Shikigami (式神,"Ceremonial God"), are magical constructs frequently employed by powerful practioners of Kidō and more rarely, mortal magics to fulfill various tasks. Although they've been used for centuries, the knowledge of Shikigami is limited even in the Soul Society, as the Kidō Corps jealously guards the knowledge of how they're made and how they appear - for as long as the populace is ignorant of these beings, the Corps can use them to accomplish whatever tasks they deem necessary. The knowledge is by no means limited solely to the Kidō Corps however, and certain individuals outside the corps have demonstrated the ability to create Shikigami, although these too largely keep their talents a secret.
Although myths describe Shikigami as being capable of taking down a foe where the summoner might not, this only really holds true for mortal casters, the foes faced by members of the Kidō Corps are typically far beyond the reach of a simple Shikigami. Instead, they're mostly used as a means to gather information, patrol the outer perimeters of the Rukon districts or utilized in an attempt to manipulate the populace into complying with the wishes of the Gotei 13. The latter typically involving the Shikigami assuming the shape of birds or other animals, getting close to ordinary residents with low spiritual power and then possessing them, rendering them a puppet for the creator of the Shikigami.
While they might seem restrictive, artisans have noted that the art of Kidō is superiour to that of the mortal ways of Onmyōdō. An artform which the noble art of Kidō absorbed and improved long ago. Depending on the masters skill, materials and spiritual strength, it's possible to create Shikigami of fearsome power, whose sheer might dwarf that of even seasoned captains. But beings of this magnitude are not only difficult to control beyond belief, but also require specific objects, vessels and incantations to create. Creating such a Shikigami, commonly referred to as a Shiki-Ouja (式王者, "Ceremonial Monarch") or Shiki-Ouji (式王子, "Ceremonial Prince") is therefore not simply a complicated and exceedingly dangerous process, it's also frequently extremely expensive or bothersome. Unsurprisingly, it's a venture that few bother to accomplish, and for this reason, Shiki-Ouji are vanishingly rare. Although some are known to exist within the Seireitei, typically under the control of top-ranking members of the Kidō Corps or wealthy unaffiliated masters.
The process for creating even simple Shikigami is beyond most individuals outside of the Kidō Corps, for it requires such an intricate mastery of the flow, properties and gathering of spiritual energy to be beyond all but the most advanced practioners of the noble arts.
The atmosphere of all worlds is filled with reishi, and each form of reishi is a fragment of what was once a memory, will or intent. These wills are what fuels the power of Kidō, what gives it form, strength and purpose. When a large number of these fragments are gathered together and bound into a single entity, they form the core of what is to be a Shikigami. Next follows the body, or more appropriately the vessel for this core, which for the weaker Shikigami is almost always a paper mannequin. Paper is bountiful, easy to fold and get a hold of, and generally assures that the creature can be controled more easily. Although for obvious reasons, such Shikigami are much less useful as bodyguards.
Following this step, the Shikigami usually requires some time to properly connect to the wills that compose it's body. The material used either slows down or quickens this process. It's generally accepted that while paper mannequins are the quickest and most efficient way to house a Shikigami, they're undoubtedly the weakest. The time required for a Shikigami to settle in can range from a day or two to several centuries depending on the material used. It's generally accepted that the longer the Shikigami sleeps, the more powerful it will become. A Shikigami that's slept for fifty years has powers that easily rivals that of an Espada or a Captain. When a Shikigami has slept for at least a full century it transcends into what is known as a Shiki-Ouji. As a Shiki-Ouji it's an existence removed from both Shikigami, Hollow and Shinigami, akin to an artificial god.
Over the centuries, Kidō Masters have found new and inventive ways to increase the use of their Shikigami, and bestow upon them greater powers. But as with anything, this knowledge came at a price, the price of several destroyed lives. As it's impossible to harness the fragmented wills if they're still bound to a body. Thus, the simplest way to acquire a Shikigami whose powers catch their creators fancy is by murdering someone who already possessed those talents, and assimilate the select pieces into the Shikigami itself, conferring upon it numerous advantages. The Kidō Corps typically pay regular visits to the Maggots Nest for this reason, experimenting upon the inmates.
