Factions, Races, And Politics
This is an alphabetical reference list of important factions and group interactions in the "Down Deep" novel series. A separate list is not yet available for the Owl River game, which takes place in the same world. Some lore may not be in the final edit of the books.
The Algolagnites, or "erotic pain lovers", are the official sect of sadomasochistic devil monks who conduct torture and interrogations in the Dungeons of Dis. They push the boundaries between pain and pleasure and publish their experiments annually in a set of volumes known as the Liber Dolores. The Algolagnites are highly secretive and monastic, the better to maintain an aura of dread and fear. The Algolagnites are the most fanatical worshipers of Lord Hades.
- Angelic Hierarchy
"The Hierarchy" is an old and popular term in the Underworld for the formal structure of angels and archangels in service to Lord Deus. Traditionally, just as the mere utterance of "hell" is uncomfortable or even terrifying for any self-respecting angel, the opposite holds true to some extent in the Underworld.
Demons in the Underworld are defined by beings bearing animal aspects, and are typically the result of gods or goddesses mating with poor animals to the point of pregnancy. A demon will often sport horns, tails, unusual eyes, or patches of thick fur. Not all demons are hideous, but demons often act from baser instincts such as greed and instinctual violence. Demons are largely scorned by the well-heeled public in the Underworld. Less intelligent demons are arrested, exiled, enslaved, or perhaps conscripted into the army, while the most capable are known to manage successful entreprenurial ventures.
Devils in Hell are of numerous types. The grey-skins are the most common, with pig-like, beady yellow eyes. Their noses are often froggish, in contrast to the noses of their close cousins, the Furies, which are beakish. Devils are the preferred employees of Hell's Court. Devil grunts use gaffes, swords, and nets to capture and arrest whoever Hell's Court deems to be a criminal. The common populace in the Underworld has little love for devils, and many refer to them as pig-eyes. The devil residential district in Dis is known as "Pee Hill" (Pomegranate Hill), in sly reference to devil bedroom preferences. The yellow-skins and red-skins are the more powerful devils. These are the judges, executors, and head torturers of Hell's Court. Devils only feel true pleasure when inflicting pain. They are lusty enough, but they are sterile. Devil blood and other fluids are highly sulfuric and acidic, and devils sometimes use their own blood as an implement of twisted torture. Devils are said to never sleep, but that is incorrect. Few devils have ever mastered the arts of dream travel and magic, however, as they are inclined more to necromancy and cursed enchantments.
The Djinn are a form of Fey, being elemental creatures connected to nature. Djinn often appear as black dogs. In the books, the Egyptian god Anubis (Greek), or Anapa (Egyptian) is considered by many among the middle Eastern kin to be a black Djinn.
- Disciples of Set
The Disciples of Set is a large Egyptian clan of vampires ruled by Lord Hassam. Despite massive setbacks, the Disciples of Set are the most powerful clan of vampires in existence, owing solely to their highly agressive and inadvisable recruitment tactics.
- Eastern Order
The Eastern Order is a very small, secretive clan of rebel succubi, almost entirely Middle-Eastern, who chose to serve the cat goddess Sekhmet instead of Lilith. Of course in the eyes of Hell's Court, this decision is high treason meriting a painful death, and thus the secrecy. The Eastern Order succubi, like their goddess, are peaceful, lazy, and nectar-addicted. They often go bare-breasted when hunting in the eastern deserts, adorned only by tattoos and golden ornaments.
- Fey: Seelie Court
Traditionally, the Seelie Court Fey paid a Tithe annually to Lord Hades as a price of their neutrality. People tend to think of Fey as lovely fairy creatures of unearthly beauty and grace. These are the Fey of the Seelie Court. Many artists and bards, both Fey and other, have striven to capture the beauty of the Seelie Court. Pure manifestations of nature and beauty, the elves and fairies of the Seelie Court view themselves as natural perfection. This attitude restricts status in the Court to only pure-blood Fey. Seelie Court Fey occasionally recruit the company of beautiful or gifted creatures, preferring those of partial Fey, elven, or celestial blood, but sometimes gifted pureblood humans may also serve in subservient, menial roles. In the books, the Seelie Fey reside on the Blessed Isles, which are off the coast of Asphodel in western Elysium, visible across the strait from the mainland. The rulers of the Seelie Court in the present day are Oberon and Titania.
