Durmenthir, Demon-God of Contracts.
Durmenthir is a rare case among deities. Born of demonkind, he rose through the ranks of demon through respect from his brethrens, rather than by usurping the titles of slain enemies. Today, In a surprising twist of fate, he is as respected of mortals, celestials, and demons alike. Risen to the position of ‘El-Illyith No-Solmoth’ (Celestial lit. ‘One who speaks no untruth’), he his now god of fairness, Vigil of contracts.
From birth, Durmenthir differentiated himself from other demons by strictly abiding to the rules set out by his demonic clan. As others backstabbed and betrayed, he let his word be his law, and quickly was recognised far and wide as one of the few demons that both his own kind and summoners could deal with on an equal footing without needing force or magic: He would always fulfil a fair contract.
Gifted with a keener mind than almost any demons, and able to draw out the true principles behind any problem or situation, as well as an unparalleled mastery of demonic and mundane magics, Durmenthir would have risen quickly had he succumbed to machiavellian plots and plans. And yet, he remained steadfast in his integrity.
In fact, when called by earthly mortals (he would only let himself be called, never ‘summoned’, or ‘bound’), he was kind, polite, charming, gentle, caring and would listen attentively and with genuine concern to their problems and request, which led many a demon summoner to nickname him ‘The Misplaced Demon’, as he behave more like a celestial than a demon.
It was also during this time that he aquired the reputation of tolerating no disrespect, from demon or mortal. If disrespected, The wise Durmenthir would not fly into a destructive rage, but would simply refuse to deal with the disrespectful fool. Oh, he was polite about it, But once decided, no god or pauper could make him utter a word. He simply acted as if the requester did not exist, and in all honesty, this was often far worse punishment, since his decisions still carry today, and many a demon now find themselves unable to legalise their contracts before him.
Always insisting on fairness was not the easiest path for the young Durmenthir. Many times in his youth (relatively speaking, of course, since a True Demon is immortal) He found himself on the wrong end of an agreement having gone sour, often with a much older, and widely respected demon than himself.
Aharst’s brush with the void
In a particularly memorable case, which forever propelled Durmenthir into the annals of Demon lore, Aharst, Purveyor of Sins and great fiend of the circle of the Seven requested a pure soul from the divine plane of Elysior. In return, he would grant the young Durmenthir with access to the demonic plane of knowledge, a privilege reserved for the greatest demons only. Of course, Aharst intended to betray the young Durmenthir, whom he found naive, or at least enjoy watching him struggle with a problem that all demons had, up to this point, even with the length of eons dedicated to it, found impossible.
Indeed, A demon may not survive in the blinding light of the divine fields.
Nevertheless, Durmenthir thought long and hard on the problem, and, as his recorded forever in demon lore, discovered a solution. How Durmenthir manage to recover the soul of a celestial is unkown, and many theories have been put forward by both mortal and planar scholars. What we do know, however, is that to this day, he remains the only being, let alone demon, to have successfully captured a celestial’s soul.
Returning humbly to Aharst with a small vial constricting the captured soul, Durmenthir politely requested his reward. Aharst then asked to have the vial handed over to him, feigning curiosity and admiration. The ever so helpful Durmenthir aquiesced, and as soon as the vial was in Aharst’s hand, he dismissively set his blood-covered hellhounds to kill the unarmed Durmenthir.
Aharst should have known better than to trifle with a demon who had solved the impossible.
What happened next none can truly say, since the few servants who were in Aharst’s convocation hall fled in the resulting tumult. However, a sequence of events has since been suggested by demonic scholars. It seems that Durmenthir made use of his talent for demonic magic and quite simply opened a small, spur-of-the-moment portal between Aharst’s palace and the dominion of Komar-Peck, Devil queen of Chaos, Consumer of Demons, and eternal enemy of Aharst. Eldricht energy natively antagonistic to Aharst proceeded to radiate into the very heart of his dominion. Forced to flee his own palace, Aharst barely escaped with his soul.
