Cipher Brands

All Cipher mages are branded with their own Cipher mark in the center of their forehead, unique to each mage. Unlike the Cipher marks that the mages wield, and the sigils that adorn the Sigil-bearers, personal Cipher marks, known as Cipher brands, always appear on the forehead, are contained within a single simple geometric shape (a circle for members of the house of the Scions; a triangle for members of the house of the Riven), and are only visible when the mage taps into the Cipher, upon which it glows as if lit by fire. The stronger the mage, or the harder the mage must push themselves to cast the spell, the brighter and more intense the glow. In the time before the great schism that split the Scion and Riven houses, all mages would have had the Scion-style brand.

The Branding Ceremony

The induction of a new Cipher mage is a sacred and celebrated event. For both Scions and the Riven, children are given their personal Cipher mark on their tenth birthday, after learning about their heritage for many years from their parents, an education that continues after their branding.

The ceremony differs from family to family, but most involve a baptism in a river or stream that represents the Cipher, and the drawing of the new mark on the forehead of the initiate. The mark that describes the new initiate is first found in the Cipher, then drawn in the blood of the leader of the branding ritual, which is usually a parent or elder. The ritual leader than allows the new mark to flow from them into the initiate, which ignites the new brand on their forehead. Some new Cipher mages describe the feeling as a pleasant, warming sensation, and feel a slight euphoria after connecting to the Cipher for the first time.

The new Cipher mage then has their head dipped under the flowing water, which washes off the blood and symbolizes their rebirth as a mage.

It is rare for someone not born into a Scion or Riven bloodline to be marked as a mage (except for spouses of a mage), but it occasionally happens in the case of a Cipher mage choosing an apprentice (usually in the event of having no genetic heirs).

The ceremony is very taxing for the Cipher mage who leads the ritual, as it is difficult to find a mark that does not already describe something in the Cipher, and holding onto those marks is especially taxing, as they tend to be quite volatile.

Most families hold large parties on the day of a child's branding, and consider it the beginning of their child's path to adulthood and becoming a full mage.