Bounts originally consisted of a group of humans whom reached immortality through the consumption of the souls of other humans, as well as Shinigami souls; allowing them to reach greater heights of power and capability. The Bounts were created by Ran'Tao as the accidental result of an explosion during an experiment by the predecessor to the Shinigami Research and Development Institute. The experiment was an attempt to develop eternal life using the already slow-aging Shinigami souls as the base, but the materials used in the experiment crossed with the development of souls in the real world and led to the creation of a new spiritually-active Human race, the Bounts.
However, following a failed invasion in Soul Society all Bounts except for one were presumeably killed, and the means to creating them were erased from whatever files they'd were documented in. However, some time after this incident, members of the Yoriteishou: a group of human occultists happened upon the instructions on the summoning of a Doll. These tomes were studied and in unison, the group of occultists developed a means to replicate the process. The replication was somewhat imperfect though and the result was a new breed of Bounts much different from the original variety. Despite being different than intended, the Yoriteishou found that it was incredibly useful and decided to sell instructions on how to become one of the new generation Bounts in the The Hidden Market - in the form of the so-called silver tomes: written recollections of their studies which include full instructions in regards to performing the ritual that creates a Doll, and turns the caster into one of these new Bounts at the end of the ceremony. However, these have later come to be renamed "Nosferatu" in acknowledgement of the fact that they're not "True" Bount, although its possible for them to change into them at a later stage in their "life".
The Ritual to become one of these Nosferatu is one many find disturbing, for to become a full-fledged Nosferatu its nessecary to first face death, for only in death will the soul leave the body of the caster. Thus allowing the ritual to take affect and split the spirit of the caster into two halves, one serving as the vessel, the fetish and their phylactery while the other half becomes the Nosferatu itself. The Nosferatu is a creature of pure energy, an astral form which retains all the casters memories, emotions, sensations and even their actual personality. In this form they've surrendered all their substance to become a mere projection of thought, that needs a focus to even continue existing.
There's multiple steps involved in the ritual itself, first among these is the is to retrieve a smooth orb imbued with mystical properties. These orbs are commonly sold in the hidden market and are manufactured either from polished ebony wood or more rarely ivory, with those two maerials being noted as having a very smooth and polished surface. Its however possible to create these items from other materials such as iron and other forms of wood. In the ritual, this object later becomes the medium used to summon and seal away the Doll as nessecary. To achieve its magical properties this orb or sphere, it can be either, is submerged into a cauldron filled with the appropriate reagents. These reagents being sulfur, phosphorus, carbon, water, fat, magnesium and lime (the ingredients of the Human body) while chanting a specific incantation, which inbues the orb with a piece of upon the completion of this step - the object has been bonded to the caster and can, upon the completion of the full ritual be used to summon forth the Doll. This orb is most commonly reffered to as a Phylactery among other Nosferatu.
Once this is accomplished, the second step is recite the infamous Incantation of Rebirth; which consists of a single cryptic verse in the german tongue. The exact power behind these words are unknown to most, as is what they're supposed to represent but according to the Yoriteishou, they invoke the Duke of Graves itself to realize their wishes. Most are not aware of the oath they unknowingly bind themselves to, and upon their ineviteable demise their souls are forever bound to his will, or are forever lost, should the Duke of Graves be disinterested in them. They thus never actually cheat death: instead - they often unknowingly forges a pact with it.
"Feuer, Erde, Luft, Wasser - Schwarze Souverän, höchste licht in den abgrund. Zeichne einen kreis, leuchten die sterne und befreie mich von dem hügel von fleisch, ich wer auf die hand steigen. Stolz und Ketzer - auf meine unreine selbst umzukehren das kreuz."
The Incantation, transelated from german roughly means "Fire, Earth, Air, Water - Black Sovereign, supreme light in the abyss. Draw a circle, light the stars and deliver me from the mound of flesh, I who shall rise to your hand. Pride and Heretics - upon my impure self reverse the cross." - Should they mispronounce the incantation, they need to start all over again, lest they risk dire consequences and gruesome complications.
