Hidden within the shadows, seemingly lost to the sands of time, the Demonastery has been all but forgotten by the people of Rathe. A large, imposing mansion, it towers above the barren landscape, looming amidst heavy fog like a vengeful apparition. Its darkened grounds are cast in shades of black and violet, illuminated only by phantom flames dancing within small wire lanterns.
This edifice has long since freed itself from the shackles of the morality imposed by lesser men. Scientists, researchers and spellcasters alike are drawn to it, lured by the promise of research without restrictions. It is a protection from the persecution of lesser, unenlightened scholars, who remain ignorant as to the means of gaining true wisdom. The residents here are secretive and unscrupulous, dedicating themselves to their fields of study with a frighteningly single-minded fervour.
In the Demonastery, the immoral and taboo are no limit to human ingenuity. Forbidden magics, occult studies, and heinous experiments are all welcome within its dimly-lit halls, where the endless pursuit of knowledge is the only matter of any consequence.
A History of Persecution
It is told that once there lived a powerful scholar, who gathered his people and guided them in the building of a mighty city, which would stand as a symbol of radiant truth. Under his guidance, that city, called Solana, entered a golden age of illumination and understanding. However, as their strength grew, the scholar delved deeper into the history of humanity, and uncovered a secret which unravelled the very deepest mysteries of Rathe. This terrible burden weighed heavily upon his mind, and turned him against all that he had believed in, driving him to seek out a different kind of power. He sought to found a great work which would free all of humanity, and elevate him to the realm of the beyond.
In time, his brothers and sisters discovered his actions, and cast him out, terrified by the energies he had come to wield. Single-minded in his quest, the once-beloved scholar set out to forge his own path. He would construct a place of safety, which would remain unobstructed by the rigid ethics of his former home and where his mission could continue unhindered.
However, even as his new Demonastery began to take shape, his former brothers’ fear turned to hatred, and their formidable legions began to lay siege to his sanctuary. Determined to keep their forces at bay, he wove a great spellwork into the very foundations of the mansion, and with a power which transcended the limits of mankind, he severed the isle from the outside world. As the last flagstone was set in place, he relinquished his own flesh and blood, fusing himself with the manor; his strength hid the isle from prying eyes, and the remnants of his spirit is said to guide the Demonastery to this day.
A Grand Vision for Humanity
In the centuries since its founding, the Demonastery has established itself as a place freed from the shackles of morality. Researchers and academics from all across Rathe have flocked to the mansion, seeking a place to continue their studies without fear of retribution. Despite their differences, the residents have one thing in common, the self-same reason for which the Demonastery accommodates them: the eternal pursuit of knowledge, no matter the cost, and by any means possible.
These brilliant minds, once scorned and cast out by their own people for daring to question the mores of the world around them, are haunted by enemies who continually hunt them. Foremost amongst these foes is the ‘golden city’ of Solana, who would wipe out every last one of them for their so-called heretical movement. Even now, it seeks to annihilate them for daring to pursue knowledge outside of the Light. While Solana continues to grow stronger with each passing year, the Demonastery must gather its forces and stand against it, before the forces of the Light become too powerful to overcome.
Patrons of the Forbidden
The residents of the Demonastery originate from across the many regions and kingdoms of the world of Rathe, unified only by their voracious appetite for arcane knowledge. Biomancers, arcanists, wizards, conjurers, summoners, witches, necromancers, alchemists, and mechanologists number among those who now reside within the mansion, each with their own agenda and field of study.
Every resident of the Demonastery has decided to pursue their own research at any cost, regardless of the consequences. These scholars, irrespective of their backgrounds, are united by their single-minded determination to delve into fields of study long since abandoned by the rest of Rathe. The Demonastery provides a safe haven for these outcasts, exiles and fugitives, offering the opportunity to seek knowledge interference.
For some, that knowledge unlocks a power which grants them the ability to control the world around them. For others, their research is the basis of understanding and wisdom, a quest born out of sheer curiosity. No matter the reason for their arrival at the gates, all residents are welcome at the Demonastery, which changes to fit the needs of those who live within it. Their rooms transform to match not only the scope of their research, but also the value of their studies to the Demonastery itself. Every resident’s work is compiled within the manor’s records, accumulating an archive of the studies of every person who has passed through its halls.
