In The Witch and the Beast, necromancy is the art of resurrecting corpses as undead.
Necromancy is a process strictly governed by certain rules. It is forbidden to use necromancy without consent from the patient before death or from their relative who is within two degrees of kinship.
The necromancer is also obliged to disclose every detail of the procedure to the patient before performing the art, as becoming undead carries with it a grave risk.
The risks of necromancy
Resurrection techniques have improved over the years. Undead hardly look any different from normal individuals.
Despite that, when a person becomes undead, they require necromantic maintenance from their necromancer from time to time, or else they lose their mind and go berserk.
An undead person strictly requires maintenance from the necromancer who has resurrected them; no other necromancer will work.
Necromancy is recorded and reported. Resurrection without following the proper procedures is illegal.
People who are resurrected illegally and given no explanation are called Strays.
These undead don’t even fully understand that they are dead. Strays aren’t ready for the risks that come with becoming undead, but they are forced to suffer the consequences.
Necromancy is even banned in certain provinces. However, it’s the urge to see your loved one again that drives people to it.
In the fourth episode of The Witch and the Beast, Ashaf and Guideau’s colleague, Phanora Kristoffel, a necromancer, and her assistant, Johan, investigate a swarm of undead possibly resurrected by a single necromancer.
The undead they are facing have missing fingers and arms. Their faces are not fully formed either. It suggests that whoever resurrected them never intended to make people.
In the fifth episode, it is revealed that the necromancer put little effort into resurrecting these undead people completely.
Phanora also talks about the heavy price the dead pay for resurrection. After death, the soul begins preparing for reincarnation.
Necromancy interrupts the soul’s flow into the spiral of death and rebirth, which takes a long time to achieve resurrection.
Magical resurrection doesn’t last long. When the spell fails and the dead meet their death a second time, they can’t return to the cycle of reincarnation.
These wandering souls end up in a place called the void, where there is no motion, pain, light, sound, or anything. Only the minds of the souls exist, and this place is no less than hell for them.
After learning about the void, only a few people wish to become undead. Even fewer would allow a necromancer to control them or be in service of the necromancer.
Still, some people offer themselves to the necromancer. Phanora calls them Death Knights.
An art of control
Phanora explains that necromancy once reached the heights of prosperity as an art of control.
Undead are familiars, and necromancers can switch them between three states.
First is auto, a state free of control in which the undead obey only their own wills. Next comes semi-auto, a state in which the undead retain their own minds, but the necromancer imprints an objective onto them.
In semi-auto, the undead may prioritize their objective. If the undead lose their minds, they pursue the objectives in an even greater frenzy.
The third state is called manual. In this case, the necromancer fully usurps the minds of the undead and controls them as they would control their own body.