Demons are an uncommon, immortal magic race of humanoid. Unlike the other magic races and species, demons are created rather than born. They have access to inter-dimensional and spoken magic, and are characterized by their bat-like wings and red eyes.
Demons come in any shape or size, depending on what race or species they were before they died. Elves, nymphs, dryads, centaurs, nature magic fairies and any magical hybrids with these races exhibiting natural magic are not as likely to become demons. Most physical attributes, including: height, weight and skin color, remain the same as they were before the individual turned; however, there are some changes in appearance that come with being a demon.
Demons have wings. These wings are frequently described as bat-like, with another common description being that they are similar to the wings of Akpirikpa dragons. They come in various shades of black, dark grays and reds, and are often described as being very sensitive to the touch. Wing color is commonly believed to be a display of a demon's power, with red wings being considered to be a mark of the most powerful, although there has been no conclusive scientific research on the subject. What is, however, grounded in truth is that the vast majority of demons have black wings, with only 2% of the demon population exhibiting red wings. In even rarer cases, .05% of cases, a demon may have wings that are black and red, whether it be a black-and-red pattern or each wing displaying a different color.
Another change that comes with becoming a demon is eye color. All demons have red eyes, although it is not just the iris that changes -- it is the entire eye, including the pupil and whites. The average demon's eyes are a mid-tone of red, although some have eyes that are almost black or very vibrant red. Despite urban legend, demons' eyes do not glow, unless they were originally a drow. In the time since the elf-drow war in the second millennium of the Dragon Era that effectively wiped out the drows' magic except in very rare cases, only one documented case of a drow changing into a demon has been recorded.
The exact circumstances of how a demon becomes a demon are not well understood. It is known that extreme emotional trauma and mental illness are linked with demon creation, and many older texts describe the race as a "manifestation of negative emotional energy," which seems to be mostly true. There are certain mental illnesses that tend to be more likely to cause demonization: post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic disorders (i.e. schizophrenia), borderline personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Psychopaths and sociopaths tend to also run a higher risk, especially if they have committed any heinous crimes such as murder or rape. People who suffer from depression and anxiety are not typically considered "at risk" to be demonized unless their illness is especially severe or related to ongoing abuse or neglect.
Becoming a demon is often a slow, drawn-out process that can last anywhere from weeks to years. There is no typical case of demonization, although there are many common symptoms that most demons have experienced.
One of the first signs of the change is dissociation, which is often described as "one's body acting on its own, with no control over its actions," and described by nearly 90% of all demons. Oftentimes, the dissociation is so great that the person will develop demon-onset syndrome, a type of dissociative identity disorder -- also known as "multiple personality disorder" -- that manifests only temporarily while demons are in the preliminary stages of their change. Demon-onset syndrome has afflicted nearly 55% of all demons during their change.
Demon-onset syndrome is little-understood, as there are not many people to study on, and psychologists often only know what the demon recounts from their experience. In some cases, people who were there to witness the change also have input. Those who witness the change often describe the demon's core personality traits taking on personalities of their own and changing, seemingly, at random. The demon has no recollection of these cycling personalities, and are only aware of their actions and surroundings when the personality that they consider themself is "fronting."
Often, demon-onset syndrome causes a person to become very violent in the beginning stages of the disorder. While it is dependent on which personality is in control of the body, many of the personalities that manifest from the illness have violent tendencies. Some even range into what is considered ultraviolence, which is nothing short of razing villages. Most times, individuals afflicted with the syndrome do not maintain the "anger stage" of the disorder (if they experience it at all), and instead devolve into various stages of paranoia, depression, anxiety and psychosis.
Demons who do not experience demon-onset syndrome generally describe either new or increased hallucinations (typically auditory), paranoia, depression and anxiety. Those rare few who do not experience dissociation often have very intense, vivid descriptions of these increased issues and how they affected their life during their change. Those who have experience dissociation had their lives just as severely impacted as those without the symptom, but they often have gaps in their memory or can only bring back vague recollections of exactly what they experienced.
Hallucinations and paranoia are reported in all cases of long-term demonization, with almost all subjects describing depression and anxiety to go along with them. In some cases, anger is also a very present emotion. In cases where these individuals have no support group, they are often reported to "run off into the wilderness" and not be seen until their demonization is complete. Those who suffer from demon-onset syndrome also experience what is considered the "running" stage, and it is typically when they are aware of their actions that they run off.
