Not many other subjects as the following are so difficult to describe, when it comes to writing down facts or knowledge known for sure. Rarely so contradictory explanations for the same issue can be found - and it is not even said, if two similar events ever existed where a "Demon" was summoned, observed, used or fought in precisely the same fashion. Most descriptions of a Demon or reports of an encounter are second-, third-hand or even traded since the War of the Chosen. So even if in the following delineation some issues are seemingly proved - doubt is in every case a good companion when reading this.
Picture description: The Demon Lord of Fire, Faerhorál, rising from the depth to confront a pure soul. Picture drawn by Isilhir.
The term "Demons" in the human sense includes all supernatural or unnatural beings that are said to be summoned by magical or divine means and are of evil intent per se. For the humans the origin of these entities are the Netherworlds, a place which is believed to lie deep in the bowels of Caelereth. - However, it is also said that Demons may originate from other planes of existence, of which we have little knowledge and remain mysteries to us, though it is possible to communicate with these places through magical means.
Elves on the other hand see in the demons mainly an incarnation of Darkwinds which are incorporated through the summoning and are able to walk on Caelereth like other natural beings.
Numerous other views and explanations are existing throughout the world, the most prevalent and well known are listed below. Common in most systems is however the distinction between "Demon Lords" for those with the most powerful abilities, "High Demons" with considerable less power and "Lesser Demons", which are still described frightening enough, though some seem to be mere terrible looking and acting beasts.
Appearance. Latest researches and studying of old scripts point to the new assumption, that the "Demon Lords" don‘t have a fixed appearance, but that they are able to take every look they find required, though they tend to prefer one appearance, which is described in their specific entries. Generally the description in the old book about Demons from Ozzot and Mondrakken is still valid:
"Demons have no 'typical' appearance. There are of course certain similarities if you compare various species of Demons, but generalisation is difficult. A great amount of Demons are two-legged, horned, have exceptionally great claws, sharp teeth and wear tails, some are winged as well; but all these properties very seldom occur on the same Demon. Depictions of Demons with ram's horns and goatfeet are very common, yet they often are mere simplifications and shouldn't be taken as the real thing. There also exist Demons which are of spiritual form only for example like the mystrans, who have the abilities to possess others.
Very often one can see a strong tendency towards the element of fire at a Demon by looking at its appearance or by watching the way the monster behaves in battle: Certain kinds of Demons can spit or breathe fire or can even cast fire magic themselves, or seem to be composed of lava-like substances and therefore are often immune against fire-weapons. But don't let yourself be misguided by such definitions - evil can linger everywhere, and Demons may appear in any form and sizes, some even are said to be capable of shapeshifting..."
Special Abilities. Sometimes Demons are able to leave the Netherworlds (see Territory) and to intrude into Caelereth's reality - mostly through the summoning by potent mages, but in scarce cases due to their own abilities and powers as well. As far as is known, they can generally stay here on Caelereth only for a limited time, depending on the magical powers of the summoning mage. The fabric of space and time is weakened at the point, where a Demon was summoned. This can have the effect, that a powerful Demon like one of the Demon Lords can enter Caelereth, where he couldn't before. However, this is only possible for a short amount of time, for the "weakness" of this point vanishes with the time. If this is the work of the weavers, a mythical group of mages with power capable of weaving strands of raw magic, or if this is a natural way of nature to repair itself is not known.
The special abilities of the different Demons vary to a great degree, often from individual to individual. In addition, the descriptions are mostly stamped with fear, uncompleted if not wrong. What is known - with reservations - can be found in the respective entries.
Habitat/Behaviour. Let's quote from Ozzot/Mondrakken again, noted demonology researchers:
"Common among the Demons is their uncontrolled desire and greed for various things that they seek for satisfaction, and their generally chaotic and unpredictable behaviour, though this depends of course as well from the beast's intelligence. There are probably also exceptions here of Demons that aid to serve the Gods instead of the chaos of Coór and stand in close conjunction to them. But these issues have to be left open to religious discussions.
Knowing all this we shouldn't forget that some of the various Demon species are not eternally evil and even may serve one of the Twelve - believing the according temples - to advise the priests and protect the temples. This is also the reason why the knowledge about demonology among clerics is prohibited by most temples to anyone but the strongest and purest priests in Santharia. It is rumoured that non-priests who tried to acquire knowledge by these few priests about this dark art, hoped by many to be lost after the War of the Chosen, awaited a death-sentence. The temple who is said to deal most with these creatures from another sphere is the priesthood of Queprur who is feared and avoidedas it is said that they even call High Demons to help them in their tasks."
