Trust is the adhesive which binds together relationships and allows families, even societies, to form and stabilize. In the absence of trust, mortals affiliate with each other grudgingly, if at all. Devoid of trust, such associations that do exist often become marred by internal strife and hostility. However even in those circumstances where trust is present, trust is rarely absolute, and mistrust and fear between mortals has often led to dire and disastrous consequence.
Horrors of the Abyss By John Harris, William Church, and Serge. W. Desir, Jr.,
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More often than not, these disastrous consequences are the vile fruit of The Abyss, spawned by demented minds and demonic flesh. Few things benefit The Abyss more than mortals who succumb to hostility and aggravation. Stripped of trust, these mortals increasingly spurn goodness and order as utterly impotent in a Creation where they perceive everyone is at war with everyone else. These beings with such a warped view soon resemble demons in mind and deed, if not flesh, as they respond with bloodlust to every slight and precariously balance on the edge of paranoia. Foremost among The Abyss‘ means of spreading the spiritual cancer of distrust, the asakku are the demonic incarnations of suspicion and strife.
According to certain scholars, asakku are some of the most recent demons spawned by The Abyss in its unconscious attempt to corrupt Creation. Despite their comparative age, these demons have so successfully spread discord and destruction that among many mortal nations and faiths, asakku have become synonymous with demonic possession and the zhedin. Considering how both the ekimmu and rabissu predate asakku, the infamy of this new demonic race is all the more impressive-and terrifying.
While most scholars believe they spawn exclusively inside The Abyss like other zhedin, scattered reports allege that some asakku have arisen within the Mortal Coil, created in communities ravaged by their abyssal-birthed kin. However, critics of this theory dismiss such reports. They explain that it is easy to confuse the appearance of asakku being born from mortals with multiple asakku hunting down the same host, or hosts, for their own perverse purposes.
Although endowed with an independent measure of destructive prowess, asakku generally prefer possessing mortals over direct violence, as the former method allows them to simultaneously ruin both their hosts and the communities in which they live. Based upon their instinctive knowledge of the sentiments that birthed them, these demons possess an uncanny ability to identify the most trusted or innocent beings within a community, targeting such prey above all others.
In most cases, the initial victims are children or community elders. From this initial foray into a community’s life, asakku then worm themselves into doing further damage through working their way close to much better and more powerful targets, such as any spellcasters within a community.
The best and the most difficult targets along these lines for an asakku’s subversion are divine spellcasters. Out of potential hosts, they are often associated with communal stability and are the most likely and capable to exorcise demonic possession. Once an asakku has lodged itself in the mind of its final target, it then uses every possible means of utterly destroying a community from within.
This can include manipulating its host to commit brutal murders, episodes of arson, or acts of lethal terror. However, in those circumstances when doing such would be insufficient to cause massive distrust and instability, they can instead cause minor disasters or social disruptions which they can then proceed to exacerbate. Even when an asakku is caught, a victimized community often continues to suffer from asakku predation, as these fiends relish abandoning their hosts to face the consequences of their demonic-induced actions while the asakku possess new victims previously weakened by their depredations.
Unique among those demons who specialize in possession, asakku are considered extremely useful to demons of greater power than themselves. Many atrocities, demon lords, and demon princes use those asakku that they can either bend to their will or force into serving them as enforcers against those who either fall away from their service or serve rivals through possessing their loved ones or innocent beings.
Because mortals are often not the best combatants in The Blood War, they find comparatively little use on the front lines of battle as asakku-host pairings. However, in the more subtle forms of combat between the demons of The Abyss and the rest of Creation, asakku are tremendously gainful to those that can manipulate them, as a single asakku in several months’ time can easily rip an entire community apart through judicious use of its possession ability, destructive prowess, and its other powers to spark mistrust and loathing between the living. Other more powerful demons use asakku as bounty hunters, possessing those that may have initially escaped from The Abyss and dragging them back for even more horrific punishment.
In terms of their personalities, asakku are stubborn, deceptive, intelligent, and vengeful. They hold grudges for exceptionally long periods-especially against other demons. While asakku are incapable of possessing other denizens of The Abyss, they have no such compunctions or limitations against possessing half-fiends. Many demons that have opted to use either voluntary or forced offspring in order to try and increase their own presence upon The Mortal Coil discover previously slighted asakku to be persistent and vicious foes.
