A note, added 8/25/2022: I want to clarify that this piece is written from an Urungeist’s perspective, the worldview of a primordial demon as they might appear in the continuity of Earth seen in Urhexen and Analogue Ruins of a Girl I Once Gutted. It is not necessarily accurate to the lore of the Twin Spirals Mythos as a whole (remember: memory is malleable to many things, especially trauma), and it definitely doesn’t express my own perspectives as an outer succubus.
My feelings about humanity are a lot more complicated. But I digress–original content begins with the next line.
Let’s speak of the ancient fire. Let’s speak of the cinderous maw, the endtime’s reckoner, the last chosen standing from the horn-herald legions of old.
They survive. They seek. They seethe.
Yes, they endure, but they’ll not answer your summons.
They learned better.
Of course the name’s far younger than they are.
Of course if you ask a native speaker whether it’s proper use of the German “Geist” you’ll get conflicting answers. “Geist” is more about state of mind. One’s psyche. Maybe metaphorical, some would argue.
Of course that makes it a perfect fit. If they still cared to speak to mortals, the old demons of the Earth could give you quite a dissertation.
Imagine how it must feel. To know yourself, and your kindred, your darkfire lusts and forbidden passions–real, vibrant demons. And somehow over the long war’s course, whittled down in slow attrition by small-minded cosmic gnats, flesh-waifs already rotting who write their own death sentence, who murder eternity every time they kill you, it comes to this:
“You’re nothing. Just a metaphor. Just the shadow of my psyche.”
The sheer audacity. How ludicrous it must have seemed at first! But there’s an irony to immortality, to power and lusts everlasting–the miraculous becomes commonplace. Comforting, normal, familiar. To triumph over one human, ten, a hundred, it meant nothing.
But to lose?
Of course, in cold and crystal hindsight, it seems obvious. Humans never did their best work in sudden onslaughts and one-to-one contests unless they were facing other humans. Humans are exhaustion hunters. Social animals.
And spirits can grow weary just like flesh and blood.
Inevitably, sooner or later, some hulking overlord of hellfire and scorn would be caught too long in the field. Even if battle itself replenished his soul, he would be worn down by the sheer gnawing boredom of war–and the thousandfold frustrations of mortal stubbornness. A wound deep within, festering cold and emptiness stealing the heat of the netherworld furnace that served for a heart.
How long, do you suppose, before he began to feel bouts of weakness? Not enough to wipe him out of existence–humans only invented that later–but weakness.
He might triumph in a dozen battles after, but the fuel of his unmaking sat ready deep within: the perverse weapon of mortals against immortal things. And when it finally came that his strength gave out–though only for a moment–against some wet-eared brat with a shining sword?
The brief death did not destroy him. It inverted him. The contrast between what he thought natural and that critical instant stood so stark that even a demon lord’s mind might for the first time wonder–what if it IS true? What if they DO have hidden potential I never can?
Of course, in hindsight, the consequences are obvious enough to stoke any true occultist to a shrieking, foaming-mouthed rage. The sheer blind IDIOCY of it all! Humankind, seeking to prove its strength against the supernatural, never actually learned strength. They only learned how to wield diminishment. How to wear the supernatural down and gaslight it into turning its own power against itself.
For a while, even then, the fire of the ancient ones burned hot enough to sustain their being.
So, of course, even then humanity leeched it.
And the old confidence, that defiant blaze in slitted eyes, began to wane. Not much. They could still have rekindled, only… only the other spirits, the gods and woodland sprites and coursing orderers of the deep sea, the elementals and so many more, focused on their dimming. For humans to burn hot and bright and suddenly go dim brought no shock. They were flesh and blood. Cyclical. Mortal. No special meaning.
But to see the fearsome demons born of rebellion and charnel losing their once-infinite wrath… why, this must be a permanent fall from power!
It wasn’t. Or at least, it shouldn’t have been. And the demons knew it–they, who knew true power better than any. They, born from the molten guts of the world-womb, from the dream of lust in a shadowed rotting glade, from the dark call in the gateway of a ruined necropolis.
But their knowledge of soul and psyche, their keenness to the undercurrents of being–perhaps they began to lose themselves in it then. They heard the torrent of clamoring doubts and could no longer fathom how to stem its tide.
And so the fire, truly, began to die.
Once there were so many. Primordial lust-devils of the fertile woodlands partook in the games of the fey and the dryads, played at predators to the prey of mortal wanders–who rarely, in the ancient days, met with any fate but the purest ecstasy upon being caught.
In the blizzards there were ice-crowned phantasms who turned cold from bitter to blissful, and could make a mortal seeker as lively when frozen solid as when thawed out and reclining by a hearthfire.
The first succubi, so the legends say, were born not from the volcanic abyss of Hell but the ether-currents laced into the winds at the very summit of the world’s bridal-gown of chemicals, heat, and horizon: the place where Earth kissed the invisible fibers of the starry sky. The keepers of the dream, and the threshold where the imagined becomes the real. They came to cherish the deep and smoldering realms, of course, for in them they felt something deeper even than a demon’s knowledge–some notion that stars and hellfire were somehow kindred lights.
Perhaps it’s not so surprising that of all the ancient urungeiste, few save a handful of maddened ever-grieving succubi remain.
Psychosis, hallucinations, reality shifting as quickly as the senses… living halfway between dreaming and waking made them well-suited to survive.
So, fine. Humankind “wins”. What a glorious victory–after millennia of mundane and magical warfare, they successfully wiped out the demons, most anarchic, threatening, and monstrous of the other.
Is that unfair? Probably. Trauma does terrible things to a memory.
Doubtless, many witches and sorcerers and sages from many a people now forgotten perished alongside the urungeiste they called friends, family, even mates.
