The Netherbane Lessons
VI - XIII
VI. THE FIRST HUNT
1. After the training of blindness has been suitably completed, the potential hunter will be given the rank of Acolyte.
2. As an acolyte, he will be expected to complete his first hunt. This hunt is to be executed while blindfolded. At no times should it be done with the hunter's natural vision. The student is expected to train for as long as he deems necessary in order to exist in this world of shifting darknesses.
3. The first hunt is chosen between the mentor and the student. There are many locations of demonic forces hidden in the darkest places of the world, and the students are expected to survive any one of these.
4. The first hunt should not only be a test of physical prowess, but also a test of mental prowess as well. Not only should memory and pure intellect be tested, but wisdom and patience as well. These are traits important to the path we walk.
5. The First Hunt is not always the first hunt of the acolyte. Often it is merely the first ritualized hunt. When prey is as plentiful as the Burning Legion, this should be a surprise to no one.
6. The purpose of the First Hunt is for you to prove your skills to your shan'do and to capture enough foundational fel energy so as to prime your body for the eventual Binding. You must choose a demon to be your prey, one that is of a suitable strength, and you will kill it. If you fail, you will be dead.
Tharion: VI6a. The First Hunt of the Netherbane should never be undertaken until the student is ready. Failure will often result in death, and it is important that the hunt not end in failure.
7. Upon the completion of a successful hunt, the soul of the demon defeated should be captured into a soul crystal. If a complete soul cannot be salvaged, then as much as remains should be retained. This will be used later, for the Blinding.
VII. The Blinding
1. A suitable blade must be found. It cannot be too large as to damage the acolyte beyond his eye sockets, but it must be long enough to completely destroy the eyes. Daggers with straight blades have been found to be the most useful in this ritual.
2. The blade must be cleaned. Any contamination beyond the reagents for the ritual itself can have unexpected consequences. Be certain that all foreign agents are removed and that the blade is made dry. Weapons that are kept and cleaned specifically for the blinding ritual are the strongest candidates for this.
3. Once a proper blade is found and cleaned, it must be coated in Blinding Oil. The oil itself is created using the blood of Inquisitors, boiled down and mixed with a few select other ingredients. Coat only the length of the blade that is expected to penetrate the eye sockets. That is all that is needed for the ritual.
4. The oil must then be ignited. While a standard flame will do, a felfire flame is stronger. Allowing the blade to burn for at least five breaths is suggested, as it will allow any remaining contaminants to burn away.
5. A demon soul, or remaining fel essence, should be applied to the weapon. This will help to feed the flames and will allow for a stronger binding ritual later. A body that is not primed with fel energy before a Binding may experience unexpected consequences. We wish to lessen the chance of these.
6. Once infused, the burning blade must be inserted into each of the eye sockets of the demon hunter acolyte, preferably in quick succession. The damage done by the blade must be precise, or else the acolyte risks death. The flames will burn out what remains of the flesh and will transfer the fel energies from the oil to the acolyte's sockets. If a strong fel flame was used, then the sockets will continue to burn with the emerald fire even after the blade is removed.
7. The demon hunter acolyte must be allowed to rest. The spectral vision will develop over the course of a few days, but it will only be temporary. Within the span of perhaps two months will the vision begin to fade.
8. To prevent the felsight from burning out, the acolyte's Binding ritual must be completed before it does so. If the felsight is lost prior to this, then the chance for permanent and complete blindness increases.
VIII. The Second Hunt
1. Once the spectral vision has stabilized, you may begin planning your second hunt. This will be the hunt wherein you find and choose the demon soul to which you wish to be bound.
2. Different demons provide different characteristics when bound, but all greater demons are suitable for the ritual as long as their souls are captured. There are also many lesser demons which can be used for a binding, but these often burn out relatively quickly, requiring another binding ritual at a later date.
Tharion: VIII2a. The results listed below are from Eraelan's extensive research and experimentation during the many millennia which he taught the path. What is not mentioned here is that the reaction to each binding is strongly determined by the demon hunter's personality. The below observations came from conclusions drawn after only perhaps one or two students were bound to the demons in question. Further study has proven that the results of each binding can be as unique as each hunter.
