The Demonastery is a large, derelict manor shrouded by mist, illuminated by a series of lanterns flickering with phantom flames. Its spires cast shadows on the barren grounds, its sharp, jagged architecture looming over the landscape like a vengeful apparition. A place freed from the limitations of rules and morals, where residents are welcome to research and experiment without restriction.
Magicians and scientists alike are drawn to the Demonastery, following whispers and echoes to hidden doorways, pulled to the mansion to pursue their wildest ambitions. The residents here are secretive and eccentric, throwing themselves into their research with single-minded determination. Forbidden magics, the occult, and the darkest of biomancy are studied within the mansion’s dark halls, all sound smothered by the oppressive, eerie silence.
Long ago, one man developed an interest in the forbidden arts. As a true seeker of knowledge, he studied it all, delving into even the most heinous and taboo subjects. Before long, he found himself at odds with those around him, fighting for the freedom to continue his studies. Refusing to abandon his quest, he escaped the reach of any authority, seeking a place where he could study in peace. And so, the man began a new quest; to create a sanctuary where all could pursue their studies without fear of punishment or retribution.
The man used his arcane knowledge to begin the process of building the Demonastery, taking root on an island far to the south. As the manor took shape, the man poured his own magical reserves into the project, imbuing the building itself with pure aether magic. As the manor came closer and closer to completion, he found himself wasting away, and when at last the end of his quest was at hand, he sacrificed himself. With one final spell, the man brought the Demonastery to life, sealing away its boundaries and protecting it from the outside world.
A Manor of Isolation
The island that the Demonastery is built upon is erratic and prone to sudden transportation, never staying in the same place for very long. While it usually floats somewhere to the south of Rathe, its specific location is difficult to pinpoint, unable to be reached through any mundane means. Only the occasional piece of driftwood or bloated corpse washes up on its shores, as the island itself is protected by squalls, stormy seas, and hidden rock formations.
A massive gate leads into the courtyard proper, with two stone statues flanking either side. Their crossed blades form the top of the archway, blank gazes fixed on the path passing underneath. Just beyond, a large, sprawling manor looms in the distance, its great entranceway cloaked in an eerie light. Through a crack in the door, the faintest hint of light is visible, inviting you inside...
Just beyond the entranceway, at the end of the hall, stands a massive stained glass window. A faint light shining through the glass casts flashes of blue, green and gold onto the stone floor, illuminating an ancient text inscribed into the slate slabs. Step closer, and you may catch a glimpse of moonlight rippling across the glass, as if it were the surface of a lake.
Whisper, unlike the other stained glass windows found around the halls of the Demonastery, is sentient. The residents of the manor, walking alone, may hear her call out to them in her soft, dulcet tones. She offers insight and advice to those who approach her, greeting them as if they were an old friend.
However, behind her gentle and unassuming nature is a quick mind, belonging to an ageless entity with no other entertainment than her visitors. Whisper offers help and hindrance in equal measure, deciding on a whim whether to lead her followers to their success or demise.
Patrons of the Forbidden
The residents of the Demonastery come from all over Rathe, unified only by their voracious appetite for knowledge. Exiles, outcasts and fugitives, all of them decided to pursue their area of study, regardless of the consequences. These scholars conduct their research with a single-minded focus, delving into the forbidden and the taboo, fields of study long since abandoned by the rest of Rathe.
The Demonastery offers these scholars a place to conduct their research without restriction. Here, nothing is off-limits, with no laws or rules to limit their studies. Anything they need, they can find within the manor’s walls. The Demonastery transforms to meet the requirements of its residents, providing a room for every scholar. The room changes according to each researcher’s field of study, creating space and furniture as needed.
When a resident dies, their work is absorbed into the Demonastery’s records. Studies, research, experiments and documents, all neatly organised within the shelves of the Scriptorium, beyond the reach of other residents. The knowledge contained within the Demonastery could rival even that which is stored within the Library of Illumination.
Over the centuries, the residents of the Demonastery have delved into long-forgotten areas of study, often forbidden by the outside world. The occult, the arcane arts, dark biomancy and alchemy, ancient fields of study providing power beyond imagination; but all power comes with a price. For many, that price comes in the form of failure, the results of their twisted experiments escaping, half-formed and hostile. These creatures stalk the halls of the Demonastery, preying on anyone who crosses their path.
