This is my attempt to weave together some of my favorite ideas on Aseroth I have come across, in order to build a cohesive outline on who the Winter Warlock is and what his motivations are. Most of this is my own content, though I have expanded upon the few sentences in canon about him that I have come across, as well as some bits and pieces from some other internet fanon. If you have your own ideas about Aseroth feel free to add them.
Aseroth (Demon Prince)
The Winter Warlock, The Prince of Broken Playthings, The Regent of the Silver Realm.
“I bade the children dance eternal for Thine thrill,
But they now just lie here dully, cold and still”
- An excerpt from the One Song of Eladriel.
Aseroth is an enigmatic and multi-facetted Lord of ice, magic and dominion. Demonologists note his similarities to an Advanced Incubus, but they concede that he is highly unusual for such a being, and that he also possesses an exceptional level of arcane prowess and an aptitude for both Cryomancy and planar magic. Even for a being exemplifying Chaos, Aseroth comes across as fickle and contradictory in nature. For the most part, his schemes and past-times are totally incomprehensible to mortal scholars. An increasingly popular theory is that Aseroth was once an Eladrin noble cast from Queen Morwel’s Court of Stars in disgrace, due to his increasingly disturbing and callous attitude towards mortal children and animals. The Winter Warlock, as he has now become most commonly known, views the universe as filled with simple little people who are fuelled by strange candle flames within their hearts called ‘hope’. He has come to relish the challenge of snuffing out the internal fires of mortal will, self-worth and freedom.
While Aseroth can choose any humanoid form that he desires, his favorite one is that of a tall and imposing smiling humanoid male of staggering beauty and youthful features. In this form, his skin is pure white and his eyes glow blue like a winter sky. He has a pair of long graceful curving horns, and tends to wear flowing robes of perpetually shifting colors and patterns. There is a palpable chill in the air wherever he walks, and he never leaves footprints in the snow behind him. Outwardly Aseroth is friendly and jovial, and he tends to abruptly burst into melodic laughter and captivating song. Characteristically, the Winter Warlock often speaks in rhyming couplets, and he frequently converses with inanimate objects as though they were people. If Aseroth should be riled to anger though, he instantly loses all control over his form and changes into a Huge raging white-furred and three-headed canine beast, whose features shift and blur between wolf, fox and dog.
Aseroth has a childlike fascination for other sentient beings and what makes them tick. The Winter Warlock regards all weaker creatures that he meets as captivating and wonderful playthings. He is especially amused and intrigued by Lawful beings – whose societal structures appear completely alien and ridiculous to him. Aseroth is utterly devoid of empathy, and he has no real capacity to relate to other beings at all. In his warped mind, all of Creation is simply his own playground to use as he desires. Aseroth is prone to grow bored with his pets without warning, before abruptly abandoning or lashing out at them, inadvertently leaving a trail of shattered lives and lost innocence wherever his whim should lead him. Despite his outwardly childlike demeanor, the Winter Warlock has a coldly, broken genius whose real pursuits and goals lie beyond mortal ken. What Aseroth really seeks out of existence is novelty, and he devotes most of his energy to finding new games to play with new subjects, often putting them through horrendous anguish and torture in order to unravel their psyches, to own them, and to know them in the fullest and deepest sense that he can. Aseroth loves arcane magic, and he has a rapt fascination for new arcane lore and insights into the very nature of the planes. He also has a great fondness for artists and bards, and he is a great lover of music and song.
Aseroth is a fickle and flippant being, with little interest in either the Blood War or the intraplanar squabbling of his fellow Lords. The other Lords of the Abyss ignore Aseroth for the most part, regarding him as a spoiled child whom they dismiss as the Prince of Broken Playthings. Graz’zt is a notable exception. The Dark Prince has a certain fondness for his whimsical antics and he is one of the only Lords who makes a point to never underestimate Aseroth’s true power and intellect. Accordingly, Aseroth can sometimes be found dancing and playfully exploring the mists of Azzagrat and Shaddonon. The eminent Demonologist Teros Bale claims to have once conversed with him here, noting that the Winter Warlock claimed to be searching for an ancient being whom he called the Shepherdess in the Mists, whom he said used to whisper to him in his dreams during another lifetime.
