Demons are malevolent supernatural creatures which reside in the Supernatural Realm of Hell.  Most mortals view them as "evil," a position which, by and in large, is generally accurate.  Demons draw their power from the souls of mortals they collect from the mortal realms, either via direct sacrifice or indirect condemnation.

Classification

Broadly speaking, Demons can be divided into three major classes: Greater Demons, Middle Demons, and Lesser Demons, with well-defined lines between the three classes, related to how their essences (or, roughly speaking, their souls) are maintained.

Greater Demons are the most powerful of demons and also the most protected.  Their Essences are detached from their manifest bodies, usually deeply embedded in one of the Layers of The Abyss, though for some of the weaker of the Greater Demons, they may house them in an Amulet instead.  Most important, however, is that a Greater Demon's Essence is an actual identifiable thing independent of other demons'.  Greater Demons are virtually immortal; to successfully destroy a Greater Demon, one must kill all of the manifest Aspects of the demon and, with all of the Aspects destroyed, destroy the Demon's Essence, which may well be deeply embedded in one of the Layers of The Abyss.

Middle Demons exist in Legions, and, as such, their Essences are tightly coupled with the Essences of the others in their Legion.  While they are individuals, they are deeply associated with the Legion and they are, to the core, inseparable from the Legion (though it IS possible for a Greater Demon with command over a Legion to move an individual from one Legion to another).  All of the Middle Demons belong, by definition, to one of the Demonic Legions; most of the Legions are associated with a particular Pit of The Abyss, with a small number of Legions directly in service to the most powerful of Demon Lords.  These demons are generally very long-lived and nearly as difficult to kill as Greater Demons, as one usually must kill every single member of a Legion to successfully destroy its members.

Lesser Demons have their Essences bound to their mortal bodies.  While this offers a degree of freedom not usually found in the Middle Demons, it also severely how much power they can gather with this restriction.  Furthermore, they are far more mortal than most demons: without their essences protected, killing one can easily result in its total destruction.  Somewhat surprisingly, it is not unheard of for Lesser Demons to gather sufficient power to form an Amulet to house their Essences, something generally reserved for the class of Greater Demons.  These demons are generally referred to as Lesser Fiends, and if they are able to maintain their Amulets long enough to fully establish their immortality, they are generally viewed as having promoted themselves to the status of Greater Demons.

Biology

Demons are supernatural creatures, which means they don't necessarily possess a functional "natural" biology.  At their core, they are nothing more than accumulations of supernatural energy with power over some particular area of The Abyss.  Mortals (as well as many other supernatural creatures) are largely incapable of actually interacting with a Demon in its true nature, as they lack any sort of physical form in this state.

Aspects

Instead, Demons most often manifest physical forms known as their "aspects" when interacting with other creatures, including other Demons; while Demons can interact with each other in their true forms, many consider it risky, as their very nature is exposed to potential enemies.  Aspects only have a small amount of the Demon's full cache of energy associated with them, so even if an aspect is destroyed outright, the Demon itself is generally unharmed, by and in large.  When a Demon is manifest on the Mortal Realm, it can only do so through a physical aspect; their underlying essences cannot cross from the Underworld into the Mortal Realm.

Because a Demon's "body" is merely a manifestation of its true self, Demons, in general, are not restricted to only having a single aspect at any given time.  The most powerful of Arch-Demons may well have dozens of aspects roaming both the Underworld and the Mortal realm at any given time.  Especially when an aspect is present on the Mortal Realm, the connection between the aspect and the true nature of the Demon may be tenuous at best: Demons need to imbue their aspects with enough power to perform whatever task is needed, but in doing so put that much power at risk should the aspect be overcome and destroyed.  

A Note on Gender and Pronouns

Demons, in their true form, have no gender and are generally referred to as "it."  Aspects, however, usually (but not always) have a gender and most Demons tend to form their aspects in a single gender.  The formal titles of Greater Demons use wither Him, Her, or It in the text depending entirely on the preference of the demon; most use "it," though some refer to themselves using gendered pronouns in their titles.

Essence

A Demon's "true nature" is a core essence of power, largely the same as a Mortal's Soul, and it is actually possible for the two to interchange with each other, a demon (or any Immortal) becoming Mortal or a Mortal to become a demon, though such transitions are rare, especially Immortals becoming Mortal.  That being said, there are some core differences between the Essence of an Immortal and the Soul of a Mortal.  In Hell, the essence of an Arch-Demon is generally thoroughly bound into one Layer of The Abyss, which becomes that demon's throne; while often one refers to a demon's "throne room," in fact, the entire layer into which an Arch-Demon binds its essence is its "throne."