The final step of the Ritual of Rebirth is to commit suicide, an act that must be initiated no more than five minutes after the utterance of the very last syllable of the Incantation of Rebirth. This suicide is the means through which the Doll is created and also decides its power, all depending on the method which the caster used to end their own life. Examples include but are most definitely NOT limited to
- Death by Blood Loss - Blood is considered the essence of life, and so, its the most personal way for the aspiring Nosferatu to die: a Doll created through this method of ritualistic suicide is a wild card, its powers will be based on something familiar to the Nosferatu; based upon its emotions, its goals and its aspirations along with its inner self. These cases often achieve highly unusual abilities, although not all of them are imemdiately useful and its considered unwise to die in this manner unless you've searched yourself to figure out the exact powers the Doll would be bestowed.
- Death by Fire - By far one of the most painful ways to pass on, this choice is one very rarely taken, in those cases it is however it gives rise to some of the most offensively powerful Dolls in existence, whom take the form of fire elementals with powers revolving around the control of flame and at times other more unusual abilities symbolically attributed and associated with fire. With the prime example being Goethe.
- Death by Drowning - Drowning is a relatively common way to commit ritualistic suicide, as while its highly unpleasant (death usually is) its noted as being a relatively comforting way to die. Those whom commit suicide by drowning are bestowed a Doll related to the element of water, and thus its usually another elemental similiar to the one procured by dying of fire, or any other element for that matter. Guhl and Günther are examples of water elementals.
Traits and Abilities
During the completion of the Ritual, the newly created Nosferatu arises from is corpse as an incomplete soul; a shadow, which is an incorporeal being frozen between life and death; existing simultaneously as both a spirit and a human, described as having one half at either side of the veil. The shadow is an incomplete form because half of its soul is left behind and used to summon its own personal Doll; and it is for this reason that its continued survival depends on the continued existence of the Phylactery it created in the first step of the ritual of rebirth. As it works as a link between the shadow and its vessel (the doll); as well as being its sole means to summon the Doll, a feat it performs by reciting the phrase "Zeige Dich", which is a German phrase meaning "Show yourself."
Unlike the the original Bounts, the Doll isn't dependant on its master to exist, but rather - the master is dependant on the Phylactery, which - once the Doll is summoned is placed within the dolls very body, working as a core of sorts. By destroying this core, both the Doll and its Master will perish immediately, with their bond to each other and indeed both worlds being shattered. Its impossible to destroy a shadow without destroying its Phylactery, as when its destroyed in any other way it will simply reform a certain amount of time afterwards at the location where its phylactery currently is at.
The Shadow has no organs whatsoever, and exists as an amalgam of a skeleton of sorts; a skeleton made not of bones but consisting solely of the emotions, memories, willpower and personality of the Nosferatu itself. Its an incorporeal manifestation of the Nosferatu's very mind and spirit and its thus incapable of interacting with any creature whom doesn't possess a significant level of spirit awareness. It can therefore only be 'killed', or more appropriately delayed by spells, Zanpakuto or Quincy Arrows, although none of these effects will permanently destroy the shadow. However, despite not possessing any true body, spiritual or otherwise the Nosferatu is still capable of fluent speech while in this state.
Lastly, the shadow, being but half a soul possesses no spiritual power whatsoever and is incapable of growing in strength under any circumstances. Therefore, a Nosferatu's method of attaining power is highly unorthodox as opposed to other spiritual creatures.
- Possession: After the completion of their ritual, many Nosferatu grow to crave the many pleasures of the flesh which they could engage in while still humans. Fortunately for them, as shadows - its possible for Nosferatu to possess dead or otherwise inanimate objects such as corpses or as is much more favored, Gigai. While possessing corpses, the Nosferatu are restricted by the same kind of injuries, wounds and defects the body would possess and they can feel what it feels, a Nosferatu cannot possess a corpse whose wounds would make it unable to function as a spirit. Examples include decapitated and bifurcated corpses, and other lesser known cases where the corpse isn't whole, the moment a Nosferatu possesses a dead body, it'll return to "life", fuelled by the spirit now inhabiting it and it begins to function normally. However, reanimating corpses are generally not done by Nosferatu unless in emergencies as such "miracles" are very rarely accepted by media and tend to draw too much attention to themselves. Therefore many Nosferatu have taken to request specially made Gigai which they can then use to vicariously live for all eternity, over time, even their own fragmented spirit take to their new bodies and they become "True" Bounts. Although in so doing they lose the ability to reform and they will die once they suffer fatal wounds like any other Nosferatu, though they still retain their ability to conjure and manipulate shadows. However, unlike before, they cease being dependant upon their Phylactery and even should it be destroyed they would continue existing in their new form.