Socothbenoth despises Aseroth, and rightly so, for Aseroth has frequently masqueraded as the Prince of Lust while pursuing a new thrill or fancy, especially within the carnal torture layers controlled by the other Lord, especially Thelema; the Plane of Hunters (81) and the Cathedral Thelemic (308). For his own part, Aseroth views the Succubi/Incubi Lords as pathetically constrained and limited by their own base carnal desires. He lusts for utter dominion over souls, but cares little for mere conquests over flesh. In fact sex repulses and confuses him, and nothing is more likely to incite one of his legendary rages than a sexual advance from a new playmate of his.
The Realms and Goals of Aseroth
The Silver Realm
In an infinity of possibilities, all things are possible. According to the Liber Maleficarum, provided that you know where to look, the Abyss touches all places.
The Layer known as the Silver Realm is an ancient anomaly that Aseroth was fortunate enough to discover and seize control over before any of the other Lords even learned of its existence.
An anomalous color pool formed upon the Astral Plane that paradoxically began to shape and alter the fabric of the Planar Layer beyond it, which in this case was Pazunia. The Abyss rapidly encysted this unstable planar breach, and a new Layer was formed around it. The Silver Realm is a mildly Evil and Chaos aligned infinite void that appears to all intents and purposes to be the Astral Plane itself. The Silver Realm even has its own Astral islands, and perhaps dead Abyssal gods come to drift here too.
According to legend, Aseroth discovered the Githyanki race during his regular meanderings into the Astral void at the other side of his portal, and he became intrigued by their militaristic and regimented society. After spending many years wandering in disguise amidst the strange race of mortals, he then began what would later turn out to become his most complex and wide-reaching social experiment ever. When Aseroth learned that the Githyanki had thrown off the yoke of a millennia-spanning slavery and had come to define their very culture through this hard fought freedom, he immediately decided to try to break and subjugate this fierce people anew. Aseroth delighted in the prospective challenge of gradually grinding this freedom back out of the Githyanki and crushing the spark of their organized rebellion and self-determination that he saw burning within their souls.
When he was ready, he snuck aboard a Voidship called The Jala-Ka’ith and subtly guided it into the Silver Realm. Aseroth shrouded the color pool to his Layer with illusion and focused his powers on blocking all the crew’s abilities to detect it. He then adopted the form of a Mind Flayer before them and escaped right towards his broken color pool, leading the hunters after him into the Silver Realm. When the crew gave chase, they soon found themselves separated and cut off from any of the familiar landmarks they knew, and they were suddenly unable to navigate back the way they had come.
The Silver Realm is not empty, for Aseroth has released many Whisper Demons into this void, whose purpose is to manipulate the lost travellers here into believing that they are still back home upon the Astral, but hopelessly lost far from Tu’narath for unknown reasons. Aseroth left the Jala-Ka’ith adrift here for years, while his servants constantly worked upon their subconscious to gradually convince them that Tu’narath has fallen to the illithids and that their entire race is scattered and lost.
The Silver Chalice
Over the years, Aseroth has successfully drawn upwards of two hundred Githyanki into the Silver Realm, and he has established his own outpost colony, which he reveals to newcomers to the Layer only after he deems them suitably hopeless and broken. Here, Aseroth issues orders in the guise of the mysterious Silver Regent, which are duly enacted through his Githyanki commanders, all of whom have long since come to believe that this colony is the last real one left to their race.
The Silver Regent rarely appears in person, though his formidable arcane prowess is legendary amongst the Githyanki here. When in this role, Aseroth appears as an especially pallid Githyanki clad in reflective mirrored armor, and his face is always hidden behind a tall and graceful mirrored helm. Aseroth has a few shapeshifting servants here too of various kinds, who assist him in socially manipulating the soldiers from within their ranks.