The new insights about the Demon Lords conjecture, that they - due to their high intelligence - are the ones, which have the most control over their behaviour and are therefore the ones, who were actually never controlled or even summoned against their own will by any human or elven mage, despite other tales from the War of the Chosen.
The idea by the way that Demons might not be entirely evil, but even serve the gods (and if only Queprur) was cause for quite an uproar when the book of Ozzot and Mondrakken was first published.
General opinions about tis issue have slightly changed till then, but still, researchers try to avoid a onesided view. The demonologist Kilrane Darkeye states the following:
"Demons do belong to the dark side of Avá‘s Dream as an elf would put it. But though most people see they as evil, worth all the hate a person could feel and terrible creatures, it is not known, if they are able to feel such emotions like the races of Caelereth do or if this is just a human or elven interpretation of their deeds. And their deeds are indeed seen as evil by most, though demonologists (researchers with the subject Demons) doubt, that Demons themselves feel hate or lust in doing things which every human would label as truly evil and terrific, but that they just don‘t care, what they are doing. Perhaps human or elven morality cannot be applied to judge their deeds. Indeed, often Demons only fulfill what their evil masters told them to do. It is not known, if a summoned Demon could be ordered to do something humans would consider as a good deed. Fact is, that their actions are reported as mostly evil and devastating, their appearance of course adds to the frightening picture most humans carry with them, independent if they ever saw a Demon or not - and most won't have had the chance or better the misfortune to see one in their entire life."
Picture description. Scene from the War of the Chosen. Image drawn by Quellion, artwork created for Total-Conquest, used with friendly permission.
Territory. What is for sure is that Demons are presences which exist in a place different to the plane of existence in which Caelereth is located. The place's true nature is not known, but there are different names and perceptions for it throughout the world of Caelereth, the humans in Sarvonia call it the "Netherworlds", the elves "Quáer'es'sharán" (Styrásh for "void-world"). Knowledge about the views on other continents concerning this aspect of Demons is scarce, a lot more research is needed. For easier reference it will be called by the human name "Netherworlds".
For a deepened study of the phenomena, Ozzot‘s and Mondrakken‘s work are quoted again. They tend to be still quite accurate, despite their mingling of philosophy and accurate research. The idea of a "real border" between Caelereth and the Netherworlds is doubted nowadays, though the elven mage Rayne Avalotus has used the wonderful picture of a "fabric" thinning out, if a Demon was summoned:
"Demons do not naturally exist in the sphere of Caelereth as they're a perversion of nature and the Dream. Only magic or certain circumstances or phenomenons can open them the way into the lands of Caelereth. Such circumstances are often connected to great catastrophes that seem to bring the world so close to the perversion of the Dream in Coór's imagination that the Demons can slip through the border that separates the Netherworlds from Caelereth. In a sense you could say that the closer the world gets to the nightmares of the Netherworlds the easier it is for Demons to become reality without magical influence. This is only theory though and like many other things concerning Demons based on assumptions.
The other possibility is that mages call Demons from the Netherworlds (or other planes of existence) intentionally. Such a summoning could be of temporary nature, allowing the Demon to return after a certain amount of time to the place from where it originated. Permanent summoning can be very dangerous - for the caster, his surroundings, but also for the creature itself, which isn't used to its new environment.
Summonings were practised a long time ago (during the War of the Chosen these terrors were common place), before they were finally officially forbidden in the United Kingdom of Santharia. Demonology is still taught as a spell class among others in the Ximaxian Academy, but mainly serves research purposes and is reserved for Archmages only, who have to vow to "use their powers with care" (well, there's still much interpretation left here). However, the Santharian restrictive use of demonology doesn't mean that it isn't still practised in other parts of the world or even in secret dungeon deep below our own realm. And even today, some of the more powerful, and unspeakable Demons are said to lurk from days of war long past somewhere out there..."
Diet/Mating. Not much is known about what Demon Lords or High Demons need to support their existence here in Caelereth, what keeps them alive or what drives them. From some of the Lesser Demons it is said, that they feed on animals just as beasts do. Even less is known about reproduction - if it happens at all. More speculations can be found in the respective overview or single entries.