Some Kidō Masters not affiliated with the Corps have taken to harvest powerful individuals for use in Shikigami, gathering them up before slaughtering them like cattle, just so that they can use their powers for their own ends. Typically these individuals seek to create a Shiki-Ouji of enormous powers, or are envious of the talents of their peers or rivals. Naturally, the Corps work to hunt down and destroy these creations, as is their duty, usually conscripting the one who created the Shikigami into their ranks, impressed by the masterful spellwork. Only a handful have managed to successfully create Shiki-Ouji outside of the Kidō Corps without them being destroyed during their "sleep" - but without exception, each such Shiki-Ouji is a potential threat of great proportions and the Corps anxiously prepare to take it down, even though it's usually too late to make the attempt once it awakens. At which point the Shiki-Ouji possesses powers that allows it to easily defeat most that would oppose it. In each of their campaigns against a rogue Shiki-Ouji, more than a dozen members have been casualties, who died fighting the powerful being. Nowadays, the Kidō Corps prefer observation to action, as they cannot afford to lose that many of their own.
Powers & Abilities
Shikigami, being created from fragmented pieces of lost souls, might retain some form of power from their creation. Although this is commonly minute, unrefined and generally not all that useful, as the pieces are usually too disjumbled or sparse if collected from the atmosphere of places such as the Soul Society, Human world or Hueco Mundo. However, in the rare cases where a Shikigami might be able to utilize special abilities of it's source, the powers are wielded in a very efficient and natural manner, similar to the original wielder. As they draw strength from those memories.
If murder is committed to get access to all of an opponents spirit, it can be cut, refitted and rearranged to the spellcasters liking. Allowing a Shikigami to potentially retain all of the victims memories, including combat experience, techniques and raw skill. These creations are typically made of sturdier materials to be able to engage in battle, and their artificial nature sometimes molds them as being superiour to the originals. Magic puppets though they might be. Emotions, inner nature and thought are all discarded, replaced with but a simple command to obey, but in this manner, the creator succeeds in creating a personal weapon to be summoned and wielded at their leisure. However, as the personality of the victim is discarded, and their existence is no longer whole, a Shikigami could never wield a Zanpakutō.
However, it's possible for a true master of the art to use several souls to create a single Shikigami, allowing the creation of an immensely powerful monster that might have the combined, experience, might and skill of many warriors combined. Shiki-Ouji are typically beings such as this, and their power is virtually unmatched in single combat.
The subject of magic is unusual for Shikigami, as while they do use magic, they use it in the same manner as beings such as Kitsune or Dragons, as an entirely natural process. Most Shikigami cannot speak, and as a result all of their spells are cast silently, manifesting in manners which suit the situation at hand. Their ability to use magic is however limited to the lower forms, as they lack the refinement to use spells of truly great power. It also weakens them somewhat, as they draw upon their own natural existence to cast spells, even if those spells typically manifest as being disproportionally powerful to the caster. Due to the manner in which they're created, and the fact that they're essentially composed of it, magic has a reduced effect on Shikigami. As their bodies tends to absorb a portion of the energy woven into the spell for personal empowerment. Distorting offensive spells and diminishing their overall power. This natural resistance leaves them very well-equipped to handle other mages. For many centuries, they were used against a mages rivals, typically other mages and spellcasters. This is further reinforced by the fact that many materials used sport a natural resistance to the effects of magic. Magic can however harm or destroy a Shikigami, as resistance is by no means the same as immunity.
Shikigami do indeed possess Reiryoku. Though they're unable to exert it as reiatsu of any form, and it is distinct in that it is sensed as completely void of anything. There's no direction to the flow, no emotion to behold, it doesn't even have a visible color, appearing more like an aura of mottled grey. A Shikigami has little control over it's energy beyond using techniques and spells, and it's unable to suppress it in any way. Although it's possible for a spellcaster to mask it with magic to compensate. That is, all except for the Shiki-Ouji, whose sheer power is best described as gargantuan, eclipsing anything within it's perimeter, the spells of Shinigami, however powerful cannot hide this power by any means. At best it can only be reduced artificially.
|Bakudō Spells||#59. Keikatsu · #86. Hakouaki · #93. Meiyu · #98. Izaritoki|
|Hadō Spells||#54. Haien (FC) · #66. Sōeigeki · #67. Shimoku · #80. Hiirekurasa · #80. Aoikyūtai · #86. Hachitoge|
|Rare Spells||Geas · Shikigami|
|Advanced Kidō Techniques||Hojūeishō · Shubidō · Henkōdō|