Deskari

Lord of the Locust Host, Demon Lord of Infestation and Locusts.
Thought to be the son of Pazuzu, Deskari is believed by many scholars to be the Usher of the Apocalypse.

“Deskari’s Abyssal minions are like vermin in the world of mortals. Lift a piece of wood, and they are there. Split a stone, and you will find them.”—The Book of the Damned

Deskari, called the Lord of the Locust Host and Usher of the Apocalypse, rose from humble origins to become a great source of evil. His “father,” the demon lord Pazuzu, mated with an unnamed giant insectlike demon in the Abyss, and from this union Deskari was hatched, was born, or simply emerged into existence. Somewhat protected by Pazuzu’s strong influence and sheltered by his Abyssal realm, Deskari was able to gather thousands of troops under his banner, found an insidious cult on the Material Plane, develop into a nascent demon lord, seize his own Abyssal realm, and elevate himself to full demon lord status.

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Deskari appears as an insectoid centaur creature. His lower half resembles a six-legged locust. From where the locust’s head should be sprouts a vaguely humanoid torso covered in chitinous plates, with arms holding a terrible scythe called Riftcarver. This blade looks like the scissoring claw of a mantis and was crafted from the remains of his father’s monstrous mate. Deskari’s head is that of a monstrous insect, with bulging eyes, multiple mandibles around a serrated mouth, and a crown of spikes or antennae. His wings are individual swarms of biting flies extending from his back, and he can see with their countless eyes just as well as with his own.

When Deskari is pleased, locusts consume enemies’ supplies or gather harmlessly on walls, blades become poisoned, hostile swarms disperse, and worshipers’ awareness expands as if they could see in all directions. When he is angry, sounds are drowned out by a hideous buzzing, swarms turn hostile and consume anything they can reach, the earth collapses into sinkholes, and bones become brittle. Deskari is chaotic evil, and his portfolio is chasms, infestation, and locusts. His weapon is the scythe. His unholy symbol is a pair of crossed locust wings that are dripping with blood. His sigil resembles a one-eyed insect’s head. His domains are Nature and War. His priests are clerics, warlocks, and fallen paladins. Although locusts are part of his portfolio, he has no druid worshipers—in fact, he and his followers are especially hateful toward druids.

Deskari thinks of himself as superior to other demon lords, especially those who arose from humanoid creatures. His chitinous flesh is harder, his eyes are more numerous and more perceptive, and his saliva is a deadly poison. A child of two powerful demons, he was never a mortal, and therefore was never a larval soul, so he deems his origin more pure—he was always a demon and never anything else, and thus he has always been superior to any demon lord who had a mortal life before becoming a demon. Likewise, he esteems other lords who predate mortal sin (including his father, Pazuzu) or who originated as qlippoth more than the once-mortal. He does not speak of this attitude, but it guides his plans and his interactions with his minions and peers.

Many of his demonic minions are mindless (or near mindless) creatures who obey him (or his generals) only because of his and his generals’ special ability to communicate with vermin. These minions’ mindlessness makes them dangerous to all other nearby creatures, and ensures these demonic vermin are impervious to bribery or attempts to charm them. Unless he has need of them or requires them to specifically avoid a creature or fragile plan, he allows his creatures to roam free and consume anything they can kill.

As the demon lord of locusts, he is aware of the natural cycles of eggs and swarming. He knows that swarms naturally consume everything in their path and leave a barren wasteland, and understands that sometimes a swarm must in turn be consumed to sustain another creature. Just as some insects remain buried for years to mature before they swarm, he instructs his cultists to remain hidden and quiet until he deems it is time to strike. Those who emerge too soon and are destroyed for their haste are unfit specimens unworthy to serve him in their current form—but they provide him with new larval souls with which he can create new demons. Some cultists bury their Abyssal allegiance so deeply they forget who they serve (sometimes using magic to facilitate this), awakening only for a specific trigger or at the demon lord’s will so they can carry out their mission.

