Over the summer, I was posting to Tumblr a series of posts concerning the mythology of Gilrandree and the universe in which he lives. It's actually not just him, but all of the beasts in my pantheon who live in the same world, following the same rules.
I'm going to repost them here, and all future posts will appear here as well.
This first entry described how the world itself worked, at a bit of a "higher level" than Gil or any of the other demon lords. It's probably one of the most "metaphysical" and "spiritual" entries, and I think I have to add the caveat that I don't actually believe this is how the world really does work. There are certainly elements of religion in here, but it's not based on any single practice.
First off, souls exist. People live their lives in the mortal world, but when they die, there’s that “something” which escapes their body, moving onward. They are not, however, immortal. They can and are destroyed (mainly by the demons), and can be created as well.
When a mortal dies, the soul first makes its way down into the underworld, where it gets to atone for its sins; this is actually not that different from the Christian mythos, with one big exception: You don’t get stuck there for all eternity. Instead, once the beasts of Hell have had their “fun” with your soul, you’re released, moving onward to whatever comes next.
The demons don’t really know what happens to a soul when they release it, but it’s basically passed onward to be reborn. Memories of previous lives as well as the torture they faced in the underworld are suppressed, though deep in the person’s subconscious they know what they face if they drift into the realm of evil.
Not all souls make it into the Underworld, in fact, less than half do. ”Sins” in this context aren’t those of Christian mythos, but rather a more general “if you know it’s wrong, deep in your heart, it probably is” sort of thing. Not all souls which make it in get another chance, either: Some the beasts consider “too far gone,” and are simply devoured, destroyed, wiped out from existence.
Demons are the agents of destruction and chaos in this universe, and they are reasonably aware of this. They are but one of a large number of beings existing not in the mortal realm, but in a spiritual world. Similarly, the “Underworld” is a small collection of realms among many, many more in this spirit world. This aspect is very much like the description of the fae world in the Dresden universe, thought decidedly unlike that universe, the spirit world plays a key role in the afterlife.
Of course, just as mortals are capable of visits to the spirit realms, the supernatural creatures can and do visit the mortal realms, though this can be a rather difficult trip for them. There are many reasons for this; the portals between the worlds are not trivial to open, the spirit creatures don’t actually HAVE bodies in the mortal world, so have to create one for themselves (or posses the body of someone who does), and it generally not the “natural” place for them to exist.
Demons are particularly dangerous when they make it into the mortal realm, for a number of reasons. First, as their very nature is death, destruction, and chaos, those aspects of themselves don’t really coexist well with the physical world. On top of that, they exist to punish the souls of mortals, and they have eons of experience tormenting people. As such, it just comes naturally to them, and they don’t think anything of it. Finally, there’s sacrifice: the rules governing them when they are in the Underworld don’t really apply to them when in the mortal world. In the afterlife, they only are allowed to feed upon the worse of the souls, those who are beyond redemption. In the mortal world (or in regards to souls they steal “before their time”) no such rule applies.
For the most part, demons also, unfortunately, really enjoy being up in the mortal realm. Some just roam the world, largely benign, observing “life,” while others rage, destroying everything around them. Most, like Gil, meander back and forth across that line. At times, he can be a friendly, almost caring beast, if a bit self-centered and egotistical. Other times… not so much. He can go on a rampage with the best of the beasts, and the number of mortal deaths which could be attributed to his “visits” is simply huge. He’s the sort of creature who, during an otherwise innocent discussion, might wonder, “I wonder if I could wipe out this city, killing everyone in it?” and then actually attempt to do so (with a non-zero possibility of success).
It’s not that the demons are psychopaths, since they DO understand the destruction and pain they are causing, and they even can and do feel occasions of remorse for their actions in the mortal realm, but it’s just part of their nature.
In fact, the souls of mortals are fundamentally the same things as the spirits of demons, angels, and any of the other “supernatural” occupants of the spirit world. It is possible for a sufficiently powerful resident of the spirit world to “convert” a mortal soul into one of it’s kind. There are many demons in the Underworld who started out as mortals, but were “recruited” into service as a demon.
There is almost certainly a creator spirit of some sort, a proper “god” in this world, and very likely more than one. Just as the demons and other spiritual entities exist in a realm more “supernatural” than the mortal realm, these creators would exist in a realm again more “supernatural” than that. A small number of the spiritual creatures perform rituals and rites in their world to contact the “creator’s” world, the same way mortals might perform rituals to access the spirit world, and with the same results: It works, and a few might actually be able to roam freely in this “creator’s” world, but it’s a very, very dangerous place, and one with an entirely different set of rules, just as the mortal world and the spirit world’s rules differ wildly.
In fact, as a bit of a nod toward numerology (which is going to rear it’s head a few times in this mythos), there are nine such levels, the mortals living at the lowest one, the spirit world actually being the third, the second more of a transitional level. The higher you go, the more abstract things get. If a mortal somehow made it to the ninth level and started playing with things, they would literally be manipulating the very fabric of reality itself, in ways which would be entirely impossible for them to comprehend.
There’s one final aspect to demons and their interaction with the world as a whole: they are the agents of the apocalypse. When and if the beings existing at the higher levels decide an entire world just isn’t working out, they basically open up the barrier between the demon’s realm and the mortal realm. The results are reasonably unpleasant for the mortal population. More than once, Gil has been involved in such “actions” against a world, and while his nature drove him to entirely horrific acts, he has no clue why these things were allowed to happen.