Legend has it that Durmenthir then proceeded to calmly walk into Aharst’s quarters as the palace crumbled around him and took the key, which was rightfully his, from Aharst’s very lair. What we know for sure, is that only a few days later, Durmenthir was at the gate of the plane of knowledge, key in hand, while the bull-god Aharst was fighting to regain control of his palace, now pulsing with soul-stripping energy.
Regardless of the many Struggles Durmenthir had to endure because of his beliefs, his steel-clad integrity soon earned him the attention of powerful Demonic patrons, who saw the benefit of having a fair arbitrator to oversee negotiation with other demons, as well as regulate their own minions justly and efficiently. Indeed, soon enough, his policy of fairness and justice earned him the position of ‘AlMackGroMoKash’ (Demonic lit. ‘One who speaks straight word’) in the underworld.
Although his path through demonkind so far had been a rare one, what happened next to Durmenthir is unique. One age after his elevation as chief justicer of the demon world, a simple dispute over a simple contract between mortal kings inflated by hubris was threatening to start a war. Two armies stood poised on the brink of annihilation, Promising a bloody campaign of death and hatred which would last well beyond the untimely death of the misguided kings, and would degenerate into deep-seated loathing between the two nations which would last for centuries.
It was the prayer of two children which brought Durmenthir from his contemplation. The two children: Eloise Chatsworth and Marcus Fontainebleu, born on either side of the conflict, had been playmates from birth, and one night, separated by the great distance of war, they started to pray. Not only for each other, but also for fairness and resolution to what promised to be the end of their years of friendship.
And indeed, Their prayers were heard, but not by angels or celestial, but by Durmenthir. Moved by this plea for reason and Justice to resolve the conflict, Durmenthir took corporeal form in the mortal world and approached the two kings. Their pride and hatred pushed both monarch to accept the help of a demon in their quest to destroy their former friends.
The wise Durmenthir now proceeded to convince the two kings to meet in a neutral location, both believing that they would be gifted with a great weapon once there, but that they must come alone. Both kings arrived in the guard room of an abandoned watchtower, only to find Durmenthir sat at a table, scribes of both nations prepared to record the negotiations sat around him. Once both kings had arrived, and were shouting at each other, swords drawn over the oak table, Durmenthir proceeded to magically lock the doors, and simply said:
'Until a time when both agree on the terms of your engagements, so that each has his share and no one’s liberty steps on another’s, none shall leave this room. It is my will and it will be done.'
Shamed that even a demon could enforce justice and equality better than themselves, the kings started to talk (then again, it might be put down to the fact that they were in that guard room for over two days without food, who knows?).The negotiations were tense at first and both fell prey to pride and hatred during them, although helped by Durmenthir, they were both able to lay the past behind them. Eventually, the kings made amends, welcoming former friends again and resolving their difference. They created a pact of peace between the two nations which lasted until the wedding of Eloise and Marcus, which announced the union of their nations forever, for Eloise and Marcus were the children of the kings.
Today, many generations have passed, but the contract drawn up between the two kings can still be seen in the hall of governance of the new nation. Indeed, the principles laid out between the two men were the foundation of the constitution which Eloise and Marcus drew for their country.
Since that time, Durmenthir has garnered the respect of mortals, demons and celestial alike. As a fair judge and surprising promoter of mutual understanding, his counsel was sought by all. Contracts drawn up under his watchful eyes were unbreakable, the parties being compelled to fulfill them by magic they did not fully understand. Willful resistance to Durmenthir’s magic would cause the terrible affliction known as ‘Warlock’s bane’ (etymology: warlock = oathbreaker, vowbreaker) which would see hair-thin tendrils of black corruption slowly snake over the victim’s skin, slowly digesting him from the outside in. It is an interesting disease, since it feeds on the person’s own guilt at not fulfilling the contract (demons do indeed feel a guilt-equivalent feeling, they just don’t care about it). Notable of Warlock’s bane amongst other magical diseases is that it affect all beings in the same way regardless of the nature of the affected creature.
