The Magisters of the Amethyst Order embrace the Purple Wind of Shyish, practicing Cessationary Thaumaturgy. This term was adopted in the Articles of Imperial Magic specifically because using the term “Necromancy” would have been ill advised and somewhat inaccurate.
Symbols & Appearances
The Scythe, the Hour Glass, the Amethyst Skull, the Thorny Rose.
The Amethyst College bears the Scythe as their symbol, for their business with the Wind of Shyish, and the grim aspect of death, hangs heavy about them. To be a practitioner of Death Magic is a weighty burden, for an Amethyst Wizard will never be entirely trusted by those around him. The suspicious dread is only fuelled by the silent and sombre nature of Amethyst Wizards, who prefer to communicate with one another through means of telepathy, rather than speech, and whose little-used voices therefore have the dusty tones more suited to the long dead rather than the living. Even other wizards, whose own oddities and habits are nothing short of peculiar to outsiders--find something eminently distasteful about the morbid obsessions of Amethyst Wizards.[2a]
For this reason, the Scythe is always portrayed as a scythe inverted, to represent a heavy burden propped against the ground. Occasionally, an Amethyst Wizard will carve a tomb with a pair of overlaid and reversed Shyish runes. Only a fool enters such a place, for this symbol warns of great evil slumbering therein and acts as a ward against its escape.[2a]
The colour of the robes worn by Amethyst Magisters is deepest purple, though many wear jet-black. Magisters of this Order often carry a razor-sharp scythe instead of a staff, yet this scythe is not of the unwieldy variety used for harvesting wheat, but is instead an elegant object designed for combat and as a symbol of the Magister’s Order. The belts of Shyish’s Magisters are often hung about with bleached Human bones that symbolise the transience of life. These bones are often carved with occult runes and the various emblems of their Order, like the hourglass and the thorny rose; symbols by which the people recognize them.
Regardless of how they looked when they joined the Order, the austerity of life at the Amethyst Order and the hours of study assure that all initiates become lean and pale before very long. All members of the Amethyst Order and its associated Order are clean-shaven from their scalps to their toes—they are as hairless as bleached skeletons.
The Amethyst Order is among the most introverted of the Orders of Magic. After the Shadowmancers, the Brethren of Shyish is the most successfully secretive organisation in the Empire. This serves to increase the public’s already considerable fear of Shyish’s Magisters.
No other College can match the austerity, asceticism, and discipline of Shyish’s Magisters, not even the Hierophants of the Order of Light. As Teclis impressed upon the first Magisters of this Order three centuries ago, their magic rests upon the line most easily crossed by short-lived Humans, a line that once crossed can only lead to darkness, suffering, and misery. The Brethren of Shyish (as they call themselves) hold the power of life and death in their hands. With a gesture they can squeeze a man’s heart inside his chest so that he dies of seemingly natural causes, or they can delay his death almost indefinitely. They can cause a man to wither and die in a matter of moments, and the greatest of them can even steal his soul and lock it away if they so please.
The most experienced Magisters of Shyish become minor avatars of the magical paradigm that they have embraced and so have no fear of endings and are completely fearless of growing old or dying. To the young and new Magisters of the Amethyst Order after the Great War, Teclis stressed the level of caution and responsibility with which they must practice their magic. The more they would learn about the nature of death, the greater the control Shyish will grant them over it and the greater will be their temptation as shortlived Humans to delay or even escape their own inevitable end. As with any of the strands of Magic, embracing Shyish over a long period of time can extend a Magister’s life considerably (in fact especially with Shyish), but still the temptation to turn to the Black Art of Necromancy, intentionally or otherwise, is a distinct one for more inexperienced Magisters of Shyish. So it was, and is, that the Amethyst Order is utterly ruthless towards any initiates who draw upon Dark or Black Magic. Whether they are corrupted or not by their action, they will be expelled from the Order as soon as their actions come to light, and then they will be obliterated so that not even dust remains.
Along with their extremely careful selection process for initiates and constant indoctrination and supervision of apprentices, it is very rare for a serving Amethyst Magister to go renegade. Four times in the last two centuries the Lord Magisters of the Order have banded together to hunt down and kill one of their colleagues. When these hunts were conducted they were done so in utter secrecy. No one knew or suspected what had happened; not the witch hunters and not even the Shadowmancers of the Grey Order. Each time one of their Order turned traitor, the Lord Magisters of Shyish have pursued and persecuted them with unparalleled relentlessness and absolute intolerance. They covered all traces of the traitor’s crimes, destroying his works and eradicating all memory of him. Robbed graves were filled and buried before anyone could notice, mysterious deaths were blamed upon natural causes or common footpads, and the sudden death of houseplants, ivy and even moss across whole city quarters were blamed upon early frosts or some unknown parasite.
