literature

On Celeste, Curses and Knacks

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Update 2/7/19: Added the list of canon knacks for the characters of Brothers Apart to the bottom of the document!

The first hint that Celeste wasn’t all that she seemed to be came from her name, in the very first story!

Celeste: Celestial, heavenly. 

Further hints were found in her character profile for anyone who looked close enough:

She has no quantifiable age, created before humanity was born as the angel Saraqael. Though her host, Celeste, is a human, the one controlling her actions was never mortal.

The gender of Celeste is purely dependent on her chosen host. As a multidimensional wavelength of celestial intent, gender is meaningless.

In past millenia, she has taken male forms and so Saraqael is often associated with a male angel, though this could be no further from the truth. If given enough time in a host, however, she does tend to take on the mannerisms of that gender, like most angels.


Saraqael : Prince of God. The Fallen Watcher. 

One of the seven archangels of heaven originally trusted to lead the heavenly host. One could call her current vessel an ironic twist, as she lusted for the daughters of men. Her primordial powers of protection have been twisted and corrupted, and she seeks to free her fallen brother by any means necessary.

This desire to break Lucifer of his cage is what brought her to Azazel’s notice originally, and he brought her under his control, an aspect of their relationship that chafed at her, though she put the demons he tasked to her to good use.

With Azazel out of the way, she can expand her influence without fear of retribution from the remaining Princes of Hell.

She has taken the time to learn true witchcraft since falling, discovering that it was an excellent substitute for her own celestial powers when she needed to avoid the notice of the angels tasked to seek her out and bring her to justice.

Those who are most favored fall the hardest.

–Castiel


It’s time to get in-depth with one of the more integral parts of the multiverse– the knacks each borrower is born with!

For that, we’ll have to touch on the origin of the knacks, and it all starts with Celeste, or Saraqael, as her angelic siblings have named her.

More under the cut, because this will go in-depth on the background of Brothers Apart:


When Celeste first put forth her plan to Azazel, before the Fall, it stood in contradiction to ideas of his own. She was able to brush aside any plans of using demon blood to enhance the forms of humans, calling it a short-term and unsustainable drug that would accomplish half the goal for twice the strain on the humans. If her brother is to have a vessel, he will need his vessel to be stronger than any living human, to keep the darkness and power from overcoming them.

When she fell, her experiments and quest to prove this began, and the first humans to suffer her curse were the village of her host’s origin, including the witch Adriana, who framed Celeste as a witch to take the suspicion off herself.


Humans under the curse received instant boons in the beginning. More than a simple hex, the angelic curse she put on them combined waves of her Grace with the natural power of a human’s soul. They became stronger, their sense heightened.

To counteract this and to keep the angels from discovering her plan, she also used this curse to shrink them to nearly a twentieth of their regular height.

Hidden from sight and discovering that humans no longer considered them equals, the small folk developed their own communities and traditions, and so the curse began its work.


Originally, Celeste used the curse indiscriminately on both adults and children both. It wasn’t until a century had passed that she realized that while adults could possibly receive the boons she wanted– stronger bodies, stronger vessels– the amount of Grace she needed to use was multitudes higher than what she needed for children.

The children would grow into their power, the same way a tree that took in fallen Grace as a sapling or a seed would explode in growth.

By the time she curses Sam Winchester, she is an expert at the art. Giving him a minimum taste of her Grace is all it takes for him to grow many times stronger than Dean, a direct contrast to the fact that at only a few inches tall, it does him no good against his older brother.

Born vs cursed:

Kids born with the curse don’t always show signs of having a knack. Though the potential exists in every ‘borrower’ (A name given to them by one of the few humans to discover them decades back), it’s often overlooked or never manifests.

Cursed kids always show a knack because of the rapid way the curse works its magic on them compared to the slow growth of being born into it. They still might not notice, especially a knack that simply heightens their ability to slip in and out of a room undetected, but it is irrevocably always there, an advantage over the kids born small.

Types of knacks:

Disclaimer: Not all knacks have been discovered or quantified. This is an ever-growing list.

Knacks can be a trait of the borrower that’s been enhanced by the angelic Grace in them, or they can rise directly from the Grace, giving a borrower an ability seen in the angels with the exception of Flight, as they have no wings of their own. 

Borrower knacks have strict limits in power, as opposed to the angels, who seem limitless.