An incredibly reserved and private wizard, who rarely leaves his room. No one knows exactly what he’s researching, beyond the fact that he seems incredibly interested in learning runescripts, and that he studies alchemical formulas.
A witch who was blinded many years ago, when her twin brother lashed out at her in a violent rage. She learned to ‘see’ again with the help of her bonded familiar, a falcon named Lorcán, as the result of a ritual which has allowed her to see what he sees. Since coming to the Demonastery, Caoimhe has been studying the magical potential of Rathe’s creatures, and their potential connections to íArathael, taking a particular interest in the animals which exist on the other side.
She had studied necromancy, biomancy and blood magic. After clashing with the Arknight, Viserai, she was disembowelled, and her corpse went missing shortly afterwards. Viserai is known to have taken a grimoire from her corpse which contained all of her research and personal notes, but the tome disappeared shortly afterward, and its whereabouts—and contents—remain unknown.
A scientist who takes apart the corpses of various creatures, and stitches together an amalgam of their bodies. Sometimes he seeks to create beings of old, creatures which have not been seen on Rathe for centuries, if not millennia. At other times, Jerome has worked on his own inventions, splicing together different creatures to create one perfect, intriguing anomaly of nature. His associate, a wizard with a penchant for the sciences, lends aid where possible, imbuing Jerome’s creations with the illusion of life.
When his wife was killed during an experiment gone awry, Ivor was driven mad by his loss and the guilt of having caused her death, and became determined to make it right. At first, he thought there might be no way to bring her back; the arcane energies had reduced her corpse to dust, and so there was no body within which he could revive her. However, Ivor was nothing if not resourceful. It began with a pair of kind, deep brown eyes, accompanied by a polite smile, passing him by on the street. Then her flaxen gold hair, shining softly in the sun; her gentle, dainty hands; her high cheekbones; her dimples. Piece by piece, Ivor began to rebuild his wife, determined to bring her back. When the other townsfolk began to question him, demanding answers as to the loss of their kin, Ivor was forced to relocate to the Demonastery—a place where no one would stand between him and his beloved.
A short, stocky metalsmith, with an obsession for massive metal constructs, Leone is determined to create a golem capable of independent thought. However, due to her lack of aether affinity, she has struggled to find a way to properly animate her beloved creations. While they can follow simple orders, they lack the intelligence and consciousness necessary to interact with the rest of the world, and some of Merle’s former neighbours have taken offense to their occasional involuntary convulsions. It wasn’t the golems’ fault, of course; sometimes other people got too close, and Leone was still working on their threat evaluation. (Apparently, some people have a very strong response to having an acquaintance’s brain matter splattered across their face.)
The exact nature of Maeve’s studies is unknown—perhaps even to Maeve herself. Once a talented alchemist selling her wares in Metrix, Maeve had to flee the city after ‘accidentally’ poisoning one of the Cogwerx Conglomerate’s top scientists. Within the relative safety of her rooms, she is free to experiment with all manner of potions, poisons and elixirs. Occasionally, she trades some of her rarer mixtures with other residents of the Demonastery, in order to procure a new batch of ingredients for her mysterious projects.
An arcanist researching the formation of arcane armour, Niall works to create a set of armour which can be worn by a wizard, and charged with aether in order to form a kind of barrier against both physical and arcane attacks. This armour would theoretically work in tandem with the wearer’s own aether affinity. Unfortunately, he can’t quite seem to make any of his creations fireproof, and willing test subjects were rather hard to come by in his village. Luckily, the Demonastery has no shortage of volunteers—every other week, someone arrives on his doorstep, begging to enter his laboratory… although, on reflection, this may be the result of his visitors trying to escape the cannibal who lives two doors down.
