Metamorphosis: From Dretch to Demon Lord - Ascension Released!

BLACKDIRGE

Adventurer
Ok, here it is the next NPC profile. For my regular readers, things will be a little different this time. The body of the story will be posted here in the story hour forum, while the stats for each stage in the NPCs life will appear in the rogue’s gallery. For those of you haven’t read my work before check out the rogue’s gallery, it’s full of it.

What follows is the story of Hazergal, who will eventually become the demon lord, Hazag. Hazergal was a powerful human mage who ruled a vast stretch of the area known as Vaasa on the continent of Fearun, on the prime material world of Toril. After decades of evil conquest Hazergal was slain by an earth mephit warrior named Nithrekel, whom the powerful wizard had bound as a servant. Hazergal’s death was the true beginning of his journey to power, as he became a dretch demon and there slowly climbed the ranks of demonic status, eventually claiming the title of demon lord and becoming a unique and terrible new power in the abyss.

For more information on Hazergal as a human mage and especially Nithrekel, see the following thread:

http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=33823

Thanks for reading.
 
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BLACKDIRGE

Adventurer
Damnation: Part I

Death was not at all what Hazergal expected. It came too soon and was in all ways an altogether unpleasant experience. The pain of death was only fleeting; the faint images of his last seconds were faint shadows of sound and light that nonetheless left an indelible impression on his mind and soul. He remembered Nithrekel standing above him; the mephit wore a look of cold and certain hatred as he raised his sword above his head. The discordant hum of the sword descending through the air was maddeningly slow to Hazergal and the bright explosion of pain as the blade cleaved his skull was the only sound in his rapidly dwindling universe. The last sensation remembered from his mortal life was the lingering taste of steel as the traitorous mephit's blade passed through his mouth as it split his head in twain.

The arch-wizard that had terrorized the lands around Vassa for nearly a century was no more. All the power and influence he had painstakingly built over the years was destroyed with a single stroke of a traitor’s sword. The light and sound of life was replaced by the swallowing emptiness of a lightless void and Hazergal was thrust senseless into a limitless gulf of indelible night. As he drifted in a near mindless state he clung to the one thing in his mortal life that still mattered, hatred. Hatred for the traitorous earth mephit, Nithrekel, whom Hazergal had raised from a lowly servant to a powerful war captain. For all the gifts and prestige bestowed upon him, Nithrekel had repaid these kindnesses with treachery and death. The mephit had been bound through a planar binding spell and should have been unable to harm his master, but he had found a way. The traitorous mephit had forged an alliance with Hazergal’s hated rival, a powerful sorcerer named Sheveker. Sheveker and given Nithrekel the means to break the enchantment placed upon him and in addition render Hazergal powerless for a fraction of an instant, more than enough time to commit his foul murder.

Images of Nithrekel danced before him as Hazergal descended through the fathomless depths of an eternal darkness, kindling a tiny flame of hatred until it blazed bright within him. Plummeting blind and deaf through the void, Hazergal felt the reaching tendrils of darkness lash out at him, attempting to scour his soul clean of memories and power. The arch-mage railed against this theft, rallying around the bright spot of seething hatred he carried within him like a beacon through the fog of a moonless night. Tenacious to the last, Hazergal clung to his memories, fanning the flames of his madness with images of retribution on the architect of his destruction. The stoic face of Nithrekel floated within the arch-mage’s mind and he fastened onto it like a drowning man clings to bit of driftwood on a stormy sea. And slowly the darkness receded and Hazergal once again found his senses; sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell were all restored to him as the void that had held him for what seemed an eternity, gave way to dim gray light.

Spatial orientation could now be discerned as well, and Hazergal saw that he was slowly falling, sinking softly towards a flat featureless plane that stretched off into perpetuity. Below him as he drifted closer to the ground he could see throngs of humanoids and other not so identifiable beings huddled together in tight masses. From these groups voices drifted up to the falling arch-mage, voices crying out in a thousand different tongues. Hazergal strained his ears to make out words from this vast chorus and instantly he knew where he was. Prayers and pleadings echoed throughout Hazergal’s mind. Here an invocation to Tyr, lord of justice, burst from the lungs of a large bearded man and there a blasphemous slur of cryptic fawning meant for the ears of Cyric, god of lies and murder, slipped from the lips of a small swarthy half-elf, scarred and wretched.

Suddenly Hazergal’s feet touched the hard packed gray earth and he stood alone among a countless throng of creatures all screaming, crying and howling paeans of worship to their patron deity. Through his long study of obscure lore Hazergal knew this place, it was known as the Fugue plane, a gateway and waiting place for the dead of Faerun. The dead were known as petitioners, and all memory had been erased from their minds save for their singular devotion to their chosen god. Naked and appearing much as they did in life, these petitioners were the basic building blocks for all extraplanar life. Their malleable forms ready to be transformed into whatever type of being their god desired. Archons and other celestials were the reward for the faithful of goodly deities while fiendish power awaited the loyal followers of the god’s of evil. A third class of petitioner also existed, those known as the faithless, and it was under this label that Hazergal found himself.

