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Naztherak The Mortal Princes Primer: https://www.lordofthecraft.net/forums/topic/146136-inferis-the-demons-among-men/ Image credit to Halycon 450 on DA. “Of all that crawl and fly through the world we call our own and the many beyond, none are as foul to the very core of their spirit as the wretched Inferis. Any who might see themselves lording above such putridity are infinitely blacker of heart and soul.” To harness and control chaos is a charge oxymoronic by its very nature, though not entirely impossible. It is a means to an end for those willing, and often those willing are ambitious enough to walk down a path as crooked as the Naztherak’s, the mortal Princes of the Inferis. Among the beasts of chaos known as the Inferis there is an upper echelon made up of the Greater Inferis who have clawed their way to power among the tumult of their kin. They are known in their foul tongue as the Zentherak, or ‘Prince’, for the lesser Inferis they subjugate along their climb to power all become part of their Court. The Court is the Prince’s personal warband, an army of enslaved Inferi at their command who do their bidding, albeit begrudgingly and only out of necessity to survive. They find their way into the Prince’s service through a ritual sometimes called The Branding where the Prince subjugates a lesser Inferis by giving the creature a name. To those unaware of the extent of their nature, such a trivial method of binding might be scoffed at. However, the Inferi are beings of unbridled Chaos who reject even the slightest institution of order and forcibly giving one a name, accompanied by scrawling the name upon parchment using a particular kind of ink made with an infusion of Maleus, a soul-based energy that the most knowledgeable among the Greater Inferi are capable of producing. Where Essence is the unpalpable material that serves as the clay for a mortal Soul, Maleus is the chaotic and unlawful substance that makes up the Infernal Soul. Princes collect it by draining fragments and portions from the Inferis of their Court, but are also capable of warping clean Essence and simply exposing it to a prior-existing pool of Maleus, most often kept in a personal container most often fashioned as some sort of lantern or lamp. It aids them in a variety of rituals and spells, including the conjuration of chaotic, soul-burning flame, manifesting the physical avatars of the Inferis of their Court, or afflicting another with the roil of Chaos. The Naztherak Image credit goes to Aleksi Bricot. Ambition is an immense force of the heart: capable of banishing away all fear and rationalities for the chance of realizing one’s desires. Ambitious are the Naztherak, meaning ‘False Prince’ in the Chaotic tongue, the mortal souls who seek to claim themselves Princes of their own Courts just like the Infernal Zentherak before them. They do, however, lack some of the qualities and abilities that a full-fledged Inferis has but this does not do much to impede the willing warlock. Rules have their loopholes and solutions, and the Naztherak are masters of these. All Princes take up a Malice upon the beginning of their path. The Malice is a driving aspect of the Prince's newfound nature and grows much more exaggerated within their personality and person as their power and their Court grows. The Inferi under the Prince's binding are slightly affected in their behavior and disposition as well, but most prominent is a change in the properties of the Prince's sorcery itself (expanded upon later). The known Malices are as follows: Havoc, Lies, Revolt, Temptation, Woe, Desolation, Agony, and Madness. A Princes styles themselves after the Malice they take up, leading to titles such as 'Prince of Lies', 'Prince of Madness', and so on. Maleus A foul energy composed entirely of warped Soul Essence, Maleus is an essential ingredient in just about all of the Prince’s practices. Its formation is something mostly non-autonomous, as all Infernal Souls are composed of it in its entirety and their creation is an unnatural accident and a result of Chaotic corruption. Thusly, the claimed soul of an Inferis is a fertile source of it, albeit finite for unlike the Mortal Soul, the Inferis’ does not replenish itself making the fate of becoming a Prince’s source of fuel a death sentence. A Prince who binds an Inferis to their will (elaborated later) are capable of sacrificing a bound servant and depositing their broken-down Maleus into their personal container for it, known as a Cistern. The Cistern is an object that can be opened and closed with ease, personally chosen and fashioned by the Naztherak for use. It is prepared to store Maleus through