Over time, his reputation as the watchman of contracts grew to such proportions that he became worshipped amongst a handful of mortals. It is then in truth, that the unthinkable started to happen. Worshipping him as a god, the mortals elevated him to divinity, their prayers causing divine energy to flow into and through him, liberating him from the shackles of his demonic blood and into the realm of divinity. The exact process which occurred during this period is not well understood, even by well-learnt scholars.
On the nature of Demons and Gods
Once again, it is only by speculation that we can reconstruct the steps required for a demon to be elevated to deity.(1)
The first piece of the puzzle comes from the demon book acquired by the ultra violent 'Order of the Crimson Succubi'. The demon book of unkown origin has chronicled in it the debacles of the Succubi Queen of the seventh kingdom of the ninth plane of the underworld. Exactly how the contents of this book is known to scholars remains a mystery, since the Order is possibly the most violent demon worshipping covent in recent history, and regardless of how many purges are carried out, always manages to rise back from the ashes, book still in their possession. Regardless, there is a particular section of interest in the book which describes the nature of demon souls, and unequivocally states that all souls have the same origin, whether they belong to mortals or else. The nature of souls has remained a hotly debated issue since the very beginning of recorded human history and this book has only added to the controversy. However, this seems to be a first hand account of the Succubi queen’s attempt at discovering the natural laws of the multiverse, and she does a decent job of explaining that certain magical traces indicate the shared origin of both mortal and demonic soul. This account, written when Durmenthir was still relatively young, would have come only a short time before the request from Aharst for a celestial soul. It is supposed that Aharst’s request to Durmenthir for a celestial soul, if only in jest, stemmed from the fierce competitions in research which was a result of the queen’s book. At the time, varying factions of hell were involved in a veritables arms race to discover as much as possible regarding soul magic, which remains one of the most potent magic to use against a demon.
From there on, we suppose that Durmenthir’s research aimed at fulfilling his contract to Aharst lead him to discover a means of liberating one’s soul from the plane of origin. (for mortals this usually occurs naturally at death, but for immortals, things get complicated.) This would be consistent with Durmenthir’s successful harvesting of a celestial. It is however supposed that his request for the keys to the plane of knowledge was not innocent. It has always been known that Demons, fiends and devils have much greater difficulty in reaching the mortal plane than celestials, and so, harvesting and displacing a celestial soul would have required less knowledge and skill than a demon’s. It is believed that the last piece of information Durmenthir needed to liberate his soul would have been behind the sealed doors of the demonic library.
It is also around this time that records show a great influx of exotic (even for the lower planes) components to Durmenthir’s observatory. We then suppose that a ritual was carried out which would separate Durmenthir’s soul from his plane of origin. Now this would have been a very bold step from the young Durmenthir, since without anchor, his physical death would have meant the destruction of his soul into the intra-planar void. It is unknown why he did this. But the risk seem to have paid off, since it is also during this period that Durmenthir lost the characteristics of demonkind, including the appetite for souls, and went through a dramatic shift in appearance. It is during this time that he shifted from an entity bound by the impulses and passions of a demon to a neutral entity, at long last able to see the world unaltered by the native dispositions of his kind. Now free from the influence of his plane, he could start to empathise with humanity’s perception of fairness, equality, and justice, which led him to hear the prayer of Eloise and Marcus.
Now we must digress for a moment and consider deities, and the origin of their powers. The source for what follows is Phineas Clavius’s interpretation of The Liberium translations. In the Liberium scrolls, which are of verified divine origin, gods are shown to be sustained purely on the worship of mortal, their divine magic created as sentient mortal dedicate precious hours praying, channelling the energy of the mortal plane to their gods (the channel works both way, which is why gods can grant a mortal great powers, but the god’s power effectively comes from his worshippers, a small, yet constant trickle) It is indeed the same mechanism which allows demons with many worshippers to gather great power, while unworshipped demons are forced into subservience for their share of the lifeforce. The classic summoning of demons reflects this, the mage is acting as a channel from the divine plane, while the demon feeds off the energy the mage provides. This is also how summoned creatures are controlled, by restricting the flow of energy from the mortal plane to them, effectively holding them on a choke-leash.