Perhaps the best known of the Demonastery’s abominations is Mortis, the result of an experiment dabbling in biomancy, necromancy and alchemy. Ever-changing, Mortis can appear anywhere at any time, forming from the shadows and seeping through the cracks. Violent and extremely unhinged, it is drawn to fear and dread, descending on its victims with an all-consuming need to consume. All attempts to kill or destroy this creature have failed, as Mortis has the ability to reform from the remains of its last body.
Several decades ago, a researcher attempted to create artificial life. He constructed a metal skeleton, shaping organs from clay and weaving muscles of copper wire. The final layer was formed from preserved human skin, stitched together with scraps of leather and hide, brought to life by the work of biomancy and alchemy. The result was Erebos, a humanoid creature that hides in the undercroft of the Demonastery, fearing the day it finally falls apart.
The vidus are the silent workforce of the Demonastery, small, grotesque constructs made from enchanted stone. They work quietly in the shadows to maintain the Demonastery and its many rooms, avoiding contact with any of the residents and researchers. Nobody knows who created the vidus, or how they were made, or even how many there are. Some choose to believe that they are stones from the walls of the Demonastery, given sentience by ambient magic. This is, of course, impossible, and so their origin remains a mystery.
Occasionally, a resident of the Demonastery will catch a glimpse of one of the most elusive inhabitants of the manor. Those who see her describe a small, doll-like creature, her mouth drawn into a wide grin. With her large eyes, sharp teeth, and claw-like fingers, Mani is eerie and deeply unsettling; worse, the creature seems to actually enjoy the effect she has on others. While she remains a mystery to most of the residents, there is one unspoken consensus - wherever Mani appears, trouble is sure to follow.
Residents of the Manor
One scientist’s room is filled with various body parts, pelts and bones and organs sorted into cooling units, labelled by item and creature. He stitches them together, taking the best of each creature, seeking to bypass the process of evolution and create the next dominant species. Yet no matter how hard he tries, he cannot find a way to give them life.
A small doorway near the Scriptorium leads to the domain of necromancer, who studies decomposition and the limitations of necromancy. She has attached a spirit to a skull, brought a body to life without its head, revived the skeletal remains of a corpse and watched it skulk around her rooms. While others seek a way to revive a person, give them a second chance at life, she plays at becoming a god, toying with forces few understand.
An arcanist lives in the room just beyond the Great Hall, melding together the schools of aether and blacksmithing. He seeks to create a form of armour which can completely block arcane attacks. Once, he lived in Metrix, using his mechanical skills to create armour for the city’s enforcers; however after one particular incident just beyond the city limits, he began incorporating aether into his experiments. The Iron Assembly caught wind of his studies and immediately sent for him to be removed into their care. Luckily, he managed to escape, and is now free to dedicate himself fully to his research.
The researcher found in the tower of the east wing is an odd one. He pursues an impossible task, seeking to create an arcane warrior, a person capable of wielding both sword and aether. Still, he persists, learning all he can about runescript and crystal-forging.
The Arcane Arts
Many of the Demonastery’s residents have studied the arcane arts in some form or another, learning about aether and its role within Rathe. Some are born into the arcane arts, such as the wizards of Volcor, who draw power from the blood running through their veins. The scholars of Solana spend decades studying the way of the Light, learning how to call upon the blessings of their beloved figurehead. Then there are those who take a different path, wanting a power that cannot be bestowed through bloodline or learning. These are the kind that find their way to the Demonastery.
There are entities unknown to the masses of Rathe, lingering just beyond the reaches of the physical world. Those who seek true power, the kind that can force others to bow before them, call upon these entities. Many are willing to exchange anything for a taste of raw power, trading away their knowledge, their minds, their souls, their futures and pasts in exchange for the skill of the darker arcane arts. Making deals with these beings in exchange for power is an unforgivable offence throughout most of Rathe, and shadow practitioners often face severe punishments for practicing their craft. The Demonastery is the only place where the study and practice of shadow aether is not only allowed, but encouraged.