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Marvel Universe: A Demonology- Part 1
I, Stephen Strange, Sorceror Supreme and native of Earth, write this tome as an informative warning to all who dare to delve into the study of the mystic secrets of this universe, and others. Within these pages are the names and natures of the most foul and diabolical entities in all of Creation, the Dark Powers that I and those who hold my office are charged with defending our world against.
In this eternal war we, and I, have known many brave and heroic allies who have dedicated their own lives to struggle against these menaces, or have been dragged into the conflict when they fell victim to the infernal machinations of these abominations. Time and again these men and women have helped save humanity, the planet, or reality itself from the hellish nightmares that threaten it- be wary, reader, for to open these pages is to learn the most awful truths about how fragile the security of our lives really is, and how little the average man knows about the incredible and almost daily danger he is in....or how often we have failed, how often the world, the universe, innumerable universes, have been annexed or destroyed by the eldritch horrors. Our world has been made and unmade countless times across eternity; our lives, and yours, have been snuffed out on the whims of unholy cosmic forces on far more occasions than a human mind is capable of imagining. Only the intervention of other mighty powers- the Cosmic Compass, the Eternal Vishanti, the Living Tribunal or the One Above All himself- have saved or returned us from Oblivion or Hell; and benevolent though they may be, those powers are of such might, age and of such inscrutable nature as to be almost as alien and terrifying as the demons they save us from....and their charity and protection is not without cost, nor limits.
Heed my warning well- to turn back now is to return to some measure of blissful ignorance, some measure of innocence that my words have not yet destroyed, and you may well be judged wise for your prudence. For those brave, or desperate, or foolish enough to carry on....brace yourselves. It is not hyperbole to say that you are about to see the faces of True Evil, and about to discover just how much peril you and I are in, in this life and the next, in this world and every other. Heaven itself might not be far enough to escape the wrath and the greed of the terrors I am about to describe, and faith and hope our only defence against the madness of despair from contemplating how slim are our odds of survival.
Perhaps our Doom is only a matter of time.....
A Note on Classifications
You may find in other guides that demons have been divided into three categories- Class 1 (demons native to Earth); Class 2 (demons native to the Hell dimensions adjacent to Earth); and Class 3 (demons native to alien dimensions). I will not be using this, as it simplifys the complex origins and differences of many of these entities- however, if you wish for a comparison, Part 1 of this Demonology is roughly equivalaent to Class 1 demons; Part 2 is equivalent to both Class 2 and 3; and Part 3 is entirely composed of those demons considered to be Class 3.
The Elder Gods
Billions of years ago, when the Earth was still young, the first forms of life willed themselves into existence. These were the Elder Gods, the magical personifications of different aspects of life, born of the mystical force known as the Demiurge that emerged in the earliest days and spread its essence across the world and in so doing gave birth to them- they were akin, brothers and sisters all.
Which makes what happens next all the more horrific.
The Elder Gods realized that awesome as their powers were, there was a means by which they could become more powerful still- cannibalism. In a veritable orgy of violent depravity, the Elder Gods began feasting on one another and gaining more power, and degenerated into demons. Only two survived the cataclysm without falling into diablere- Oshtur, Goddess of the Stars, who have left to travel the multiverse before her brethern Fell; and Gaea, Goddess of the Earth, who took drastic action in the name of justice and survival, and to safeguard the emerging mortal life. She mated with the Demiurge and gave birth to Atum, the Sun-God, as a champion against her wicked family. Atum hunted down and slew the demons, their foul energies twisting him into Demogorge, the God-Eater, and continued to hunt and feast and deliver karmic retribution, until those demons that were not slain had all fled to other dimensions.
The Demogorge cast of its evil energies and became Atum again, who came to rest in the Sun; Gaea, meanwhile, set about casting magical barriers across the world and onto those dimensions to prevent her diabolical siblings from ever returning, barriers reinforced over millions of years by subsequent sorcerors and entities.
But they were not enough. The evil energies of the Demogorge festered and gave birth to a new breed of demons, who would go on to become the Hell Lords; but the Elder Gods were not finished, and have made numerous attempts to influence or return to the world via their wretched spawn or the use of unholy artifacts of power left behind on the Earth.
They remain an active threat, and may yet one day return.
Though a number of Elder Gods may have escaped the Demogorge's wrath, only two have have managed to remain a persistent and major threat to the Earth and the universe- Set, Elder God of Chaos; and Chthon, Elder God of Black Magic and the first Evil Sorceror in the history of the world.
The demon Set remains infamous for many reasons, but first and above all he should be known as the treacherous reprobate who first amongst the Elders began feasting on his brethren. He began the pattern, and he suffered most for it, for his hunger has long since turned to a gluttonous addiction, and he now can no longer stop even if he wished to- which, naturally, he does not.