- Shadow Conjuration: Having willingly offered up their life as a sacrifice to ascend into a higher plane of existence, all Nosferatu are rewarded by the Duke of Graves for their actions upon the completion of their ritual. As by willingly sacrificing themselves and handing their mortal bodies over to death, they've strengthened Beherit and increased his influence within the realms substantially. For this, they're bestowed the supernatural ability to harness, manipulate, shape and even generate shadows at will: and through these granted powers, they're capable of accomplishing various feats. Although it should be noted that any ability or attack employed by using shadow conjuration as a medium can only affect creatures with at least some true measure of spirit awareness. Nosferatu, often being knowledgeable about Kidō from their past lives as magicians, sorcerers and magi, often choose to use Shadow Conjuration to cast shadow-versions of well-known Shinigami spells, such as Sōkatsui, Shakkahō, Hainawa and others, these spells possess the same effects as the actual spells, which highly increases the versatility of this talent.
- Doll Attunement: As their Dolls are but one half of their souls; all Nosferatu possesses abilities which are largely identical to those of their dolls. They're capable of manifesting these powers at any time they wish, and wield them as were they their own, this is a feature which they share with the late Jin Kariya, renowned for his ability to call upon the powers of his Doll at any time and wield them himself. However, when these powers are manifested by the Nosferatu, they're noted to be significantly less potent than they are when used by their Doll and the selection of associated techniques at their disposal are often very limited, with the Nosferatu typically only being capable of manifesting one third of the abilities of their Doll due to their comparative weakness.
Once the Ritual is complete and the caster has become a Nosferatu, half of their soul, and indeed the very essence of their individuality is made to reside within the manufactured focus of the ceremony itself. The small sphere that from then on binds them to the realms of existence as unliving shades of their former selves. Should this item be destroyed, no matter the cause, the Nosferatu will be destroyed permanently - but for as long as it exists, events which would kill others instead merely cause a Nosferatu to discorporate, only to reform roughly a week or two later at the site of their Phylactery.
A Nosferatu's dependency on their phylactery can only be remedied by their mangled soul properly bonding with a solid body that can somehow support their incomplete existence. This may only be done by the Nosferatu possessing a Gigai specially tailored for this precise purpose, once a certain amount of time has passed and the "Shadow" has properly affixed itself to its new body the change will become permanent and the Nosferatu becomes a "True" Bount. In so doing, it loses most of its former abilities and powers, expect for their Doll Attunement and their Shadow Conjuration. With the benefits of being restored as a fully functional being and acquiring all the abilities of an ordinary Bount - once they've been anchored to the world in this manner the recently born Bount loses its dependency on its Doll.
The Dolls of Nosferatu, while identical to the Dolls of "True" Bount, differ from their predecessors in one way in particular. Rather than being a representation of who the Nosferatu IS, the Doll and the Nosferatu are actually two halves of one entity, and its powers and traits are determined not by their personality, but by the manner of their creators ritual suicide at the end of the ritual that originally summoned them. Dolls decide their own names shortly after being summoned for the first time and they possess emotions and personalities of their own, however, their personality is often different from that of the Nosferatu as they often take to the hidden qualities of an individuals personality, typically manifesting as their "subconcious" desires, ambitions and goals, rather than who they seem to be.
However, unlike the original Dolls used by Bounts, these are bestowed a large part of the users own soul and this sacrifice bestows upon the new generation of Dolls nearly unlimited potential and they're often significantly more powerful than the Dolls of "True" Bount when compared to those of equal experience, skill and advancement. Being greatly empowered by the manner of their creations, the powerful ritual which split their creators soul in two and their lingering human sentiments and ambition. These Dolls are known to train independently to refine their already great abilities and are often resistant towards being sealed away, forcing their summoners to often negotiate with them to make them listen.