Lesson 8) Dark Practices, Part 1
Welcome to your penultimate Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson. Today we will begin delving into topics that, in the views of many of my colleagues, are too Dark to even be mentioned. However, you all should be aware of the evils that you could face. Just because others refuse to talk about it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Therefore, I will be using the next two lessons to teach you the basic concepts of several Dark practices while touching on the results of those practices where relevant. I feel the need to reiterate, I will not be teaching you the processes involved in performing any of these practices. Now, for our first topic: necromancy.
The art of necromancy, at its core, is the art of raising people from the dead. People throughout history have had many reasons for wishing to violate the law of nature: some have had questions for the deceased, while others wish simply to demonstrate their power. There are several different forms of necromancy: some include rituals (which we will be talking about next lesson), while others utilize complicated charms and spellwork that typically require many years of study and practice to successfully cast.
To be more specific about the intentions behind necromancy, there are two main goals when necromancers decide to summon the dead: for divinatory purposes and to create a facsimile of life to serve them. One the one hand, many people throughout history have used necromancy to ask the dead questions. I will not be getting too far into the specifics of this - that is a topic best left to your Divination professor - however I can tell you that it is no light endeavor when attempting to get information from the dead via this manner. They are finicky, and are as likely to mislead you as they are to tell you the truth. They have become disconnected from the world of the living and have no moral scruples about causing harm to people anymore. Therefore, always be cautious when around this form of divination.
More directly related to our course, the other reason, raising dead servants for whatever purpose the caster has, is far more easy to address. In its simplest form, necromancy used in this way is used to create false life in a corpse that is enslaved to the caster’s will. There is no magic that can truly bring the dead back, and so the necromancer fills the corpse with the appearance of life that, in most cases, is meant to serve a single purpose. Once embodied with a magical replication of life, the body is at the complete control of the caster. In a way, it is very similar to the use of the Imperius Curse, though intended solely for the dead and not quite as far reaching. A necromancer cannot easily change the role of its ‘revived’ servant. To do so would require a complete recasting of the spell(s) used to animate the corpse. This could lead to many possible backfires, which is why even the most skilled necromancers don’t mess around with it.
As I’m sure you have all ‘divined,’ necromancy violates the laws of nature that mandate that death is final (without getting into the weeds of various world religions and the ideas of reincarnation; that’s a different conversation). No one was meant to return from the dead, and when they do, it almost never ends well for those still among the world of the living. To demonstrate this, I will be covering two specific examples of attempts to revive the dead.
The Resurrection Stone
The first method of bringing back the dead is a one of a kind artefact that supposedly has the power to bring the dead back to life...in a way. I am talking, of course, about the Resurrection Stone. For those who are not familiar, the Resurrection Stone stemmed from the story “The Tale of the Three Brothers” in the widely popular The Tales of Beedle the Bard. It was the second artefact given to the Peverells by Death, this one to Cadmus Peverell with the intent of bringing his dead wife back to life. However, her return was only partial, and in the end Cadmus went insane and eventually ended his own life to fully be with his wife, rather than remain among the living.
Now, I in no way believe that “Death” was a real figure who gave a real stone with this power to Cadmus. What I believe is more probable is that Cadmus was experimenting with his spellwork on a stone that, when turned thrice in hand, would fully bring a person back from the dead. Despite his best efforts, the closest he could get was a ghostly image that looked and acted like his deceased wife, but was not truly her. Overcome with grief for the real person who was his wife, as opposed to the illusion, and his obsession with taking power over death, Cadmus went insane because of his obsession with the binary of life and death. Instead of remembering his wife as she was when she lived, he only focused on the fact that she was dead. Instead of allowing her to rest in peace, he would not rest until she was brought back to life. This is always a dangerous road to follow, for the road of obsession always runs the risk of leading to darkness.
What spells did Cadmus use? Where is the Resurrection Stone now? These are questions that I cannot answer. Nobody knows the whereabouts of the stone, assuming it still even exists. However, even if I did know the answer to where it is, I would not disclose that information. That artefact, though well intended, is a Dark artefact that comes as close as we will ever get to bringing the dead back to life. It is a power that no person should have; the dead are dead and the living are alive. No amount of enchantments can truly bring someone back who chose to move on, and so it is best to respect their wishes; not doing so would be an insult to their memory.
Before we close this discussion, I want to delve briefly into my best educated guess as to how the Resurrection Stone works, because I want you all to fully understand its dangers. My best guess, and this is just a theory, is that the enchantments on the Stone only work when your mental defenses are down. It must have some connection to you mentally and emotionally, to know how you envision the person acting. Magic cannot create that which it does not know, so the image, and the speech and actions of the illusion, come from within your mind. The Resurrection Stone takes those images and forms a parasitic relationship with your mind: it is parasitic because the Stone continually takes more and more from you. It is a slow process, and one that might take years to affect the strongest willed individuals, but eventually it saps your mental energy and makes you dependent on it. It is very much similar to a drug. You start off using it once and could easily stop, but you like how it feels, so you keep using it. Eventually, your body becomes dependent on it and it takes much more effort to break free. So, too, does the Resurrection Stone make you dependent on the illusion it creates until you cannot break free from it and are slowly driven insane because you want the illusion to be real even though it cannot possibly be. This illusion of real life is terrifying, but there is a potential even worse. That is the creature known as an Inferius.
