Jaysehn (prime)/Reflections/On Driftpyres

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This is a creative work set in the world of Elanthia, attributed to its original author(s). It does not necessarily represent the official lore of GemStone IV.

Title: Ranshai's Guide to the Lesser Undead, Chapter 5

Author: Ptolemy

Chapter 4: On the Purpose, Creation and Skilled Application of a Driftpyre

Death is the unescapable end of all things. Rare indeed is the being able to truly avoid this Fate. Even the long lived elves must one day pass through the Gates and enter the realm of the Grey Lady. A skilled Hunter understands this necessity and the reality that their own demise is likely to be at the very claws of the creatures they hunt.

Too few Hunters think only of the hunt and the kill that follows. A prudent expert will always seek to provide preventative measures to ensure the spirits of the dead pass through the Gate with haste, as intended. The longer such a spirit lingers in the realm between, the more likely it is that some intervention may snatch it from its rightful destination.

To this end, learn you now the practice of creating a Driftpyre.

What is Drift?

Drift, defined, is the circumstance of a recently dead spirit being diverted from its path towards the Ebon Gate. Most spirits, particularly those that meet death under typical conditions, have little cause for Drift. Their spirits are drawn to the realm beyond and some unknown wisdom of our existence compels them towards the Grey Lady's demesne. However, spirits that die in particularly anguished circumstances can find themselves latched onto the life they must now leave behind. Emotional anguish is the most powerful in this regard. Even the most brutal physical pain often fails to hold a spirit long. If anything, the release of death breaks that physical torment. The spirit, however, is the seat of emotion and such heavy trauma can easily pass from life into death. Like a shark drawn to a wounded and bleeding seal, so to are there things in the ether that will find such a wounded spirit and either devour it or exploit it. Lost in a state of Drift, an emotionally anguished spirit is at very grave risk indeed.

The Driftpyre

A Driftpyre is an intervention, one that can force a Drifting spirit towards the Ebon Gate and seal it within the land of the dead.

This is an AI generated image, generated using DALLe-3 using prompts input by the uploader of the image.

Such an intercession is not to be taken lightly as it treads upon the rightful ground of the Immortals and their dominion over life and death. A Hunter should not hesitate, however, to take this step if it is prudent. Few of my Order are trained in this ritual any longer. It is fashionable to dismiss such knowledge, gathered as it was in days when the Order was young and wisdom came from many sources that some might call 'common'. However, the Old Ways are known to those who cherish wisdom. Dismiss the vogue notions of the now, or the fine new magical trinket that you are told can overcome any foe. Respect the craft of the Hunter by recognizing we are all, in the end, prey to some greater thing.

The ritual involves a ceremonial binding. One that links the world of the living to the world of the dead through the application of a reagent with ties to both worlds. In the ancient texts that describe this rite, they are known as the Before and the After, with the transition between known as the Journey. Combined into a singular blaze, nearby spirits are drawn swiftly towards their fate-called destination.

The Before

Like the earth itself, the land is a thing of life. A thing of the Before. Therefore, find a recently felled tree or log and begin there. Assemble it as the foundation of your Driftpyre. This token of the living world is not sufficient, however. The spirit knows nothing of the Before except its unwillingness to leave it. To draw it away from its grip on the living world, you must offer up a companion, a Traveler. A thing of life whose death can provide a guide for the spirit to follow after. My father, who knew well the secrets of the arcane, would often caution us that Sacrifice was the most powerful of magics. That principal is true here. A small thing will suffice. A worm. An insect. A rodent. Place it upon the log, alive. A novice might assume a more sentient or less mean creature might make for a better Traveler. This is not so. A creature capable of its own emotional terror would spoil this ritual terribly and likely draw unspeakable things towards the very spirit you are meant to protect.

The After

Both a physical and spiritual token of the After must be present as well to draw the Traveler from the world of the living to the land of the dead. The physical token should link the living log to the death that is soon to come. A particularly dried twig, fallen from the same tree that produced the log, is ideal.

As for the spiritual token, it must be a place of rest and comfort, so that the Traveler of the Before is not likewise lost in Drift of its own. The best choice are the things of the land of the dead that would be familiar enough to the Traveler to reassure its transition. Access to the land of the dead is obviously not a trivial thing. Fortunately, the realm of Naidem is open to the living in its yearly cycle. This is a unique opportunity to collect flora and fauna for use in future Driftpyres. Even the very soil of the land of Naidem is of value here. A worm, for example, might well respond to the presence of Naidemsoil just as an insect might respond to a plant native to Naidem.

The Journey

Finally, the link between the Before and the After must be joined. This is the most difficult time of the ritual. A thing of the Before, no matter how simple it may be in its constitution, will resist the pull of the After unless it is most wise among its kind. This is Fate. Still-turning autumnal leaves of the tree that provided the other reagents are called for, as the leaf is a thing both living and dead. Such a leaf is a suitable example of the physical token of the Journey. However, the spiritual token of the Journey, known also as the Gift, is the most difficult of the reagents to find. Very few things a mortal can grasp in their hands and burn in a fire exist in both the land of the living and the land of the dead simultaneously. I have heard of urn remains being a suitable token, as they carry the emotional power of those that yet live, while still being the remains of the dead. A very gifted Hunter might confront one of the heralds of death themselves, the valravn or the disir. Be advised, these are foes beyond almost all Hunters and they serve the Grey Lady herself. Risk her ire only under the most dire circumstances. It is the advice of this author to keep yourself confined to as simple a Gift as you can acquire.

Lastly, the rite is concluded by the application of a pure flame. Either that conjured by arcane magic, divinely-sourced power or one of the Order's symbols. If the ritual was prepared properly, the reagents will ignite nearly instantly in a plume of aurora-hued flame, purifying the Drifted in the area and ensuring their swift passage to the After. Let the flame burn until it silences itself. When it is done, the ritual will be complete.

It is wise to practice this ritual before attempting to enact it purposefully. A lack of competence is no excuse if a Hunter is called on to see to such a duty.