  1. Telekinesis: The ability to manipulate objects outside of their direct reach. This can often cause a borrower to be mistaken for a ghost, moving objects in a house without touching them for a distraction. Walt Watch has taken the ability further, freezing two humans in place and later directing his power at himself to force his razor blade through Celeste’s neck despite her angelic invulnerability. This came close to burning out his knack.
  2. Telepathy: Able to beam thoughts into the mind of a human, or communicate with the other borrowers from a distance without being overheard.
  3. Invisibility: Though the borrower does not make themselves actually invisible in most cases, the invisibility knack allows them to camouflage and blend in to their surroundings. In Sean’s case, he can cause a cloud of distortion that hides himself and any of his friends that stand close enough.
  4. Essokinesis (Reality Warping): Though reality warping seems too strong for a borrower at first glance, it tends to arise as an ability to change objects around them, often making a useless object into something useful, above and beyond a borrower’s regular mechanical prowess.
  5. Pyrokinesis: The ability to manipulate fire in limited forms.
  6. Enhanced Awareness: This can either enhance an already understood sense to supernatural levels, or give the borrower a ‘sixth sense,’ much like how Sam can feel if he’s being watched. His ability does not work on other borrowers, the angelic Grace around their souls keeping the perception from working on them.
  7. Enhanced Tracking: Trackers, like Dean, are able to use their ability to track down their target with undeniable accuracy. There are limits, as Dean can only track down objects he needs. He is unable to apply this to people, and if he can’t conjure up that sense of need, nothing will happen. This is not limited by distance, though if he’s far from an object, he only gets a sense of what direction it’s in.
  8. Supernatural Strength: Some, like Jacob, grow stronger than even other borrowers. This comes from their innate ability to turn their knack on their own bodies by instinct. These borrowers can rarely stretch their power beyond their body, but as a result, they can lift weights far beyond the limit of any others. Some borrowers only have certain parts of their bodies enhanced, giving that part a boost above and beyond even that extra strength.
  9. Protection: Like the invulnerability of an angel, some borrowers are able to guard themselves from damage. They can be stepped on or fall from a high distance and receive only bruises. If you ever see a borrower ‘bounce,’ there’s a good chance they have this ability and don’t realize it.
  10. Mental Manipulation: A knack that’s easily abused, mental manipulation can go from talking a human into ‘forgetting’ they ever saw a borrower all the way to digging into a person’s mind to control how they think. Highly dangerous. Adult borrowers have some immunity to this knack due to the angelic Grace, while children can be manipulated as easily as a human. Can also manifest as the ability to divert a human’s attention.
  11. Time Distortion: The ability to slow down or stop time. A very strong knack that requires training to sustain for longer than a few seconds. 
  12. Regeneration: The ability to regenerate wounds. Some borrowers with this ability have also been seen to extend their lives beyond the natural lifespan of their race, retaining youth.
  13. Animal Empathy: The ability to form close bonds with animals. Often used on mice or rats, sometimes bats and birds. Even a few friendly spiders exist that borrowers have befriended. A strong user of this ability can even mentally communicate with the animals.
  14. Static Electrokinesis: The ability to manipulate static electricity. A borrower with this ability might be seen with extra frizzy hair a lot before they realize that they’re doing it to themselves. If trained, they can zap on command and even stick to walls if they’re light enough.
  15. Empathy: Empaths can sense the emotions around them, either from a distance or by touch, depending on the strength of their ability. The strongest empaths can share their own emotions with others, by force or by choice.
  16. Psychometry: Able to learn facts about people or events by simply touching inanimate objects associated with them. Stronger users can do this with a glance. Learning how to slow the rush of facts and information is often a necessary survival technique for these users, so they don’t overwhelm their mind.
  17. Prescience: A brief look forward in time, to parse through possibilities and see what can arise from certain decisions being made. 
  18. Enhanced Stealth: A fairly common knack, borrowers with this are the best at sneaking into and out of rooms without being detected, even if the humans are up and active at the time. 

All these, and more! The knacks that borrowers use are as varied as the abilities humans have, and new ones are being discovered all the time!

Burnouts:

If a borrower pushes their knack beyond their breaking point, the knack will snap and render their ability useless. A sign that they’re approaching this point is a headache, often accompanied by a bloody nose.