The Goals of Deskari

Despite his monstrous and inhuman appearance, Deskari is not a mere brute or a mindless thing like a common insect; such a creature would not be able to rise to the power of a demon lord, as it would inevitably be outwitted or enslaved by a creature of greater intelligence or magic. Rather, Deskari is a genius who has lived for thousands of years, and understands the nature of mortal fear, sins, and souls. And just as a hive is willing to sacrifice drones and soldiers to destroy a dangerous invader or expand its territory, Deskari is willing to spend the lives of his minions or even allow great losses if doing so helps him achieve victory in the long run.

Deskari also believes in giving those fighting against his armies time to defeat themselves by succumbing to corruption and unwittingly doing the demons’ jobs for them. With the aid of Baphomet and his cult of Ivory Templars, the demons pick away at the mental fortitude of his adversaries, using disguised demons or hidden cultists to vex and stir contempt, and then let human nature do the rest.

Deskari hungers for power, territory, and the resources to feed his armies and monstrous brood. His eventual plans for total conquest might put him in opposition with other demon lords with similar interests, but the timeline for these endeavors is long enough that he expects to defeat them directly or to have infiltrated their realms with his own agents and destroyed them from within before they pose a significant threat.

The Cult of Deskari

With his worshipers, Deskari is aloof, impersonal, and ruthless. He is quick to punish unexpected failures, but coolly tolerant when a minion doesn’t complete a task the demon lord didn’t expect it to finish, or if the failure is part of a greater plan. He has plans for many worlds, and sometimes his priests may not communicate with him directly for years at a time, instead receiving their spells through his demonic generals as he focuses his attention on other realms.

As Deskari’s main interests are infiltrating new territory and destroying those who oppose him, his commandments echo these sentiments.

All Fall to a Thousand Bites: A swarm defeats its enemies not because of the strength of its individuals, but with the unified power of overwhelming numbers. The loss of one creature in a swarm is meaningless if the swarm survives, and these losses may actually be essential for victory, like ants drowning themselves to form a bridge across a river so their fellows may cross. If you serve the Usher of the Apocalypse, you may be sacrificed to achieve that goal—or another may fall so you may succeed.

Life Feeds on Life: It is the nature of every living thing to sustain itself by consuming weaker creatures. Even hives may turn to cannibalism if food is scarce so that the greater whole may survive. Be willing to sacrifice your minions, your allies, or even your own flesh if that means you succeed. A man who starves to death is useless, but one who survives by eating his own arm may live to fight on. Do what you must do in order to persevere.

Many cultists serve Deskari thinking that they’ll be rewarded for their worship when he takes over the world. However, he sees them all as pawns in his bid to dominate the mortal world, and will kill, sell, enslave, or sacrifice them if necessary. Their mortal lives mean little to him— even less than those of his demon minions—for if they die loyal to him, they’ll reform as larva in his Abyssal realm to serve as either food for his demons or raw material for creating new demons. The smarter cultists realize this is their fate, and graft demonic flesh onto themselves or enter pacts to sell their souls in a bid to be rewarded by becoming more powerful demons in death.

Services to the Lord of the Locus Host involve humming and hissing, playing percussion instruments (often skulls filled with finger bones and sealed shut with resin), burning candles, and sacrificing animals or humans. Sacrifices are usually fed to a live insect swarm (either one living in the temple or one summoned by a priest), and the bones are kept as trophies and decorations for the temple or ritual items. Some rituals require tearing up a holy text from another religion, and perhaps feeding it to a swarm if such creatures eat paper or leather. Cultists place little value on ceremonial clothing, displays of power are more important than wearing the “proper” garments. Most prefer segmented armor that makes them look like insects. Deskari has no interest in marriage, and his cult has no dogma for or against it. He himself “mates” as he wants or plants his eggs in creatures if he wants to reproduce, and considers the concept of swearing an oath to a particular mate as stupid as promising your food that you won’t eat any other kind of food. Likewise, his followers may take lovers or concubines or make temporary or permanent arrangements according to their desires or local customs. In many cases, a wealthy cultist takes an attractive slave as a mate, sacrificing it to the demon lord when it is no longer sufficiently pleasing.