What is very interesting here is that most worship is either directed at entities anchored to their plane, or to imagined gods which do not exist. The divine energy derived from the worship then serves to strengthen the plane’s aspect upon the deity. For example, a deity in the domain of chaos will see his worshipper’s energy manifest as chaotic energy which he can then use as he sees fit, while a demon of pain will see his worshipper’s energy manifest as his power to cause and enjoy pain.
Durmenthir, however, was not anchored to any plane, and as such, did not take on aspects of his anchor point. Once again we must now enter speculation and suppose that worship of an un-anchored soul reinforces whichever nature and aspects the worshipper believes in, since this is the only logical explanation for what happened next.
So, once human followers began to worship him as a lawful god, Divine energy flowed through him, and for every prayer or thought a human had about him, Durmenthir became closer and closer to the aspects of peaceful justice and lawful arbitrator, which were the nature of the prayers to him. In effect, his actions during the fontainbleu/chatsworth conflict shaped the way people perceived and worshipped him, which in turn shaped the way he would be affected by his disciples’s worship. another way of saying this is that his worshipper’s expectation manifested themselves in him because he was not affected by his anchor (his soul was only anchored to his body, as mortal souls are.).
It is thus believed that this was the mechanism which caused the demon Durmenthir to become the God Durmenthir. A free soul, and worshippers. In fact, this would suggest that worshipping a man as a god would in effect make him one, which is why such worship is incredibly dangerous, since men do not possess the souls or morals to handle the demands of god-hood.
(Interestingly, this would imply that the well known pygmalion effect in modern psychology is in fact mystical in origin in the world where this is set. In the game world, expectancy would shape you in a mystical way, as well as in a psychological way.)
Today, the cult of Durmenthir has risen from a mis-understood and persecuted minority to a widespread and sanctioned church, their services invaluable to businesses and government alike, with marriages praised for their stability.
Even today, Durmenthir remains impartial. As willing to overwatch a contract between demons as he his to ratify an agreement between mortal kings. This is probably the biggest reason fro the respect he commands from both deities and mortals alike. Durmenthir does not care about your race, religion, or morals. he cares only that agreements made are agreements kept.
And so Durmenthir is honoured by lore and myth as the demon who became a mortal, the mortal who became a god. Bastard child of blood and faith, half demon, half god, sustained by worshippers, his rise from the ashes of the cursed planes noted in the annals of time as the most striking example of deep change in a being’s life through sheer force of will and integrity.
Appearance and depiction
Humble, Durmenthir’s physical appearance, when manifest, does not suggest the powerful being that he is. Externally he is often depicted as a tall, middle aged man, and wears a simple white toga and sandals, with only his skin, which has the texture and dark color of cooling, crackling lava with bright fissures, betraying his demonic heritage(2). Some rare murals also depict his evolution from a scaly six-armed man with small horns and hoofs for feet to his current appearance, but it is widely believed that these are inaccurate speculations, rather than a true representation of Durmenthir’s manifestation on the demonic planes.
He is also often drawn and carved with several symbolic items being held or carried. Unknown to most is that many of these items, rather than being symbolic, represent artifact that Durmenthir crafted during his life as a demon.
