The most common tools of the Shadowhunter, which also is the source of their ability to fight the demonic incursion
are the Marks of Raziel. That is how Runes came to be also known as Marks. These are a complex runic language given by the Angel to grant powers beyond mundanes. Some Marks are applied to the bodies of Shadowhunters, and some are applied to physical objects like stones. The runes grants them powers and are burned into Shadowhunters’ skin using steles, and are their most common tool in their fight against demons. This has become a popular area of the runes as the pop culture on novels seem to have adopted from it.
These marks were given to the first generation of Shadowhunters by the Angel Raziel to assist them in fighting the demons they were tasked to eradicate. Every rune that is accessible to a Shadowhunter is recorded in the Book of the Covenant, and have also been copied into the Gray Book. The Gray Book has been specially crafted with each rune placed in its pages. Copies of the book are rare because each book is specially made, due to the fact that steles, made of the holy metal adamas, burn normal paper.
The first ever recorded Mark was the biblical Mark of Cain. When mark was set upon Cain, it protected him from harm, as any harm against him would result in the same harm rebounding on the assailant but sevenfold.
Upon emblazonment of the mark on the skin, it may cause some uneasiness and a slight stinging pain, but most runes do not actually cause harm against a Shadowhunter. When a young Shadowhunter is set to begin his or her formal training, usually around the age of ten or twelve, they receive their first rune. The Voyance rune is normally the first rune given to young or newly-ascended Shadowhunters. It may vary in special cases though, such as when it was decided that the sickly Adele Starkweather should receive the Strength rune first. The first rune is usually Marked upon them in a formal ceremony done by Silent Brothers. Most runes are meant to be worn on a Shadowhunters’ skin although many runes can also be applied on physical objects, giving a variety of effects and abilities. Many of these runes are also placed on their weapons to prevent demons from healing when injured by them; others are used to lock and unlock doors, create fires, and a wide array of other abilities.
Though most runes have immense power, there also are runes used by the Nephilim that are purely symbolic. The love rune, for example, is merely a symbol of two people’s love and cannot create the actual feeling. The same can be said for the mourning rune as it cannot diminish the loss that its wearers feel and only honors the dead and symbolizes the pain of their loved ones’ deaths.
Runes can be drawn as a whole, but depending on its purpose, runes can also be drawn partially at first and then completely drawn when the wearer wishes to activate it. The strength and efficiency of runes is based on and related to the inscribing Shadowhunter’s talent for runic magic, specifically the strength and accuracy of the drawn Mark. The placement of the runes adds to their effectiveness as well. The closer a rune is placed to the heart, the more effective it is. Some runes are placed on hands and arms and legs because they target that particular area. The force that the rune is drawn with is also a factor in how long it lasts, that is to say – the harder someone presses when drawing the rune makes it last longer. Runes are assumed to have already existed long before Shadowhunters, and are even possibly runes of Heaven, that date back to the time of angels. These Marks include the Fearless, Alliance, and resurrection runes, as well as the Mark of Cain as mentioned earlier, among others.