In the earliest days of the Nephilim, the first Silent Brothers performed rituals all over the world, intending to bolster these wards by adding our own lesser wards to their power. But wards exist at all levels of power, down through the more everyday wards we use to protect our Institutes, to simple wards that might protect a single room or even a single object, such as a locked chest. Today wards can be quite complex, and specific as to who is warded and who is allowed through.
Demonic magic, of course, has its own wards, which work similarly.
We use the term “demonic magic” to encompass all magic whose origin lies in the Void. This includes the magic employed directly by demons, which is mostly beyond our mortal understanding; the supernatural powers possessed by vampires and werewolves; and the complex but organized magic researched and performed by warlocks.
Demonic magic is by nature chaotic. Whereas the magic of Heaven is given to us whole and complete, the magic of Hell is a slippery, dangerous, growing beast. It is not known what limits might exist on demonic magic, in terms of either what it can do or how powerful its effects can become. There is much that has been discovered, and much knowledge that can be relied upon in dealings with demons (or warlocks), but never forget that—unlike our Marks, which begin and end with the bindings of the Gray Book—the edges of the demon world are full of magic unknown to us.
Shadowhunters are categorically unable to learn demonic magic, or to inscribe or even to read demonic runes. It is as if our knowledge of the Marks of the Gray Book prevents our minds from successfully being able to comprehend the Marks’ demonic cousins, however we might study them. Nephilim who are expert at the reading and writing of Marks often say that trying to read demonic runes is like trying to understand someone speaking a language that sounds tantalizingly similar to your own but is too different for you to grasp the meaning.
Different kinds of demonic magic have different weaknesses—ways the magic can be neutralized—but almost all magic can be disrupted with running water. More powerful magic can sometimes overcome this, but on the other hand, larger bodies of running water are more disruptive and require more power to overcome. Thus, many powerful warlocks could successfully perform magic in the presence of a babbling brook, whereas only the most powerful in the world, or the most powerful Greater Demons, could successfully perform magic on the open ocean.
Has the Clave considered fire trucks?
Just drive around the world hosing demons down?
Doesn’t really work that way. You can’t just spray a demon with water like it’s a bad cat.
DARK MAGIC VERSUS DEMONIC MAGIC
It is important to understand that all “demonic magic” is not evil, at least not when it is used by creatures other than demons. Warlocks are in their essence human, and therefore have the same free will as all other humans. Vampires and werewolves have a demonic source for their powers but are also human and possess free will. All may choose to use demonic magic for good or for ill.
We use the term “dark magic” to refer to that demonic magic whose purpose or orientation is essentially evil. This would include such things as necromancy, the summoning of demons, the domination of an intelligent mind against its will, and so on. Dark magic is generally outlawed under the Law, although exceptions may be made for dark magic that is performed out of necessity in the course of Shadowhunter business—for example, summoning a demon in order to interrogate it.
Demons, being purely demonic and possessing none of the human about them, are considered to be performing dark magic no matter what they are doing. Technically, manifesting themselves in our world at all under their own will is an act of dark magic and is punishable under the Law.
Dark magic may be identified by some of its telltale markers. Its practice leaves behind a lingering aura that can usually be detected by a warlock, and often there is a persistent reek of brimstone and rot that even an untrained Shadowhunter can identify (although it will be typically glamoured away from mundane detection).
DEALING WITH DEMONIC MAGIC
The biggest danger of demonic magic for Shadowhunters is that, because its boundaries are soft and unclear, it can be difficult to understand the parameters of the magic one is dealing with, or what the capabilities of a magic user might be. There is no substitute for experience, of course, but we offer here some thoughts on common demonic magic and basic knowledge that may be useful for the new Shadowhunter.