Steve’s specialty lies in plants. In the eight years since he arrived at the Demonastery, he has holed himself up in his room, trading plant materials with other researchers in exchange for information and supplies. His room is overflowing with almost every plant known to man, including some varieties long since thought extinct; as his rooms lack any clear source of light or water, some residents are curious as to how he manages to keep his plants alive.
The Arcane Arts
Most of the Demonastery’s residents have studied the arcane arts in some form or another in their careers, seeking to understand the nature of the aether and how it affects the world of Rathe. Some are born into the ways of power, drawing their innate abilities from their own bloodlines; others spend their lifetimes in studying their chosen path, learning how to call upon the blessings of their guiding figurehead. Still others choose a different route, looking to possess the kind of influence which can only be offered by the Shadows.
There are entities which remain unknown to the general population of Rathe, lingering just beyond the edge of the physical realm. Those who seek true supremacy call upon them, trading away their own knowledge, their minds and souls, their futures and their pasts, in exchange for the power of the Shadows. Making compacts with these beings is an unforgivable crime throughout most of Rathe, and those who pursue Shadow aether often face severe consequences for practicing their craft. The Demonastery is the only place in the world where the study and practice of Shadow aether is not only permitted, but encouraged.
Oddities and Failed Experiments
Over the centuries, the residents of the Demonastery have delved into many long-forgotten areas of study, most of which are forbidden in the outside world. Sometimes, experiments in these sciences can result in the foulest of abominations, created by toxic tinctures and the darkest types of biomancy. Other times, a creation is intentionally brought to life, summoned into existence by the spellcasters who inhabit the Demonastery’s halls. Some of the entities which now exist within the mansion remain a mystery to even the oldest residents, their origins unknown to all but the very edifice itself.
A dark, nebulous mass, it keeps to the darkest corners of the mansion’s halls, slinking silently through the inky blackness. If exposed to the light, it immediately begins to smoke, emitting a shrill screech which can easily shatter eardrums; the burning flesh emits an audible hissing sound, and should it not retreat quickly enough, the resultant wounds often leave permanent scars.
A creature coated in a thick, translucent layer of protective slime, it has beneath its body a great number of pale, wriggling larvae, biding their time until hatching. Its long, spindly limbs are capable of carrying this fell beast across the ground faster than any other creature known to man; it can even climb up solid walls and across ceilings, its countless limbs scuttling against the stonework.
A small, dark creature, black as a moonless night and iridescent as an oil slick. The size of a man’s hand, and half as long as his forearm, this hideous little beast preys upon the residents of the Demonastery. It slips into their mouths while they sleep, crawling down into their lungs, where it devours the person from the inside out.
The result of a botched experiment, wherein a researcher attempted to create artificial life, Erebos’s body is stitched together from various materials, including hides, strips of leather, and human skin. Beneath his makeshift flesh lies a modified version of a human skeleton, incorporating both biomancy and alchemy. One of the older creatures to be found within the Demonastery, he can usually be found roaming the halls, seeking to take revenge on any researcher he comes across.
At first, Lysagenes almost appears to be human, but the longer you look at it, the more monstrous it becomes. Its skin is as smooth and malleable as taffy, white as milk, with glassy black eyes, limbs which are a touch too long for comfort, and a mouth which separates into two distinct mandibles. Few have seen this creature and escaped with their lives, and fewer still will acknowledge its existence.
Occasionally, one of the resident researchers will catch a glimpse of the Demonastery’s most elusive inhabitant. Those who have seen her describe a small, doll-like creature, with a crooked grin as unsightly as a gaping wound. With her large eyes, sharp teeth, and claw-like fingers, Mani is an eerie sight within the halls, and the being even appears to enjoy the effect she has on those who come across her. While she remains a mystery to most of the inhabitants, the scholars have come to understand that Mani’s presence is always indicative of something larger happening within the Demonastery’s halls, and her plots are always certain to have disastrous consequences for any who fall into her clutches.
A horrifying, disturbing creature with five heads, Mortis is all but immortal, a twisted nightmare which haunts the inhabitants of the Demonastery. It can appear anywhere, at any time, forming from the very shadows and seeping through cracks in the walls. Violent and completely unhinged, it is drawn to fear and dread, descending on its emotional victims and devouring them whole. All attempts to kill or destroy this monster have failed, for Mortis always manages to return, reforming from the trace remnants of its previous body.
