Kharkaethia: The Seventh Domain
Readings from the Liber Malificar
Translator’s Note: This book was written well before the Second Age in Old Acanthian. As the original author was translating from the original book and I’m translating from an archaic language, some liberties might have been taken to connect holes in the language logically.
“I have spent the better part of forty years of my life researching the origins of the legendary Liber Malificar—the Ancient Book of the Weave and Gloam. Most of my research remained in my homeland of Acanthia, where secrets are still buried beneath its sands or within the sealed chambers of its pyramids and monoliths. It was said that near the beginning of the First Age—the Time of Mortals—that the First Archmage, Archidamius unlocked the secrets of the stars. Like a language imprinted on the night sky, Archidamius read their secrets and wrote them down in the Liber Malificar.
As it was my life’s journey to find and transcribe what I could from this mysterious book, I had to leave the comfort of my chambers and my esteemed position in Senuset’s legendary College of the Arcane and wander the length and breadth of Kharkaethia in my search.
Despite Archidamius’ adherence to the patterns of the stars and the night sky, I discovered that he ultimately built his tower away from any of the obvious locations one would guess he’d conduct his research, such a Kratos or Athbanamar.
Instead he built his tower in the cooler, isolated regions far north of that location in an ancient pass that once connected two great empires. His initial tower was something very simple, but as he took on apprentices and wanted to devote his time fully to writing the Liber Malificar, they began building around the tower to very exact specifications. As befit a master of the stars and patterns, Archidamius claimed that the Grand Ascension—that path to the ultimate understanding of the universe—was a path of nine trials and that his academy should embody that design in both curriculum and physical structure. The end result was a massive fortress that spanned the entirety of the pass in a series of layered walls, like an onion or an Athkarian nesting doll. And since that time millennia ago, the tower and the surrounding fortress still remains—secluded and hidden away from the prying eyes of the world.
But I came to discover its location and made the perilous journey there. The Aegis of the Nine took great pains to ensure that any who would seek it out must be worthy and that weaker men perish on their journey. This, I was told, was how apprentices were selected. Merely appearing at the front door was the only feat required.
The details of my proving are long and sometimes gruesome and yet too much to detail in this tome. What is important that within the center of the nine circles is laid the treasure of my seeking: the Liber Malificar.
Only the Archmage of the Ninth may grant permission to enter this innermost of sanctums. It was in perusing this ancient tome in the greatest library of arcane knowledge that I found my true purpose.
It is worth noting that I assumed that the delicate nature of age was why the tome was never to be removed from the Ninth Sanctum, that a book that was millennia old would be exceptionally fragile. But such was not the case at all. It is rather the fact that the portability of the book restricts it from being taken from the Ninth Sanctum for the book IS the Ninth Sanctum.
Parchment and even papyrus in those ancient days was both difficult to procure and exceedingly hard to produce. Additionally, the impermanent nature of the medium would certainly leave us with nothing but myths and legends in modern times. No, Archidamius spent so much time writing the book because he carved it into the walls of the sanctum itself with painstaking detail. Legend claims that he had slaves carve the book as he dictated and that they remained entombed below the sanctum itself so that the secrets they carved would never reach the ears of outsiders. Regardless the work is intricate and beautiful. The illustrations, of which there are many, are equally elaborate.
So by now you, dear reader, might want to know what was contained in these ancient writings. I will not disappoint. The translations were difficult to come by and I begged assistance where I could, but the members of the Aegis were understandably a busy group and they did not brook much in the way of prying from outsiders, even one who proved himself capable even if not part of their conclave.
Not surprisingly, the book is divided into nine sections, as Archidamius was fond of the power of that number. And as with the Nine Trials, the sections become increasingly more difficult and arcane to decipher. I will sum these up now.
The first section is the “Treatise on Basic Knowledge and Practice”. To most of us who even remotely dabble in the arcane, this section is certainly the easiest, though it offers valuable insights into the development of these basic techniques for, as you will do well to remember, all of these things we take as simple first-year apprenticeship practices had to be developed from nothing. Such discoveries, of course, took a great deal of ingenuity, patience, and effort. These basic building blocks were key to unlocking the patterns that will follow.
