It was a bloody sack, and flies buzzed around it. The smell that seeped from it was enough to sicken an ox. The voice that came from it was worse.
The Ssacha a'Karliik
Also known as Karl'van, Ssacha'rothe, or the vulgar head in a bag. It is quite simply a severed head that has been placed in a bag, typically burlap or another cheap coarse material. This sack is tied to a belt, or even to a staff. The bearer of the bag is able to communicate with the head inside the bag. The magics that go into the item go not into the head, but rather the bag. Any head, provided it is fresh enough, will be reanimated by the magics of the bag. Preserved and otherwise treated heads last much longer than untreated left to decay heads.
Rival Magi: a common trend centuries ago involved severing the heads of rival magi and forcing them to become assistants in casting magic spells. While this was primarily done by evil necromancers, some more bloody religions found a way to make Ssacha a'Karliiks into saints relics.
Translators: common among non-human foes, the necromancers would have several of these to function as guides, advisers, and translators for dealing with indigenous peoples. It is rather demoralizing to have a stranger show up with a known hero or even the King's head and the head now serving the newcomer.
Wise Councilor: It was a trend for elders and other wise people to willingly allow their heads to be taken, so that their wisdom would not die with their bodies. This trend eventually ended after some heads were lost, and others were abused or misused. The requirements of having a resident necromancer also fell out of popularity and the neutral karliiks were lost or destroyed.
Entertainment: some more perverse necromancers would decapitate jesters, bards, troubadors, or people they just fancied and would take their heads and put them into Ssacha a'Karliiks.
The first creators of Ssacha a'Karliik was a band of dark elves who used the magic to capture rival magi and shaman from rival races, first the orcs and goblins and later the humans and rival bands of elves. While these dark elves were later driven into hiding, their arts of necromancy and the process of creating the heads in the bags were not. The original Ssacha a'Karliik's were made of coarse material as it was seen as a waste to make a bag for orc heads out of nice materials. While the karliiks made for magi and other high ranking, or elfin heads were made out of higher grade and fancier materials, the coarse bags were the more common and it simply became a tradition to make the karliik out of such materials.
The head must first be removed from the body, and then placed in a sack made of a burial shroud. This sack has been desecreated and must be wetted with the blood of the corpse that the head was taken it from. Various necromantic charms and chants are done, and the spirit of the head is temporarily denied moving on and is forced to reside in the head for a period of time. If the head is later treated or otherwise preserved, this duration can be quite long. Untreated heads only last three to five weeks before the magic can no longer animate the ruined flesh. A magically tattooed, salt cured and death priest blessed head can last for years or even decades. Creating a karliik is an intermediate level spell, though the preservation of the flesh tattoos and spells are functionally introductory spells.
The Spirit Halloween store had upside down styrofoam heads stuffed in 'bloody' burlap sacks to dangle as ghoulish decorations. This is the end result of that and several beers.
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? Responses (10)
Short but a nice idea. I can see necromancers sitting on a horse seemingly mumbling to themselves. The name itself though is quite a mouthful both to say and remember maybe. And it's not so much about the bags as it is about the heads no? The bags just serve to hide the heads from what I gathered.
Edited to emphasize the magic of the bag rather than the magic being in the head.
Excellent! Creepy NPC in a bag. Imagining the reaction of finding one with a head in it, and the resulting attempts to figure out what's going on (enchanted bag vs animated head).
As always an exceptional entry.
Long live the ancient tradition of taking heads.
One way to get ahead.
Terrible pun, Cheka. :)
There's a lot of cool stuff you could do with this one. It can of course be a necromancer's implement easily enough, or you could have it more magic generic or even make it a cultural thing. Maybe when your father dies, or whatever, you keep his head in a bag for a few weeks. You could play on the old trope of the young adventurer with an animal or spirit or fairy guide - this guy has a head in a bag!
You could have a Necromancer who boasts exceptional power because he knows how to make shrunken heads, and can fit the heads of mighty creatures like giants or dragons in a bag.
I like it a lot. I could definitely imagine using this one.
I like it - I have a thing for magic casting decapitated heads and evil magic sacks. Good job!
A well-done take on the trope. Thanks for revealing the inspiration.
A well-done take on the trope. Thanks for revealing the inspiration!
I like it. A lot. It read funny to me at times, to many repeated references to a head in a bag I guess but I generally love this item. It is not an over powerful item of magic in and of itself but it has potential for a lot of uses.
I immediately imagined an NPC, or even the addition of a new PC, riding up on a darkened horse with multiple sacks hanging from the saddle. Or having a belt with a head tied to each side.
I could even imagine the warrior sent out on a quest having had to take not only his grandfathers head (or great grandfather) as well as the head of his own father whom do not get along with each other and constantly annoy the person carrying both bags as they gladly speak of why they do not like each other and wish to be moved to another belt further away.
I do not see if there is any limit to the number of heads one can carry or even create at one time. Is the magic to create these taxing so only one can be made by one person and can not make another one until the current ones magic fades? Do the heads have any other functions other than speech? Can they see? Hear? Smell? Have the ability to speak with anyone not carrying them? Cast spells perhaps but at a limited or reduced effect?
An addendum, I love Dragonlords idea of taking a dragons head and throwing it in a bag... interesting theft deterrent. Open the bag to steal whats inside and a flame shoots out of it. Silly idea but the potential for this is great.