Followers of the Dark Path invoke rituals upon themselves to augment their body to become more effective predators to their favored prey, the Burning Legion. The act of these unholy rites to Demon Hunter independents is anecdotal at best and all information cited on this page is an expansion of lore snippets and facts gathered from in-game lore and the new Illidan Novel. Credited Sources will be given when possible. The purpose of this page is not to dictate how the rituals are performed but to instead provide inspiration to other aspiring authors.
" I can feel the hatred in your eyes Thero'shan. The hungering fury that seethes and writhes to the surface from the pit of your throat just before the bow string serenades your fury. Gaze into the sockets of your prey as you release the knock of your arrow. Within the Demon's eyes, you will see a window into the burning hells, where you will join him and find his domain beneath you."
The First Hunt is the first real test of the Thero'shan's abilities. The name of the rite is misleading, as prior to the first hunt, the supplicant will have spent years or decades training under their Shan'do. It is at this stage the instructor presumes the Thero'shan has learned the methods of tracking fel signatures, the identification of the stages of corruption, and has mastered the varying stances and combative techniques used to counter against each of the known servitors of the legion.
At a time deemed only suitable to the Shan'do, the teacher and student will select an appropriate demon for the supplicant. The student and instructor will scry the true name of this demon using reagents gathered from other members of the preys species. Once the true name of the demon is discovered, it will be inscribed onto a ritual blade.
The chosen demon will often be far away and difficult to find as to provide the greatest challenge to the aspirant. The thero'shan is then sent into the forest alone with a ritual dagger inscribed with the demons true name upon the bevel. The supplicant must either capture the demon alive or slay it and carve out its heart along with filling a vial of its blood.
Should the supplicant fail the first hunt, he/she will be abandoned along the dark path.
Kings Cannon: In times during great haste and urgency the Shan'do may use a ritual summoning circle to beckon the prey to them for the student to bind.
Ritual of Binding:
"To walk the path is to have no contradictions and to make no compromises, through the cutting of your eyes you must dedicate your life to destroying the Burning Legion. Through your damnation you will wage this war relentlessly. Your final solace, will be to fall in battle against the Legion.
...That is all."
The most essential ritual of the dark path, where the Demon Hunter defiles their body with the soul of the demon captured upon the first hunt. Caging the demon soul inside themselves, the two souls are forever bound together and share the same fate. Upon the hunters death, the true potential of their sacrifice is made clear as the bound demon may never return to the realm of mortals again, the hunter will be cursed to wrestle with the demon soul in the twisting nether for the rest of eternity.
This is the most powerful ritual the demon hunter can invoke, it is the secret to their unnatural strength and magical prowess. This ritual comes at a terrible cost of possible madness and utter conversion into the legions ranks should the Thero'shan fail to keep the bound demon in check. However, if successful, the hunter will become the ultimate weapon against the legion. It is the first step to mastering the art of metamorphosis that grants the hunter power overwhelming to be able to stand toe to toe with the legions most powerful lieutenants.
Armed with the true name of their intended demon, the name they scryed will give them power over the creature to be able to fix it to the mortal plane. After specific instruction on the secrets of the ritual circles, a binding circle is carved into the earth by the Thero'shan, a long and tedious process that must be done entirely by hand. The Thero'shan by tradition must defile their body with the demon soul by their own hand to signify that their commitment is genuine and only by their choice that they make this sacrifice of their afterlife.
The Thero'shan will kneel at the center of the binding circle. A dark incantation is spoken to awaken the binding circle and a final word of power is uttered to activate the runic tattoos etched upon the flesh of the hunter during the ritual of marking. The thero'shan will carve out the heart of their chosen demon using the ritual dagger then devour it and drink half the vial of its toxic blood.
If the prey was captured alive during the first hunt, it is here where the demon will be slain within the binding circle using the ritual dagger inscribed with its true name. The binding circle will redirect the demon soul inside the cage of the aspirants mind before it escapes into the nether and the ritual dagger with the true name will be plunged into hunters torso to engage the first part of its seal, like a key engaging the lock of a prison cell. Unconsciousness of the student usually follows.
