I vividly remember my first brush with death (in-game, of course). I was 12 years of age and the year was 2007. I had just bought my first ever dragon plateskirt and was sporting that piece of beauty like I was hot stuff. Where to go with my new acquisition? Why not these chaos tunnels I’ve been hearing about?! I go to the wilderness but young me is stupid, and he jumps into the abyss crevice rather than into the chaos tunnels. Not seeing a way out, I panic, unable to leave the outer ring. My heart rate and blood pressure rise, and in a last-ditch effort to escape the problem I… log out. Not my best move. Long story short, after anger came sadness, and eventually I logged back on to find my avatar chilling in Lumbridge in nothing but his birthday suit. I was devastated.
Flash forward to present day, where we have a much more forgiving system of death, and my present self is much less clueless when it comes to how to play the game (I think). Although almost all players have experienced “death” in Runescape, or even met the man himself, a relative minority actually know the details of what actually goes on in the world below. Lucky for you, dear reader, as we approach the end of October, you not have the chance to find out. To begin, let’s identify and go into who the main players in the underworld are: Death, Icthlarin, and to a lesser extent, Amascut.
Death, also known as the Grim Reaper, was once a human on Gielinor just as we are. His name then was Harold Esquire, and he was among the first humans to have been brought to this world by Guthix through the World Gate. His current position is due to the fact that he was the first human to die on this plane, and as is custom in this universe, the first to die is given the responsibilities of caring for all those that die thereafter. Thus, Harry’s job is truly one of the reaper. He frees souls from their recently dead bodies, as was seen in Missing, Presumed Death, and then must take them to the Grim Underworld (more on that later).
Death can’t do it alone, however, and Harold’s partner-in-crime is the jackal-headed demigod of the desert pantheon, Icthlarin (or King Itchy, if you prefer). Icthlarin is the offspring of Elidinis and Tumeken, the first two gods of the desert pantheon. Icthlarin was paired to do the rest of the underworld work alongside his sister, Amascut. Itchy’s job was to take the souls that Death reaped who wished to move to the afterlife and guide them there, where Amascut was tasked to reincarnate the souls that wished to be reborn. This went along swimmingly until the beginning of the Second Age saw the Zarosian Empire pushing into what is now the Kharidian desert, the territory Icthlarin and Amascut were largely in charge of. In order to gain new power, Itchy and Amascut left Gielinor and ended up on Freneskae where a pact was made with the Mahjarrat, promising glory in battle for them if they would fight for the Kharidian Empire. However, while on Freneskae Amascut witnessed the “power of the Mahjarrat” and began a slow descent into madness. When her mind had fully left her, she declared herself “the Devourer,” and instead of performing her old duties of rebirth, she sought to feed upon the souls of the underworld and otherwise pursue any means necessary to claim her revenge on Itchy, as she blamed him for her madness. Ever since their falling-out, Icthlarin has had his job made even harder as Amascut and her minions are around every step of the way trying to consume souls, which is why Icthlarin is now seen as the protector of souls.
Now that you know the two biggest characters involved, let’s bring it all together and look at how death works in order. As mentioned previously, when a person dies on Gielinor, their soul remains with their body until Death is able to come and cleave the two. From here, Death takes the soul to the River Noumenon (much like the River Styx) which acts as the endless river between Gielinor and its Grim Underworld. Death guides the soul as it is ferried across the river (the ferryman used to be our demon butler, if you weren’t aware) to be handed off to Icthlarin. Icthlarin is then responsible for protecting the soul and guiding it safely to the afterlife, all the while dodging creatures and pitfalls put in place by Amascut in an attempt to steal the souls Itchy is guiding.
However, these rules don’t apply to some Fremenniks, apparently. If you’ve completed Blood Runs Deep, you may recall taking a trip to a somewhat dreamy world they called the “Fremennik spiritual realm.” This realm is reserved for Fremennik warriors who die in battle, as it is believed to actually be the true underworld of Teragard, the plane of origin for humans on Gielinor. Once there, the Fremennik is greeted by Eir, who welcomes them into the afterlife of Valhalla.
So there you have it, your primer on the realm of the dead in Runescape. Hopefully you find this especially useful this month, given that the Halloween event so deeply involves the Grim Underworld. Go on, enjoy the event, and always remember that Harry and Itchy aren’t here to kill you, they’re your friends!