Watchers in the dark
Its not a kind job. If you're lucky, and get there in time, you can both leave safe and sound. But if you don't, things go bad. It can be dangerous, like demons or extra-planar entities coming to say hello, or traumatising, like an overcharge. Don't make me describe it, I still have nightmares.Markus, Duranian acolyte
Magic is something fickle, and without proper training it can lead to catastrophes like demonic invasions or entire towns being wiped. This is what officially made Sicarius begin The Purge, and the chaos that ensued still lingers today. As the Covenant of Vesta started to get overwhelmed, something had to be created. This something are the acolytes.
The acolytes are people in charge of finding young persons with magical abilities to bring them to a teacher. Despite how easy it looks, the kids don't want to get caught most of the time, and their magic can cause problems. The common intervention is a race against time to bring the kid in without making anything explode.
The first acolytes appeared around 465, in the middle of The Purge. They were member of Ouranos' cult that tried to not only save magic users, but also give them training and education to become qualified mages. After the end of The Purge, the acolytes became a recognised profession, and are handled by their country's government.
They got a lot of modifications over time, like the creation of a more defined hierarchy, as well as funding from the local goverment. Wether they should have stayed independent or not is a hot topic, but they nevertheless benefitted from this, despite the restrictions this caused. As their job was more known, more countries got themselves their own acolytes, and they work in very different ways, depending on where they are.
Acolytes work for the government in order to find new mages and to avoid that they destroy everything around them. As such, they need to investigate certain areas where sightings of uncontrolled magic to determine whether it's a false alarm or a magic user. Noble families often try to determine very early if their children have magical abilities, so they work mostly in villages or slums. As such, the origins of new recruits are often disregarded.
The profession requires good social skill, as finding one's way to somebody and convincing them to leave their friends and families to join the risky ranks of the mages is hard. A good physical shape is also required, for when a chase or a fight happens. It is also important to know how to defend against magic, and while some mages become acolytes, all are trained to handle all but the most powerful magic users.
While most acolytes are under an authority, some work by themselves. These freelance acolytes work alone or in small groups for various organisations. They can be acolytes gone rogue for one reason or another, retired acolytes or recruits that didn't make it through the training period, but still retained some level of skill. Reactions to them vary from ignorance to turning them into outlaws.
New recruits will be forced to pass a serie of mental and physical tests to determine if they could be good recruits. The details are constantly changing, but they are mostly to further identify the reruit, and few fail at this stage. If they are deemed worthy, they have to go to a long training culminating in their acceptance within the rank of the acolytes.
During training, they are put through tests of fitness and psychology to assure that they can work well enough while under pressure and for long periods of time. As training reaches completion, they are taught how to efficiently neutralize untrained magic users. While the number of people failing or giving up is low, it is where most recruits leave.
After a final test consisting of a fake intervention, the recruits get a small copper badge showing that they are now qualified acolytes. From now on they work in duos or trios called Spheres to better investigate. They can become leaders of their own group, and some reach the rank of administrator. From now on, they don't go on the terrain, and instead direct several Spheres over an area of variable size.
The Two Groups
The transition from independant career to what is essentially a world-wide government agency has been welcomed with a lot of critics, and over time two groups have formed. There are those who say that it was good thing, because it gave them ressources and freedom they didn't have, allowing them to save even more people. On the other side are those against it, saying that this only helps the higher class in controlling them more effectively, and force people to obey them instead of doing what they want.
Some rogue or freelance acolytes sometimes decide to engage in slave trade. Slaves are already a good resource for some, but the number of people wanting their own personnal mages is high. These people don't care about where the money comes from, as long as it ends up in their pocket. Rumors of people kidnapping magic users are one of the reasons people rarely want to get caught by acolytes. They are relentlessly hunted, as not only do they go against the mission of the acolytes, but they also give them a bad reputation and mistreating innocent people.
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Interesting read! I love the amount of details you've put in here! One question though, in the training section you tell about how the acolytes are taught to efficiently neutralise untrained magic users. That also happens to be the place where most recruits drop out. It makes me wonder, how does one efficiently neutralise untrained magic users? Then you can also deep dive into why the recruits leave at that stage specifically. Just some food for thought. ^^ Keep up the good work! :D
I should edit it, but you're right. It's mostly the slower ones, and those getting tired of being beaten up by experienced mages. As for the neutralization, it's mostly knowing how to protect one's self using the terrain, stop the person from casting too much, and also something something martial arts.