3. The different demons also provide a different demonform, but only if the student achieves this plateau. The demons and their characteristics when bound are as follows:
A. Satyr bindings are rare and dangerous, despite them being lower in terms of power than other demons. Satyr can be devious beings, and some of them retain the ability to keep their souls whole even after binding. I believe this happens due to satyr being from corrupted kaldorei stock. That initial corruption will often fuse with the bound demon hunter, slowly transforming him over time. Eventually, the satyr soul will reclaim the body, and the demon will be reborn.
B. Mo'arg bindings provide the demon hunter with a measure of mechanical cleverness in addition to the strength the demons are known to wield. This leads to hunters who are able to solve physical and spacial problems with a greater ease than others. While still strong in combat, their strength lies in their uncharacteristic intelligence when compared to similar bindings.
C. Felguard / Fel Lord bindings allow the hunter to retain a strong martial prowess. They use brute force to attack, not finesse, and this will translate to the demon hunter to whom it is bound. They can also absorb great amounts of damage, making the bound demon hunter exceedingly survivable.
D. Doomguard / Doom Lord bindings tend to be more agile than felguards, and their wings allow them a greater mobility. While binding a doomguard may not grant the demon hunter the gift of flight, it will allow them to remain swift on their feet.
E. Wrathguard / Wrath Lord bindings make the hunter more methodical in their attacks. They choose neither brute force nor swiftness, but instead choose to favor the efficiency of the strike. They watch and wait for the correct moment, parrying and evading until the time is correct. When the strike comes, however, it is always devastating and often fatal.
Tharion: VIII3Ea. Though wrathguard are truly eredar, their physical conditioning and training has diverged their path from their traditionally sorcerous brethren. This does not make them less dangerous, however. They are very deliberate in their actions, so be aware.
F. Shivarra bindings cause the hunter to shy away from physical combat, despite still retaining heightened martial ability. The hunters who bind shivarra often gain prophetic visions, and lean more towards the manipulation of fel energies than the manipulation of weaponry. When threatened, the shivarra's soul can be deadly swift, but the lack of extra appendages means that a little of that ability is lost.
G. Inquisitor bindings produce hunters who prefer to stalk the darkest depths of the shadows. They also gain a keen insight into the workings of the fel energies within other beings, gaining knowledge by merely opening their awareness to the forces around them. Inquisitor-bound demon hunters can often see truths far sooner than any others.
H. Dreadlord bindings are extremely dangerous, second only to Eredar bindings. While not susceptible to outbursts of violence as with a pit lord, demon hunters bound to a dreadlord often find little different than if he had allowed the nathrezim to possess him outright. The demon hunter must be exceedingly strong of will in order to retain control. Otherwise, he has merely become another victim. Those who retain control, however, often find the dreadlord to have a keen insight into the workings of the Burning Legion and its hierarchy.
I. Pit Lord bindings often cause madness. The rage and anger within an annihilan is often times far too strong for any one demon hunter to control, and I strongly suggest siphoning the pit lord's energies away so that they may be spread out to many instead of just one. However, those few who are able to tame the reckless soul of a pit lord will display a savagery in combat that is second to none, along with the increased strength one would expect from such a beast.
J. Eredar bindings are rare, and they cause madness almost as often as pit lord bindings. With a pit lord, the madness is caused by attempts to contain or redirect the rage within the demon's soul. With an eredar, the demon retains a measure of control over both you and itself. The hunter will eventually cease to understand which thoughts are his own, and which are the demon's, and this leads to a fractured identity. Bindings to a complete soul of an eredar are strongly discouraged.
4. When a demon is marked for the Second Hunt, you must prepare a Binding Vessel. Find a soul crystal that can be mounted into this vessel, and keep that crystal on you during the hunt. This will be the crystal into which you capture the demon's soul. The Binding Vessel will be used later, during the actual ritual itself.
5. Kill the demon and trap its soul into the crystal. Return with your prize to your shan'do.
IX. The Binding
1. The second, and most important, ritual is the Binding. It is here that the demon hunter crosses the point of no return. It is here where the hunter is bound to the soul of a demon, and here where the core abilities are gifted to the student. Many students believe the Binding ritual to be the eventual goal of training, but their belief is incorrect. The Binding is not the end. The Binding is merely the beginning.