a simple ritual where the object is filled to its brim with the blood of a freshly-slain Inferis and then allowed to stagnate over the course of three days’ time until it is ready for containment. Maleus has no tangible volume, and so the amount the Cistern can hold is hypothetically infinite; however, it bears no outstanding material properties by itself so it can be smashed or destroyed with relative ease which results in all the stored Maleus simply dissipating with nothing to host it any longer. It can also be used for the creation of new Maleus from pure Soul Essence. It can be deposited into the Cistern by the Prince from slain animals, plants, and Superior Souls scorched by Malflame (elaborated on later). Once the Prince has a sufficient amount of Maleus stored up, they may draw it out and infuse it into any simple, ichorous substance (such as ink or even blood for the more macabre) in order to create what is known in the Chaotic tongue as Rakir; the ink with which all princes, True or False, scribe their spells within their Grimoires. Red Lines -Maleus ceases to exist outside of an Inferis or the Cistern, vanishing in vibrant sparks if it ever leaves either uncontained. -Any substance that can be drawn/painted with can be infused with Maleus to create Rakir. Malflame and the Grimoire “Studious are the princes, always carrying such large books around with them.” The most formidable tool in the Prince’s arsenal is their Grimoire, a seemingly innocuous tome whose pages bear unearthly power. The Prince is both its keeper and its author, the pages blank at the beginning of their path and becoming filled with incantations, runes, and the names of the Prince’s Court all written with the Rakir of their own making. Each page is hand-bound to the book by the Prince, the parchment needing to be treated within a basin of Inferis blood in order to give it the necessary properties to hold a scrawling of Rakir. A rune scrawled onto a page of the Grimoire is capable of unleashing the chaotic energy nested within the Maleus used in the Rakir’s creation in the form of a violent, combustive fire known as Malflame. It is the raw stuff of chaos, Infernal magic incarnate and manifested in a form befitting their burning nature. It blazes with vibrant, unnatural hues depending entirely upon their scribe: shades of violet, sickly green, putrescent pink, and other similarly blinding colors have all been observed among embers of Malflame. It does not bear the heat and glow of light that worldly fire exudes and it is incapable of setting things alight or warming another. Instead, Malflame directly attacks the soul; it ignites the portion of the soul blueprint where upon it struck the victim, and then inflicts agonizing pain that wracks the body at that point and ebbs at the flesh leaving it blackened, sickly and burning with the Flame’s afterglow. A burning wound inflicted by Malflame is also a source of Maleus for the Prince. It flakes and drifts away from a scorched soul quite like ash. Slow-searing immolations leave Maleus plentiful to be harvested, while more violent and impactful uses of Malflame don't leave much behind. The Inferi are capable of conjuring it with ease, but for one not possessing an Infernal Soul, the process is much trickier and necessitates the Prince scribing a spell within their Grimoire that in the Chaotic tongue describes the Malflame’s purpose. Once the Rakir’s message has dried the Prince is capable of using their mana to draw out the spell’s power from the page and then expel it towards their desired target. A Prince can be quite creative with the Flame: their only limits are the inherent properties it already bears, and the time and effort needed to draw out larger portions of it. Conjurations, immolations, bolts, whips, and firestorms are all possible, along with a plentiful variety of other spells. Malflame needs to touch bare flesh in order to start singing. It has no effect against cloth and armor bearing no kinetic force by itself and simply dissipates into smoke and sparks, so the use of the Prince's Court is essential to opening up areas of opportunity for striking the foe. Additionally, the chosen Malice of the Prince, once they reach Tier 3 of their learning, begins to offer them unique effects they may apply to certain written spells with their Malflame befitting their chosen inclination of discord. Each Malice has a correlative effect that stacks on top of the Malflame's initial effects, as follows: Havoc: Malflame casted can gain kinetic, solid properties, causing it to collide with solid surfaces and ricochet off of them with force. The weakest infusions will bounce just once, and the strongest (needing much more