It is then the responsibility of the Shan'do to relocate the Thero'shans body to a place of solitude where they cannot be disturbed. The Shan'do may then place the body upon a specially prepared alter. The sentinel Shan'do may line the alter with curios and items of faith, scented oils and lit incense. Flower petals of nightblossom and leaves may be scattered about the 'corpse'. The students unconscious body may be dressed in robes of mooncloth, the body cleaned, hair brushed and braided, decorated with crescent silver charms and beads befitting to a cadaver being prepared for its final rites as only one in five will survive the death of the elf they were and the predator that may yet be born. The Shan'do will then take a meditative prostrating posture, he is forbidden by tradition to leave his students side at any time during their internal struggle. Upon the surface this rite may seem peaceful and tranquil but under the surface of the students mind, a terrible war will wage within.
Student may be subjected to a vision from their past, where the demon may attempt to play upon their darkest desires, taking forms of past loves and most feared nemesis in a final attempt to beguile the student into allowing them to consume their soul. The Thero'shan must resist, see through the deception and slay the demon again in their dreams.
Upon the demons second death, the illusion will be shattered and truth will be revealed. The aspirant will be be subjected to both clairvoyance and madness most horrific. Visions of the Legion's mental network will be opened to them. In their nightmare, they will be subjected to being forced to witness hundreds of words in current and all universes during real time burning, being marched upon in conquest by the Burning Legion. Alien species never seen before and the blood curdling screams of their souls being cleaved asunder under the hew of hellish weaponry bathed in demonic fire. Hundreds of millions of demonic solders and the communications of their Annihilan commanders will assault the Thero'shans mind all at once and attempt to drown out rational discourse to resist their calls. These visions will be relentless.
It is at this point that the eyes of the student shall be removed, either by the actions of the student, unable to grasp or come to terms yet with the horrible truth of the universe, or by their master who will remove them to allow the Spectral Sight to develop in time with further instruction.
The Shan'do will then wrapped the wounds of their eyes in specially prepared runic cloth to stanch the flow of blood then check his Thero'shan after the binding, to insure the prison has not failed nor the seal has faltered and his student has not been possessed by the demon.
If found to be not in control of their body, or has gone utterly mad from being exposed to truth never to be witness by mortal eyes. The student will be executed by the teacher, being put down as if he/she were nothing more then a rabid animal.
Ritual of Marking:
"And thus I mark you, Thero'Shan. You who are possessed of iron will and indefatigable strength. With the Demons Essence I mark your flesh. With Demon's Blood you reaffirm your commitment. Your body shall mirror the great Shan'do, powerful in form and wicked to behold. Though we are lesser, we shall reap a great toll."
After the Thero'shan returns to the realm of reality once more and has proven themselves capable to subjugating their demon soul to their will, the Shan'do will immediately evoke a marking of specially patterned tattoos to suppress the demon soul within its internal prison. The Shan'do will empty the other half of the blood vial into a mortar and mix with other herbal regents to dilute the bloods thickness along with an alkaline until the acidic qualities of the mixture is safe enough to not completely consume the skin of the Supplicant. The blood will serve as a conduit for the magical pathways in which the demons entrapped essence will flow.
The Thero'shan shall be restrained upon the alter with straps, shackles or any other magical spell of immobilization. beginning with the same ritual dagger to trace the general runic patterns, the Demon Hunter Master will use a needle usually crafted from a thin bone of a demon to carve the finer lines of the tattoo's in a pattern that is angular and sharp. The markings may snake around the hunter's torso to signify a cage or bars to hold the demons essence at bay in the body while simultaneously distributing the demon's essence in ways that will augment the hunter's power.
The ritual of marking of the hunters skin by way of hand needle is an extremely tedious and painstakingly long process. Initially, the Thero'shan will be inscribed with runes of binding, as to stabilize the student and prevent an overwhelming of the student's mind by the inner demonic power.
It is during this time the student is in the greatest danger, as they grow in power they risk not developing control fast enough. If this happens, the student may metamorphosize against their will, being subsumed by the power within them and becoming lost to the mortal plane for all time as they turn into a demon.
As the student progresses in power, additional runes of containment and channeling will be added to better manipulate the demon within. The final tattoos are typically empowerment runes, to augment the student's abilities tremendously and grant them power enough to undergo metamorphosis under their own will.
