The Purified are a strange sort of humans that achieved immortality by transforming themselves into part spirits. They are unrelated to other kinds of Immortals, like Blood Bathers or Body Snatchers, or even the Arisen.
No one knows the origins of the first purified, but most of these immortals suspect that early shamans who had been working closely with spirits and the Shadow Realm first discovered their particular form of immortality. The oldest known purified are only slightly more than 2,000 years old. A few purified claim to be older, but none are able to prove their claims and so most Purified who encounter individuals claiming to have lived for 3,000 or more years assume they are either liars or delusional. The eldest often become exceptionally strange and have increasingly little in common with mortals. Many younger purified believe that spending too much time in the Shadow Realm eventually changes older purified into something closer in mind and outlook to a spirit possessing a human body than anything that remotely resembles even an immortal human.
The oldest written records of the purification ritual come from two sources: Egypt and China. Thaumaturges from both cultures discovered this process some time during the Bronze Age. Ancient Egyptian mummification was clearly derived from the ritual for purification, but it was a debased and fruitless process that did nothing more than to preserve the corpse. Almost all of the ancient Egyptian purified were priests and magicians who reserved the accurate techniques of purification for themselves and a few of their most favored acolytes and companions. In China, the process of purification was derived from Taoist alchemy and is a direct outgrowth of the style of mortal magic known as Taoist Alchemy. Most Purified are brought unto the path by a mentor, most often another Purified who has found a companion he wouldn’t miss, but sometimes, a high-ranking spirit with knowledge of the Rite shares the knowledge with a befriended (or bribed) human.
Becoming one of the purified is a complex process and always includes one crucial step — death. If the person has prepared herself correctly, the power of the ritual transforms her mind and her body. Once she is dead, her mind successfully makes its way back to her body. When her mind re-enters her body, she becomes one of the purified. In this state, her mind has been transmuted into a more rarified and enduring state, as well as being forever tied to the mysterious Shadow Realm. Even more importantly, her body has become ageless and can be easily re-animated by her mind if it is ever killed again. Three methods exist: The first, most risky, is to kill oneself swiftly within the Shadow while standing directly on a Locus. If everything goes right, the mind is transformed into something else and can cleave to its body after a few days. As very much can go wrong in the first process, two others are more common. They are known as the inner path and the outer path. To use the inner path, the character must meditate and spiritually prepare himself for many months or years. Then, at least one assistant must begin special ritual preparations as the character is either dying or preparing to kill himself. After the character’s death, the assistant must continue these rituals, painting symbols on the person’s corpse, dressing it in special garment and placing the corpse in a locus. Once these preparations are complete, the assistant performing these rituals must meditate, pray or chant until the sun next sets or rises. The outer path requires no meditation or spiritual disciplines, but the character must formulate and then make a special elixir, using various ingredients, including several deadly toxins as well as his own blood. Devising the correct formula requires months or years of work, and actually creating the elixir is almost as difficult. The would-be immortal must do both himself, although he can be assisted by others. Then, he must drink the elixir. This method allows for no missteps in the formulation and no trials runs. The elixir is a deadly poison as well as a catalyst to immortality.
Regardless of the method used, the result is the same. These preparations and rituals transform the character’s mind from an ordinary human mind into something that is connected to the Shadow Realm and that has some degree of kinship with the entities that inhabit it. This transformation also changes the Purified’s body, so that it now hovers between life and death. Until her mind returns, her body does not rot, but it also does not require food or water. If examined by a doctor, this body appears to have an exceptionally faint and slow heartbeat and to be in an exceptionally deep coma. Once the transformation of the Immortal’s mind is complete, it is in the Shadow Realm and must make its way back to the character’s body. The mind often ends up far from the locus where his body is located and must journey for many days. After their first death, the minds of the purified take at least three days to return to their body and may sometimes take several weeks, or on very rare occasions months or years to find their body again.
Part of being one of the purified is being innately tied to the Shadow Realm and its inhabitants. As they walk through their daily lives, Purified can see and hear spirits and ghosts in Twilight as easily as they can see and hear the men and women walking along the street next to them. These beings are able to harm their spirit form after their bodily death. Should they be destroyed, they can eventually reform in an extreme fragile and weak state, during which they are vulnerable to attacks from predatory spirits. If their spirit forms are drained of the last bit of essence, they are annihilated and die a Final Death. Most Purified are aware of this fact and tread cautiously in the Shadow.
Purified have discovered that normal life is increasingly difficult when one can see and interact with the denizens of the Shadow. Most have a hard time to relate to humans after several lifetimes and begin to prefer the Shadow to the World of Flesh. Some even gain Ranks in a Spirit Court, seeking allies that do not vanish as quickly as human compatriots.
When they undergo the right of purification, these beings change their minds and their souls to be more like those of the inhabitants of the Shadow Realm, including the ability to manipulate Essence. As they gain in power and experience, the purified gain even greater power over Essence. Within their bodies, the store a rarified form of Essence called chi that they can access to perform small Numina. In addition, the Purified have their own share of abilities, called Siddhis, which access their innate bond with the Spirit World.
If a Purified is slain, his body returns to its original state after it is reinhabited by their presence.