Set is a violent and bloodthirsty demon that is fearless to the point of recklessness- it fled the onslaught of the Demogorge, but only after seeing that he could not win, and is usually more than willing to engage in battle. His impulsive nature is reflected in the outcome of his escape- he fled to another dimension, but he did not prepare the spell correctly, and when he arrived his hideous form was made yet more monstrous by turning inside out.
Eventually, the dinosaurs emerged, and Set discovered that he could gain strength from the violent deaths of these reptiles. For millions of years, he remained content, as every hunt, every fight, every feast served as an unwilling tribute to him...but then, eventually, Gaea decided that the dinosaurs were an evolutionary dead-end and set in motion plans for an extinction event to change the natural order in favour of mammals, and eventually humans. Enraged, Set telepathically commanded all dinosaurs to hunt down and kill all mammalian life.
Gaea bravely challenged Set to battle, and he broke from his weakened prison to face her. He was too powerful, so Gaea called on the aid of Atum, who once again became the God-Eater, though a weaker form, and the two did battle. This time, his energies fed by all reptilian life, Set was able to fight on an even footing, until Atum cut off his head. Two more emerged, and Atum cut again, until Set had seven- Set, Apep, Ophion, Tiamat, Lotan, Leviathan and Apocalypse, each one embodying one of the Seven Deadly Sins, several forming the basis for the legends of different monstrous serpents in human history, if not outright fulfilling those roles. Eventually, the extinction event occurred, and combined with the violence that had been done to it Set was too weakened to continue, and beat a retreat.
Set is a vastly powerful mystical entity possessed of a wide range of abilities. Though impulsive, reckless and hot-headed with a monomaniacal hunger and an insatiable bloodlust, it is also highly intelligent and knowledgeable of black magic, and is a competent strategist and tactician as well as a truly ferocious fighter. Though has yet to return to the heights of its power, it has still managed to have a nebulous effect on the history of Earth, its minions playing a decisive role in the moral decay of Atlantis and itself serving as the ultimate enemy of Conan the Barbarian, as human cultists of both periods were tricked into worshipping it or invoking its power. Like all powerful demons, he is tied to his pocket universe and if destroyed will simply be reborn there.
It is also a multiversal entity, though not in the absolute sense- its influence or worship can be found on, but remains limited to, any number of alternate Earths. Its ultimate ambition is to put humanity under the thumb of its numerous serpent-spawn, if not destroy us entirely, and gain enough power from worship and conflict to escape its extra-dimensional prison, wreck violent revenge on its sister, and doubtless go on to ravage the universe.
Prior to degenerating into a demon, Set fathered numerous spawn, among them Damballah, Tartessus, Sligguth and the Dragon of the Moon (the power behind Moondragon), that followed him into his degeneration, and eventually fled with him to his pocket dimension, abandoning their physical forms to be destroyed by the Demogorge. Eventually, they returned to Earth, and plagued the world over the millennia, setting themselves up (or posing) as deities or enacting their own evil plots. It is for this reason that Set is often known as Father Set, especially amongst his followers. All of these are vastly powerful demons.
However, by far the most infamous children of Set are the Serpent-Men, a race he created some unknown time after his second banishment as rivals of the human race, intended ultimately to either rule or replace us. In modern times they have dwindled to a shadow of their former glory, but in their prime tens of thousands of years ago they were a major blight on the world, seducing dark sorcerors into worship of Set or trying on their own to enslave or destroy mankind. In the time of Conan, they were so feared that even those wizards who worshipped Set refused to ally with them. Stronger and crueller than any normal man; they can assume the form of other beings, and anyone killed by a Serpent Man loses his soul to them. When slain, the go to a limbo-like dimension, from where they can return to possess the living.
They once ruled a mighty empire, but this was destroyed by humans and gods; those who were not killed or driven underground hid in plane sight- disguising themselves as humans, they became kings or advisors of kings, while others founded cults of Set that survive to this day, all dedicated towards rebuilding their mighty empire. In pre-ancient Lemuria, ruled by an artificially created offshoot of humanity known as the Deviants, who had fallen into worship of Set, they duped rebel human alchemists into crafting the Serpent Crown, sparing a chain of events that led to the destruction of that continent and the consequent sinking of Atlantis. In the following Hyperborian period they struggled to survive against the onslaught on human kingdoms, often working as mercenaries for evil sorcerors such as Thoth-Amon and Thulsa-Doom, before gradually being hunted to near-extinction. However, some small numbers survive, and their lust for vengeance and power remains a threat to us all.
