The Magistrates were a series of beings who enforced the role of absolute monarchies until the the First Great War in 1732. The war served to end the "Mandate of Heaven" and the power of the Magistrates, in favor of the power of parliaments and democratically established governments.
The first recorded historical account of the Magistrates occurs in the year c.1320, in the epic poem The Tale of the Five Rings:
They travelled in disguise to other territories to judge the situation of the enemy, they would inveigle their way into the midst of the enemy to discover gaps, and enter enemy castles to set them on fire, and carried out assassinations, arriving in secret.
Superhuman or supernatural powers were often associated with the magistrates. Some legends include flight, invisibility, shapeshifting, the ability to "split" into multiple bodies, the summoning of animals, and control over the five classical elements. These fabulous notions have stemmed from popular imagination regarding the magistrate's mysterious status, as well as romantic ideas found in later antebellum period. Magical powers were sometimes rooted in the magistrate's own efforts to disseminate fanciful information. But the full account of their supposed powers lay in viral infection, rather than superstition.
It was later discovered by Taqi al-Biruni in 1675, through the discovery of the optical microscope that the strength of the Magistrates lay in their biology. While no magistrate on record has ever died of natural causes, magistrates do undergo an aging process, just not in the same way as humans. Magistrates do not age on a molecular/genetic level, but their life of hunting and eluding capture creates tremendous wear and tear in the form of injuries to bones and tissue. Contrary to the opinions of many theologians, magistrate longevity is not the result of some pact with the demonic forces, but rather an ability to ward off the DNA damage that occurs during cell division in normal humans, caused by viral mutation. Specifically, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes known as telomers get chewed up over time in humans, but not in magistrates. They also suffer from severe sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) light, causing in some recorded cases second to third degree burns upon exposure to sunlight.
Though their DNA may have the ability to resist aging, a magistrate's appearance will change dramatically over time. magistrates lose all of their hair within 10 years of transformation. Over time, a magistrate's fat stores shrink away and its skin becomes thinner and more transparent, giving it a withered, dried appearance. Aging also leaves a magistrate with a pronounced curvature of the spine.
A magistrate's nervous system is similar to humans and has proven to be their "achilles heel." Injuries to the spinal cord and brain can devastating for magistrates. While a magistrate's spinal cord and nerves work as before transformation, a number of changes take place in the brain, and that altered brain chemistry goes a long way toward understanding magistrate behavior. In regards to sight in magistrates, the iris in each eye becomes hyperdilated, giving them what appear to be black eyes. While this iris dilation gives vampires excellent night vision, it renders them effectively blind in daylight. In addition, magistrates suffer inflammation of the sclera, making the whites of their eyes appear red.
Despite their rather feeble appearance, older magistrates are still extremely powerful and agile. Many a nationalist rebel has made the mistake of underestimating them.
The power of the Magistrates was based on their obedience to the "Divine Mandate" whereby:
The Divine Mandate is based on four principles:
- The right to rule is granted by Providence，which gives the ruler prestige and religious importance.
- There is only one Path to Providence therefore there can be only one type of ruler, which leads to Monarchial Universalism.
- The right to rule is based on the virtue of the ruler, which serves as a check on the ruler's power.
- The right to rule is not limited to one dynasty, which justifies rebellion as long as the rebellion is successful.
In an effort to enforce the "Divine Mandate", the Magistrates enforced a code of ethics, known as "The Way":
- Accept everything just the way it is.
- Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
- Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
- Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
- Be detached from desire your whole life long.
- Do not regret what you have done.
- Never be jealous.
- Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
- Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
- Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
- In all things have no preferences.
- Be indifferent to where you live.
- Do not pursue the taste of good food.
- Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
- Do not act following customary beliefs.
- Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
- Do not fear death.
- Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
- You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
- Never stray from the Way.
During the First Great War, Chung-Kuo General Boi Yett uncovered through direct observations and training the Magistrates, the weaknesses of the Magistrates. In his book, The Book of the Five Realms, Yett made many tactical observations crucial to the development of modern tactics:
Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things. As if it were a straight road mapped out on the ground … These things cannot be explained in detail. From one thing, know ten thousand things. When you attain the Way of strategy there will not be one thing you cannot see. You must study hard.
Timing is important in dancing and pipe or string music, for they are in rhythm only if timing is good. Timing and rhythm are also involved in the military arts, shooting bows and guns, and riding horses. In all skills and abilities there is timing…. There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and declining, in his harmony and discord. Similarly, there is timing in the Way of the merchant, in the rise and fall of capital. All things entail rising and falling timing. You must be able to discern this. In strategy there are various timing considerations. From the outset you must know the applicable timing and the inapplicable timing, and from among the large and small things and the fast and slow timings find the relevant timing, first seeing the distance timing and the background timing. This is the main thing in strategy. It is especially important to know the background timing, otherwise your strategy will become uncertain.
In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm.
His second-in-command, Major General Ni Toi Lan, also made similar observations. In his book Path of Fire , Lan observed the following:
As one man can defeat ten men, so can one thousand men defeat ten thousand. However, you can become a master of strategy by training alone with a sword, so that you can understand the enemy's stratagems, his strength and resources, and come to appreciate how to apply strategy to beat ten thousand enemies.
You must look down on the enemy, and take up your attitude on slightly higher places.
These things cannot be clearly explained in words. You must research what is written here. In these three ways of forestalling, you must judge the situation. This does not mean that you always attack first; but if the enemy attacks first you can lead him around. In strategy, you have effectively won when you forestall the enemy, so you must train well to attain this..