Siblings:

Closely raised siblings often develop knacks that support each other’s. Sam and Dean are the prime example of this. One knows when they’re sought, while the other can find whatever they seek

Age:

The older a borrower grows, the longer the Grace has to work on them. This causes their knack to grow in strength even if they don’t train it. Sam notices this because he can start to differentiate between people like Dean, who are no danger to him and thus the sense he gets is ‘softer’ than someone like Gordon, a hunter actively trying to kill him. This makes Gordon’s gaze feel ‘sharp’ compared to Dean, and can cause Sam physical pain because of it. Walt’s telekinesis is far stronger than a young borrower could manage without training, able to suspend two full grown humans in the air without burning out.

Limitations:

As useful as knacks are, there are limits to what they can be.

  • Borrowers cannot change their size.
  • Borrowers cannot shapeshift.
  • Borrowers cannot fly or teleport.

Some of these limits arise naturally, as borrowers do not possess wings like their angelic source of magic, while others are limitations Celeste worked into her spell. She can’t afford to have her experiments switching back to human size.



Official knacks in the Brothers Apart multiverse

Though there are many different stories, no matter what, a knack will always remain the same for a particular cursed human!

That said, here is the full compilation of canon borrower knacks that we have for the characters within the stories. Any that say unannounced has a knack, but we haven’t revealed it at this time! Any that say unknown, we’re still working on!

This list is subject to change as the stories evolve, and more characters/knacks may be added at any time.


Main Characters

Sam Winchester–

  • Enhanced Awareness: This can either enhance an already understood sense to supernatural levels, or give the borrower a ‘sixth sense,’ much like how Sam can feel if he’s being watched. His ability does not work on other borrowers, the angelic Grace around their souls keeping the perception from working on them. 

Dean Winchester–

  • Enhanced Tracking: Trackers, like Dean, are able to use their ability to track down their target with undeniable accuracy. There are limits, as Dean can only track down objects he needs. He is unable to apply this to people, and if he can’t conjure up that sense of need, nothing will happen. This is not limited by distance, though if he’s far from an object, he only gets a sense of what direction it’s in. 

John Winchester–

  • Perception Filter: The ability to be unnoticed and/or ignored in presence and actions. John’s ability is unique, so far as he’s discovered. He is unable to apply this ability to himself, but has found that if he concentrates, he is able to hide his family from notice, even if a human opens up the walls and looks right at them. This allows him to leave without worrying that they will be found, though of course, stuff doesn’t always go to plan.

Mary Winchester–

  • Terrakinesis: The ability to control the earth. While John’s ability tends towards more protective with his family, Mary is ready to go on the attack. She can’t affect entire buildings like the angels, but she can rock the ground just enough to knock a human off balance, buying time for her to escape. This works when there’s concrete, rock, stone, ect underneath the ground. She is unable to affect wood paneling at all and is cautious if she needs to go over a wood floor. With this ability, she was able to slowly carve out a safe home for her family underneath the ground. Adding in John’s ability to keep the family undetected, it seemed a good place to raise their two boys. Mary keeps several pebbles on her that she can flick at an attacker in case she needs a quick escape. Dean certainly got his accuracy from his mother.

Bobby Singer–

  • Psychometry: Bobby’s knack allows him to learn from books and artifacts at a glance or a touch. He’s unable to read people, but if he gets an item of theirs, he can know what it was used for, how it will be put to use in the close future. This includes seeing that a knife will be used for a murder, before the murder happens.

Jacob Andris–

  • Supernatural Strength: Some, like Jacob, grow stronger than even other borrowers. This comes from their innate ability to turn their knack on their own bodies by instinct. While Sam and Dean receive the standard borrower strength boost while cursed, allowing them to lift around 12x their body weight, Jacob is able to lift, at only 18, a colossal 42x his natural body weight. If he was human-sized, he could bench a car without breaking a sweat.

Oscar–

  • Pyrokinesis: The ability to manipulate fire in limited forms. Oscar would not easily discover this knack, as a fire in the motel room walls might cause the entire place to go up in a blaze.

Walt Watch–

  • Telekinesis: The ability to manipulate objects outside of their direct reach. This can often cause a borrower to be mistaken for a ghost, moving objects in a house without touching them for a distraction. Walt Watch has taken the ability further, freezing two humans in place and later directing his power at himself to force his razor blade through Celeste’s neck despite her angelic invulnerability. This came close to burning out his knack. 

Mallory Watch–

  • unknown

John Watson–

  • unannounced

Sherlock Holmes–

  • unannounced

Stan Baker–

  • unannounced 

Moira Wainscot–

  • unannounced

Side Characters 

Kara Bolt–

  • unannounced  

Christian Bolt–

  • unknown 

Mikael Foyer–

  • unknown 

Mark Bend–

  • Supernatural Strength: Unlike Jacob, Mark’s ability only applies to his legs. His legs are supernaturally enhanced, able to leap high into the air compared to a regular borrower.