time to prepare) can sometimes continue ricocheting until they make contact with an exposed body and begin to burn. Lies: Victims struck will feel the compulsion to speak and answer dishonestly for a period of time ranging with the severity of the spell. The simplest of spells will simply result in the afflicted feeling the need to answer basic yes or no questions untruthfully, but larger and longer burns of Malflame can gradually warp their perception of the truth to the point of blatant dishonesty. At maximum potency, the affliction lasts for a day. Revolt: A Prince of Revolt's Malflame has altogether explosive qualities when imbued. It can shatter and burst on impact with a surface, and the Prince's Inferi can even be violently sacrificed by being lit with Malflame and then sent to quite literally explode. Temptation: A spell imbued with this Malice will leave the victim feeling an innate compulsion to pursue something of their immediate desire. This can manifest in many different ways and simply varies with the personality of the afflicted person: some might immediately hound after it, while others might just grow vocally obsessed. The severity and duration of the compulsion also increases with the size and power of the spell. At its most potent, the victim will remain compelled for a day. Woe: Another psychological invocation, the Malflame of Woe will cause a resurgence of particularly sad and melancholic memories within the afflicted's conscious along with a subtle sense of depression that grows more and more dreadful with the spell's power. One of the shorter-term afflictions, its effects wear off after about four hours with the strongest of attacks. Desolation: Perhaps the strangest of all the Malices, one afflicted by Malflame imbued with Loss will find their short-term memory becoming increasingly hazy and unfocused as their soul continues to burn. Memory is impossible to erase entirely, but the most powerful of spells can leave someone entirely catatonic with forgetfulness and nearly amnesiac for about a day. Agony: The most straightforward, Malflame imbued with Agony inflicts exaggerated pain upon the point of contact. The actual damage being caused is unaffected, simply the sensation of suffering. A well-charged attack will also cause those within 3 yards of the afflicted (the Prince included!) to suffer mutually in pain with the victim. Madness: The most dangerous to the victim and the Prince themselves, one afflicted with Madness begins to experience odd compulsions to act out violently. As the size of the Malflame spell increases, so does the severity of the compulsion, burning until the victim abandons all rationality and starts to wildly lash out at everything nearby regardless of friend or foe. The effects last roughly an hour. The effects of Malflame are all easily expunged with exposure to holy magic of any sort. The soul-burning and even the physical wounding can also be halted by methods of physical healing directed at the point of ‘burning’. All mortal wielders of Malflame suffer from an inevitable crippling of the form, strength and muscle atrophying quite similarly to one connected to the Void. Under normal circumstances, the Malflame would also burn and rot the hand used to draw it from the page’s notation but Princes are able to etch a sigil into the back of their casting-hand using the Rakir that provides protection from its destructive effects on the body. Red Lines -Malflame isn’t hot. It can’t light things on fire, it doesn’t provide warmth or light, and it cannot be held or contained. -Malflame must be drawn and casted using the sigil-inscribed hand, else the hand will suffer the same fate as any other flesh struck by it. -Malflame cannot be moved or manipulated beyond the form it was initially cast in. -Malflame doesn't burn through cloth or armor and needs to hit skin or body. -Casting a spell from the Grimoire necessitates an emote to begin drawing it from the page, and then the emotes required vary with the nature and size of the spell. Immolations and fireballs can be expelled the emote immediately after they are drawn from the Grimoire, but these attacks are roughly fist-sized. Anything larger necessitates additional emotes of charge. A full-body immolation takes five uninterrupted actions to draw out the full power of the spell and then expel it upon the victim, but these immolations will burn the soul to death rather swiftly and painfully. -Imbuing a spell with your Malice necessitates an additional emote of charge from the norm. -Malflame that ignites the body will continue to burn and scorch until the affected area has nothing left to burn through and degrade, or halted through other means. The