The Demon Knight
Today’s lecture focuses on the Demon Knight, the most critical Demon in terms of military might. Each Demon Knight is both a formidable warrior in their own right, as well as a critical factor in the effectiveness of the Demon army. During the Reign of the Demon King, it was common to see Demon Knights in most occupied areas carrying out the will of the higher castes. If the Soldier is the laborer of the Demons, the Demon Knight is the foreman.
The creation of a Demon Knight is through an arcane-mechanical process similar to Demonization, called uplifting. The higher castes, including other Demon Knights, select Demon Soldiers for the uplift ritual. These Soldiers return to the Demon Forge and are placed in individual chambers, not unlike a mold. There, the Forge Master, the Demon Lord in charge of the Demon Forge, casts a ritual which softens the ebon carapace of the Demon Soldier. While in this malleable state, liquid ebon is poured into the chamber to fill out the mold, resulting in the shape of the Demon Knight. It is not understood if the process is painful, but there is considerable physiological morphing from the form of the Demon Soldier into that of a Demon Knight.
When the transformation of the body is complete, the Forge Master casts a second ritual which draws upon the same stored essence of the Demon King that is used in the formation of the Demon Soldier. This ritual adds additional essence to the newly formed Demon Knight. This new essence expands the simple mind of the Demon Soldier into the Demon Knight.
Finally, with the body and soul molded, the Forge Master casts the final ritual which once again sets the body of the Demon Knight into its rigid armored state. Much like the Demon Soldier, the Knight is then taken to the water baths and submerged, to allow their armor to fully set.
During the several days it is under the water, the Demon Knight has time to deal with their expanded mind. When they emerge from the water, they are ready for battle. The Demon Knight receives a simple set of ceremonial armor and their signature axe-blaster and, finally, they are given a group of Demon Soldiers to command.
The axe-blaster is a recent creation. It is an ebon axe, with a small soul crystal at the top of shaft, which can fire arcane bolts of energy. During the reign of the Demon King, the Knight was often armed with a long sword, sometimes enchanted with ebon flame.
The Demon Knights are physically more powerful beings than the Demon Soldiers. They are larger and stronger, but not any faster than the Soldiers. Like the Soldiers, they do not require food, water, air, nor sleep. They show no signs of feeling pain.
The Demon Knights are more intelligent than the Demon Soldiers. They are able to take a broad command, such as, “defend this area”, and formulate the best way to carry out that command. They show initiative and are able to act in a proactive manner. They also have a degree of spontaneity, being able to improvise solutions to complex problems.
The most important ability that Demon Knights have is their ability to command groups of Demon Soldiers. This ability is a mental ability, of an arcane nature, which is not fully understood by our Mages. It allows the Demon Knights to issue commands to a group of Soldiers without having to speak words, and for the Soldiers to understand the commands perfectly.
The result of this ability is that a group of up to ten Demon Soldiers can act as a single entity, moving in concert. This makes the Demon Soldier a much more formidable opponent than when encountered without a Knight. This communication appears to be two-way, and information gathered from all the Soldiers flows back to the Knights. In addition, the Knights are able to impart a degree of organization and restraint that is not innate to the Soldiers. All of this makes the Demon Knight a strong tactical leader (see below).
As we mentioned last time, when a Demon Knight is killed in battle, the loss of their influence is felt by the Demon Soldiers it commands, and they lose their focus and control, often going into a frenzy.
The expanded mind of the Demon Knight comes with trappings that make it more like other sentient creatures, including ourselves. First, each Demon Knight has a degree of individuality – The Forge Master even names them during the uplift process.
The Demon Knight also develops a personality, of about the complexity of an adolescent. They have a small array of emotions: anger, joy, and pride being the most common. Unlike an adolescent, they have far greater emotional control. The combination of individuality and emotion does lead the Demon Knights to have grudges or desire revenge upon foes. They do not have outbursts, they remain restrained behind the control bred into every Demon.
Demon Knights are also the lowest caste of Demons capable of having a conversation; engaging in dialog and discussing ideas. Their conversational abilities run into some barriers when the topics move into areas that are outside the general desire of the Demons, such as freedom or family.
Each Demon Knight is also given a mount from which to lead. This mount is a fiendish spider, which is several hands taller than a Stammiglin horse.
We have not talked about fiends and fiendish creatures yet, but they are best thought of as corruptions of a natural creature. The fiendish spider is a corruption of a Monatobean sand spider, which is frightening in its own right.
With their ability to problem solve and their precise control of their Soldiers, a unit of Demons is highly effective. A Demon Lord coordinates a number of units, allowing a single Lord to keep control of a sizable area.
Demon Knights are sometimes sent alone or with several other Knights to accomplish a mission. These missions are often more targeted, and require a degree of stealth which might not be possible with a unit of Soldiers. When working with other Knights, they are able to sense which Knight is the leader, and they are able to work as a group towards their objective.
The Demon Knight is a powerful creature. It is physically dominating, reasonably intelligent, and emotionally restrained. It is a key component in the Demon armies. The Demon Knight allows for a large number of simple and disposable Demon Soldiers to be turned into an effective fighting force. The Demon Knight’s intelligence and personality allow it to function far from the direct control of the higher castes, allowing the Demons to spread their control outward without expending the more valuable Demon Lords.
Our next lecture will take a look at the Demon Lords, in the same manner we have reviewed the Demon Knight, looking at their creation, their role, and at their arcane abilities.