You will rarely encounter dimensional magic; the ability to perform it is very rare. Demons encourage the idea that they are constantly popping in and out of dimensions on a whim, but in truth none but the most powerful Greater Demons can do this. Demons travel to our dimension not through their own magic but by making use of the holes and worn spots enhanced and highlighted by Sammael a thousand years ago; as far as we know, none of the common demons have the power or knowledge to continue the thinning magic he performed. Some Greater Demons may have the power to teleport themselves to different locations within our dimension, and some may be able to open temporary weak dimensional Portals, but a demon who claims to have power over the spaces between worlds is almost certainly lying to you.
Warlocks who can perform dimensional magic are even rarer, although they do exist and are frequently able to charge exorbitant fees for their services. The most dangerous dimensional magic that warlocks may possess is the ability to create dimensional “pockets”—small spaces between dimensions, where objects or people may be hidden and kept concealed from tracking magic.
For as long as there have been warlocks, there have been tales of supposed necromancers, magic users who were capable of returning the dead to life. Do not be fooled by these tales: There is no way for the magic of Hell to return the dead to the world of the living. That is magic that is reserved for Heaven and its servants—not the Nephilim, for we are but the servants of servants, but the denizens of Heaven itself.
Necromantic rituals do exist in some more obscure and forbidden texts of magic; these, variants on the classic mundane folkloric “bell, book, and candle” method of summoning the dead, produce a semblance of life but not a living creature. These revived beings, in theory, can range from a mindless, shambling revenant to a corpse able to repeat its soul’s last living words, but in practice such things are rarely, if ever, seen. Necromancy is among the darkest of dark magic. It is punishable by death, but most warlocks are never punished by the Clave, as they almost never survive their attempts.
Hellmist, or hellsmoke, is a weapon sometimes used by demons, and occasionally by powerful and evil warlocks, to aid their attacks. It is very dangerous for the unprepared Shadowhunter. It is a kind of conjured demonic fog that mutes the effects of magic. Hellsmoke is able to mute both the angelic magic that Shadowhunters use with our Marks and also other demonic magic. Luckily, few kinds of demons can produce it easily, and those that do will make use of it only rarely, since demons are often dependent on demonic magic to grant them power in our world. For instance, a demon with no eyes who needed magic to see their foe would work against themselves in releasing hellmist.
Hellmist becomes much more dangerous when used to cloak a physical attack, but demons rarely engage in even such simple tactical planning. A coordinated attack of that kind would almost without fail suggest the involvement of a Greater Demon or a powerful dark magician. And . . . what should you do about that?
When the Codex doesn’t give you a thing to do, assume its advice is, “Run!”
CONJURING OBJECTS FROM NOWHERE
This is not possible. Something cannot be created out of nothing. Warlocks who claim to be able to produce new objects from nowhere, or who appear to do so, are in fact merely teleporting the objects from some location known to them. This is still powerful magic and potentially dangerous, and it may well represent a violation of Law. Warlocks, for all their power, may enjoy fooling mundanes and more credulous young Shadowhunters by claiming more abilities than they have. Do not be deceived.
* * *
THE SUMMONING OF DEMONS
While the practice of dark magic by warlocks is an unfortunate reminder of the continued threat demons pose to our own home dimension, and is generally forbidden, such magic is permitted in the course of assisting a Shadowhunter investigation—for instance, when a specific demon must be located or interrogated. In those cases generally a friendly warlock is employed; this has become much more common since the Accords eased the formerly tense relationship between Nephilim and warlocks. Read this to Magnus, he says “ha!”
The demon-summoning rituals vary somewhat, depending on the demon and the warlock involved, but generally speaking they take the following steps:
• A pentagram or similar summoning circle is drawn on the surface on which the demon is to be summoned.
• Demonic runes of various kinds are drawn on the summoning circle, often at the points of the pentagram or by some other design specified in warlock magical lore.
• An invocation is made by the warlock.
• Often a sacrifice of blood is demanded, usually provided by the warlock performing the ceremony. (Beware any warlock who claims that he will need your blood to complete his summoning!)