Aseroth’s orders here are intentionally contradictory and aimed at subtly degrading the command structures of the soldiers, while serving to continually fuel their deep-abiding sense of righteous hatred and xenophobia. Here, there is no crime more severe than spreading heretical lies about the existence of other Githyanki colonies, or questioning the nature of the Silver Regent himself. Any newcomers here who act out of line are tortured and psychologically abused down in the dungeons below. Mere transgressions of duty or basic rebellion against superiors tend to go unpunished within the Silver Chalice though, and conversely, perpetrators tend to find themselves benefiting from greater privilege within the colony.
The Silver Regent feeds upon his prisoners’ natural distrust and paranoia, and asserts that they have had contradictory memories implanted into their minds by illithids, and that he is working to heal and restore them. Already Aseroth has begun producing broken, undisciplined and ruined Githyanki warriors, who fight more like a barbaric rabble than the well-oiled fighting machine that they came from. Occasionally their Regent grants them a strategic vent for their rage by forming them into select raiding parties to attack Layer 426, which conveniently is the realm of an insane Elder Brain and its Abyssally-corrupted illithid servitors.
Aseroth retains a carefully hidden portal to Soulfreeze deep within this fortress outpost.
Vlaakith has inevitably caught wind of this despicable project, despite the fact that Aseroth has proven exemplary at covering his tracks, and that he has astutely sought to place all blame for the lost ships upon illithid activity. Sometimes though, he lets one of his playthings free back into the Astral, just to delight in watching her futile attempts to reintegrate into her former society, and the revulsion that she receives from her former kinsmen, due to her newfound weaknesses in character and resolve. The Githyanki still know comparatively little about Aseroth, but they rightly suspect that he is a dangerous enemy indeed. Vlaakith has dispatched numerous Knights across the Planes in order to hunt him down or simply to gather information about him. These scattered rumours led the Githyanki to refer to this faceless threat as “The Winter Warlock” in the first place, a title that Aseroth has proudly adopted for himself, seemingly to taunt the Lich Queen and her people by his very existence.
The Forest of Fury
This small circular layer of snowy tundra and icy fir trees acts as a stage for another of Aseroth’s cruel and inhumane explorations into the nature of self-determination and will power. This layer is bitingly cold, and unprotected visitors here risk quickly succumbing to exposure and then death by hypothermia. Orbiting around the Forest of Fury is a huge deep red orb simply called the Blood Moon that nearly fills the entire night sky.
Aseroth has relatively few loyal underlings, as he is far too sociopathic to be able to separate friends and useful allies from the pets and thralls that he enjoys breaking in. Those creatures that do serve him willingly tend to share his love of quashing hope in others and abusing the sorry wretches that they create. They also tend to be despicably creative, manipulative and in particular quick thinking enough to come up with fresh ideas on the fly to keep their Lord entertained, without becoming his next experimental subjects themselves. Ceeryn O’ the Sickle Wood is no exception; a particularly cruel and cold-hearted Verdant Prince who rules the Forest of Fury as Aseroth’s appointed vassal. He is served by a handful of Banshrae pack masters, who he dispatches to the Prime in order to lure lycanthropes back here with their accursed flute pipes. These twisted and evil Fey are the true wardens of this Layer, though they are relatively few in number.
The Blood Moon has a strange effect upon lycanthropes. Any lycanthrope caught beneath its baleful red light is forced into animal form, and may not shape-shift again while upon this Layer. The Demonicon of Iggwilv notes that the Blood Moon may be a key site from which Aseroth himself draws power. The fact that he is known to be driven into a bestial form when angry and that he has only a very limited degree of control over this aspect of his shape-shifting, implicates this Layer as his original place of bonding or formation within the Abyss.
