The Hunter's Mark is a mark which appears as a tattoo on the body of a member of The Brotherhood of the Five. The mark begins at the dorsal face of the right hand and continues up the arm and across the chest, revealing the story of the first immortal Silas, the death of his lover at Qetsiyah's hands, his entrapment, and the ultimate mission of the Brotherhood. It serves many purposes - it's a map, a story, a coded message, an empowerment and a spell all at the same time.
The Hunter's Mark was created centuries after the powerful witches (Qetsiyah and Silas) created the first known spell of immortality. In revenge for Silas' betrayal, Qetsiyah killed his lover. As for Silas, because the immortality spell kept him from dying, Qetsiyah buried him alive with a cure for immortality, hoping he would take it, die, and be with her on The Other Side for all eternity. Instead, he refused, not wanting to meet his end by Qetsiyah's terms. One of Qetsiyah's descendants, a dying witch, created the The Brotherhood of the Five, a group of vampire hunters.
The mark was given to The Five as a means to find Silas and the Cure, which they believed was the ultimate weapon to rid the world of vampires. When the original members of the Five were killed by Klaus. It was assumed the brotherhood was extinct. In fact, at any given time there are always five hunters. It took over 52 years for each original member of the brotherhood to be replaced. Killing a hunter causes one to be affected by the Hunter's Curse.
Connor Jordan discovered he was a potential hunter when he saw the mark on his friend, whom he had served with in Iraq. When his friend died, the mark appeared on Connor's arm, and with it came the intense urge to kill vampires. The more vampires Connor killed, the more the mark grew.
In 2010, Connor came to Mystic Falls to kill vampires after being sent there by Atticus Shane who wanted him to grow his mark as part of his plan to find and raise Silas. While there, he discovered that Jeremy Gilbert was a potential hunter when Jeremy was able to see the Hunter's Mark. Jeremy helped lure Connor into a trap set by Damon; he is captured by Klaus, who ordered Jeremy to draw the tattoo. Connor later managed to escape by killing his hybrid guard and the mark grew. He later held Jeremy, Matt and April hostage at The Grill and killed the hybrid Dean, causing it to grow once again. Eventually Elena killed him, preventing the mark's completion.
After Connor's death, the mark appeared on Jeremy's hand. In order to end the Hunter's Curse from which Elena is suffering, Jeremy killed one of Klaus' hybrids, effectively initiating Jeremy as one of The Five. Later, Stefan forced Jeremy to kill a vampire in order to grow the mark, but an unanticipated side effect was that Jeremy's urge to kill vampires, including his sister, was intensified, as well as becoming immune to compulsion. In the interest of completing the Mark as soon as possible, Klaus turned a bar-full of people into vampires just for Jeremy to kill. When Klaus' brother, Kol, intervened, he contemplated cutting off Jeremy's arms to prevent the mark from being used to find Silas.
In Into the Wild, Shane led everyone to a mysterious island to find the cure, where Bonnie continued to try understanding the message of the Mark in order to use it for the spell. Another member of The Five, Galen Vaughn, attacked Damon, who notices the Mark on his attacker's arm.In Down the Rabbit Hole, Vaughn, revealed to a captive Damon that although he had spent his entire life killing vampires, his Mark never really revealed itself until it had mysteriously completed itself around the same time that Jeremy Gilbert killed an Original Vampire, Kol. Meanwhile, Shane led Bonnie and Jeremy into the cave where Silas lay with the Cure, and Bonnie performed a spell that draws on the power of the Mark, causing a rockfall in the cave and revealing a new passage. During the spell, the mark disappeared from Jeremy's body as well as Vaughn's.
Use of the Hunter's Mark
- Map: The Hunter's Mark is primarily a map that directs the hunter to the location of Silas' tomb.
- Story: The Hunter's Mark pictorially explains glimpses of the story of the first immortal, Silas. It describes the murder of a woman, Silas' lover; the witch, Qetsiyah, who killed her; the entrapment of the immortal creature; and the mission of The Five - To cure Silas of immortality and then kill him.
