The Reign of the Demon King
Greetings once again, students. Today’s lecture covers the thirty-year span in Elhal’s history where the Demon King ruled over Elhal. There is no darker time for humans than this period of time. All that was built in the thousand years of the Empire would erode under the dark presence of the Demon King. Left unchecked, it is possible that humanity and all of Elhal would have perished. Today, we will cover what happened to each of the kingdoms.
The Reign of the Demon King
For historical accuracy, we define the Reign of the Demon King starting with the Fall of Inkala in 1032 and ending with the Death of the Demon King by the Great Heroes in 1068. Within this period of time all of the kingdoms of Elhal were ruled by the Demons directly, or their Fiendish puppets. The Demon Kingdom was ruled in a top-down structure where all orders came from the Demon King and passed down to the Demon Princes, and then to the Fiends. Very little in the way of major decisions were left to the local rulers. While in human society this kind of structure often yields corruption or inefficiency, the ability of the Demon King to command the lower castes, and for the higher castes to dominate the lower castes, made this a very efficient system.
For the most part, the Demons left most of the humans alone. They did ban any worship of the All-Father and the practice of Magic, but beyond that, humans were allowed to conduct their normal business. The Demons provided law, a harsh and unforgiving version, and maintained peace through strength in numbers. Where the Demons were present, life was orderly, and reasonably safe. Where the Demons were not present, humans resorted to their more natural instincts. Banditry, warlords, and other forms of human oppression appeared.
The most horrific action the Demons took was the Harvest. While we will cover this in more depth in a later lecture, this was the practice of collecting older children, between ages 11 and 13, to be taken and converted into new Demon Soldiers. The Harvest was performed annually, though it appeared in different parts of Elhal each year.
The Reign of the Demon King was unevenly distributed across Elhal. The Demons’ concern was to control large, concentrated populations of humans, as stock for creating more Demons. As such, the Demons occupied all the major cities of Elhal with large forces. Outside of the cities, where the population was more sparse, the Demons were less visible, often establishing a regional outpost and sending patrols to observe an area. Depending on how remote the area was or how long it took for a patrol to pass through a given area, those areas were less strict to keep the Demon King’s law. Many of those remote areas had underground Churches to the All-Father, or secret Orders of Arcanis. Those that opposed the Demon King found refuge in those remote communities.
Let us now look at how each of the kingdoms fared during this time…
After the Kotkalan rebellion, the Demons removed the royal family by forcing them to breed with the Demon Price Azula, resulting in a caste of Fiends who would grow into the ruling class. The Demons kept forces along the northern coast, where the major cities of Vaasari reside. There they oversaw the fishing of the northern sea, and took the surplus fish to send to Stammiglin.
The Demons would travel to the eastern coast to perform the Harvest, but central Vaasari remained unoccupied by Demon forces. A number of small human settlements remained untouched during the entire Reign, and some of those places were unaware that the Empire had fallen. One of these small towns contained the Kotkalan Princess, Nyssa, who was hidden here by General Chave. She would remain there for most of the Demon King’s reign.
Princess Nyssa will be more important later in our discussion of the Great Heroes.
The Demons occupied eastern Kotkala with a large force. All the cities were occupied, and there were several fortresses in the region. Prince Argus ruled over Inkala and raised his own caste of Fiends to assume control of Kotkala. Much like in Aerlean, all of the Universities were taken over and put under control of the Demons. The Guild Arcanis was destroyed during the fall of Inkala, and all Mages who were captured were executed.
The Demons also controlled the southern-central region, where the grain fields were located. There the Demons ruthlessly controlled the production of grain. This grain was key for Stammiglin’s survival, and the Demons insured that an annual shipment of grain was made each year to the Denos clan.
Northern Kotkala was left unoccupied, with an occasional Harvest occurring every other year. The absence of the Empire and the Demons in this area left it mostly unprotected. This area was prone to being raided in the spring and summer by Orc Slavers, who would travel up the Navlor river and raid the towns which bordered the river and then sail eastward to the Orc lands. More than one town along the river vanished this way.
Western Kotkala was also left unoccupied. There the humans fortified themselves in the great forest, with a network of towns working together in a loose confederation. This confederation was able to coordinate resources and defenses, making the forest a safe area for humans. The region often traded with its Stammiglin neighbors to the south, exchanging wood for iron, and with the northern river region, trading both iron and wood for fish. The Demons would perform the Harvest in this region every few years, with limited success. The forest was home to the Hobson family, who developed a number of techniques for resisting the Demons efforts to collect children.
