OverviewThe geography of Hell and its inhabitants are inextricably bound. The flows of infernal essence are drawn to specific forms and specific forms arise from concentrations of that essence. And so the great and terrible Nobility of Hell are lord, landscape, and rules of nature all in one. For all that the Demon Realm is infinite in scope and variation, some things are underpin it all like bones or breath or beams.
The Principles that are said to rule from their prison-city of the Palace Infernal are whence the rest of Demonkind descend. Some philosophers say that the true essences of the Principles dwell in the palace while the fundament of Hell’s sphere is fashioned from their vast, sleeping forms. Others claim the weakest avatars of the Principles are there imprisoned, cut off from the other fragments of their meta-souls. A few postulate that the Principles exist in a state of superposition which traps them within the spaces that they do not fill, but this claim is typically met with thrown objects or rolled eyes.
That very terrain gives rise flora and fauna both – sometimes one to produce the other. These lowest things are known as Beasts – creatures without the drive and intellect of ‘true’ Demons, but nonetheless powerful and cunning, driven by strange impulses.
Each Circle has a Beast referred to as its Hound, even if that should be the feline Aubades of the Hellsun or the eyeless horrors of Hell’s Night. Hounds arise in a myriad of ways, like many Beasts, though often they are cultivated by the ruling powers.
The rest of Demonkind has murkier origins. Rabble, the lowest of the Demonic classes, include Imps, Fiends, and Devils. Imps and Fiends often spawn from other Demons or the very stone of their Circle, and are often considered the lowest of their kind.
Devils stand at the top of the Rabble, beings of considerable power and intellect, of sweeping ambitions and intense passions. Devils are known to ascend from the lower ranks, most of the time, but some seem to appear from nowhere. Indeed, when learned sages and oracles try to trace the history of certain Devils the commonality of their genesis is a single phrase: it was ever thus.
Devils may ascend to the Nobility, or make the arguably lateral move to become Citizens of Pandemonium.
The Nobility defy easy classification. Each one is practically an ecosystem unto itself. Their Demesne warps and shifts to reflect their masters; the highest ranking of Demons shape their underlings and their estates accordingly.
Offering a single example is the most expedient means of explanation.
TACITUS, ILLUMINOR-PRINCE OF HELL, THE UNBLINKING EYE, THE PITILESS SUN, SHINING LORD OF THE PAPER DESERT, THRICE-BROKEN, THE REVELATION OF TIME,
who taught mortals the secrets of conquest.
From whom descends
SHAUKUR dan TACITUS, DUCHESS OF THE SEPULCHRE-LIBRARY, BREAKER OF EMPIRE, BEACON OF THE SUNBLIND, THE WHITE HEAT OF MONARCHY, PATRON OF GENOCIDES
From whom descends
TASAT’AL dan SHAUKUR, EARL OF THE BURNING WHEEL, ANVIL OF THE SLAVER’S CHAIN, THE COIN-EYED DEVIL, SUN-SHUNNED
From whom descends
ASHTAR dan TASAT’AL, COUNT OF THE GOLDEN PANOPTICON, ALL-SEEING EYE
Each of these Nobles is concerned with foresight and control, each has fallen from grace somewhere in their past, and their Demesnes are less martial than many of their peers. Although another six Dukes, each of whom rule another seven Earls, from each another seven Counts, means that recognizing descendants of Tacitus is not impossible (though it helps that Lightbringers insist on mapping their lineages in their names) even if their rubric has spread wide over their jostling hierarchy.
The nature of individual Nobles is a topic best left to dedicated grimoires, in turn best left in locked cabinets and not examined too closely.