Table of Contents
Blood Magic is incredibly ancient. Its roots can be traced all the way back to before the foundation of the first true human Kingdom of Aelfar. Blood Magic consists of the practice of using blood, the essence of sentient life on Núrion, to fuel spell casting. Because the practice often involves sacrificing or otherwise killing people-- willing and unwilling-- Blood Magic has been outlawed in most kingdoms since it was invented. Moreover, most mage guilds and wizard organizations heavily frown on the use of Blood Magic, seeing it as akin to or even worse than the darkest forms of necromancy, for while necromancy involves meddling with the dead and even restoring them to unlife, it doesn't necessarily involve killing them in the first place. Nor is Blood Magic looked kindly upon by the followers of the Lords of Sin, for it was started by an evil wizard who shunned the worship of the Walker in Darkness and withheld the Book of Seven from the Dweller herself. Still, Blood Magic has persisted, practiced for many millennia by dark mages in the shadows. And Blood Magic has a connection to even fouler things than human sacrifice...
Around the year 1600 F.R., Cutalak was born in the bitter north, in the area that would come to be known as Cadocia. Always anti-social, Cutalak was driven from his tribe at a young age and wandered south. He took what he needed to live, often by force but more often by sheer manipulation, for Cutalak had no compunction about dishonesty and deceit. Indeed, so skilled was he in lying that he was taken in by an elven community on the outskirts of the Sarumvest and trained in the ways of magic by the few wizards of the village.
When Cutalak had learned all he could from the kindly elves, he murdered the wizards in their sleep, took their spellbooks, and continued his travels. As he journeyed, he met other species and cultures and gleaned from them all their magical knowledge, often leaving the corpses of mages in his wake. After many decades, Cutalak possessed a magical knowledge to rival all but the most powerful mages on the continent. His rare combination of glibness, psychopathy, and intelligence had allowed him to manipulate and collect the stored magical secrets of multiple races. But it wasn't enough. Some magic was still beyond his reach, and the upstart human mage from a primitive society was well aware that the mages of Alustel were still far beyond him in power. Study as he might, he couldn't seem to find in the outside world the secret to attaining the utmost heights of magical prowess. Then it occurred to him-- perhaps the secret was not in the outside world; perhaps the secret was within himself. The blood!
Cutalak started by using his own blood. He discovered that he could use the power of his life essence, as represented by the fluid that flowed through his veins, to power his spells. And it wasn't long before he found that the blood of others was even better. Unwilling sacrifices powered his magic beyond anything he could previously achieve, and finally he reached the pinnacle of his power by harnessing the life blood that flowed from the hearts of sacrificial victims as they beat their last. By this point, Cutalak's body was aging and becoming less useful to him, so he used the secrets of his Blood Magic to acquire new bodies, making him perpetually youthful and acquiring him the epithet "the Constant."
The dark rumor of the undying necromancer of the north spread throughout the continent, and slowly Cutalak the Constant attracted followers, all malcontents and psychopaths themselves. Seeking Cutalak was dangerous, for he was apt to use his followers to power his Blood Magic or as repositories for his consciousness when he aged out of a body. But still, this was a risk his followers were willing to take to gain but a sliver of the immense magical power of the Blood Necromancer. Eventually, Cutalak had collected quite a large group of disciples, and the wise of the disparate tribes and cultures of the continent began calling them the Cult of Darkness. The disciples called themselves the Blood Cult.
The Cult, led by Cutalak, perfected their Blood Magic while researching dark secrets of all varieties. Many foul spells and evil magical artifacts can be traced back to the Blood Cult, but the foulest of all their deeds was the embodiment of the Book of Seven on Nurion. This artifact created by the Darkest God Vornoth himself had a spiritual existence on the Outer Planes but no existence on the Shattered Jewel, the planet Núrion. Cutalak sensed the collection of spiritual knowledge and the great power it contained, and he desired it. He used the combined magic of his foul cult to scribe the Book of Seven, authoring it in blood into a terrible tome made from the skin of his sacrificial victims.
The coming of the Book of Seven struck like the toll of a dark bell on the senses of all those who could use magic on the planet of Núrion. Thus the Dweller in the Wintervale became aware of its existence and immediately understood its importance in her plans. She treated with the Cult of Darkness, sending emissaries and diplomats to bargain for possession of the Book. But Cutalak and his followers worshipped Ontological Evil itself, scorning reverence of any single god, even the Walker in Darkness himself. As such, they saw themselves as owing no allegiance to the White Lady of the Wintervale. Cutalak himself rebuffed her entreaties, calling her an "upstart witch." That spelled the end for Cutalak-- and ushered in a dark new beginning for him as well.
The Dweller used her terrible magical knowledge, greater even than that of Cutalak the Constant, to curse a mighty Oni mage called Daug-Dagoth with lycanthropy, turning him into the most powerful werebear ever to exist. She then sent him to recover the Book of Seven and slay Cutalak and all his followers. Daug-Dagoth came ravaging out of the Wintervale and surprised the Blood Necromancer and his Cult during one of their depraved sacrifices. Before any could react, the werebear mangled and killed the arrogant Cutalak and cut down the most powerful members of his cult. The rest scattered to the winds. But the curse of the Dweller unhinged Daug-Dagoth's reason, and he temporarily forgot his purpose; he left the Book of Seven in the secret vaults of the Cult as he tried to pursue the remaining Cult members. Only the intervention of the powerful elven hero Menelrim saved the existence of the Cult, as the elf cut down Daug-Dagoth as he hunted through the lands, sniffing out the hiding place of the cultists who had gone to ground. Unfortunately for Menelrim, he only saw the werebear as a mindless beast, unaware of its purpose. Had he known, he might have finished the cult after he slew the terrible werebear.
