Warlock of the Magus World Chapter 1033-1035
"That's all you have to suggest? Nothing else?" Samuel and the other Archdevils looked at each other, disbelief in their eyes.
Although Asmodeus had the Dark Eight, the other lords weren't without their own subordinate pit fiends. Combined, the forces of the three could annihilate Asmodeus' underlings.
Asmodeus grinned, tossing out great bait, "Nothing else. Until everything is done and dusted, we should all just stay here and let the developments play out for themselves!"
"What do you think?" Mammon looked at his two companions. He'd already been moved. After all, there was an entire level of Baator at stake here!
"You want to sow discord amongst us?" Samuel laughed, "You're going to be disappointed…" Although he said that, nobody believed a word of it.
"Your physical form should remain here, including those of Mephistopheles and the rest," Levistus added.
"Alright, I'll have them sign another contract. The other lords that aren't here shall need to stay in their territories as well, not acting until everything is settled." Asmodeus chuckled, "So?"
"Order is everything! If we reject it, even if it's for the sake of Baator's World Origin Force the Nine Hells will be thrown into turmoil. The World Will will repudiate us." Levistus' analysis was calm, and he ended up answering, "I agree to this contract!"
"I concur!" "I as well!" Mammon and Samuel agreed as well. After all, this outcome far exceeded their expectations.
"Very well! The Hag Countess, Belphegor and Mephistopheles have given me their reply as well. Let the River of Styx be our witness!" Asmodeus now turned his book of contracts to a new, blank page.
Once the other three ascertained that there was nothing wrong with the contract, they nodded their heads, making the most solemn of vows to the river of the underworld…
Right now, Leylin had no inkling of this contract made between the Archdevils of Baator. However, the ripples of this event would soon throw Baator into a flurry of events, culminating in the dawn of a new era.
"Beelzebub's Iron Tower…" Baalzephon looked at the heavy coat of darkness in front of him, his eyes filled with deceit and solemnity. "Leycian. What do you know of this place?"
This was the castle of an Archdevil! Baalzephon was but a pit fury, and he didn't dare to make any assumptions about the place.
"Lord Baalzephon, the Iron Tower has always been forbidden territory in Dis. Even my former superior, Lord Azlok the chief guard, has never stepped into this place…"
Leylin had spoken the truth. His earlier investigations and Azlok's own testimony told him Beelzebub was someone who did not entrust things to his subordinates. Very few devils were permitted to enter the Iron Tower, perhaps a shortcoming of their race.
Legends said that the only way to enter the Iron Tower was to sign a contract with Beelzebub under witness of the Styx, foregoing everything to protect it for life. Even so, the contract restrained all these devils to the interior of the tower.
Leylin wasn't gullible enough to say such things blindly. The reason he did was that Baalzephon still had some value.
"Legend has it that the Iron Tower contains numerous curses, and is guarded by a huge army of golems. There are ancient, powerful devils here, contracted to protect it. We're currently in the outermost regions of the Iron Tower, the Plains of Gluttony. This place is guarded by an army of hungry spirits Beelzebub has trained, and only devils with permission are allowed to enter. Any others will have to perform a rite of autocannibalism."
"Hungry spirits?" Baalzephon nodded his head, and felt that this new subordinate he had recruited was rather useful, "Autocannibalism is where you make an offering by eating a part of yourself?"
Baalzephon's face was filled with worry. He wasn't reluctant to sacrifice a part of his body, but the most prevalent rule of the law of gluttony was that any powers sacrificed could never be regained.
Evidently, this was Beelzebub's first line of defense. Without his permission, anyone who wanted to enter would first have to weaken themselves.
'Are there any ways to bypass this rule?' Baalzephon pondered, before shaking his head helplessly. How could there be a way for him to beat the cunning of an Archdevil of Baator?
'The most important part of the ceremony is that it requires a part of one's core power. Any other energy is useless…' Baalzephon glanced at Leylin standing beside him, restraining himself from acting upon his impulse.
'I'm going to lose a part of my powers before even meeting the Archdevil… This isn't a good start…'
Just as Baalzephon was mulling over this, he felt an imminent crisis looming over him. He didn't think twice, immediately using an instant Greater Teleportation spell inscribed into his body.
