Pallium (pl. pallia) is a Latin word for "cloak." Here, it is the name for a partial ka that endows the wearer with a package of skills, powers, knowledge (often instinctive, latent, or unconscious), and geases.
"Pallium" is the formal term; "mark" is used as an informal term. A pallium that confers authority, either by social recognition or by magical gift of command, is called a "mantle." The pallium that confers vampirism and creates an undead vampire is called a "pall" (related to "pallium"; "pall" is a name for a cloth covering a coffin).
Transmission of pallia:
Classic middle-European vampires raise other vampires by casting their pall on a victim with the killing bite. If they can, they also cast their geas of personal domination at the same time, to acquire a slave. They cast a pall judiciously, because it is exhausting to do so, besides creating a potential competitor. It is a condition of their pall that they cannot cast a pall except on the killing bite.
It takes very great and rare magical talent to create or modify a pallium, so the vast majority of vampires can only pass on what they received themselves. But it is comparatively easy to damage a pall or other pallium. Over the ages, great vampire hunters with magical power have laid curses on foes they could not kill, so that the foes and their descendants by enpallment have acquired more and more vulnerabilities over the ages.
Different vampire lineages have been attacked by different hunters in different parts of the world, which is why vampires in different places have different vulnerabilities.
Just as there are lineages of vampires, there are lineages of vampire hunters and other monster hunters. Some claim to go back to Nimrod. These pallia, called "Hunters' marks," are not as spectacular as vampires' palls, but neither are they so easy to damage. A typical list of gifts involved in a Hunter's mark is:
In Neil Gaiman's novel Neverwhere, Richard Mayhew appears to receive or inherit a mark from the monster-hunting character known only as "Hunter." He is subsequently recognized by various denizens of London Below as a "warrior."
Fays can recruit humans by casting a pallium, the Fairy Mark. These may be living humans, such as babies swapped for changelings, or those who incautiously go riding or dancing with the fays, or the ghosts of dead humans not claimed by Heaven or Hell. Sometimes, recruits are voluntary, but the involuntary cases naturally cause more publicity.
The Fairy Mark confers on recruits the magical power and immortality of the fays, but because of that immortality bars them from human afterlives. It also opens them to domination by Fay Lords. This Mark is usually conferred by eating fairy food or by staying in fay company long enough.
Fays not originally human often desire Adam's Mark, or their masters desire it for them. Adam's Mark gives fays a boost in abstractive ability, linguistic talent, and creativity—whereon they find they are also embroiled in the same moral complexities and challenges that face humans. Even fairies should be careful what they wish for. Fays acquire Adam's Mark through various close associations with humans, such as working as a brownie or becoming a fairy bride.
See The Fays.
The following novels involve characters acquiring powers and roles. Not all the novels explicitly use the idea of a mantle, a royal or heroic pallium, but the acquired packages of powers and roles fit the description.
In all these instances, the candidate has to be made ready to receive the mantle, or maybe receives it in chunks, getting some powers and knowledge with each installment. But there is no growth and learning in the normal human sense. It's a lot more like a software installation.
In the Inkliverse, almost all pagan gods who are more than fictions are djinn, elves, ghosts, or very occasionally humans, who have managed to acquire an angelic ka, or a bit of one. Back in the Antediluvian Era, the Powers gave the old gods, children of djinn and angels, carefully crafted angelic ka'u, their godheads. With their downfall, the godheads were broken up into fragments and shadows, and made the basis of the powers of lesser, later gods.
In addition, the fourteen Powers, the Valar, often work in the world by casting very fragmentary and tightly edited ka'u to accomplish some mission. Once exhausted or damaged, these ka'u sometimes get snapped up.
To the Powers, they various bits may be hardly more than dandruff, but they are as much as the recipient can handle, and said recipients often find their personalities overwritten or reduced to a coloring in the ka.
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2015