What? What is this? Update 23 has been dubbed the Mark of Death? Well then, I guess it time for me to dust off the old tome of Eberron lore and explore into the thirteenth dragonmark, the lost mark, the mark of death.
Much of Eberron’s lore can be linked to the mark of death, but let me start at the beginning. The mark of death appeared along side the mark of shadow on the elven island of Aerenal.
It manifested in the bloodlines of the House of Vol. Those from this house experimented with negatively charged undead. This was seen as a major taboo to the elves of Aerenal. See the elves of this nation are led by the a group called the Undying Court. This group is comprised of positively charged undead called the deathless. However, even though this was taboo, they were still tolerated. Their downfall would come later.
Time went on, and the elves entered a war with the dragons of Argonnessen. The House of Vol wished to stop this war. With the help of green dragon known as Emerald Claw, they formulated a plan to stop the fighting. They wanted to show that dragons and elves could coexist. They did this by siring a half dragon named Erandis d’Vol. Well their plan sort of worked. The elves and the dragons stopped fighting each other… long enough to wipe out pretty much the entirety of House Vol. There was one “survivor.”
See, the matriarch foresaw that their plan would back fire and took precautions. She saw to it that her daughter, Erandis, would make it through the purge of their family. To do this, she turned her own daughter into a lich. This may not be true though as there are rumors that she did it to herself, or her dragonmark somehow resurrected her.
Erandis, now known as the lich queen Vol, craves two things. First, she feels that there must be others out there that share her blood. That not all of the House of Vol was destroyed in the purge. However since house Vol was destroyed, the mark of death has not appeared on any elves…. or has it. I will get to that in a bit. Second, Vol wants revenge. Revenge against the elven people who turned on her family, and revenge for the life she did not get to live.
Erandis was not the end of the influence of Vol on the world of Eberron. In fact it was only the beginning. Soon a religion called the Blood of Vol arouse. Its basic tenents were founded by elves that had been banished from Aerenal for siding with house Vol. Many feel that this is a religion that is devoted to ones own self and what can be accomplished with their own blood. It’s higher ranking officials and a trusted few know that it is truly a cult of necromancers, undead, and dark clerics. At it’s highest levels it is run by vampires, wights, other powerful undead, and the lich queen Vol herself.
From the Blood of Vol rose the Order of the Emerald Claw. They became the elite army of Karrnath during the last war, and were fanatical followers of the Blood of Vol. With them they also brought advanced necromatic arts, and through those technics the Karrnathi undead. Also with the arrival of the Order of the Emerald Claw came the greatest secret kept in Karrnath. The king of Karrnath, Kaius III, is not who claims to be. He is Kaius I, the very king who’s failure to recognize the right of secession led to the Last War. He had been turned into a vampire in return for pledging his loyalty to the Blood of Vol. A pledge to this day he regrets.
So now that we have gone over a brief history of House Vol and the religion that was spawned from it, its time to speculate. See With the mark of death all but wiped out (Erandis has it, but can not use it’s power since she is an undead), we have absolutely no idea what the mark could have done. I doubt that Turbine would put it in the game as a dragonmark for players. So first lets go with what we know.
First) All dragonmarks have four forms. Thanks to art from “The Lost Mark” book series, we know what the four stages of the mark look like. I will explain more about that series a little later.
Above is the least (top left), lesser (top right), greater (bottom left) and Siberys (bottom right).
Second) It can be surmised that from the House of Vol’s activities that the mark of death was somehow associated with undeath.
Third) The mark can most likely only appear on elves. There is only one dragonmark that shows up on multiple races. That is the mark of finding, which manifests on humans and half-orcs.
Forth) It is very unlikely that the mark did anything destructive. Keith Baker has said that true dragonmarks are constructive and benign. Because of this, it is very unlikely that it would have hurt anyone. Baker said that it most likely would have been used to talk to the dead.
I’m going to take a second here to talk about The Lost Mark book series written by Matt Forbeck. The series is about a girl who is being hunted by the Blood of Vol because she may have manifested the lost mark. Esprë (the girl) knows very little about her family. However her mark is capable of killing, draining the life from those she touches. This makes me feel it is not the true mark of death but an aberrant mark.
So using what we do know we can make some assumptions.
First) It is very likely that what Keith Baker said about the mark allowing one to talk to the dead is very likely. In Aerenal it was considered wrong to forcibly raise the dead. Those that return as deathless seem to want to come back and guide their descendants. While raising negatively charged undead was taboo, if they had consent from the ones that they resurrected then it would make sense that they weren’t banished.
Second) It is safe to speculate that the amount of members in the house who manifested the mark was very small, or the purge was very meticulous. No one since has manifested the mark. Any leads to the mark manifesting else where have proven false.
Third) I am going to speculate that the mark is gone. The reason for this is pretty simple. Eberron has twelve moons. Each true dragonmark is associated with one of the moons. Originally, Eberron had thirteen moons. Thirteen moons, thirteen marks. I will however point out that this theory has one glaring issue. The thirteenth moon of Eberron went missing (and I do mean missing, as that is one of the mysteries of Eberron) long before the House of Vol was purged.
Past the above, what can be told about the mark of death, the House of Vol, and the return of the lost mark is pretty much up to the person running the game. What will Turbine do with it? Not a clue. We know Vol will be showing up in DDO. This makes her the third established Eberron NPC to show up in DDO. The first being Sora Katra, one of the Daughters of Sora Kell, in the Attack on Stormreach adventure pack. The second was the Lord of Blades in the Secrets of the Artificers adventure pack. She would be the fifth established npc overall, as Elminster and Lolth were introduced in the Menace of the Underdark expansion. I know one thing. I hope to get a character up high enough to get to encounter her.