According to the Secta Arbite, the branch of the Ark dealing with supernatural entities, hundreds of Ethereal creatures pass into and out of the Material plane every day via Ethereal rifts. Most of these creatures are harmless or indifferent to mankind, usually accidentally wandering through a rift and accidentally trapping themselves here. A few are outright hostile, and actively seeking out ways to cause suffering and discord. Perhaps the most dangerous of the spirits that pass through though, are the ones with intentions unknown, who come here not on a whim or to feed, but in accordance with a much greater plan.
Little is known about the organization of creatures of the Ethereal plane, though the Secta Arbite has compiled a very rough hierarchy of "Families" of Ethereal Creatures. There are the ones called "Physicals" - the spirits which have a semi-corporeal form, with a tendency to be monstrous aberrations. Creatures like Myzics, and Alpae are considered part of the Physical family. Then there are the ones called "Menials" which have no true corporeal form and tend to be little more than solitary wanderers or sedentary hermits. Then there are the "Nobles" which, in addition to having no corporeal form, boast a impressive intellect and are believed to be a part of some form of sophisticated and nebulous enclave.
Prophets belong to this group. Not only are they intelligent, but also powerful. All ethereal spirits exude some sort of affinity with Ether; to them, it's as natural as breathing. Using that as a simile, some spirits may simply breathe to get by, while others train their entire lives conditioning to respire efficiently, effectively and conservatively. The Prophet definitely falls in the latter of group, displaying a devastating mastery of Ethereal manipulation both on and off the Ethereal plane.
However, with such power there is a caveat. Outside of the Ether, Prophets cannot sustain their life or power without linking themselves back to the plane. There are only two ways to do this; through an active rift, or through the soul of a living being. While menials and physicals like Phages and Mungers consume a souls, and Apoths and Demiurges linger around the radiating comfort of large rifts, the Prophet seeks a more amiable solution; living within a host.
The reason for this is mostly unknown. Prophets could theoretically sustain life next to any source of Ether, such as within the matrix of a Nexus, or around a rift. In reality though, they are not normally found around these areas. It is speculated that Prophets may harbor a particular interest in the human race, for some reason incomprehensible to us. It's widely believed that the Prophets fight their battles on the Physical plane - two rival Prophets might inhabit two rivaling children in hopes that one might kill off the other on the material plane. The answer to the question, is usually ambiguous, and when asked, Sorcerers themselves often give a convoluted answer which amounts to little more than "I really don't fully understand it myself."
There are other spirits which house themselves inside a physical body. Usually, over time, they consume the soul, and leave the body as a mindless, soulless husk once they vacate. The Prophet does not go about the occupation the same way. While many host-born spirits are parasitic, the Prophet is symbiotic - not harming the host, rather living beside (and inside) it. In a process deemed "The Soul Fuse" a prophet enters a host, usually a hale pre-pubescent child, with an open, healthy mind. The prophet, over a course of several months, reaches into the soul of the host and tethers it to the Ether. The distinction between "Spirit" and "Soul" here is paramount. A "Spirit" is a creature born forth from the Ether, while a "Soul" is the divine "battery" within in us all that grants animation, cogniscent thought, instinct and a suite of many other attributes that separates the "living" from the "dead." The tethered soul acts as a mobile, miniature nexus for the Prophet, an open gateway to the Ether, from which the Prophet can draw a steady stream of life-sustaining energy. The soul-nexus is initially small, only radiating enough energy so that the Prophet may lie dormant in the host.
Over a few months, the host undergoes a series of subtle, strange changes. He or she may hear the incoherent babble of voices in their head. They may start to exert small, uncontrollable bursts of Ether, resulting in inexplicable phenomenon - bursting street lights as they walk by, setting things ablaze by accident, speaking in tongues or spooking animals. Reports of such incidents often put children on a watch list for the Arbiters, who closely monitor those who exert notably abnormal tendencies. After a short while, usually over a period of a month, these tendencies abruptly stop, as the prophet wakes finally and begins to reign in the excess Ether and burn it off via natural processes.
It is at this time that the Prophet begins to actively communicate with it's host. Usually the host reacts with a certain degree of denial, followed by a degree of reverence hoping that prayer might rid him or her of the voices. This futile event is usually followed by a mental breakdown and eventual acceptance. Once the stage of acceptance has been reached, the Prophet and the host begin a process of bonding, which will ultimately result in the production of a Sorcerer.
