Canopus Character in Nys | World Anvil


Canopus is the name by which the Undead leader, the Archlich, presents himself. His people regard him as a god and gave him several titles to call it by to show proper respect.   He is a reclusive scholar, who has resided in the Frozen Cathedral for immemorial time. He claims to have witnessed the Second Era began.   He is a mage, spends his time studying more magic and uncovering the secrets of the cosmos, especially those regarding the Abyss, its origin and goals.   Though nemesis and sworn enemy of the Moon Goddess, he wants to destroy the Abyss as much as she.   He tied his soul to a mysterious object with a magical seal to achieve immortality. Every time he dies, his soul is reborn into his body, intact. Canopus suffers a unique form of demonic taint, and many, especially among Moon Church scholars, believe it's related to his immortality.   Author's note
Readers could recognise in his name a reference to the Egyptian canopic jars. Undead people, and Nysian in general, do not speak English and do not know what Egypt is. Draw your conclusions accordingly, if any.

Physical Description

Apparel & Accessories

As every other undead, Canopus' body is hidden behind his clothes. In particular, he wears a wide, tall red cloak above everything else to also hide his clothing.   Someone believes there is nothing below that: the archlich would be a pure spirit without a body, the price to pay for immortality. The fact that he does not change his mask or cloak seems to further validate the thesis.   Most undead reject this idea as an absurdity. They answer pointing out those are clearly his public clothes, and reminding that many saw him pick up and move objects, mostly books from his library. Although it is possible to move items with magic, it would cost a considerable amount of energy. A counterargument is that no one has ever seen him pick up an item, only books disappearing under his cloak.   Since most undead agree on his physical presence and scholars of the church believe the contrary, there is not much room for civil discussions though.  

Mental characteristics

Personal history

Not much is known about his history, and he does not want to share. He becomes cryptical when asked about his origins, his relationship with the Moon Goddess, the Frozen Cathedral, the undead rebirth process, the second era, and several other relevant topics.   What is clear is that Canopus has inhabited the ancient ruins of the Frozen Cathedral for at least most of the Second Era. He never denied being there before but never confirmed either. Some believe he is one of the gods who lived during the forgotten first era, unable to stop the Abyss from expanding over Nys, but it is speculation.   He slumbered during the Second Era and awoke after the kradd lowered.   He now welcomes Cosmos Wayfarers in his library in the Cathedral and talks to them, waiting for some ancient unknown prophecy to come true.  


Canopus is probably the most educated and savant person on Nys. He knows about everything and seems no knowledge can elude his wit, as much hidden as it can be. He claims to have collected nearly every book ever existed in his library inside the Frozen Cathedral. He would often buy rare books from merchants or nobles and sometimes even pay wayfarers to fetch some for him.   A vast portion of this knowledge is publicly available to whoever enters the upper part of the Cathedral, but another amount, possibly larger, is stored somewhere in the dungeons below, never to be seen again. He makes no mysteries about his secret stash.  


Author's note
You may want to read about the undead sacred cycle first, in the Undead People article.
  Many different version about how exactly his immortality works circulate. Not even the cause-effect order with the magical seal and the sacred cycle is clear. Someone claims his immortality laid the foundation and origin for the undeath cycle, while others think he found a way of manipulating the cycle with his extraordinary education.   What's apparent is that his death and rebirth leads the cycle now.   After a variable amount of time from the beginning of the current cycle, Canopus rings the Cathedral's bells. They echo through the land, announcing it is time for him to die again. A form of abyssal corruption, a condition similar to demonic taint, rots his heart. He loses his mind and refuses to die.   Heroes, often Cosmos Wayfarers, come from all over Nys to challenge him and put him to rest. When one of them succeeds, the mad king dies, and the bells ring again. From the Cathedral's depth, the Archlich rises reborn, pure of heart and uncorrupted, and a new cycle begins.   Many believe the taint is a consequence of his immortality and the reason behind the Moon Goddess aggressive policy against him and the undead in general.   Nobody knows whether a method to kill Canopus once and for all exists. Many among the Moon's acolytes believe it does. The undead, and all those thinking he is an ancient god from the first era, maybe even more powerful than the Goddess, strongly disagree.  


His primary declared goal is to defeat the Abyss, his secondary to prevail on the Moon Goddess.   At a first glance, the hostility between Undead and the Church is understandable. The former have an obscure origin, possibly tied to chaotic energies and their leader becomes corrupted once every few years, at the point that someone must risk their lives to kill him.   However, they have the same goal: to defeat the Abyss. This should be enough, as many people noticed, to make them allies at least for a while, for instance, to investigate in the Dark Lands, or to find a way to definitely destroy their common enemy. The sheer knowledge of the Archlich could be enough, when shared with the Moon Goddess, to have plenty of information.   Many advanced the hypothesis that there is a much deeper controversy going on between them, something worse than the common statement "Undead could be of abyssal origin". However, this is only speculation.  



Nemesis (Vital)

Towards Moon Goddess


Moon Goddess

Nemesis (Vital)

Towards Canopus


Current Location
Honorary & Occupational Titles
First of the Dead
The Ever-Reborn
King of the Undead
The Reclusive Scholar
Red Cloak
Known Languages
Apparently every language in existence

Articles under Canopus

Cover image: Nys Logo by Fabrizio Fioretti
Character Portrait image: Archlich by Fabrizio Fioretti
This article has no secrets.


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