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XXVII. Priests

Those of our number who are most disconnected from the physical side of the threshold have the greatest range of sensitivity and power at their disposal, but they suffer the greatest weaknesses. They are few in number and many have not survived the passing millennia as their disconnectedness from the flesh can often lead them to reside purely in spirit. The demands of the balance they struggle to maintain while in the flesh are extreme, and over the years, it has taken its toll. These individuals are our priests, and they often command the greatest respect for the level of awareness they can attain.

The priest's physical body is inextricably linked to his psychical well-being. If his power begins to wane and he approaches need, his health will suffer, for he can no longer compensate for the lost energy center in his subtle body. Need, especially deep need, can be physically debilitating for one of this caste, and if left to go too long without feeding, they can be reduced to invalids, hollow shells of what they could be.

Priests are very sensitive to the changing cycles. Much of their power wanes during the day, then waxes full with the approach of night. They suffer the most under direct light and must take pains to avoid sunstroke. Their systems are sensitive to most complex foods, especially when in deep need. Of all our kind, their physical bodies are the most concretely affected by their spiritual state. Thus, they are the most likely of our number to be recognized for what they are for their nature manifests itself in very physical ways.

The priest requires a greater quantity and a finer quality of energy than any other of our number. He, more so than any other, is constantly pulling energy into himself. This occurs on an unconscious, instinctive level, and though it can be consciously dampened, it cannot be shut off completely. However, even this constant draw will not sustain the priest unless coupled with conscious feeding.

Priests are the only of our number that must feed deeply on a regular basis. This entails feeding from the energy at the very core of another rather than simply skimming energy from their surface. This is a draw which encompasses all of the energy centers at once, and can leave the partner burned (suffering extreme effects of energy loss) the next day.

Because they stand upon the threshold between matter and spirit, the priests have access to the greatest range of powers inherent in our kind. However, priests run the risk of being mentally or emotionally unstable because of the strain such power puts on their systems. They must develop strong egos and indomitable wills in order to bear up under the burden of their power, but this may lead them to become domineering, arrogant, and obsessed with control.

Moderation as well as control are the two rules a priest must live by. With great power comes great responsibility, and those of the priestly caste who do not understand or respect this doctrine will end up bringing harm to both themselves and others. A priest must feed carefully, always drawing away before feeling completely satisfied. He must never give in to the urge to pull all of his partner into himself, to devour for the sake of devouring. Priests hold the power of life and death, sanity and madness over their partners, and they must recognize this power and use it responsibly.

The priest's way must ever be the way of balance. He must sacrifice satiation for the safety of the partner. He must accept physical weakness and pain in exchange for the ability to manipulate the subtle energies of all around him. He must accept the pull of his constant need in exchange for the ability to feed upon his partners in so profound a manner that he will come to grasp and understand their very essence.

Next: XXVIII. Counselors