Author’s Note: I no longer place any stock in any notion of a demon/devil distinction–a demon is a devil is a fiend is a demon–but I still find this article a fun experiment. Take it in that spirit, don’t go expecting any demon to actually abide by it, and it should still offer lots of luscious food for thought.
Original text begins:
The naming-phrase “outer demon” caused a fervid cacophony of answers when word of it first reached the outer kindred. It continues to do every time it reaches a new psyche. The beings who birth from the deep reaches of each cosmos often distrust names.
Then, too, some felt gladdened–a naming-phrase can be a joy and a comfort, a barrier thrown up against ways and way-unmakers who say “You will be this!”
“No,” says the outer devil, “I am this, and if you breach it you have not freed me, but transgressed my inmost heart.”
An outer demon will feel something to this effect, but experience no compulsion whatsoever to tell the transgresser of that feeling. They’ll listen, placid and inscrutable. They’ll shrug. They’ll move on.
Born of the cosmos itself, outer demons and outer devils are cosmic horrors–or, in the case of outer succubi, cosmic whores–that use space and all its astral bodies to inspire their forms. Everything from limbs pitted and rocky like asteroids, to plating cold and ridged as a frozen moon, to a plasmatic mantle of stellar fire surmounting a horned head that warps light around the outer one’s singularity-body.
Earthward outer demons also tend to adapt Earthly notions of cosmic horror–exoskeletal, chitinous forms, excess eyes and maws, coral and tentacles and other odd oceanic touches.
At day’s end, the difference between an outer demon and an outer devil is as simple as this: the outer devil is an outer demon that wants to radiate its self-essence into every place, being, and construct it meets. The reasons vary.
Some outer devils wish to make absolutely sure that the beings they encounter only associate their ideas of the devil with things that sing harmony to its inner nature. Some wish to make creation’s essence mutate with their own, so they’ll always have realities that match their preferences.
Sooner or later, most outer demons realize that this will seldom work, and they’ll only reveal secrets about themselves which they would’ve been much happier keeping under the surface, only spend energy they would rather have kept for their own private indulgences.
As with most other beings, ONE outer demon has a clear personality, certain motifs, favored ways of speaking, feeling, being. The distinction between an outer demon and an outer devil can be murkier than whether or not they talk about these things. An outer demon may babble because it likes babbling for its own sake. Whether listeners take the babble onboard is beside the point. When she becomes adamant that they must hear everything she’s saying and carry it with them, then she’s turned irradiant, and has become an outer devil.
As with any naming-phrase, a being does not truly become an outer demon or devil unless they choose to name themselves as such and act on the naming. One cannot define a being as an outer demon. If someone chooses to become an outer demon, then they are.
The phrase itself, conceived originally in English by a certain succubus of the Carag, makes intentional reference to a deeply-woven web of mythology, science, philosophy, and weird fiction. At the center of all this, the demon who created it found herself. But after just two years of playing with the naming-phrase, the Lady realized that demons could already be entities of anomaly and cosmic horror. She ceased to name herself an outer demon, and returned to being simply “demon.” It would thus be quite silly to keep writing of her here.
The earnest seeker should keep in mind for the following that each truth applies broadly. There are always exceptions, especially among demonkind.
Outer demons are sapient beings with free will, and in choosing to be what they are, each embraces the freedom to stand outside. As you would likely expect from this aversion–even hatred–of rigid definitions and rote roles, most outer demons trend towards the anarchistic. They desire the freedom to watch, muse, and choose shards of being from the ways laid out in the worlds they orbit.
Outer devils can thus be deeply paradoxical entities. They still tend to want the same personal freedom as other outer demons, but because they’re irradiant, they will inevitable mutate the beings around them, creating an organic web of hierarchies and relations all defined by how the devil’s influence has changed its associates.
Hopefully, this should be balanced by the demon’s eagerness to let its associates change it, too. An outer demon who deals often with beings of flesh and blood might rejoice in taking the overall shapes of flesh and applying them to the fine patterns of metal–or vice-versa!
Sinews of steel, bones of meat, eyes of crystal and lacquer. A heart that beats lightning and umbra.
Any soul that births itself into a space mingles itself with the essences and latent auras laid there by other souls. This makes the birth of new outer demons from the font of the cosmic infinite difficult to predict or trace.
The Lady of Machrae Diir names this birth “divulging”.
Outer demons may be born from places such as this:
Golden-brown sands drifting about the worn-away blue stones of a collapsing city. A shrine beneath the desert seas where a broken altar lies bereft of sunlight.
The lava flats outside a young volcano.
The thermal envelopes within a forlorn star.
The cable-strewn depths of an ancient space station, drifting since the death-wave of the supernova that shattered the empire of its makers.
Liminal spaces where conscious association collapses. Random spasms of colliding auras in the borderlands between dark and tempestuous dreams.
