Horrors Teaser 5

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John Harris, William Church, and Serge. W. Desir, Jr., 1 THE BALOR .... utter nonsense. The very idea that a devil  had assaulted the place is ludicrous. I have never  doubted that the creature that attacked the Towers of  Vigilance outside of the Barony of the Krine Hills in  Bainland was a demonic spirit known as a balor.    These demons are known by a variety of names. Dur‐ ing my travels across the north, particularly in Xyl  and Cholis, they were often referred to as “roaring  demons,” wh
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  1   John Harris, William Church, and Serge. W. Desir, Jr.,    THE B LOR ....   utter   nonsense.   The   very   idea   that   a   devil   had   assaulted   the    place   is   ludicrous.   I    have   never   doubted   that   the   creature   that   attacked   the   Towers   of    Vigilance   outside   of    the   Barony   of    the   Krine   Hills   in   Bainland   was   a   demonic   spirit   known   as   a   balor.   These   demons   are   known   by   a   variety   of    names.   Dur ‐ ing   my   travels   across   the   north,    particularly   in   Xyl   and   Cholis,   they   were   often   referred   to   as   “roaring   demons,”   while    Ashturian   lore   referred   to   them   as   “mountain   demons”   and,   less    frequently,   “fire   de ‐ mons”   (the   latter   appellation   was    particularly    promi ‐ nent   during   writings   of    The   Darkhold ).   None   of    these   terms   appear   in   tales   or   religious   texts   in   the   Vast   Expanse   (not   even   Havenspeak);   however,   there   are   mentions   of    “manslayer   demons”   in   tales   relat ‐ ing   to   the    presence   of    the   Devourer   of    Souls,   Demo ‐  gorgon,   during   his   corruptive   influences   in   the    Ash    Mountains   during   the   Demon   Wars .   Given   the   description   of    these   creatures   as   “bathed   in   the    fur ‐ nace,”   or   as   often   as   “shadows    given   substance,”   I    suspect   that   they   were   one   and   the   same   with   the   roaring   demons   and   the   mountain   demons.   I    want   to   be    perfectly   clear   why   I    believe   these   vari ‐ ous   terms,   regardless   of    the    prefix   of     fire,   roaring,   or   mountain,   indicate   the   same   creature.   Unlike   many   others   that   study   the   spirit   world,   I    have   long   since   recognized   that   one   cannot   expect   consistency   where   none   can    possibly   exist.   If    High   Seer    Mortimon   is   correct   (and   I    believe   that   he   is),   one   cannot   expect   order   or   balance   in   The    Abyss   (let   me   also   allow   that   I     greatly   despise   Curator    Allmos’    grandiose   titles    for   the   various   Depths   Below;   he    gave    far   too   much   im ‐  port   to   these    places   of    evil).   I    know   that   many   take    pains   to    point   out   the   differences   in   appearance   be ‐ tween   these   mountain,    fire,   and   roaring   demons   and   believe   that   these   differences   indicate   different   de ‐ monic   species.   This   is   clearly   due   to   short ‐ sightedness.   Legends   associated   with   mountain   demons   reveal   them   to   be   hulking,   ape ‐ like   monstrosities   covered   in   bloody,    foul   black   hair   with   taloned   hands   and    feet,   with    piercing,   star ‐ like   eyes   and   large,   bone ‐ white   horns.   Contrastingly,    fire   demons   are   always   said   to   appear   as   huge   skeletal   creatures,   their   bones   actu ‐ ally   made    from   shadow   with    flames    for    flesh   or,    for   the   more    poetic   tale ‐ spinner,   muscle.   The   roaring   demon,   while   bipedal,   mixes   the    features   of    a   mad ‐ dened   lion   or   tiger   with    facial    features   and   coloration   of    a   wasp   or   some   other   stinging   insect.   While   the   legends   and   tales   all   relate   that   these   various   de ‐ monic   types   wield   swords   of     flame   or   lightning   (I    will   expand   upon   this   interesting   tidbit   later)   and   that   they   carry   whips,   those   that    promote   the   idea   that   these   are   different   demons    point   out   that   many    fiendish   spirits   are   known   to   wield   such   weapons.    