Temples and Shrines

Deskari’s temples are usually built in caverns or ruined churches, or set into the walls of cliffs or chasms. Most include a pit full of insects or worms, which are used for performing his demonic obedience and for disposing of sacrificed creatures. In lands where his worship is forbidden, these temples are often disguised as worm farms, with the bins of squiggling vermin supposedly used to enrich the soil for better farming.

Holidays

Worshipers of Deskari honor the first day of spring, a time of new life when insects emerge from their cocoons, and the harvest moon, when those creatures descend upon mortal crops and devour them, leaving ruin and sorrow in their wake.

Holy Text

Deskari’s holy text is a confusing, almost poetic series of 10 inscribed clay tablets called One Thousand Voices in My Flesh. Part spiritual guide, part screed against the mortal world, it is a first-person anecdote written by a human priest infested with Deskari’s eggs, which spoke to him in many voices until he was compelled to take his own life by leaping into a chasm. It includes many odd phrases in Abyssal that have different meanings depending on whether the speaker is talking about minds, living bodies, or food.

The Servants of Deskari

A Priest’s Role

As with most demon cults, priests’ main task is to acquire power and use it to further their patron’s plans for domination. Priests are expected to watch for opportunities to corrupt or destroy enemies or the plans of enemies. Many become skilled at concealing or eradicating bodies, and may ally themselves with a thieves’ or assassins’ guild in this role. Priests usually have skill in Deception, Intimidation, Nature, and Perception. Daily tasks for a priest usually involve cultivating local vermin, exploring suitable places for expansion and colonization. Although Deskari’s priests work together with other cult cells, they are not averse to infiltrating and destroying cults that worship other deities—even other demon lords.

Servitor Demons

Deskari’s demons usually have one or more insectile body parts, even those with humanoid forms such as babaus and vrocks. A Deskaran succubus might have compound eyes and locust wings, a Deskaran quasit might have insect heads, a Deskaran nabasu could resemble an anthropomorphic mosquito, a Deskaran glabrezu might have mantis claws instead of crab claws, and so on. Many of these fiends are his creations, a direct result of him implanting eggs in past victims. Some of the more powerful demons in his realm are his hideous children and grandchildren, born of many kinds of demons (although he is likely to consume any offspring who show inclinations of turning against him).

Planar Allies

In addition to his servitor demons, Deskari has several generals who serve him in the Rasping Rifts, including the following.

Kzuhisaak: This demonic vermin giant locust has a fiery breath weapon and can fly into a rage like a barbarian. She carries swarms of her young in hollow spaces on her abdomen, and has been known to spray her hungry hatchlings at troublesome opponents. She prefers offerings of aasimars or archons, preferably ones that have been paralyzed with poison.

Mnikrhrask: This derakni Abyssal sorcerer practices a strange form of blood-based necromancy and uses his powers to reanimate the shriveled husks of his victims. He uses these creatures as bodyguards and shock troops, and prefers sacrifices of ogres, trolls, and hill giants for this purpose.

Relationships

Baphomet
Deskari is allied with his fellow demon lord Baphomet and, for instance, their followers have worked effectively together in the past.

Izyagna
Deskari maintains a rivalry with the Nascent demon lord Izyagna, presumably associated with their insect-oriented portfolios.

Pazuzu
The Abyssal mating of Pazuzu with a giant demon resembling an insect resulted in the ‘hatching’ of Deskari; Pazuzu is thus considered the ‘father’ of Deskari. Under the protection of his father, Deskari rose in power within the Abyss eventually attaining full demon lord status himself. Deskari still admires Pazuzu and they maintain cordial relations with each other. Although Deskari and Pazuzu are now similar in levels of power, Deskari maintains a modicum of subservience to his father and Deskari’s success brings credit to Pazuzu. Deskari’s mother’s name is unknown and she clearly was destroyed at some point as Deskari has created his brutal scythe, Riftcarver, from her remains.

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Deskari

Tales of the Bloodstone Lands Autumnfyr