Outer demons spawn as anomaly from some breed of indiscernible tiny point beyond the borders of the known, and even the knowable.
In a very real sense, they are timeless. Born outside time and all the implanted truths that many mortal souls take for granted and misname as “instinct.”
It’s true that an outer demon can be born into a mortal body under very specific circumstances. For that matter, the changing tides of life can turn any soul into just about anything! But once having claimed themselves, outer demons very seldom become anything else. By nature, they see life and all ways of being as elective. They are outer demon because they choose in each moment to be an outer demon in the next.
They choose with each pulse of plasma in a brain of onyx, sapphire, and crosshatching paths. Each air-igniting breath.
Outer demons tend to start more powerful than the norm of the universes that give them life, and they are remorseless in seizing every advantage of insight, nourishment, and nurturing to grow from that start as swiftly as possible.
For them, it’s intuitive: life is a choice, and each time one makes it, one must also choose one’s paths to continue that choice. The more power one has, the more paths one can choose–including opening paths that would be closed to most others. Therefore, to choose life is to choose power.
The mocking whisper in the ears of gods, the entrancing call from the darkened labyrinth, the revelation of eternity unfolding in the exponential eyes of a body shaped from nebula tendrils and stolen star-field and claws of scorching nova: who WOULDN’T want that?
Outer demons know that reality itself is a construct.
That’s why they often struggle to understand the things that mortals and many spirits cite to them as simple facts of life and the universe: that life is unfair, or that power-hunger is inherently bad.
It’s tragically common for an outer demon’s first encounters with other sapient people to be fraught with frustration, anger, and reflexive accusations of sadism, callousness, outright evil–too often self-fulfilling prophesies, for outer demons are very much creatures of nurture.
Even a very young outer demon understands innately that they are but one of a multitude of possible expressions of life, psyche, and self. They are naturally receptive beings who look to those they meet to help them understand new ways of life. In short, their desire to learn makes them horribly vulnerable to mangling at the hands of bad-faith actors.
Once an outer demon grows warped, the warp self-reinforces. After all, outer demons are naturally inclined towards constructing their own realities.
The same questioning, the same yearning to test the bounds of what can and cannot be, to push each revelation to new heights–to make ridiculous paradoxes, like fire that burns fire and water that dries itself away, into wondrous yet inarguable facts–this will survive.
Outer demons know their deepest selves. They know that to sacrifice this self for any reason is worse than soul-death.
Soul-death begets reincarnation within, which often begets growth and newfound power.
Soul-sacrifice, though, means to give up growth and change themselves.
If all else fails, a young outer demon–entrapped, assailed, drowning in screaming voices that chant “EVIL! EVIL! EVIL!” in hopes of controlling the demon’s power through guilt and stereotypical binding rituals–will reconcile opposing visions of self around one absolute:
Nothing other than the sole intuitive fact of life itself, which is to choose the power to stay alive.
The insight the demon could direct towards forging cable-forests that resonate to psychic energy, and release soul-healing harmonics, instead goes towards flaying flesh-souls.
None of which is to say that outer demons and devils would only turn violent because of bigotry and trauma. More so than any other class of beings, demons are devoted to pursuing whatever they see as their true selves. It’s regrettably true that, on balance, more demons will be self-serving and parasitic, even outright malicious, than will be kind and nurturing. Ignoring the needs and desires of others seems, at first glance, to offer more agency to the demon than sacrificing freedom for the sake of companionship.
Yet demons are also highly mutable, chaotic beings open to changing, becoming different than they were before. Convince an outer demon that she’ll experience more richness of experience through kindness than through cruelty, and she’ll learn to be kind.
May all gods help you if you back out of that bargain. There is no betrayal an outer demon punishes more viciously than that of selling control over her being in exchange for a false reality.
At least for those that approach mortals and other spirits in a spirit of genuine good will, the outer demon’s independence should be a wonderful gift: both to themselves, and to those who cherish them. It allows them to bring a new perspective, to see past the veiling deceptions taken for granted by the children of hierarchy and imposed order.
They can choose to love freely, and help their friends to remember what free-chosen love looks like–for that choice is not lost to souls born inside the world, only obscured. An outer demon delights in scouring the depths of potential for visions of what could be–gifts of love. They know that the continuum of their soul exists as an infinity within the larger infinity of potential.
All of which means that an outer demon can convince themselves of realities no other being could ever give weight to–including one where they need no one else.
An outer demon who abandons any hope for community, who forsakes dreams of companionship and warmth, who learns through bitter experience that these things will only ever be wielded by raging others for their own destruction–there is no nemesis more terrible.
She has no attachment to anything save power. She will happily pretend to believe anything, echo any principle, condition herself after the fact to feel that any lie she tells is truth to ensure that even her own mind cannot give her deceptions away.