Devotion to the gods was an integral part of Faerunian society; the gods offered power, protection and the promise of life eternal. Nearly all beings that lived upon the face of Toril took a patron deity, from the greatest of human kings to the lowest scullery maid, good and evil, rich and poor, all venerated the gods and were rewarded. But, the few who took no patron god, through choice or happenstance, gambled with their eternal existence. Those that died without the blessing of a Faerunian deity became the faithless, lost souls that no god could rightfully claim. These hapless beings wandered the Fugue plane, shunned by other petitioners who instinctually recognized their horrid plight. Most faithless were nearly mindless, similar to their more devout brethren but Hazergal was different. The arch-mage’s considerable power and the circumstances of his death had granted him a singular focus that not even the dark mind-scraping emptiness of the void could overcome. Hazergal had arrived on the Fugue plane in possession of all of his mental faculties and burdened with the terrible knowledge that he was near powerless and alone.

Throughout his long rise to power, Hazergal had relied upon no one but himself. From the decrepit slums of Waterdeep where, as an orphan, he had survived by thievery and even murder, he trusted nothing but his wits and a steely confidence in his own abilities. When he had claimed a position as an apprentice to a notable mage, by killing and assuming the identity of the boy the mage had actually chosen, it was his hand that struck the killing blow. And years later as the old mage that had served as Hazergal’s mentor and teacher for over a decade died screaming in a magical conflagration started by his own apprentice, he called out to his god, but died regardless. Hazergal had not required the guidance of a deity to build an empire upon a barren plane of rock and scrub and eventually become one of the most powerful mages in all of Faerun, all this was done by the arch-mage’s own steady and confident hand. Not once had Hazergal let the words of prayer or devotion pass his lips, in all his long ascent from street urchin to arch-mage he had counted solely on his own resolve to see him through difficult situations, and they always had. No, Hazergal had never had any use for gods or their blessings.

Now that canny self-reliance that had served Hazergal so well in the past, worked feverishly to make the best of an impossible situation. Hazergal decided to explore a bit and gain a better perspective of his surroundings and so slowly navigated through the clumps of petitioners, keeping to the outskirts of the large groups and trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible. As Hazergal wandered he was treated to the awe-inspiring appearance of several deities as they collected their faithful and carried them off to receive their eternal reward. Each god or goddess had his or her own style of entrance, varying from the grandiose to the uninspired. Tempus, lord of battles, appeared fully armored in black, scarred plate mail in a cacophonous burst of steel clashing on steel. The Foehammer rode upon a blood red stallion that pulled a mammoth warsled that the god’s faithful eagerly climbed aboard. In contrast, Ilmater, god of virtuous suffering, appeared silently amid his followers, smiling and gentle. He would bid his followers to huddle around him and link hands and then the whole group, god and his faithful, would fade quietly from view.

The plane stretched on infinitely and Hazergal walked among the seething throngs of mortal petitioners for hour upon hour. His body, now composed of little more than tangible ether, required neither rest or nourishment and his staggering intellect was allowed to work unhindered by the physical limitations of the flesh. Hazergal racked his brain for everything he knew about the Fugue plane and its inhabitants. Unfortunately the information he had gleaned from years of study was less than helpful. Nothing existed in the dim gray expanse but petitioners; the plane was kept clear by an edict handed down by Kelemvor, the god of the dead. Although Kelemvor allowed no permanent inhabitants upon the Fugue plane, the occasional interloping fiend had been known to snatch a petitioner from time to time and drag them off to the lower planes. What the fiends did with these souls was unknown, but it was likely unpleasant in the extreme. Hazergal, who had summoned many a demon in his long career as an arch-mage, had no desire to meet any of the nefarious beings here.

As he wandered Hazergal occasionally attempted to speak with a group of petitioners but was met with the same reaction every time. Even before he could open his mouth to speak the group or individual he hoped to address would scuttle away from him, their eyes wide with fear and loathing. Hazergal was puzzled as to what they were so afraid of. Perhaps they feared his status as faithless as if his lack of devotion might taint their own souls. Regardless, he soon tired of the near mindless petitioners and sat down a good distance away from the huddled groups and put his formidable mind to work.

Hazergal mentally examined his options, which were few to say the least. Although he had been a powerful mage in life his transition into death had robbed him of much of his ability. He was no mindless petitioner but he knew that he was but a shadow of his former self, lacking the means to escape the Fugue plane or even defend himself properly if attacked.