(lit. 'A representation of the laws of oaths' from the greek eukhe-('vow'), nomos-('law'), eikon-('image') )
This is always represented as a very long (15+ ft), thin scroll with minuscule writing, wrapped around Durmenthir as a belt would. Supposed to be an very esoteric tome on the philosophy and natural laws of fairness and justice, the origin of this item is undetermined, but it is agreed that it is not demonic, and that Durmenthir did not write it. It has no known special properties, and the language of origin is neither demonic nor celestial. It is unknown wether this represents a real artifact or is purely symbolic.
symbolism: Fairness, Justice
(lit. 'A representation of the laws of authority' Gk: axioma-('authority') )
The Axiomanomicon is either represented as a large leather bound book nearly a foot in height, or by a stone tablet glowing with runes. Durmenthir is usually shown holding the axiomanomicon on his left arm (in the manner of the statue of liberty). the Original Axiomanomicon is confirmed to be an artefact of Durmenthir’s creation, which he crafted during his time as ‘AlMackGroMoKash’ to automatically keep track of all the different rules and legislation placed on the different denizens of the demon world (he later modified it to include his growing sphere of influence). It is not, however, considered to be a demonic artefact, since it was enchanted with mundane magics only(3). As to the book’s current fate, it is unknown, as the Axiomanomicon was lost by Durmenthir several hundred years ago. Since then, several books have claimed to be the original, but so far the most likely candidate is the book commonly call the Axionimicon, which is in the possession of Sokolov the axiomancer. Although many scholars doubt that it is the original, as it contains no section on demonic, celestial or extra planar laws.
symbolism: Authority, Righteousness, Law
(Demonic lit. 'spirit which gives access to words' meaning: key to the demonic plane of knowledge)
This is most often represented as a small ring, with a pyramidal protrusion instead of a stone, although sometimes the pyramid is in the backdrop of a mural instead of manifest as an item. When depicted as a ring, it is believed that the ring contains a demon soul. It does not have any particular powers per say, but the demonic soul inside can often manifest itself by making the wearer loose the ring unexplainably(4), it does, however, represent the idea of objective truth, since the demon annals are at least as accurate and unbiased as the celestial’s. (Incidently, this is why they are so closely guarded, the truth could harm a lot of very powerful entities in the underworld.). This, however, remains a semisentient demonic artefact in nature, and Durmenthir never leaves it out of sight.
symbolism: Truth, The all knowing eye of justice
(lit. 'oath words' Gk: Horkos-('oath') logos-('words') )
The ‘Horkologos’ was received as a gift by Durmenthir from the child of Eloise and Marcus, Antonius, who grew up to be a gifted and talented student of the arcane arts. It is a small artefact and looks like a simple bamboo stylus (admittedly, bamboo was pretty exotic in the Chatsworth/fontainbleu kingdom). Its enchantment, however, is that it can accurately write on its own any contract or agreement drawn up since its creation, including verbal agreements. This significantly simplifies contract disputes made between two people, since the original can always be supposedly recalled with complete accuracy. Many minor copies exist, notably one in each of Durmenthir’s temple, whose scope is limited to any contract or verbal agreement drawn up under the temple roof. It is theorised that the artefact’s power and scope may be exagerated, as it would be a very difficult magical task to record all contracts and agreements the world over, even for a mage as gifted as Antonius Chatsworth-Fontainbleu.
symbolism: Contract, Memory, Records
-Rumours of the lost Axiomanomicon are heard from a far distant land. Are the characters ready to risk everything in the pursuit of a tome which would grant them deep understanding of their hated foes, demons. Or do they want it to find loophole in the laws of the celestials and take advantage of their customs?
-A young noble, Vincent Deselarius approaches them. He needs help. Suffering from warlock’s bane, he willfully broke a contract made in one of Durmenthir’s temple. The problem is, the man he was meant to repay died before payment could be made. The PCs have only a few days left to get the gold to his estranged son, 1500 miles away. It doesn’t help that the noble has powerful enemies who would rather never see the gold reach its destination. Cue long cross country chase evading would be thieves and assassin.
-Your party is especially careless about agreements made? Next time, their patron meets them in Durmenthir’s temple, and inevitably, they get Warlock’s bane. What do they do now?
