In addition to the danger posed by their nearly perfect ability to camouflage themselves, Eidolon also have a marked advantage over other demon species: When shifted into the form of a human, they are somewhat protected from the destructive light of the sun. A shifted Eidolon demon still cannot stand in direct sunlight but can endure the diffused light coming through heavy clouds, fog, rain, and so on, with only minor discomfort.
A demonic corruption of the dog, just as many demons are corruptions of the forms of men and women. Typically hellhounds appear as vicious canines much larger than any mundane dog, with red eyes, coarse black wirelike fur, and a murderous temperament. They have a similar intelligence to mundane dogs and are used by demons for similar purposes—tracking and hunting. (Obviously there are many uses for mundane dogs, such as herding and companionship, that hellhounds are never used for, since demons are incapable of concepts such as companionship.) Like with dogs, hellhounds’ jaws are their most dangerous weapons, but unlike with dogs, their tails end in a set of spiked nail-like protrusions, similar to a mace.
A medium-size multiheaded demon, vicious but not intelligent. Known for its multiple heads, at least three but often many more. The Hydra can be distinguished from other multiheaded demons by its animalistic intelligence level, the presence of heads on stalks, and its blindness—the Hydra cannot see normally and relies on sound, scent, and its sheer number of large mouths to catch its prey.
The Iblis demon is corporeal but not of solid form. Instead it has the appearance of a figure about the size and shape of a human but made of a roiling, fast-moving black smoke. In the part of its vapor that represents its head, it looks out onto our world through yellow burning eyes.
The common Imp is a small humanoid with the characteristics of a typical Western devil—horns, forked tail, et cetera. They are not very dangerous individually but can become a problem when encountered in swarms of more than two hundred, as is occasionally reported.
Djinn are mentioned here because they are often incorrectly believed to be demons. They are not; they are faeries.
A reptilian water demon covered in a protective carapace and with a protruding beak, but otherwise the size and rough shape of a human ten-year-old child. Fond of leaping from the water to drag unwitting mundanes to their deaths.
These are spider demons, large and shiny black, with eight pincer-tipped arms, and fangs extending from their eye sockets.
Somewhat confusingly, the name “Moloch” refers both to a Greater Demon known as one of the most fearsome demon warriors, a being of smoke and oil, and also to a species of lesser demons (“Molochs”) that are minions and foot soldiers of the Greater Demon Moloch. Individuals of the species are man-size, dark, and made of thick roiling oil, with arms but only a formless liquid appendage instead of legs. Their primary weapon is the flames that stream from their empty eye sockets, and they are usually seen in large numbers rather than in isolation.
Human-size demons with green skin, wide mouths, and horns upon their heads.
These are large bipedal demons, somewhat lizardlike in appearance and movement. They are blind, with a line of teeth where their eyes should be, and a regular mouth, this one fanged and tusked, in a more usual place on their faces. They have a narrow, whiplike tail edged with razor-sharp bone. Their talons and teeth are, of course, sharp and dangerous, but their most threatening weapon is the bulb-shaped stinger on the end of their long, forked tongue.
The Raum is an intimidating and dangerous demon, not capable of speech, but somewhat clever as an opponent nonetheless. Raums are about the size of a man but possess white, scaled skin, bulging black eyes without pupils, a perfectly circular mouth, and tentacles for arms. These tentacles are the Raum’s most dangerous weapon; they are tipped with red suckers, each of which contains a circle of tiny needlelike teeth.
The Ravener is a classic monstrosity: a long, squamous black body with a long domed skull like an alligator’s. Unlike on an alligator, its eyes are in an insectile cluster on the top of its head. It has a vicious, barbed whip tail and a thick, flat snout. Raveners possess sharp fanged teeth, which envenomate their prey with a deadly toxin. In time the poison will burn away all of the life of the victim, leaving only ash behind. The toxin is particularly terrible even among demon venoms, and there we are talking about a category that includes the poison of the Facemelter demon. (See “Facemelter,”.)
