"A small crack in one's soul is often all it takes to break a person apart..."
They say, on Lunar, a wicked heart holds terrible power. When the Lord of Calamity roams the land, the evil in the hearts of men transforms them into monsters, ushering in a new Age of Chaos to ravage the world. This pervasive, corruptive force that twists the souls of people, animals, and even landscape is known as Malevolence -- but despite being preached as something to fear, there are very few in this world who view it as anything more than a figurative concept... and fewer still who know the how this calamitous force truly works.
This file is intended as a rundown on Malevolence for people interested in using it in their RP. As one of the major elements of the game, it requires a central source of information. Due to the nature of Malevolence, much of this information is not ICly known by the general populace unless specifically mentioned otherwise; please use it chiefly as an OOC guide.
Origin of Malevolence
The true origin of Malevolence is largely unknown; the Church of Althena claims that Malevolence was born upon the dawn of the first Lord of Calamity, an ancient and evil entity that stands diametrically opposed to the existence of the Goddess Althena. With them, the Lord of Calamity brought terrible blight known as Malevolence, twisting humans into their loyal slaves as they waged their unholy war on all life on Lunar.
It was thanks only to the efforts of Althena's chosen, the Dragonmasters and the Shepherds after them, that the Lord of Calamity was eventually vanquished and Malevolence subsided. The first Shepherd Artorius Colbrande became a legend of Lunarian history for becoming one of the first to successfully vanquish the Lord of Calamity, ushering in a new age of peace thanks to his heroic sacrifice. Thus began the tradition of Shepherds opposing the Lord of Calamity whenever they rise again -- and the perpetual process of Malevolence waxing and waning with every new Lord, in a cycle known as the Ages of Chaos.
Popular history and Church scripture profess these events to be fact -- but in truth, there is much more unknown about Malevolence and its origins than known... save for the simple fact that it has been a presence on Lunar for as long as anyone can remember, and seems to show no signs of abating.
Nature of Malevolence
Malevolence is an ever-present force in Lunar, though concentrated chiefly in the regions of Glenwood and Meribus. To those who can see it, it manifests as an energy that comes in a variety of forms depending on the environs, but chiefly comes in varying shades of purple.
Despite claims to the contrary, Malevolence is not generated simply by evil deeds. Someone can commit heinous acts and have virtually no Malevolence to speak of, while people who are fundamentally good at heart can be riddled with it. Malevolence is produced by a variety of acts, but at the end of the day, it boils down to a sense of internal inconsistency between what a person does and how they feel. Negative emotions, and the cognitive dissonance or internal conflict that might occur from witnessing or perpetrating an immoral act, are some of the chief perpetrators of Malevolence. It is much easier to think of Malevolence as a form of impurity rather than a form of evil: if people feel no sense of conflict over their actions, they will generate very little Malevolence, even if they are carrying out truly awful deeds.
Because of this, people more prone towards feeling strongly and passionately are, perhaps ironically, much more likely to generate Malevolence than someone more detached. On the other hand, people who maintain truly optimistic outlooks on life tend to fare better than those prone to cynicism; at the end of the day, it's all a matter of how people feel on the inside rather than how they act on the outside.
Malevolence is generated primarily by humans and other sentient races on Lunar, though it is also present in the environment. Almost all people generate small amounts of Malevolence, which in turn can affect the other people, places and things around them. People tend to generate more Malevolence the closer they are to others affected by it, often making big hubs of activity like cities a breeding ground for Malevolence. When too much of it is concentrated into one location, it becomes physically visible to those capable of seeing it in the form of a purplish haze in the air.
The only known sentient creatures on Lunar that do not produce Malevolence are Seraphim. However, Malevolence is anathema to them, a poison that causes deleterious effects and physical discomfort at the very least. As such, Seraphim must often find pure vessels such as people, objects, or even places, to manifest in to protect themselves from Malevolence's effects. On Filgaia, certain species - chiefly Metal Demons - seem largely unaffected by Malevolence, perhaps simply due to a level of spiritual incompatibility.
Because Malevolence is a spiritual affliction, it and all of its effects are invisible to the naked eye. It requires a kind of spiritual attunement known as resonance to be able to perceive things such as Malevolence. People born with resonance are rare, and though it can build up over time with enough exposure to spiritual entities, it is still a gift not possessed by the general populace. On Filgaia, the spiritually inclined such as shamans of the Baskar generally have the spiritual resonance required to perceive things such as Malevolence and Seraphim, but just as with people on Lunar, it is both something that can be built up over time (or with traumatic experience), and a gift most do not possess.
On its own, outside of its negative effect on spiritual creatures like Seraphim, Malevolence's effects in a person are subtle, often simply exacerbating the negative qualities in a person that caused it in the first place. In high enough concentrations, however, it can become spiritually toxic and affect the physical world. Locations where Malevolence is densely concentrated will often experience strange anomalies like bizarre weather; if it is strong enough, that Malevolence can even warp the landscape it has permeated into, sometimes even taking on a life of its own.
What happens when too much Malevolence pervades in a living thing, however, is by far the most disturbing - and dangerous - quality Malevolence possesses.
When a living thing becomes too saturated with Malevolence, the very spiritual and physical fabric of their being becomes warped and twisted until they become monstrous shades of their former self. These resultant, spiritual creatures are known as Hellions, terrifying expressions of the negative emotions of man given physical form.
