Devils were usually excellent at persuasion. Their sharp tongues seemed to be coated with both honey and poison, even able to convince the purest of paladins.
Baalzephon was evidently even more brilliant than normal. Although he’d said nothing and merely snorted, it still told Leylin a great many thing.
‘Think about it! Azlok has been so greedy, envious and foolish to prevent all his underlings from advancing. In comparison, Lord Baalzephon is benevolent, generous and kind… Isn’t the answer obvious?’ Such were the thoughts Leylin was supposed to be tempted by.
Even worse, devils already held a deep-rooted hatred for their superiors. It would be strange if Leylin was completely unaffected.
“Does my lord mean… you want me to start a rebellion?” Leylin’s voice was as hoarse as a wanderer about to die of thirst in the desert. Truth be told, he’d planned to side with the Dark Eight anyway and see what the Supreme of the Nine Hells was up to. Unexpectedly, Baalzephon had come up to him on his own.
“No, no. This is only an uprising, a fight against injustice!” Baalzephon twirled his fingers. “Believe me. Once you join us, Lord Asmodeus will definitely give you a suitable position… Or he could personally oversee your promotion. Becoming a pit fiend definitely won’t be just a dream…”
While Asmodeus was only the Supreme of the Nine Hells in name, his title was still very useful. In addition, his power was still greater than that of the remaining eight Archdevils.
“Lord Asmodeus…” Leylin’s voice tremored, and his eyes lit up with fervour and a firm look, “In that case, I offer my loyalty to you, Lord Baalzephon!”
At the very moment that Leylin stated his allegiance, he suddenly felt the descent of Baator’s origin force. It turned into a powerful binding, prepared to imprint a means of communication between the two. It was extremely difficult for a devil to back out of a contract.
Of course, playing around with sly word games was a common tactic. Devils did not slander those who were successful at cheating others, instead mocking the losers for being stupid.
“Good! Sign this contract, and I’ll accept your loyalty.” Baalzephon was obviously prepared, and a contract that had been verified by the origin force appeared in front of Leylin.
Green phosphorescence blazed on yellowed parchment paper, forming a large number of conditions. Still, this was concise for a devil. From this aspect, Baalzephon seemed quite sincere and had not made any traps in the choice of words.
‘A devil can only be loyal to one superior. Once two oaths of loyalty are sworn, the next promotion will grow chaotic. A choice will need to be made between the two, and one needs to be eliminated…’
Leylin snickered inside. If he was really Leycian, he would have no way to choose right now. While Baalzephon made things sound pleasant, he could very well become hostile right away if Leylin had any thoughts of rejecting him.
Unfortunately, the person Baalzephon was facing now was Leylin. Leylin, who with his authority of an Archdevil surpassed him greatly!
“Such a lax contract! Lord Baalzephon, your leniency and benevolence is well known even on the prime material plane…” The horned devil now seemed so emotional that he could not control himself, trembling as he extended his right hand.
‘A.I. Chip, begin interference!’ Leylin commanded in secret.
[Beep! Mission established! Host’s authority far exceeds target, dulling target’s origin force sense. Interference in progress…] the A.I. Chip intoned loyally.
The moment Leylin’s finger touched the parchment piece of paper, perhaps in a millionth of a second, an astounding change occurred. Another piece of parchment that looked exactly the same appeared, replacing the contents of the original contract. It was still a pledge of loyalty, but the punishment was much more severe. The master and servant had changed place, and Baalzephon would now pledge his allegiance to Leylin.
Given that Leylin far exceeded Baalzephon in authority, the devil did not notice anything wrong with the contract. Baalzephon could also sense a thread of loyalty from this ‘Leycian.’
An authority that surpassed Baalzephon’s own, as well as the powerful abilities of the A.I. Chip, allowed a substitute to replace the original in an instant, completing a magnificent feat in the Nine Hells. What the A.I. Chip had formed was instantly hidden in the original parchment, and all Baalzephon saw was the horned devil signing his name with his right index finger.
