As a modern necromancer, I am a creature of balance.
On a personal level, this understanding leads to an acceptance that my physical shell must be maintained through the sacrifice of others. As such, it is not uncommon to hear me thank the spirit of the herd animal whose meat I am about to consume for their sacrifice, or the trees for their fruit.
But such altruism is not universal.
Indeed, there are other survival methods available when your back is against the cemetery wall. Far darker ones. It is when the magickian needs to recharge their energy levels or repair a damaged bioelectric field that the more ghoulish side of the art comes into play.
Taboo perhaps, but undeniably effective.
This does not actually involve digging up graves to feed on their contents. The consumption of corpses in a physical sense is pointless. Carrion has little nutritional value, nor would the bacterial changes occurring within that foul smelling hunk of meat do the necromancer any favours either.
No, becoming ghoul is instead a more subtle art than outright necrophagy, and one that has the added benefit of being equally effective when conducted among the living or the dead.
One of the lesser discussed aspects of the necromantic arts revolves around a recognition, and indeed skilled manipulation, of life force in all its forms.
Modern science argues that energy cannot be created or destroyed, simply moved or transmuted. Necromancers seem to universally agree that this is true, and through dedicated ritual can be absorbed or directed through non-physical means.
As with much in the mystical sphere, visualization is key to success here, as well as the ability to scan the bioelectric field for weakness. These locations will tingle significantly less than the rest of the aura, and may feel dead or cold to the touch too.
Sites of physical damage or disease will be guaranteed to show these signs, and while ghoulish feeding to strengthen those areas will indeed improve the energy flow around them, actual medical attention should always be sought should the situation require it.
Most necromancers, while fascinated by anatomy and the mechanical workings of the physical shell also cede their authority to those who are specialists in repairing it.
To become ghoul is to simply shore up its bioelectric batteries long enough to catch a breath, and never a cure in and of itself.
The easiest feeding exercise involves the death current and only requires a few hours to complete.
While many in the ghost hunting community would argue that there are very few spirits drifting between the tombstones in their local cemetery, this is actually untrue.
That said, it is more the subtle essence of death that is required for this type of feeding. So there is nothing to be gained by attempting to chase ghosts around a graveyard with a knife and fork.
The necromancer simply finds a quiet, shady place among a group of older tombstones and sits in still contemplation as they get a feel for the energy of the place.
After a few minutes, the magickian visualizes their bioelectric field extending shadow black tendrils from the length of the spine down into the soil. They then begin to imagine these drawing up the cool, dead essence of the cemetery itself, as well as any lingering astral fragments of the interred corpses too.
These apply to the damaged areas of the chaote's aura, or used for a more general recharge.
The best thing about this first example of feeding is how innocent it at appears to the uninitiated. Few would question why the magickian is sitting in the shade, sandwich in hand, just letting the world pass them by.
Necromancy is culturally taboo, and as such it is best not to attract any undue attention while conducting a ritual in public.
Of course, this is doubly true if the intended victims are still alive, as in the following examples.
Many a chaote has soaked up energy in public without realizing that they are working within the wider necromantic paradigm when doing so. This is usually during concerts or on crowded dancefloors, essentially anywhere that other people are in a heightened physical or mental state.
With all of those arcs of sparking bioelectricity filling the air around the magickian, it is as simple as willing their own body to absorb the stray strands of human essence.
Imagining the necromancer's stomach as a vastly powerful swirl of black teeth from which nothing can escape will also help.
A darker variation on this passive form of feeding can be performed in crowded areas that usually have a much more muted atmosphere, such as subway stations or museums.
It is accomplished via another thought exercise involving black, insectoid and multi-articulated limbs sprouting from the chaote's shoulders, tasked with sliding their needle-like way into the auric field of those who would be earmarked as potential meals and returning the food back to the voracious stomach maw once done.
Of course, these methods are fluid.
The actual form that the necromancer visualizes when accomplishing the above actions is open for interpretation, and as long as they are comfortable doing so in public without drawing undue attention to themselves, then neither tendrils nor teeth are necessary.
Yes, there are massive ethical concerns when choosing to embark on such an attack, even in desperation.
But an outwardly healthy bioelectric field can afford to bleed away a few droplets of energy, and as long as the magickian does not spend too long assaulting a single victim, there is very little chance of causing any actual harm.
Necromancy is a path of balance.
Ultimately, the decision to hurt or heal is left up to the individual, and personal choice will decide whether it is a man or a ghoul that you see in the mirror once all is said and done.
Follow Gavin on Twitter @GFAuthor.