Hazergal sat silent and lamented for his situation, for he saw no avenue of escape from his plight. The arch-mage’s thoughts turned once again to Nithrekel, and rage seethed within him. Not only had the mephit reduced all he had created to naught in a single instant but it seemed he had also doomed Hazergal to a dreary existence of perpetual boredom alone on the Fugue plane. Lost in terrible fantasies that featured Nithrekel dying in various slow and painful ways, Hazergal almost failed to notice the commotion stirring in the large group of petitioners some one hundred yards away from his seated form.

Cries of abject terror erupted from the tangled mass of petitioners as something large made its way through the cowering wall of naked flesh. Hazergal leapt to his feet and watched with growing horror as the bulky, scaled form of near perfect terror stalked from the throng of petitioners and into plain view. The creature was twelve feet of sinewy muscle wrapped in burnished iron hard scales complete with two immense bat-like wings and crowned with a head that was the birthing ground of nightmares. It was naked save for a kilt of beaten brass around its hips from which hung a cruel jagged edged sword that glittered foully in the dim gray light of the Fugue plane.

“A balor!” Hazergal’s mind howled in terror. Demons of the highest magnitude, balors were malice given form and were one of the most feared creatures in all of the lower planes. Hazergal had encountered the beasts before, typically when he summoned them to serve his bidding. Only once in his mortal life had he ever fought one, when a sorcerous rival sent one of the savage creatures against him. Hazergal had managed to slay the demon, but had nearly been killed in the process. He knew with utmost certainty that he had no chance of defeating a monster such as this in his weakened state.

The petitioners had fled the area around the balor and the huge demon seemed to pay them no mind as he scanned the barren landscape with his piercing hellish gaze. Hazergal stood alone not more than three hundred feet from the demon, as conspicuous as a blooming flower in the desert. Realizing his peril Hazergal turned to flee, but in his haste his feet became tangled and he fell to the earth with a muffled grunt. The demon’s massive head whipped around at the sound of Hazergal crashing to the ground and its gleaming red gaze fell upon him.

“There!” The Balor bellowed. “That one!” The demon punctuated his outburst by pointing an outstretched arm in Hazergal’s direction. A high piercing screech from the west answered the Balor’s condemnation and the shouts of more terrified petitioners rose up soon after.

Hazergal had regained his feet and was sprinting at a full tilt away from the Balor, it did not give chase but from behind him he could hear the frenzied beating of massive feathered wings. Hazergal dared a glance back over his shoulder as he ran and saw two dark shapes knifing through the air towards him. Two vulture-like demons, Hazergal knew them as Vrocks, were bearing down on him, talons outstretched to snatch up the fleeing prey. Hazergal was all too familiar with this type of demon as well, and knew they were well known for the cruelty and savage inclinations, even among other demons.

Panic gripped Hazergal, for he could not outrun the demons and he was completely defenseless without the magic that had served him in life. The void has scrubbed every spell from his mind and without a spellbook he was incapable of preparing anymore. But still, his panicked mind groped desperately for the words of arcane might that would unleash a torrent of magical death on his foes, and much to his surprise and relief, he found them.

A spell sprang into Hazergal’s mind, one that he was quite fond of, and he skidded to a halt to turn and face the onrushing demons. Hazergal’s voice smote the air with magical words of power as he pointed an outstretched hand at the lead vrock. A shuddering line of concussive force burst from Hazergal and struck the lead vrock squarely as it dove towards him. The demons flesh was shredded by the spells destructive energy and it crashed to the ground in a quivering heap of pulped blood and feathers a scant ten feet from Hazergal.

The second vrock wheeled away and fled towards the Balor who stood screaming in incoherent rage at Hazergal and the remaining vrock. Hazergal wasted no time in congratulating himself and sprinted off again. He was unsure how he had been able to cast a spell without preparation but at this point it mattered little. Hazergal heard the great wings of the Balor stir the air as it took flight in pursuit.

The balor was upon him in seconds, it flew over his head and landed in front of him with a great fluttering of its mammoth wings. Hazergal again halted his forward progress and another spell flowed into his mind with almost casual ease. Hazergal pointed his index finger at the balor and five globes of magical force flew from his outstretched digit to strike the towering demon with unerring accuracy.

The huge demon stumbled back with the impact of the magical darts, but seemed mostly uninjured. It let loose a howl of rage and snatched the huge curved sword from its kilt and lumbered forward. Again Hazergal turned to run, but found his escape cut off by the other vrock who had crept silently up behind him while he dealt with the balor.

Another spell sprang to his lips, but the vrock was too close and it lashed out with a taloned foot, clubbing Hazergal on the left side of his head and sending him senseless to the ground. The vrock leapt upon him and Hazergal felt its wicked claws sink into his flesh. Could he even be killed in this transitive state? He wondered. He was spared the opportunity to find out by the harsh booming voice of the balor.