The bonding is a process that takes years to complete - though some move through it faster than others. The key concept is opening one's mind to the completely and totally to the Prophet, and vice versa. Ethereal spirits are notoriously emotional, and opinionated. Usually a Prophet chooses it's host based on whether or not the child has views that are in alignment with it's own, though not all Prophets are fortunate enough to find one that sufficiently fits the bill. Once both have "opened up" to each other, then the true tribulations start. The host must learn how to weave and cast spells, while the spirit must learn the confines and restrictions of the physical body. No longer can it simply pass through corporeal material and have senses unrestricted by the physical boundaries of the material plane. Presumably, both of these things are alien to each respective party - most children have no knowledge of Ethereal Arcana, and most spirits have only a rudimentary understanding of true physicality. However, it is safe to say that it is the Prophet who's adaptation is the harder of the two.
Once the host has a grip on the elements of spell casting; harnessing emotion, appropriate somatic gestures and verbal components, and the spirit has mastered the art of living as a corporeal, the bonding can said to be complete. At this stage, the soul-nexus is presumably large enough to sustain mid-level Arcane activity, warranting the host the title "Sorcerer" according to the Secta Arbite. The soul-nexus grows wider with time, allowing for a more rigorous and sustained volume of Ether into the Sorcerer, which in turns allows greater and more dangerous spells to be weaved.
There are a number of pros and cons to living as a Sorcerer.
Always with a friend - never alone.
"Cyrak is more than just a friend - it knows me, and I know it. There are days, weeks even, I go without talking with another human. And Cyrak is there with me - I never feel abandoned. That's more than I can say for my parents."
-Wentella the Red
The Sorcerer and Prophet, once bonded, are bonded for life. Presumably the Sorcerer and his/her Prophet have minimally learned to live with each other, and optimally they have created a bond of friendship. Many Sorcerers describe their bond with their Prophet as the same bond fast friends share, though inexplicably closer and more intimate. That being said - one is never truly alone, and one's thoughts are not sacred. Sorcerers must be wary of what they think, and whether or not said thoughts might be fodder to ridicule or scorn by their Prophet, who may very well have a differing opinion on the subject.
Phenomenal cosmic power
"Can't you see? You aren't human any more! You're so much more! You're like me. You're a divine hybrid - who were these meager humans to judge you? They who so quickly turned to ash with a simple utterance and gesture? Is there no end to the hubris of the human race? Who are they to judge the children of the Gods?"
-Asimemnon of Derule
Without a doubt, seasoned Sorcerers are among the most dangerous entities to walk the material plane. They are mobile power sources - commanding power similar in potency to that of a Wizard, without the bound nature of a Wizard's Nexus.
Shortened Life Spans
"Wentella... your eyes are bleeding."
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that Ether has adverse affects upon physical beings. Sorcerers emit dangerous levels of Ether, exposing themselves constantly to the hazardous element. The lucky ones die of Ethereal Poisoning out of the blue, one day being perfectly fine and the next day, stone dead. More often, death is heralded years in advance by a number of mutations and growths, as the Ether gradually corrupts the Sorcerer's physical form.
"The Ark says they mean well - they just want to keep me safe, and keep those around me from undue harm. But ever since they stained my skin with Ash, most people go out of their way to stay out of mine. I used to feel empowered, to frighten everyone so - but now, I feel lonely. My only real friend is Cyrak - the closest thing I have to a companion is Sylas... but it seems now that even he has more important things to do than look after a witch and her pet spirit."
-Wentella the Red.
Most are more than aware of the danger of Sorcerers - their power is legend. People not only fear their devastating power, they fear their death-bringing stereotype, usually for good reason. They are walking bombs - literally irradiating their path with Ether. Known Sorcerers are branded head to toe in ritual Ashtoos by the Arbiters, so that it's impossible not to spot one in a crowd.
"The Secta Arbite will not suffer rogue witches and warlocks to live without first identifying, cataloging and branding them. Those who refuse will be forced. Those who resist will be put to the flame."
-From the Arbiter's Training Scrolls
While the Arbiters are always looking for Sorcerers to fill their ranks, they are just as wary of Sorcerers gone rogue. Unlabeled Sorcerers, that is those who refuse to be branded, are excessively dangerous, especially because they are a risk to anyone they come across, anywhere. While the Arbiters prefer to rehabilitate and indoctrinate Sorcerers into their ranks, they have no qualms about pursuing one as a target.
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CodexEther and Ethereal Magicks ( Systems ) Mystical - Defining
"Sorry?! There's nothing to be sorry about boy! That was a conflagration worthy of my applause, my commendation even. Now excuse me, I have to go don new robes. These are a bit...burnt."
-Circle Master Caius Aurelias, to his Apprentice Idimus