What are Spirits
Spirits are beings of great power, but also great focus. They exist by default in another layer of reality that only touches against our own. They can appear for short times, though usually only do so when called out to by mortal worshippers(termed Callers). There are many spirits, each tackling life's great mysteries with their own specialized lense. Unlike beings and Creators, they are not prone to trying to see things from any direction but their predetermined bias. A spirit of war sees war in everything, even love. Ask one for tips for courtship, and she will tell you how to conquer your would-be mate through a clever strategy designed to weaken his defenses and allow you to make a surprise attack on their heart, claiming ultimate victory. Spirits have strict hierarchies. Though they see all of one another as kins of varying strengths of bonds, they pay special attention to those they consider above or below themselves directly, and those they think are directly related. Earn favor with the superior of another spirit, and that spirit is likely to defer to you. Earn favor with the inferior of a spirit, and its superior may assume it can order you around and grow offended if you spurn it. Of course, starting from the bottom and working up is also a way to earn the alliance of powerful spirits that may otherwise never directly deal with mortals at all.
Apparently, there was previous intelligent life on Promise who served the spirits, and in turn were served by them.
How do Old Ones fit into this?
Old Ones are spirits. In times long past, all spirits were part of the same court, but some strayed from the path set by the court. They became 'lost' and eventually a blight on the world. They were eventually defeated, and imprisoned on the moon to slumber for an eternity, until calamity destroyed it, releasing them. The Old Ones can be dealt with just as any other spirit, though their terms tend to be quite insidious and unfavorable. They tend to prey on those suffering from strong emotions that make them vulnerable to their honeyed words of power enough to ignore the downsides offered in the soul binding contract.
Communication tends to break down between courts. The more distant a court from another, the worse it gets. A spirit from the Life Court would probably have little to no idea of the subtleties and intrigues of the Corrupt Court, or even disdain for them.
Note that while most Courts have been able to name themselves, the Corrupt Court has been named by Kendrac, a Life spirit, with a particular disdain for the spirits in it. They would more likely consider themselves the 'righteous' court or something of the sort.
What's a soul binding contract?
To make a contract, a spirit will offer a path to a supplicant. It comes in several parts
- A bid. A bidding is a general purpose, for example: I bid you to battle. I bid you to protect. I bid you to learn.
- It tends to be one word, and emphasizes the primary purpose of the spirit's bond with the mortal.
- An Offer. This is what the spirit is giving the mortal in return for following the bid. For example: I offer you strength and guidance. I offer you protection. I offer you wisdom beyond your years.
- A purpose. This tends to be a longer version of the bid, explaining what exactly the mortal will be doing. Example: You will be my spear, striking at the corruption, guided by my hands to lay telling blows and bring balance to the world.
- A path. All spirits offer a path, explaining what is to come. Example: My path is one of pain and struggle, but you will protect your kin from worse.
The mortal is then presented with the choice to accept. If they do, the spirit invests them with power. This investment is a powerful experience, and leaves physical marks on the supplicant, making their allegiance much more clear. Old Ones tend to deform and defile those that pact with them, while other spirits emphasize aspects they value themselves.
Lastly, the vow: You are mine. I am yours. Call to me, and I will come. When I call, you will come.
When this is done, the mortal is now a caller of that spirit, and may conjure them at any time by speaking their name and wishing their presence clearly. This does work both ways. A spirit may demand the presence of their caller, drawing them across the world to serve them. Many spirits also gift their callers with small trinkets. Some have additional use, some are merely tokens of acceptance.
Spirits are hesitant by default to accept a mortal who already has a contract and is walking another spirit's path. It is nearly impossible to walk two paths with full attention, so accepting such a mortal means accepting less than ideal. This does not mean it's impossible. The easiest way to forge multiple contracts is to stay within one hierarchy. Gaining contracts from other spirits who are above or below the first will be met with less resistance. Before one can even consider such things, one must prove themselves a worthy follower of the path they have chosen. No freshly inducted caller will be considered for a second path, and asking for another too soon after the last will be met with firm rebuff.