The Netherbeast is said to be one of the most horrifying and bloodthirsty fiends ever to walk the face of Caelereth. Demonologists say that these wretched creatures were summoned and brought to life through magical means thousands of years ago from the depths of the Netherworlds to wreak untold destruction. These beasts may vary completely in appearance, ranging from spider-like forms with human skulls to mighty horned skeletons or slimy, toxic creatures resembling crawling brains and rumored to possess magical abilities never dreamed of. Some demonologists say that the Netherbeast is a vile combination of corpses and bodily parts of other Netherworld creatures. There are some accounts that the bite or wound made by a Netherbeast can turn its victim into a Netherbeast themselves. This may explain how these creatures reproduce. Regardless, it is generally agreed by most scholars that the Mists of Osthemangar in Northern Sarvonia have a fairly high concentration of Netherbeasts stalking about within.
|Image description: The nightmare of the strongest warrior: A magically summoned beast of the Netherworlds. Picture drawn by Mikael.
Appearance. Netherbeasts vary greatly in appearance. Most accounts say that there is no consistency between each one. The dark magics that summon them, and the victims that the beasts prey on, all contribute to a Netherbeast's appearance. Most demonologists agree that the Netherworld is a place of utter chaos making the Netherbeast a creature of chaos as well.
One account from the famous Battle of Hegedorn, by an elven mage named Draydor Illiyarm, described his encounter from a journal entry:
"As the dark wave of creatures spilled forth from the mountains, I could see leading the way were many creatures leaping and gnashing, wildly tearing a path of destruction. Each creature possessed either claws or legs that resembled curved blades. Some had multiple heads resembling insects while others slithered along the ground like snakes. They produced all manner of noises from loud chittering to wailing and clacking of jaws. Most were a deep black or red in colour, while others were the colour of dead trees, brown and lifeless. Several resembled open, wet flesh, bloody and glistening in the moonlight. I managed to cast a few spells before their very putrid smell turned me away in disgust and I fled..."
In general, a Netherbeast is not a large creature. They are perhaps the size of a large dog, most accounts say, with multiple legs and arms. The closest kind of creature on Caelereth that they look like would perhaps be a spider crossed with a rotted corpse of a rat with most having hardened shells. Accounts are often vague and so varied that it is impossible to determine an exact appearance of a Netherbeast.
Special Abilities. The Netherbeast is not known to possess any extraordinary abilities other than being quite fast and agile - at least for those possessing many legs and arms. The creatures are ever hungry, devouring anything in their path from stone to trees to flesh. Once released, the beasts never stop until they are destroyed or summoned away by their masters.
Their one unique ability is their reproduction. Some scholars believe that a small group of Netherbeasts is always summoned initially, but once they come into contact with any living flesh, such as animal or human, the creature bites them and the victim suffers excruciating pain as their flesh changes and becomes one as the beast that bit it. The creature actively seeks out living, and dead, prey pursuing it for days without pause or rest.
Also, the blood of the Netherbeast is known to be deadly toxic. Some accounts from the Third Sarvonian War said that as each fiend was killed, wherever their blood spilled, the ground became blackened, releasing a vile smelling smoke for many days. It is said that their blood can melt steel and burn flesh from bone instantly.
Territory. The magical region known as the Mists of Osthemangar is thought to be the only sole location where Netherbeasts can still be found. The mists are thought to have also originated from the Netherworld and thus is the most likely region where any remaining beasts may inhabit. It is said that when the Deep Winds Portal was opened on two documented occasions, The War of the Chosen and the Third Sarvonian War, the mist seeped out into Caelereth, producing a blighted, twisted landscape. If the Netherbeast does reside in the mists, it is not known what keeps it there and not running amok all over Caelereth. The creatures can also be summoned from their native territory, the Netherworld itself, by casting powerful spells.
Habitat/Behaviour. The general agreement among most scholars is that the Netherbeast originates in the Netherworld. However, what is not clear is how it lives in its own realm. How does it feed? How are they created or born? Do they have different abilities in the Netherworld? The only scholar known to visit the Netherworld was the Archmage Quagoth Tunta, and his writings say little of the Netherbeast's behaviour. However, what is known is how they behave outside of their realm. The creatures are best described as mindless, hungry and destructive things that when pointed in a single direction, they destroy whatever they come into contact with. There is no method to their behaviour and it is not known if they can actually think for themselves. They have a very basic instinct like that of an insect.
Diet. Anything. The Netherbeast has no preference for what it devours, but it is generally thought that the fiend prefers flesh most of all. Humans, elves, animals, orcs - both living or dead - are all quickly eaten with the result of their diet often becoming Netherbeasts.
Mating. Mating is not a concept known to the Netherbeast. Instead, the creatures reproduce by infecting living or dead flesh with their diseased bite. The Volkek-Oshra demonologist Vekarn Kha'mal postulated a theory that the creature's saliva is tainted with the netherworldly, blighted presence and when introduced into a living or dead host, those toxins somehow take over the being's cár'áll and infect it. The exact nature of the Netherworld influence on living or dead flesh is uncertain. However, Kha'mal affirms his theory using examples of creatures who reside in the Mists of Osthemangar. The Mists are known to clearly affect any living being within the region.
The transformation is horrible to behold. Dead corpses morph and change into vile, twisted things. The dead walk again and become ever hungry, hunting for more flesh. Living victims lose all their rational thought as their minds are driven mad from the change. A living victim suffers unimaginable pain as their diseased flesh becomes an entirely new entity. Sometimes the flesh falls away and other times hardening like an insect's shell. Some accounts have the victim growing horns or tufts of hair. Once bitten, a victim has no hope of being "cured". The entire transformation happens in approximately one hour. One needs only to summon and release a few beasts into a populated area to make an entire army within hours or days.
