In roughly the year 3 A.B., when humankind was being summarily wiped out by the newly arrived legions of vampires prior to that point in time when they formed the collective now known as the Ebon Cities, humans learned to use what is commonly referred to as “magic”. It is an accepted fact that without magic, humanity would not have survived as long as it has.
A mage (that is, a male warlock or a female witch) is bonded with an intelligent spirit. The exact nature of this spirit is still something of a mystery to us, but it is generally accepted that the spirit is a sort of intelligent ghost that attaches itself to a human host. The spirit serves and protects its host out of an emotional and psychic attachment. This bond is formed at an early age (the mage is usually no older than 8-10 years at the time of first contact with the spirit), and it is permanent. One can’t choose to become a mage: it either happens, or it doesn’t.
The spirit communicates through a form of empathy, and while a spirit can be detected by other mages, it cannot be directly seen or communicated with by anyone save the mage that it is bonded with.
Spirits are wildly emotional, and must be tightly controlled. A mage channels his or her spirit and causes it to manifest in a physical fashion. This manifestation can either be the spirit forming itself into physical matter (this is how a warlock’s spirit is channeled) or the manifestation manipulates existing matter and shapes it into different forms (this is how a witch’s spirit operates). In both cases, the spirit directly enters the physical world, but only for short periods of time. The magical effects are always dramatic, and more often than not seem to have little application outside of physical combat. (Spirits can’t help a mage fly, for example, or alter their appearance, but they can harden the air into a shield or turn mundane matter into weapons. Some witches can use their spirits to levitate, but this application is limited.)
Creating these magical effects is draining to both the spirit and the mage. Controlling the amount of energy a spirit expends is important – the more dramatic an effect the spirit manifests, the longer it takes for them to recuperate. Since spirits are so emotionally volatile, it is the mage’s job to keep their spirit in check and to make sure they don’t expend too much of their energy at any one point. This is especially important when one considers the fact that the fates of the mage and the spirit are tied – if one dies, the other is destroyed, as well.
Spirits can also be used as scouts and reconnaissance tools, since they can leave their host and send back sensory information about their surroundings. Only witches can send their spirits over long distances (which is why all trackers are witches), while warlocks can only use their spirits for close-range reconnaissance.
A disadvantage to warlocks is their short life span. Warlocks (but not witches) are required to use specially designed magical implements (usually gauntlets that attach to battery-powered energy sources) in order to safely channel their spirit’s power. When a warlock is young, they wear these implements to avoid doing harm to themselves or their spirits when they channel magic. As a warlock gets older, they need these implements in order to survive on a day-to-day basis. Even with implements, warlocks rarely live past the age of 35.
Witches do not share these physical restrictions, and they are not prone to early death based solely on prolonged exposure to their spirits.
In the field, there will always be at least 1 Warlock and 1 Witch present in any given Squad. This is true whether you are a part of the standard infantry or attached to a Hunter unit. This chapter will present you with the information you need to better work with the mages in your Squad, but it is always important to observe these three basic rules:
1) The survival of your Squad depends on the survival of its mages. Protect them at all costs.
2) A mage must be given space and freedom to use their magic. Provide aid and protection but do not interfere with a mage when he or she is engaged in a task.
3) A mage can be just as dangerous as the enemy. Afford them the appropriate level of fear and respect.
Please observe these basic rules and learn the guidelines presented in this chapter to be better prepared for working with mages in the field. As ever, direct any questions to your Squad leader.