Daemons are malevolent spirits that inhabit the Empyrean. Dread creatures of legend, daemons are the worst of the evils warned against by the Ecclesiarchy.
The Empyrean is the insanity-inducing, identity-obliviating, soul-consuming dimension to which heretics are consigned. Daemons are the native inhabitants of this hell, and reflect the horrors of their home. As the Empyrean is the opposite of all the blessings of the Emperor’s Imperium, so too is a daemon by its very existence anathema to the Emperor’s faithful subjects.
Beyond these generalizations, little is discussed of the nature of daemons. So horrific are these creatures of damnation that even to study their lore can break the mind and twist the soul to heresy. It is said that the Ecclesiarchy maintains a few unholy grimoires devoted to the topic under lock and key, but most white priests know better than to petition to be initiated into the higher mysteries of daemonic lore. Novan popular culture remembers a few old saws about priests and others who attempted to understand the daemon for the best of reasons, and were driven to insane atrocities by their study.
It is popularly assumed that daemons long to tempt mortals away from the path of righteousness as prescribed by the Emperor’s Church. Those who possess a slightly higher understanding of the daemon know that this is true, but only incidentally. A daemon’s true objective is to impose the insane chaos of the Empyrean upon the material world. In the short term, this would manifest itself as a corruption of all that is right and ordered in the world, including morals. In the long term, it would result in nothing less than the complete destruction of everything that makes the world rational or discernible, from the laws of physics to the very concept of individual identity.
Legend tells that Nova was once nearly overrun by daemons, a time now known as the Age of Brass. Most Novans’ knowledge (or misconceptions) about daemons comes from stories of this age. From legends of the Age of Brass, it is known that sorcery – the manipulation of the Empyrean through physical spells – can summon daemons (though in reality, most – if not all – books that purport to contain the secrets are fakes). However, most legends agree that daemons can, under the right circumstances, appear on their own. What those circumstances might be is a mystery, though most Novans feel it safe to assume that widespread sin is at least a contributing factor.
Daemons in legends from the Age of Brass sometimes possess a human being body and soul, reshaping the unfortunate victim in impossible ways like a daemonic hermit crab. Other times they appear in bodies seemingly fashioned out of pure sorcery. In either case, daemons are said to tear at the sanity of all but the most faithful by their mere presence, reducing mighty warriors to gibbering idiots. However, the legends agree that daemons that appear in physical form can be killed through main force. They may twist reality and sanity around them, may have terrifying strength and prowess in battle, may be the equal of a dozen strong knights or more, but in the end, a daemon that invades the material world in a material body can still be dispatched by a strong blow.
More potent than steel – and rarer – is true faith in the Imperium. The most famous example of this is Beltan Vaar, who was opposed by six, seven, eight, and finally nine daemons in the great castle Stonehull. Though Vaar’s companions fell one by one to the palpable aura of corruption that infested the castle, such was Vaar’s conviction that he must liberate the castle in the Emperor’s name that none of the daemons could harm him with steel or hellfire. In the end, Beltan Vaar banished the thirty daemons without ever raising his hand against them. This story, and others like it, are the foundation of the Ecclesiarchy’s teachings on daemons. They serve to demonstrate that men and women of true faith can carry the Imperium even against the very minions of hell – and that faith can accomplish what steel cannot.
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