Astral demons... These are words which strike fear into the hearts of even the most courageous and valiant warriors. These horrifying creatures from the depths of the Deep Astral are harbingers of death, chaos and destruction.
The cause of their sudden appearance remains a great mystery, lost to the annals of time. The wisest of the allods have strived to uncover this secret for centuries without success. All that is known is that the demons target the Great Mages, and the allods they protect within their shields.
Information about these creatures is rare, and often embellished in the retelling. All that is known with certainty is that they inhabit the deepest reaches of the Astral, which nourishes them. Outside of this Astral, their protective cocoon, the demons weaken becoming susceptible to attacks.
They do not appear to be intelligent, but that does not mitigate the unwonted damage they cause. Their combat tactics are straightforward, and they will attempt to overwhelm their enemies with numbers and sheer force, rather than with tactics. They first appeared during the battle of Kirah, washing the battlefield with terror and panic.
Both factions, distracted by the war between them, suffered massive losses, and many Great Mages perished, sending their allods into the abyssal Astral. The Mages that were left struggled to cling to what land was left. After the onslaught had ended, boundaries were redrawn and old feuds re-examined. Kirah was hardest hit, with so many of both the League and Empire falling to the demonic foe. It seems almost as if the demons had planned their invasion such that both factions fell before them in one well-time attack.
In the year 930, the demons staged another invasion. While much less powerful than the previous assault, it seemed that the demons were testing the defences put in place by the allods’ inhabitants. Allied against this common enemy, the League and Empire defences held, and the invasion was repelled. Instead of retreating back into the depths of the Astral, however, the demons remained, wandering the Astral shores and attacking those ships foolish enough to approach.
Over the next three decades, the Astral demons grew in number and so too did the number of their cultish followers.
With powerful and relentless enemies upon their gates, the leaders of the League and Empire realised that only through a united front would they be able to overcome the next, inevitable invasion. The Great Mage Skrakan was among them; having faced the first demon in 576, he knew the reasons for their appearance were buried in the ancient histories of Sarnaut. His suspicions were finally confirmed when he discovered a book written by the Great Mage Tka-Rik, the last of the lost Junes.
For thousands of years, Tka-Rik was the Great Mage of a small, lost allod called Gipat. Living a hermit’s he shunned the companionship of the others on his allods, and of the Great Mages. He faced the demons alone, and failed. Mortally wounded, he contacted Skrakan and told him of the book he had written in his solitude: “Revelations on the Nature of Sarnaut.” It would later be known as “The Revelation of Tka-rik.”
The book, he told Skrakan, could be located on Gipat. Tka-rik had spent his life shielding the ruins there, and he strove to shield them still after his death. As he lay dying, Gipat was torn apart, the northern and western lands ripped into the Astral and consumed. Only a small allod remained, protected by the Will of Tka-rik, and that was where Skrakan sent his troops to search. In the year 965, a League ship finally stumbled upon the tiny, virtually unknown allod and the captain led an expedition deep into the ruins. Within a few weeks, the Revelations were delivered to Skrakan and he was astonished at what he found inside:
I am the last of the Junes, and it is long past time for me to repent of my sins. Two thousand years before the Great Cataclysm shattered our world, the Great Mages of our civilisation opened a door to another world. They were seeking power and authority, and they found a world filled with a primordial pulse of energy that would give us what we required. We used that energy and from that place the demons, our Curse, came forth. It harboured within it the pure, elemental spirits of Evil and Destruction.
We were taken by surprise, when they came. The Great Mages of the Junes, myself among them, managed to close the gates, but we were too late. Those who had broken through the barrier wreaked havoc on my nation: killing men, women and children wherever they dwelt.
For hundreds of years we hunted the demons, but we were ourselves hunted. Our eventual victory cost us dearly, the Junes were all but annihilated and we hid their fate from those who came into our lands later.
When the Great Cataclysm broke the world, the shielding spells were weakened, and the gates reopened. I understood once I saw the Astral swallowing great swathes of Sarnaut: the Astral itself was the primordial pulse, the energy that fuelled their world and the demons themselves.
I ran to Gipat, and I hid. My cowardice fed my silence, I was afraid to shoulder the blame of my nation and so I failed to raise the alarm about the demonic threat.
Three hundred years ago I fought another Astral demon alongside Zak, my final companion. Now he is dead, and I am the last of the Junes. When the demons attacked again in Umoira, I knew my course.
I cannot keep this secret any longer. The Fall of the Junes must no longer remain a mystery, their crime must be revealed. The Astral demons will remain, and they will strike again.
The last page of “The Revelations of Tka-rik” was hastily written, obviously in the final moments of the Mage’s life.
Skrakan, I believe you will find this book. The demons invaded our world through a portal that must be shut again. The Junes have left nothing but a devastating legacy in their wake, and for that, I am deeply sorry…
Skrakan brought “The Revelations of Tka-rik” public, and as understanding dawned, the conflict between the League and Empire melted away. The name of the Junes became as a curse, and all races realised the need for unity was great. A great campaign would venture forth to meet the demonic threat.
The year of 966 is best remembered for the meeting of Skrakan and Nezeb, who signed the famous treaty. Ships from both great nations were sent forth to discover the gates and, once the gates were discovered, a great, united armada stretched across the astral as the armies made their way to seal them forever.
Both nations backed the campaign without inhibition. They amassed an army the likes of which had never been seen. Great Mage upon Great Mage, both the old and wizened, and the young and fresh, stood upon the bridges of gallant Astral ship. Skrakan and Nezeb led this mighty force, and left behind Aidenus and Yasker to watch over their cities.
Approaching the ships, they faced fierce opposition from the demons before them. Soldiers from both sides fell, but the force was unstoppable. At last they reached the Junes’ Gate, and the armies held the demons at bay while Skrakan and Nezeb struggled to complete the ritual. Time and time again they failed, but they persisted until at last, the great portals slammed shut. The victory, however, was double-edged.
Those waiting back at home saw the ships on the horizon and cheered. Their heroes had returned and they were victorious. It was only when the ships approached the port, and the great, black sails could be seen clearly, that the mourning began.
When the gates closed, all those who stood upon the allod perished. And all those ships above the allod were swallowed in a great Astral storm, only those at the edges of the battle managed to escape. But the loss of so many lives preserved so many others. With the gates closed, the threat of the Astral demons began to dissipate. While they still thrive in Astral space, they are not nearly so powerful or numerous as they once were.