- Fey: Unseelie Court
While the Seelie Court is restrictive and sheltered, the Unseelie Court welcomes any elder creature with ancestral Fey blood. In antiquity, Fey bred with anything, creating odd, mixed creatures, although in the Underworld, like most species other than Hades, Lilith, and other Titans, they are not fertile. The Unseelie Court is a less hospitable place for non-Fey. Jaded, corrupt, infighting Court nobles seek to cruelly enslave lesser creatures who are of extraordinary use, either for politics, entertainment, house services, or the arts. In this aspect, the Unseelie Fey are similar to Lilith's children in the capital city. The Unseelie isles are off the mainland of Eastern Elysium, on the shores of the Sea of Desire, near the headwaters of the styx. The ruler of the Unseelie Court in the present day remains Queen Mab, an elder fairy.
- Hell's Army
Archduke Belial commands most of Hell's army. The Serpent Sisterhood is a small subsection of Hell's army, especially useful for magic, trackers, and assassinations rather than brute force. Hell's Army runs training camps in the Mare Mortis outside of Dis. The life of a soldier is often a desirable, well-paid, and less boring life for any lower-class runt of Lord Hades and Lady Lilith. Since the resurgence of the Great War, however, the life of a soldier is much more dangerous. Hell's army uses great wyrms for air operations, and employs more recent 20th century technology from Earth, to devastating effect.
- Hell's Court
The central headquarters of Hell's Court is in the Disian downtown, with main access to the Disian dungeons (Bolgia), the catacombs under Dis where many thousands are held. Hell's Court has branches in other cities such as Caina, Hetemitis, and Judecca, where minor issues of justice are considered by lesser devil judges, executors, and justiciars, including property rights and slave ownership. The lesser Courts employ scribes to make copies of forms to be filed in the capital city, such that all of Hell is registered and under contract as much as possible.
The blooded Gypsies are the only lawfully free humans in the Underworld, by ancient ancestral covenants. They are singers and players but most of all traders. The well-oiled wagon wheels of the Gypsy caravans are the wheels of free trade in the Underworld, without which many remote factions would be hard pressed to acquire much-desired herbs, nectars, chemicals, clothing, parchments, and other supplies that can only be acquired in the capital city. Of course, unlawful trade is normally the most lucrative, and many Gypsies are willing to conduct such business when the opportunities are too great to ignore. Gypsies normally ride and conduct business as extended family units. Gypsies are not required to register provenance or earthly birth records in Hell's Court, and thus their precious freedom is often a matter of family testimony and oaths.
The Lubines are rare and elusive female werewolves in the Underworld. These wild bitches rarely ever live with the men. They run in small packs, but sometimes will go solo when in heat, and a male wolf can find one for a night of unrestrained passion under the stars and moon. As with other races, pregnancy in the Underworld is not possible, however.
- New Order
The New Order succubi are a sect of rebel succubi formed by the goddess Aphrodite in the succubus schism, which occurred roughly in the 17th century. Aphrodite called for the succubi to honor and hold Love above all, namely above Lilith and Aphrodite's brothers, Deus and Hades. New Order succubi thereby reserve the right to love each other, a philosophy that ignores the scriptures and laws of Lord Hades, which dictate that succubi must marry and dedicate their body and soul to a husband. Of course, the establishment of the Underworld does not recognize the New Order, and considers their philosophy to be treason and heresy. The New Order also embraces a more compassionate way of treating humans, calling them "acolytoi" (acolytes) instead of slaves. The human acolytoi theoretically have free will and can come, leave, or serve with whoever they please. Aphrodite's rules are not set in stone, however. For the New Order succubi, a certain level of commitment and dedication is desirable from the humans who serve them. The succubi have the power to make deeper, desirable levels of addiction and devotion happen, for the benefit of everyone. The New Order make their home in a magically hidden city in Western Elysium, a formally demilitarized buffer zone with no Hell's army posts. Elysium is arguably closer to the gates of Heaven, via Mount Purgatory, than to Hell's Court in the far-away depths of Tartarus.
- Serpent Sisterhood
The Sisterhood is Lady Lilith's elite corps of succubus assassins, forming a small but valuable branch of Hell's army. The Sisters are infamous for their deadly art forms, including the use of special poisons gifted to them by Lilith. Potentized Styxian viper venom, the sacred elixir of the Serpent Sisters, requires a special ritual of immunization, where a fledgling Sister must speak to the Viper King to have him exempt her from his draining bonds. Officers in the Sisterhood wear grey uniforms with red belts and decorations, while lower ranks wear the red uniforms. The Sisterhood High Council is the organizing body directly in communion with Lady Lilith. A Sisterhood training facility is called a monastery. Sisters in training often eschew the usual succubus path of devotion and lifelong service to an incubus husband, although not always. The military exemption is particularly inviting for succubi of a lesbian bent. The ranks of the Sisterhood are: Archmistress, Commander, Lieutenant, Sergeant, Corporal, Aspirant. A Sisterhood guard, or policewoman, is called an Enforcer, or a Chief Enforcer.
