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    The Chronicles of Acererak
    Posted on Sun, December 02, 2007 by Dongul
    Luz writes " There are few names that evoke more fear than the dreaded Acererak. The notorious Tomb of Horrors is his only legacy, yet it has forever scarred Oerth with its lingering evil presence. Very little is known of the tomb's occupant and the site only raises more questions than answers, much to Acererak's amusement. Here is a brief glimpse into his mysterious past before the tomb.

    The Chronicles of Acererak
    By: Luz

    More is known of Acererak’s dreaded unlife than of his life spent as a mortal wizard over a thousand years ago. Even as a man, Acererak’s evil nature knew no bounds and it was during this time that he pursued study the black art of necromancy. There is no doubt he was Ur-Flan – studying dark magic with the likes of Vecna. Indeed, he and Vecna made numerous expeditions to the Causeway of Fiends and beyond to the Isle of Cursed Souls, where the first seed of demilichdom was planted in Acererak’s mind. He consulted fiends from the causeway and eventually attracted the attention of Orcus, Demon Prince of the Undead, whom he served as a vassal for a time. Although Acererak disdained deities, he knew there was much to learn from them and he gained much power and arcane knowledge under Orcus’ guidance, eventually attaining the status of a Skull-King on Thanatos.

    Acererak was a natural at necromancy, displaying a mastery over negative energy that humbled his peers. More unsettling, however, was the sheer obsession he had for undeath. Acererak constantly pushed the limits of life draining magic, as though he fed off the fear and evil energies siphoned from his subjects. He regarded life, even his own, as a “condition” which needed to be rooted out; that to cross over to the realm of undead was to truly be alive.

    On Oerth, the arch-mage occupied a small area in the Tilvanot, far from the prying eyes of the rest of the world. At that time the land was largely unclaimed, harboring small pockets of nomadic Flan tribes and settlements. This suited Acererak well, for he had no desires of conquest despite later speculation that he ruled the region. On the contrary, he sought solitude. Such was his contempt for all living things that he wished to be far removed from civilized lands to indulge in necromancy undisturbed – eventually crossing over to lichdom. Of course, he required bodies for his work. So, he preyed on the hapless locals and subjected them to horrific, agonizing deaths only to re-animate them as mindless undead atrocities. The nearby natives came to fear and shun the lich of the Tilva Plateau, from where Acererak practiced his death magic on the living. He constantly tested the effects of negative energy on other planes too, and it is rumored that the Devourer is one of Acererak’s undead creations.

    Despite his achievements, Acererak grew restless with his lot. His dark ambitions stretched beyond his mortal tenement and the pull of unlife beckoned him further. His role in Orcus’ realm had also played its part, so Acererak severed his ties with the undead prince. This mattered little to Acererak, for he never held any allegiance or loyalty to Thanatos and Orcus had served his purpose as a font of necromantic secrets. Of course, Orcus saw differently and took offense to this sleight. He sent a company of demons led by the balor Tarnhem, one of Orcus’ own descendants, to retrieve the arrogant mage and drag him back to Thanatos for discipline. However, Acererak was wise to Orcus and had Tarnhem bound to his fortress. Ironically enough, the demon prince never had the opportunity to retaliate; the drow deity Kiaransalee slew Orcus and took his realm as her own. That this occurred at such a fortuitous time for Acererak was quite convenient, perhaps too improbable to be coincidence…

    So, Acererak focused his attention elsewhere. His contempt for life and for the gods themselves was limitless. How diminutive these peasants were for their blind faith to glorified beings that were nothing without their flock! Even Vecna pursued the path of divinity. How all-mighty were these beings, Acererak wondered, if not for their followers? A wry grin crossed his skeletal face and his eyes sparkled with sadistic glee. A world without life, he surmised, is a godless world. Acererak gazed across Oerth and witnessed the endless wars being waged in the name of gods and righteousness. As armies swarmed over the land like mindless ants, Acererak withdrew into the Vast Swamp. He sealed himself and his most valuable treasures, which are rumored to include the fabled Crown and Scepter of Evil, within a sunken, trap-filled tomb and disappeared from temporal affairs. The Tilvanot Scourge simply vanished without a trace and shortly thereafter his former tower was razed to the ground by embittered natives. Over time, Acererak would soon be forgotten – which suited him just as well. For deep within the Vast Swamp, the arch-lich underwent a physical and magical change and plotted anew.

    Centuries passed and Acererak became nothing more than a footnote in Oerth history. Eyes turned to Vecna’s realm, and later to the corrupt Great Kingdom and the lands of Iuz. Meanwhile, Acererak, now a demilich, quietly conspired from his sunken tomb in the Vast Swamp. His spirit frequently left his dusty remains to travel distant realms, where he spent much time on the Negative Energy Plane and the accursed city of Moil gathering knowledge and resources. The demilich was occasionally interrupted in his travels, for treasure hunters and would-be tomb robbers had discovered his tomb on the Prime Material Plane and Acererak was drawn back to deal with the intruders. This was not a setback for him, for even the tomb and the countless souls it claimed had a purpose in Acererak’s grand scheme. He learned the value of souls during his time on the abyss; their potential for power was staggering and Acererak required many more before his dark plans could be realized. And so the demilich patiently waited, slowly but surely drawing evil power to his true resting place in the Final Void.

    For a time, adventurers and seekers of arcane lore came regularly from far and wide to plunder Acererak’s Tomb of Horrors, hoping to succeed where so many others had failed. But alas, it was to no avail. Some returned from the tomb, laden with treasures claiming they had bested the tomb’s traps and destroyed the arch-lich, but these were tall tales of hubris. More often those that entered were never seen from again. None had ever found Acererak’s true resting place, although one expedition, led by a persistent wizard named Desatysso, came very close to locating the elusive demilich. Fascinated by tales of the tomb, Desatysso studied every vague record from brittle scrolls and dusty tomes, until at last he came upon what he believed to be an authentic diary of Acererak. The book contained cryptic clues for navigating the traps as well as an historical account of the arch-mage. Contrary to what the diary claimed, Acererak was not a cambion born of demonic heritage. Indeed, the diary was penned by Acererak – filled with some truths amidst a tangled web of lies and ambiguities. Another test put forth by Acererak to reward the astute but mislead the foolhardy. Acererak had developed a fondness for tricking mortals into fatal mistakes, toying with them until they brought about their own dooms. Desatysso, it seemed, was no exception.

    As time wore on fewer adventurers sought out the tomb, until finally there were no further expeditions recorded. Instead, a trickle of evil pilgrims flocked to the fell place, not for glory or treasure but for inspiration from the master of the tomb. All of them craved necromantic knowledge and erected a stone edifice around the tomb where they could experiment and research without distraction. The Black Academy even drew the attention of the vampire scion Mistress Ferranifer – a formidable necromancer from western Aerdy. Ferranifer’s origins are steeped in the rich, royal history of House Cranden and she is a suspected distant ancestor of Blacksplinter’s Prince Ferrenan. Her charisma and prowess made her a natural leader of the Academy, which remained well hidden from the unsuspecting world. Soon after, others of evil ilk arrived at the site: murderers, thieves, bandits, and corrupt merchants all found a place in this secret society. Thus, Skull City was born. "
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