speed this occurs at varies with the size (and thusly emotes necessary) of the spell. It will not spread beyond the area impacted. The Court Image credit to Wizards of the Coast. “Even under the shackles of slavery, the minions of chaos cannot resist the delight of a party.” The Prince makes their Court, and the Court makes the Prince. They are only as powerful as the subjugated Inferi beneath them, and so all Princes strive for only the greatest to call their minions. To bind one to their will, the Prince must utilize their Grimoire and their Rakir. These come together in the ritual of The Branding where the Prince physically (or magically, depending on their preferred method of combat) subdues the Inferis, tethers them with a rudimentary Grimoire spell called Shackle that establishes a blazing chain of Malflame between the Prince and the Inferis, and then connects this to a rune upon a blank page of their Grimoire before they bestow a new name upon the creature by writing it out with fresh Rakir. The Inferis’ soul is thusly sealed to the rune and their physical avatar broken down, ready to be re-manifested by the Prince in the same spellcasting manner as their Malflame. Though the very nature of their creation and being is chaotic and does not abide by the rules of nature, there are 3 distinct classifications that can be broadly applied to the shape and power of the Lesser Inferis and then a 4th for the Greater Inferis. They are as follows: I. Zevn, ‘Imps’ Image credit goes to Jesper Eising. Rather common; all pint-sized Inferi fall under this category, regardless of their outward appearance. Their stature is the deciding factor in their labelling as Zevn, or ‘Imps’. The largest of Imps have been known to grow to a size of roughly three feet tall. Most retain some humanoid qualities in their shape, though entirely bestial forms are not unheard of for Inferi of their size. Some might have wings, making them capable of brief bouts of flight, albeit never enough to carry them to great heights or long distances. Imps themselves are capable of rudimentary Malflame conjuring, often in the form of coin-sized fireballs or gusts of blazing breath. A few are dextrous enough to wield simple rudimentary weaponry like clubs and maces. They are the first type of Inferis a Prince will learn to bind to their will, and despite their altogether basic nature in the hierarchy of their kin they are not without their uses, especially en masse. They possess small amounts of intelligence and their behavior is often mischievous and spiteful without much deliberative intention behind their acts of wanton havoc and cruelty. II. Zekul, ‘Beasts’ Image credit to Blizzard Entertainment. Less common than their smaller brethren, Zekul are all sorts of Inferis that take somewhat bestial or animalistic forms. They behave as they appear, though some semblance of intelligence isn’t impossible. Their size and shape varies quite dramatically, with the largest known to be the same size as the largest of the world’s common animals. Steed-like Inferis can make for wild, albeit powerful mounts if kept properly bridled and subjugated. Zekul are capable of Malflame like any other though lack the means to throw it magically, instead opting to spew it or simply let it burn off of their forms. They are more difficult than Zevn to subdue and bind and make for an intermediary addition to the Prince’s Court. III. Zar’ei, ‘Twisted Ones’ The rarest and most frightening to behold of the Lesser Inferis, the Zar’ei are the wretched souls who retain the largest portion of their former mortality after their chaotic transformation. They are thusly the most intelligent, making them difficult to subdue and bind like the other Lessers as they are formidable fighters and crafty thinkers. All Zar’ei take on a recognizably humanoid shape despite their corruption and mutations and are capable of using Malflame to a much further extent than the others, sometimes conjuring firestorms or throwing large bolts at their foes. Their new forms also grant them varying capabilities, some bearing wings and others tails, many limbs, and a plethora of other possible developments. IV. Zar’kiel, ‘Twisted Lords’, or Greater Inferis Image credit to Peter Mohrbacher. “The foul kings of their kind, with hunger befitting their lordship. I would pray with all my heart I never come face to face with one.” The apex of the Infernal form, the Zar’kiel are the most powerful of all the Inferi. They have consumed enough mortal souls to grow to massive stature and strength, both physical and magical, and are terrifying things to behold. The greatest among them are the Zentherak, the true Princes of the Infernal Courts, and they hold