Phys attack ★★★☆☆
Magic attack ★★★☆☆
Recruitment rate ★★★★☆
Summoner usefulness ★★☆☆☆
Ontos are the evolved descendants of an artificial demon species, the pedre-ontos. Though the pedre-ontos were a failure from the point of view of their creator, their adaptability enabled them to survive and prosper. Ontos are looked down upon by natural demon species for being ‘fake’. Most created species are made for a specific purpose and then die out once they are no longer needed. The ontos’ tenacity and success is seen as an aberration. ‘Ontos’ is its own plural, and is pronounced like MS-DOS, not like potatoes.
Ontos are humanoid winged demons that typically range from 1.8 to 2.3m (6′ to 7’6″) tall. Most ontos are mixed with something else, as a result of the pedre-ontos interbreeding with other species as they spread and evolved. (Silrathus and her family are part minotaur, for example. Krog and Murgatranthes have some harpy in their family tree.)
These demons are characterised by having: feathers and no hair, large noses, usually some scaling on their bodies, ram-like horns, tails with flukes, long swept-back ears, and leathery wings that anchor to the collarbones and not the back. Though ontos are capable of flight, they largely choose not to. They don’t have very good wings and flying is hard work for them. Ontos use their wings more for balance, hugs, and wair (wing-assisted incline running) than for flight. They prefer to fall into flight than take off from the ground. In an emergency they can take off vertically but they would absolutely prefer not to.
Ontos lose weight very quickly when they’re ill, so they consider it a good idea to carry some extra fat to be a buffer zone. This is why most ontos have some roundness to the belly, and why you rarely see a skinny ontos.
Ontos usually live to 1,200 (Earth years). They go through puberty in their 60s and are legally adults at the age of 72. If an ontos is very powerful, they may undergo metamorphosis at the age of around 1,000, and assume a more powerful form known as an elder. An individual who becomes an elder (probably 2% of the population) will probably live to around 1,400. In theory, an ontos who lives long enough will metamorphose again into a third form, which is what the created pedre-ontos were supposed to have been all along. This has yet to actually happen.
These demons are very omnivorous. They can eat almost anything humans can eat (besides rosemary, which is poisonous to demons) and more besides. They can subsist on a carnivorous, herbivorous or mixed diet, as their internal plumbing will adapt over time depending on what foods are most available. Ontos can continue swallowing after they’re full and store the excess food in the oesophagus until more room becomes available in the stomach. They appreciate food a lot and will make trips into the human world just to obtain foods that aren’t available in the demon world. One of their favourites is chocolate (the cocoa plant can’t grow in the demon world).
Though ontos are absolutely open to forming friendships with demons of other species, they tend to keep to themselves because a lot of non-ontos dislike them. They may appear cold and disdainful at first (which probably doesn’t help to dispel any negative impressions of them) but they are simply being guarded. They become much more animated and open once they have warmed to a non-ontos. (If you are a human, an ontos may warm to you a bit but will probably remain forever aloof towards you, simply because demons tend not to regard humans very highly.)
Ontos are a somewhat odd mix of being proud and not taking themselves terribly seriously. They are proud for having rejected the will of their creator and choosing their own purpose instead of conforming to the one set out for them, and for having survived this long despite being intended to be a throwaway species. However, they are simultaneously aware that they were not ‘meant’ to be and see this as cause for relaxing and celebrating because they don’t have any great purpose to fill. This mix of traits means that they do get on with humans a little better than most demons – while they do still have the typical demon arrogance towards humans most of them aren’t too proud to talk to us.
Ontos typically live alone or in pairs or small groups. They enjoy allopreening as a means of bonding and form very close friendships. They cuddle a lot but do not kiss because they have hard, dry tongues like a parrot’s. Cuddles are slow and deliberate because they like to thoroughly wrap each other with arms, wings and tail; and take it slowly to avoid entanglement and to avoid hurting each other when disengaging.
When in public, ontos typically wear trousers at a minimum. Public nudity is acceptable but seen as vulgar. Ontos are good at making underwear – at least 30% of underwear in the demon world is of ontos manufacture.
These demons live in highland forests and plains. Otherwise, they prefer cities in temperate regions.