We will have a chance to meet one of the Hobson’s in a future lecture, when they will talk more about the Harvest and the wonderful work they did to help others resist.
In Stammiglin, the Denos clan continued their rule. Much like most of Stammiglin’s history, the Denos held the major cities, but smaller clans ruled the the mountainside villages scattered throughout the region. The Denos were able to keep control of the other clans through their distribution of Kotkalan grain. The grain was given to the Denos, who then allocated it to the other clans in return for their loyalty.
Stammiglin kept mining iron, but its major efforts were in mining Ebon ore for the Demons. Once a useless ore, and considered bad luck if found while mining, this ore was in high demand by the Demons. The Denos paid highly for Ebon, and the other clans were all too happy to provide it. Mined Ebon was carried to the western coast, and loaded on boats heading for Monatobe.
In the later years of the Demon King’s reign, the Hobgoblin’s would make contact with the Denos and the Demons. They would bring with them the technology for the gun and the blast powder which powers them. The Demons in turn shared with them their form of soul magic. It would take years for the Denos to understand how to manufacture them reliably, but eventually firearms appeared in Stammiglin.
The Demons had also established relations with the Giants. The Demons had corrupted the leader of the Giants, the Jaarl, and used him to allow the Demons to set up a small laboratory in the mountains, near the Giant’s homeland. There, several Demon Lords worked with them in an attempt to demonize Giants. The experiments were successful, and the Demons were able to forge a Giant Knight. By the will of the All-Father, the Great Heroes would intervene, liberating the children of the Jaarl, before they could be demonized. They in turn, freed their father from the Demons’ sway.
That is a story we will discuss in more detail during our discussion of the Great Heroes.
The coastal cities of Monatobe were fully occupied by the Demons, as it was key for the shipment of Ebon from Stammiglin to the Demon Forge. Other trade still occurred in the ports, but it was all overseen by the Demons. Monatobe was also used for the construction of ships for the Demons, allowing them to establish a flow of Ebon between Stammiglin and the Demon Forge, as well as to move fish from Vaasari to Stammiglin.
In the desert, the nomads kept moving between the southern, coastal cities and into western Kotkala. Wood from the Kotkalan forests was traded for cured seafood from the southern ocean. For the most part the Demons remained out of the desert, and did not have any outposts in this central region. The human population was sparse, making Harvests infrequent.
To the north, the Demons kept Ceradome walled off from the world and formed a large fortress around the city. As dangerous as the area was, the faithful would sneak into the fields surrounding the wall, and hurl care packages and words of encouragement to the people of Creadome. Towards the end of the Demon King’s reign, Ceradome would be liberated by the Great Heroes.
The former cradle of the Empire was slowly transformed into the wasteland known as the Demon Lands. The Demon King transformed the former royal palace into something more to his liking. It became a tower of blackened stone, a cruel and inhuman monument. The capital city and the other areas remained mostly intact. The churches to the All-Father were destroyed, and the museums were raided by the Demon Princes and Lords, who took artwork for decoration in their own homes.
The Demon Forge never ceased its production and became the recipient of the annual Harvests, turning out new Demons weekly. The area around the Forge was a staging area with small camps for incoming children and staging grounds for organizing the newly created Demons.
Throughout the Demon Lands, the Demon Prince’s set up their own keeps, called Enshos. Each of those concentrated more Demons into the area and accelerated the blight. The blight killed off all vegetation, but it also caused drastic changes to the landscape and to the people who lived there. A few years after the blight started, children started being born with changes. The changes increased in frequency and severity. By the end of the Demon King’s Reign, those born in the Demon Lands bore its mark, making them distinctly different than humans from other Kingdoms. The humans were not the only creatures effected, flora and fauna were transformed, making the Demon Lands a strange and dangerous place.
Life in the Demon Lands became harsh and desperate. The towns which remained had to combat the strange environment, which fought against producing food. In some cases this lead to desperate measures including cannibalism. In the span of the Demon King’s reign, those who remained in the Demon Lands lived and looked so differently than the humans from the other Kingdoms, that even after the Fall of the Demon King those people chose to remain in the Demon Lands.
The Reign of the Demon King will be known as the worst time in human history. It was a time when humans were mere cattle, a crop to be cultured and harvested. The Demons did not care to see civilization flourish. They did not work to advance the arts or sciences, they let the great trade roads grow over, and they allowed humanity to slide backwards into their instilled tendencies for domination over each other.
In our next lecture, we will look at the major groups and organizations in Elhal and how they fared during the Reign of the Demon King.