He disappeared from his original location in a flash, reappearing nearby. It seemed like the restrictions of the original realm of gluttony made it extremely difficult for him to use teleportation magic and escape this realm.
"Damn! This interference…" Baalzephon swore foully as he raged, but he soon looked to his right shoulder in astonishment.
A large chunk of flesh was missing from that shoulder, and threads of evil energy still circulated around it. A fish-like illusory monster had suddenly appeared as he tried to teleport earlier, rending apart the fire resistance and other defences that all devils were so proud of. A single bite had reduced him to this state.
'A creature with the Teleportation feat? No, this is a top-level ability to traverse two planes and blur the distance between them! I even sense the unique aura of a creature from the astral plane…' Leylin had managed to gather a lot of information immediately, using Baalzephon as a big pathfinder stone.
Although he'd devoured most of Beelzebub's memories, the devil had clearly hidden some of the most important secrets. Those scattered fragments had lacked many important details, which meant that Leylin lacked knowledge about the iron tower.
'Besides, even if I knew all about it, perhaps there is no better way. After all, the Iron Tower itself only recognizes Beelzebub's aura. Even Baator's authority and devil essence would be useless here…' Leylin smiled wryly to himself.
While Leylin was able to stabilise himself, Baalzephon, on the other hand, was about to throw a fit.
'Damn! This creature is definitely not something from hell and has never appeared before on the prime material plane. Don't tell me it's some abomination borne of a god?'
Baalzephon's knowledge did not extend to things beyond the World of Gods, let alone the astral plane. To him, an existence that possessed powers even a pit fiend couldn't comprehend was an abomination, the flawed offspring of a god! Only something with the power of a god could create such a bizarre and powerful creature.
In a short span of time, Baalzephon was attacked several times. The loss of some of his body was but a small matter, but he sensed his own origin being lost with the passage of time. It left him extremely horrified.
'Damn, what do I have to do to leave this place?' Baalzephon continued to try using teleportation spells. However, those hungry spirits chased after him, biting his flesh apart and devouring his power.
Forget demons and other races, a devil's greatest enemy was other devils. Beelzebub had specifically arranged his preparations to target his kin. Baalzephon was unfortunate, being toppled so simply.
'Mm, how clever,' Leylin cut a sorry figure as he stood at the side, but he was only pretending.
The hungry spirits sensed the energy on his body, not daring to stick close to him. There were several berserk little fellows who dared make contact with him, but they were immediately dissolved by the dissolving power coming from Leylin's body. They ended up becoming a part of him.
'Mm, it seems like it's some sort of spiritual body. They are undoubtedly some sort of astral creature…' The A.I. Chip's light flashed, and displayed the results of its investigatory research before Leylin's eyes.
'It looks like Beelzebub relied on the Manderhawke Plate to acquire several interesting things from the astral plane…' Greed flashed across Leylin's eyes. Soon, he heard Baalzephon's despairing roar: "There's nothing else for it, hurry up and begin the autocannibalism!"
Even as Baalzephon struggled bitterly, something was happening within the burning Iron City of Dis. An enormous teleportation portal opened up, and troops of armoured devils marched out to take over the enormous city.
Small-scale conflicts continued to occur, but the devils who had lost their leaders and the core of their operations were far weaker than these elites. They lost very quickly, and beat a hasty retreat.
Due to Leylin's earlier arrangements, Azlok had evacuated with the devils who were still loyal to the Winged Serpent God, and luckily they had not been involved. The main army soon moved to the vicinity of the Iron Tower, headed by seven pit fiends.
"That fool Baalzephon, he actually dared to come by himself! Does he think that he is a match for an Archdevil alone? Besides, he actually even dared to betray my lord!" Zapan of the Dark Eight snickered as he looked at the tall glowing tower which broke through the clouds.
"Hurry and take over the defences. We need to surround the tower, the main forces of the other Archdevils will get here soon!" Another member of the Dark Eight urged him on, his fiery eyes full of longing and ambition.
