Plight of the Demons
In the darkness, a stone was struck against another, birthing a brief spark that illuminated for but a second before dying. The stones were struck again, and this time the sparks fell upon a pile of strange, black rocks that caught the flame and made it grow. As the fire burned brighter, the clawed hands of the hooded figure who’d struck the spark were revealed.
A small, gangly creature, with red skin and a coat of scraggly gray fur, scurried over the ridged rocks and boulders outside the cave mouth, gesturing for others to follow it into the cavern. In its small, clawed hands it clutched something.
Inside the dark cave, the small creature and others like it scuttled in the wake of larger figures, all cloaked and hooded, none daring to speak. The figures all sat around the glowing fire, their beastly, twisted, and horned faces illuminated by its flickering brightness. Before the fire stood another, his face hidden by his tattered, worn hood.
“Gather, Children of the Brood.” The shadowed figure said, in an old, withered voice. “Gather, and see the truth of our plight.” The small, gangly creature then made her way through other the figures to the hooded one. In the light she was revealed to have raven hair framing her face and covering one eye, bat-like ears and small horns.
“Revenant one, I have brought the ashes.” She said meekly, holding out the small pouch she carried with her.
“Good, young Imp.” The revenant one said, taking the pouch. “It was thought these no longer existed, but some still remains.” The Imp then sat down among the rest, sitting away from the others of her kind. Her name was Neph; she nestled beside a winged, harpy-like demoness, who wordlessly draped a wing over her young one.
“Now, children,” Rasped the revenant one. “I shall tell you a story; our story. The story of our past, our greatness, our fall, our plight, and how we came upon this place we call home, this terrible place of darkness and suffering. And it begins, with these humble ashes...” The revenant one then took a handful of ashes from the bag, and threw them onto the fire where they instantly ignited and burst into glorious sparks of light and color, drawing awe from all watching. The revenant one then began to speak once more, and the sparks formed waving and ghostly figures in the smoke.
“Long, long ago, long before any of the daemon to this day can recall, the world we called ours was a very different one…
The earth. A place of beauty, a place of light, of grace, of life. We were here long before the others; we were among the first to see the world in all its glory. We tended the first gardens of the first plants, and spread them across the world. When the animals came about, we shared all with them, and they made the world even more beauteous with their grace; and thus the sacred balance arose, eternally keeping the scales of light and dark, life and decay, in delicate order for all time.
In that time, we too were different; though we walked and breathed in the forms we do as today, back then we glowed with happiness and love for our beautiful earth, and frolicked with the herds in the endless garden that was our world.
As time passed, we learned to create. We created many things unimagined before, using our powers, lost to us now; with the dust of creation, we made new creatures of our own design, creatures of earth, sea and sky. With nothing more than a touch, life came where once was only dust and rock. When we touched the lizard, he became the mighty dragon of burning breath. When we touched the eagle, she became the magnificent roc and the courageous griffin, with wings that stirred the clouds. When we touched the ox, be became the unfathomable behemoth, with earthquake of footstep. And when we touched the humble yet flaring flowers, they grew eyes and hearts, and leaped from the ground to dance in the gardens.
We were able to create so many beautiful things, and we made the world we shared all the more beautiful. But soon we learned that creating was not our place.
The Creator of our world, he who created all else after us, claimed our doings were a “perversion” of what he’d already brought to the world, and warned us not to do anymore. We pleaded with the Creator, saying that we only desired to explore what what we could do, and make the earth greater. But the Creator did not listen, and demanded that we keep to our own kind and leave him to watch over the world. Thankfully, he was kind enough to let us keep our new creations, but disallowed us to go any further.
For much time afterwards, the daemon kept to our own kind, tending to our creatures we’d brought into our part of the world, which we had covered in fertile plant life. Since we were forbidden from further tampering with the state of the world, a large side remained barren and rocky, devoid of any life, with the sole exception of our Behemoth, who bravely strode where none else dared. It was in this barren expanse, untouched by our powers of creation, that the Creator made a garden. A great, beautiful garden, that he called Eden. All were welcome in this paradise, even our kind, and all the animals(but mysteriously not those we had brought into existence). It was with this Eden, that the Creator brought something new: a curious pair of creatures known as Man and Woman.
Though we were welcome in the garden, we were not to tamper with anything within it, especially man. We stayed in our place, and did nothing to change our surroundings. However…”
The revenant one paused as he uttered a rasping cough, the other demons leaning in expectantly, especially little Neph. The revenant one coughed again, then returned to his tale.
“However...there were some among those in the garden who were intrigued by man and woman. One in particular wondered what they could become, and, against the Creator’s command, sought to change them and see for himself.
The daemon was named Syrpent. He was very powerful; before Eden, he had created an entire race of creatures in his image. Long of body, with scaly skin and four legs. Snakes, he called them. Syrpent looked upon man and woman with curiosity from the beginning, especially when the Creator planted a tree in the center of the garden, a tree that bore ripe, full fruit. The Creator ordered man, Adam, and woman, Eve, to never eat from this tree, the Tree of Knowledge, and they obeyed. Syrpent wondered what could result from man and woman eating from the tree, so he tried consulting them on it....
