Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Infernal Lords XXVII: Furcifel

He’s holding for the moment of the fall,
Stolen knowledge by minds unformed.
Regulate the demolition of
Annexe for the differing thoughts.
Discarded sparks left years ago
Evoked a language much more austere.
Reverberating with figments,
He left a trace of translucence.

Can you see the storm getting closer now?
Tell me how it feels being out there.

[ Storm – Theatre of Tragedy ]
Furcifel by GothicNarcissusCount Furcifel, known among the Mortals as Furfur, is a former powerful Throne who was part of Duke Astaroth’s closest entourage before the latter’s Fall, but kept serving undercover as Great Angel Zaphkiel’s Second-in-Command after the Great Heavenly War. He was the namesake of his former Choir as the wielder of the Thunder, the instrument of Yahweh’s justice, with which Count Furcifel reminded mankind of God’s authority. He was busted during the turmoil following the Babel Tower incident, arriving in Hell at the same time as Countess Agares. He kept however full control over his Element and became the Demon of Storms and Lightning, a power he is always eager to unleash against the Angels whenever he gets the occasion. While not officially a military himself, his energetic, vibrant personality and great force make him a suitable companion for Marquis Nergal’s patrols at the border of Hell, during which Count Furcifel can vent his powers and escape the frustrating boredom of life at Court. Always eager to create mischief, he flies to Earth quite often to conjure devastating thunderstorms; the Mortals’ sightings of him over the centuries resulted in the stereotypical image of horned and dragon-winged Demons.
As his Element combines those of Duke Astaroth, Queen Barbelo and Marquis Leviathan, he maintains good comradeship with all three, especially the Queen, who in turn appreciates his fierce temper, and the Duke of Terror, whom he can often shake from his apathy for a flight to Eart. He also gets along with the Chief of his Level, Duke Xaphan, who often asks for his help to test his latest inventions. The two of them were the ones who inspired mankind how to exploit the power of Electricity to sustain their technology, accelerating exponentially their progress and their emancipation from Yahweh’s grasp.

Furcifel: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design, styling, background stock photos: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair: Francisco De Rosa
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (texture), Thy-Darkest-Hour (wings), UniversalKinase (thunderbolt) (horns)

Here we go with a new Infernal Lord, Furcifel, the Demon of Storms.
First things first: in traditional sources, such as Colin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, this Demon is referred to as Furfur. Why did I decide to change his name to Furcifel (something I’ve never done to any other Demon)? Well, it’s a purely aesthetic choice: Furfur is awfully similar to the Italian word for dandruff, which is a bit disgusting; some scholars suppose the etymology for his name comes from a corruption of the Latin word “furcifer”, which means “rogue” and sounds much more fitting for such a badass Demon, especially if you stylise it as “Furcifel” to recall other angelic names.
So, provided that I wanted to include a Demon of Storms into my series, why did I go for one with such a troublesome name, instead of just choosing another? Well, just look at his picture from the Dictionnaire Infernal: where else have you seen such an amazing-looking traditional rendition of a Demon? It’s beautiful! As soon as I found out about him, he instantly climbed my favourite Demons list, so he had to be in my series!
Furfur from the Dictionnaire Infernal
Furfur from the Dictionnaire Infernal.
Such a beautiful depiction deserved a tribute, which is why I decided to basically just turn him into a fallen angel but retain the dragon wings and deer horns. The latter got bonus points because they visually recall the lightning motif and fit the Demon of Thunderstorms perfectly. Also, when I wrote down his biography I could easily justify this by having him being spotted often by mankind and generating the myth of dragon-winged, horned Demons in the first place. Speaking of which, I didn’t even have to make up too many things, as the Dictionnaire Infernal already says he’s an Earl (a Count) and commands all sorts of thunderstorms, and other sources list him as a fallen Throne (the name “Throne” comes from the same root as “thunder”, which is his element).
The rest of the symbolism was quite easy to pull off: a thunderbolt in his hand and a stormy background (which I shot and blended already a couple of years ago) would demonstrate his powers perfectly. I came up with the styling quite easily too, opting for a leather jacket to give him even more badassery.

All of this happened quite early in the development of the series, but the longest part was, as usual, casting the right model. Given the elegance of the deer figure in the drawing, I wanted someone slender, with delicate facial features to portray Furcifel. At first, I asked an acquaintance of mine if she was interested in posing dressed up as a male, to which she agreed. I didn’t bring up the subject again for what I think might have been a couple of years because I never had the chance to organise a meeting, and when I finally did she had changed her mind. This troubled me a bit because I was quite specific in my mind about Furcifel’s general body frame, but then, last summer, I came across Francisco in the best way I’ve been coming across people lately: insulting Lana del Rey.
The thing is, lately I’ve become much more socially awkward than I’ve ever been and I have quite a hard time handling interpersonal relations, especially with people I don’t know. I have spent a few months kind of staring at Francisco from afar while the idea of him being a perfect cast call for Furcifel kept growing in the back of my mind. As I eventually told him, what made him perfect for the role was not only his body frame and delicate features, but especially his melancholic-looking eyes, which would add some nostalgia for Heaven and thus extra depth to the character. Also, there is a huge shortage of blondes in the Court. I found him so perfect for the role that I was too scared of a refusal and could not bring myself to propose him the role. Seriously, we made friends on Facebook on June, started talking sporadically in August and I could only find the guts to ask him to pose in December, riding the wave of enthusiasm I got from Leonard.
Even though we scheduled a shooting in February, he decided to pull off almost last minute, but since we had found out we get along very well we decided to meet anyway and I took the chance to basically force him to pose. Although, in my defence, I have to say he got almost more enthusiastic than I was when the final deadline was decided. It took me forever to postproduce the photo because in the past weeks I’ve been on minimum inspiration and I’ve got tons of older works to do, but at last, here it is.
I always say that, in hindsight, waiting even years to shoot my Demons is always a good thing because I get more proficient in what I do and I can pull off certain editing effects better. This is especially true in this case as, on the one hand, I now have a softbox which was extremely useful, given how I had to direct the light according to the bolt he would be holding in his hand. And there was no way on Earth, Heaven or Hell I could have given the right highlights and shadows to the horns to make them look tridimensional a few years ago, let alone blend the horn into the skin like I’ve done now. Seriously, I’m very, very satisfied with how I edited this picture.
Furcifel by GothicNarcissus – detail. Click to enlarge.
Now, the final details: yellow is the theme colour I chose because, on the one hand, I was seriously running out of colours, on the other it didn’t fit any other Demon, and finally because it’s often associated with lightnings and electricity, especially in children’s drawings (but you can also look at Pok√©mon, for that matter: many Electric Types are yellow). On the other hand, choosing the song was a piece of cake: I hope that Storm, by my favourite band Theatre of Tragedy, doesn’t really need much explanation. No, okay, it does, ‘cause beside the title, the lyrics are just perfect for the work.