The Serpent Crown
The Serpent Crown serves as Set's primary totem of power and a link between his dimension and Earth. It bestows upon the wearer a variety of formidable powers, but also opens them up to Set's mental domination. There are alternate versions of the Crown in numerous alternate realities and it is the primary means by which Set hopes to return to his Earthly power. The Crown is frequently lost, but cannot be destroyed and is always found or recovered by its latest pawn, often someone in a position of power such as businessmen or kings. The Avengers in particular tend to run across men who have fallen under its sway, but it is perhaps only a matter of time before it falls into the hands of an unfortunate soul whose influence is left unchecked.
While in Set we have one of the most ancient and terrible demons who has played a pivotal role in the history of the world and the destruction of his own race; in his brother Chthon, we are met with something vastly worse, an Elder God who has made himself into the very embodiment of Evil. He is The Cancer of Reality, The Shadow That Sits At The Feet Of God; a primordial Devil that is worse than the Devil, and the source of all manner of monsters, demons and catastrophes that have plagued the world, and his ambition is to unravel Creation.
Chthon is the first practitioner of Black Magic in the history of the planet. While it joined the other Elder Gods in fratricide and cannibalism, Chthon also took the time to study and learn, and to give names to things, for the namer has power over the named. It named things that were, it named things that would be, but above all it named things that were not and should not be, and before fleeing the wrath of the Demogorge it wrote down these things in the Darkhold, the first book of Black Magic written, and left it on Earth as an anchor for its power. Amongst the names written in the Darkhold is that of the Demogorge itself- whenever Atum returns to that form, he risks falling under the sway of his darkest enemy.
Chthon is opposed by the Eternal Vishanti- Oshtur, her husband Hoggoth and their son Agammotto- who created the office of Sorceror Supreme to battle the demon- it is the ultimate antithesis of my powers, and the mere presence of Chthon is enough to kill me or any other Sorceror Supreme without the appropriate mystical protection. Though Earth is guarded against any number of eldritch villains that would threaten it, few dimensions have so many barriers around it as those contained around Chthon's, and its own power is so vast that even without them it has difficulty slipping more than a portion of its power out at any one time.
The holy powers of Osthur are antithical to those of Chthon and can harm it worse than other foul demons; however, at times the power of Chthon is otherwise vast enough to equal or even surpass those of the Vishanti combined. It is usually forced to rely on human hosts, but even a fraction of its power is enough to create havoc across the Earth with little effort. It has menaced Earth with such fractions throughout the course of history, and often these fractions become trapped in Earth themselves, serving as another anchor for its influence- one such powerful aspect came to be trapped in Mount Wundagore in Eastern Europe.
Chthon is the creator of Chaos Magic, a form of Black Magic that alters probability and reality, and which earnt it the title of the God of Chaos. Through the piece of itself trapped in Wundagore, Chthon granted the power to use Chaos magic naturally to a young infant mutant named Wanda Maximoff, who would become the heroine the Scarlet Witch, hoping to use her as a future host and casting a long shadow over her life. Wundagore is also the source of the enchanted, irradiated clay used by the villainous Puppet Master, and most of Chthons' efforts to summon its full power to Earth involve manipulating Wundagore in some way.
Like the other Elders, Chthon is a multiversal entity, and as such is a threat to every dimension. He is arguably the most powerful Elder God, a menace feared by Eternity, the embodiment of Time itself, as a threat to his life, and thus a threat to existence itself. It embodies darkness and unholy power and commands the most terrible magic, and has a tendency to ensure that it leaves an anchor for its power behind whenever it is defeated. It is extremely intelligent, eternally patient and phenomenally powerful, and has come close to destroying the world, the universe, and maybe realities beyond, on several occasions. Above all, it is Evil- primal, wilful, bottomless Evil, a dark force that if ever fully unleashed few, if any, could stand against.
Chthon created the demonic race called the N'Garai millions of years following his banishment, giving them their own dimension from which, eventually, they invaded and conquered the Earth, until one million years ago they were expelled. At some later point, they returned and lorded over humanity as gods, before being banished again. An army of angels led by Marduk Kurios, was responsible for the former expulsion, prior to his fall and transformation into the demon Lucifer / Satan.
The N'Garai are led by Kierrok the Damned, and a minority of other intelligent N'garai, the ruling class known as the Mabdhara, whose members include the demonic Triad- the fiends Y'Garon, Y'Bsgloth and Y'Griath.The majority of this race are bloodthirsty and brutish, and they require strong strategic leadership to be effective, but all are immortal, far stronger than any human, and excrete a deadly poison from their claws. The leadership, as befitting the Elderspawn of Chthon, have access to formidable powers of black magic.
