A molydeus (pronounced: /moʊlˈidiʌs/ mol-EE-dee-us) (molydei plural ), was a powerful two-headed tanar'ri demon that existed in a strange place outside the regular Abyssal hierarchy. Feared even more than the balors, they served both as intermediaries and enforcers for their respective demon lords.
Molydei were enormous humanoid creatures that stood 12 feet (3.7 meters) tall and weighed 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms). Their muscular bodies were covered in crimson red skin and equipped with a set of clawed hands. Their main head resembled a slavering, silver-eyed wolf or hyena, while a writhing serpent protruded out from their neck.
At nearly all times, molydei carried a special demonic weapon specifically linked to them. Although it was normally a greataxe, its form was often dependent on the demon lord they served, such as manifesting as a flail for Yeenoghu. Jagged runes were carved into the weapon and a shimmering ruby laid within the base of the shaft. If a molydeus was slain, its weapon dissolved into a puddle of ichor.
Due to the nature of their relations to their respective demon lords, they had no room for treachery, and so served their lords faithfully. Even though they enforced their doctrine among high-ranking tanar'ri without bias, those below a certain level were thought to be too lowly to trust, and were kept in line with constant threats.
Due to their two heads and truesight, it was nearly impossible to get the jump on a molydeus. Their various resistances made them hard to bring down physically, while possessing two heads increased their resistance to magical manipulation. A slew of spells were at their disposal, making them difficult to deal with, even disregarding their potent physical abilities. Most dangerous of these spells was possibly their power to cast imprisonment, using the ruby of their weapons as the component. The tanar'ri they summoned were often a small group of babaus or chasmes, or a marilith.
Most dangerous of their powers was the venomous bite of their serpentine head. When their dripping fangs injected venom into a creature, even demons who were normally immune to poison, they would undergo a terrifying transformation into a mane. This transformation was so shockingly permanent that only some form of divine intervention or a carefully worded wish spell could undo it.
The heads of a molydeus took turns biting a foe in combat, while at the same time the demon attacked with its greataxe and used its potent innate spellcasting abilities. In battle, their myriad of immunities and resistances caused them to fight fearlessly, and they seldom retreated.
Molydei were possibly the most dreaded demons in the entire Abyss, owing to their numerous horrifying features. Outside of having power rivaling that of the balor, a molydeus's snake head was directly linked to its demon lord master. Through it, a demon lord could communicate its desires through a molydeus, as well as see through the serpent's eyes at any time, making the molydeus a living conduit for their master's will. Besides their political power, molydei had the power to turn demons back into manes. The concept of being reduced to a barely sapient sub-tanar'ric weakling was a proposition so terrifying that nearly all demons feared the wrath of the molydei.
Despite technically serving underneath a balor, the molydei had the authority of a demon lord, and was not loyal to any regular tanar'ri. Even the balor they served underneath would be reported to higher officials just as easily as a lesser demon if they were believed to be treacherous. Balors, however, could try to destroy a molydeus that questioned their devotion just as easily as a molydeus could attempt to report a balor to their superiors.
Molydei were sometimes assigned a specific target to destroy by their demon lord, but their most common assignment was to roam the Abyss looking for demons to enlist into the Blood War and for deserters and intruders to punish as they saw fit. Another common position for them was as one of the many generals of a demon lord. Thanks to the fear and power they commanded, they were known to rule vast nations of demons on some Abyssal layers as if they were demon lords themselves.
One of their chief, possibly most important jobs, was the protection of their demon lord's amulet. Demonic amulets not only allowed demons to be restored to life if they were destroyed within the Abyss, but also gave its possessors significant control over a demon lord and could strand them in the Abyss if destroyed. When not on the job, they could often be found lounging within their specific Abyssal domains, reminiscing over their past victories.
Molydei were typically found alone or with only a small entourage of lesser demons, typically mariliths, which they enjoyed working with. A molydeus sometimes took balors, klurichirs, or other powerful demons in its mission as the enforcer of a demon lord. They could also summon chasme or babau demons, with which they shared a common role of recruiting and punishing. It was possible for a powerful spellcaster to summon molydei, although they rarely lasted long on the job and typically left their posts violently.
A molydeus was bound to its weapon, and if it was stolen, they would hound the thief incessantly until they could reclaim it. When a molydeus's weapon became irretrievable or destroyed, the only way to acquire a replacement was to make a journey to the 400th layer of the Abyss and have one forged. This was done through an eight-hour ritual in which manes were used as the raw materials, and the process caused the old weapon to melt away.
Demons that performed acts of particular ferocity, showed devious cunning, or displayed acts of surprisingly genuine devotion could earn the favor of a demon lord. In these cases, these demons might be rewarded through an excruciatingly painful tormenting process in order to be molded into a molydeus. There was approximately one molydeus on every layer of the Abyss, and it was rare for them to encounter one another.
Some origin stories maintained that, when Tharizdun discovered the shard of utter evil and buried it in the Elemental Chaos, he charged seven angels with the protection of his treasure. The celestial beings were naturally obedient to his wishes, but were unsure if they were doing what they should be in listening to the scheming deity, leaving them frustrated and irresolute.
Proximity to the shard caused their forms to violently wrench apart, turning them into the first of the molydei. While the snarling canine head symbolized their rage and fighting ability, the hissing serpent represented their mistrust of their masters and uncertainties about their given task. The axes normally wielded by molydei were sometimes described as tools containing the raw light of creation from their previous existence as angels.
- The Runes of Chaos
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