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This question contains spoilers from various books in the series.

In order for a death curse to have a long lasting effect, it has to be anchored to something. For example

Margaret LeFay had to anchor her spell to Harry via their blood relation to prevent Lord Raith from ever feeding again.

On the other hand, Quintus Cassius seems to have cast a long lasting death curse on Harry by cursing him to "Die alone". What did he anchor his spell to?

Has the spell been abated due to the fact that:

Harry (mostly) died in Ghost Story?

Finally,

Would Harry have been able to get a free death curse onto someone, such as Nicodemus had he had the foresight to set one up?

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    ... I thought it was implied that Cassius anchored his spell to Harry himself, but it's a really interesting question whether it was fulfilled as you described. – rsegal Apr 29 '14 at 17:20
  • @rsegal I was sure I read in the book that you needed a blood relation to do something like that? Otherwise why would the first case not just be anchored to the target? – z - Apr 29 '14 at 17:24
  • How about the werewolf curse from early in the series? That one wasn't applied to the caster's bloodline, iirc. – rsegal Apr 29 '14 at 17:26
  • The implication I got is that the Death Curse you mention first wasn't simply to affect the man who tries to end it, but also to provide the magical linkage between the characters it was anchored to, of her bloodline. The curse had one major effect, but also permitted the discussions that occurred during the soulgaze. – Jeff Jun 20 '14 at 14:33
  • @rsegal The werewolf curse was applied to the bloodline. – Verdan Aug 1 '18 at 14:58
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All energy setting up a death curse has to come from a living being, burns every last bit of energy that living being has out. The sacrifice of a life greatly powers the spell and can enable it great power, but typically in one big burst. Forethought and planning can structure the spell to do anything you want it to, so long as you can preserve the enchantment.

(marking spoilers for Changes and past)

For Quintis Cassius death curse, it wasn't having a continuing effect on Harry, just a delayed one. It would take very little energy for it to last for as long as it did, because it wasn't doing anything up until point of death (and in some arguments, not much even then). Even if that sustaining required more energy than Quintis life had put into it, it could leech from Harry, who couldn't defend against it latching on at the time. For Maggie Le Fay's curse, it was constantly keeping up the "starving" effect on the White King, or at least would have had to engage every time he tried to feed. That type of long term cursing wouldn't be able to sustain itself without help. She might've been able to use the King himself as a source, but because he'd already set up his magical immunities at this point that was out. Thus tying it to her bloodline, siphoning small amounts of energy over time to sustain itself.

For the second part of your question, Jim Butcher has gone on record and stated that

Quintis' curse has fired with Harry's death in Changes, as suggested by Harry hearing his voice over and over. The spell recognized it's opportunity and timeliness, and fired what energy it had left. There's no longer anything active to worry about there.

For the third part, setting up a "free" death curse is unlikely. The energy for the spell has to come from your life energy. If all of your life energy goes into a death curse, there isn't likely to be anything left for your ghost or spirit to build itself around.

Harry's "resurrection" consisted entirely of life support until his spirit was shunted back in, and that was the important part. Harry using a death curse would have destroyed him utterly before they ever got the chance to pull something like that.

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Given that Harry has, at one point,

committed suicide in order to team up with his own ghost

I think that it's possible that, given sufficiently powerful magic available to revive him, he could cast a death curse and then be revived. However, I speculate that in terms of raw energy, it would be more efficient to just use that power that could fuel the revival spell as a weapon in its own right.

As to your question about Cassius's curse, I don't think there's a clear answer. It really depends on the exact rules of magic and

how "dead" Harry actually was after being shot.

However, as a number of supernatural characters have complained, mortals have a very binary understanding of life and death, where even mortal capabilities (never mind magic) seem to blur the line significantly. It seems to me that it would need Jim Butcher's explicit commentary to resolve.

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  • Harry didn't really commit suicide, he just didn't resist his murder. He also specifically didn't use his Death Curse while dying, so he could be revived through conventional means (CPR). – Jeff Jun 20 '14 at 14:31
  • "Sufficiently powerful magic" would have to be the likes of which we haven't seen. The only revival in the series involved 2 immensely powerful beings and one powerful one with "inside access" so to speak. Only the angels might qualify, and they will never counteract the consequences of a choice. A death curse is very easily that choice. – Radhil Jan 17 '15 at 16:10
  • I agree: this path isn't as efficient. However, it is very likely possible, which is what the question is asking. – rsegal Jan 17 '15 at 17:14
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I don't have a reference for it, but I believe a death curse is just a very powerful spell cast using blood magic powered by the wizard's own death.

So technically Black Magic but the Council is hardly in a position to stop it.

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  • I doubt it's a violation of the Laws of Magic (unless it's used to kill someone). A Death Curse is just putting everything into a single spell. If it were a violation of the Laws, I doubt the Council would have so thoroughly instructed all their members about it. – Jeff Jun 20 '14 at 14:28
  • The First Law bars killing with magic. A death curse is a death, but a self-sacrifice. It's a grey distinction, but an important one. – Radhil Jan 17 '15 at 16:06

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