Spooktober Prompt: Possess
Soul-binding is a rare tradition originating with the Temple of Continuance in the Kingdom of Hazar. Although the participants are living individuals, it is widely regarded as a necromantic ritual due to the process involving the grafting of pieces of souls onto one another. In its simplest terms, the ritual is an exchange; two individuals willingly and intentionally slicing off a small sliver of the soul, and trading those parts with each other, filling in the space left behind. The end result is an inimitable connection that leaves both participants no longer fully themselves but still whole, possessing a part of each other's souls, connected in mind, magic, and body.
Participants must not just be willing but wanting, for any rescinding of desire, any flinch, and the ritual is likely to fail, but there is rarely shame in a failed ritual. Even the most enthusiastic participants are said to often require two or three attempts. Those who have undergone the ritual describe it as being deeply uncomfortable, but not necessarily painful. It requires a willingness to be as exposed and vulnerable with your partner as one possibly can be.
With currently available science, the ritual is believed to be permanent. Attempts to undo the process, whether trading the pieces of the souls back or with outside assistance, have not been successful. Some participants have described it as the soul clinging more fiercely to its graft than to its own original parts, but very few studies on un-binding have been done and further research is required.
The preparation leading up to a ritual is considered just as crucial as the ritual itself. Participants are typically prepped for the ritual either by a kātal kārd or another priest within the Temple over the course of a 2-3 months. Methods will vary from priest to priest, but typically involve regular activities meant to deepen the bond between participants, lessening any distance between them as much as possible. Some priests may refuse to facilitate a ritual if they don't feel two individuals are already sufficiently close with each other.
The participants in a soul-binding ritual always choose each other. The two being romantically involved is frequently assumed, but not as common as many believe it to be. Others may be present either before the ritual in to help with preparation and managing expectations, or during for moral support, but ultimately it is all on the shoulders of those who are binding their souls.
The ritual has only ever been known to be completed by two individuals at a time; introducing a third individual has been considered, but many believe that to slice off enough of any person's soul to accommodate adding an additional person to the mix would pose too great a risk to the self-concept of those participating.