My   colleagues,   in    focusing   on   the   tales   alone,   are    foolishly   ignoring   a   variety   of    important    facts.   The   most    glaring   of    these   missed ‐ or   dismissed ‐  facts   is   the   ephemeral   nature   of    these   demonic   sightings.    Almost   without   exception,   such   accounts   are   swift   and    pass ‐ ing.   Likewise,   time   has   surely   corrupted   the   accuracy   of    the   srcinal   descriptions   as   both   bard   and   histo ‐ rian   alike   have   left   their   mark,   innocent   or   not,   upon   such   tales.   For   my    part,   I    have   turned   to   another   source:   images.   During   my   travels,   I    have    found   bas ‐ reliefs,   sculptures,    frescoes,   and   (only   in   Burquebain)   murals   depicting   these   creatures.   Indeed,   the    physi ‐ cal   descriptions   the   legends   relate   all   bear   out;   how ‐ ever,   they   also   all   share   distinguishing   similarities.   First,   the    fire   demons   are   not   the   only   ones   covered   in    flames.   In   a   startlingly   life ‐ like   statue   I    encoun ‐ tered   in   the   depths   of    a   collapsed   cave   near   Cholis,   I    saw   a   towering   roaring   demon.   Somehow,   even   the   stone   appeared   to   be   shadow   embraced   by   silent,   stone    flames.   It   bore   no   weapons,   but   I    noted   how   its   arms   and   hands   were   configured.   (Let   me   also   say   that   I    would   not   be   surprised   if    the   statue   was   actu ‐ ally   a    petrified   balor   demon.    Aldra   save   anyone   who   is    foolish   enough   to   release   the   creature    from   its   im ‐  prisonment   if    I    am   right.)   Frescoes   in    Ashtur   reveal   the   terrible   mountain   demon   as   an   ape ‐ like   beast   with   hair   made    from   shadow   bathed   in   a   nimbus   of     flame.   It   always   carries   a    pillar   of     flames   in   one   hand   and   a   serpentine   whip   in   another.   The   whip   and   en ‐ ergy ‐ sword   imagery   are   identical   to   the    fire   demon   (and   the   manslayer,   apparently)   mural   I    encountered   during   a   brief    stay   in   Burquebain.   The   sole    fire   de ‐ mon   in   this   startlingly   realistic   rendering   held   a   bolt   2  of    lightning   in   its   right   hand,   a   bolt   that   descended    from   the   sky   and   scorched   the    ground.   In   the   left   hand,   it   carried   a   whip   that   look   like   a   barb ‐ covered,   headless   serpent.   I    want   to    point   to   the   nature   of    these   weapons.   De ‐ spite   the    popular   opinion   that   these   weapons    just   appear   to   be   made    from    flame   or   lightning,   I    am   of    the    position   that   they   truly   are    flame   or   lightning.   Further,   I    believe   that   they   are   manifestations   of    the   creature’s   anger,   metaphors    for   its   desire   to   cause   burning   torment   to   all   things,   held   together   solely   by   the    foul   will   of    the   creature.   It   is    for   this   reason   that   it   is   almost   impossible   to    procure   a   balor’s   weapon   upon   its   death   as   the   weapon   is   really   a    part   of    the   demon.   (This   is   also   why   that   on   the   rare   occasions   these   tales   end   with   the   demon’s   death,   it   either   ex ‐  plodes   in   a   blast   of    soot    –    always   when   it’s   on   the   mortal   coil    –    or   in   a   blast   of     flames    –    always   in   tales   associated   with   battles   in   The    Abyss.)    My   colleagues   also   discount   the   manner   in   which   the   legends   say   these   spirits   appear.   They   always   appear   in   areas   in   which   there   is   a    great   deal   of     passionate   turmoil.   They   rarely   seem   to   arrive   in   areas   that   have   strong,   beneficent    governments   or   even   in   areas   in   which   there   is    great   benevolent   liberty.   Instead,   they   appear   towards   the   end   of     great   social   upheavals   or   else   in   the   midst   of    destructive   riots.   