Isabelle: Expert, Intermediate, Beginner, Beginner, Expert, Expert, Intermediate, Intermediate, Intermediate, Intermediate, Beginner.
Me: Beginner, Beginner, Beginner, Expert (I am very good at blending in with the mundane world!), Serious Beginner, Beginner.
Intermediate: Ability to talk your way out of being eaten by Greater Demon or killed by angry Downworlder political leadership. Intermediate, Intermediate, Beginner, Expert (I am counting runes here, okay?),
Expert: Ability to talk your way out of being eaten by Greater Demon or killed by angry Downworlder political leadership, and to convince said demon or Downworlders that letting you go was their idea.
Expert (at least compared to the rest of this group).
Me: Expert, Intermediate, Expert, Expert, Expert, Expert, Expert, Expert, Expert, Expert, Beginner.
Me: Vampire, Vampire, Vampire, Vampire, Vampire, Vampire, Vampire, Vampire, Vampire, Vampire, Vampire.
* * *
WHY DON’T NEPHILIM USE FIREARMS?
Guns are rarely used by Shadowhunters because, for our purposes, they normally do not work correctly. Etching Marks into the metal of a gun or bullet prevents gunpowder from successfully igniting. Considerable research has been done into this problem, with little success. The prevailing theories today prefer an alchemical explanation, contrasting the heavenly source of our Marks with the demonically allied brimstone and saltpeter that make up classic gunpowder, but this explanation does not, unfortunately, hold much weight. Demonic runes have the same impeding effect on guns as our own Marks, and the problem remains even with the use of modern propellants, which do not contain these supposedly “demonic” materials. This remains one of the great unexplained mysteries of runic magic, and researchers continue to pursue explanations and solutions to this day.
Guns can, of course, be successfully used to harm vampires and (with silver bullets) werewolves, but shots must be made with pinpoint accuracy. The risk of collateral damage and the difficulty of scoring a direct hit, combined with the understanding that Shadowhunter weapons will be overwhelmingly used to fight demons rather than Downworlders, has led to a general rejection of firearms as part of the Shadowhunter arsenal.
Finally, it is to the advantage of the Nephilim to have our weapons forged and built by the Iron Sisters as much as possible. Modern gunsmithing involves elaborate industrial machining that our traditional weapons don’t require, and if we were to have the Iron Sisters forge firearms, that would drastically change the Iron Sisters’ need for resources and equipment.
THE TRADITION OF THE PARABATAI
Whither thou goest, I will go;
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried:
The Angel do so to me, and more also,
If aught but death part thee and me.
—The Oath of the Parabatai
The tradition of the parabatai goes back to the beginnings of the Shadowhunters; the first parabatai were Jonathan Shadowhunter himself and his companion, David. They in turn were inspired by their coincident namesakes, from the biblical tale of Jonathan and David:
“And it came to pass . . . , that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. . . . Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”
—1 Samuel 18:1–3
Out of that tradition Jonathan Shadowhunter created the parabatai, and codified the ceremony into Law.
David the Silent was not at first a Silent Brother (See Excerpts from A History of the Nephilim, Appendix A, for more details). At first there were no Silent Brothers; earliest Nephilim hoped that their more difficult and mystical roles could be integrated into their warrior selves. Only as time passed did it become clear that the work of David would take him ever toward the angelic and farther and farther from his physical form. David and his followers set down their weapons, exchanging them for a life of mystical contemplation and the pursuit of wisdom.
Before this time, however, Jonathan and David fought side by side as the first parabatai. Tradition tells us that the ritual they performed, where they took of each other’s blood and spoke the words of the oath and inscribed the runes of binding upon each other, was the second-to-last time that David was known to shed human tears. The last time was the moment when the parabatai bond was broken, as David took the Marks that made him the first Silent Brother. This is a bromance of very heavy-duty proportions.
You have no idea.
Today parabatai must be bonded in childhood; that is, before either has turned eighteen years old. They are not merely warriors who fight together; the oaths that newly made parabatai take in front of the Council include vows to lay down one’s life for the other, to travel where the other travels, and indeed, to be buried in the same place. The Marks of parabatai are then put upon them, which enable them to draw on each other’s strength in battle. They are able to sense each other’s life force; Shadowhunters who have lost their parabatai describe being able to feel the life leave their partner. In addition, Marks made by one parabatai upon another are stronger than other Marks, and there are Marks that only parabatai can use, because they draw on the partners’ doubled strength.