“Don’t destroy it, you fool!” the huge demon bellowed at its companion. “That’s the only faithless we’ve found on this entire miserable trip.”

Hazergal felt the vrock’s claws recede and the pressure of its body lessen. “Put the collar on it before it can get off another spell.” The balor commanded. And that’s just what Hazergal attempted to do but the arcane words died on his lips as he felt the cool touch of metal on his neck as an iron color was locked about his throat. All strength fled his body immediately and even the power to speak was entirely beyond him.
“There! You little blighter! Gave us quite a run for it didn’t you.” Hazergal heard the vrock crow mockingly down at him. He lay face down on the hard packed earth, unable to move. He understood the two demons as they spoke, for the tongue of the abyss, which they conversed in, was well known to him.

“I didn’t think they could do that.” The vrock said wonderingly. “They usually just stand there senseless while we scoop em’ up. He sure did for Drezekar, didn’t he?”

Hazergal felt the heat of the balor’s body as it bent down over his prostrate form. A rough taloned hand grabbed him by the back of the neck and hauled him bodily from the ground. The Balor held him at eye level, its piercing red orbs burrowing into him as it turned him this way and that, finally satisfied, it dropped Hazergal to the ground where he lay in an immobile heap.

“No, they can’t do that. At least not any that I’ve ever seen could.” The balor said to his vrock underling. “He is faithless, though. The mark of the undevoted is upon him, pick him up we shall take him with us.” Hazergal was once again lifted from the ground as the vrock slung him over his shoulder as the two demons began to move.

“We will take this faithless to Pyrak.” The balor said as the two demons made their way unchallenged through the throngs of petitioners. “Perhaps he can divine why this faithless is different from the rest.”

“Maybe the night hag’s will pay more for this one, Hedranatherax. We could split the share that Drezekar would have gotten” The vrock cawed hopefully.

The vrock’s words sent chills down Hazergal’s spine. His memories, which were largely intact, told him that night hags often transformed petitioners into vile worm-like creatures called larva. These larvas were used as living currency among the denizens of the lower plane, their life energies used to power magical devices or simply consumed by hungry demons. Hazergal’s mind quailed in terror, but he was helpless to resist, the iron collar about his neck held him in complete impotence.

“Silence, fool!” the balor barked at the vrock. “You will get your share and only that, I will take Drezekar’s share.”

This sparked a fierce argument between the two demons as they walked, their words becoming more an more violent until finally the debate over who would receive the slain vrock’s share was decided by the balor’s sword. Hazergal felt his body once again tumble to the ground as Hedranatherax’s blade removed the vrock's head and it lost its grip on the wizard’s limp form in its death throes.

“Now all shares are mine” the balor chuckled to itself as it scooped up Hazergal. The demon walked on for what seemed like hours until finally, ahead glittering in the Fugue Plane’s perpetual gloom, a glowing window of magical energy hung suspended in mid air. Hazergal could see the portal as his lolling head bouncing against the demon’s shoulder and he knew his doom was sealed. The massive balor moved towards the egress that certainly led to the abyss and Hazergal resigned himself to damnation.
 
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Nifft

Penguin Herder
As usual, great! I think you should get a contract from WotC to populate Faerun -- your characters seem to tie in to each other's stories better than most of theirs.

-- Nifft
 

pogre

Legend
So glad you chose to post this in the Story Hour section! I do not spend much time in the Rogue's Gallery, but that is about to change. I look forward to your next installment.
 

Thomas Hobbes

First Post
Well done as always, Blackdirge. :D I don't remember though, and a quick search of the thread revealed nothing- did we ever get Hazergal's mortal stats?
 

BLACKDIRGE

Adventurer
Thomas Hobbes said:
Well done as always, Blackdirge. :D I don't remember though, and a quick search of the thread revealed nothing- did we ever get Hazergal's mortal stats?

Nope. Never got around to it, but I am working on them now. I will post them in the rogues gallery in the next couple of days.

Thanks for reading, and making the journey over here to the story hour forum.

Dirge
 

Grim

First Post
Wow... this is already looking good, Dirge. As a devoted fan, I gotta say... Go You!

As a little aside, the most recent of your classic monsters (Or, second most recent, i guess), the one where you said "this will be the lowest CR monster here", inspired me to write up a bunch of low CR monsters.

Well, I've been meaning to do so for a while, but now that school's out for summer, I have plenty of time to both work for money to buy books (most recently savage species and the latest dungeon), and to stat up monsters, and I've gotten pretty good at it.

But I have two questions for you:

One: How do you backwards engineer skills? I cant for the life of me figure out how WotC comes up with its numbers, especially for the climb and swim skill.