Asmodeus' order had arrived, and the unanimous decision of the remaining Archdevils let the Dark Eight, who stood unable to break free of their torment at the pinnacle of hell, see their only chance at lordship!
Even the most powerful pit fiends in Baator lived under a shadow of anxiety and fear. Although they possessed formidable power, that was compared to ordinary devils. They were direct subordinates of Archdevils instead, subject to more stringent requirements and treatment. Even the slightest thoughtlessness would engender punishment.
The harsh treatment and death threats from their superiors was a curse no devil could escape— unless of course it was someone at the peak of society, an Archdevil!
Consequently, when the seven Archdevils publicised their agreement to let their underlings battle for the Second Hell, many pit fiends went wild. The Dark Eight were only the first wave of entrants, and many more devils would end up participating. Even the dragons and gods of Avernus couldn't resist the opportunity.
Be it the Dark Eight or their colleagues, everyone had become as frail as paper in front of the great temptation that was the lordship of Dis. As cunning as devils were, the backstabs and assassinations that followed were only expected. Now, even greater devils on par with the Dark Eight did not expose their backs to anyone else…
Just as the Dark Eight were taking over the Iron Tower, a desolate bugle horn resounded as an army under a different banner appeared on the horizon of the City of Iron. It was formed entirely of kytons, devils covered in twisting iron chains, and looked like an elite troop.
"The kytons of the Third Hell, underlings of the Lord of Avarice! They came so quickly!" A pit fiend of the Dark Eight lamented.
"Get ready! The army has completed their battle preparations… Additionally, shouldn't we send someone over to negotiate?" Devils preferred small-scaled conflicts over larger battles, or even ingenious diplomacy as a method to solve their problems.
"I'm afraid it's too late for that. After all, the attraction of the lordship is something that can't easily be extinguished with words alone. We need to fight, to let them see our true power," another member of the Dark Eight proposed.
"No! I propose that we immediately send out emissaries!" Yet another devil immediately suggested something else.
A few pit fiends looked towards the direction the others had pointed at, and soon they discovered that two more armies had drawn closer, harbouring evil designs. The flames that burnt on their body, as well as the unique ice devils amongst them, revealed their identities.
"The armies of the Fourth and Fifth Hells?" another pit fiend lamented, "As expected. With the distance our reinforcements need to travel from the Eighth And Ninth Hells, we're at a disadvantage here. It'll take a very long time…"
"Let's negotiate." The Dark Eight very quickly came to an accord. Negotiation did not damage the prestige of a devil, and in the first place they never really cared about something as useless as their reputation.
Tens of pit fiends gathered together quickly. There were no blockheads among them, any such candidates long since wiped out by their subordinates' plots. Each one was shrewd and insightful.
All the pit fiends of Baator had come to an agreement in a hurry, resolving the situation. Each of them would enter a limited portion of the tower. They would compete fairly with the Iron Tower at their centre, aiming to win the unlikely prize of becoming an Archdevil.\
Baalzephon, the first to infiltrate the Iron Tower, had currently brought Leylin to a black door. The enormous door was made of cast iron, with terribly twisted sculptures protruding out of it. The most prominent one was a model of a three-headed cerberus, filled with a sense of ruthlessness.
'This door seems to depict Beelzebub's rise and history,' Leylin meticulously looked through the sculptures on the door. Looking at the characteristics of the devils and other beings there, it seemed to proclaim Beelzebub's feats in style, embellishing them with beauty and praise.
Once they reached the door, Leylin immediately discovered that several of the images matched with Beelzebub's memories, explicitly confirming his position.
"Dammit… DAMMIT! The autocannibalism ceremony consumed half of my energy." Unlike Leylin who was calm and collected, Baalzephon was flustered and utterly discomforted. His deliberate curses clearly demonstrated his coercive intentions. At the very least, Leylin felt that Beelzebub's earlier arrangements had taken out three quarters of Baalzephon's strength. However, he still had more than enough strength to suppress a mere horned devil.
'Hmm? Don't tell me that he wants to pull something on me to intentionally expose the flaws in the door?' Leylin's eyes flashed. Devils weren't chaotic like demons were, there was a particular reason for everything they did. This was especially true between superiors and their subordinates. Even the harshest of superiors required sufficient evidence to punish their underlings.