The only bond forbidden to the parabatai is the romantic bond. These bonded pairs must maintain the dignity of their warrior bond and must not allow it to transform into the earthly love we call Eros. The late Middle Ages were littered with Shadowhunter-troubadours’ songs of the forbidden love of parabatai pairs and the tragedies that befell them. The warnings are not merely of heartache and betrayal but of magical disaster, impossible to prevent, when parabatai become romantically linked.
Like the marriage bond, the parabatai bond is broken, normally, only by the death of one of the members of the partnership. The binding can also be cut in the rare occurrence that one of the partners becomes a Downworlder or a mundane. Per above, the bond dissolves naturally if one of the partners becomes a Silent Brother or Iron Sister: The Marks of transformation that new oblates take are among the most powerful that exist and overwhelm and dissolve the parabatai Marks of binding just as they overwhelm and dissolve more ordinary warrior’s Marks.
A Shadowhunter may choose only one parabatai in his lifetime and cannot perform the ritual more than once. Most Shadowhunters never have any parabatai at all; if you, newmade Nephilim, find yourself with one, consider it a great blessing.
HOW TO REPORT A DEMON
• If you are not sure you can handle the demon yourself, do not engage it in battle or even in conversation.
• Remember such things as the number of demons, exact location, their current activity.
• If you know the demon’s species (or name, in the case of a Greater Demon), report it; if you don’t know the demon’s species, remember possible identifying features such as:
» Skin color (gray, green, purple-black, iridescent) and texture (scales, hide, bony spikes, fur)
» Presence of slime, color of slime
» Number of eyes, mouths, noses, arms, legs, heads
» Size (compare to other things of similar size rather than trying to estimate actual measurement—e.g., “about as big as a grizzly bear”)
» Noises (languages spoken, high-pitched voice versus low-pitched voice)
» Gender markings (very rare except with Greater Demons)
» Noticeable strengths (eats rocks or metal, ability to cling to walls and ceilings, etc.) and weaknesses (sensitive to being harmed by frostbite, compulsive need to count individual grains of spilled rice, overweening pride)
» Obvious sources of physical danger: fangs, talons, claws, spines, constricting body, acid blood, prehensile tongue, etc.
• Bring your thorough report to your local Institute, which will evaluate the threat and decide on next steps. You can assist by searching for the demon you’ve seen in Deutsch’s Demonfinder, the definitive resource cataloguing demons based on their physical characteristics. (It is, however, quite possible that the Institute already knows of the demon you’re reporting, in which case the investigation may be quite short.)
Demons, the great trespassers into our universe, are the reason why the Nephilim exist. They are the shadows that we hunt. Though our work managing and maintaining the careful balance among Downworlders and mundanes often feels like the majority of our responsibility, it is secondary. It is the work we do when we are not fighting demons. The primary task of the Shadowhunter, the mission granted us by Raziel, is to eliminate the demon scourge by returning the demons, once and for all, to the Void from whence they came.
WHAT ARE DEMONS?
The very word “demon” is problematic. Its etymology in English has nothing to do with evil spirits at all; it is used to describe these creatures only because of translation confusions in the early days of Christianity, many years before the Nephilim began. We use the word “demons” to describe the creatures we fight because Jonathan Shadowhunter used the word, based on his own religious history. Most human belief systems have some concept that represents what we call demons: Persian daevas, Hindu asuras, Japanese oni. To keep terminology uncomplicated, we refer to them as demons, as do most Nephilim.
Demons are not living beings in the sense that we usually understand. They are alien to our universe and are not sustained by the same kind of forces that sustain us. Demons do not have souls; instead, they are powered by a roiling demon energy, a vitalizing spark that maintains their form in our dimension. When demons die, this energy is separated from its physical body, and that body will be yanked quickly back into its home dimension. To human eyes, this disappearance can take many forms, depending on the species of demon. Some explode into dust, some fade from view, some crumple into themselves. In all cases, however, no remnant of the demon’s physical self remains in our world. (Warlock rituals exist that can “preserve” demonic physicality in our world, allowing one to keep, say, a vial of demon blood without its vanishing when its demon source is dispatched.)
