Cursed immortals trapped in decaying bodies, the Summoners of Clan Melchahim have delved into forbidden lore in their attempts to save themselves. Flesh-sculptors graft material from unwilling sacrifices to their own bodies to cover their putrescence, while soul-wrights call on the powers of the Underworld to fuel their battlefield sorceries of destruction, protection, and summoning.
Last of Kain’s lieutenants to be raised, and the weakest: Melchiah was an immortal cursed with a body that was nonetheless decaying; he was an immortal forever destined to be treated as inferior by his brethren. While Melchiah flayed human victims and used their skins to cover his putrescence, to him the ability to reformulate his body was a unique gift that in time could make his Clan the most powerful as well as the most numerous. For now he hid his festering resentment behind a mask of civility and unquestioning service to the Vampire cause. To do anything else would be to invite his humiliation or destruction - Kain was an unforgiving god.
From their patriarch, the Melchahim inherited the same outward weaknesses and secret potential. While in them it was still a latency into which they had yet to grow, all were filled with mingled dread and excitement about the fate that awaited them. Vain - and jealous of the beauty of the Razielim especially - the Melchahim experimented with any number of ways to strengthen their bodies and hold off the underlying decay. Scientists and alchemists laboured over strange concoctions which they force-fed or transfused into human slaves. Hundreds were sacrificed, hideously disfigured or poisoned from within, but as long as the Melchahim used only the old or sickly, this wastage was tolerated.
While some Melchahim researchers muttered resentfully among themselves, sure that if they had better stock on which to experiment they would have greater success, others felt that this was a distraction from the true answer to their plight. There was a secret that Melchiah shared with a few of his most trusted counsellors and generals, and at his command they began a new line of study: the path of necromancy.
Unbeknownst to his brothers, Melchiah had delved deeper than any other into the mysteries of the Underworld, an arid realm parallel to the one they all inhabited and populated by the lost souls of the dead. Melchiah’s researches were focused initially on trying to halt and ultimately reverse the decay which was the bane of his existence. Speaking with the dead, manipulating souls, and siphoning their life energy were all avenues of exploration for Melchiah and his chosen helpers, and while they had little success in reversing their own condition, the necromancers did discover a wealth of other mysterious arcane lore about what they came to call the Dry Lands.
When Raziel was ordered cast into the Abyss, Melchiah watched without visible emotion, but internally his joy was boundless. His upstart brother, preening and proud, was here laid low before them all, his fate that of any other traitor to their lord. Melchiah renewed his silent vow to never make the mistake of angering Kain in the same fashion… only for Kain himself to suddenly vanish without warning.
With each Lieutenant left to his own devices, each now eyed his brethren with mounting suspicion. Melchiah, fearful of his stronger siblings, returned to his experiments with a renewed urgency and lack of restraint. Even members of his own Clan were sacrificed and cannibalized in hidden necromantic laboratories as his researchers delved deeper into practices they had previously feared to pursue. Flesh-sculptors started grafting not just skin but whole body parts onto subjects, paving the way for Melchiah to start reshaping his own form. Soul-wrights discovered new ways to fuel their sorceries of destruction, protection, and summoning.
The true extent of these depravities the Melchahim managed to keep secret from the other Clans, but the results were to become evident when the plots and squabbles between them erupted into open warfare. Those of his brothers who thought that the youngest Clan would be easy prey found themselves unpleasantly surprised, with their first brutal assaults and stealthy infiltrations alike slowed or thwarted by the Summoners’ previously unseen capabilities.
The Underworld has its own ecology, with the souls of the dead feeding on each other. Some particularly malicious souls fuse into new entities that prey on lesser souls or are in turn hunted by older, larger carnivores. Some like the scavenging vermin known as Sluagh or the predatory Archons are only found in the land of the dead, while others like the restless Shades can be found in both realms. During the centuries of relative stability Kain’s victorious empire had brought to their existence, comparatively few Vampires had perished. Now, as the civil war raged on, a fresh crop of Vampire souls was released into the Dry Lands. In their search for ways to maintain their edge, the Melchahim made use of this new resource, gathering the souls of dead Vampires of their own Clan and melding them with lesser souls into a new breed of hunter, twisted and ravenous creatures the Summoners named Ghouls. While permanently resurrecting a necromantic construct was beyond their capabilities, the Melchahim were able to briefly weaken the barriers between the worlds and let Ghouls – the packs of Stalkers, hulking Slayers and cannibalistic Devourers - through to feast.
The transition from fighting their own kind to fighting Humans made little difference to the Summoners of the Melchahim – the souls of both sides were all fuel for their necromancy. Melchiah was quietly satisfied that his Clan had survived at least one threat to their future survival, and while having to commit his resources to the war with the humans was an annoyance, at least it distracted his brethren from prying more closely into his private affairs.
Now, powered by stolen souls and allied with creatures from the realm of the dead, the elite Summoners of Clan Melchahim stalk the battlefields of Nosgoth again