Rathameldhontel are reclusive, flightless swamp-dwellers who in the distant past traded in their wings for more powerful magic.
- Singular: rathameldhontel; plural: rathameldhontel
- Size: 2m, excluding horns
- Lifespan: 800-1,000 Earth years
Examples of rathameldhontel:
Anatomy and physiology
Rathameldhontel are covered in shiny/iridescent scales, and have hoofs that splay to stop them sinking into the marsh in which they live. Their ancestors had powerful wings but modern rathameldhontel have only vestigial wings, if any. Rathameldhontel are remarkable for the tentacles that many of them have sprouting from their backs, and for their venomous stingers on the ends of their tails.
Rathameldhontel possess head hair, and all adult rathameldhontel can grow facial hair, regardless of sex. Individuals may have additional body hair on their ankles, elbows or forming a neck ruff.
The tail stinger is kept covered by bony plates, which come together in a point. Rathameldhontel normally tape up the stinger-carapace when in public as a courtesy to others.
These demons have swept-back horns but these are rarely used in serious combat. Their horns are normally used for affectionate headbutting and playful sparring.
Rathameldhontel cannot breathe underwater but can hold their breath for several minutes while swimming, and their eyes can focus underwater almost as well as in the air.
These demons, thanks to their boosted cores, are powerful mages but only at a distance. Their combat involves pummelling the opponent with magic attacks before they can close the gap.
In the past, rathameldhontel were physically weak, both in magic and in body. They found it difficult to hold their own or compete with other demons, and they feared extinction as a result. As a species, they collectively formed a pact with a bodiless entity who would bestow its power upon them. The price for this was the sacrifice of their wings. The effect of this bargain is that modern rathameldhontel are symbiotes: all of them are born with an entity-particle wrapped around their core (a demon organ that is the source of an individual's magic). The entity-particle will gradually fuse with the core as the demon ages, and become one inextricably-bound organ.
The symbiote is passed on from parent to child environmentally rather than genetically. (It is similar to how striped tulips beget striped tulips, not because the plants' DNA codes for the stripes, but because the virus that causes the stripes inevitably gets passed from parent plant to child.) The symbiote is already passed on by the time eggs are laid. In theory you could create a winged symbiote-free rathameldhontel by harvesting gametes and using IVF, provided you could somehow gestate the eggs.
The more powerful an individual is, the more tentacles they will sprout from their backs. The number of tentacles (always an even number, placed symmetrically) ranges from 0 to more than 8. 2 or 4 is most common, more than 8 is very rare (the highest number ever recorded was 14). Tentacles sprout during puberty.
Reproduction and ontogeny
Rathameldhontel lay clutches of 5-7 orange-sized eggs, of which likely 1-2 will end up being viable. The newly-hatched demons are incorporeal in nature: each one is a coruscating bolus of demonic energy. With luck, a hatchling will coalesce and form flesh within 24 hours. In most cases, this fails to happen and the energy-clump fails to develop into a true demon.
Sometimes rathameldhontel are born (once they've finished assuming a physical form) with tiny vestigial wings. These are often amputated, especially if they end up getting in the way of the tentacles.
Diet and cuisine
Rathameldhontel are obligate carnivores. They can and do eat vegetables, fruit and grains, but need meat to stay healthy. They used their movable tusks in their evolutionary past to flense carcasses (nowadays they will use a knife). Their diet is around 80-90% meat and the rest mostly fungus, berries and water weeds.
These demons can also ingest poisonous plants and fungi and use the toxins to manufacture their stinger-venom. Individuals who don't eat any toxic plants won't build up any venom.
Distribution and Habitat
These demons live in communes and villages in swamps, bogs and marshes.
These demons are reclusive and keep their communities as self-sufficient as possible. They do not like having to deal with other demons and the feeling is usually mutual. It is not unusual for individuals within a commune to live alone in their own dwelling with no housemates, but it is unusual for them to live in an isolated location far from a commune. Demons of other species who visit a rathameldhontel commune uninvited will usually be treated with wary disdain and may have tricks played upon them.
Rathameldhontel are competitive but not aggressively so. They are more likely to settle their differences with wagers and forfeits than with physical violence. A human may win safe passage from a group of rathameldhontel by offering to teach them a new game. (They already know blackjack, so don't bother.)
Genders and pronouns
Rathameldhontel are dyadic-ish. Their sexes are not genetically determined, but environmentally. Like crocodiles, they will be male or female (to use the dyadic equivalent terms for the sake of brevity) depending on at what temperature their eggs were incubated.
Sex differences are not clear-cut: individuals that were incubated at the boundary of a temperature range tend to become individuals with middling characteristics. Many rathameldhontel think of themselves as mostly a particular sex, rather than entirely.
Rathameldhontel names have prefixes indicating how many tentacles they have and thus how powerful they are.
The proper convention for introducing a rathameldhontel is 'named X, known as [prefix]X'. E.g. 'named Marith, known as Phelmarith.' Phelmarith's name can be shorted to Marith, but not to 'Phel'. That would be like calling a human just 'mister'.
|Number of tentacles
||Possible name prefixes
||0 ||Stel, Sel
||2 ||Kal, Kel
||4 ||Ru, Rel
||6 ||Bak, Bakuk, Bathuk
||8 ||Phel, Pel, Bel
||more than 8 ||Rak, Raka, Rath
Rathameldhontel never shorten their species name. Other demons might refer to them as the 'ratha' or the 'ra-mel-tel' for brevity's sake, but never in their presence.
Rathameldhontel tend not to bother with clothes unless the weather is cold, they need to have pockets, or they are visiting a settlement outside the commune. They dislike how wet clothes stick to their skin in their swampy home.
Compatibility with demonologists
Rathameldhontel do not like to associate with humans and would greatly prefer to be summoned only when the magician needs them (for battle, healing, etc.). You can pretty much forget about tryting to build up any friendship or rapport with them, and it can be difficult to persuade them to form a contract with you at all. They will try to exploit any loopholes you have left in your proposed contracy, and they may attempt to trick you into thinking you have performed the summoning ritual incorrectly and are in grave danger. Rathameldhontel may suit a summoner who is not actually interested in demonology for the sake of demonology, and who just wants some supernatural muscle to back them up while they quest for loot.
A summoner may be able to exploit a rathameldhontel's competitive nature. If you employ multiple demons at once, the rathameldhontel might work harder just for the sake of outperforming the other demons. Rathameldhontel enjoy games and gambling and it may be possible to win services from them this way.