Two: Do you have any tips for writing up backgrounds for templated monsters. Because I can't really think up any beyond "Funky magic made this", "funky evolution made this", "funky circumstances made this", or "no one knows."

Well... i'll be posting some of my monsters in the Rogues Gallery soon enough.

Your fan,
Grim.
 

arbados

Explorer
Hey Blackdirge I have never checked out the story hour before and decided to just take a look. I started to read this post and said "WOW"!

It is truly awesome and I do alot of fantasy reading. While reading it I felt I was reading the history of an npc which exists in the game I run. Of course he had no history in such splendid detail. I got a real feel for the arch-mage and am really on edge waiting to see the next installment.

Keep up the great work. You have just added another fan to your storyhour!!! ;)
 

BLACKDIRGE

Adventurer
arbados said:
Hey Blackdirge I have never checked out the story hour before and decided to just take a look. I started to read this post and said "WOW"!

It is truly awesome and I do alot of fantasy reading. While reading it I felt I was reading the history of an npc which exists in the game I run. Of course he had no history in such splendid detail. I got a real feel for the arch-mage and am really on edge waiting to see the next installment.

Keep up the great work. You have just added another fan to your storyhour!!! ;)

Thank you kindly.

I am always grateful for the praise and support the Enworld community extends to its fledgling authors, I know it has been a big boost to my confidence as a writer.

If you would like to read any of my other work check out the rogues gallery for my other NPC threads.

Thanks again for the kind words. :)

Dirge
 
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BLACKDIRGE

Adventurer
Zarthon said:
Another great story BD, keep it coming :)

Howdy Zarthon. :)

Good to see some of my faithful readers making the journey over here to the story hour forum. Look for the second installment by Sunday night.

As always, thanks for reading.

Dirge
 

BLACKDIRGE

Adventurer
Damnation: Part II

Pyrak was profoundly irritated, a dangerous state of mind for a powerful demon lord such as he. Those familiar with demon-kind would recognize Pyrak’s form, he appeared as a mammoth vulture-like demon, fully seventeen feet tall, featuring a set of huge gray feathered wings and a sharply hooked steel gray beak. Pyrak bore strong resemblance to a common type of demon called a vrock, and in fact he was the progenitor of that strain of fiend, a true paragon of his breed. The demon lord sat on a huge throne of black basalt, with a gargantuan scabbarded sword resting across his feathered legs. The throne dominated a long hall of white marble supported by two columns of carved pillars. The ceiling was of a transparent glass-like steel that allowed all within a clear view of the sickly purple clouds that dominated the abyssal sky. At the foot of the six steps that led up to his throne stood the source of Pyrak’s irritation, two demons, favored servants of the demon lord, arguing with one another in increasingly volatile tones.

The bickering demons paid little attention to Pyrak as the argued and were quite successfully scraping away at his last nerve with their incessant whining and puling. The two fiends were strikingly different in form and demeanor, but of roughly equal power. Heskera the marilith, heavily scarred from literally thousands of battles, sat coiled upon her long serpentine body, her six arms crossed over her ample bosom and wore an expression that was akin to a gathering storm. She was strikingly beautiful, her delicate features framed by long black tresses held in place by a platinum tiara, and the slightest hint of rouge coloring each high cheek bone. Her voice was an intoxicating purr that mixed oddly with the striking clash of steel on steel as all six of her curved longswords jangled menacingly from where they hung on her battle harness. Heskera’s opponent was the complete antithesis of her beautiful form, as brutish and ugly as any demon had a right to be. Kugrot was a nalfashnee, a towering boar-like demon with apish arms and a blunt, tusked face from which two small merciless eyes peered out from deep sockets. Kugrot was unarmed, but his mighty arms and thick taloned fingers left now doubt that he was far from helpless.

The two demons had been arguing for the better part of an hour, and each had shown remarkable restraint for their chaotic natures, using words instead of tooth, claw and blade to make their respective points. They stood at the foot of Pyrak’s great black throne, occasionally attempting to pull the demon lord, who was nominally their liege lord, into the debate. The dulcet tones of Heskera’s voice mingled horribly with the barking grunts that composed Kugrot’s guttural utterances. The mix was a cacophonous mess of noise that ground slowly away at Pyrak’s patience and caused him to obsessively finger the hilt of his massive greatsword, Fiendbleeder.

The debate raged over whom was to lead the next incursion into Baator, commonly referred to as the nine hells and home to the eternal enemies of the demons, the Baaetzu. The baaetzu known as “devils” on the many prime material worlds were a strictly regimented caste of beings that marshaled their evil along stringent guidelines. The devils had been the determined foes of the demons of the abyss since time began, and this enmity continued into the present. The teeming chaos of the abyss birthed massive armies of demons that frequently invaded the first layer of Baator, called Avernus. There the disorganized hordes of demons would clash against the ranks of devils and usually be broken upon the less numerous but far more dedicated baatezu lines. This cycle of conflict repeated itself eternally, with demons invading Baator and being repelled and occasionally devils invading the abyss only to be overwhelmed by the vast hordes of fiends that lived there.