Whether the chase took days or years, none have escaped the combined wrath of the Lord Magisters of the Lore of Death.
Yet these measures are only fitting to the crimes they are designed to combat. Renegades from the Order of Shyish can become powerful in the arts of necromancy. Although spiritual corruption seems to represent the most obvious threat of Shyish’s Magisters to those outside the Order, the greatest threat from the Magisters of the Amethyst Order comes from the threat of morbidity and madness. While the Magisters of many Colleges have their eccentricities, the madness of an Amethyst Magister is a truly terrible thing—and a more likely occurrence than moral or ideological corruption of an Amethyst Magister.
Though he is unsure and cannot prove anything, Magister Patriarch Reiner Starke of the Order of Shadows believes that the massive defensive counter strike from the Bright Order that destroyed the area around the Bright Order eighty years ago might in fact have been initiated by magic wielded in a confrontation between a deranged Amethyst Magister and the Lords of his Order. Whether this can be proven or not is not Starke’s interest, and besides, he would never speak his suspicions even if they could be proven. The Bright Order is proud and combative, and he suspects that the Order of Shyish is more deadly than even the Magisters of the other Colleges expect. He will do nothing to risk prompting a war amongst the Colleges. Altdorf would certainly not survive it.
Duties & Contracts
The Amethyst Order is expected only to garner Imperial armies with battle Magisters as and when the need arises. Local authorities and very wealthy families who live and operate around the land once known as Sylvania in north-eastern Stirland often seek to employ Shyish’s Magisters. Such is the malignancy of that dying and warp-dust saturated land that many people believe the dead rest uneasily in their graves there, and Vampires are said to stalk the night. True or not, the skills of the Amethyst Order are highly valued by the desperate, the paranoid, and the terrified, and the Magisters view it as their sacred duty to undo all the works of necromancy and dark magic.
The Amethyst College
The Amethyst College is the seat of those Magisters who study the Lore of Death, and it fully looks the part. The building stands overlooking the vast and supposedly haunted cemetery of Old Altdorf, where, in the time of the Red Plague, thousands were buried with more concern for haste than ceremony. The main temple of Morr in Altdorf is only a few streets away and the area around the two institutions is filled with establishments of a solemn nature, such as undertakers, masons, and lawyers. There are very few homes, as not many people are willing to live in such depressing and ill-omened area; not even the poor and homeless. Those who do live here tend to be somewhat eccentric, but rest assured no practitioner of necromancy would be so foolish as to live this close to two concentrations of his most relentless and dangerous foes.[1e]
The College itself is built from dark stone in an elaborate gothic style that speaks of an earlier age. Windows and doorways are topped with pointed arches, many windows are tall and narrow, and statues stand in niches scattered across the face of the building, while gargoyles brood at the eaves of steeply pitched roofs. Numerous narrow towers rise from the bulk of the building, each one ending in a steeply pointed spire, which is home to hundreds if not thousands of bats. Every day at sunset these creatures pour from the College, looking like living smoke against the red of the setting sun.[1e]
The bats are about the only sign of life. People are rarely seen entering or leaving the College building, and there are those in Altdorf who swear that they spent a whole day watching the College without seeing a living soul. Even at night, lights are hardly ever seen within the building, although reports of pale, ghostly glows apparently moving from one tower to another without descending the stairs are common.[1e]
The entrance to the Amethyst Order always stands open, a stone portal with one pale grey pillar and one black pillar, and a lintel carved with the symbols of the College, with an hourglass in the centre, flanked by deep amethyst skulls, and thorny roses twining around the whole. A scythe is carved into each of the upright pillars. While the doorway is not an exact copy of the tomb portals at found around the temples of Morr, it is close enough to remind most Old Worlders of death and mortality.[1e]
While most people stay away from the College, the open door is an irresistible temptation for some, so it is not impossible to find people who claim to have been inside, especially amongst more adventurous street urchins. Those who report their experiences all tell very similar stories. The air inside the College building is dry, dusty, and still, with a slight hint of myrrh. There is no scent of rot, and the smell of the city is left far behind as soon as you pass through the door. There are many dark corridors, hung in black and deep purple draperies, where the dust lies thick on the floor, to be stirred into choking clouds by the feet of the intruders. Doors lead off from it, but all lead into empty rooms, where dark, heavy furniture stands abandoned, wreathed in cobwebs. While the explorers occasionally find the shrivelled corpses of spiders, rats, bats, and other vermin, they never see anything alive.[1e][1f]