Compatibility with demonologists
Ontos are quite gentle as demons go. They’ll enjoy messing with an unprepared summoner but are unlikely to do anything cruel or twisted to you. They are also surprisingly adept at learning to use human technology. However, they are not widely employed by summoners as they are seen as a demon for low-level magicians, and they can be quite temperamental. They expect to be fussed over and praised a lot and may get stroppy and break stuff if they aren’t, which can be very taxing on a summoner’s patience. There is also the fact that many other demons look down on ontos, and by extension will be less likely to work with a summoner who employs them. On the other hand, ontos can be very loyal to their summoners, as they don’t have many allies.
It may be wise to employ two ontos at a time, so that they can preen and occupy each other, freeing the summoner from having to take time from their work to placate them. Of course, employing two demons is twice as expensive.
Magic and combat
Ontos are demons of thunder, and each one has a secondary element too. Most of them don’t get great distance with their magical attacks and prefer to fight by using their elemental attacks at close range to supplement their physical attacks. They will use their tails to knock opponents over, kick with their sharp hoofs, and flap their wings and screech to intimidate. Ontos claws are sturdy but blunt, so are not used much.
Their horns are largely useless in battle, so ontos will rarely attempt to use them. They are quite wary of even trying because their horns can be useful handles for their opponents to grab. For this reason they will rarely try to bite an opponent even though they have strong teeth, because doing so necessarily brings the horns within grabbing range.
Ontos have five sexes (known as enig, thed, seml, bren, and obon). They have no sexual polymorphism discernible to a non-ontos. The only way you’d be able to tell is from the shape of the gonads, which are internal. (They are in the base of the tail and can be identified at birth if the newborn’s tail is held up to a very strong light.)
Ontos don’t have genders as such, because of the lack of polymorphism. There are some stereotypes about how each sex behaves, but this is viewed more along the lines of our horoscopes (everybody thinks it’s rubbish but has fun with it anyway). Ontos know that they will probably get labelled as either male or female by non-ontos, and most of them just go along with it and don’t really care unless they find a way to use it to their advantage or to be funny.
Each sex can reproduce with any of the other four. This system was set up by their creator (or technically, the creator of their precursors) to maximise reproductive capability, as it meant that any given individual could potentially reproduce with 4/5ths of the population instead of just 1/2.
Only one individual in a reproductive pairing will lay the egg(s), depending on the combination of sexes. (For example, an enig will lay the egg when paired with an obon or bren. Seml and thed will lay the egg when paired with an enig.) Ontos generally take the surname of whichever of their parents laid the egg.
Ontos eggs start small once laid, then begin to exude slime and extrude a network of tentacles and gristly webbing. These absorb organic and magical matter and use it to sustain the growing embryo. The egg’s parents will leave food items out for the egg-webbing to absorb. Ontos dispose of their dead this way too, letting the flesh of the deceased sustain the next generation. (Many demon species consume their dead in some way. They find it odd that most humans burn or bury their dead. Why waste all that perfectly good flesh and magical energy?) The egg grows in size with the developing ontos, so it’s more like an external one-use uterus than an Earth animal’s egg.
The tentacles are mobile and can catch prey that moves too close. Entanglement must be broken immediately or absorption will begin. The egg’s own parents and family have immunity to this, although even they would get absorbed too if they stood absolutely still for several days. If two eggs are placed too close to one another, the stronger egg will absorb the weaker.
In a sense, the ontos are the only creature that are more dangerous before they’re born than after. An adult ontos can be reasoned with (they’re quite placid as demons go, and you probably could persuade one that harming you wouldn’t benefit them in any way and would be a waste of effort), but an egg can’t. If you have to get through an area occupied by an egg, the best thing to do is throw at it all the food you’re carrying (or better yet, some magical items), then leg it.
The type of food/magic the egg absorbs has little to no effect on the occupant, although there are predictably as many conflicting pieces of information in ontos culture about what you should leave for the egg as there are available to pregnant humans regarding what they should and shouldn’t eat.
Ontos gestation lasts for 2-5 Earth years. Newborn ontos can eat solid food as soon as they’re born, and can crawl within a few days.