‘The audience is coming in…’
Baalzephon had yet to notice the glint in the eyes of the horned devil cowering behind him. The Iron Tower was Beelzebub’s lair, a place that was filled with danger even for Leylin. While he’d already obtained Azlok’s loyalty, Azlok was merely a guardian of the outer regions of the Iron Tower, and he couldn’t enter the place himself.
If he wanted to completely scope out this lair, Leylin would need hundreds of greater devils or even many pit fiends. Leylin naturally didn’t want to purge his own subordinates, and at the same time he wanted to lure everyone coveting the lordship out of hiding. This was why he’d kept his strength hidden, entering the tower alongside Baalzephon.
Baalzephon’s actions would result in a chain reaction, breaking the initial balance in the Nine Hells. With his actions, the Dark Eight and Asmodeus would be besieged from all sides. That way, Leylin could use the powers of other devils to scope out the tower.
Ninth Hell of Baator, Nessus. Deep gorges and valleys filled the area, forming large expanses filled with lifeless rocks. It looked like the land had been formed by a huge explosion, or perhaps a battle between existences compared to gods. Nobody knew the real truth to the day.
Inside a valley that was unimaginably deep and wide was a fort called Malsheem, standing tall with a dark, grand, and hellish beauty. The citadel was extremely large, and numerous miles wide. Its dimensions were unimaginable for all devils.
More than a million devils lived within this city, and conspiracy theorists said that they would one day start killing their way out, drowning out the entirety of Baator in Asmodeus’ quest to take over all of Hell.
“Ah, Malsheem. She’s so beautiful! I want to possess her and touch every bit of her skin lovingly…” A voice full of greed suddenly rang in the air, and a devil appeared. His upper body was human, while the lower half was that of a huge poisonous snake. He held what looked like a harpoon, and his triangular eyes looked full of avarice.
This was Mammon, the Lord of the Third Hell. He possessed the laws of avarice, and was one of Baator’s eight Archdevils that stood tall above the rest.
“Mammon! Long time no see, old friend. It’s been five hundred years since we last met, no? I remember it was in Minauros…”
An illusory devil appeared at the peak of Malsheem. He looked like an aged devil with black hair that was combed back perfectly. He had a black goatee, and his eyes shot flames. His courteous greeting was as if Mammon was a friend he hadn’t seen in a long while.
“Your hypocrisy makes me want to hurl, Asmodeus!” Another Archdevil appeared next to Mammon, revealing Asmodeus’ identity. This one had flames twirling around him, seemingly like fury incarnate that could burn everything in the world to nothingness.
The old devil that had appeared atop Malsheem was the legendary Supreme of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus. This was Baator’s ruler in name.
“Oh, it’s Samuel! You’re just as angry as always…” Asmodeus seemed to think nothing of the power Samuel exuded, and his grin widened.
“When will you abandon this form, and dare meet us with your true body?” Pure white snowflakes fell one by one, instantly freezing a large portion of the valley. A devil that grasped extreme cold walked over, his eyes fearless as he met Asmodeus’ gaze with an aura exuding arrogance.
“Oh, so Levistus is here too! Cough cough… Forgive me; with the injuries to my body, it’s already amazing that I can appear in this form…” Asmodeus’ pale face now had a slight flush, looking like an old man on the verge of death from illness.
Rumour had it that the Archdevil of the Ninth Hell had sustained grievous injuries. He’d now taken the form of a high-ranked projection, an avatar of sorts.
Even so, Asmodeus’ power was still the greatest amongst the Archdevils, the sight of which would shock other devils into silence.
Mammon, who controlled the third layer, Samuel who controlled the fourth. Levistus, who controlled the fifth, and the original ruler of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus. Four of the Archdevils had actually appeared here!
Ever since the conspiracies of the ruthless Blood Wars, and the incident where the abyss broke off from the Nine Hells, the Archdevils rarely met. Their fights had even affected the prime material plane, and the gods’ divine kingdoms.
With four of them meeting, people would believe that a conspiracy that would turn the world upside down was being hatched. It wasn’t as if four lords of Baator meeting could result in good.
“Cough cough… May I know why you have gathered here?” Asmodeus produced what looked like presbyopic glasses as he began to flip through a thick sheepskin book. The book had a black cover, with hellfire atop it. It made it seem extremely evil. Within the book, the paper recorded numerous vile contracts!
“Of course it’s about Dis, and Beelzebub!” Mammon was the first to speak, “The rest of us seven wouldn’t be able to decide on the appointment of an Archdevil even if we were to have a joint discussion!”
“Is that so?” A poisonous worm crawled out from Asmodeus’ goatee, which he then picked up and swallowed. “But… From the contract of our alliance, you don’t seem to think that way…”
Asmodeus flipped to a certain contract and pointed at the clause, “So? Need me to read it and explain it to you?”
“That’s only when the Archdevil of a layer is unable to fulfill one’s task. You have the power to help them, but only temporarily!” Samuel exclaimed in anger.
“But as the Supreme of the Nine Hells… Fine, even if only in name it’s my responsibility to maintain the stability and order of Baator…” Asmodeus spoke up for himself.
“Even so, you can’t appoint someone to the Second Hell when its Archdevil is in danger. What’s worse is that you’re choosing from the Dark Eight, who don’t even have any authority…” Levistus snickered.
“They might be mere pit fiends, but if they can ensure there is order in the Second Hell, it would make sense to give them some rewards…” Asmodeus still persisted.
“All I see is them plotting and causing destruction!” The flames on Samuel’s body leapt into the sky.
“The only one who can stabilise Dis right now is Beelzebub with his authority over the place. Which of you knows where he is?” Mammon’s eyes were filled with greed.
“It’s said that after getting gravely injured, he’s hidden in the prime material plane. One of my followers found traces of him on the surface, and there even seems to be some interesting guide…” Asmodeus spoke nonchalantly, as if this was no secret.
Such honesty and magnanimity had the three overlords puzzled. It took a length of time before Levistus spoke up. “What are you planning?”
“That’s what I should be asking you,” Asmodeus looked innocent, “You barge into my house and rudely block my door. Why is that?”
“It’s obviously for the stability of Baator! You’re not to interfere with Dis anymore!” Samuel yelled.
Although it was acknowledged that Asmodeus was the strongest and most mysterious of the eight lords of hell, there wasn’t much of a difference between them. Still, he was the strongest devil despite his injuries. Rumours were abound that a fully healed Asmodeus could even unify all of Baator itself!
As the situation was now, Asmodeus would be able to defeat a single Archdevil in combat. Even then, he wouldn’t be able to kill his opponent. Two Archdevils working together could even suppress him! With three Archdevils present here, he would definitely lose a battle.
“Give up. The Hag Countess won’t help you. Baalzebul will stay at Maladomini forever, and can’t be bothered to leave and meddle in this. You might be able to rope Mephistopheles in, but you still won’t have enough numbers. You won’t win a vote amongst the lords of Baator without bribing us, and I’m quite interested in what you’re willing to pay.…”
Mammon sized Malasheem up and down, “Give Malsheem to me, and I might consider it. I promise it on the honour of an Archdevil of Baator!”
“Looks like I really have no chance of winning…”
Asmodeus waved his arms around with no other choice. “Alright then. Based on the contract, I’ll stay in Nessus! However, Dis does need a substitute. How about we sign an agreement?”
Before the other Archdevils could speak, Asmodeus continued on, “Let’s all stay here till everything dies down and order resumes. Let’s not go anywhere. How about it? Isn’t that your goal?”
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