Recently in Idle Hands Category

So I've decided to try something I'm calling "Idle Hands" in order to get me to a) blog a bit more than I have recently and b) put down some half-formed ideas that don't really have a home.  I have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head that might be useful for an RPG campaign or some fiction, but which aren't really a whole idea so much as an element to be used later.  I'm going to post them here just so I have them written down.  Comments are welcome as always, of course.

The Isle of the Dead

Not far from the coast is a large island home to the Brotherhood of the Endless Slumber, an order of necromancers.  The island spends much of its time swathed in a cloak of fog, but even when hidden from view it is not difficult to find; the smell of decay which covers the island reaches miles offshore.  The island's infrequent visitors, mostly occasional trade vessels or those desperate for the necromancers' aid, rarely stay for long.

Every living person on the island, aside from a small enclave of belonging to the Gyrefell merchant house which runs the docks, is a member of the order, made up of both necromancers and mundane monks who serve in various capacities, assisting the necromancers with their rituals and research.  The island does not have a city per se; the docks and the Gyrefell enclave come closest, situated in a basin along the coast; the only other part of the island with any sort of habitation is the necromancers' abbey, two miles from the docks on a plateau.  There are barely more than 150 living people on the island, but that is but a sliver of its true population.

Outside the abbey and the merchant enclave, the rest of the island is populated with the undead, all of whom were once criminals and prisoners sent from the mainland to be sacrificed to anatomical study and necromantic research or ritual for their crimes.  Their animated corpses, most of which are simply skeletons now, toil in agricultural fields, mine the ores of the island's mountains, and perform other manual labor with unceasing effort.  After nearly two hundred years of executions and reanimations, there are thousands upon thousands of undead now walking the island; they are kept away from the merchant enclave as part of the necromancers' deal with the Gyrefells, but they can still be seen from the enclave's towers on one of the island's few clear days.

The Gyrefells built their enclave on the island fifty years ago, after convincing the necromancers that it would benefit them to have skilled craftsmen and a permanent dock on the island rather than simply deal with infrequent and unpredictable trade convoys.  Few members of the house volunteer to work on the enclave, and it is seen as a hardship post, given to those out of favor with the house's leaders or new journeymen.  Incense burners and fragrant herbs are a common sight (and smell) in the enclave, as the merchant try to keep the odor of death at bay.

Because of the undead, the Brotherhood produces plenty of raw goods for trade (most manufactured goods cannot be made by the clumsy hands of animated corpses), which they sell to the Gyrefells, in return purchasing manufactured goods and imported necessities for their necromancy.  Many nations refuse to purchase goods from the Isle of the Dead, so much of the island's bounty is laundered through the Gyrefells' other holdings, hiding their true origin.

While a number of religious orders and other organizations have threatened the island in the past, the island's poor terrain and the army of undead make any sort of invasion a difficult prospect at best.  Compared to many other necromantic orders, the Brotherhood is also fairly innocuous, keeping to itself and engaging in research and explorations of the Land of the Dead.  This has kept them safe from the outside world for two centuries.

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