Bounded cults

Table of Contents

Marriage bonding is a ritual ceremony allowing two or more people to share feelings and magic. It does not technically have any limit on the number of participants, however the more people are involved in the bond, the more unstable it becomes. Some bounded cults are known from their excessive number of participants and the danger they represent to society...  

The bond


Magical bonding means irrevocably linking your magic with someone else. Bonding means being able to exchange magic and perceiving the feelings of your partner. The strength of the bond depends on the magical power of each participant, with weak individuals only rarely receiving vague impressions while powerful one being able to constantly feeling the same thing as their partner as if they were truly sharing a mind.   Because of the danger of such a bond and the invasion of privacy it represents—especially in arranged marriage where affection is absent - there are ways to partially close the bond and hide your feelings from your partner.   However, having more than two partners in a bond will destabilise it, amplify the feelings shared through the bonds and make hiding your feelings impossible. This results in the bonded people having a very volatile temper and having their mood swings widely all the time. Partners in deep relationships often find this an acceptable price to pay, and the mutual mental and emotional support they have for each other can help stabilise them.   Other individuals do not share such a relationship, but they nonetheless desire the magical boost a multiple partner bonding provides, and they are willing to risk it. This has led to what is called bounded cults, with a dozen or even up to two or three dozens of members all bonds together, exchanging magic in a near infinite loop.
Bonding ritual, by AmélieIS with images from Pixabay and Unsplash
Multiple-partner bonding by Acky24 on Pixabay
Lucie could not prevent herself from fidgeting with impatience as their bounder went on and on talking about the importance of the magical link she was going to forge with Jean. Could he not get on with it already? Jean sent her a squeezing smile and squeezed her hand where his was already joined with her, surrounded by barbed branches—their blood was almost already dried, it was taking so long!   But finally, finally, the magic was let loose. Lucie breathed in deeply as she pushed all of the magic she could towards their joined hands. She gasped as Jean did the same and she was overwhelmed with his. A few minutes later and their magic both settled under their skin, completely entangled together.   Without waiting a second longer, she attempted to mentally poked their link. A soft feeling of joy came glowing from the other side of the bound, and tears of joy came to her eyes. She was not very powerful and had not thought they would be able to exchange feelings. But Jean, wonderful Jean, had told her he would be powerful enough for the both of them, and he had been right, of course!   But most important, feelings or no feelings, they were both now forever bound as one.

Relationships with the rest of the empire

Such groups are regarded with a high degree of suspicion and fear by the rest of the empire, as they are extremely volatile and dangerous. However, so long as they support the ruler of the Estate where they live, that ruler will protect them from attempts by the senate to outlaw the practice.   For this reason, cults often live in remote parts of an Estate, isolated from others so as to decrease the risk of injuring people and incurring the wrath of their ruler. They can be called by that ruler to assist them during battle, magic draining tasks, or to intimidate rivals. Depending on rulers, they can take care of the cult members by providing them food and shelter or leave them to fend completely for themselves. Cults also prefer isolationism, as all members tend to become obsessed with each other and to resent and become jealous of any external distractions.
Group magic by AmélieIs with images from jw210913, and Buecherwurm_65 on Pixabay
Poor Jean had not been the same since the accident... That The Abyss and the sea creatures had almost completely wrap his arm off, and the best healer they had been able to afford had not been able to do much for him. Of course, Lucie had immediately accepted when he had asked her to add another to their bond. It was the least she could do, with how weak she was herself and unable to help. Jean had helped and supported her for so long, she could not refuse him anything now that he was the one in need.   She had eagerly participated in his search for a partner, and Martin had been a choice they had both agreed on. And luckily, Martin himself had been more than happy to join them, and powerful enough to bring some relief to Jean. Their bonding link had easily extended to include Martin between them, and he had fit snugly among them, like a jigsaw puzzle piece. Lucie might be a little quicker with her feelings now, but it was no worse than hormones. And certainly not something she regretted.   But the new bond had not been enough.   And so the three of them went back looking for a new member to add to their little family. Someone else powerful enough to help. Rose had been an immediate choice. Bright and powerful, able to soothe Jean's pain and raise their mood at the same time.   And yet, it had still not been enough.   But by then, the whole Estate was aware of their search and people had been coming to them with compassion, offering to become part of their bond to help Jean. The search was a lot easier after that, for the next member, and the next, and all the other that came after. Jean was getting better and better, but his arm was still not as well as he had been before the accident.   Yet, all the new magic was of some help. Whatever Jean had wanted to do with his arm, he could do it thrice as easily with magic alone! And everyone was always so thoughtful and so eager to assist him too. Lucie did not dare use too much magic herself, when she would be taking it from Jean and make him suffer, and all the other thought the same.   Thankfully, their lord had taken some interests in them now. In exchange for them carrying out a few tasks for him, he would provide them with some special medicinal balms that would definitely help Jean!