These demons are known for their keen sense of smell and are sometimes summoned by warlocks to use in tracking a missing person. They must be carefully controlled, however; they are brood parasites and reproduce by wounding a victim and then laying their eggs in the still-living victim’s skin.
Most Shadowhunters will incorrectly tell you that the Vermithrall is a monstrous lumbering mass made up of thousands of writhing worms. In fact the Vermithrall are the individual worms themselves. They do, however, collect into colonies in the shape of a humanoid and attack as a unified single entity. Worse, worms separated from the main body will endeavor to rejoin it, making it very hard to permanently kill a Vermithrall.
They are not to be confused with Dragon demons, which they somewhat resemble but are unrelated to. They are gray and scaly, with overlong serpentine arms and an elongated but humanoid body. Like Dragons, they are known for hoarding valuables; unlike Dragons, they do not have any understanding of what is valuable and what is dross, and their lairs are more closely reminiscent of large rats’ nests than treasure chambers.
* * *
MUNDANE DEMONIC CULTS
Through history there have been any number of pathetic, misguided groups of mundanes who have built small cults around the worship of a particular demon or group of demons. Most of these cults are of little interest to Nephilim and serve only to clutter and confuse demonic histories, since they are based around demons that are merely imagined or invented.
Nevertheless, a minority of these demon cults have successfully raised weak minor demons. These stories usually end with the cult improperly binding the demon and the demon immediately killing all of the cult’s members. In a small number of cases, a successful demon cult has endured for a short time, with the demon served by the cult members and asking little in return. These cults inevitably fade after a generation or two and are of little concern to us historically, but they may cause local trouble and require Shadowhunter intervention.
Mundane members of demon cults are often barely human by the time that intervention is needed. Their worshipped demon is likely to have consumed their humanity for fuel, to maintain and strengthen itself. This leaves behind mere shells of humans, their physical bodies in active decay and their souls worn down to a constant animalistic rage. This state is considered irreversible; killing these demon-degraded mundanes is considered an act of mercy and is thus within the bounds of the Law.
Cults have existed to serve Greater Demons, but there is little evidence that any of these have ever successfully summoned the subject of their worship. If they have, the likelihood is that they were immediately annihilated and no record exists of them to teach us of their folly.
* * *
THE DEMON POX
Astriola, or demon pox, is a rare but debilitating illness that affects Shadowhunters and is caused by inappropriate contact with demons. The illness is not often seen, because this kind of inappropriate contact is, luckily, not common. Mundanes are immune to the disease; it is assumed to be caused by the interaction of demon poisons with the angelic nature of Shadowhunters.
The first signs of demon pox are a shield-shaped rash on the back of the sufferer, which then spreads over the body, creating fissures in the skin. From this point the afflicted Shadowhunter will deteriorate physically, experiencing fever, chills, nausea, oozing sores, non-oozing sores, buboes, a film of black over the eyes, hair ejection, and other similar signs of distress. In time the sores and fissures cover the skin of the victim entirely, and they form a dark chrysalis within which the victim transforms, painfully and over the course of several weeks, into a demon himself. Once the demon emerges from the chrysalis, the previously existing person is in effect deceased, and the only end to the torment is to kill the demon.
In earlier times astriola was invariably lethal, and not much could be done for the sufferer but to make him comfortable and to remove him from innocents who might be harmed when his full demonic alteration took place. The progress of the disease could be slowed but not stopped, and in many cases the victim would choose not to be treated, since by and large treatment would only prolong his agony. Today there exist reliable cures that can clear up demon pox in its early stages, and the illness now causes few fatalities. It can, however, still be incurable if the sufferer reaches a certain stage of demonification before being treated. In addition, a fairly serious stigma is still associated with the disease, and its presence is considered sufficient evidence for the violation of the Law against consorting with demons. Thus those who are treated for demon pox today often receive this treatment while in the prisons of the Silent City.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AND THINGS TO TRY
1. Try: Learning a few words of Purgatic or Cthonic! Your local Institute should contain copies of several phrase books.
I recommend the classic Learn Purgatic in Ten to Twelve Years of Misery. Do you plan to order lunch in a lot of demon restaurants? No. Is it worth it?
