Banefuls (忌血族 Imichi Zoku, Mournful Blood Clan) are members of an ancient and powerful, but cursed bloodline called the Baneful Bloodline, rumored to be connected to that of the Vampirics. Those that carry the blood are prone to extreme feats of strength and offensive prowess so much so that they have gone down in history as rivaling the Vampirics in power and prominence. In exchange however, they are cursed with a fragile psyche vulnerable to varying displays of insanity, particularly if they allow themselves to get caught up in the heat of the moment and lost in the throws of battle. Notable instances of this have manifested to varying degrees in all Banefuls introduced in the series thus far, including series protagonists Aya and her half-sister Saki, the half-blood siblings Kagura and Saaya, and the sisters Misery and Evange.
Notable members of the Baneful bloodline:
- Reiko/Lei (after devouring Eva's heart)
- Kagura's mother
- Saaya's mother
- Anzu and Sayaka
A bloodline that has evolved over the years, all Banefuls possess a high degree of aptitude for combat and the physiology that allows them to perform a variety of superhuman feats including enhanced strength, enhanced speed, enhanced durability and energy manipulation. When Banefuls become coated in enough blood, their body reacts in such a way that triggers a mental switch, launching them into an overpowered, blood-lusted frenzy for a few brief moments before the effect wears off and they regain their original state of mind.
- Main article: Xtasy and Dare Drive
Banefuls are able to enter a transformation with even greater power than this Berserk state: Xtasy. Long thought to be a legend, Banefuls who enter Xtatic Form take on a demonic appearance, and their strength is exponentially heightened.
As a part of their curse however, all of these gifts accompany a psychology that leaves them incredibly vulnerable to falling into extreme bouts of insanity and general psychopathy. The level and duration with which this mental illness manifests varies from member to member, but is largely determined by the native mind and willpower of the Baneful themselves. Even with sisters like Aya and Saki; while Saki is known for being particularly susceptible to the effects of the blood curse, having in the past descended into a destructive cycle of sadistic madness for years on end and never fully recovering, Aya (her blood sister) has been able to resist the psychological effects enough to have only merely slipped into the Baneful berserk state for a few moments before regaining control of herself and is still none the worse for wear. Despite this, Aya does maintain a slight complex about abandoning he sanity with the ability, preferring not to lose her mind and go into a carnage fueled rampage when she can.
Despite this, countless outsiders over the years have dedicated their lives, committing even the most unthinkable acts and convoluted schemes, others pushing science to its limits all in order to become a member of this circle and claim the power of the Baneful Blood for themselves, judging the power it granted as far outweighing the impending insanity that would accompany it.
The cells in a Baneful's body are constantly undergoing a battle between accelerated apoptosis (cell death) and regeneration. In a normal (pre-Berserk) state, the Baneful's cells undergo accelerated regeneration. In Berserk state, the cells additionally undergo apoptosis at a faster rate than the accelerated regeneration. This detail may explain a Baneful's sudden death in the middle of battle.
The sheer majority of humans who ingest Baneful Blood undergo accelerated apoptosis to the extent that they become Undead at a swifter rate than those who ingest Undead blood. However, there also exist humans with special DNA who are able to endure the painful effects of the Baneful Blood, and therefore will undergo the same accelerated rates of apoptosis and regeneration as normal Banefuls. Additionally, when such humans are exposed to more Undead blood, their rates of apoptosis and regeneration are accelerated even further. In all cases of this occurring however, the rate of apoptosis always overtook regeneration, potentially resulting in death. The genetic researcher Reiko dubbed this fatal condition "Acquired Baneful Blood Syndrome."
The original trigger of the Berserk Baneful Blood state was human blood, but with the appearance of Undead, Undead blood became a suitable substitute for human blood, perhaps as a way to protect humans from Banefuls. However, there exist humans with blood that can slightly limit the effects of apoptosis during the Berserk state such that regeneration will always overtake apoptosis. Such a condition (a faster rate of cellular regeneration versus apoptosis) may be the key to immortality.
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