For example, Leylin was currently masquerading as the horned devil Leycian. Although he posed a threat to Baalzephon, the horned devil had always obediently followed his master's orders and completed his job. Even the pit fiend couldn't recklessly dispose of him.
Naturally, if Leylin did not resist the coercion, and executed his own subversive plot now that Baalzephon was weak, the pit fiend could crush him without second thought.
"I feel like we've reached the core of the Iron Tower, my Lord." It was a great pity that Leylin's current persona didn't give Baalzephon the slightest opportunity to do so. Instead, he acted like the most devoted of subordinates, standing protectively in front of his master.
"This is the Palace of Gluttony, the core of the lord's power. Rumours say—" Leylin happily played the role of a guide.
"What do the rumours say?" A regretful look flashed across Baalzephon's eyes. It was clear that he felt disappointed that Leylin had not taken the bait.
However, keeping Leylin with him seemed to have been the right decision. After all, it was rare for a devil to have any understanding of the Iron Tower, even if it was just a few rumours. Perhaps it was a clue that would end up being of extreme importance.
"They say that this place is guarded by a contracted ancient devil!" A coarse voice sounded, answering Baalzephon's question. However, it was not Leylin who had replied.
"57 years! It's already been a full 57 years… Beelzebub has not supplied me with enough souls and flesh, and seems to have completely disappeared…" Roars of rage and dissatisfaction sounded, and a tremendous voice seemed to ring in Baalzephon's heart.
*Bzzt!* The enormous iron doors in front of him rumbled, and the statue of the cerberus suddenly grew more lifelike, a bright glow surrounding it. This red eyes opened one after the other, emitting a radiance that was a thousand times more dazzling than rubies. A trace of purple greed flashed within that red, demonstrating a thirst for blood and souls.
"This is… A hellhound!" Baalzephon retreated further and further. Hell was not limited to the devils. There were also hellcats, hellhounds, nightmares and even humans who'd moved here from the prime material plane.
These beings had strong experts amongst them, with strength on par with greater devils. One could build the most perfect of fortresses, and hire them to protect it through contract. This hellhound greatly surpassed others of its species, but had been confined by Beelzebub in this tower.
"I am the King of Hellhounds— Soul Devourer Chekov!" A tremendous clang resounded, and the cerberus leapt out of the iron door. Its body was wreathed in flames as it grew in stature, only the tip of its being still connected to the door.
"The King of Hellhounds?" Baalzephon rather speechlessly looked at the enormous Cerberus in front of him, a crafty glint in his eye, "Then why is someone who is powerful enough to lead an entire race here?"
*Rumble!* It was clear that Baalzephon's words had touched a sore spot. Chekov suddenly roared, and infernal flames spread all around them.
"It was Beelzebub! That greedy devil, the cruel glutton! He deceived me!" Without waiting for Leylin and Baalzephon's coercement, Cerberus began to hog the conversation, "He trapped me with a fight, the loser having to serve the winner for 9900 years…"
In this moment, even Baalzephon looked at Cerberus with eyes of pity. Engaging in a game of chance with an Archdevil never ended well. The pathetic hellhound was lucky it didn't get crushed to death. It being shackled here was natural, and with almost ten thousand years of a contract it definitely wouldn't end well.
"What did the competition entail?" Leylin asked inquisitively.
"Souls. I competed with Beelzebub to see who could devour the most souls in a short span of time," Cerberus' three heads all drooped, hanging low with an air of dejection. "Originally, my three heads could devour even a city of souls in an instant. However…"
Leylin was inwardly laughing to himself, and even Baalzephon shook his head and sighed. Competing in an eating competition with the Lord of Gluttony? One had to wonder whether this King of Hellhounds had a defective brain, or was actually a demon in disguise.
"What a sorrowful tale…" Baalzephon finally said, summing up the incident.
"Well then! None of you have the slightest trace of Beelzebub's aura on you. Are you intruders?" Cerberus' gaze glinted with danger.