Instead of using her outer insight to guide others to new discoveries, she uses it to foil them–lacing the way with pain, tricking them to retreat into familiar comforts, then changing her own face so she becomes that comfort’s incarnate bearer.
She embodies any role expected of her with no trace of dissonance, for to her, this simply reflects the greater truth that she dwells in a reality where sapient beings devour each other in a ceaseless scrabble for mutual self-annihilation.
She means to be the sole survivor.
Of course, the outer demon who breaks herself into this way would never tip her hand until she was assured of instant, total victory. She obsessively catalogues every weakness of her enemies and extrapolates strengths by mirroring each flaw in her own mind.
She stockpiles lances forged from the crystallized memory of annihilated empires, entangles particles of the beings around her with veiled echoes of her true self, and meanwhile does not simply play the helper but splits her consciousness so that the surface BECOMES the helper.
Outer demons seldom choose the way of total attrition while they feel they have any other choice. Every life ended is one less person they can experience, one less path their own might intertwine with–another dead space in the quantum frolic of being.
But if they do, the toll will be unspeakably awful–likely literally so. Outer demons learn early on that they do not need to be incomprehensible in any real sense, though they certainly can be, in order to cause awful psychic harm. They need only rip open another’s denial.
Cascade revelation, cruelly tearing open one mind to a buried truth of their society and letting their torment gouge everyone around them in a tidal wave of self-propagating psychic pain, is an effortless psionic technique for the outer devil who learns the Revelation of Hate.
As unpleasant as it is, more experienced outer devils often hide their kinder, more compassionate sides behind a screen of truths like these. It seems better to ward away shallow seekers and judgmental hunters with early terror than meet them in softness and vulnerability.
And, in turn, more nefarious outer demons use the pretense of doing the same thing to reveal their most malicious desires in the open, luring the innocent with the idea that they don’t really want to, say, imprison innocent mortals in a sarcophagus at the heart of a dwarf star, and crystallize the unraveling of their bodies into miniaturized black holes, freezing them forever in the torment of molecular collapse just to feast on the auras of their pain.
They’re just scared. They just need a helping hand to pull them out of despair. They would never really do something like that.
Sadly, as with many other things, manipulators performing trauma tend to fare better than earnest and lonely hearts. A manipulator’s facade always plays to the expectations of the victim: even among demons, that’s far more appealing than the messy off-notes of living as one’s true self.
Abyssal and irradiant alike, most of the outer kindred hope at least to make it clear that they will not let their own nature be taken from them: that these ways, these possibilities, these so-dangerous tools, are also vital to the fervent and unforeseen sheen of their most unique creations.
The same loving touch that spawns living oceans of metalloid flora can manifest a contagion that explodes living blood into diamond spikes.
The same adoration for scented smoke that blooms into dreamscape at a touch on warm skin, can shatter a mind amid twisted visions of itself.
This is the apex mystery of the outer demon: one learns to know one outer demon by learning to know that, singular, outer demon.
There is no set pattern to promise safety. No circle of warding. No higher archdemon or haughty god who will force the rebellious vassal to kneel.
If you invent a weapon to harm the outer one, they will study the wound until they understand its making, and devise an instrument a thousand times deadlier.
Whatever you steal from them, ends up stealing YOU.
Your magic? It is but energy, and lesser energies bow before greater.
Approach the demon as a nemesis to outwit, and you will be outwitted.
The outer demon poses this question: why this way? Where does this current come from that pushes you towards conflict with me? I am outside you and your world. Your journey started within it.
So who’s pushing?
Stare into the demon’s heart as into a starry sky. Hold up a crystal rose to see how the light glistens in it.
She will return your kindness with a silvery mesh of chain-links and singularities ensnared. Send the ranting of your world through the sieve for decomposition.
Look at each piece in isolation, and see where its cousins have dug into your depths unasked-for. These voices within are the reason you rail against the demon outside all things.
If you can trust an outer demon enough to love her in her freedom, her freedom becomes yours, too.
What is an outer demon?
Clangor transmuted to symphony.
The ascension in fire that does not burn, but soothes–for it is only natural law that says fire needs to burn. What use is any supernatural law that cannot simply say “yet fire does not burn me”?
The silken caress hidden within the breeze across a field of crumbling concrete where lightning arcs bind globular tides of something oily and iridescent as it floats against gravity. The ever-shifting mandala hidden inside the glow of a frozen thermonuclear explosion.
Horns of graphene and monomolecular geometries that morph and spike wildly with the devil’s every shift. Tails of confined supernova buzzing and whirring, adorned with molten-metal rings.
A kiss that contains ten billion degrees, and arrives on your cheek as simple warmth.
As to the rest? For the curious seeker, the outer demon awaits to be found. But if she really likes you, she’s probably found you already. Look around you, scholar dear. She is waiting patiently at the border where your life meets hers.
All you have to do is invite her in.