• If possible, a piece of the demon itself, such as a tuft of its fur or some scales or a tooth, is put into the pentagram. Mmmm . . . piece of a demon.
At that point, if the warlock is competent, the demon should be summoned and bound. Be sure to consult the warlock ahead of time for any time limits, restrictions, or forbidden words or hand gestures that might be relevant in that particular summoning. Wait, how do you get a piece of a demon to use to summon a demon if you don’t already have a summoned demon to get a piece of demon from?
. . . What?
That was a real question!
* * *
New Shadowhunters usually don’t have trouble understanding how a Portal works. It transports you instantly from one place to another by means of your passing through it. It is usually set up by a warlock (see below for the reasons why), and it requires no skill to use. We include it here, however, because the invention of the Portal stands as one of the great moments of collaboration between Downworlders and Shadowhunters in the modern age, a powerful demonstration of the creativity and discovery that the Accords can make possible. This invention also represents one of the rare occasions when the Nephilim have been able to advance the knowledge of magic in the human world, despite our pious devotion to the boundaries marked out by the Gray Book.
Oh no it’s another history lesson secretly
Today Shadowhunters depend heavily on Portals as a means for rapid travel all over the world. It would be easy to conclude from this that the Portal is an old and well-established Nephilim tool, but in truth it is a modern invention, dating back to the period between the First and Second Accords. The first successful Portal was created in 1878, a collaboration between Henry Branwell, then head of the London Institute, and a warlock whose name history, unfortunately, does not record. Branwell was at the time only the most recent in a long string of Shadowhunters (mostly Silent Brothers) and warlocks to seek a reliable, safe means of instantaneous travel. Dimensional magic of course has been in existence for as long as there has been magic in our world; the means by which demons are able to slip from their own world to ours is itself magic in the same family as the Portal. There were two major requirements in creating a workable Portal for Shadowhunter use—keeping it stable and safely open for the necessary amount of time and safely closed when no longer needed, and accurately controlling the destination that a Portal would open onto.
Working on his own, Branwell had designed a Portal that had solved the first of these problems; it could be opened and closed, but he could find no way to direct its destination, and so it could not be tested. A Portal opened to an arbitrary location could send a hapless Shadowhunter to any location in our world, to a different world entirely, even to the Void.
The difficulty here turns out to lie in our restriction to Gray Book Marks. We cannot arbitrarily describe a destination using the runic language we are permitted to use. The solution was discovered by Branwell and his anonymous warlock collaborator, and it is an ingenious merging of two runic systems and the magic inherent in the mind of the one traveling through the Portal. First, a “frame” of Marks (which have analogues in both seraphic and demonic runic systems) is created, and inscribed within and around this frame is a set of demonic runes that are drawn in an unstable, unfinished state.
These runes, however, only specify the destination in vague terms. To “tune” the Portal to the exact location desired, the user of the Portal must picture clearly in their mind the destination they are traveling to. The Portal detects these details and modifies the demonic destination runes on the fly, to exactly describe the far end of the Portal.
This kind of runic manipulation isn’t available to Shadowhunters, and so to this day Portals must be created by warlocks. To get around this, a large number of permanent Portals have been established to transport Nephilim to and from Idris, for instance, without having to hire warlocks for every trip. Even so, today Portal construction makes up the vast majority of jobs for warlocks hired by Shadowhunters.
Originally Portals had to be closed manually by their creator once they were no longer needed, but in recent years warlocks have been able to create Portals that close automatically after a certain amount of time has passed. This kind of Portal is what is usually used today, for purposes of safety.
But none of this is relevant to you because you can make new runes, so you can make Portals yourself. Without bothering a warlock.
I know how much those warlocks hate to be bothered.
Did you know you’re related to Henry Branwell, at least by marriage?
He was married to a Fairchild.
I did not know that. It is sort of weird that you do know that.
I had to memorize a lot of Shadowhunter genealogies at one point.