“The Creator tells you not to eat the fruit,” He said to woman first. “Yet he gives no reasoning. Just as he did when he forbade the daemon to further create beauty on their own, including myself. The Tree of Knowledge, it is called. Daemon treasure knowledge, among other virtues. If eating the fruit would grant you great knowledge, what negative outcome could possibly outweigh that? You could become like the daemon, or maybe even the Creator himself.”
Seduced by Sypent’s sadly misguided words, woman took fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and ate, and she gave the fruit to man, who also partook of the forbidden banquet. Their eyes were then opened, and Syrpent watched to see what would happen to them...
...only to regret everything he’d done when the sky turned dark, and the Creator’s rage thundered at man and Syrpent’s betrayal.
Man and woman were forever banished from the garden, cast out into the barren rock outside its walls. But Syrpent got it much worse; though he begged the Creator for forgiveness, pleading that his intent was solely for good, he too was cast out of paradise, along with all other daemon in Eden when they tried to defend him. But Syrpent’s punishment was worse still: in his anger at Syrpent’s betrayal, the Creator took Syrpent’s legs, forcing him and all his children to slither along the ground like the traitorous worms they were seen as. Syrpent wept for his people, and he slunk away in shame, following the banished daemon back to their homeland.
For a time, the Creator was silent, and the daemon slowly began making changes once more, among man this time. Behemoth had found Adam, Eve, and their children in the barrens beyond the garden, and saved them out of the good in his thunderous heart, bringing them to the daemon’s lands.
We taught mankind many wonderful things, and began to once again make new beings from them as they spread, but then the man Cain, seeking to use the daemon’s gifts for violence, killed his brother Abel and went on to spread his cruel ways on to his descendants, covering the world in sin and darkness from which no being was safe. The daemon were horrified; they had never meant for this. Syrpent and his family had long gone into hiding among the shadows, claiming that he alone was to blame for all the suffering. But the Creator did not see it as this…
The Creator and his angels high above blamed all of us for mankind’s descent into evil, and though we pleaded desperately with the Creator, he refused our prayers for mercy, declaring us and all we’d made blemishes on his world. Winged beings then descended from the sky, bearing swords and blades of shining silver as we looked on in horror. The Creator had judged us, and he wanted us and our creations gone.
We ran, fled our homelands as an evil, crossed-line symbol burned in our minds. The angels came upon us with hate, and slaughtered an untold many of us and our animals and creatures. We claimed to be innocent, that we were being unfairly hunted, but the angels did not listen, and the genocide of the daemon continued. Only one stood to protect us, the archangel Lucifer. He had seen our kind and far-seeing ways, and defied his Creator on his order for our destruction.
Lucifer fought bravely to defend us, but in the end he was punished by the Creator, struck down to the earth in a twisted and monstrous form, becoming a daemon himself.
We saw all we’d made, all the beauty we’d given to the world, destroyed and turned to ash, and a great many shed tears at the decimation of our former home. With the last of his power, Lucifer opened a gateway to another realm, a realm below the earth where our enemies could never reach us. With the last of our powers, we saved our remaining creations, and brought them with us to this realm of refuge.
As our kind hurried to escape, our greatest creations, Behemoth of the earth, Ziz of the sky, and Leviathan of the seas stood against the enemy army to defend us. Lucifer was the last to follow, after finding Syrpent and taking him and his family to safety below. When we were all safely through, Behemoth, Ziz, and Leviathan bravely sacrificed themselves to seal the entrance, blocking the angels from ever reaching us by turning themselves to unbreakable stone.
When all was over, the daemon saw this new realm; it was a place of darkness and suffering, but it was the only place where our kind would be safe. The Creator had taken our powers of creation, and with it our radiant glow. We were trapped in this desolate realm, unable to make it good and peaceful, but we were relieved, still, to finally be safe. Many praised and thanked Lucifer for protecting us, and thought of him as king, but the fallen angel refused this title, saying,
“A king I shall not be, but a brother, a father, a fellow daemon. We are now cast off from the paradise we once knew, and here we are all equal. I give you these words, children: live long, and multiply, for we all have only each other now.”
“And ever since then, the demons have remained in this realm below, this underworld of burning mountains and rivers of tar, where our creations run wild, driven just to survive. And here we shall remain, forever banished from the earth we once called our home.”
The revenant one fell silent, and the silent cavern began to fill with the weeping of the children, and the little Imp, Neph, was nestled by her mother’s feathery breast as she cried. All the hooded demons shared grimaces of shame, sadness, and longing. Why? Why had the Creator been so cruel to them? The revenant one then spoke again.
“Now, children, that you have heard our sad story, I can offer only these words of solace; be safe, survive, stay beside those you love, and above all, hope. Hope that, someday, it will be better. Hope that one day we will be able to see the beauty of our earth once more, that we may have a place in the vast grandness once again.” The demons then began to leave the cave as the fire began to die, going back to their hard, yet sustainable lives. Gently clasped in her loving mother’s talons, Neph looked back at the old, frail demon as she and her mother flew to wherever they’d sleep that night.
“Go…” The revenant one said to himself, coming into the light. “Live long and free, Children of the Brood, give love to your children, and hope, for their sake, that one day, it will be better.Hold on, and hope...