- Message: The Mark has vines and roots that surround all the characters and events in the Mark, chronologically. The vines have symbols on them. These symbols are supposed to be the key to deciphering the messages coded onto the cryptex of the hunter's sword. The cryptex was revealed in Down the Rabbit Hole on the sword of Alexander.
- Empowerment: Possession of the Mark is not only symbolic, it is also functional for it represents those who have it as members of the Brotherhood of the Five. Apparently, owning the Hunter's Mark bestows the bearer certain privileges unique to the Brotherhood; namely enhanced physical prowess, urge to hunt Vampires, and immunity to Compulsion. In I Know What You Did Last Summer, it was seen that the Hunter's Mark reacts whenever Silas comes into contact with a Hunter from the Brotherhood, making it possible to identify the Immortal in this manner.
- Spell: The Mark is also a spell that only a descendant of Qetsiyah could use to unseal the Tomb of Silas. The spell has to be absorbed by the witch and channeled at the location of the entrance of Silas' tomb.
- Record: Since after the first and original generation of the Brotherhood of the Five, all those who came after them would always have the Hunter's Mark incomplete upon first manifesting on their bodies. To complete it, the Mark's bearer must kill Vampiric entities, causing the tattoo to grow into completion. Hence, the Mark represents the magnitude of how many Vampires the Hunter has killed.
- Identification: Because there can only be five current Hunters of the Brotherhood of the Five in any given time, there can also only be five Hunter's Marks in existence at any given time, one for each active Hunter. The Mark serves as a way of identifying Hunters for those who know of its history, and as a way for current Hunters to identify Potentials, as only they can see it.
Workings Of The Mark
Marks on the Original Brotherhood
The original members of the brotherhood had the completed mark on their bodies that could be seen by all. When they were killed by Klaus, their marks magically disappeared.
Marks on its Subsequent Members
After the death of the original brotherhood, they were thought to be extinct. This was because incomplete hunter's mark on new hunters could be seen only by other hunters or potentials.
Turning into a hunter:
The death of a current hunter triggers the beginning of the mark on a potential hunter. Only the initial portion - the Grand Sigil - appears and only to the hunter. All progress in the mark made by the newly deceased hunter is lost. It is unknown how many potentials exist.
Possible potential quantities:
- It is possible that only one exists at a time, to replace one newly dead hunter subsequently turning another living human to a potential.
- It is possible five potentials exist at a time, where each potential is only turned into a hunter when their corresponding hunter dies.
- There could be innumerable potentials - small enough in number compared to the world's population to go unnoticed for a thousand years - meaning the legacy of the hunter is probably passed on to the geographically closest potential hunter.
Awakening of the hunter:
The hunter is seemingly still a simple human being - not a supernatural creature - until he is awakened (as seen when Jeremy comes back to life with the Gilbert Ring before awakened). When a hunter makes his first vampire kill, he is awakened. Any hunter's curse due to the murder of his preceding hunter is broken. The awakened hunter is supernatural and his awakening fills him with immense power far more than an average human.
Growth of the mark:
Every time the hunter kills a vampire, the mark grows piece by piece; more is revealed after every kill. With every kill the hunter's urge to kill vampires gets stronger. It appears as if the mark growth causes some minor level of physical pain to the hunter for short moments, and multiple growths all at once may actually cause excruciating pain. Completion of the mark takes a very long time, since Vaughn never came close to completing his mark despite going after Vampire dens for most of his life. It is unknown how many vampires have to be killed in order to complete the mark; the only instance it is shown to be completed was because Jeremy killed Kol whose bloodline must extend to tens of thousands of vampires; and Kol's death, being an original vampire, also meant the subsequent death of vampires descended from him. The fact that Kol's death probably meant the demise of other vampires from his bloodline worldwide means that the murder does not have to occur in the hunter's presence, as any death by their hands will still cause the mark to grow.
When the mark completes it becomes visible to everybody and not just the hunter. Completing one hunter's mark on one, completes the mark on every current hunter - it is unknown what would happen if the hunter dies, whether the mark on other hunters would revert to its previous state or not - we might never know.
