In the beginning
Man was borne from the hand of the Creator, and was gifted with a soul to give him definition. The soul, otherwise known as the spirits of mortals, is an ethereal essence that hides in the bosom of all things, ranging from an innate power and potential of a dim glow to a brilliant shine. Mortals were given these Superior Souls, allowing them to function as they do to this day; giving them shape and distinction through an attunement to the blood, and allowing for connections to the eldritch and the beyond to be established and utilized. The mortal races, known as the descendants, were conceived in an image of variety, and thus their souls allow them to achieve endless, glorious things. The nature of discord set upon the mortal world and its denizens allowed them everything and nothing.
But with disorder comes many things. Through the ages of yore, the pure image of mortalkind has been subject to differing forms of change; Men and their souls have been known to be like clay to beings defined as deities, for by taking hold of their souls they may be shaped into whatever these deities desire. Even Men themselves have devised means to change their very base corporeal makeup; leading to the creation of Liches, Golems, and others in such a spectrum. The descendants, as agents of discord, are thus wholly subject to change.
But when change comes to them without a master, this nature of disorder runs amok. The fallout of Aengudaemonic wars, the taint of dark magics, the intrusions of the Void; all masterless forms of discord, bringing great change upon those who come to dauntlessly behold it. These things can corrupt mortals; this is known true. Sickness and disease borne of these forces of chaos have been known to plague the world in epochs past. But to truly change Man into something else… such a horror is one that has been replicated in many forms.
From these sources of discord rose the Inferi(Singular Inferis). These Inferi are limitless in corporeal form and monstrous in both mind and body, for when they meddled with sources of raw chaotic power it scorched them to such a degree that their bodies, their minds and their very souls were twisted and malformed. These sources of disorder (having been defined before as places like Void-warped or dark art-warped locations; any place with an unguided, extremely hazardous fallout) give the race of Inferi both an extreme, chaotic variation and a singular, defined identity: they are all relatable because they often do not relate. It is their malformations and twisted identities, alongside their savage and feral nature, that define them as Inferi. It is also their souls that define them as such—Inferic souls are Superior Souls contorted into something else, something inherently wrong and pulled from the Creator’s design.
Inferi are robbed of their distinction and definition, and thus are unified through it. They may hail from many places—they may crawl from the Abyss, where displaced Lifeforce clamors to occupy the living and imbue them with terrible cancers. They may drift from the Stratum Lands, where the Revenants reign free and the Void is one with the world. They may rise from the ashes of the Fallen One, twisted by his flame. Through this unification of disorder, Inferi also follow a loose hierarchy—it is vile and savage, alluding to the very base nature of life. Inferic Souls are robbed of the brilliant light of Superior Souls; if Superior Souls are embodied by a grand, ethereal light, then Inferic Souls are defined by a tumultuous, uncontrollable flame - exuding both a shadow and a radiance. Thus, regardless of their origin of discord, Inferi often relate with fire. Because of this, they have often been designated as “Daemons” in the past; leading to a confusion as to what they truly are.
Entities defined as Lesser Inferi are beings in the infernal hierarchy that are otherwise known as “converts”; all Inferi are first formed by mortal beings being vastly twisted into malformed creatures, and thus Lesser Inferi are essentially determined as malformed mortals. They are limitless in form, savage like blood-drunk beasts, and bear not even the smallest remnants of their former selves; the formation of their Inferic Souls tucks away all humanity into the darkness of their inner flame of disorder.
Lesser Inferi may also vary in power, for many entities that bear untainted Superior Souls may be subject to Inferic conversion. It is stated in legends that even dragonkin may be turned into Inferi, though as only High Dragons, or Dragaar, hold untouched Superior Souls, it is unlikely for any dragonkin to suffer the malformations that mortals can be subject to. By becoming what they are, a Lesser Inferis is condemned to roam the world as a harbinger of chaos, for where-ever they dwell they seek to kill and pillage and destroy without rhyme or reason. They do not search for something - they do not crave some form of satiation from mortal essence, or admire the alluring shine of mortal treasures. Lesser Inferi bring chaos because it is their very nature as agents of discord.
