The Litch is considered to be the ultimate form of the Necromancer, a form to which all necromancers aspire. Litchdom is very difficult, and requires both the living and dead to fuse a raised soul or shade with a re-animated body (specifically the body which originally belonged to the soul). By becoming a Litch, a necromancer can gain a measure of immortality, as long as the physical remains exist.
Further, the Litch gains the advantage of having its conscious mind fused with the unconscious, granting access to expanded knowledge (effectively, anything they have ever learned), and lightning-fast recall. Litches retain their full powers as necromancers, while a Litch who is also a mage becomes much more powerful.
Steps to Litchdom
A necromancer who wishes to become a Litch must begin preparing early in life. The magics required take a lifetime of study to master, as well as preparing a series of ritual objects that take great care. Even then, it is possible to fail, and the dead may linger forever in the spirit-world.
The tomb is the most important part, and must include a series of ritual elements and enchanted objectsto guide a soul back to its body. Many of these elements can be recycled, though certain items must be those of great significance to the would-be Litch.
Upon death, the body must be carefully prepared. In order for a Litch to gain full power, mummification is an absolute requirement. The body must retain its physical form and its recognizable features, at least for the initial fusion. While techniques vary between temples, the body is usually dried with natron. The brain is usually removed, dehydrated into a powder, and mixed with resin before being pumped back into the skull. Dispensation of the organs depends on the temple's particular practices. Usually they are packed in natron inside canopic jars; sometimes they are dried and returned to the body. If the Litch hopes one day to become ever-living, the organs must be kept.
Often, once the body is dried, the arms and legs will be removed and re-articulated with leather straps. The original sinew is not required, and becomes quite brittle. The skin is covered in bandages and resin, and enchanted jewelry is added, or embedded in the flesh. Enchanted items granting strength and dexterity are a requirement in order to give the Litch full mobility.
No one person can ever hope to master all of the magics required to become a Litch during a single human lifetime, and creating even one Litch usually requires the co-operation of dozens of necromancers.
Upon death, the would-be Litch is placed in a sarcophagus inside the prepared tomb. The tomb is a permanent ritual site, and must be kept intact. Typically, tombs are small chambers connected to the Sanctum Satorum, though some temples may place the tombs elsewhere. No Litch ever rises immediately after death; their soul must spend some time in the Underworld. When the necromancer first dies, the temple has one hundred days to prepare the body and place it in the tomb; during this time the now-dead necromancer sleeps in the underworld.
During the preparation and burial process, the living necromancers complete several magical rites for the re-animation of the corpse as well as the raising and fusion of the spirit. The ritual elements of the tomb help the spirit find its way back to the body. With the burial complete and the tomb elements in place, the living necromancers then must wait.
The soul cannot be raised immediately. After death, most souls take a long sleep in the afterlife. A necromancer who was particularly busy with his own funeral arrangements near death may sleep for a considerable time. It is not unheard of for this process to take decades, even centuries. The typical rule followed by the necromancers is to divide a person's age at death in half, then add seven years. If the Litch does not rise within that time, there is a good chance it will never happen.
Until the Litch rises, the tomb must remain undisturbed. The chances of becoming a successful Litch rise if the soul in question was alive to personally witness the layout and preparation of the tomb, and increase further if the necromancer spent considerable time working on it.
During this time, the soul can still be raised, but without the full benefits of the conscious and unconscious fusing needed for shade or Litchdom. The living can inquire on the dead's progress, but can do little to help. Usually, raisings are only performed to determine if the dead is still asleep in the grave. Once the soul has awoken, they must journey through the underworld and find their way to a ritual site created there by the necromancers still in the living world. They can then use this, along with what powers they retain, to again re-join their physical body.
With the fusion complete, the Litch can then arise and re-join necromancer society.
Life of a Litch
Very often, Necromancers only seek to become Litches in order to gain the long 'life' it grants them. In these cases, they spend much of their time asleep in their crypts, showing themselves only when called upon or when they so desire. A Litch is highly intelligent and can live a surprisingly rich life in its own head. Litches have occasionally been discovered in ancient temples, having slept for centuries or millennia, only to emerge and find their brethren have long abandoned them.
Some Litches will continue whatever work they performed in life. Many temples are led by Litches living deep in the Sanctum Satorum. Others will share their knowledge with those who seek it, while some simply devote their extended lives to study and contemplation. Litches do not require sleep or sustenance.