Every Demon Hunter, from the moment of their initiation to their death in battle, understands that in order to walk The Path, they must forfeit their peaceful afterlife to wrestle with demons in the next life. Every Demon Hunter seeks to fall in battle against the Burning Legion. To them, death is the beginning of another battle. When a Demon Hunter falls, their closest brothers may give them a proper send-off.
Demon Hunters are dangerous, and their remains are dangerous as well. Kaldorei custom demands that Night Elven bodies be returned to the Earth of Azeroth from which all life springs. A Demon Hunter's remains are corrupted, and will still hold power long after their deaths. To prevent a Demon Hunter's remains from desecrating land upon Azeroth, they are cremated. Their remains are not always recoverable, the chaos of their battles often tearing them to pieces or even being lost in the Nether. If the remains are recoverable, a funerary pyre may be constructed or adapted. Beneath the Light of the Moon, A Demon Hunter's remains are put to the torch, in hopes that Elune may look favorably upon the deeds of her wayward child one final time before their soul enters the Nether. The following may then be recited:
“As was taught by Stormrage, we live by his example. "
"We give ourselves to Azeroth in defense of our home. We give our souls to damnation to spare others the Flame. We lay down our lives to fight where shadows roam, let the deeds of the Hunter lie bare without shame."
The Ceremony continues until the Body has completely burned away. Some ceremonies may be performed with a simple wooden pyre not meant to last past the Last Rites. Others may be performed with a funerary slab meant to be reused. If the Body is unrecoverable, the same ceremony may be performed, but an effigy may be burned in the fallen Hunter's place, or nothing at all, with a symbolic send-off.
Thera'dora Delar "The Trial of Ancient Keepers"
The nights grow increasingly more tenebrous, Furblogs take to their log fallen shelters as the guise of the mother slowly wanes into her aspect of the night warrior with the end of each lunar cycle. It is a time where even the great elder beasts of Nightsong forest, squelch their bellowing roars of territorial disputes and rites to mate to the serenade of crickets rubbing their fanned wings together. For over many millennia the beasts know for one night a month the Kaldorei enter the forest under the face of the night warrior, to hunt and to cull the overgrowth of the animals to preserve balance of the land.
The hunt calls to every Kaldorei, we cull because it is apart of our culture and our responsibility as keepers of Ashenvale to preserve balance between herbivores and predators, and to route any outlander that dares to threaten these ancient lands.
Upon the final sliver of silver seen upon the moon just before darkness fully embraces the forest. Many Kaldorei can be seen stringing their bows, and grinding crescent blades along whetstones, quivers are filled gluttonously with freshly fetched and balanced arrows in preparation to harvest Ashenvales great bounty.
Kaldorei demon hunters, the fallen and the damned, are no exception to this ancient tradition. To our former kin their preparations is that of song revelation to the nightwarrior and honor of their ancestors.
...Ours is a trial of blood, and a culling of one another.
The Illidari call this ancient rite, Thera'dora Delar or the trial of ancient keepers in the tongue of humans. It is a time where demon hunters congregate upon a place of power to partake in a dark ritual where we pit one another against other hunters whom we perceive to of fallen from their purpose. In our path, corruption is an inevitable reality that we all must come to terms with in exchange for the great power we wield. We are dangerous, forever battling not only the demons upon the outside but also, upon the inside as well. Thus we except our exile with grace not out of strife towards those that simply choose not to understand or acknowledge the necessary evils but also to protect our former kin from ourselves.
Thera'dora Delar is a culling of our meek and also an alluring opportunity to gain greater power. To absorb the wisdom from our keepers that have fallen to corruption and from the echoes of spirits still battling the hordes of demons within the twisting nether after they have fallen in battle against the Legion.
Succeed against these damnably transcendent terrors and greater power shall be yours before we disperse into the pitch of the night warriors embrace to cull the demons from our forests.
The penalty for failure of course, is death.
Miscellaneous Rites and Rituals
Ritual of Sanctification:
A ritual that all Demon Hunters must undertake before Feronas Sindweller will allow them to set foot upon the hallowed ground of Sindweller's rise. A defiled circle of land that marks the grave site of where Tichondrius was slain by Illidan Stormrage.