Myth/Lore. On Summoning. The wise sage and Compendiumist Artimidor Federkiel conducted some indepth studies of the Netherbeast. Sage Federkiel is a widely traveled and well respected researcher and head supervisor of the Compendium. He is considered an expert on many areas of Santharian lore. Of his many works, he wrote an informative description that details the summoning of a Netherbeast from the Netherworld. His work enabled other researchers, such as Vekarn Kha'mal, to continue what he started. From Artimidor's original works on the Netherbeast, the following is obtained:
"In these foul, rotting depths all those corpses can be found which were smitten by spells of destructive transportation, in the violent attempt of breaking the barriers between the planes, thus killing the victims immediately. But it is also said that all those corpses of creatures can be found in the Netherworlds which were the results of copulations between different species of beasts but have died early in the mother's womb as their existence was never meant to happen for this world. Alas, powerful wizards serving the cause of Coór have specialised in bringing the Netherbeasts back to reality and to resurrect them from the dead. In long prepared, complicated ceremonies where they call upon the help of Coór's dark minions, the Spirits of the Shadow, these sorcerers can open a temporary gate transferring the beasts from the lands of the dead to the plane they live in. Not all of the beasts being transferred in such a magical way can indeed fulfill the hope of the summoners and catch the breath of life, but those who can are much more than just re-animated beasts. Netherbeasts grow and age within seconds they enter their new reality and the only instinct they possess is to kill those who reaped them from their peaceful deadly slumber. It happened more than once that the summoner was killed immediately by the creature which was summoned."
The Battle of Hegedorn. Sage Federkiel also authored other works concerning the Netherbeast. As detailed in the Sage's written copy of the elven myth of the Avaesthoría, one of the most well known uses for the Netherbeast was in Battle at Hegedorn (60 b.S.). This battle is described in the myth of the Avaesthoría. An interracial alliance of elves, dwarves and humans makes one last attempt to prevent the dark elf Saban Blackcloak from descending into the Hèckranian Volcano. The dark elf's goal was to confront and destroy the mythical earth titan in order to achieve immortality. As described above by one of the attackers, Draydor Illiyarm, the alliance was defeated by the elf's minions. Most accounts of the battle say that Saban's powerful magi called forth the Netherbeast and it was these creatures that helped turn the tide of the battle. Afterwards, the alliance abandoned all hope of defeating the dark elf within the volcano and instead locked the entrances barring any to enter. Even after the dungeon was used to condemn prisoners to fight the dark elf's minions, it is still thought to this day that some Netherbeasts still inhabit the place.
Dogs of the Underworld. In his book, "The Ineffable Madness", the noted Volkek-Oshra demonologist Vekarn Kha'mal wrote that the Netherbeast is one of the lowest forms of demon life in the Netherworld. Often the beasts are used as fodder and front line armies by more powerful fiends. His theory comes from the accounts during the War of the Chosen, the Third Sarvonian War, the Battle of Hegedorn and the Battle of Osthemangar. The creature is said to be nimble and quick with a fearless drive to destroy anything its path. Kha'mal likened them to being the "dogs of the underworld", forced to obey commands without hesitation.
Researchers. Noted researchers on the Netherbeasts are as follows:
Sage Federkiel is widely considered by many Compendiumists, rulers and researchers to be one of the most well read and knowledgable men in all of Santharia. His chief responsibilities to the Compendium include being the head supervisor, map maker, editor and researcher. As such, there are few areas of Sarvonian lore that he has not written about. His original work on the Netherbeast was an instrumental piece of research that allowed other researchers to continue.
The Volkek-Oshra demonologist and fire mage Vekarn Kha'mal has made extensive studies on the Netherworld and the Mists of Osthemangar. In his book, "The Ineffable Madness", Kha'mal compiles years of research into the Netherworld mythology. His studies and theories have become the general theory into the Netherbeast as well as the mystran. He has funded several expeditions into the Mists of Osthemangar with the hope of finding and studying a genuine Netherbeast. Of course, one of the worst kept secrets among Kha'mal's associates is that the explorers he hires never return home again.
Another Netherworld scholar was the Archmage Quagoth Tunta. In his scholar work, ""Notes from the Other Side", Quagoth describes how he entered the Netherworld and described what he saw. Although he does not describe the Netherbeast itself, his papers definitely portray a place of great chaos and darkness.
Lastly, any subject concerning demons always results in the oft unwelcome wisdom from Waudrin Ghortz. The gnomish scholar is a self-proclaimed specialist in all things demon but carries little real influence among scholarly circles. Nevertheless, in his attempt to discredit the existence of demons, his book "Where are the Demons?" contains many dubious theories. For example, concerning the Netherbeast, he writes:
"...The one creature called the 'Netherbeast' is yet another example of the elven tendency to imbelish their own religion. This particular creature has not been seen in many centuries and has fallen into myth. It is likely that the Netherbeast was invented by ancient storytellers to reinforce the ideal of Coór's infinite evil. The Netherworld itself is the product of a half-mad mage, Quagoth Tunta, who likely imagined the whole thing. Now, from one man's barely sensical writings and musings, an entire world of "infinite chaos and darkness" exists in the dark elves' mythical pantheon. As a result, the Netherbeast was also born from this world. There can be no world of chaos without entities to inhabit it, right?"