Excerpt from: Writings of the Learned, a Few Small Observations on Dark Creatures Moste Fowle
Honored Elders and Masters of the Arcane Lore, Lords Snafu-Frederick Underhand and Ozymandias, Curators of the Hidden Realm, Wielders of the Ancient Flame. To Naut, Master of Automation, Yashan, Coordinator of Unspeakable Affairs, and Fury-of-Chibis-Within-Realms-Beyond-the-Dark. Greetings.
The Island currently known as Azkaban, formerly the Isle of Woe, the Black Prince’s fief is the only known habitation of the overwhelmingly unstudied Dementor (Osculum Mortis, or O. Mortis). The island’s change in names, occurring during the signing of the 1689 Statute of Secrecy, was not formally acknowledged by the Crown until 1702, following the service of Paelleon, Headmaster of Hogwarts (1675-1720). Concurrently, the creation of the Linnaean taxonomy served well in the classification for multiple branches, of both thaumaturgy and mundane. Through gradual release of information, the less obvious representatives in the thaumaturgical realm have been introduced as unique members of pre-existing specimens amongst the non-magical sciences (see: Sarcophilus harrisii: A Successful Re-Introduction).
As an infamous Dark Creature, the Osculum Mortis has been in existence for a finite time, albeit how much is unknown. The first official records dates to 1066 during the conflict betwixt Normandy and East Sussex. Anselm of Canterbury described two figures as: “… dread figures, cloaked in darkness, floating o’er the [battle] field. Their hideous faces ne’er could be seen, but offered comfort to the strixen [sic], whilst bringing fear to the living.”
It is believed that Anselm encountered an O. Mortis at close range shortly after this account, and requested the King’s Mage to remove memories of that occasion (Royale Physician Chronicles, vol. 13, set 3). While this proved effective, Anselm never returned to his former personality, much as any warrior does not regain the mental condition possessed prior to great suffering.
Another notable writing comes from the noted poet, Sighvatr Sturluson, brother to the legendary Icelandic poet, Snorri. In his Geirmundr heljarskinn, the Sturlu saga, a Þáttr (the Seljumanna þáttr) added a descriptive encounter with what were probably O. Mortis. Muggle versions solely describe an unfortunate encounter with collapsing caves and utter despair, the portions recovered through tireless efforts describes: “… ragged figures, heeding no arrow nor T’waz ‘boldened steel.” It should be pointed out that T’waz, the Norse deity of courage (see Tyr, Nordic Pantheon), granted bravery in the face of danger; noteworthy in his absence in this þáttr.
Modern knowledge is aware of the effects of Osculum Mortis. Their unique thaumavorian requirements are minimal, in comparison to creatures such as dragons and unicorns. It was perhaps natural to assume O. Mortis required similar living conditions, at least at the first. It is now known differently: O. Mortis require neither shelter nor atmosphere, their mental capacity is limited to that of a large fish. However, the species also appear to retain a hive mind, similar to the Pixie family (Dryadalis minimus). Experiments before the 1317 Culling demonstrated clear connections between individual specimens transferring knowledge of individuals they encounter to other O. Mortis, such as the sad case of Harold Black (see addendum: O. Mortis deaths).
For a time, theory suggested O. Mortis conveyed sustenance through the hive mind, connecting the entire tristus. This was disproven through isolation chambers, again before the Culling. Instead, it has now been proven through careful study, which demonstrate Osculum Mortis requires the consumption of a soul. Distasteful as it appears, the soul is not merely stored within the creature, but actively passed through an unknown process. The most sensitive tests have determined O. Mortis capable of resisting extremely high-powered spell work, but lose this resistance after remaining unfed for significant periods of time. As per regimens introduced by my predecessor, one such specimen kept for five years without soul-feeding, resulting in susceptibility to a standard magical repertoire. Various cutting curses removed body parts, although the Darker curses seemed more effective. Evidence for this includes authorized use of cutting curses, area-of-effect spells, hexes and organ-effect spellcraft. Of course, the last had no impact discernible to the observers, yet its importance cannot be underestimated: given the nature of this spell. The usage conclusively proves O. Mortis lack internal organs of any type.
Earlier theories subscribe to the Divination potential in O. Mortis origins. Testing this with the cruciatus produced no vocalization, but tremors within the frame followed treatment for several days; strongly supportive of that theory. In addition, the researcher whom cast the required spells has been proscribed from Azkaban; both occasions involving his presence on the island resulted in a massive flocking of the O. Mortis tristus entirety to his location. Combining the two facts leaves little doubt as to their origin; only a soul-based entity is capable of feeling such pain, and only an artificial construct is capable of tracing an intact soul unaided. A counterargument in soul-less organisms feeling pain is easily refuted. There is a difference between pain felt by a soul-inhabited organism, and a soul-less organism. Arthropods, mammals lower than high-operating creatures (non-magical) and botanical organisms react to impulses caused by the cruciatus. Higher-level organisms like kneazles, centaurs and even giants endure far worse pain, due to proof through Divination and (Two paragraphs redacted.) But that is not the focus of this study (See Redacted.)
This leads to execution methods. As discovered in the Culling, O. Mortis is vulnerable to multiple avenues. Any magic involving Soul Magic is extremely effective; Fiendfyre in particular may consume an entire swarm in minutes. The Death Curse, Avada Kedavra, is effective, but requires the wielder to utilize several Dark Rituals well in advance in order to destroy the specimen entirely – fragments of O. Mortis are shown to reconstitute themselves if allopwed to remain intact (O. Mortis: A Life History). For this reason it is suggested that the Patronus Charm (see: Charms of the 13th Century, 5th Edition) be used to herd O. Mortis to secure facilities, whereupon they may be trapped and destroyed humanely. Their humanity is non-existant, but the souls consumed are deserving of respectful treatment (see Norse Burial-at-Sea techniques, and Phantasms of Scandinavia).
The most efficient methodology for destroying Osculum Mortis was discovered in preparation for the Culling. Seers using the (Redacted.) method identified pockets of the pestilence, guiding the largest unified efforts in known history. To date, only the Drakon horribilis and the Sanguinis Bellum have elicited a reaction quite so strongly, the descendants of which are mere shadows of what lore informs us of their ancestry. O. Mortis, however, retains its potency despite millennia of potential inbreeding (see Thaumavorian Traits, Chpt. 3, p.1762); it is easy to comprehend the difficulties inherent for control of this species. Indeed, over two hundred volunteers were inadvertent recipients of the Kiss, but their sacrifice ensured the entire population of Osculum Mortis became limited to a single location: Azkaban Island.
Studies indicate future control of the species to not be an issue, provided sufficient numbers of Patronus capable individuals are present. The aeronautical capable nature of the charm prohibits escape through flight, and a simple flames charm can be used to eradicate an overabundance of the population.
Should there be another outbreak, we remain confident in its limited range.
Head Researcher of Thaumological and Arcane Biology, Charles Levinhand
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