The simplest of relationships between spirit and human, in which a spirit lends a human some of his power, and the human develops it by using it for his own agenda. The human’s death means that his spark returns to the spirit that gave it to him. The spirit makes a profit in magic because the human probably increased his magical power over his lifetime through training and experience. It is a win-win situation.
A pact is a ritual to gain a substantial amount of power from a spirit. A pact is made during a ritual that requires a lot of preparation and concentration, in which one spills one’s blood to create a physical body for the spirit you are pacting with to inhabit.
The mortal who desires to make a pact first has to reach out to the spirit world, either through the aid of a magic user, a magic item or a potion. Then they must gain the interest of nearby spirits and communicate with them. A small “Interview” is made with the potential spirits, to determine their element, personality, power and desires. Once a spirit has been decided on, the mortal will barter with it to settle the terms of the pact. The mortal will usually bargain to receive as much of the spirit’s power as possible, while the spirit will usually request a physical vessel to be created for it out of the mortal’s blood. This vessel is referred to as a familiar and usually takes the shape of a small animal like a cat, lizard, or crow. Sometimes the nature of the familiar and its creation will be different, and sometimes the spirit will have a completely different request. Once the terms has been agreed on by both parties, the spirit will magically seal the pact. The spirit will then enter the mortal and the mortal will create the familiar, whereupon the spirit will transfer into it.
Once the pact is complete, the spirit will begin to share its knowledge and teach the mortal how to use its powers. There is no end to this teaching as whenever the mortal wants to learn a new spell or enchantment, they must look to the spirit for guidance.
A pact mentally links the spirit with the mortal and so they can communicate in thoughts or block the other out if they wish.
Multiple pacts of one spirit to several mortals can happen but since they divide the spirit’s power into several pieces, only the most powerful spirits can sustain it. If a spirit does commit to several pacts it is unlikely to desire a familiar and instead has some other demand from the mortal.
Multiple pacts of one mortal to several spirits is practically unheard of as it puts a lot of strain on the mortal’s body and if the mortal dies while several pacts are in effect the spirits will all die and a new one will be born by the sum of their power.
A binding is different from a pact as the entire spirit is contained within one vessel, which grants complete access to all of the spirit’s power. This makes the life of the vessel completely linked to the life of the spirit and is thus considered taboo. Since the spirit is likely to resent the one who bound them, it will not share its knowledge and thus the binder must learn to control the powers entirely on his own. The strain of keeping the spirit contained takes a toll on the binder’s body, causing a reduced life span and other health complications. The practice of binding is secret and the methods are unknown to most users of pacts.
A binding is characterized by the constant struggle between vessel and spirit. The spirit will try to mentally dominate the mortal and seize control of the body. If that occurs, the body will warp into something between a human and the spirit’s spirit world shape. This being is called a Chimaera.
On the other hand, if the binder and the spirit somehow manage to reach an “understanding”, sometimes they’re able to synchronize and the binder goes through a sort of temporary metamorphosis, taking on the spirit’s traits and greatly augmented control of his powers.
As binding is veiled in secrecy many different methods have been developed independent of each other, these include:
False pact: A spirit is approached in the same manner as one would initiate a pact ritual. But once the spirit has entered the vessel, a familiar is not made. Instead the vessel covers himself in runic tattoos of the natural weakness of the spirit’s element. This weakens the spirit enough to lock them inside the vessel.
Supremacy duel: Through a complex ritual, the prospective binder summons a spirit and forces it to manifest in physical form through an effigy specific to each spirit. The binder then duels the spirit until he has forced it into submission, at which point he coerces it into his own body and locks it inside through the use of runic tattoos.
Item infusion. Through the use of a vessel, a spirit is grasped from the spirit realm and forced into an item with the runes of the spirit’s weakness on its surface, most commonly a weapon. Unless the item has been crafted with magical means to accommodate for it, the spirit’s mind is killed immediately upon entry, and thus the power of an infused item is limited. Usually very weak spirits are captured for this purpose.
Many variations of the above exist, as well as even more exotic binding methods. Runic tattoos are frequently used to limit the spirit’s power upon the initial binding, with some binders later adding strengthening tattoos to unlock more power as their confidence in their abilities grows, which obviously presents the risk of making it easier for the spirit to escape.
It is possible for humans to entirely consume spirits, not just bind them, becoming magical creatures. This is a very rare occurrence, and can be extremely harmful to the human. This can cause the human to become grotesque, each spirit it consumes changing him, both body and mind. One devouring leads to another, creating a deep hunger that is often insatiable. Long term devourers are barely recognizable as human, having turned into monsterous beings driven mad by addiction and instability.
Runes and Elements
Runes are signs signifying the myriad of different aspects spirits come in. There are the common aspects of fire, wind, water and earth. But also more specific ones like iron, moonlight or fertility.
The runes have many different uses. On their own they can slightly empower or weaken spirits according to their aspect's strength and weakness, but they can be infused with power to greatly extend their use to ward or attract spirits. The most common way to infuse runes is to spill blood on them, as they will absorb the power from the blood and turn it into energy. This energy depletes over time, however, and needs to be refilled occasionally.
Runes are vital knowledge to Vessels, although their importance varies. At the very least, Vessels need to be able to draw runes to attract spirits during their pacting ritual. Some opt for very generalized runes to simply attract as many spirits as possible while others draw runes that specifically attract spirits with aspects they desire. Vessels are also expected to know the runes that strengthen or weaken the spirit they are connected with. Runes of weakening are vital part of binding where the Vessel covers themselves completely in them to trap a spirit.
Runestones are a common sight in Havsgard. Some of them litter the countryside seemingly at random, some are commissioned by villages or rich families. Runestones ward against spirits that would be undesirable (like fire spirits in a forest) or attract spirits that are desirable (such as wind spirits near windmills). To make sure the runes are charged and maintained, newly pacted students at the universities are sent on a pilgrimage around the region to make blood sacrifices on the runestones.
Healing is a complex art in Shatterbridge, as each spell an incantation has to be custom tailored to the user's unique combination of soul, spirit, and injury. The healing magic present in most spirits does not actually heal the user, as this would require spontaneous creating of similar cells to the user out of thin air. Most healing magic is a focused time feuge that speeds the natural recovery process of the user's own systems or accellerates teh natural healing process by forcing the body to produce more of what it needs to heal at that moment.. A direct healing magic is only present in few Spirits, like The Maiden, and is concidered rare.
Magicians in the world do use runes and magic in their healing practices, though, and can deal with any ailment that is presented to them via potions. But the potions they create must be custom created to fit the ailment, due to the body chemesty and spiritual makeup of the victim. Due to this, potions are an expensive undertaking, requiring specilized preperation and ingredients that only the "Doctor" knows of. Each Doctor is different in their approaches and ingedients, making the salves and potions almost unique, per the crafter of the potion. Someone who is experienced with the art could potientialy identify the maker of the potion based off of how it was made and the ingredients.
A few creative individuals, wanting to make a quick gold or two off of this, managed to dial down the specialized nature of the Potions, watering it down, per se, to a cover a wide range of ailments and issues. But with the weaking of the solutions, it also reduces the potency of the healing potion and it's effective shelf life to most cases, a single day. Kitchens of sorts have croped up all over the world, hawking these "Vials" of healing potions, each pot or vase filled with liquid having a differing purpose. It's a delicate business model, as all of the stock must be thrown out at the endof the day, but no end of customers come to find relief for themselves or a loved one.
More information on the Healing Magic Page