Asakku are just as hostile towards each other as they are to other beings, and in certain situations, multiple asakku have been known to vie for the power to possess the same mortal. In such situations, these poor hosts often lose their sanity from having so many vile personages competing over their minds and souls.
An asakku appears as a six-foot long serpent with articulated black and green scales and spikes pointed backwards. Wiry and thin, their bodies seem not to slither so much as glide through the air. Although its head is scaled much like its body, an asakku’s face appears vaguely feline and possess yellowed, unblinking eyes. When an asakku speaks in its true voice as opposed to that of its current victim, it sounds like the voice of a child, yet the words that come out of its mouth are anything but innocent-and are often the exact opposite of such.
|Asakku (CR 16)|
|AC 29 (+12 natural, +7 Dexterity), touch 17, flat-footed 22; Dodge|
hp 136 (16d8 +64); DR 15/silver and good
|Speed 40 ft. (8 squares), Climb 40 ft.|
Melee bite +19 (2d6 + 3) and sting +17/+12 (1d8 + 1 and poison)
Spell-like Abilities (CL 16th)
At will-cyclonic blastSC (DC 22), deeper darkness, greater dispel magic, levitate (self only), Hold monster (DC 23), modify memory (host only) (DC 22), passwall, persistent image, suggestion (DC 21), telekinesis, greater teleport (self and host), tremorsSC (DC 20), Vipergout SC, wall of fire (DC 21).
|Abilities Strength 16, Dexterity 24, Constitution 18, Intelligence 18, Wisdom 18, Charisma 24|
SQ Exorcist’s Bane
Feats Ability Focus (Possess Mortal), Dodge, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Multiattack, Rapid Strike (sting), Skill Focus (Sense Motive), Spell Focus (Enchantment)
Skills Acrobatics +26, Bluff +26, Climb +22, Diplomacy +26, Disguise +26, Escape Artist +26, Intimidate +26, Knowledge (religion) +23, Linguistics +23, Perception
+23, Sense Motive +26, Stealth +26
|Convulse (Su): An asakku that has possessed a victim may choose to convulse it as a standard action. A convulsed mortal enters into violent, painful spasms which deal 2d8 points of damage to the asakku’s host, with no save allowed. However, the true power of the convulsions comes not from the harm that is done to the host, but to those beings that hear the constant stream of spiteful expletives and insults that the possessed mortal screams in its agony. |
Any being within 30 feet that listens to a convulsed victim must make an initial Will save DC 25 in order to avoid attacking the host of the asakku with the nearest improvised or actual weapons during the first round. Each round afterwards, those who remain within this radius must continue to make an additional Will save in order to avoid taking a -1 penalty against the asakku’s other attacks as their power to resist the asakku is slowly eroded. The saving throw DC is Charisma-based, and this is a mind-affecting sonic effect.
Exorcist’s Bane (Ex): Asakku are stubbornly resistant to most attempts to evict them from a host -especially when such attempts come from good-aligned beings. Accordingly, an asakku’s power over its hosts exists in the following ways:
First, they possesses a profane bonus to its Spell Resistance and Will saves against spells and special abilities intended to exorcise it from a given host. This bonus increases by +1 per every four HD that an asakku advances.
Second, an they can focus all of the feelings that spawned it against a single being that is attempting to exorcise them. When this occurs, an exorcist must make a Ref save DC 25 or else catch on fire, taking 1d8 points of fire damage for every 2 HD of the asakku. However, doing so weakens the asakku itself, causing it to be exhausted and take an additional -1 penalty to its own saves for the rest of the day after each attempt. Penalties to an asakku’s saves along these lines are cumulative.
Fevered Imaginings (Su): Asakku do far more than incarnate hatred and mistrust between mortals. In a number of ways, they literally radiate these negative sentiments in a 60 foot radius around them. Most beings around an asakku experience this as a slightly heated feeling, a sensation that the air that they breathe is actually hotter than it really is even if it is actually cold, or the first flush of rage and anger at being grossly offended.
Individuals that have previously taken a hostile action (either through making an attempted physical attack, or through casting a hostile spell) within the area affected must make a Will save DC 25, or else express every shred of the hidden mistrust and loathing within their hearts against their previous target.