"Although I hate that fellow, I regret that I must follow the rules of the contract. I will devour the souls of all intruders!" Cerberus grinned, revealing a mouthful of towering fangs and a barbed, scarlet-red tongue.
The cerberus continuously radiated a powerful aura. Its might could repel even the strongest of pit fiends, and it caused Baalzephon to feel uneasy. Leylin, on the other hand, was only frightened on the surface. He was snickering in his mind.
'Such a silly dog, it can't even see through my disguise. No wonder a devil could manipulate it so easily…' The fact was that Leylin's stealth was too powerful. Even the famed cebIn fact, Leylin's concealment was too powerful. Even the famed cerberi of hell couldn't sniff anything off about his soul.
"Wait… Wait! Negotiate! I think we can negotiate!" Baalzephon retreated several steps as he called loudly.
He did not have much of a chance against this King of Hellhounds. Moreover, he hadn't found a trace of Beelzebub's whereabouts. He wasn't dumb enough to waste his resources and even risk his life here. Devils considered diplomacy the path of experts anyway.
"The contract was sworn upon the Styx. If you can remove it for me, you'll have my gratitude. I'll open the gates to the Palace of Gluttony, and share every bit of information I have about Beelzebub…" Chekov spoke from his left head, but the other two heads still snapped at Baalzephon without hesitation.
"Leycian, hold it back!" In this time of crisis, Baalzephon ordered his subordinate into danger.
"Yes, my Lord!" He saw this horned devil he'd contracted stand reluctantly in front of him. However, Leycian was smacked away by a swipe of Chekov's paw. Even if Leycian was a greater devil, the difference between him and Chekov was still too large.
"Dammit, do I have to use one of my trump cards now?" Baalzephon hastily pulled out a silver shield.
The shield seemed to be forged exquisitely from the finest silver. Numerous runes were inscribed on it, and gems embedded as ornaments. The shield gave off an extremely holy aura, glowing with a gentle light.
The moment the shield came into contact with him, Baalzephon's hands corroded quickly into white smoke. The pain caused him to frown. This shield was made of whitesilver, a noble element with powerful corrosive effects against all devils.
Of course, this effect depended on the target. Even buried in a pool of whitesilver would just leave a pit fiend itching.
However, the shield in Baalzephon's hands didn't seem to be any ordinary whitesilver item. It was imbued with great energy, and even had a hint of a god's aura.
"An item used against devils!" Cerberus howled, and flames soon began to engulf the two figures as they engaged in a ferocious battle.
"Well done! Keep it up!" The horned devil who was smacked to the side by the cerberus got up from his lying position.
'One must first face the gatekeeper to enter the Palace of Gluttony. But since it's engaged in battle now, there's a chance to sneak in…' After reaching this area, Leylin immediately recalled Beelzebub's memories and grew familiar with the place. He discovered that there were several hidden tunnels, meant for Beelzebub's escape in times of need.
And now, Leylin began to execute his plan like it was a matter of course.
'It seems to have been a correct decision to bring Baalzephon along!' Leylin stood in admiration of himself at he looked at the miserable figures of Baalzephon and the cerberus before disappearing into the darkness.
'I sense more pit fiends coming here, I have to hurry…' With the help of Beelzebub's memories, Leylin soon skirted past the giant gate that the cerberus was guarding, coming to a circular corridor.
The ground was covered in crimson carpet, and oil lanterns flickered on the sides of the corridor. There were a large number of paintings on the walls, depicting scenarios of the underworld. Some works even showed the battles against gods in the prime material plane.
'The winding corridor of exhibitions! I'm finally here…Beelzebub's treasure vault!' Leylin excitedly appreciated the oil paintings with both his hands behind his back. In Beelzebub's memories, this was an important treasure vault. It contained about a third of an Archdevil's wealth, and had numerous treasures gained from dangerous expeditions.
'If only Beelzebub had stored the Manderhawke Plate in here… But that's unlikely…' Leylin pondered in front of a painting.
The aesthetic views of devils were often grotesque and fear-inducing from a human perspective. There was a fundamental difference in their definition of beauty, but even then the intentions of the artists were the same.
