women and children, were sacrificed in cold-blood. This horrible act would show the gods of the Netherworld you were worthy to weild their power. The stone itself automatically calculates the exact amount of exchange needed to create gold from rock. It was the most coveted thing on the planet at the time, and it was from this rock that spawned the beliefs of the "Elixir of Life".

The Definition of "Undead"

First and foremost, the term "undead" is a collective name for fictional, mythological, or legendary beings that are deceased yet behave as if they are alive. Undead may be either corporeal (physically able to touch see, and communicate with them) or non-corporeal (spiritual and ghostly; unable to touch them, difficult to see them. The phenomenon of spirits contacting us from "beyond the grave" has existed since the beginning of time. One of the first of the cave men, whose name was simply as "Glog" in records, attempted to tell his tribe that he saw the wind whip around in a small pocket inside his cave. The day before, a tribe member and Glog's friend had been killed by a wild animal. Glog protested daily that the "wind" was getting colder and more unbearable, and still they ignored him. Then, one night, Glog was visited by the "wind" which took on the form of a man. Frightened, Glog fled from his tribe and mate in the cave and never returned.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Existing Criticism #1: The Witch of Endor

In 1 Samuel 28 we find the story of king Saul seeking out the "Witch of Endor" and the apparent appearance of the deceased Samuel from somewhere beyond the grave. Some have appealed to this event to suggest the conscious existence of a person's "undying spirit" in some location beyond this present physical realm. However, is that truly what this account suggests? Or, are there other possible interpretations to this admittedly difficult passage in the Bible?
God had commanded His people: "Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:31). "As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people" (Leviticus 20:6). "Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death" (Leviticus 20:27).
King Saul was not an overly righteous king, but to his credit he "had removed from the land those who were mediums and spiritists" (1 Samuel 28:3). Indeed, he had prescribed the death penalty for those who were found practicing this evil, godless craft (vs. 9-10). As one commentator astutely observed, however: "Although Saul had removed the sin of witchcraft from the land, he had not removed it from his heart." At a time of personal desperation, rather than turning to his God he turned to the forces of evil for guidance.
His fate for this folly is described in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14. "Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse." One interesting observation to this later summation of the events of 1 Samuel 28 is that there is no mention whatsoever of the "spirit" of Samuel having been called up .... only that Saul had consulted with this woman from Endor, a town on the north shoulder of the hill of Moreh, near Jezreel.
There has been tremendous debate over the centuries as to what exactly occurred that day when Saul consulted this woman who was practicing the "black arts." There is no question that this woman was not a servant of the Lord. If she was in league with any spiritual force, it was with Satan rather than God. The apostle Paul warns the brethren in Corinth that there is a very real danger associated with idolatry --- it places those who embrace it in fellowship with the evil forces behind these godless practices. There are real spirit beings (demons) against which the godly struggle in this life. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). Thus, Paul warns his readers to stay away from such activities of darkness, because "I do not want you to become sharers (participants; fellowshippers) with demons" (1 Corinthians 10:20).
The woman from Endor was in fellowship with the forces of darkness; she was a participant with demons. I doubt that any person would seek to refute that. She stood in opposition to God in every way, and God's punishment for such was death!
This raises an interesting question, and, for the purpose of even asking this question, we must make some assumptions (which those who embrace the traditional position on the nature of man regard as fact). Assuming that mortal man is in possession of an inherently immortal spirit-being which indwells him and which is incapable of ever being destroyed or dying, and which thus of necessity must exist consciously somewhere after being separated from the body at the moment of biological death ..... assuming this, simply for the sake of argument in this present study, is it possible for a person who is in league with the forces of evil to call forth righteous, disembodied spirit-beings from their blissful abode?! Can those serving Satan really yank a saved soul out of its spiritual repose? Do the wicked of this world have that kind of power?
It seems to me this is a very grave (pun intended!!) theological problem! Personally, I cannot imagine how such could be the case. Dr. Lewis, in his book Cults of the Dead, wrote: "Was the woman actually able to raise up the righteous dead (i.e., Satan having power over the saints)?" (p. 115). This is a very troubling question, and has bothered people for centuries! Can Satan actually reach into Paradise and drag "souls" out of there for his own devious purposes?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Art Critique # 3

This picture was done in charcoal and then a water color finish. The artist is unknown, but it originated in Britain, where the artist claims he lives. The picture itself has no specific title, but the site I found it on entitled it “Zombies on the March”. The focal point is the zombie’s facial expression, from his eyes to his mouth, agape with a scream of primal rage. The shading of the work is shown in the lead zombie’s black hair and dark black shirt, while its face and neck is a bland mesh of grey and white. The screaming zombie in the foreground is what takes up most of the composition, while the background shows other zombies bringing up the rear of the foreground’s leader. The balance of this work is a bit off. Most of the zombie’s head and shoulders dominate the left side of the work, leaving only grey fog to fill the unused spaces. The most overt emphasis in the picture is placed on the lead zombie’s decayed cheek and neck area, to accentuate the fact that it is of the undead. The background zombies are subtly visible, as the head zombie blocks the majority of their heads from view. The overall value of the work isn’t smooth and transitional, more like sectional, where each area of the zombie’s bust has its own pocket of value ranging from white to black without spilling into the other areas. The content consists of a total of 4 zombies in the picture, though the last 3 are only barely visible, and the last one way in the back by the zombie’s left shoulder is only noticed from his scalp. The work’s amount of gradation- The zombies, starting from the back, appear to be getting closer to the viewer. In this way, it looks like they are in different places, not uniform, as a zombie attack should be: wild and unruly.