For common demons, which don't have a Layer in which to embed their essence, they must bind the essence to some object, referred to as the demon's amulet, and the protection of this amulet is of the utmost importance to the demon: if the amulet is destroyed, the demon's essence is lost.  While there are ways to survive such an event, it is, at best difficult to recover from the destruction of an amulet; the demon must exist in at least one manifest aspect, and those aspects must hold enough power to be able to form a new amulet.  All power bound in the core essence lost to the previous amulet's destruction is also entirely lost.  Killing the last extant aspect of a demon without an amulet (or throne layer) results in the absolute destruction of the demon.

Self-Awareness and Memory

By and in large, Mortal Souls are not really self-aware, instead depending on the host body for intelligence, memory, and awareness.  A Mortal generally can't fully understand its Soul or even be certain it exists, unless that Mortal has managed to bridge the gap between the Mortal and Spiritual Realms though some magical ability.  Demons (and other Immortals) have their intelligence, memory, and awareness focused on their Essences rather than their bodies/aspects.  They can exist entirely without an Aspect existing at any given point in time and, if powerful enough, can manifest more than one Aspect tied to their Essence at a single time.  While this is generally a positive thing (where destroying a Demon's body is generally little more than an inconvenience to it), the isolation between the creature's core intelligence and awareness and its physical manifestation results in a limit on how much power that physical body can draw from its host.  As noted above, this is especially true when the Aspect is manifest in the Mortal Realm.

It also seriously limits interactions involving Immortals: Even for two Immortals, it is difficult (sometimes impossible) to interact between their Essences, so they are almost always relating to each other and Mortals through the imperfect aspects.

Truth and Honor

It could be said "A Soul never lies," and this would apply to a Demon's Essence as well.  Because Demons' (and other Immortals') very being is centered around their Essence, they do not lie and virtually always keep any oath they give.  While technically they can lie or break an oath, doing so weakens them seriously: Their minds are attached to their core being rather than a single body which means their words and oaths directly reflect on their Essence.

Reproduction

Demons cannot reproduce among themselves; while it is not uncommon for two demons to engage in sexual intercourse, such actions never result in the creation of new life, demonic or otherwise.  Greater and Arch-Demons can, however, reproduce as a result of intercourse with humans, though the conditions of such reproduction are challenging to meet.  When a demon and human successfully reproduce, the offspring are Cambion, a particular subspecies of Sub-Demon.

In order to reproduce, the actual act of mating between the demon and human need not be consensual, but once the mating has completed, a number of specific conditions must be met for the child to be born.  Approximately three months after the intercourse, the female (even if human) will lay an egg containing the cambion and the demon parent must be present when the egg is laid.  As soon as the egg is laid, the demon must immediately depart, leaving the egg with the human parent.  It will take around four months for the egg to hatch, during which time the human parent must personally care for the egg, ensuring it is properly incubated and kept safe, and furthermore, there can be no demonic contact with the human or the egg (including mutated demonic priests) until it hatches.  If any of these conditions are not met, the egg will fail to hatch.  The freshly hatched Cambion will show hooved feet but lack a tail at this point in its life.

Once the egg hatches, the Cambion may be taken into the company of demonic priests, but must avoid direct contact with actual demons until it reaches some degree of adulthood (usually around 15 years for most Cambion), at which point its tail will grow out.  Any contact with a demon of any form (including other Cambion children) prior to its tail forming will result in immediate death of the child; once the tail is visible, the Cambion is fully formed, and is no longer subject to such restrictions.

Note that, because the egg must not come into contact with any corrupt priests during its incubation but must remain in the presence of its human parent, corrupt priests are unable to parent children with demons.  In some priesthoods, parenting a Cambion child with the demon being worshiped is a requirement to attain the first level of corruption in some temples, particularly those in worlds where demon presence is common and the demons are in combat over control over the world.

Bribery

Among the demons, bribery is almost constant.  Countless Lesser Demons have been given the power to become a Greater Demon through bribing one of the Arch-Demons for their support.  The Devils, in particular, all basically live on bribes.  For any demon to get anything done in Abaddon or Infernum requires countless bribes to the various Devils in charge of these regions.  Bribes are generally paid in mortal souls, usually in lots of 13 souls each, though in some cases, power itself can be directly transferred, though this is still measured in the power one would gain from consumption of a lot of 13 souls.

Tags:
Created by aeto on 2017/03/03 06:40
    
This is a work of fiction intended as a collection of world-building notes.
Some content may be suitable for adults only.
All text copyright (C) 2016 by the pseudonymous author Aetobatus.
Please read the Disclaimer for more information.