The Winter Warlock and his fey servitors treat the were-beasts that roam this forest as mere animals. Aseroth delights in starving and depriving the were-beasts, and forces those who he catches to wear silver collars. These bound werewolves must beg for meat from their Banshrae handlers in order to survive here, and the despicable fey train the lycanthropes to perform the most menial degrading tricks and simple guard duties for Aseroth. Aseroth uses this Layer and its Blood Moon to reduce wild, proud and mighty beings with human minds into docile and sycophantic pets. Ultimately, he seeks to strip the humanity from such poor wretches altogether, until they finally come to believe that they were never anything more than animals fit only for whippings and begging. The finest guard beasts that result from this project are then taken off-Layer to serve Aseroth personally upon Soulfreeze, where their collars are ceremonially removed.
Years of abuse and slavery in the Forest of Fury does indeed crush the souls of those led here. Not one of the Winter Warlock’s guard beasts has ever attacked or disobeyed him, or even attempted to take human form ever again. Elira Dunnwarning, an Elven cleric of Obad-Hai who once travelled to Soulfreeze, recorded in her journal that she could do naught but fall to her knees and weep in despair on the day that she saw a werebear lord, who had been silver whipped and abused for years, rolling upon his back and rolling his eyes as Aseroth petted him, laughing. That day Elira witnessed a mere shell of someone she knew long ago as a proud and fierce lord of the forest, reduced to licking the demon’s hand like an overgrown puppy.
Soulfreeze is the coldest Layer in the Abyss and indeed one of the coldest places in the entire Multiverse. The cold here is only coincidentally related to the physical processes of freezing and precipitation. The snow and ice which cover this Layer are metaphorical analogues of their physical counterparts, and instead represent the coldness and emptiness of shattered lives and abandoned dreams. This then is the winter of the soul. The ice here is infused with soulstuff, and is greatly sought after as spell components by Cryomancers, Soulcasters and Incarnates of Evil and Chaos. As is the case in black forsaken Occanthus, the ice here holds many secrets, for the countless victims of this Layer remain inert and supplicant within its ice for all eternity. Visitors here speak of mirages that shimmer over the icy plains, offering false promises of warmth and shelter to the tired and weary.
Soulfreeze is Aseroth’s home Layer, and tellingly, even his own attempts to inject color and vibrancy into the place are eventually swallowed and crushed by the stark blankness of its endless icy mountains. The Layer is most famous for boasting a portal from the Abyss to the Paraelemental Plane of Ice. Aseroth has widely publicized the existence of this portal, and has worked to ensure its mention within most famous literary treatise about the Abyss. He does so with the desire that planewalkers will seek out Soulfreeze as a means of escaping from the Abyss. Anyone naïve enough to think this will come for free is in for a nasty surprise.
The Ice Portal
Aseroth will allow anybody to travel through this gateway that is prepared to sacrifice a living soul to the glacial gallery in the ice wall beside it. The mortal victim must walk alone across the icy plain before the gate to press their palm and forehead against the smooth ice, and then formally give themselves in entirety to Aseroth by oath. The sacrifice is then drawn inside the transparent ice wall and locked into a chill eternity alongside a host of hundreds of other such willing sacrifices. The Soul Frozen are very much alive and conscious, but kept immobile and helpless within the glacier’s embrace. Aseroth’s favorite sacrifices are children, followed by pure maidens. If a prospective planewalker can offer Aseroth one of either, he might well receive a friendly welcome and assistance in navigating the Paraelemental terrain at the other side of the portal. Then again, one should never come to expect anything from Aseroth, who is just as likely to freeze the presumptuous supplicant where he stands, and allow the sacrifice to enter the portal in his stead.
It would be a gross misnomer to refer to Cryonax and Aseroth as actual allies, although it is certainly true that benefit from mutual cooperation up to a certain point, for the time being at least. Aseroth’s disassociative cruelty and the delight that he takes in the suffering of others is deeply disturbing to the coldly rational Archomental Lord of Ice, and his sporadic irrational behavior and endless scheming make Aseroth a most unpleasant and untrustworthy neighbor indeed. The portal that Aseroth guards, however, is an invaluable resource to Cryonax. Additionally, the Ice Lord sees Soulfreeze as an important buffer zone against his age old enemy Kost’ch’chie, lest the Prince of Wrath should ever turn his brutal attentions towards the Chiseled Estate. For Aseroth’s part, the Inner Planes constitute an immeasurably vast playground, ripe with countless opportunities for his own future endeavors. Cryonax’s cross-breeding experimentation is nearly irresistible to the Winter Warlock, and he regularly offers up prisoners, as well as captured or altered creatures of his own to Cryonax, in the hope of one day gaining access to his laboratory chambers. Aseroth has dispatched several of his servile Doppelgangers and Phages into the Paraelemental Plane of Ice in hope of plumbing the depths of the Chiselled Estate.
