The Demon Soldier
Today we continue on where we last left off , and now focus on the Demon Solider. Of all the Demons, the solider is the most iconic, because of their sheer numbers. Every person who lived during the reign of the Demon King has encountered a Demon Soldier. Today, we will take a closer look at the origins and some of the more unique aspects of the Demon Solider.
As we have talked about in the past, the Demon Soldier is created from a human through a process called Demonization. The first Demon Soldiers were created from Imperial soldiers, who were conscripted into the process. It was Ebnus who created the arcane-mechanical process we call Demonization. It requires specialized machinery, soul crystals, ebon ore, and human subjects.
The Demon Forge is the name given to the apparatus used to create Demon Soldiers. Over the years, there have been different designs. The original forge, which Ebnus used before the Fall of the Empire, was located inside a cave.
The location of this original forge has never been discovered, and there is concern that it may be in use today, creating new Solders.
At the height of the Demon King’s reign, the Demon Forge was a four-story tower of black stone, capable of creating hundreds of Demon Soldiers per day. The forge ran at peak capacity in the winters, after the Harvest (see below), but was active to some degree year round. The Demon Forge was in use until King Arion attacked it in the Winter of 1068, when it was captured by the humans and shut down. It has since been dismantled.
It was during the time of the dismantling that arcane scholars were able to study and determine the Demonization process.
Regardless of the location, the overall process of Demonization has not changed. The steps of the process are:
The subjects are restrained and placed in the forge. A ritual is cast by a Demon Lord, known as the Forge Master, activating an empty soul crystal inside the chamber. The ritual removes the soul of the human from their body, leaving a living shell. The souls collected are siphoned off and collected in storage crystals, to be used to power other arcane rituals.
As the souls are being extracted, ebon ore is heated in a furnace until it becomes a gas. After the souls have been removed from the subjects, the ebon gas is pumped into the chamber and the Forge Master casts another ritual. This ritual causes the body to become infused with the ebon gas. The ritual and the reaction to the ebon gas creates the Demon Soldier’s bodies as we have come to understand them.
The Forge Master then casts a third ritual which requires the essence of the Demon King, stored in a soul crystal. The ritual takes a small amount of the Demon King’s soul energy and places it inside the Demon Solider. This is what gives the Demon life, intelligence, and an unbendable obedience to the Demon King.
Modern arcane scholars are not sure if the final ritual requires the essence of the Demon King, or if the essence of a Demon Prince would satisfy the ritual. If the essence of a Demon Prince is usable, then it is possible for the creation of new Demons.
The newly created soldier is still hot to the touch, and is somewhat fragile at this point, as their ebon infused carapace has not fully set. The soldiers are then carefully removed from the forge and taken to the cooling baths, where they are submerged in a mixture of water and minerals and allowed to set. The process takes several days.
At the end of the annealing, the Demon Soldier is removed from the baths a fully formed and functional soldier. They require no training, nor education. Their signature scimitar is placed in their hand, and they are grouped into units to be placed under the command of a Demon Knight.
The Demonization process is demanding on the host body. The strain of the rituals can kill a weaker human. The most common reason for death of a host, though, was the soul extraction. The Demon Lords came to discover that the older a person was, the more rooted their soul was to their physical form. Thus, older subjects were more prone to die during the first ritual. At the same time, the infusion process has its own demands and bodies which are too weak are destroyed during infusion.
The original subjects, the Imperial Soldiers, were less than ideal subjects for soul extraction, but had bodies which held up to infusion. To increase efficiency, the Demon Lords determined that the ideal subjects for demonization were teenagers between the ages of 12 to 17; youthful enough for soul extraction and hardy enough to withstand infusion.
In order to obtain the ideal subjects, human towns throughout Elhal were required to present all their children in the desired age range, so that the most fit could be selected for demonization. This process became known as The Harvest.
Annually, in the summer, the Demons would select different regions in the Four Kingdoms and send a group of Demon Lords and associated troops to the region to perform The Harvest. The process would take several months, as each town in the selected region would be visited, and subjects selected. The subjects would then be taken by cart or boat to the Demon Forge.
Initially, we humans resisted The Harvest. Why would we not? The Demons responded by slaughtering the entire town, every living person killed. It only took a few years before our collective spirit was broken, and we learned to submit.
Not everyone submitted. The most famous of all those who resisted were the Hobson’s, a family from Western Kotkala, who attacked various Harvest camps and liberated as many children as they could. While they were never able to end the Harvest, they gave hope. Their story is one we will talk about in length, and will be told by a special guest lecturer.
The Harvest had a psychological effect on several generations. The most obvious is that family sizes grew during the reign of the Demon King. Families were apt to have more children, in hopes that even if some were selected for The Harvest, others would survive. Also, children were treated more like adults, so that by the time they were of age for the Harvest, there was a degree of emotional separation between the parents and the children. It is believed by some scholars that this emotional distance allowed the parents to not see their children as dependent on someone who could not protect them. Years later, we see both of these behaviors persisting in today’s society.
The Demon Soldier is a simple creature. It possess a basic intelligence that is capable of following simple directions. It lacks any originality or forethought. They are able to speak our common language, though their speech is stilted.
They are also emotionally unstable, and prone to outbursts of violence when confused. This is tempered by the Demon Knight’s ability to command them.
The Demon frenzy is a term that human warriors coined about the change in tactics Demon Soldiers have when the Demon Knights who control them are killed in battle. The remaining Demon Soldiers lose their battle coherence and begin to strike wildly. Depending on the tenor of the battle, this can be a good or bad thing.
Like all demons, the Demon Soldier has an armored carapace which is resistant to attacks in a fashion similar to chain armor. Because they are no longer a living creature, they do not breathe, sleep, feel fear, hunger or thirst.
They are able to see in the dark, but not as well as they can in the light. This and their lack of sleep allows them to attack in the dead of night or during the day.
The Demon Soldier does not have a unique personality. They are simple imprints of the Demon King. Because of this, Demon Soldiers do not have names. If referred to out loud, they are called Soldier. Higher Demon castes have the ability to single out Demon Soldiers through some kind of mental ability, related to their control over them.
The Demon Soldier is the basic infantryman of the Demon army. They are always on foot, unless being transported by a Demon Lord. They do not use ranged weapons, favoring their ebon scimitars, or their clawed hands.
The Demon Soldier is used for all manner of tasks, from basic combat to manual labor. They are interchangeable and disposable. A Demon never mourns the loss of a Demon Soldier. The Demons will attempt to solve a problem by applying more Demon Soldiers to it, before they look for more original ideas.
The Demon Soldiers are the most basic of all the Demons, but are nevertheless terrifying in their own right. They are a corrupted mirror of ourselves, and represent the perversion of youth and vitality. Their existence mocks all that we cherish in both youth and freedom.
In our next lecture, we will move to the Demon Knight, the most fearsome combatant on the battlefield. We will see how a Demon Knight is created, and why they strike fear into the hearts of all warriors.