The   legends   suggest   that   they   revel   in   turmoil   and   anger,   liter ‐ ally   whipping   others   into   acts   of    random   violence   driven   by   rage   and   hatred.    And,   if    they   are   not   swiftly   defeated,   they   light   upon   a    place   of    authority,    preferably   a    place   of     justice   or   mercy,   and   desecrate   it   before   taking   it   as   their   seat   of     power   where   upon   they    perpetuate   more   violence   in   their   territory   and,   in   short   order,   beyond.   I    suspect   that   these   creatures   do   not    just   appear   towards   the   end   of    such   situa ‐ tions,   but   work   in   the   background   stoking   the   embers   of    violence   and   anarchy,    finding   the   means   to    foment   discontent   and   aggression   in   those   chafing   under   any   authority   or   excess   happiness   and   contentment.   Sometimes   they   do   this   through   mortal   servants,   sometimes   through   lesser   demons   (most   demons   are   lesser   compared   to   these),   or   else   through   other   mon ‐ sters   and   spirits.   While   they   lack   the    patience   and   long ‐ term    planning   characteristic   of    a   devil,   these   demons   horrifically   surpass   mortals   in   lifespan,   in ‐ telligence,   and    power   to   release   the   shackles   of    con ‐  formity   in   lesser   creatures...   Certainly,   they   orches ‐ trate   these   upheavals.   Let   me   also   say   that   I     personally   believe   that   all   of    the   sightings   of    mountain   demons   in   the   Deep   Sea   area   and   the   manslayer   accounts   in   the   Vast   Expanse   and   so    forth   all   refer   to   the   same    four   or    five   demons.   In   other   words,   I    believe   that   the   legends    grossly   exaggerate   the   number   of    demons   that   have   appeared   in   Drm.   If    the   Cilidian   is   correct   and   if    the   writings   of    Drenicus   the   Wise   are   accurate,   a   single   balor   demon   could   effortlessly   terrorize   a   single   kingdom;   how   much   more   could   dozens   accomplish?   This   brings   me   back   to   the   matter   of    the   demon   the   Seven   encountered   in   the   Krine   Hills.   That   is   was   a   demon   is   no   doubt.   The   question   is,   “What   drew   it   there?”   To   date,   no   one   has   been   able   to   discern   if    it   was   accidentally   summoned,   awakened    from   some   slumber,   or   arrived   of    its   own   volition.   It   did   not   attempt   to   take   control   of    the   Krine   Hills;   rather,   it   sought   to   desecrate   an   important   religious   center   and   bring   anguish   and   an ger   to   the   surrounding   area.   It   was   swiftly   dispatched   by   the   Seven   (who,   by   their   own   accounts,   were   incredibly   lucky   as   they   had   access   to   a   weapon   designed   to   defeat   demons).   What   did   it   want,   and   is   it   a   new   balor   never   before   en ‐ countered?    My   suspicion   is   that   the   creature   simpl y   took   advantage   of    a   situation   and   did   not    put   much   thought   into   its   actions.   Indeed,   it   sought   a   conflict   and,   if    the   reports   I    heard   are   correct,   its    presence   alone   did   cause   significant   conflict   in   the   Krine   Hills   and   eventually   drew    Ministerial   displeasure   upon   the   baron   and   the   Duke   of    Barthrod.   The   demon   may   not   be   there   to   witness   its   handiwork    first ‐ hand,   but   something   tells   me   that   it   is   more   than   aware   of    what   its   actions   have   reaped.   I    do,   however,   suspect   that   it   is   a   new   balor   and    pray   that   it   does   not    find   the   means   to   return   to   the    Mortal   Coil.   Now,   onto   the   matter   of    the   ultrodaemon...   Excerpt from Spirits of the Depths Below by Xpa the Renown High Seer of the Seer’s Library in Mandl the Common Era. 3  4 A reproduction of the Mountain Demon referred to by Xpa the Renown in his Spirits of the Depths Below by the Well Known Dwarven Painter Lexi Dias of the Burning Crown.  
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