Chthon also carried out several twisted experiments on early man, creating a number of evil races by combining humans, animals and demons such as the Wolf-Men, the Ape-Men, Goblins, Harpies and many others, unleashing them on the world. He also made attempts to corrupt other races. He is a true source of Evil in every meaning of the word.
The most ancient and terrible book of black magic is responsible for so many evils in the world, and is the primary means by which Chthon has corrupted and destroyed entire civilizations. There is not enough space in this document to catalogue all the horrors this dark tome is responsible for, and the Book of the Vishanti that is the primary book of spells used by the Sorceror Supreme was written as a counterweight to it.
Humanity first came across the Darkhold in pre-Cataclysmic Atlantis. They used this tome to become immortal, turning into the first vampires and unleashing that pestilence on the planet, and founded the cult of the Darkholders that survived to the modern age. The Darkhold is also the source of werewolves and can create zombies (originally co-created by Chthon separate of its power), and is the source of power for some of the most notorious and dangerous witches and evil sorcerors in history.
The Darkhold is possessed and protected by a demon known as The Other, or simply the Demon of the Darkhold; in actuality another piece of Chthon himself, and can in turn be used to summon the Elder God to Earth, though more elaborate preparations are needed to bring him forth in his full power. It was in the witch Morgan LeFey, along with other members of the Darkholder cult, in trying to summon and control Chthon, ultimately sealed a portion of his essence in Wundagore after realizing just how mighty and dangerous he really was. In addition to the cult, the book has passed through the hands of virtually every major civilization in human history.
The Darkhold is completely indestructible and can take many different forms, most often either a book or a collection of scrolls, though in book-form the binding can be destroyed if not the pages. Those unskilled or untrained in black magic who seek to use it instinctively know the spell to summon the Other to help them, providing a further means for Chthon to manipulate them. Worse still, there are several copies in existence that serve as extensions of its ungodly power.
Consider existence. Consider all of the stars, and worlds, and moons, and rocks; all the matter, all the life, all the energies and motion and forces that spread across infinity, filling the eternal void and nothingness with Creation.
Now consider that that void itself is alive, and that it regards that existence with a cold, bottomless hatred and fury, sees reality itself as an intrusion and an affront on its being.
Amatsu-Mikaboshi is not an Elder God, but in a very real sense it is a native of our dimension, indeed is our dimension. Amatsu-Mikaboshi is the void given life, and it seeks only oblivion. Whenever life and reality have ceased to be, Amatsu-Mikaboshi has ruled; and whenever life and reality have ruled, Amatsu-Mikaboshi has plotted their annihilation, and it is the very nature of existence that it is destined to succeed, for in one way or another everything will return to nothingness.
Shortly after the original banishment of the Elder Gods, Amatsu-Mikaboshi came to rule the world, and for untold millions of years the Earth was covered in darkness. Then Izanagi and Izanami, the forerunners of the Japanese pantheon of gods (Izanami actually being an aspect / guise of Gaea herself), arrived and began populating the Earth with life and their children, who became the gods of Japan, Amatsu-Mikaboshi, enraged, went on a killing spree and slaughered several fledging gods before being stopped and banished to Yomi, the Japanese underworld, where the creature festered for aeons, before eventually carving itself out a niche as a demon and a God of Death, serving at once as both a formal member of the Japanese pantheon and its deadliest enemy, as well as the enemy of all things.
Following a disruption to the balance of power amongst the pantheons of Earth, Amatsu-Mikaboshi set about enacting several schemes that were to prove just how terrible an adversary it truly was. It launched a failed attack on the Olympian pantheon by itself and was barely defeated, but not before killing Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, in personal combat and without much trouble. Faking its death, it slew a Skrull goddess in combat and assembled a grand army of enslaved, undead deities, adding to its ranks by finding more gods and demons, and heroes and villains, throughout the cosmos and slaughtered and enslaved them as well.
Declaring itself the Chaos King, the embodiment of Oblivion, it came close to destroying everything, and successfully annihilated an unknown number of universes, before being defeated in a desperate gamble by Hercules and others, who sealed him away and unmade all the damage it had done by expending his godly power.
Amatsu-Mikaboshi existed in the universe prior to this one, prior to the Big Bang; it existed in the universe before that one as well, and so on ad infinitum, and permeats every universe, though the sentient aspect of it is limited to and possibly trapped in a more humanoid form. It normally possesses a high level of mystical power equal to any normal god and a wide range of abilities, mostly relating to shape-shifting and shadows, but in its true form as the Chaos King, at the true height of its power, it is the kind of cosmic threat that sends a shiver up the spines of the gods and higher still deities. More than any other entity, it is truly unkillable, for it is the antithesis of life, and will continue to exist long after existence itself has faded away.
End of Part One