Origins, Myth and Lore. All we know about Demons is just based on assumptions and suppositions, but when asking about their origin, there is not much more left than wild speculation and guesswork. Ozzot and Mondrakken introduce their paragraph about this issue with the simple statement: "The question from where Demons really originate is difficult to answer" and only quote Zhyron the Elder: "About the Netherbeasts" (p. 32 f. and 3 , a prominent sage about what most humans of Santharia believe:
"Demons are, without any doubt, the most horrid and vile of all the beings on Caelereth. These wretched souls are said to mainly exist in the Netherworlds, where their crude and horrifying way of life winds the endless caverns and pits that mark its dark legacy. Though if the Netherworlds are the only place where they can be found, no one can say with certainty, as we don't even know much of the Netherworlds either. What seems undeniable is the fact that through the power of a trained mind magical mental gates can be opened, through which it is possible to establish contact with these beasts, yea, and even to summon them physically, if the bond between the mage and his/her target is strong enough.
This quote says more about Zhyron‘s attitude towards Demons though than about their origin - the Netherworlds.
Ozzot's and Mondrakken's view of the elven beliefs, is discussed heavily today. Elves do believe, as already mentioned, that the origin of the Demons lies in the Darkwinds. (It is recommended dearly to read up this entry!) But today's view is different from that of Mondrakken, who thought, that there were perhaps more simpleminded Darkwinds and more complex ones:
"Some of these Darkwinds are simpleminded, not more than an idea, a shattered fragment of a greater plan mostly based on only one thought, one desire they try to satisfy in the plane of the mortals but without any mind to tell them when their desire is satisfied.
Others are complex creatures nearly as powerful as Gods who haunt the world of Caelereth in multiple ways but other than the Gods without the order of the Dreamer but with the chaotic impetus they've inherited from Coór." (Mondrakken, p. 35) - That would imply, that the more "simpler ones" are incarnated as Lesser Demons, the more complex ones as High Demons.
One new theory, the one closer to Mondrakken's original idea posts that there are not "more simpleminded" and "complex" winds which incorporate, but just minor winds accompagnying the major winds. If a minor Darkwind is targeted, a Lesser Demon is summoned, and a major , if a High Demon or even Demon Lord is attempted to be called for own purposes.
The most recent elven view however favours the sight, that through the summoning just parts of the essence of the Darkwind is drawn away, the more powerful the Demon will be. Wild speculation even supports the idea, that a mighty summoning performed during the War of the Chosen even managed to summon a Demon Lord. But in this case, all the essence of the Darkwind incorporated, which had the effect, that the star chased by it ceased to move and stood still. However, the inference of this thought could be, that when ever we see a star stand still, a Demon Lord is summoned. This would be a terrible conclusion; hopefully a solution more friendly towards the inhabitants of Caelereth is found soon!
To conclude with Ozzot/Mondrakken: "Their might (those of the most powerful Demons) can exceed even the powers of legendary mages known from the War of the Chosen. In this respect it has often been debated by the sages if the War of the Chosen wasn't actually waged by Demons who used the sorcerers to mask themselves, and not by the Gods as is commonly claimed, who are said to have used the races as their pets, at least in the elven view. But as many things most reports of this period remain unconfirmed legends or rumours rather than scientific facts."
Categorization. Santhalian demonologists have split up the demons into three main categories: Demon Lords, High Demons, Lesser Demons.
DEMON LORDS, THE
HIGH DEMONS, THE
LESSER DEMONS, THE
New research tends to split the Lesser Demons up in two more categories, the True (Lesser) Demons and the False Demons, which are terrible acting or looking beasts, but not really entities summoned from a place referred to as the Netherworlds. For those who encounter one of these species, the difference might be marginal though.
Researchers. There are numerous researchers on the subject of demonology throughout the times, the already mentioned Zhyron or Quagoth, from whom we have the only "description" of the Netherworlds. Researchers who confine themselves more to the studying of books are the famous archmage Xarl of Ximax, Torek Ozzot or Koldar Mondrakken. Torek Ozzot wrote a book about Demons quite some time ago, which was the base of Koldar Mondrakken's standard work about Demons which is in most parts valid till today.