Sean–

  • Invisibility: Though the borrower does not make themselves actually invisible in most cases, the invisibility knack allows them to camouflage and blend in to their surroundings. In Sean’s case, he can cause a cloud of distortion that hides himself and any of his friends that stand close enough. 

 Bardolph–

  • unknown 

Xander–

  • unknown

Garen–

  • unknown

Harmony–

  • unannounced

Adriana of the Woods–

  • unannounced

Stan Baker’s brothers–

  • unannounced for all

If anyone has any questions, let me know!

A bit of background following the last chapter of Bittersweet Parting, to sum up the most important revelations for everyone!
Published:
© 2018 - 2021 nightmares06
Comments25
anonymous's avatar
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heatherhall18's avatar

Is there a story out yet where we see John and Mary's knacks in action?

nightmares06's avatar
I haven't actually come up with a concept to have the entire Winchester family smol yet, but if you ever come up with any ideas, feel free to write them! I'm not sure if I'll end up pursuing this line of thought, but it was fun to come up with fitting knacks for them. 
heatherhall18's avatar

Ooh I might have to tackle that

nightmares06's avatar
I would love to see what you come up with if you do!
heatherhall18's avatar

ooh idea! instead of azazel coming and bleeding in sam and killing mary, celeste comes and shrinks the entire family...the only difficult thing there would be personalities because john doesn't want revenge for mary's death and dean and sam weren't raised into hunting...

nightmares06's avatar
It certainly sounds like a good idea! I've had stories where the personalities ended up slightly varied from the canon supernatural show, it can be a lot of fun!
nomigirl18's avatar
Can a burnt-out knack be recovered?
nightmares06's avatar
It is extremely unlikely it'll heal on its own, and would most likely need divine intervention
nomigirl18's avatar
oh noes! thanks for the reply though
BNZG's avatar
Meant to say this before but this reminds me of Quirks from Boku no Hero Academia, except with an explanation as to how it happened and that you have to be a borrower to use them. 
nightmares06's avatar
Nice! I've never seen the show myself but I see the stuff floating around on tumblr every so often. I always think of them as my mini-xmen, lol. The explanation was just plain fun
animeannie4869's avatar
“My Borrower Academia.”
nightmares06's avatar
Lol! I've never actually seen that anime. I think of them as my mini X-Men
Weeglyfeesh's avatar
I've always wanted something like this! This answers a LOT of my questions...except one.

Does Oscar have a knack? I see a couple on here that would work and freak him out at the same time XD

Also, you know what would be cool? A quiz to find out your knack, because now I'm curious XD
nightmares06's avatar
It actually came up once in the brothers apart discord chat, and neon let us all know: 

brothersapart.tumblr.com/post/…

I'll have to check out some quiz makers! I'm just... terrible with that kind of stuff. Lol! 
Imperial-Radiance's avatar
Now, that's an info sheet!
nightmares06's avatar
Mmmm, I love my problematic fave 
TorchMLP's avatar
This is so damn cool (and answers so many questions!). It makes sense that she's infusing her grace with the human souls, since the curse is so hard to break. Does that mean that extracting that grace would remove the curse (I'm thinking like with Sam and Gadreel's grace)? Or can the grace even be extracted? So many questions. All these reveals are so exciting!
nightmares06's avatar
Can you imagine using one of the extraction needles on a smol? They'd need a different method to get it out, if they tried! It's a lot more spread out than it was with Sam/Gadreel (another angel I misssss), so there would be extra difficulty piled on top of that.

I'm so glad you like the lore! After I finished the posting the story, there was so much that doesn't get brought up in it, and I really wanted to share the stuff I've worked on for so long! :la:
TorchMLP's avatar
Oh boy, big needle for a smol is not a good idea, yeah

I'm glad you shared it! The lore is super interesting!
nightmares06's avatar
I had so much fun coming up with the lore over the last few years, it's all really come together with a few last details i got from writing Consulted. Thanks so much for coming with me on this ride!
kopelowitz's avatar
This badassary is amazing.
nightmares06's avatar
>w> I'm so glad you like it! I worked hard on the lore and background
gabimello's avatar
The Borrowers are X-Men confirmed
anonymous's avatar
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