2. One should note, however, that a successful binding does not a demon hunter make. The acolyte must still learn to master the abilities granted, and must prove himself to his mentor. The student must reassure his teachers that he is the one in control. If any sign of the demon's presence remains, the student should be banished or killed. There are two methods of binding that are allowed:
A. The first is the Ritual Binding, in which the student hunts his chosen prey and captures its soul into an artifact. Later, under the guidance of the mentor, the demon's soul is then bound to the student himself and sealed away. This is the safest, but indeed most painful, method, as it happens under the direct supervision of master demon hunter. Instructions are provided below.
B. The other method, which is much less stable, is known as the Active Binding. In this method, the mentor assists the student in the creation of a binding circle first. He then instructs the student in the words of power used to activate the circle. After this is done, it is up to the student to lure his chosen prey into the binding circle and defeat his foe there. The killing stroke MUST happen within the circle, and the words of power must be used. It is suggested that the Active Binding only be used if the mentor cannot be present, for it has proven to be troublesome in the past. Only a fraction of the students bound this way avoid the madness common to those who walk this path.
3. To perform a Ritual Binding, the captured demon soul should have been trapped within a soul crystal, and this soul crystal must be placed into the socket of the previously prepared Binding Vessel. Once the crystal is attached, the weapon will become infused with the demon's essence. It may still struggle, but the Binding Vessel should be strong enough to hold it.
4. A circle of power must be prepared using runestones and resonance crystals. There is a chance that the demon soul will escape during the binding efforts, and the circle will ensure that it remains trapped on this plane and does not flee to the Twisting Nether.
5. Once the circle is completed, the acolyte should step within it, taking care not to break any of the lines. The shan'do will also step into this circle with the Binding Vessel.
6. Words of power must be spoken, and the words chosen must align with the demon soul to be bound. Different demons respond to different commands, and knowing which words work with which demons is of paramount importance. Making a mistake here can allow the demon to take over the acolyte's body entirely.
7. At the apex of the ritual, the Binding Vessel must be shoved into the heart of the acolyte to be bound. The ritual flows will sustain the life force of the student for the duration as long as the proper weaves are in place. In fact, the soul transference will begin to heal the acolyte's wound, drawing upon both the hunter's life energy and the demon's fel energy. This merges the fel energy into the body more strongly, and allows the student's soul to become infused with the fel much more quickly.
8. Once the transference is complete, the Binding Vessel must be removed from the acolyte to allow the fel-healing to complete. The acolyte will likely collapse into unconsciousness (unless he is a particularly spectacular specimen). This is to be expected.
9. The average time for a full recovery is two weeks. After this time, the acolyte can begin his true demon hunter training.
1. Upon surviving the Binding, the acolyte will be given the rank of Demon Hunter.
2. It is during this time when the demon hunter will begin his true training. Skills such as self-immolation, soul siphoning, glaive channeling, and other such techniques can now be taught. These lessons will not be without their risks, but the demon hunt has proven himself capable by this point.
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1. The Marking Ritual is used to supplement a demon hunter's state. Some markings assist in controlling a wayward bind. Others enhance certain abilities or combat styles. Regardless of the purpose, the Marking Ritual is done the same for all. The tattoos are applied with a special powder created from the crushed remains of an infernal or an abyssal. These remains are then charred with felfire until they become ashen, and then crushed in a mortar and pestle and charred again.
2. Once a smooth black powder, they are mixed with a small bit of demon blood, which turns the powder into a sticky paste. This paste is applied to the body of the demon hunter by that hunter's mentor. If the mentor is unavailable, then another hunter can apply the markings. A hunter with enough skill can apply the markings himself as well.
3. The pattern is drawn, the appropriate words of power are spoken, and with a bit of controlled immolation, the powder is ignited. The fire burns the pattern into the hunter. The pain will be intense, but will only last for a brief few moments. The charred remains of the paste may fall away, but a dark burn mark is left where it touched the skin. These markings will glow with an appropriate color depending on the patterns and words of power used.
4. The markings are permanent. There is a chance they can be removed through extremely potent arcane means, but this has not been tested. The hunter who tries removal will risk death, however, for the markings become integral to their connection with the demon.