-Two nations are on the brink of war. Will your PCs manage to reach the great altar of Durmenthir and perform the calling ritual in time? Will they manage to find the lost tome which contains both the location of the altar and the details of the ritual? What will Durmenthir demand in exchange for his services as an arbitrator? (remember, fairness goes both ways)
(1)Actually, an ancient scholar, Emanuel Jean-Batiste Honore, once wrote a very insightful tract on the subject of deity elevation, but was persecuted as a heretic by the mainstream churches of the time, and all copies were burnt. He barely managed to escape with his life, but lost his life’s work, and died a depressed pauper, mostly ignored. Today’s scholar recognise his great work on other matters and can only imagine the invaluable contribution this lost tract would be. Could be a nice plot hook for adventures as a macguffin or powerful artifact required to stop a divine war.
(2)In effect, he looks like he has a glowing red body with black scales.
(3)Indeed, some nation state comission such artefacts to record birth or events within the realms. A notable example is the Grey Company‘s ledgers, which are supposed to be magically maintained.
(4)Indeed, Durmenthir has lost the ring three times so far, all three times leading to it falling in the wrong hands, which created untold difficulties in recovering it. This is why depiction of Durmenthir created within the last 200-300 years show him wearing the ring around his neck on an unbreakable dwarven chain. Something he started doing after he recovered the ring from the hands of its old master, Aharst. As can be imagined, they met on less than friendly terms.
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? Responses (12)
Holy shit! Awesome! I didnt read the whole thing yet, just skimmed for now, but wow!
demon-god of contracts? Is this the guy all the other demons consult with, before answering a summons, and then proceeding to twist the summoner's contract using semantics? :)
I love the idea, but unfortunately not, he started out as a demon, then became a god, worshipped by mortals. Complicated, I hope I managed to explain it ok. But his initial role would have been something quite close to it. He was the enforcer of demon contract, before diversifying into the mortal business, so to speak.
I must say, though: Your idea ROCKS!! You should definitely write it up.
Updated: Ok, finally finished this baby! tell me what you think. I can see a couple of things I could have done better, and find it very verbose when re-reading.
Now this is good stuff. I like the break down of the greek names of Durmenthir's goods, as well as his exaltation from demon to godhood.
This is an excellent all-around submission, hence the 5/5 vote, and the transition from demon to mortal to god is superbly described. If I had to poke one hole in this, I would ask what originally motivated a creature born of chaos to turn so far against his nature? Otherwise, it's great.
I better explain that while I use the terms celestials and demons, they should not carry the D&D associations about chaos, law evil and good (I've never played D&D). A demon is a creature born of the demonic planes, while a celestial is a being born of the celestial planes.
Chaos and law are really choices in the demonic world, just as in ours. the fact that most demons are chaotic and unpredictable is due to their conscious choice, based on millenias of experience as to what works in the demonic realms. Since the environment is rather chaotic (swirling vortexes of eldricth energy, stroms of fiendfire, etc...) most demons become chaotic, but not all.
Surprisingly, evil and good are choices too, even for a demon. We must however take into account their perspective:
For example, demons feed on souls the same way wolves feed on deer. Are wolves evil? from the standpoint of the deer, they are, but WE, as humans, know better.
There are good demons and evil demons in the lower planes I describe (In the same way that there are good and bad human beings. But from the standpoint of farm animals destined to the slaughter, we're pretty much all evil), So from our standpoint, all demons look evil. Its a perspective thing.
Durmenthir's perspective changed when his soul was confined to his body and the connection to the demonic planes severed. so he stopped behaiving like a demon (soulmunching, painfeeding, etc...) but the respect for the laws was his choice.
The question, whether this is a demonic creature, is a good one. I would say, that the fixation on contracts comes originally from his demon part, and it has brought him this far.
A demon, that ascended into a true god... that is a story, that may be repeat itself one day, but the result may be far less pleasant...
Worthy of all the praise heaped upon it.
Never voted on this. Thats fixed now. I echo Scras' original comment! Impressive sub, d_d! Hoh!
Thanks a lot Muro! And thanks to all of you guys who read it and voted!...
When I started, I really didn't expect it to get so long.
Glad that you all like it though!
This is a really great submission. Awesome stuff!