A great, amorphous shape, covered in half-formed faces, it has thousands of eyes and sharp teeth lining its ‘body’. Despite seeming to have a lack of visible limbs, it has no problem moving around the corridors, almost silently scuttling across the marble floors as if by magic.
These foreboding birds are half the height of the average human, with wingspans three times that of their body length. Pure black in colour, pallasi have pale yellow eyes, and big, hooked, black beaks. Their large, oval faces are framed by a border of pale grey feathers, which extend out below their round eyes. As far as anyone can tell, these birds have been living on the island for as long as the Demonastery has existed. Some researchers have attempted to study these birds, but struggle to withstand the piercing weight of their cold, menacing stares, which appear to trigger some kind of instinctual flight or fight response in even the most unfeeling residents of the mansion.
An amalgam of bone and steel, it is fuelled by a dark, arcane magic which should never have seen the light of day. A pair of hollows are situated where its eyes might have been, lit by a dull, eerie, pale-violet glow. Despite its immense size and the composition of its body, it moves almost silently, the only audible sound a low, vibrating hum, which originates from somewhere within its chest cavity.
The beast’s torso is small, hidden behind dozens of long, spindly, razor-sharp limbs. There are no visible eyes on this creature; it appears instead to use three sets of long, spiked feelers on the top of its body to sense changes in its surrounding environment. A single, feather-light touch from one of its serrated limbs is capable of cutting through bone.
The result of a decade of research, focused on death and the creation of life, Typhon was created from an amalgam of flesh, discarded organs, magical elixirs, and pure alchemy. A massive, writhing mass, with a stained mask for a face, its body is covered in a thin, dark membrane, just barely translucent, revealing hints of the bone and muscle beneath. It possesses the ability to form a massive, gaping maw, lined with hundreds of rows of needle-like teeth.
These small, grotesque constructs can be spotted often, in many places around the Demonastery. They work quietly in the shadows to maintain the mansion and its many rooms, while avoiding contact with any of the residents and researchers. No resident of the manor has ever discovered what these creatures truly are, or how they originally came to exist.
For as long as anyone can remember, a stained-glass window has stood in the entrance hall of the Demonastery, depicting a wraith-like girl looking down on whoever came through the great doors. Residents occasionally have heard her whisperings, echoes of her sweet, lilting voice ringing through their mind, inaudible to anyone but the recipient of her call. These words of wisdom have been a double-edged sword, equally likely to lead someone to a breakthrough in their research as to their downfall. However, when the gateway to íArathael was opened, the stained-glass window serving as her home was shattered, and Whisper has not been seen nor heard from since.
The Gateway to íArathael
After years of careful planning, some of the Demonastery’s residents successfully achieved their greatest ambition, sundering the veil between this world and the next. A doorway marked in blood, activated by ancient arcane energies, now serves as the gateway to íArathael—a mirrored reality, the eternal realm of the Old Ones, where the most ancient secrets in Rathe’s history slumber still.
However, any gateway to the eternal realm is innately unstable. íArathael is, by its very nature, in a state of constant transformation, and no two people who walk through the gateway will arrive in the same place. They will be transported to different corners of a mercurial reality, where even time itself is distorted. While it is easy to step through the doorway, there is no telling what one might find on the other side.
The Demonastery’s Plans
Ordinarily left to their own individual courses of study, the residents of the Demonastery have united for the first time in centuries; its various factions, orders and residents have come together to further their shared goals. With the gateway to íArathael open, they seek to harness the creatures and entities which lie beyond, and thereby unleash their forces upon all who gather within the Light.
For the first time, victory is within their reach. In overthrowing Solana, they will finally rid themselves of their greatest enemy, and once again claim their rightful place within the lands of Rathe. Should they succeed, there will be nothing left to stand in their way, and the residents of the Demonastery will at long last be free to pursue their aims unchecked.