Then no. The demons who are smart enough to have a conversation usually speak a human language.
2. For those of you with the Sight, have you ever seen a demon prior to your time among the Shadowhunters? If so, how did your mind process what you were seeing?
Insert joke about Mrs. Thomson from seventh grade here. Well, there was Mrs. Thomson—oh, you ruined it, never mind.
3. Demons are fond of promising their victims that which their heart most desires. What are some things a demon might promise you, and how might it manage to fulfill those desires in an ironically horrific way? It is worth considering these so that if a demon actually offers you what your heart most desires, you will not be taken in by its lies.
A demon might promise me—a pony.
He might manage to fulfill those desires in a horrible way by giving me a plastic toy pony, or a really angry pony that attacks people, or a pony covered in sharp spikes so that you can’t ride him.
Your homework: Figure out how to take these discussion questions more seriously!
If demons marauding across our world were the only creatures that had to be kept in check by Shadowhunters, our lives would be notably easier. Demons, except for the rare shape-shifting varieties, are usually obviously inhuman, and they are conveniently universally malevolent. In the relations between humans and demons there are no politics, no negotiations. There is just war. They attack; we defend.
But the whole of the world is not that simple. Once demons began to trespass into the lives of humans, the waters of good and evil became muddied, and the muddied waters of humanity became Downworlders. Some Downworlders—warlocks and the fey—predate the Nephilim by untold years. But the youngest Downworlders, werewolves and vampires, are a relatively recent phenomenon, the result of demon diseases previously unknown that have crept into the human race and, it seems, are with us for good.
There wolves! Are you going to do this in every chapter?
The earlier of these demon diseases is lycanthropy, which is believed to have first appeared in the forests of Central Europe sometime in (probably) the thirteenth century. Lycanthropy is believed to have spread rapidly through Europe and then more slowly to the rest of the world. Persecuting and publicly burning werewolves was in vogue late in the fifteenth century and early in the sixteenth century, which corresponded to a similar fashion for burning so-called witches (almost never actually Downworlders; see “The Hunts and the Schism,” in Appendix A).
Lycanthropy transforms a human into a werewolf, a demi-human whose demonic infection causes them to transform into a large and dangerous wolf under the light of the full moon. Worse, werewolves in their lupine form are not merely wolves. They possess unnatural—demonic—strength and speed, and their claws and fangs are able to slash through a chain-link fence or bite through a padlock. Without help and training a werewolf can be a very dangerous creature. When lycanthropy is at its worst, a man lives what appears to be a normal mundane existence, only to become a vicious, uncontrolled, murdering beast roughly three nights each month, retaining no memory of his own evil acts.
IF YOU MEET A WEREWOLF
A werewolf who is in his or her usual human form, and not under the influence of the lycanthropic Change, is no different from any other human. You should approach any new werewolves in human form as you would anybody else. Contrary to common belief, they will not smell you or challenge you to mortal combat.
If you encounter a werewolf in wolf form, you must quickly assess the situation. If he is ignoring you, move away from the area calmly but quickly. If he is watching you, look for the signs of aggression you would look for in a dog—bared teeth, growling, hackles raised. Raise your hands to show you are not a threat.
Also try to look as little like a roast beef as possible.
Defend yourself only if attacked, and try to incapacitate the wolf, not kill him. A werewolf who is attacking a human is almost always responding out of terror, or is newly made and not yet in control of himself.
If you know the werewolf in question, do not attempt to reason with him by calling him by his human name or reminding him of all of the fun human things you have done together. Also do not try to give him commands like you would a dog (such as “heel” or “stay”).
WHERE DID WEREWOLVES ORIGINALLY COME FROM? HOW DO THEY LIVE?
It is not known what demon, or demon species, is responsible for the first appearance of werewolves. There is a conjectured Greater Demon of origin, who is usually referred to by the placeholder name “Wolf” in literature. Despite many supposed descriptions of Wolf in medieval writing, there exists no credible candidate for who he might be. He seems to have appeared, created werewolves, and left our world forever.