Bonding. The most sacred, valued connection in the aershaa world. A bond is a special, significant link between an aershaa and another individual from a sentient race, through which the two partners share their pains, their strengths, and even their thoughts. Bonding goes as far back as history can remember, but as time has marched on, it has become rarer and rarer, giving birth to the rumor that the bonds of the world are shriveling.
Bonding can't just happen between any two races. It is always a connection between aershaa and another race. It can happen in the following 3 ways:
Human bonding is extremely rare, as humans often consider the bonded to be tainted by the devil, particularly in the Timbervastian culture.
Discovering a Bonded
Discovering a bonded isn't an instantaneous link, an epiphany, or a magical moment where it suddenly appears. Likewise, though a bond may sleep dormantly within two individuals, it is not always there and active. None of the connections between the two individuals will be established until they themselves begin to develop them.
A bond is uncovered first through a strong relationship. In most cases, it's friendship, though in rare cases, it can be discovered through rivalry, or even a "strictly business" partnership. It takes a significant connection on a personal level – the kind of connection you have with someone when you start recognizing their habits, speech patterns, and know what to expect from them. In a friendship, this is when you start finishing each other's sentences. It is through this connection that subtle, revealing changes will begin to happen. Perhaps the furr one day shouts "Ouch!" as the aershaa's paw is stepped on, only to realize that nothing happened to their own foot. Perhaps they start reading their companion's mind in small doses, realizing what's happening only after it's happened several times. It's these small steps that develop into a much stronger connection, and eventually, the realization of a bond. It is that mutual acknowledgement and understanding that finalizes the deep connection between the two souls, establishing the two deepest links at their fullest.
The Psychic Link
Every single pair of bonded has two types of links: a psychic and a physical link. This goes beyond just telepathy, which can stretch for several miles before it becomes useless. A psychic link is about being able to read the other person entirely. The bonded knows where their partner plans to move next, can feel their emotions, can hear their thoughts, and most importantly, can move as a single unit with enough practice, working seamlessly together to achieve their goal.
Though telepathy breaks after several miles (this varies; it can be a few dozen to a few hundred depending on the mental and psychic capacity of the pair), the psychic link in itself does not. Emotions and a deeper knowledge of what the bonded is doing and how they are faring is always present, often with a feeling of the general direction the bonded could be found in.
The Physical Link
The second link is the physical link, which fuses seamlessly with the psychic link. It enables the bonded to read each other's movements while also sharing their physical pleasures and pains, to a certain extent. A subtle touch is not going to pass to the bonded, but a strike, a cut, any kind of touch that is enough to interrupt them and make them stop, passes to their bonded. Unlike the psychic link, the physical link will be active no matter how far apart the two are.
The physical link also allows the two to share their strengths and magical capacities, however only in the case of the Lekkir does it allow sharing of the magic itself. A bonded human will not gain the ability to control magic, but a bonded chaos mage (a human that's encountered a magistorm) will find it easier to learn to control their magic over time, and is very likely to adapt to their bonded's style, if not element, of magic. In terms of strength, a weaker bonded will find themselves rapidly gaining muscle, strength, and defense to very closely resemble their partner to the extent that their body type, size, and shape will allow.
Bonding with Light aershaa
A unique ability of Lights is the ability to enter their bonded for a short period of time and lend them their magic and strength. This is due to their natural phasing ability and high psychic capacity, as well as a deep understanding of ethermagic that few other beings on the planet hold. Its duration is short – no more than a few minutes – but the two function as a single being in this short period of time, each given an extra boost of protection and power to face a threat with.
Legend has it that the Lekkir were the ones to grant the gift of bonding to aerkind in their greatest time of need, during a great revolt against the tyranny of man. They interwove the souls of the aershaa with all of their allies, ultimately resulting in their victory and freedom. A thousand varieties of this tale are told, but the truth is long lost to history.
Losing a Bonded
The death of a bonded does not mean the death of both partners, however with it comes an indescribable agony and grief unlike the loss of any loved one. Most believe that both bonded die, simply for the fact that the pain and grief is too great for most to cope with, during which they'll either succumb to disease or take their own lives. It is the pain of your soul being torn and the pain of a very part of yourself being gone, even though in this world, the soul itself does not die.
A bond need not be lost through death alone. Erasing has been highly practiced in human culture, particularly in the last several years, where the mind of an aershaa or furr is completely erased, and sometimes rewritten. This process does not sever the bond internally, but it silences it outwardly. The connection is lost, and the pain to the remaining partner can be just as great as death. If the erased bonded is also rewritten – given new memories and a carefully reconstructed mindset – the bond will never be realized again in this lifetime. However, if they are quickly erased, an erased mind can be slowly re-awakened, the most memories returning in the presence of their bonded. In time, such a bond can be recovered.
A bond remains through the soul's reincarnation into the next life, however it cannot be recognized if it's not in a compatible body. For example, an aershaa is bonded to a furr, but the aershaa dies and is reborn as another furr. Though the two may develop a friendship, the bond cannot alight. It is said that if a bond is not re-connected in three lifetimes, at the end of the third lifetime, the bond will shrivel and die. It is this simple fact that makes bonding such a scarcity in the world today - it takes a Lekkir to create a fresh bond between two souls, with the Lekkir being one of the two partners.