Once completed, the mark forms a map that leads to a cure for immortality. To read the map, one would need the original swords of one of the original members of the brotherhood. Once located, the mark also functions like a spell to access the resting place of Silas. A witch, descendant of Qetsiyah, could absorb the spell and use it to unseal Silas' tomb. The absorption process causes the hunter's mark to disappear from all current hunters starting with the beginning of the mark. A person with the mark continues to be a hunter after it was gone, both in life and in death.
Vestiges of the Mark:
It was seen that even after the Hunter's Mark was absorbed, the supernatural qualities it bestowed upon the bearer will remain, since the Gilbert Ring failed to resurrect Jeremy, having been converted supernaturally by this Mark. Even without the Mark visible, he still displayed attributes of a Hunter from the Brotherhood of the Five; having reacted violently towards those that bullied him, and even identified Silas after the Immortal touched him, sending a chill where his Mark used to be.
Design of Hunter's Mark
The mark has several images linked by roots, runes and stones.
- Grand Sigil (Silas' Tomb Location): It is a resemblance to the Icelandic sigil " Vegvísir", which means ‘guidepost’ or ‘direction sign". This sigil refers to the location of the Island or cavern where Silas is buried. It appears on the back of the Hunter's right hand and happens to be the part of the Mark that first appears on the new Potential - growing with each Vampiric creature they kill; the Sigil's manifestation serves two purposes: one is that a preceding member of The Five has passed to The Other Side. The other purpose is that the Potential Hunter is ready to be awakened and take the previous one's place within The Five.
- Innocent Lady (Amara): She is a woman who is being stabbed in the back by a hooded figure. The image refers to Amara, who died because of Qetsiyah's rage and jealousy. It can be found on the Hunter's right bicep.
- Hooded Figure (Qetsiyah): It is the being who is stabbing the woman. The image refers to Qetsiyah, a powerful witch. Qetsiyah was in love with Silas but he was not in love with her. It is seen also on the Hunter's right bicep.
- Unique Pentagram: It is a slightly slanted pentagram that is within a ring with roots, runes and stones tangled around the outer edge. The same image was on a framed parchment in Shane's office. It is unknown what it's importance is. It is located on the shoulder of the right arm on a Hunter.
- Creature (Silas): It is the image in the upper part of the Mark. Possibly, this being is Silas, because he is described as a very dangerous creature, malevolent and able to unleash hell on earth. It is located on the upper right pectoral of the Hunter's chest.
- Five Swords - It is the last image of the mark. The five swords are hunters/guardians, they have a duty to find and destroy Silas. It is found on the Hunter's left breast.
- Alexander (mark completed, deceased)
- Four unnamed original members of the five (marks completed, deceased)
- Five unnamed Hunters in late 12th Century (unknown, deceased)
- Connor's friend (unknown, deceased)
- Connor Jordan (mark incomplete, deceased)
- Jeremy Gilbert (mark completed, alive)
- Galen Vaughn (mark completed, deceased)
- In We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes, Klaus tells Elena that he endured the curse "for 52 years, 4 months, and 9 days," and that "eventually it just stopped". This meant that the original five new hunters must have been replaced by the first potentials on their respective first vampire kills as the only way to end the Hunter's Curse is to awaken a new hunter or if the vampire/hybrid commits suicide. Obviously the last one to awaken, took that long since the death of the original five.
- The beginning of the Hunter's Mark bears a strong resemblance to the Icelandic sigil "Ægishjálmur".
- Interestingly, there are vines and roots covering Silas's body, just like the vines and roots that connect the symbols on the tattoo.
- When Jeremy's mark completed, so did Galen Vaughn's. When Jeremy's vanished from Bonnie's spell, so did Vaughn's as well. It can be assumed from this that once the mark for one completes, so do the marks on the other four as well as when the spell was used, that the other hunters' marks disappeared along with Jeremy's.
- The number of vampires that have to die to complete the Hunter's Mark is unknown.