The Dance of Winter Eternal
A broad icy plane of frozen statues lies between a series of eerie bladed ice spires, hued in wondrous pastel colors. As the winds whistle around the spires, they hum and ring in a captivating yet haunting song. Planewalkers visiting Soulfreeze are likely to find themselves upon this bleak and exposed dance floor if they should attract the ire of Aseroth, or the attentions of one of his Whisper Demon aides who float through the blizzards of the Layer. It is also a favorite dumping ground for the Winter Warlock’s discarded toys.
The Dance plain is subject to the full icy grip of Soulfreeze, which will freeze mortals solid in seconds. The only way to stave off this lethal cold is to dance along to the eerie music of the spires, sliding in graceful pirouettes across the ice. From time to time, Aseroth enjoys skipping and dancing around the countless frozen statues of those dancers who have finally succumbed to fatigue and hopelessness and given in to the chilly embrace of Soulfreeze. Most of all, the Prince of broken Playthings loves stopping by regularly to watch his still living dancers, day after day, as their stamina and will inevitably slip away.
The House of Wishes
Aseroth’s abode in Soulfreeze doubles as his playhouse for entertaining his best ‘friends’. Outwardly it generally appears as a beautiful crystalline palace of wondrous colors, but sometimes it resembles a warm and inviting hamlet of thatch cottages and apple orchards or a fair white castle with colored pennants flapping high above marbled ramparts. In truth, this abode continually shimmers and flickers from one form to the next, and it has no real substance at all. There is always though, a single glassy tower that rises above the shifting halls and rooms below. This is Aseroth’s chamber, where he can gaze out over and survey the winter of the soul.
The House of Wishes is a series of Dreamscapes linked together into a single phantasmagoric fortress from which the Winter Warlock rules. This is where he loves to bring the beguiled mortal children that he likes to coax away from their homes and into the snow. For a time, visitors here seem to find their hearts’ desire and they generally live for a day or so in abject bliss. Once they give in to the House of Wishes however, Aseroth becomes able to change and alter their dreams as he chooses, sometimes spending months or even years here torturing, probing, shattering and warping the depths of the psyches and memories of his beloved playmates. When Aseroth eventually tires of his pets, the ones who survive are generally cast out on to the Dance of Winter Eternal or occasionally shipped through the portal as a gift to the Lord of the Chiselled Estate.
The House of Wishes is guarded by Aseroth’s werebeast packs, which he often dispatches to roam across the snowy wastes in search of any interlopers in his realm. Aseroth devotes huge amounts of his time upon this Layer to shaping and coloring the surrounding ice cliffs with kaleidoscopic patterns and wondrous sculpture. Nothing he makes here ever lasts for long though. It is the very nature of Soulfreeze to drain and deaden, and to turn beauty into emptiness and ruin. Even Aseroth has to carefully ward himself against this process, and unless he regularly departs for another Layer, he begins to feel his own soul being leeched of creativity and identity. An obscure passage written about Aseroth in the Black Scrolls of Ahm, postulates that the Layer has damned Aseroth to perpetually feel his own identity and will slipping away, and that he can only stave off the horror of this draining by inflicting similar abuse upon others. Perhaps, if the legends are true, this is Queen Morwel’s ultimate curse for whatever past transgressions he once commited within her Court of Stars. If so, then the Eladrin Queen has created a monster beyond measure in the demon known as Aseroth the Winter Warlock.