An Inferius (plural: Inferi) is a corpse that has been animated by a necromancer for a single purpose. Due to the nature of the spells, a corpse like this cannot be seemingly sentient and have more than one purpose. There are ways around this; for example, many Inferi, when they were used more commonly, were given the purpose of “warrior,” which meant that the Inferius was intended to fight anything that approached it. This became problematic when the animated corpse began fighting the caster’s friends as well as its enemies. This is why they are often left in secluded places and used as “warriors” to defend an object of importance.
As an animated corpse with only a single purpose, an Inferius has no free will of its own. It can only do what it has been commanded to do and will not act out against the instructions of the person who cast the curse. However, it can move around and, in some cases, move without notice amongst people due to the purpose it was given. Though it is unconfirmed, many specialists believe that Inferi can have the ability to speak if the corpse is animated fast enough. This hypothesis assumes that the corpse is that of a person who was at an age where they were able to speak. At the present time, there is no evidence that supports a theory that the Inferius’s creator can speak through it; if the person could speak when they were alive, the Inferius made from their corpse is hypothesized to be able to speak. Therefore, you will need to be vigilant to discern whether you are talking to a real person or an Inferius.
There are two specific tells that indicate that a moving body is an Inferius. The first is that the skin will be paler than that of the average human. Many people will joke that they are “pale as a ghost,” but when there is blood coursing through a human’s veins, it is impossible to be completely pale. An Inferius, since it is not alive, has no blood flowing through its veins. Therefore the skin will be paler than normal, or even possible, for the average human. You will also be able to tell by looking into their eyes. If the eyes are white and cloudy, they are devoid of life (different from the looks you all give when you are daydreaming and devoid of life in this class).
Now, we come to the most important part of this conversation: how to defend against an Inferius. Since they have no will and no life, they feel no pain. This negates the usefulness of your typical spells that might help. In fact, your entire arsenal of spells is close to ineffective. You can use spells such as the Knockback Jinx to push them away, or the Severing Charm to cut off limbs, but neither of these will permanently hinder Inferi. They are vicious and have no concern for their own wellbeing since they are already dead. All they know is their orders and a very base, primal form of fear. Even though their life is fake, they still react instinctively to the few things that can harm them. One of the most powerful weapons against Inferi is fire. Due to the sallow nature of their skin, it is very easy to damage, which can in turn affect the rest of the corpse. The Inferius will very easily catch fire, which will cause destruction of the whole body. This is the only way to completely stop an Inferius, by causing complete destruction of the body. Because of this, low level fire spells such as the Fire-Making Charm will be moderately effective, but will act too slowly and are best used to escape, rather than to put an end to an Inferius. This is also only true if you are faced with a single Inferius; against a horde of them, the Fire-Making Charm will be virtually useless. That is why I am teaching you the Firestorm Spell. It is a spell that has a wide area of effect, depending on the amount of willpower and concentration you use, and will help you both harm and push back a horde of Inferi (as well as any other creature that fears fire).
The incantation is Inflamarae Regio (IN-flahm-ARE-eyy REE-gee-oh) and the wand movement is waving your wand in a continual clockwise circular motion over your head. You must keep the wand movement going, as well as maintain continual concentration on this spell, in order for the spell effect to keep happening. Both the required concentration and willpower are extremely high for this spell, so it should only be used when there is no other option present for you to use. It will be nearly impossible for you to cast when exhausted or when you have exerted your will to cast other spells, unless you have trained yourself well in the art of spellcasting (something I expect none of you to have done yet). When it is cast successfully, you will see a large ring of fire form around you. The wider the circle you make, the more concentration needed. As long as you keep waving your arms, you will also be able to make this spell move with you, though doing so causes the risk of the spell breaking because of a slip in your concentration. Overall, there are a lot of risks in casting this spell, so as I said, it should only be cast as a last resort.
And with that, we conclude the first half of our discussion about Dark practices. Next class, our final class together, we will cover the second half of Dark practices, with an emphasis on rituals. At this point, you should be well on your way to preparing for your N.E.W.T.s; if you are not, I hope you are not expecting high marks on these exams. Remember, the test covers content from all seven years of your education, and will demand that you not only utilize what you learn in this class, but that you draw connections from related courses that would reasonably be taken alongside this course at this level. With that, I will send you off to study and to complete the N.E.W.T. preparation assignment that will ask you to theorize logically based on next to no information. Study hard and be vigilant, my students, for soon you will not have the safety of these walls to protect you.