Pyrak was devoted to bringing the war to the nine hells due in large part to his sword, Fiendbleeder, a staggeringly powerful artifact with a mind and will of its own that existed for a single purpose, to destroy devils. Over the centuries the sword had poisoned Pyrak’s mind until he existed for nothing but the bloodwar, which the eternal conflict was known by both devils and demons. The sword’s epic power allowed Pyrak to remain largely unmolested by other demon lords who feared the artifact and its wielder. From his floating palace on a barren windswept layer of the abyss, Pyrak commanded a host of vrocks and other demons that he or one of his generals frequently led into the hells to do battle. Pyrak was much feared in the nine hells, he had personally smashed entire legions of devils, his gargantuan sword sweeping through their lines like a scythe through wheat. He had even on one invasion defeated the great pit fiend Bel in single combat, mortally wounding the Devil Lord before his loyal retainers pulled him to safety amid the chaos of battle. In his heart Pyrak knew that the battle was futile, the planes were infinite and the bloodwar was simply unwinnable, but Fiendbleeder drove him on, its thirst for the blood of devils nigh unquenchable.

When Pyrak was unable to lead his army into Baator, usually due to disputes with other rival demon lords, he allowed a few of his most powerful servants to lead in his stead. Heskera and Kugrot where two of his best, but to date each one of their forays had ended in complete and utter failure resulting in the loss of thousands of valuable demonic troops. Both of the powerful demons were far too concerned with their own personal gains and more importantly their own skins to make any sort of descent military commander. Without Pyrak in the lead his demonic army quickly degenerated into a wild and unorganized mob, uncontrollable and easily defeated by the orderly arrays of diabolic might. Pyrak’s grip around the hilt of his greatsword tightened as his two incompetent generals continued to debate.

“You fat, slobbering pile of dung!” Heskera screamed, all six of her arms flying out in utter exasperation. “You can barely put whole sentences together, let alone lead an army!”

Kugrot’s beady eyes gleamed at Heskera’s insult. “Perhaps you have forgotten my stunning victory over Medregog.” The nalfashnee sneered.

“Hah!” Heskera snorted. “Medregog, that trumped up lemure! He practically led his entire regiment of that cliff before you ran into him. Imbeciles get no accolades for outwitting imbeciles.” She finished icily.

“You want to talk about lemures?! Let me tell you about lemures, bitch!” Kugrot barked back, a malicious grin creasing his hideous features, “I seem to recall a whole wing of vrocks destroyed by those pathetic little blobs of flesh not more than two weeks ago. Now who was leading that little expedition, hmm….”? Kugrot tapped his warty chin mockingly as if trying to remember a name. “Ah, yes, it was you!” The nalfashnee boomed after taking a moment to drink in Heskera’s growing rage. “Yes and on the ground as well. You do know that vrocks can fly, don’t you!?” Kugrot spat.

So engrossed in their argument were the two demons that neither of them heard Fiendbleeder slither from its scabbard or Pyrak rising from his throne.

“I will cut you into a thousand pieces, you inbred dretch dropping!” Six longswords sprang into six long nailed manicured hands, as Heskera gave in to her already less than stable temper.

“Try it, you six armed slut! Just come on and try it! I will…” Kugrot had pulled himself up to his full height and was baring his massive tusks preparing to spring upon Heskera and rend her with tooth and claw but in his rage he failed to see the huge winged shadow looming over him until it was far too late. Wide-eyed Kugrot whirled around in time to meet the massive downward stroke of Fiendbleeder as it bit into his thick skull and cleaved him to the breastbone. A huge gout of black ichor jetted from Kugrot savaged corpse as he fell stone dead to the ground.

Pyrak had had quite enough of his general’s bickering.

The demon lord had lost his grip on Fiendbleeder when it had become lodged in Kugrot’s thick breastbone, but nonetheless he turned his flaming gaze upon Heskera, who had wisely sheathed her blades after witnessing Kugrot’s fate.

“Go. Now.” Pyrak seethed, his words coming out in a harsh croak that left no doubt that murder was still very much in his mind.

Heskera was no fool, realizing that her life had been spared simply because Pyrak’s blade had become stuck in Kugrot after his initial attack, and after a hasty “Yes my lord”, she departed via a teleportation spell. It seemed she had won her argument after all.