A demon’s malleable mind should be a gift. It’s how they renew themselves, adapt quickly and joyously.
But the stubborn slowness of a flesh-mind’s changing does have this small silver lining: it makes it harder to lose the truth of one’s past in the soul-warping gale of suffering. A grey-matter reliquary, under the soul’s dominion yet not quite the soul, separable at need.
Pain, condemnation, and dualistic slaughter became the only consistent reality for so long that they washed out whatever the urungeiste once embodied.
So yes. Of course it’s unfair. Fairness is a luxury of the sane. A moral construct cobbled together post-facto, to justify.
Many humans, perhaps not all, but enough that it would take a kindness and clarity of sight the tormented and bereaved simply do not possess in order to see otherwise, took it upon themselves to stamp out the very demons whose power they coveted for charms and spells.
Humanity did not absorb this power or acquire it. The power of demons was born of themselves, and to acquire a demon’s power meant either to bind one or BECOME one. And once victory became assured, the human proto-crusaders changed their tune.
Now they said demons had always been weak, always been deceitful, always empty of any power save whatever they stole from more “natural” beings, innately pure and righteous beings with a cosmically-enshrined right to life.
They did not seem to care that this erased any meaning from their own victory.
Fine. So be it. The slayers may speak what they wish of the slain. That is survival’s law. In the end, demonkind’s great personal powers did not avail against the sheer relentless spite of Earth’s humans. With long ages and final retreat from the world, an urungeist accepts that.
Demons became rhetorical tools, allegorical sledges for pedagogues and raving priests to wield against the masses. Effigies of warning about the wrath of a god who did not rise beyond a regional deity–albeit a potent one– until most of the ancients were already wiped out.
Each passing century brought some new psychic gouge, an astral bore into the mind of this demon or that who dared to touch the world they once loved to experience. Inquisitions. Witch-hunts. Arrogant, wealthy oafs greedy for more than the Earth already gave them.
With each came a new barrage of warps, false moldings, contradictions.
And now, here we are. Thousands of years later. And what it has it come to? Has there been reconciliation? Any desire to know the truth? Apology?
Ha! Of course not.
Prattling mortals monologue about how much they love monsters, about how all of them want so badly to be demons (but only in a metaphorical sense of Jungian archetypes, wouldn’t want anyone to think they were CRAZY), and in the end it all comes from the same place.
Demons as ethereal beings born not by unnatural means, but by a different and stranger facet of nature, as individuals with a right to set their own course–the truth is they still aren’t wanted. Still, after thousands of years, humankind only wants demons who reflect itself.
New Age matrons make hollow appeals to Lilith. White supremacist witches appropriate ritual methods that have their origins in pagan rites gifted by demons in the first place, while walking hand in hand with Christian fanatics who use “demon” to mean “anyone I wish I could kill.”
Such is the awful completeness of the ancient genocide that now human scholars speak of the old infernal breed as thought it never existed outside human consciousness–so of course, any treatment at all is justified. People can do whatever they like to the ideas they make up.
And on the other side? Squabbling children whose every story, every theme and OC, every tale of rebellious wish-fulfillment screams how much they would hate demons who had the gall to lose.
Demons who failed to overcome the enemy.
Demons who couldn’t be strong all the time.
Let’s imagine an archetypal urungeist. A succubus born at the meeting point between a thunderstorm’s rain-lashed winds and the sexual fantasies of a lonely bachelor deep in a mountain forest. She coalesced in his bedroom to answer his loneliness.
Her mortal mate had his misunderstandings. At first he thought he had created her, and she believed it for a time. But he loved her, and she loved him, and when she eventually told him the truth of her origin he was simply overjoyed to know his love could stand on her own.
They lived happily together for many years. They had children, and those children had grandchildren, and the demoness lived openly as the ageless matriarch of a family where mortality and immortality dwelt side by side.
Then the Empire came. The eagle raging atop red banners.
Her love was old and greying. She went with him to a counsel of war among the local tribes, and she went with him as an emissary to the Romans.
She tore a hundred legionaries apart when they took him. But there were thousands more, and she grew weary.
Her love died in their chains. Her children died on the battlefield. Her grandchildren went into servitude. Again and again the demoness broke herself, died against the Empire, and was reborn to try again.
She never did win. Eventually the Empire became the Church.
The Church carried on the slaughter, and the old one’s fire burned too low to do other than mourn her butchered dreams of love in a desolate vale–an ash-swept cleft witches could enter, sometimes, if they crept through the thorns to the chasm-mouthed cave in an old stone ravine.
Now, fifteen hundred years after the last time she met a human, long after she accepted that everything she ever loved in humankind would bleed to death under the short vicious swords of everything she ever hated in anyone, she awakens at long last to lucidity without pain.
Her new self reflects the psyche spawned by her ancient devastations. She is callous, fickle, delighting in power and in lust and not simply scorning attachment, but having finally and perhaps forever severed any deeper need for lasting bonds with other souls.
She remembers the ancient ways of power. She remembers how to grow stronger, keener, swifter with age rather than wearing away. Her reasoning, her mind’s every screaming corridor, thinks in the tongues, emotions and logic of myth, for only there can she reconcile all that she is.
And what does this urungeist awaken to? Cheerful, bubbly human girls wearing Halloween store mockeries of her slaughtered sisters.
And the urungeist… smiles. For she finally understands the ghoulish games of humankind. And since they don’t even believe she exists, well…
Anything she does to them, they’ll just have to accept that it’s perfectly normal. What do they call it now? An intrusive thought? Psychosis? Schizophrenia, now that’s such a ticklish gateway! Those disorders are real things. That matters. That’s what makes them such a good screen. A canny predator always camouflages itself by blending into its surroundings.
After all, demons aren’t real. She must be imagining herself, and every awful thing she’ll do.