“Good! You made the right choice!” Baalzephon nodded with satisfaction. After sensing the thread of loyalty made of origin force, he glanced at the parchment paper. There were no changes to the green phosphorescence of the letters, save for the signature at the lower right corner.
‘Strange… why did I suddenly feel fearful?’ Baalzephon shook his head, and tossed this thought out of his mind. After ascertaining that this was the contract he had created, he entered his name at the position of the superior.
A blood-red truename formed on the paper, and it quickly burnt up. A phosphorescent green imprint disappeared into each of Leylin’s and Baalzephon’s chests.
[Beep! Fealty contract obtained. Target: Baalzephon of the Dark Eight. Note: Target has signed a contract with another superior. If host’s orders clash with Asmodeus’, there is a 50% chance that Baalzephon will grow confused.]
‘Good. Continue concealment.’ Leylin had now become Baalzephon’s superior, and as an Archdevil, it was a breeze for him to cover a portion of his senses.
Baalzephon obtained a simulated thread of loyalty, and was extremely satisfied.
“Very good! Tell me, Leycian, why are you here in Avernus?” Superiors were what devils feared the most. Baalzephon now believed he had complete control over the devil in front of him. If not for this devil for still having his uses, he would have long since abandoned his false pretence and interrogated him properly.
This sudden change caused ‘Leycian’ to feel a sense of foreboding.
“I… I obtained an order from Lord Azlok to search for…” Leylin’s voice showed his fear, and he cowered back.
“Search for what? Make yourself clear! Do you want me to demote you into the most lowly nupperibo?” Baalzephon’s breathing began to get rough, and Leylin could even sense the intense emotions in his mind.
Leylin pretended to be unable to take Baalzephon’s gaze, gritting his teeth as he said, “Azlok commanded that I come search for all traces of Dis’s Archdevil, Beelzebub…”
“Beelzebub? Has he really gone missing?” Baalzephon grabbed at Leylin’s arm, eyes glinting.
“Y- yes. Even Lord Azlok doesn’t have any news about him!” Leylin now seemed like he had been scared stupid.
“Haha… haha… so the intel was right! An Archdevil has gone missing. What a wonderful thing…” Baalzephon laughed maniacally, and finally calmed down.
“Good! Tell me all you know and don’t hold back, or else…”
A long while later, a horned devil walked out of the bronze tower, looking lost.
‘I see. So Asmodeus finally can’t hold on anymore, and he wants to act?’ Leylin was actually the one scheming here. He’d blurted out a large amount of fake information just now, and Baalzephon had let his guard down against him to reveal some information as well.
‘He plans for one of the Dark Eight to take over lordship and become an Archdevil?’ Leylin stroked his chin. 'This doesn’t seem like something Asmodeus would do, but this is so great a temptation that the Dark Eight don’t consider the danger…’
Based on what Baalzephon had revealed, Asmodeus finally decided to take care of this confusion and get one of the Dark Eight to take over Dis. But the position of the Second Hell’s lord had been empty for a long while. That was an empty spot to be an Archdevil of Baator, representing the peak of Baator’s might!
He seemed to depend on the Dark Eight’s merits, including dealing blows to the demons, expanding Avernus, and so on. That was why the Dark Eight had set a trap without hesitation, wiping out a demon army. The pit fiends, dazzled with the lordship as they were, would go around attacking everything to expand the territories of Avernus.
When this happened, a mere strategic location, the Bronze Citadel, was not that important. In order to obtain Tiamat’s approval and help, the Dark Eight had not hesitated to give up the place. After all, the chromatic dragon was still one of their allies, and there were many other places in the First Hell that they could attack.
The trap at the Bronze Citadel would be the last time the Dark Eight worked together. Next they would go at it alone, hoping to obtain enough merits to be acknowledged by Asmodeus. They all wished to become the Archdevil of Dis.
‘Sadly, this is just a huge trap. Without the authority being transferred and now that they can’t get a hold of Beelzebub, would Asmodeus appointing them to the post actually do anything?’
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