When a Lesser Inferis dies, their Inferic Souls follow the same path as all other souls, seeking the Soul Stream, but there lies a distant calling to all Lesser Inferi that come to exist; a strange hithering and a need to adhere to it, like a child obeying the call of a father. From the Spiritual Realms, the eldritch Greater Spirits Ixli and Ikuras constantly search for the mark of an Inferis whenever they are created. It is from their Spiritual Planes that they call to Lesser Inferi and, in death, lure their souls toward their ethereal realms of the dead so that they may take these Inferic Souls as minions and servants.
Once there, Inferi may remanifest in the mortal realm to once again act as anathemas to creation, most generally at the direction of their Immortal masters, though sometimes they may manifest autonomously.
The natural process of souls is once again subverted by the machinations of the Spiritual Realms. Inferic Souls who do not adhere to the calling of Ixli and Ikuras embrace the Soul Stream only to become one with its desolation; they become what is known as Ragegeists, and are condemned to never pass on into afterlife.
Once under the reign of the spirits Ixli and Ikuras, Inferic Souls become the unsettling blight known as “Dark Ancestral Spirits”; Inferic Souls are borne of Superior Souls, and because all Ancestral Spirits were borne of Superior Souls, a shadowed antithesis may be formed from Inferic Souls. Dark Ancestral Spirits carry with them the legacy of their tumultuous lifetimes, where they seek to undo all that is right and alive around them. Just as Inferi are hated in life, they are hated in death, for the spiritual denizens of the Ancestral Realm fears them—they quite literally roam to devour other Ancestral Spirits, though the sheer power of a Greater Ancestral renders them immune to Inferic consumption. By doing this, they are capable of absorbing the very essence of ancestors, and grow in power through this. This nature is viewed as heinous by those of the Ancestral Realms, for while it may be tolerated in other Spiritual Realms, it cannot be where they roam.
By growing in power, Inferic Souls that once belonged to Lesser Inferi become “Greater”. Through this process, Greater Inferi are born and are conceived with prominent differences to their lesser brethren. It is very much apparent that Greater Inferi are born with both a heightened form and a heightened mind - no longer savage and contorted, but rather malicious and otherworldly, assuming forms easily identified as “not of this world”. With their minds freed of barbarism, Greater Inferi may therefore experience a recollection of their past lives, but rather use it to their self-serving advantage than to pursue the fragments of their old existence in some melancholy tangent. Greater Inferi are still indeed Inferi - it is in their nature to undo all that exists around them with fury and flame, and the memories of the past are nothing to dissuade this.
With clearer minds comes greater power. Inferic Souls are merely malformed Superior Souls, so Greater Inferi are capable of practicing differing forms of sorcery. It is often destructive or malicious types of magic they seek to practice, like Pyromancy or Necromancy. The knowledge of such things are often gifted by Ixli, the Spirit of Forbidden Knowledge, before Greater Inferi materialize once more, and without deterrence—for Greater Inferi have already lost their sanity long ago.
The primary objective of Greater Inferi is to cultivate more Ancestral Spirits, and by extension create more Inferi from mortal Men. This act of cultivation is done merely by wreaking havoc; which means the focus of Greater Inferi are not unlike their lesser brothers. They roam to destroy and kill so the souls of their victims may drift toward the Spirit Realm and become sustenance for other weaker Dark Ancestral Spirits, so that Ixli and Ikuras may build a more powerful force.
But this process isn’t so simple. Mighty indeed are Greater and Lesser Inferi alike, but they are quite literally against the world; they are the “antithesis”, where they disregard all mortal alignments and simply exist to bring about discord where there is order. Necromancers terrorize to heighten their arcane power, but often to act as wardens of the dead. Frost Witches devour men in the night, but only to satiate their terrible curse. Tyrants rule with iron fists, but only because they think it is the right thing to do. Inferi disregard all of this - there lies no spectrum on either the good or evil side of things, for they embody chaos, and live to incite it. They are the all-enemy.
