They didn’t smell right, said Chras Angilar from the start. No one ever heard of their mercenary company, but they hired out pretty cheap so they were on board.
Mercenaries they weren’t. Too disciplined, too quiet, too well equipped, old weapons Chras has never seen. When others got drunk before the battle, they kept back. Grim fellows, looked like preparing for the end of days. But it was an easy job, minor noble got too big for his boots. Kill him and there’s gonna be cash.
The next day, when they formed, the sky suddenly went black. Unholy creatures swarmed out, the enemy looked like demons, that wasn’t in the contract!
Half of them were routed, many killed. But the outlanders held the line. Their odd weapons were effective on those monsters. If they were afraid they didn’t show. The survivors grouped behind them and the host broke through. The enemy has retreated.
It is nice to celebrate victory, but Chras knew that a) he won’t be paid and b) he won’t face those creatures again, not ever.
At night, when most were asleep, Chras gathered his men. They slit the throats of those ‘mercenaries’. Maybe they were heroes. But their arms were worth a fortune. And the bastards knew what they were facing.
A Spirit of Tradition has a completely unremarkable face. Its likeness is defined by what it wears and carries, its equipment and ornamentation. It might be spotted among the members of its tradition, looking like the others do, doing what the others do, ignored as it does not stand out of a crowd.
If one were to look at it with the Second Sight, or in Spirit World, one would see the same unremarkable figure, with more figures standing right behind it, each becoming less remarkable than the one before, forming a large host fading into shadows.
Chras was running, they were close. Shouldn’t have killed that fellow, shouldn’t be caught. Where could he hide? Maybe that temple. They would offer protection, it was said. The priest wouldn’t let him in, until he showed the amulet, as a bribe. Instead he was allowed to rest, got clothes and money. Chras wasn’t stupid, he found that it represents some order or something. Getting money for nothing, that he could do.
A Spirit of Tradition was around for centuries, it cares little for singular men. Important are its symbols and mission; if it recognizes someone compatible, it will attempt to draw the person into its services.
Should it be you, think twice. You will be given power and meaning. But your life will belong to a cause from then on. A Spirit can easily dominate weak minds. Others will be drawn and manipulated to the right goal.
Besides their mission, these Spirits have few principles. Where the recruits come from, they don’t care about either.
Lucky day! Asking around, Chras learned about a cache of weapons that belonged to the order. Climbing up the hill, he was planning how to sell all the loot and where to get away. There were better place to be rich.
When he got out of the masked cave, hands full with treasure, two armies were standing under his hill. One of them had his company, he could see the shields. The other had demons and monsters. It was bigger. The city had no walls to speak of.
For the first time in his life, Chras knew the right thing to do.
This Spirit forms only with intense, multigenerational traditions. A simple army unit or knightly order is not enough. There must be a mission, a purpose, that too many members take too seriously. As generations come and go, the mission takes a life of its own. The mission may be ‘good’ or ‘evil’, doesn’t matter. Most often it is fighting for something or against something.
A Spirit guards over the members of its tradition. It makes sure they are properly motivated and don’t have to worry about secondary concerns. It can keep the business running smoothly for centuries. Few ever learn they have a supernatural support, it mostly works through minor nudges and is busy enough to not appear obvious.
But should its charges be wiped out (accidents happen), a Spirit will act quite desperately to revive its tradition. Nudging becomes much more obvious and painful if you disobey. It may invest significant power in one person, then things get scary.
- "Did I go crazy?" He coughed out some more blood. The battle was over and Chras was the hero. He rode in with a shining armor. He barked orders and they made sense. Men obeyed him. He fought in the first line and won. He knew all about the enemy. When his sword cut down the main bastard and he fell apart into ash, he knew it wasn’t over, that it will come back. And there was something he was supposed to say…
- "Take this sword."
Getting rid of one
This is not a stray ghost, it belongs to the world of Living. Forget your common exorcism.
Barring some extreme magics with unknown side effects, the only way to destroy it is to persuade it, that it’s mission was achieved. That might be hard.
You could also kill all followers of the tradition, destroy all of its signature items and all the documents, that can be found. Then hope the spirit doesn’t find anyone suitable. It should fade in a few centuries.
- The wrong guy - a wholly inappropriate person is ‘touched by fate’ and has to be rescued. What looks like random insanity turns out to be more of a spirit possession. The spirit won’t release him, unless if finds somebody more suitable.
- Bury it - after a certain group was exterminated and reassembled several times, somebody must find a permanent solution.
- Bring it back - a group of legendary warriors is needed, but they are dead… or is there a way to bring them back?