Just as any intelligent mortal creature can be born a mage, there are also those called conduits, born with uniquely powerful souls and connections to the souls of others. As rare as those born with Arcane power, conduits represent another phenomenon that remains shrouded in mystery. To all except a select few with ancient knowledge collected during the time of Ildrius, such as the Inquisition, conduits are a nameless fable of a raving madman hearing voices, or a witch too attuned to the emotions and thoughts of others.
Conduits bear a number of abilities, plenty of which remain unknown and the scope of those that are known remain open to further investigation.
Perhaps the least known and least understood ability possessed by the Conduits is the ability to "host" other souls, or so some ancient sources have claimed. The Inquisition remains the only organization today with any knowledge of such abilities, and even then only the highest ranking Inquisitors are allowed access to the tomes - written during the days of Ildrius - that speak of such rituals that could bind a soul, or pieces of a soul, into a living Conduit. Therefore, any information on how this process works, how it is performed, and what sort of effects it has on the host Conduit or the soul or souls involved, remains entirely shrouded in mystery.
One of the strongest abilities of a Conduit is sensing the souls of others. They cannot sense a soul's location, or direction, but they can sense emotions. To hone this ability to the pinpoint accuracy often required to realize who and what is casting emotions and when requires great focus and discipline, as the Conduit is constantly bombarded by voices, emotions, and senses from all sides. [section to be expanded later]
The true range of powers that Conduits possess remain largely unknown, even by the Inquisition. It seemed that Ildrius and his people could not learn of Conduits extensively enough to catalogue accurate information regarding their abilities. However, it is known that Conduits possess at least some ability to communicate with, or at least hear, the voices of those beyond the veil. Souls and spirits trapped between life and death, as well as those existing in other planes - indeed, this is perhaps their most noteworthy trait, as a literal conduit between realms. This is what results in a Conduit "hearing voices" and sensing auras around locations - past memories, past emotions, and even feeling the touch of what remains of recently passed souls. It is also speculated that a Conduit holds even closer ties to their elemental affinity than do the mundane, and some speculate they have some ability to read minds. How true either of these, or any of the other countless claims of powers such individuals may have, cannot yet be proven or disproven.
There is no direct correlation between being born a Conduit and being born insane. However, most all Conduits lack the knowledge and training - now long since lost to time, if such techniques ever existed - to shut out these "abilities." They lead their lives hearing voices and sensing things they do not understand. This can, either quickly or later in life, turn to insanity, whether the individual goes insane on their own or is condemned as insane by those around them, should they admit to the things they are sensing, hearing, and sometimes even seeing. The luckiest of Conduits will spend the majority of their lives insane, locked up in an asylum or a prison, or else captured by the Inquisition. However, most end up dead in the hands of the panicking and the suspicious, fearing the Conduit is a witch or possessed by some form of demon.
Conduits and the Inquisition
In the eyes of the Imperial Inquisition, Conduits need to be sheltered from others as much as others need to be sheltered from them. True they hold no destructive power like mages - or at least, they are not known to - but their very existence is too strange and mysterious to be trusted. Therefore, the Inquisition makes it part of its mission to find Conduits where possible and remove them from society.
In an attempt to provide Conduits with more of a normal life in Karak du Vide, the Inquisition fashions collars of void iron. After much experimentation, they have found that collars fastened around the Conduit's neck seem to subdue all their powers.