Therefore, the longevity of Greater Inferi is not what it would seem. By fighting all sides, the power of Greater Inferi may easily wane under the assault of allied forces, meaning the duration of Greater Inferi, under the reason and premise of their destructive, malicious nature, should not be too long. Such is even shorter for Lesser Inferi; they are but aggressive animals and savages, and thus quickly dispatched if their inhumanity does not frighten all whom they oppose.
Though the vast majority of contact with mortals has resulted in chaos and destruction, there are a fair, malevolent few who have managed to reach out to the Inferi while they wreak havoc in the Ancestral Plane. The bulk of these ne’erdowells have been Dark Shamans, or their successor the Narfurals. They commune with the Inferi in their home as a Lutauman would a normal Ancestral (and as such anyone attempting to contact an Inferis through this method must be a Lutauman, or some form of it), though it is far more difficult due to an Inferis’ erratic nature. Upon connection the Narfural drags the Inferis’ avatar into the mortal realm, much like they do so when summoning spectral thralls.
Upon a successful summon, a Lesser Inferi will be completely beyond the control of the summoner, and will act as the feral beast they did in life, often attacking their summoner. In the case of Greater Inferi, they may act with more intelligence and may choose to work with their summoner, though only as long as it allows them to better spread the chaos they crave. Results are unpredictable, for whatever malignant deals are made with Greater Inferi(which consist mostly of pacts to prevent the deaths of the conjurers of these Greater Inferi if not to gain something from them) often end in a grim betrayal or an overlooked, unexpected result.
In the Spirit Realm itself, Inferi will often attack any Lutaumen who's minds may be connecting to the Ancestral Plane. To be 'killed' by the Inferi in their home is a terrible fate - the lack of consciousness in the realm means they become permanently trapped in a vegetative state. In the mortal realm, their eyes will stare but not see, and they will remain still for the rest of their likely short lives.
However, Lutaumen are also the only beings both mortal and spiritual capable of permanently banishing an Inferis, and they may only do this in the Ancestral Plane. The process is relatively simple, though by no means easy. Likely with the help of mortal accomplices, the Inferis must be restrained by a kind of spiritual net that the Lutauman may craft while in the Spirit Realm. Upon restraint, the Lutauman must make 'physical' contact with the Inferis and utter a rather lengthy chant of banishment. If successful, the Inferis will be cast back out into the Soulstream to become Ragegeists, the Ancestral souls it absorbed freed.
- The age of Inferi can be determined by their visage alone - as they relate closely to the chaos of flame, they bear some kind of attunement to its life process; through the ages, Inferi gradually wane as their fury(their “inner-flame”), dwindles, leading to the degradation of their corporeal form much like the culmination of ashes amid a dying flame. Thus, to behold an Inferis where ashes and soot crumble from them like dead flesh is to behold an Inferis of yore. Few Inferi ever rarely live so long, for longevity is not in their nature.
- Greater Inferi, Lesser Inferi and Dark Ancestral Spirits are purely event tools; they are assets to be used in events and to shape events with. Players may sacrifice their characters to become Inferi, and by extension play as them in events, but otherwise lose rights to their characters after they’ve been converted.
- Inferic forms and origins are limitless. Only the “fallout of discord”, or essentially an masterless mass of chaotic energies born from a power source great enough for said energies to remain, can create Inferi. The Abyss, Stratum Lands or other lifeless, magically desolated places are all destinations where Inferi may be formed as a result of their magical fallout.
- Greater Inferi, though they share a title, are not Greater Spirits. They are still technically lesser ancestral spirits, and so may only be seen in the in the ancestral plane and may not bestow some bizarre kind of blessing upon any Lutaumen who would be so foolish as to seek them out.
- Upon the death of the remanifested Inferis, two things may happen depending on whether they are Lesser or Greater. In the case of the lesser, they lose virtually all their invested power when slain, and so upon their consciousness’s return to the Ancestral Plane they find themselves nigh powerless. They are husks of their former spiritual being, and can barely consume the relatively weak souls of children in order to try regain what was lost. They are more likely, however, to be absorbed by another Inferi or forever obliterated by a Lutauman.
- Greater Inferi are not quite so crippled by their loss. While they are indeed considerably weakened, they are not likely to revert to Lesser status unless already on the threshold.