Mortuary Cult

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The Mortuary Cult is a religious faction of ancient Nehekhara created during the reign of Settra, and sustained by the successive Priest Kings, which was devoted to turning Nehekhara into an immortal kingdom, one where the rulers cannot die.

Overview

The priests of the Mortuary Cult are known as Liche Priests.[1a] The members of the mortuary cult are made up of the first-born sons of the Priest Kings.[1c]

There have been five distinct generations of Liche Priests. The first learnt to extend their lives far beyond their natural length.[1a] They were drawn from the priests who tended to the ancient gods of Nehekhara.[1b] The second to forth gradually learnt more and greatly lengthened their life spans, but the fifth generation are the ones still alive. They learnt to bind their souls to their bodies so that they could not die. They had also learnt the secrets of resurrection.[1a]

The priests of the mortuary cult quickly learnt that the only way they could stay in power would be to keep their knowledge to themselves and to perpetuate an air of mystery around themselves. This attitude slowly turned Nehekharan culture to centre around death and eventually more effort was put in to preparing for death than living itself. Worship of Djaf and Usirian became as wide as that of Ptra and symbols of immortality and everlasting life because commonplace on the shields, banners and chariots of the kings. Heroism was rewarded with the promise of everlasting life and rebirth through mummification rather than with riches and luxuries in life.[1a]

One of the greatest figures in the history of the Mortuary cult is Nagash. He was the first-born son of king Khetep of Khemri, which meant he as destined to become a priest. He was exceptionally talented but also supremely jealous of his brother Thutep and lustful for supreme power. He gathered a dozen like-minded acolytes (including Arkhan) and seized the throne, entombing his brother in their father's temple. Nagash combined the secrets of the mortuary cult with the knowledge of a band of Dark Elves who he tortured into telling him the secrets of dark magic and necromancy. With this knowledge he devised the nine Books of Nagash and created the Elixir of Life which he gave to his closest, effectively binding them to him as they could not create the potion themselves. He then ordered the construction of his Black Pyramid, externally just as another burial tomb, internally to channel he winds of magic. The temple dwarfed the Great Pyramid of Settra and was built of black obsidian with slaves buried in the foundations and magical incantations wrought into the walls. The construction of the pyramid had taken a great toll on Nehekhara's people and eventually the other kings rose up together to overthrow Nagash.[1c]

Nagash now used necromancy for the first time to bind the undead to his will. He conquered many cities and vanquished many foes, but he was eventually faced with a force combining the martial prowess of the living and the immortal constructs of the mortuary cult. The cult had seen their demise coming as Nagash grew in power and decided to join the rebels. They summoned the souls of the dead into the Ushabti, Necrolith Colossi and Warsphinxes within Khemri and this led to Nagash's first downfall. His immortal lieutenants were executed but Nagash escaped to the north.[1c]

The mortuary cult was from then on watched closely and bound only to use their centuries old incantations rather than develop new ones. The lords of Lahmia sought to break free from their dependence on the mortuary cult which led to the creation of the Elixir of Damnation and Vampires.[1d]

After Nagash's death, the great kings of Nehekhara began to rise and fight amongst themselves until Grand Hierophant Khatep awoke Settra. Settra regained control of Nehekhara and ordered the priests to maintain the tombs of the kings and wake them as needed, which is still their task to this day.[1e]

Priests & Hierophants

The Mortuary Cult is made up of Liche Priests. The highest ranking members are known as Liche High Priests. A Hierophant is the highest ranking mortuary priest in an army, and is charged with awakening the army of a Tomb Prince or King and maintaining their control over the undead warriors.[1a]

Known Members

Sources