The College looks as though it has been abandoned for years. The whole place is mantled in an eerie silence, and even those explorers brave enough to shout have found that their voices sounded muffled, and seemed to be swallowed up by the building. Small shrines to Morr, in his role as god of death, stand against many walls in most rooms, and this unnerves visitors more than anything else. The longer people stay within the College the greater their feeling of dread becomes, until finally they leave, usually at a run.[1f]
A few tell a different story. After wandering for a while, they turned a corner to be confronted by a Magister dressed in purple robes and bearing a scythe. The few who tell this story all started their training with the Brethren the very next day and are all now Amethyst Magisters themselves.[1f]
Those who are invited to the College, or are delivering messages, know to wait outside. There is a large tarnished brass bell by the door and if it is struck a cowled steward will emerge from the shadows within. Those bearing messages must entrust them to the steward, who will see them delivered. Those with business with a Magister must wait while he is brought. The steward never steps beyond the threshold of the College. If impatient visitors push past him, he vanishes as they step inside and they find themselves in the abandoned building described above. Those who remain outside see their companion disappear into the shadows, but the steward remains visible. Only initiates to the Amethyst Order can enter the College proper without aid, and they can bring guests with them. This takes no effort, although they can choose to enter the deserted version of their College if they wish. The College proper does not, at first glance, look much different from the shell accessible to most. The halls are dark, the draperies are black and purple, and there is a thin layer of dust across the floor. However, the centre of the corridors is kept free from dust and cobwebs by the passage of many feet.[1f]
The most important difference, of course, is that the Amethyst Magisters are present. It is still rare to meet them in the corridors and the doors to most rooms are closed, often locked. Deeper in the building, both up and down winding staircases, are the private cells of the Magisters. Located deep within the building are libraries, studies, and contemplation rooms. While the true College is quiet, it does not have the eerie silence of the enchanted shell College, and the small shrines to Morr, which still exist, are obviously tended, though the Magisters display no other signs of specific devotion to the God and nor do they openly worship him.[1f]
The decor of a private room within the College is decided by the Magister who lives there. While dark colours and the symbols of the College are a common choice, virtually all rooms also house a living plant or an animal of some sort. Although plants are the more common, pet rats, crows, ravens, rooks, and cats are not unheard of. On the whole, the Magisters prefer to remind themselves of the vigour of life, lest they forget what they fight for and fall to the path of necromancy.[1f]
The main reason to visit the College is to speak with one of the resident Magisters. The Amethyst Order is large enough to provide rooms for all journeymen, as well as those of higher rank. Many Magisters of the Order choose to live at the College permanently, as other neighbours tend not to be welcoming. The shell College is also occasionally used for clandestine meetings. The chances of being overheard by anyone apart from the Magisters are negligible, and the Magisters rarely care about such things. If a group made a habit of meeting there, however, the Magisters would take action to drive them out; they want the College to retain its frightening aura.[1f]
Amethyst Magisters accept few Apprentices, and those wishing to learn Amethyst magic must pass stringent tests and make serious vows.
The Amethyst Order expects Apprentices to hand over all their worldly wealth and possessions upon joining the Order, including all rights to any future inheritance, at the time of entry into the College. In some circumstances a new member may be allowed to keep certain possessions, but this is very rare as the College instills in its apprentices the idea that joining the Amethyst Order is, like death itself, a passage from an old life that must now be cast away and forgotten.
There are an inordinate number of ex-seminarians from the priesthood of Morr who have joined the Amethyst Order. It is not that uncommon among those who feel drawn to serve Morr that they may in fact have a particular sensitivity to the Purple Wind of Magic. When this happens, the would-be priests often see its churning energies descend upon their services and rituals, a process that priests lacking witchsight cannot, or do not wish to, explain. Those that manifest signs of power not bestowed upon them by their god directly through prayer and ritual are deemed either to be cursed or unsuitable candidates for Morr’s priesthood. Such rejected and disenchanted individuals often find themselves drawn to the sepulchre building of the Amethyst Order. If they heed this call, they are set upon an inevitable path that can rarely, if ever, be deviated from.
The teaching methods are apprentice-based, but other than this nothing is known of the internal workings of the Order’s system of education.
- Viggo Hexensohn - Magister Patriarch of the Order of Shyish.
- Gabrielle Marsner - Master Wizard still within her early twenties.
- Heinz Liebermann - former Magister Patriarch of the Order of Shyish, murdered by the Cult of the Broken Wheel.
- Elspeth von Draken - "The Dark Lady of Nuln", Magisterix and arch-wizard of the Order of Shyish.
- Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Realms of Sorcery (pg. 110-114).
- 2: Warhammer Fantasy: Storm of Magic
- 2a: pg. 41