This forces them to focus entirely on slaughtering the being they have already attacked to exclusion of all other taskings and doing whatever it takes in order to slaughter them, taking a -1 cumulative profane penalty to their Will saves against the asakku’s other powers each round they give in to their rage. Preventing a victim of an asakku’s Fevered Imaginings from actually killing or attempting to injure their given target breaks this aspect of the asakku’s power over them and causes the penalties to disappear.
Poison (Su): An asakku injects hateful bile into the wounds that it deals with its stinger, forcing those stung to make a Fort save DC 25 or else take 1d6 points of Wisdom damage as primary damage and 1d6 points of Wisdom damage as secondary damage 1 minute later.
Possess Mortal (Su): As a full round action, an asakku that is immediately adjacent to a potential victim (within 5 feet) can attempt to possess it, forcing it to make a Will save DC 25. Failing the Will save allows the asakku to either slither up the victim’s body and crawl within its head through an orifice, or leap from the body of a previous victim and into its next target. For the purposes of determining whether a mortal can be targetted,
Possessed victims do not necessarily know that they are possessed, and most asakku make a point out of immediately modifying the memory of their victims until they are ready to reveal themselves in one form or another inside the victim’s mind. Furthermore, asakku within hosts have full access to their memories and class features, while still being able to use their spell-like abilities, Fevered Imaginings, and Seed of Emnity attacks.
Mortals possessed by asakku appear otherwise normal, do not detect as evil, and can cross protective barriers against evil creatures such as protection from evil and magic circle against evil upon a successful caster level check using the asakku’s HD as a caster level.
If a being is already possessed, an asakku can spend a full-round action to challenge possession of the mortal. If the asakku succeeds in its challenge, it can either exorcise its rival or share the host with another asakku, although every additional asakku that attempts to share the same being causes the afflicted host to take 1d6 points of Wisdom drain per day. Whenever an asakku competes for possession of a mortal, the original possessing fiend or entity must make a Will save DC 25. The saving throw DC is Charisma-based, and what occurs to the defeated entity depends on its nature. outsiders or spellcasters using spells such as Magic Jar that are evicted along these lines are shoved outside of the host and are so overwhelmed by the sheer evil of the asakku that they must make a Will save DC 25 or else take 1d4 points of Wisdom and Charisma drain immediately.
Evicted undead materialize (in ethereal form if naturally ethereal) in one of the squares adjacent to the asakku’s host. If the attempt to evict
Seed of Emnity (Su): 1/day, an asakku can implant a Seed of Emnity into the mind of a being aside from its current host. Targeted victims become slowly, but increasingly, hostile towards those who previously were their closest associates. Each time a being affected by this ability gets within 30 feet of one of its former friends, the tainted individual must make a Will save DC 25 or immediately blurt out its mistrust against its former friend.
Each time they give in, they take a -1 penalty on their Will saves against the asakku should they encounter them later, whether directly or within a host, and furthermore are treated as one step less friendly in terms of Diplomacy checks towards that same being. Upon becoming Hostile, an affected creature must make another Will save against the asakku’s Seed of Emnity ability or immediately attack the previous friend with the intention of killing its past ally.
Should a victim of a Seed of Emnity kill their former associate, the asakku immediately becomes aware of the murderer’s location and may opt to either greater teleport or planeshift to the affected creature. Upon doing so, the asakku can immediately attempt to possess the mortal. A Seed of Emnity is never visible, but it can be removed with the successful casting of a heal spell upon the victim before it has managed to completely destroy the afflicted creature. Otherwise, a Seed of Emnity dies on its own within a host after six days.
Organization Solitary or Misery (Asakku and Host)
Combat: Asakku prefer to prey upon the weak. Consequently, these demons often target children as an easy means of both infiltrating and persisting within a community, as the sadistic fiends realize that good-aligned beings are particularly unwilling to harm, much less kill, a child, possessed or not. Generally, they prefer to get others to do their work for them.
Asakku accomplish this through Fevered Imaginings combined with casting Morality Undone in order to turn opponents against each other and forcing foes to fight through walls of previously innocent beings or even better, former allies. If an asakku is cornered, it will teleport away as quickly as possible and scheme for vengeance against whoever defeated it. In circumstances where it cannot immediately escape along these lines, it will use wall of fire and Deeper Darkness to slither away quickly or passwall itself away from those foes that could kill it.