The painting in front of Leylin was rare, one of humans. A devil was lifting a kneeling human by the collar using one hand, the other holding a curved dagger up as if to pierce the human's heart. Set to a crimson backdrop, the human clutched onto a piece of parchment holding a contract of sorts, his face convulsing in dear.
'Is this to commemorate the temptation Beelzebub poses for humans? This person had to be a king for him to act personally…' Leylin did not care anymore about the the meaning behind the painting, and reached out with his right arm.
"To break the curse, I remember that I have to…" Leylin spat a series of syllables in a language that only an Archdevil would know. As he spoke those words, a brilliant light appeared on the oil painting and a defense mechanism that seemed to be a glass protector appeared.
"Activate!" Leylin emitted his devil aura, causing the glass to melt like ice. He stretched his right hand into the oil painting, pulling out a curved dagger.[Beep! Host has obtained a high-energy item, beginning scan…] The A.I. Chip's light flashed in Leylin's eyes, and very soon the scanning came to a conclusion.
[Epic Demonblood Dagger (+5). Weight: 666 grams. Ingredients: Pit Fiend Bones, Souls of Avarice, Crystallised Soul of Gluttony.]
Offering: The owner of this dagger can extract the life and souls of their enemies, allowing them to absorb power effectively until they're a high-ranked legendary. Rate of conversion depends on the compatibility and willpower of the wielder.
Summon Devil: The dagger contains a devil contract, and allows the wielder to summon a greater devil up to once a day.
Judgement: The wielder needs to strengthen their will and alignment towards evil every three days. If they fail, Beelzebub will appear from the depths of hell and devour their flesh and soul.]
[Description: This legendary Demonblood Dagger has evolved under Beelzebub's powers of extreme evil. No living creature can resist its temptation…]
'An epic weapon?' Leylin toyed with this dagger in his hands. It was evident that the dagger was an exquisite item made by Beelzebub himself, much stronger than the one that Leylin had crafted himself back on Faulen Island.
Because of how common the materials he'd used were, the Demonblood Dagger Leylin had made himself lost effect after his stats all reached 10. However, this epic dagger could enable the wielder to enter the legendary realm through devouring others! If adventurers in the prime material plane were to learn of this dagger, they would do all they could to obtain it, even if it meant losing their souls.
'One needs to slay an opposing church's pope even to be bestowed an ordinary Demonblood Dagger. This one most likely requires one to kill someone with divinity…' Leylin also found several heinous traps laid in the dagger. This was a personal touch of Beelzebub: anyone who wielded it would immediately be put under his control.
'Although it's useless to me, it makes for a good item to bestow to my men…' Leylin casually tossed the dagger into his spatial pouch. Since he'd comprehended the law of gluttony and even gained Beelzebub's powers and authority anyway, he could remove the traps with just a thought.
'Each and every one of these paintings is a treasure chest, and even other Archdevils will lust after the items within…' The next painting that Leylin walked up to depicted a bloody battle between Beelzebub and a fallen flame balor. The demon did not have even the chance to self-destruct.
"In here, there should be…" Through the same process, Leylin obtained a fiery gem that seemed to be beating.[Flame Balor Heart: This is the quintessence of a flame balor, and can be used to forge legendary or even demigod weapons. Any weapon it is used to forge will be aligned to chaos. If a demon swallows this, it will awaken the flame balor bloodline, gaining the chance to evolve into one,] the A.I. Chip stated.
'Not bad. Demons will go red with desire as they fight over this. After all, it isn't easy to find the carcass of a flame balor…'Leylin stowed the fiery gem away, looking into a different direction.
"You let me pillage the items just like that. Are you really a protector of this place?"
"Haha… I have no chances against an Archdevil at all. After all, this was part of the contract I signed with Beelzebub…" As the ancient voice sounded, a withered looking figure stepped out from the darkness.
This figure assumed a human form, seeming like an old man who was about to turn into a tree. There were wrinkles all over his face, and he seemed to pose no danger at all.
However, how could someone that Beelzebub contracted to look after his treasures be easy to deal with?
Leylin nodded. "You're much smarter than that dog," he said in praise.