A large wooden bowl is taken, carved in it sides both in and out of it the elven names of previous hunters that have fallen in battle against the Legion. Illidari that wish to set foot upon this holy place will bring with them baskets of melonfruits and drain the fruits nectar into the bowl until it is full to the brim.
The Demon Hunters will then wash their face using their bare hands, and their feet as well of the melon juice drained inside the bowl while reciting their vows to their hunt to destroy the legion in an ancient elven tongue.
"To walk the path is to have no contradictions and to make no compromises, from the the cutting of my eyes. I will dedicate my life to destroying the Burning Legion. Through this damnation I will wage this war relentlessly. My final solace, will be to fall in battle against the Legion.
...That is all."
This ritual is considered by traditional Kaldorei and those of the Priestess Sisterhood of Elune to be a mockery and perversion of their own ancient practice found within the Sanctuary Temples of Elune. To them it may spark ire and malice, but to an Illidari, it maybe a reminder of the elf they once were and an important anchor to the threads of sanity they have left.
Types of Bound Demon Souls
While the bound Demon essence is not in control of the Hunter's body, the type of Demon bound may still have differing effects upon the true personality of the Hunter. The influence varies depending on the level of restraint the Hunter has.
- Aranasi - An arachnid race subjugated by the Legion first encountered upon the planet Mardum, Brood Queen Tyranna is among the most notable Aranasi found to date. A Hunter with the prowess and will to bind one of these rare species may gain indefatigable patience and tenacity. The Hunter may be more inclined to keep to the shadows, adopting a style of laying deadly traps and allowing Demonic prey to come to them instead. The virtues of an Aranasi are patience and discipline. The Hunter with Aranasi essence may be able to lie in ambush for days on end being as still as stone until the perfect prey walks upon the carefully constructed web of cruel machinations that lie in wait. While this is a Hunter of either feast for famine, the Hunter might, though rarely, adopt a means of preserving prey. For instance during times where multiple Demons may ensnare themselves upon their traps upon the same evening. Eating the soul of one Demon but keeping the rest securely tied away for another night that may not be as lucrative. The Hunter may develop traits such as a manipulative and sadistic personality. Their carefully layed traps and snares may make them the most territorial of Hunters.
- Doomguard - This Demon essence may make the Hunter more aggressive and violent. As potential ranking commanders and overseers of the Legion, the Demon essence may give the hunter a sense of dominance and the compulsive need to assert him/herself to supplicate those around him. They were originally designed to be the Titan's hounds to seek out sacrificial magics. The Hunter may find they have a particular clairvoyance when Blood Magic and Sacrificial Practices are nearby and may be quite proficient in casting them as well, Doomguards were also known for having incredible brute strength when not using their magic and those, as a result those who bind themselves with this demon experience a vast increase to physical strength.
- Dreadlord - Also known as Nathrezim. The essence of the Dreadlord may augment a Hunter in a manner that reinforces their cunning and guile. Hunters that chose to bind a Dreadlord may find themselves devising rather elaborate plots and schemes used to vie for strength and power. Those who have bound the essence of a Dreadlord tend to study and scry upon their adversaries for weaknesses before engaging them in combat, a process that could take minutes or even years. While many Dreadlords employ the use of dark magic in combat, others rely on raw strength and brutal tactics, affording Hunters versatility in choosing a combat style suitable to them depending on the particular Demon that is to be bound to them.
- Felbat - Felbats are Demons who fight with swarm tactics, which makes for an unusual combination with the few and solitary Demon Hunters. Those who bind the Felbat will find themselves gifted with great aerial skills with demonic wings inherited from the bound demon. These Hunters will work well in a unit with others, and will be influenced to hunt as a team to deal more damage. Felbats do not possess great magic or intelligence however, save for a bestial cunning, and are best bound by those who are already proficient in those fields.
- Felbeast - The rare and mysterious Fel Beast is a wrathful and beastial Demon. The Hunter who manages to bind one will gain considerable powers of flame and molten stone. The twin-headed nature of the Demon makes this bind a risky and unstable one, but the benefits of such power cannot be denied. This demonic bind requires great focus to maintain their sense of identity as the Demon's soul rests within their own, and must be wary to not succumb to the enraged Demon's endless rage.