What follows is wildly different for each individual who experiences it. Individuals with experience with psychoactive drugs often describe this stage as a "prolonged bad trip." The need to eat and drink is also completely disregarded during this stage, and this is where the vast majority of those who experience the demonization process die, whether of magical exhaustion (since their magical circuits appear to be what keeps their body functioning without food or water), suicide or being murdered.
Those demons who have not experienced dissociation may begin to experience it at this point, or they may remain in complete control of their bodies and actions throughout their demonization. Different aspects of an individual's life will become clear to them in very vivid detail, and they must confront these things head-on and come to some sort of terms with them. These aspects are almost always of the negative variety and directly related to what has caused the demonization in the first place, whether it be trauma, illness or blatant disregard for life. Those who experience dissociation and demon-onset disorder will begin to be able to better ground themselves as they come to terms with these things. The hallucinations will fade first, then the paranoia, then the depression and anxiety; at the end of it all -- which can take days to months and even years -- the newly-formed demon often describes a sense of clarity. Others fly into a rage; others still may not lose the dissociation and/or paranoia and hallucinations that plagued them during their change. There are no reported cases of demon-onset syndrome beyond demonization.
Some demons say that they are very aware of how their magic is changing, and some phase into the spirit realm until their demonization finalizes. Since time flow in the spirit realm and Alksheist are vastly different, those who slip into the spirit realm during demonization can spend the equivalent of hours to months inside the realm and return to Alksheist centuries later. These people are more likely to describe a sense of clarity than those who underwent the change purely on the physical plane.
The physical changes of demonization are often not consciously noted by the individual undergoing them. They are often too wrapped up in a mental whirlwind to take notice of where bodily pains are coming from. All demons who undergo the long-term change describe it as painful or even agonizing -- this is not just because of the emotional pain that translates into physical pain, but physical pain of growing wings and their eyes changing. Wings often take at least a week to grow to full size, although it is often longer; their eye change is much slower, beginning toward the very beginning of the process. Demons have better eyesight than most, and during the onset of their demonization, most remember their eyesight becoming much more clear. Others describe seeing new shades of purples and reds or the ability to see the spirit realm superimposed upon reality, although both of these are uncommon.
Not all demon changes are long-term. A very small percentage of demons, 5%, come to be out of quick death. Demons who change rapidly are most common during war, when death comes unexpectedly. Suicides are also a leading cause of a rapid change. All rapid change reported up to this point is the direct result of physical trauma or burning.
Most people who experience rapid change are deeply troubled, and generally afflicted by more than one mental illness along with extreme emotional trauma. Some are in the very beginning stages of long-term demonization; if they are, they had experienced dissociation becoming more and more of a problem in their everyday lives, although none had reported experiencing demon-onset syndrome before being changed.
In a rapid change instance, an individual will die. They may stay dead for up to three days, die and remain unconscious in a coma or immediately awaken. Whatever wounds caused the change will be instantly healed, and no scars will remain. The eye change is also instantaneous, as is the change in magic. Wings, however, are not, and have to take natural time to grow. This is often a very painful process, heightened by cluster headaches that are believed to be caused by the ocular changes.
Rapid-change demons do not report the sense of clarity of the long-term demons, and instead often describe the experience to worsen any mental symptoms that may have been ailing them. These demons are much more likely to exhibit the same illnesses that plagued them in their past life compared to long-term demons, who are often cured of any mental ailments following their demonization. Rapid-change demons may also exhibit some symptoms of demon-onset disorder and dissociation, although they are typically not to the extreme that long-term demons experience.
Demons are the other species that you become, just like the angels. However, demons are not created by a near death experience. Demons are a manifestation of negative emotional energy. Extremely troubled people may unintentionally give off energy that turns them into a demon, which does not mean that they are evil, simply troubled. Due to their nature-based magic, an elf will rarely become a demon, although it is always someone from a magical species. When someone is turned into a demon (and it is unclear how much emotional trauma one must go through to become a demon, but it's generally more), their connections to the previous type of magic is erased and changed into something different.
The new type of magic that every demon has is rare, as demons are rare. This is called demonic magic or spiritual/inter-dimensional magic, as only demons have this sort of magic (and limited fairies). This sort of magic blurs the lines between the spirit dimension and the regular dimension, where Alksheist is. They can travel between the dimensions at will. Therefore, they are natural divines. They may have other powers related to spirit and dimensions, but that tends to vary for every person. Demons also tend to be younger, children or adults, and are immortal. Their eyes turn completely red and they have black and/or red wings that are similar to a bat's.