Succubi are distinguished by silvery eyes, with the silver taking the form of flakes or sparks in the iris. Succubi must feed and fill themselves sexually, or their inner desire structure will collapse, rendering them catatonic, and soon dead if they are not fed. The older and stronger the succubus, the longer she can last without feeding. Young succubi traditionally learn and live with a mistress, who teaches them manners, art forms, dream travel, and other things depending on personal talents and characteristics.
During the succubus "schism", Aphrodite called for a new order of more beneficent and kind succubi. A small number of succubi rebelled against Lilith and Hades to divide into this new faction under Aphrodite, calling themselves the "New Order". The New Order refers to traditional succubi the "Old Order". Lilith's loyal succubi do not recognize these labels, of course, and the traditional succubi are aligned with Hell's Court in considering the separatists to be ingrates, lesbian heretics, and traitors.
The traditional establishment of succubi directly serves first Lord Hades and his laws, then Lady Lilith. They are required by law to marry within one year after passing their "Mistress Test" and becoming fully-fledged. While the vast majority of succubi are born naturally from the Titanic womb of Lilith, Lady Aphrodite has recently developed divine magic that re-orients the energy chakras, resulting in a magical succubus through a powerful ritual of rebirth. A succubus created by Aphrodite has the same powers and needs as the naturally born succubi, but without the corrupting influence of Lilith's dark fluids.
The Titans are an elder race of galactic travelers. They are interplanetary beings who feed from lesser energy forms by eating them, or their energy, like humans might eat plants, which in turn absorb and convert into useful forms. When the energy signatures of life on Earth began to radiate into the cosmos, a few Titans arrived to harvest that energy, but with two different philosophies. The Titanic line of Gaia, Uranus, Kronos, Rhea, and the Olympians are symbiotic. They fed (or feed) through human attention, worship, and devotion on mental and emotional levels. Aphrodite absorbs the positive emotional. Her brother Zeus/Deus focuses on mental energy, and Hades/Pluto focuses on the negative emotional. Lord Hades was originally neutral, but He was influenced by the late arrival of Lilith, who seduced Hades and spawned many parasitic children from the titanic coupling. Lilith represents a line of Titans that practice parasitism instead of symbiosis. The Fey are a third extra-planetary race that is concerned with the maintenance and tending of plant and animal life, rather than the human. Although they do keep humans for useful services, they are closer tied to the less complex life forms at a psychic level. The Fey are also divided into a dark and light split: those who care nothing for humans and see them as prey or enemies, and those who honor humans to some extent as an extension of all life, while still a lower, less evolved form.
The Traumeri are a very successful clan of dream-sorcerer vampires, originally hailing from Eastern Europe. The clan began when Liest was given vampirism by an unknown woman in the night. Liest infected his son Amanoch, and then killed his own wife when she attacked him with a wood axe. Liest traveled to the New World when he was able, which resulted to be a great boon to his bloodthirsty needs in secrecy. The Traumeri have seven or eight old chantries in the Underworld, and more in the modern-day United States. They are able to travel with their souls between the worlds through a special ritual and a portal passage, similar to the way the Fey traveled in antiquity.
- Vampires (In The Underworld)
Vampires can transcend temporarily to the Underworld through a special death ritual, and must return via the same way. Vampires can feed on the common souls of the Underworld. Their fangs are a method of puncturing the outer structure to get to the reservoirs of blood underneath, in which run desire-energy. The vampires do not possess the succubus ability to create a vacuum to draw the passion out of the natural channels, so they rupture the desire spheres, be it with their teeth or, more elegantly, with another instrument. That method damages and weakens a submissive or victim over time, however, because it creates permanent scars and leakage. Elder vampires often consider themselves royalty and ignore the laws of Lord Hades. Vampires enjoy hunting werewolves for sport, indulging in an age-old rivalry.
- Werewolves (In The Underworld)
Werewolves in the Underworld are wolf-shifters. They typically have baleful yellow eyes and are furry around their chins, ears, and cheeks, even in their human forms. Werewolves are very casual with nudity. They aren't as strong with magic as with other Underworld races, but they do have shamans for healing and earth magic. They are resistant to frost magic.