The Isthmus of Souls Lore

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With blood comes life, with life comes death.
The First Occurrence: Reaper
It had been a quieter morning for the man. He had been strolling down a long pathway, no cars or people in sight. It was still too early for most, and being that it was a weekend, many have chosen to stay in their dwellings and sleep in. For him, it was a ritual to take a morning stroll. He never liked sleeping much, so clearing up his mind before the day begun suited him more.

He found it strange that there would be figure in front of him, especially one bearing the apparel that it had. Long black drapes covered its body completely, and a hood casted a shadow over its face. It was facing directly towards the man, which sent a shiver down his spine. Most surely, it was observing him.

By now, any sane man would have ran, or at least a half sane one would squeal. He did neither, rather, approached the figure at a steady pace. He wondered why. Perhaps it was his curiosity, or maybe it was just that fact that the man didn’t mind his body to be found dead in the middle of the sidewalk later in the day. Life had already been dead in this man’s eyes for a while, and he longed for change. Something that would invigorate him. And if it killed him, so be it.

As he approached, he was able to make out the figure’s visage. It was a man, or at least resembled one. Its physiognomy was skeletal, and its skin tone was darker than an average human’s. It appeared to be bald, but was unclear due to the cowl that covered its head. If it didn’t have its bright yellow eyes, he might’ve thought it was dead. The vibe it emanated was chilling; if felt like death. As it came in view, it… smiled?

“Ian Larkan. Yes, you are the one.”

That even made him freeze in his place. It knew his name. It had been waiting for him. He stood there surveying the figure, his brain screaming for him to run.

“One of what? How do you know my name?”

The figure smiled. “A man can only learn so much in a short life. Pick one.”

Ian looked confused. Pick one?

“You have asked me two questions.” The figure continued. “I will answer one of them.”
Ian’s brain raced. The figure in front of him spoke as if it was going to kill him. So what would he want to know right before his death? He cleared his throat. “In a life like mine? I surely have time for both.”

The figure’s smile widened, delighted. “So you do. Of course, I knew you would say that.” It glided over to him, with no sign of movement of feet. “Ian Larkan, I know your name because I am you.” It drew out a bony hand and pointed its long index finger towards his chest. “ I am the manifestation of your life force. A familiar. You are the one who has summoned me to this world. I am your servant, and your blade.” It finished, drawing out a long scythe that seemingly appeared from behind him. It was much too large to have been concealed beneath his robes all this time.

“And if I don’t want a servant?”

The figure smiled. “You don’t have a choice. The minute I came to being in this world, our souls have been bonded by the chains of death. If either of our bodies were unable to sustain ourselves, the other would surely have its life drained too. Tell me Ian, have you ever felt what it’s like to lose a soul?” It paused, but Ian didn’t speak. It grinned and continued, “it’s worse than death.”

It extended its hand out, as if expecting a handshake from him. “Here’s my last piece of information. We must continue to supply souls to mine in order to sustain it. If it means killing your peers, killing your family, so be it. Of course, their deaths can only do so much… We gain the most by killing the others— the other familiars and their keepers. They have the strongest souls, the anima. If we encounter them, I will fight. If you are attacked, I will protect.” It leered inhumanely. “So, Master, isn’t this what you wanted? The meaning of living? The thrill of death?”

Ian clasped it’s hand and chuckled. “Yes. I think it is.”

The Isthmus of Souls
Anima is the life force of any living object. Without it, a being wouldn’t be dead— it would cease to exist altogether. Each individual beings have varied levels of anima, but no one has enough to sustain a familiar for more than a couple of days.

Familiars are considered a paranormal phenomenon. They manifest spontaneously when anima surges occur, but the anima quickly is consumed after the summon (lasting only at most a couple of days). In order to stay in an existing form, familiars will link their soul to another, thus establishing a bond that draws anima from a keeper. However, the creation of familiars will forever remain a mystery.

A familiar is created by their keepers themselves, in a manner of speaking. Since keepers are humans with unordinarily high levels of anima, a newly summoned familiar will manifest in the vicinity of that keeper. As soon as they are created, their survival instincts immediately allows them to identify their keeper, and they gain access to the following information;

“In order to survive, I need anima— others’ souls. The one in front of me is my keeper, and the one that can keep the two of us alive. If either of us die, the other follows.” or something of the variant. The thought process will vary depending on the personality of the familiar itself.

There are two methods used to harvest anima itself. Firstly, you can kill other keepers or their familiars. This is the most effective method since other keepers have the most anima. Note that the more anima that other keeper has harvested, the more that is translated to the victor. Since either enemy can be killed to eliminate the other, keepers are often more vulnerable than their familiars. This disadvantage can be lessened through proper training and awakening the Isthmus (see below). Bear in mind that not all battles results in a death for a keeper, and there could be a variety of reason why the fight could lead to a stalemate.

The second option is to kill other people. Though there is less to gain from killing bystanders, and morality comes into question, enough murders can allow a keeper to sustain for a short duration or time. In the eye of the unsuspecting, your actions (should you choose this path) are often reported to be murders on local news, etc. Note that this allows other keepers to identify you quicker. On top of that, both your keeper and your familiar aren’t immortal, so an investigation of the police on these ‘serial killings’ might result in the cornering of your keeper, which will lead to your inevitable death.