The only exception to a cult isolationism is would-be cult members who have to live with the cults for a few years in order to convince the members that they are fit to join. It is not rare for people to be attracted by the idea of near unlimited magical power and to petition to join the settlement. Whether life there lives up to their ideal or they become disillusioned, leaving is extremely difficult.   Indeed, in addition to seeing almost no one else apart from cult members, those potential recruits are also brainwashed about the exalted importance of the cult, the magnificence of its member, and the danger lurking outside of the settlement. By offering both unlimited access to other members' feelings and near unlimited power, becoming part of the cult is the best way to know who to trust and to be able to keep oneself safe.   Sometimes specific individuals attract the attention of cults members during one of their rare outings. This can unfortunately lead to an abduction that is very unlikely to get noticed by anyone due to the isolationism of the cult. By the time those individuals are seen in public again, the bond is already formed or they have been "convinced" that they want to join.   Because bonds are permanent, once they are formed the only way to escape such a group is through death of all other members...
Prisoner by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay
Weapon of the crime by AmélieIS with an image from shootelkora on Pixabay
Lucie looked down at her hands as she was bent over them in her chair. Scars that had not been there just a few years ago marred them now. And not all of them from the battle their lords ask them to participate in. Tears welled up in her eyes and she could do nothing to fight them back.   But no! She jumped to her feet and sent her chair flying to the wall in a violent display of magic. She was angry, not sad! She focused on the burning rage that lay dormant in her mind. Louis' easily answered hers, then Mathilde's, and Noémie's, and Charles's too. It seemed that they were all angry all the time nowadays. Or that they were so many of them that whatever emotion she was feeling, someone else was bound to be in the same mood and ready to answer her.   Lucie's vision started to blur as she got lost in her rage and magic welled up around her. It suddenly exploded outwards, making the door of the room blast open. Immediately furious shoots could be heard from below. Jean again, complaining of them stealing magic from him...   Lucie clenched her fist, her nails reopening the scabs in her palms. Things were slammed downstairs as Jean made his way towards the stairs, coming up to make her see the errors of her ways. Again. This time she did not stay rooted to the spot, unwilling to be believe he was able to do that or finding excuses for him. No. She had made her choice.   Her hand tightened against the knife in her pocket just as the man she used to love appeared in the doorway, so bright with magic that she was almost blinded.

Cover image: Bonding ritual, by AmélieIS with images from <a href=" ">Pixabay</a> and <a href="">Unsplash</a>


Author's Notes

Thanks to Stormbril and Qurilion for the idea!

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Master PrincessESH
Aster Blackwell
31 Dec, 2021 23:36

I saw the notification for this appear and thought "ooo... that sounds delightfully spooky." I was not disappointed.

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
1 Jan, 2022 00:11

Thanks! Yes creepy stuff going on here... and most people in my empire wouldn't care at all...

To see what I am up to:WE list of articles and goals.
24 Jan, 2022 09:01

This is so incredibly well done :O I loooooove the way you weave in that story, that slow progression through love and acceptance that slowly spirals out of control into fear and rage...   This is an amazing and "natural" take on how cults would form within this bonding ritual, and it's absolutely fantastically written :D I'm sorry it took me so long to get to it, but I truly loved this!

Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
30 Jan, 2022 10:21

Thanks :D It wasn't exactly how I wanted to go with the story at first, but it seemed like a natural progression... :(

To see what I am up to:WE list of articles and goals.
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