5. Below is a list of markings currently used by the Netherbane. This list is not exhaustive:
A. Calm. These markings calm the demon hunter, making him appear more composed and almost emotionless. They are very faint, some claim they are invisible at times. Others claim they are indiscernible from scarring. However, the longer they are on the hunter, the more visible they become. They appear as smooth lines that snake around the demon hunter's torso, like a stylized collar around the shoulders.
Calm markings are useful for hunters who have been able to achieve control over their demon, but whose personality has become more aggressive after the binding. These marks subdue the demon's influence over the hunter, but also subdue the true personality as well.
B. Control. These markings symbolize caging the demon within. They are angular and sharp, and very deliberate in their design.
They provide the demon hunter with a stronger measure of control over the demon's essence, but they do this by limiting the power of the bound creature significantly and releasing the essence from the runic binding over time. This allows the demon hunter to exert his or her will over a weakened form of the demon first, thus allowing him to learn control over time. They fade significantly as the demon's essence is slowly freed, but this can take decades or centuries. They never disappear completely.
C. Dissonance. The Dissonance markings are heavily drawn vertical lines across the hunter's body.
Opposite of the Unity markings, Dissonance markings allow the hunter to keep the disparate souls of multiple demons separated and call upon one demonic essence at a time during combat. Dissonance demon hunters use a word of power to switch between these aspects. However, because the markings never allow a full unity, the demon hunter is considerably weaker since he is not living up to his full capability. Hunters with the Dissonance markings have been known to begin suffering from a specific disorder. It is entirely possible that each essence becomes a new personality for the hunter, borrowing heavily from the traits of the particular demon souls within.
D. Rage. The Rage markings appear as a chaotic mass of designs upon the hunter's skin. The lines have no discernible shape or direction. They are angular and smooth at the same time: both sharp and soft. If you are not trained to recognize the Rage markings, then you will find it difficult to find a pattern in their design.
The Rage markings are extremely dangerous and rare among demon hunters. They enhance the burning desire for destruction inherent in all demons and bring that anger to the forefront of the hunter. They promise to keep the hunter's personality calm until the anger is released using a word of power. However, this has proven to be unreliable and many hunters who use these markings end up being significantly more wild than those who have not.
E. Shadow. Shadow markings are also rare, but extremely useful to the demon hunter who is able to control it. A shadow marking only works if a demon hunter has bound the essence of a demon strong in shadow magic. These markings cover most of the demon hunter's body, and in fact are applied using negative space. The hunter's skin is covered in the ink and it is the clean portions that appear as intricate patterns. Then ignited, the clear portions of the skin turn a shade of blue or indigo, and remaining ink burns away.
The shadow markings allow the hunter to move and fight silently, as if they were made of shadow and mist alone. A few rare demon hunters have achieved a similar ability on their own, but these markings assist greatly in emulating those skills. However, since these markings effectively remove a part of the demon hunter from the material realm and keep a part of that hunter permanently in the shadow realm, madness is largely guaranteed over time. The hunter will eventually lose all sense of reality, kinship, and sanity. They become increasingly distant from the world, and all who have used these markings eventually vanish completely. It is believed they choose a permanent existence in the Realm of Shadows.
F. Unity. Hunters who have experienced problems during their binding ritual may be forced to bind multiple demons over time. This is not intentional and is caused by some severe trauma experienced during training or hunting. Drawn as a complex series of flowing marks that whirlpool around most of the upper body of the demon hunter, these markings are mostly visible while the demon hunter is unable to control his multiple bindings. They fade somewhat when the essences are working together.
Multiple bindings are inherently stronger than most single bindings for a limited time, but they also push the hunter much closer to madness. In addition, the multiple demon souls may not wish to work together, which strips away the demon hunter's powers and strength at inopportune moments. The Unity binding was created to control this.
1. Upon achieving the Great Deed, the demon hunter will achieve the rank of Named. From this point on, he will discard part of his old name and take up the new name as given during the ritual.
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XIII. The Final Hunt
1. If ever the Burning Legion is eradicated, that will not be the end of demons. Even if you are are successful in defeating every other demon that exists, there will still be at least one more. You.
2. The Final Hunt can only be accomplished when the demon hunter accepts that he can no longer belong in a world without demons, and he must take it upon himself to defeat the final entity within himself. It is necessary.
3. Only upon this final sacrifice can we be safe from the Burning Legion.