Friday, September 30, 2016

Justinian's Demon

Demon - The 'Justinian'

Inspired by:
"And some of those who have been with Justinian at the palace late at night, men who were pure of spirit, have thought they saw a strange demoniac form taking his place. One man said that the Emperor suddenly rose from his throne and walked about, and indeed he was never wont to remain sitting for long, and immediately Justinian's head vanished, while the rest of his body seemed to ebb and flow; whereat the beholder stood aghast and fearful, wondering if his eyes were deceiving him. But presently he perceived the vanished head filling out and joining the body again as strangely as it had left it." - Procopius, The Secret History

Referred to only as a 'Justinian' (its true name unpronounceable, or lost in time) this shape-changer is a possessor and usurper of royalty, and its presence has led to the demise of more than one kingdom or empire.

The demon requires noble blood to posses a soul, albeit one in a weakened state. In its 'natural' state, the demon is relatively weak, but once fortified with a deceased noble, becomes significantly more powerful.  Consequently, the demon is naturally drawn to ailing leaders. The demon lurks along the periphery of plague-bound areas or kingdoms where the leader is known to be sickly or infirm.  Aware that a king or noble will be surrounded by priests, leeches, and wards during times of sickness, the Justinian, in its smoky, ephemeral form, will whisper promises and temptations from the dark until it finds a malleable watcher who may be swayed to let down their guard. With the attendant(s) thus dispatched, and the leader at their weakest, the Justinian will smother the poor soul, consuming the body and replacing it, effecting a "miraculous" cure.

The Justinian, in the guise of the noble, embraces its new, energetic "lease on life." Observers in the court will notice a marked change in their "noble's" behavior.  The leader now appears charged with nervous energy, barely sleeping, if at all.  Their actions become chaotic and often contradictory. These actions are also driven by greed, and the "noble" effects new taxes and decrees to seize properties of the unfortunate rich or perceived political foes.  The funds go to pointless wars and expansions of territory, or the construction of hubris-driven edifices and public works.  More than one kingdom has been bankrupted by this demon's depredations.  However, the demon is prideful, will surround itself with fawning sycophants, and may be influenced by charming speech and flattery.

The demon is likewise fatigued by its efforts to hold the form of the usurped royal, and will, in the dark of night, momentarily relax its form, becoming insubstantial for up to one hour, the illusion wavering to any prying eyes.

(S&W stats):
Incorporeal: HD 6; AC: 2 [18]; Atk suffocate (1d4+1d4/round until save); Move 12; Save 11; AL C; CL/XP 8/1,000; Special: +1 or better weapon to hit, magic resistance (10%)
Corporeal: HD 8; AC: 6 [13]; Atk (2) fists (1d8) or by weapon; Move 12; Save 10; AL C; CL/XP 10/1,400; Special: +1 or better weapon to hit, immune to disease and poison, magic resistance (20%)

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