The second section is “On the Nature of Stars and Objects of the Aether”. What is particularly interesting is that Archidamius felt this was also one of the key building blocks of magickal practice and yet so little of this is taught even to those who have achieved mastery in the Arcane Arts. Perhaps it is the lack of patience in the pupil to get away from the theory and move on to the practice that has led us to this point, as replication of magickal rituals that were already produced does not require this knowledge. But this section provides the valuable framework of magickal practice needed to engage in any advanced study of the subject. Though seemingly the sole domain of warlocks and other practitioners who are especially attuned to the cosmos in our modern times, the mapping of the heavens, the significance of celestial objects, and the patterns of movement among these objects and their connections to the divine are essential elements in understanding any other parts of the book. It is possible that this fading from practice is why so few people can read and understand the Liber Malificar in our modern age. Few are ever taught these fundamentals and fewer still know how to properly implement them.
The third section and each subsequent section hereafter build on the breadth of material from the first two sections. They are arranged in order from least to most difficult and each often builds on the knowledge of the previous sections.
The third section is “Rituals of the Telluric Sphere”. In following the map of the cosmos, the simplest aspects of the arcane are that which are tangible and all around us here on Kharkaethia itself. This is a dense section on the nature of transmutation and alchemy; it starts with the simplest manipulations of the composition of matter and its placement in space. The alchemical aspects, of course, break this matter down into even its simplest component parts. It stops short of delving into the raw energy and elements, however. That is for a far more advanced section.
The fourth section is “Rituals of the Celestial Sphere”. Here the work presses out away from Kharkaethia and into the heavens itself. Advanced knowledge of stars and their interactions with each other and other aethereal objects unlocks some of the basic secrets of the divine. Here the focus is on gleaning knowledge from patterns. Simple knowledge requires simple readings of the stars; advanced or future knowledge, on the other hand, requires a much deeper patience and dedication. Of course, it also notes the various shortcuts one can take toward unlocking these secrets of the past, present, or future. Such rituals, however, are a lot more gruesome—often they entail the blood or entrails of other beings in order to replicate complex patterns in simpler forms. It goes without saying that such rituals have costs that make them undesirable.
The fifth section begins to get difficult. “Rituals of the Umbral Sphere” starts to take those who would dabble in the safer aspects of the Art into territory reserved only for the strong-willed. The material is exceptionally difficult and centers largely on the aspects of conjuration and moving objects or beings not through terrestrial space (which is far safer) but through the boundaries of realms. There are various elements involved that entail the locking and unlocking of these conduits and the consequences of not paying your due diligence to your work. While the basic elements only entail communication of thought or word across the realms, the advanced rituals actually move physical beings. And woe to those who have not properly cleared and protected their environment for such a summoning.
The sixth section is “On the Raw Energies of the Outer Spheres”. To the delight of many modern wizards who traffick in various invocations, the basic elements of this section are often taught to those who would not be ready for the more advanced work contained herein. The elemental domains are the most basic energies that fuel existence and while a hedge wizard might fling the occasional fireball or lightning bolt with little impunity, a true grasp of the energies involved and their alchemical roots is beyond the ken of most practitioners of the Art. Here lie not only those basic studies we’re all familiar with, but also more advanced—and quite dangerous—aspects.
The seventh section is titled “Advanced Studies in Necromantic Rites”. While low-level necromancy is often beyond even the most astute mages and most societies of wizards outright forbid the act, the Aegis certainly embraced this section fully. This part of the Liber Malificar might be what it is most infamous for—and with good reason. This section uncovers the deepest secrets concerning death and undeath ever delved. It was no secret that Archidamius spent the bulk of his young life in Senuset—often thought as being the inspiration for the practice of necromancy. Archidamius was certainly the first to unlock its secrets, but I often beam with pride that the Acanthians perfected it. Still, this section of the tome was rich with work I had never even heard of, let alone pondered. It certainly would shake even the most hardened emperor with the depths of its detail.
The eighth section is “Intertemporality and the Nature of Realms Beyond the Aether”. This section is especially esoteric and difficult to understand, working with such advanced and alien concepts that it’s simply dangerous to even dabble in without having spent perhaps decades perfecting one’s handling of the Art. Moving objects through space is one thing; moving time itself is a whole other matter. Despite being an exceptionally advanced section, this is actually the most basic building block of the section that follows. The manipulation of time and space outside of what we understand as mortal existence is key to transcending those boundaries.
Which brings us to the very last section of the book: “Rites of the Grand Ascension”. This section is well beyond even my advanced abilities to grasp and properly decipher and likely with good reason—contained herein might be the secrets of godhood itself. This was the final goal of Archidamius’ work and even he himself fell short of unraveling the secrets of the divine to such a degree—or at least seeing them through to the end. While those who count themselves among the younger gods might have uncovered these secrets, they certainly didn’t share them with anyone else and Archidamius, who tragically met his end before reaching the Grand Ascension, never got to test the rites and rituals built inside this section."