Demons are rather hard to define in the world of the Kingkiller Chronicle, but in the broadest terms they seem to be a catch-all category for any non-human creature for which the average Tehlin follower has no frame of reference. This most often appears to be one or another type of fae, but can also be an unintelligent beast of some kind that possesses strange abilities or appearance, such as the draccus.
The term demon may predate the Tehlin religion, but it seems unlikely. In Tehlin mythology, Tehlu caused himself to be born into the world in order to help save humans from the corrupting influence of demons, which are portrayed as evil creatures of undetermined origin who had the power to possess people and force them to act in an evil manner. Encanis was the most powerful of these demons, and defeating him ultimately required the sacrifice of Tehlu's mortal form.
It is unclear how this portrayal of demons that is essentially canon in the Tehlin faith transitioned into the habit of naming anything unfamiliar or fantastical "demon," but given the conduct of most members of the Tehlin church portrayed in the Chronicle, it is hardly surprising.
Folklore dictates that fire and iron are weaknesses of demons, and that if one manages to kill a demon, the body must be disposed of in a specific manner in order to be completely safe. It is unclear whether there is alleged to be danger of the slain demon being resurrected or simply of drawing more of them, but given Kvothe's "Scraeling-baiting" outing in NotW, the latter seems more likely. While he exhibits nothing but disdain for the belief in demons, he does lend credence to the folklore surrounding the proper ways to deal with alleged demons, indicating that "they did all the right things for all the wrong reasons." This demonstrates that at least a significant quantity of beings commonly called demons are of some similar origin, and that the rite prescribed in superstition has real value.
An apparently common children's rhyme dictates the proper means of disposing of a demon's body. The presented verses are almost certainly not a complete rendition of the song.
- "Let me tell you what to do
- Dig a hole that's ten by two
- Ash and elm and rowan too"
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