- Felguard - "Are you too pathetic to fight your own battles?" may be the motto of a Hunter that has bound the essence of a Felguard. Felguards are the Legion's shock troopers and front-line soldiers. This essence may make its host as reckless as he is fearless. He may be the first one in line to make the charge. Felguards are lacking in the ways of magic but greatly make up for it with their raw physical power. The Hunter with this essence would reap the benefit of the Felguard's immense strength. Other Hunters might be very hard-pressed to match the brute strength of someone that has bound the essence of a Felguard.
- Felhunter - While not bound very often due to their bestial nature, Felhunters remain a viable candidate for binding. A Hunter who binds a Felhunter could find their traditional senses increased tenfold and their magical senses and spectral sight greatly enhanced. Their magical prowess might be augmented as well, particularly in the the area of countering magic. Hunters who bind a Felhunter might find themselves hungering for magic and/or power. Someone with Felhunter essence may be more open-minded to hunting in a pack with other Demon Hunters than others.
- Gan'arg - Gan'arg are a sub-species of the Mo'arg Demons. Like their greater counterparts, Gan'arg, they are Demonic Tinkerers, Engineers and Smiths for the Legion. While their strength is not great, the skill gained from absorbing their essence can be well worth it. A Demon Hunter who has bound the essence of the Gan'arg will feel inclined to think and fight creatively, utilizing locally available resources and devices to assist in their hunt.
- Imp - Imps are almost never bound, considered too weak to be worth it. An Imp would be a conservative Demon soul to have bound to yourself and Demon Hunters are known to be extremists. However, should a Hunter bind an Imp, he may find it to be the easiest of the Demon souls to keep under control. A Hunter with an Imp bind possibly cannot resist a prime opportunity to make a wise crack or be a smart-ass at someone's expense. Sarcasm may be a very liberal weapon employed by this essence's host and it would be in no short supply. A Hunter with an Imp essence may see the wisdom in fleeing from a fight if it means destroying more Demons in the future. The Hunter may also see a slight boon to their pyromancy knowledge and abilities.
- Mo'arg - The Mo'arg are large, brutish and exceptionally brilliant Demons of the Burning Legion. The Mo'arg drive the Burning Legion's magic from just the Demonic and into the Scientific. They serve as master blacksmiths, engineers and scientists. Mo'arg Demons excel in technology and crafting, and pass that quality on to their Demon Hunter hosts. A Demon Hunter who has bound the essence of the Mo'arg will be very much inclined to think creatively, often supplementing their melee skills with explosives, gadgets and inventions, and will be able to perceive enemy designs, as well as increase their brute strength.
- Observer - The essence of the Observer may augment a Hunter's combat observation, granting them a significant boost to their ability to predict their opponent's actions and to their ability to steal magical effects. Observers are typically quiet, all-seeing Demons who excel at stealing magical boons from enemies for their own use. Hunters who bind an Observer will find their emotions dulled down, their thoughts focused less on material value and feeling, and more on what is the most logical and sound decision. Due to their elusiveness, Observers are rarely bound.
- Shivarra - The essence of the Shivarra may augment a Demon Hunter's magical powers significantly, being the mystics and priestesses of the Burning Legion. Shivarra are highly zealous and devoted to their cause and undergo the full gamete of emotions, often to the very extreme. Hunters who bind Shivarra may find their desires shifting not unlike succubi and become jealous, lustful, angry, and also capable of kindness and intense devotion. The Hunter may also gain particular insight into the workings of the minds of Demons via the chaplain nature of the Shivarran.
- Succubus - Also known as Sayaad. This essence may make the Hunter more sociable and attractive to others. The Hunter may become obsessed with a particular individual, lusting after him/her. It may also leave the Hunter with interesting quirks of unbridled jealously and possessiveness. The social seduction aspect of the succubus makes this Hunter ideal when it comes to matters of diplomacy that may sometimes be needed to converse with ex-kin.
- Terrorguard - The Terrorguard is a subspecies of the Doomguard and possesses many similar traits. Terrorguards however are more intelligent than the Doomguard and may increase the cunning ability of the Hunter as well as increase their strength. Due to infrequency of binding, it is unknown what other boons a Hunter could gain from them.
Stronger Demon's essences, such as Pitlords and Eredar Lords are considered to be far too powerful to bind and are affirmed to be instant death-sentences to any that dare to try.
- William King: Illidan pg 91