Alone at last, Pyrak still fumed but as there were no further targets to inflict his ire upon he turned to the corpse of Kugrot and set about retrieving his precious sword. As Pyrak’s rage cooled he realized that killing both of his general’s would have been counter productive to his efforts in the bloodwar, something he was quite certain Fiendbleeder was aware of. The sword had lodged within the corpse of Kugrot to keep its wielder from further damaging its chances to destroy devils. The silvery blade of Fiendbleeder could have easily cut Kugrot in two and allowed Pyrak to bring the weapon to bear on Heskera, but it had desired otherwise.

Pyrak ripped Fiendbleeder from Kugrot's body and it came easily…and willingly. The blade was unmarred and clean, not a drop of Kugrot’s foul blood staining its silvery surface. Pyrak carried his prized weapon gingerly back to his throne where he returned it to the plain black iron sheathe he had discarded in his attack on Kugrot. He then sank wearily back into his throne, folding his great wings around his body and sat brooding. Pyrak stoked the sheathed Fiendbleeder lovingly, for it was his most precious possession, the great sword had lifted him to the heights he now occupied and over the centuries it had become his master, and his beloved. The sword whispered always in the back of his mind driving him on, pushing him to assail the nine hells with every ounce of strength and terror he could muster, and he had complied, throwing all his recourses into the futile bloodwar. Together Pyrak and Fiendbleeder had earned a reputation in Baator that struck fear in the hearts of the mightiest pit fiend; no devil or demon could stand before their combined might.

Pyrak’s legacy of defeating powerful demon lords and arch devils was a long one that had started millennia ago when he vanquished Pazuzu, the demon prince of the air, in mortal combat. Pyrak had claimed the floating fortress he now occupied from Pazuzu as well as the vast abyssal plane he had once ruled. Pazuzu, who had survived his confrontation with Pyrak by fleeing to the prime material plane, had since returned to the abyss and was virtually the only demon lord that openly defied Pyrak. Pyrak himself was not concerned with the affairs of other powerful demons and maintained pacts of non-aggression with various demon lords including Orcus and Grazz’t. The great vrock was concerned only with the conquest in the nine hells and appeasing Fiendbleeder.

Pyrak was suddenly pulled from his brooding by the thundering clash of a heavy fist rapping on the giant silver and adamantine doors that led to his throne room.

“Enter!” Pyrak barked, anger seeping into his voice.

The massive double doors swung open soundlessly to admit the terrible scaly form of Hedrenatherax, Pyrak’s balor major domo. The huge demon stalked directly up to the throne, his arms cradling a small, limp humanoid whose arms and legs dangled listlessly from the demon’s iron clasp.

Pyrak eyes narrowed from above his massive folded wings at his second in command as he stood at the base of the steps and waited for his lord to address him. Pyrak made him wait for nearly five minutes, noting with pleasure how the balor’s gaze unerringly found the shattered body of Kugrot whose bloated corpse was emitting an over powering stench and a widening pool of thickening black slime.

Finally growing bored with waiting Pyrak unfolded his wings revealing Fiendbleeder once again in its customary place across the demon lord’s knees, in easy reach.

“Well Hedrenatherax, I hope you have not disturbed me needlessly, I am in a foul mood.” Pyrak punctuated his statement with an unmistakable glance at what remained of Kugrot.

“So it would seem, my lord. But I have brought you something I believe you will find interesting.” Hedrenatherax said slowly, choosing his words carefully and keeping his tone flat and unchallenging.

“What? That little faithless maggot you’ve got there?” Pyrak said uninterestedly. “Take it to the night hags, I have no use of it.”

“If I may lord, this one is different…and dangerous.”

“Dangerous? Hah!” Pyrak snorted mockingly. “The faithless are mindless drones, fit only for consumption or the spawning pits. How could one possibly be dangerous?”

“They are dangerous when they have retained the memories and power they wielded in life, just as this one has.” Hedrenatherax countered simply.

Pyrak regarded his balor servant skeptically noting for the first time that the two vrocks he had sent with Hedrenatherax on his foray to the Fugue Plane were conspicuously absent.

“Where are Drezekar and Yaguvak?” Pyrak hissed his voice stained with venom and suspicion. The demon lord’s right claw tightened reflexively on the hilt of Fiendbleeder.

Hedrenatherax did not falter in the face of his master and stood his ground. “Slain, by this faithless here. I swear it my lord.” A partial truth that Hedrenatherax desperately hoped Pyrak would believe. “If you would allow me to explain I think you will find my tale very interesting.”

Pyrak’s eyes suddenly went glassy and he settled back in his throne and relaxed his grip on his great sword. “Very well, tell me your tale.” The demon lord’s voice was distant and unfocused.

The sword has his mind again. Hedrenatherax surmised silently, filled with disgust that the mighty demon lord could be controlled in such a way. In truth he was grateful for the reprieve Fiendbleeder had granted him, for if the sword was interested in what he had to say then Pyrak would soon be as well.