Each familiar has unique combative skills (passive and/or active). Their attributes and abilities are expected to define their fighting techniques. When a familiar is summoned, they have a basic understanding of their capabilities, but their abilities will improve as they practice in and out of combat. Familiars’ weapons can be pretty much anything; guns, swords, magic… but they are expected to be aligned with the familiar’s characteristics and skillset. Their abilities are expected to be the same.

A familiar and its keeper can also develop a bond known as the “Isthmus”. The Isthmus allows a keeper to inherit combative properties from their familiars, allowing them to be useful in combat as well. Forming an Isthmus is very difficult to master, and often won’t trigger unless the situation calls for it (an adrenergic effect). Keepers can also train or learn to improve their performance while their familiar’s are in combat, if it involves evading the enemy or supporting their familiars. They can also pressure the enemy familiar to defend their keeper instead of focusing on offense.

Keepers are always required to be present for the killing. When a person dies, their anima erupts from their body and lingers in the area. Keepers can harvest this anima to increase the time to be able to sustain their familiar. In other words, harvesting anima is like getting fuel to keep a familiar alive. The more they have, the more time they have before a resupply of anima is required. Since keepers naturally have the most anima, and potentially have a surplus from the souls of others, they are ideal targets for harvesting.

The keepers are the hunters and the hunted, and the familiars are their weapons. They must hide when they need to hide and kill when they need to kill. In order to survive, both the keeper and his/her familiar needs to be constantly alert. Both the keeper and the familiar starts off as novices. They develop will their skills together and develop a mutual relationship with one another as they interact in the world. Both of them need to be present when killing other keepers; the familiars are required to combat each other, and the victor keeper has to be near in order to assist their familiars or collect the anima.
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With blood comes life, with life comes death.
Anima is the measurement of one's soul. Everyone varies in the amount of anima they have in their bodies, but generally most average people hover around a low level. By that definition, keepers are humans with abnormally high anima levels.

Keepers are the suppliers of a familiar. Without them, the familiar has no way to sustain its own soul. Keepers are people that are existent in the world prior to the manifestation of their familiars.

Familiars are beings that comes to existence due to unnatural anima surges that occur spontaneously in the world. They will automatically bond with a keeper, humans with abnormal levels of anima. Since their existence is an anomaly to the physics of the world, they require a consistent stream of anima to keep them alive.

Keeper to Keeper Harvesting

Killing a keeper/familiar provides enough anima to last ~14 days (2 weeks). Variants in the amount of anima they have stored can lead to an increased duration of this number.

Innocent Soul Ratio
Killing a normal person can generally sustain a keeper for 12 hours. Variants in the anima level could lead to slightly different amounts of anima harvested, but generally will not stray too far from this value. By the estimation provided, harvesting the anima in a bystander is 28 times less efficient than harvesting from an average keeper (a keeper that has a depleted supply of anima).

The Siphon-Gorge Effect
Keepers- Following the death of a familiar, a keeper will absorb a huge amount of mana, which, due to sheer quantity and lethality, will soon explode the soul of the keeper.
Familiars- When a familiar loses their keeper, they lose all the anima that was currently stored in their keeper. Without a proper supplier, their soul will eventually wear away into nothingness.


With blood comes life, with life comes death.
The Ferrigan Aberrants
Johannes Ferrigan Wilheim
Johannes Ferrigan Wilheim was a researcher that dedicated himself in searching for solutions to his unexplained predicament following his meeting with his familiar. A detester of violence, Johannes preferred to find means to sustain his familiar without putting his life on the line. This led to a series of experiments that were aimed to be able to condense anima from the atmosphere around them, similar to how familiars were manifested. The theory went that if he was able to harvest this anima, all the keepers will have a peaceful means of sustaining their familiars. The path through his research was a bloody one; requiring the dissecting of keepers and familiars in order to learn more about the causes of manifestation.

Experimental failures led to the creation of Abberants— half developed familiars that are unable to bond with other keepers. However, due to the substances involved in the experiments, these aberrants are able to be self sustained by killing other keepers and familiars.

The very first familiar created by the experiments was dubbed "Rogue." Johannes, alarmed by the results of his tests, immediately tried to terminate the aberrant that he had created, but Rogue manages to kill both Wilheim and, consequentially, his familiar. During the clash, five other samples were shattered, triggering the eventual formation of other aberrants.

Information brokers come to know of these entities as The Ferrigan Aberrants.

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With blood comes life, with life comes death.
Civilian Defense Department Against the Supernatural
The Civilian Defense Department Against the Supernatural (CDDAS) is a government organization that was formed following the unusual influx of unexplained activities that followed the manifestation of familiars. Mostly comprised of familiars and researchers, the CCDAS are the most knowledgeable and active role in the government in terms of hunting down keepers and their familiars. They sought to quarantine all keepers in attempts to minimize civilian casualties, as well as use captured keepers and familiars in facilities for research purposes. Keepers evading the CDDAS refer to them as "moles."


With blood comes life, with life comes death.
Groups that are either composed entirely of or have members that are keepers. Syndicates are highly known groups that use the abilities of familiars to their advantage. Syndicates are very versatile and usually hunt in packs. Many of them lead criminal operations with little opposition, and the CDDAS usually steer clear of the larger organizations.


With blood comes life, with life comes death.
Information Brokers
Information brokers can be human and keepers alike. They report or relay information to other keepers for a price— either money, resources, information, or other established methods. Popular brokers often are under sworn protection by the regular members, and it is difficult to kill them off without expecting future troubles. Many brokers also (will) provide a variety of goods that can aid keepers in their endeavors.
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