Empathic Bonds Book

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The Verynvelyrae have an ability to form a magickal bond with an animal. They themselves claim trace the history of this ability back to distant daanan ancestors, but the veracity of this claim is perhaps dubious. Most Verynvelyrae are themselves daanan or are aligned with them somehow, and there is no independent evidence; it seems likely to be a bit of revisionist history.

This document serves as an insider scholarly account of bonding. Having seen the practice for some time, including the apparently incredible abilities that are enlisted as part of the bond -- including, but not limited to, protecting one's bonded animal from an otherwise certain death -- I became determined to partake in the practice myself and see what I could learn about it.

After studying with them for some time, helping them maintain their forest, and earning their trust, they initiated me into their fold. The exact means and moment of initiation were not apparent to me; I simply found myself with new desires and needs, and a new perspective on the animal kingdom that allowed me to fulfill those needs.

No Verynvelyr has any useful documentation on the nature of the faculty for forming these bonds (which is part of my motivation for writing this document). But in their defense, no explicit documentation is really necessary. A modicum of self-awareness reveals the nature of the need: to complete oneself with an empathic bond to a member of the animal kingdom.

Bonding with an animal is similarly easy -- providing the animal is so willing. My first bond was with a small mouse, and I achieved it simply by, in effect, willing the bond into existence.

There were immediate effects, even with a newly minted, very frail bond: my scholarly curiosity was piqued, and I felt energized, intellectually astute, and mentally and physically more versatile. Moreover, the emotional connection I felt with that mouse rivals that I felt with any anthropically sentient being. Naturally, I felt rather bad when I almost immediately broke my bond with it -- it sent me into a depression for some days, and killed the mouse outright -- but my investigations demanded that I perform further experiments, which I could not do while the bond was fulfilled.

Gradually, I came to understand some of the diverse principles underlying these empathic bonds. I will attempt to outline them here.

  • 1. Bonds are reciprocal matters.
This means, first of all, that the bond will not be possible unless the animal "agrees" to it. Some animals will agree to most anyone; most rodents are like this. Others have quite exacting requirements. It took some weeks of mental exercises in discipline and awareness before an owl would look twice at me, and a cheetah will not bond with you unless you can run fast enough to make a stab at keeping up with it.
Second of all, this means that both you and the bonded animal will benefit from it. The animal is enhanced in terms of its lifespan and basic faculties -- predators become more ferocious, prey become more nimble, and so on. You are enhanced in myriad ways, some of which I have attempted to document below.
For sake of clarity, I will attempt to translate a bit of Sperethiel terminology here: a bonded animal I will subsequently refer to as a "familiar". The bonder will be referred to as a "consort" of that familiar. (For those interested, the Sperethiel words are "triand" and "mindras" respectively.)
  • 2. The benefits of a bond change over time.
The benefits a bond affords to both consort and familiar grow over time as the bond grows stronger. There are two main principles which govern the strength of the bond.
One is a basic potential for bond growth. The more I studied enchantment and the ways of empathizing with animals from the Verynvelyrae, the faster my bonds grew -- usually. Some animals seem to utilize different faculties for bond growth, such as arcane affinities: the emotions of my cheetah flowed more freely when I imbibed several potions increasing my affinity towards elemental air.
Two is doing things together with your familiar is what causes the bond to grow: hunting, or adventuring, or scholarly practice or what have you. Pretty much any sort of shared experience.
In my tenure with several familiars, the fastest way to get the bond to strengthen was to show my familiar new locations and share the experience with it; to experience it anew, as it were. Whenever I would form a new bond, I would immediately take the animal to show it a new city, or two, or three, and by the end I would usually be able to use several charms, and have deepened my connection considerably.
  • 3. An empathic bond is a nexus of esoteric potentialities.
It seems that all familiars afford you at least limited magical abilities, that the daanan call "charms." For example, the ability to conjure your familiar to your side from any location -- quite startling, and quite useful.
Some familiars afford massively more complex abilities. The cheetah will allow you to manifest and hurl electricity. Foxes give one the ability to conjure a complex illusion of oneself to deceive any viewers. Some of the Verynvelyrae are bonded to crows, and credit them with extremely strange powers pertaining to the realm of the dead: the ability to conjure spirits, to channel entropic energy directly, and so on.
I briefly bonded to a snake and was afforded the ability to open the energy centers known as chakras. Simple *touching* any sort of feline familiar will energize one with body- and spirit-altering energies.
In many ways these abilities are quite simple, involving only elemental direction of energies and relying heavily on one's familiar for esoteric guidance. But some familiars afford one magick that is quite advanced by the standards of many of todays Orders.
  • 4. An empathic bond changes one's more basic biological capacities.
I was bonded, for quite some time, to a dog, which increased my tactical sensibilities tremendously: I found myself thinking more tactically, and I found myself better at doing so. Bonding to a horse makes one a whiz at riding it. And so on.
Some of the Verynvelyrae that pursue martial prowess bond to herons. They are absolutely expert swordsmen, rivaling even the Aisenshi of Hanoma.
Moreover, it is worth underscoring once again that a strong bond with an animal will increase *its* faculties also. Even a dog can become quite dangerous once one's bond deepens. Exactly how dangerous I cannot say, as I never put myself at any real risk during my investigations, but the Verynvelyrae swear by their companions.
Indeed, it seems that one of the main reasons to choose a less magickally capable familiar is that these familiars often tend to be more capable themselves once the bond starts getting deeper.
  • 5. Your familiar will use your life force to stay alive for the duration of the bond.
Familiars appear to not really be capable of dying while bonded. They vanish for some time, a few hours, or half a day at most, and then reappear, fully reconstituted. Be warned that when this happens it is extraordinarily painful and draining on one's mental and emotional resources.
  • 6. Breaking a bond is painful in inverse proportion to the strength of the bond.
Having had and broken several bonds, I can attest personally that the more complete the bond, the less emotionally traumatic it is to break it. I am not sure why this is, and I was afraid to ask my fellow consorts, as they did not look kindly upon my frequent changing of familiars.
  • 7. Breaking a bond invariably kills the familiar.
  • 8. One does not have to be a Verynvelyr to develop a faculty for empathic bonding.
Rarely, some of the danaan develop this faculty naturally. Others tell of far-away Orders (or Order-like affiliations) that have master the art of forming empathic bonds, though always, they say, less strong and pure bonds than those of the Verynvelyrae. I cannot attest to the veracity of these stories, but I can attest to the fact that there are daanan with bonds to their pets, with no formal training in enchantment or oversight by the Verynvelyrae elders.
This completes the principles that I was able to discover. My time with bonds with something of an emotional shock. It was both extremely rewarding and extremely painful. I am glad to have been able to study the bonds first-hand, but I cannot say that I miss it.
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