Hedrenatherax began his story immediately and recounted the short but deadly battle with Hazergal that resulted in the destruction of the vrock Drezekar. The balor expanded his tale to include the second vrock’s destruction by the spellcasting faithless and greatly increased his own role in the battle boasting of his miraculous survival of nearly half a dozen might spells before he was able to color the dangerous faithless.

Pyrak had seemingly regained his senses as Fiendbleeder had retreated from his mind sometime during Hedrenatherax’s story. The mighty demon lord now wore a look of pointed interest and sat silent for a few moments after the balor had stopped speaking.

“Well, I had thought it impossible that a petitioner, even a faithless could retain anything from their mortal lives, but it seems that that is simply not true. Perhaps this faithless is simply an anomaly, but nevertheless he does present an interesting opportunity”

“What do you suggest we do with him, my lord” Hedrenatherax questioned.

“Take him to the spawning pits." Pyrak replied simply his tone flat and unimpressed. "If he truly is as powerful as you say I do not wish him to run amok within my demesne, but perhaps he will emerge from the pits as something more than a manes or a dretch. If so we can always put him to use in the bloodwar.”

Hedrenatherax knew better than to argue with his master and bowed his head in acquiescence. “Very well, my lord I will take him too the pits of Gemnez Drak, immediately. I will report to you if anything unusual occurs.”

“Good. Now leave me,” Pyrak dismissed his major domo with a wave of his taloned hand and folded his wings about his body again, returning instantly to his brooding and the lingering mental caress of his precious Fiendbleeder.

Hedrenatherax stalked from the throne room with Hazergal in tow, taking wing from one of the many lofty parapets of Pyrak’s floating fortress. The balor streaked across the barren abyssal landscape towards a soft green luminescence on the far distance horizon, his prisoner dangling limply from his powerful talons.

Hazergal who had heard and understood every word spoken in Pyrak’s throne room existed in a state of impotent panic, locked helpless within his own mind by the power of the magical collar around his neck. He had witnessed the terrible journey from the Fugue Plane to the abyss from the arms of Hedrenatherax and knew that his fate would not be pleasant. He did not recognize the demon lord he had been brought before but he understood well enough the death sentence handed down from the powerful fiend. The arch-mage’s extensive knowledge of planar lore and demonology granted him a firm understanding of the fate that awaited him in Gemnez Drak.

Faithless petitioners, not sold to the night hags, were cast into the boiling quagmire of primordial ooze that filled the dreaded spawning pits. These pits, and the fell magic contained within, would transform a petitioner into a demon, usually a dretch or the near mindless manes. But many petitioners were simply destroyed by the brutal magical and alchemical transmutation, their souls forever gone, their existence snuffed out permanently. This was the fate that awaited Hazergal, either transformation into a fiend or total destruction.

Helpless the arch-mage watched the glowing green light grow larger in the distance as his captor sped through the air towards the spawning pit of Gemnez Drak.
 
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BLACKDIRGE

Adventurer
Cheiromancer said:
This is from before Hedrenatherax's destruction?

What is the ego on Fiendbleeder anyway? Is Pyrak totally under its power?

Ok, you caught me. :eek:

I made a little mistake with Hedrenatherax, but I have fixed it by simply removing the words "now long destroyed" from Pyrak's history.:D

Doh!

As for fiendbleeder and Pyrak, you'll just have to keep reading and find out.:)

Dirge
 


Cheiromancer

Explorer
BLACKDIRGE said:


As for fiendbleeder and Pyrak, you'll just have to keep reading and find out.:)

Dirge

Well, from the partial description of Fiendbleeder, I get

+7 (enhancement) + 1 (keen) + 2 (chaotic) + 7 (dread) + 6 (sonic blast) + 4 (special purpose) = +27

Which is before accounting for Fiendbleeder's Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, or the primary and extraordinary abilities. With mental ability scores of 20, and say 3 extraordinary and 5 primary abilities, that's an ego of 53.

With a will save of +33, Pyrak needs to roll a 20 to get his way.

I wonder how many other demon lords are under the control of their items?
 

BLACKDIRGE

Adventurer
Cheiromancer said:


Well, from the partial description of Fiendbleeder, I get

+7 (enhancement) + 1 (keen) + 2 (chaotic) + 7 (dread) + 6 (sonic blast) + 4 (special purpose) = +27

Which is before accounting for Fiendbleeder's Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, or the primary and extraordinary abilities. With mental ability scores of 20, and say 3 extraordinary and 5 primary abilities, that's an ego of 53.

With a will save of +33, Pyrak needs to roll a 20 to get his way.

I wonder how many other demon lords are under the control of their items?

Yup, that sounds about right.

I havn't fully statted out fiendbleeder but I meant it to be on the level of strombringer or mournblade.

Thanks for reading.

Dirge
 



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