Hellions come in countless different varieties that it is difficult to quantify and classify them under specific types. Generally speaking, Hellionized animals will often take on mythic and monstrous forms of their former selves, due to the relatively simplistic nature of the afflicted subject. Humans, on the other hand, vary wildly; what form a Hellionized human takes depends on a variety of factors, including the context of the transformation, the personality of the person in question, their backgrounds and the relationships they've formed can all play a part in the shape they ultimately take. These forms can often shift over time, too, as Hellions take on more and more Malevolence.
The form of a Hellion varies, but the power they possess is always relative to the amount of Malevolence inside of them. Hellions with mild levels of Malevolence will always be weaker than those afflicted with vast amounts of it. Particularly powerful Hellions can form by killing and consuming other Hellions in a process known as Venomization -- though such Hellions can become dangerously unstable, even for one of their kind.
Much like Malevolence in general, the true form of a Hellion is invisible to most people, who will perceive the Hellion in its original state -- whether it be animal or person. Particularly strong Hellions have the ability to condense and conceal their Malevolence, hiding their form and their power from even the keenest of spiritual eyes.
Generally speaking, most Hellions are uncontrolled, mindless creatures of violence; even many sentient Hellions devolve into a similar state as animals, and even those still self-aware tend to become base and aggressive, slaves to their negative emotions and uglier impulses. This is not always true, however, and depends entirely on the willpower of the person Hellionized. As there are some Hellions that go completely mad, there are also others who are able to control themselves and look and act like regular people; being a Hellion does not necessarily make one ravingly evil, and there are examples (buried and obscured) of Hellions who were still fundamentally good people with control of their faculties.
But, regardless -- all Hellions must constantly war with the Malevolent urges inside of them, and all Hellions are ultimately a danger not only to themselves but to others, thanks to the pervasive, infectious nature of Malevolence.
Seraphim, though they do not generate Malevolence, can be infected with it from outside sources. It is painful to them, as mentioned, but the true danger comes when they have taken on too much.
Seraphim who take on too much Malevolence from the environment undergo a markedly unique process of Hellionization known as Dragonification. A sort of sequential metamorphosis, Hellionized Seraphim go through different phases, each of them markedly draconic, until they take on their final form -- the Fell Dragon.
Fell Dragons are far and away the most dangerous form of Hellion one can find, pure expressions of power and fury. A Fell Dragon is essentially mindless; everything about the former Seraph is stripped away, leaving only a mindless, rampaging beast, more akin to a warped force of nature than the living being they once were. Fell Dragons are visible to everyone, regardless of whether the person can perceive Malevolence -- perhaps simply because the sheer weight of one's presence is impossible to turn a blind eye to.
But the true danger of a Fell Dragon isn't simply due to strength; when a Seraphim has undergone complete Dragonification, the resultant Fell Dragon perpetually and naturally produces a near-endless amount of Malevolence all on its own. The mere presence of a Fell Dragon can warp the surrounding landscape and create lesser Hellions, making them something of a walking blight if left to their own devices, making a Hellionized Seraphim a truly harrowing prospect. Fortunately, such incidences are rare... but when a Fell Dragon forms, their presence is a true danger to everyone.
Malevolence is not a disease that fades away over time. It is persistent, settling in the soul like sediment and just slowly accumulating until it reaches a point of no return. One can mitigate the effects to avoid Hellionization, but once Malevolence is present in a person, it will not dissipate.
Currently, the only known way to cure a person once they have become a Hellion is a unique spiritual process known as Purification. Purification is achieved by channeling the powers of a Seraphim capable of wielding something known as the 'Silver Flame,' a spiritual substance that cleanses the affliction of Malevolence from the soul of a person. By forming a spiritually binding pact with one of these Seraph, a person with a particularly strong resonance is able to wield these flames. The people capable of forging pacts with Seraphim are known, on Lunar, as the Shepherds.
A Shepherd's ability to purify a Hellion depends on a variety of factors, including the strength and skill of the Shepherd relative to the Hellion in question. More important still, however, is a Hellion's willingness to be cured: Purification cannot be brute forced, and if the Hellion is unwilling to change their ways, acknowledge their problems or simply -want- to be free of Malevolence, their will always supersedes any and all attempts at Purification. Thus, Purification is as much a process of reaching the person beneath the Hellion as it is overpowering the Malevolence possessing them. Fell Dragons, due to their nature, are impossible to purify, making them particularly dangerous.
Presently, the only known Seraphim with the gift of Purification is the Seraph Lailah; it is currently unknown if there are other methods of removing Malevolence from a person.
Malevolence on Filgaia
Malevolence is not a natural phenomenon on Filgaia like it seems to be on Lunar. Until very recently, the very concept was unheard of. How it came to be on Filgaia now is largely unknown, but it coincides with the appearance of Lunarians on the planet, as well as the current Lord of Calamity, Lucia the Destroyer.
Though it is now present in Filgaia, it is not a widespread epidemic as it is on Lunar, currently concentrated into small patches in the regions of Ignas. People from Filgaia do not produce Malevolence like those from Lunar -- but once they have been afflicted with it, it perpetuates itself in much the same way, feeding and growing more plentiful off the negative emotions it has taken root in, and can, eventually, induce Hellionization.
Why there is such a difference between Lunar and Filgaia is unclear, but its newfound presence on Filgaia is still very much a slowly spreading danger.