reign over their own bands of Inferi. To subdue one of the Zar’kiel is no task to scoff at, unlike the Lessers of their kind: They are cunning and capable of great feats of sorcery, both of the Malflame and even of normally-mortal arts. That being said, the Zar’kiel have a mutual understanding of the power nested within mortal sorcerers as well, and can at times be coaxed into contracts. Often the Lord will ask for a favor from the would-be Prince, and if completed, will agree to let their name be scrawled within the Grimoire for a one-time use. Of course, the Prince may simply opt to combat and subjugate the Zar’kiel instead, and if successful, will be able to add them to their Court. The Zentherak themselves, however, are not so easily goaded. Their terms of contraction are much more severe. It is common for them to request something dear and precious to their person: perhaps a limb, their sight, or for the most powerful and egotistical among the Zentherak the contractor’s soul in return for their aid. Just like the lesser Zar’kiel, too, a Prince may simply try to defeat the Zentherak in combat which is a titanic feat. They hold control of their own Courts and sorceries and fight with unearthly strength, but the reward for subduing one is ineffable. A Prince may bind a subdued Zentherak to their Court’s service, or they may choose a far darker path and consume the soul and skull of the fallen Inferis and undergo Metamorphosis. Image credit to Peter Mohrbacher. The Princes who consume a true Zentherak are forevermore bound to lead cursed half-lives as Zar’akal, ‘Twisted Kings’, or Archprinces. Their souls become warped with the raw, unabated Maleus of the Inferis they devoured and they take on physical mutations similar to the ones the Inferis had. They become physically susceptible to all forms of Holy magic and can even be harmed more heavily by Shamans due to the nature of the dark spirit that has fused with them. With this corruption comes new boons, however: no longer do they require the inscriptions of the Grimoire for their Malflame’s casting and can conjure it from their very being. They gain the Malice of the Prince they devoured, opening up opportunities for new effects for their Malflame. Gone also is the physical degradation of the form that results in manipulating Malflame, and the Zar’akal additionally become self-sustaining sources of Maleus and only need their Cistern for large amounts of it. Redlines: -The first two tiers of Inferis can be ‘self-roleplayed’ in their capture and need no outside help. -Zar’ei need an ET or LT to roleplay them during their capture, and afterward a normal player may submit a CA to play the Zar’ei in the service of the Prince. The Zar’ei’s underlying race is Necrolyte. -Zar’kiel need an ET or LT to roleplay them during their capture and in the service of the Prince if such is required. They need a CA as well and if the applied player ever departs either team then the application can simply be passed on hereditarily. -The summoning of an Inferis from the Court necessitates one emote to draw the magic from their inscribed name in the Grimoire and then face succeeding emotes depending on the size and classification of the Inferis. Imps may be formed with one more. Beasts take anywhere from two to four: hound and dog-sized needing the least, and creatures the size of bears needing the most. Zar'ei need four, themselves, and Zar'kiel need five. Afterward they may function as normal, though at first they may face some disorientation if summoned by amateur Naztherak. -Inferis’ appearances can vary greatly and is mostly up to the Prince whose Court they belong to, though the source of their formation (see: Inferis lore) has an effect on their appearance. -The Zentherak can only be encountered and interacted with by T5 Naztherak, and need an ET or LT to play them. Due to their powerful and unique nature, however, there are a limited number: 5 to begin with, kept in a private document. A written submission must be sent to the LT overseeing the document describing the name, appearance, power, and other possible details of any new Zentherak. -Zar’akal need a CA to be played. The underlying race is Necrolyte. Authorship: Archangel_Avacyn, Core concept and writing KnghtArtorias, Consultation and ideas Aelesh, Consultation and ideas Swgrclan and Hellfiaz, Creators of Inferis lore Changelog: 5/15/17 + Added Malices and their effects on Malflame. + Malflame now generates Maleus. +Added description of Malflame's weaknesses. - Removed Afflictions. - Removed Inscription. - Removed Soul exhaustion. Magic update: Teleporting Malflame is no longer possible. Teaching update: Tier 5 users can teach (via TA application).