WHAT DO DEMONS WANT WITH OUR WORLD? WHY DO THEY COME HERE?
We do not really know. Nephilim folklore says that demons are originally from our world, before they were banished (see Excerpts from A History of the Nephilim, Appendix A), so perhaps they are seeking to take it back for themselves. On the other hand, our stories also tell us that the demons were destructive and wicked from the beginning—that is why they were banished. So they may instead represent the spirit of evil in our world, in some fashion.
At an individual level, demons seem to come to our world in order to wreak havoc. Sometimes they come in search of power—power over other creatures, more powerful magic, and the like—but that power seems to have no ultimate purpose beyond its own existence, other than to wreak more havoc upon our world.
Many have argued for more philosophical origins of the demons’ hate for our world—that they hate our ability to create, for instance, which they lack. This argument is often used to explain why demons create warlocks: It is the only act of creation of which they are capable, and even that they must accomplish by stealing our own act of creation from us.
But we must, for now, throw up our hands and admit that it remains a mystery why demons come to our world. All we can say for sure is that they are here to do us violence, and that they have no interest in truces or treaties.
WHAT DO DEMONS “REALLY” LOOK LIKE? DO THEY LOOK LIKE UGLY MONSTERS EVEN WHEN IN THEIR OWN DIMENSION?
The relationship of demons’ bodies in our world to their “reality” in their own is a secret we may never discover. We believe that demons have no choice about the physical form they take in our world, but other than that, their true form is a mystery. We do not know if terms like “appearance” even apply in the Void from whence they come. One popular theory holds that when a demon travels to a dimension, a body is created for that demon that can survive in that dimension, and that this is the reason that demons are the only creatures that can move freely between worlds. This is mere conjecture, of course.
HOW DO I RECOGNIZE A DEMON IN THE WILD?
Recognizing demons, unless they are shapeshifters, is normally not difficult. Demons always take on monstrous forms in our world, and can usually be discerned by the uncanny, nauseating feeling that billows around them like a dark aura. In the rare cases of uncertainty, positive identification can be made via the demon’s violent reaction to holy items and places or via a Sensor’s violent reaction to the demon.
In addition to their general hideousness, demons often carry with them a scent of death that can be very strong. Shadowhunters asked to describe it usually reach for terms like “rotting,” “spoiled,” “brimstone,” “burning hair,” and the like. The effect can be debilitating to the unprepared Shadowhunter.
I am actually feeling kind of bad for demons here. Is that wrong?
WHAT IS THAT DISGUSTING BLACK LIQUID THAT APPEARS WHEN YOU CUT THEM?
Like other living creatures, demons’ bodies are kept fresh by a vital fluid, but this is not the usual red blood of our world. Instead, they contain a supernatural ichor. The term “ichor” refers originally to the golden blood of angels, and comes from the ancient Greek word for the blood of their gods. Demon blood is also ichor, but as it is infused with demon energies, it is black and viscous, thinner than blood but totally opaque. Ichor is not dangerous to touch, but it is somewhat toxic to humans if it gets into the blood via a wound or other means. It is unlikely to harm any Shadowhunter who has the usual range of protective Marks, but care should be taken.
CAN DEMONS SPEAK HUMAN LANGUAGES?
Most common demons cannot speak human languages. A good number of species are, however, able to parrot human speech that they have heard. This is often a sign that a demon has been summoned rather than coming to our world on its own; the demon will be heard to repeat, often obsessively, words and phrases spoken to it by the summoner.
There are a number of demon languages—possibly an infinite number of them—but a number that we have identified and that warlocks and, more rarely, Shadowhunters interested in demon research may learn. The two most common are known to demon philologists as Cthonic and Purgatic. It is worthwhile to at least be able to recognize these two languages in their written and spoken forms, and perhaps to memorize a few frequently used phrases, such as “Hello,” “Good-bye,” “I am a Nephilim,” “In the name of Raziel I abjure thee,” “Begone, fiend,” and so on.