But it was not the end for Cutalak. He rose from death as nosferatu, the first vampire. Legend states that he suffered the curse of blood-thirst as punishment by the Gods of Light for bringing the Book of Seven into the world, but that seems unlikely. It appears far more probably that the Blood Necromancer was already unlocking the secrets of vampiric undeath and had insured against ultimate oblivion by infecting himself with vampirism, to be activated upon his demise. Indeed, the abilities that Blood Magic afforded to its most powerful practitioners resembled the abilities of undead vampires.
Cutalak, the first vampire, went on to spread his disease, siring further blood-suckers, who reproduced in kind until the foul creatures could be found all across Farland and the continent to the south. Cutalak persisted for millennia as a vampire, but his hatred and fear of lycanthropes-- which could be traced back to his unexpected and traumatic death at the hands of Daug-Dagoth-- eventually led him on an ill-advised crusade against the rakasha-sorcerers of Badala. Cutalak was ultimately put to his final rest by the leader of the rakasha.
The Cult of Darkness too lived on, though at first only a handful of their cultists survived. One of those survivors recovered the Book of Seven and used it as the foundation to rebuild the Cult. While no cultist had the might to understand or utilize the Book, the members worshipped it as the legacy of their founder. They also continued to practice Blood Magic, further refining it and expanding its power. For nearly a thousand years the Cult persisted, eventually becoming quite strong and establishing a defended stronghold. But the just and valiant in due course had enough of the practices of the depraved cult, and it was finally destroyed by the powerful Kingdom of Aelfar, which confiscated all their evil grimoires and tomes and locked them away in a deep vault. Among these dark volumes was the Book of Seven itself. This would become the undoing of the first human kingdom.
Alas, the legacy of Blood Magic lived on, for when Aelfar fell, the secrets of Blood Magic were recovered and clandestinely spread among unprincipled mages debauched enough to study them.
The Practice Itself
Blood Magic is usually classified as a particular variety of necromancy. The practices of Blood Magic tend to be viewed as repugnant and are mostly illegal in both the Liberated and Occupied Kingdoms. A wizard who studies Blood Magic first must learn the secret gestures and rituals that unlock the power in the blood. Such a wizard invariably begins by using their own blood to fuel their magic, and this avenue remains open to them throughout their career. To aid in procuring their blood, Blood Mages create for themselves a Blood Ring, which is a piece of jewelry worn on the hand that contains a discrete razor blade. These rings take various forms and look different, but often have designs utilizing the color red or flowing liquids, as one might expect. The razor blades on these rings stay magically sharp and never need whetting.
But one only has so much blood, so wizards of this school must soon utilize the blood of other creatures if they wish to advance in power. Sentient beings work best, and only the lifeblood of another creature can fuel the mage's magic. Evil practitioners of Blood Magic will sacrifice creatures to fuel their power, while other Blood Mages simply wait for those around them to die in battle or of other causes before opportunistically using their life's fluid for empowerment. Logically, therefore, practitioners of Blood Magic need not be evil but they tend to be, for those who are unwilling to kill living creatures themselves tend to be limited by circumstances as to when they can use their power.
The pinnacle of Blood Magic is consumption of the blood itself, which allows the mage to regain vitality. This is regarded as disgusting and immoral by most creatures, and therefore evil mages tend to gravitate toward this rare school of magic. Some Blood Mages of great power carry with them a chalice that they use for only this purpose, and the design on the chalice frequently matches the designs on their Blood Ring. Other mages prefer to drink the blood directly from the source, with the most depraved among them biting the creature to create the wound from which to procure the fluid.
Those who practice Blood Magic in the modern day do so discretely, for they face punishment and incarceration in the Liberated Kingdoms and brutal execution in the Occupied Kingdoms should they be found out. Still, the ways of mages are mysterious to everyday folk, so the occasional wound on a mage's hand or wrist is easily explained away. Open human sacrifice is less easily explained and as such must be carefully concealed.
The connection between vampirism and Blood Magic is obvious, and in the modern day, vampires and Blood Mages can be found working together, though the wizards and undead creatures share no love for each other. They usually cooperate because each believes they are using the other for their own purposes. The truth is more complex, however. The very essence of Blood Magic can't be separated from its origin in the twisted mind of the necromancer Cutalak the Constant. Likewise, the actual blood of Cutalak flows through the veins of each vampire. Thus, a strange and magnetic connection can be felt between vampires and practitioners of Blood Magic. How this connection plays out is unique to each circumstance—and it usually ends in disaster. Such tends to be the nature of darkness, it seems.
While Blood Magic is illegal, some wizards study it in an academic sense, even if they do not practice it. Obscure treatises on the nature of Blood Magic can be found in the guarded libraries of many wizard guilds and organizations. For example, the Battlemage's College in Dragonspur City has several such tomes. Rumor has it that these books have been used to recreate some of the practices of Blood Magic "for research purposes." Reading such tomes and engaging in such "research" has led many a wizard down the dark road of actually becoming a Blood Mage, for the taste of the power provided by Blood Magic can be addicting, so they say. Such also tends to be the nature of darkness, it seems.