The Rise of Tiamat
Commentary Diabolique - excerpt 1
by Jaimin d’Elcrys
Commentary Diabolique is well-known in certain extra-planar circles. It is a great authority on matters pertaining to Hell (also known as Perdition).
Excerpt 1 – an excerpt from the Memoirs of Mammun, dealing with Mammun the Maker’s summoning and dealing with Surgat, Duke of Secrets, one of the Dukes of Hell.
It was not until I uttered the final phrase that I was sure that I had performed the invocation correctly. Even so, I could not help but wonder whether I had erred in my judgment. I quickly put aside the notion. I am rarely wrong and this summons had a great purpose. With the knowledge acquired, I would come closer to uncovering the secret after which I’ve sought for eons. My goal, of course, was to bring a devil to Oriund. Not just any devil, but a devil god, an arch-devil. The rulers of Hell themselves use no less an appellation, and though I did not seek one of the Nine, I sought a being of similar power. Now, after long searching and endless research, I thought I had uncovered the forbidden magic that would achieve my goal.
A horrendous cry, as if the very gates of Hell were being torn from their hinges, filled my ears. An unspeakable stench choked the air. Even my sanity was attacked as if coherent thought were some garment that could be rent and torn, leaving me naked to the horrors of the depths below. Were I a weaker man, I would have cried out to the gods for help at that point. But I am not weak nor am I a hypocrite. I had damned myself long ago in their eyes. It was in my own power, the wards I had woven and strengthened over many long days, that I placed my confidence.
The bedrock that lay within the magic circles sank slightly. A myriad of cracks and scars appeared over the floor’s surface, tracing a web-like design that vented sulphorous steam into the otherwise sterile air of my laboratory. In the midst of the hellish vapors I heard a cry of outrage, and I marked the silhouette of a single creature.
Quickly I mumbled a spell, and a moderate wind swept through the area, clearing the vapors away, and revealing a creature lizard-like in appearance. Loose, black robes covered its frame. Only the elongated, slightly reptilian head, and curiously hand-like feet, could be easily seen. It was obvious and intended that the creature had been hurt by its unexpected journey. Rage marked its form as it slowly turned its attention to me. The look of murder in its eyes quickly faded. Perhaps it saw the disappointment in my own eyes. Doubtless, it recognized me as well. I spoke quickly to establish the parameters of this parley. This creature could only appreciate power and I have plenty of that.
“You are no arch-devil,” I stated in a flat voice.
The creature drew itself up to its full height, only six feet or so, and looked down its almost nonexistent nose at me. “Just as well, or you would be dead now.” Its voice, though bold, was nasal and muffled.
“Do you know me?”
The creature regarded me cautiously. It nodded.
“Then you know I do not fear you nor your fallen master.” I smiled as the creature’s eyes narrowed; this devil knew many secrets, but I had studied him and knew him by reputation and appearance. I did not, however, use his name, nor the name of the Lord of Flies, this devil’s master. Such a thing would have been most foolish
The lizard-devil – it is safe to refer to him in such a manner or as “The Snitch” – tested the air with a forked tongue. “Perhaps I can be of service to you,” he suggested, managing to hide the greed which I knew was growing within him, greed enough to exceed his fear. He well knew that I held him in a position of weakness; I could banish him for an age, or destroy him if I chose. I knew that he doubted his ability to prevent me in either thing.
“Perhaps,” I responded, amused at the creature’s temerity. Bargaining with such a being would be foolish. More foolish than calling him by name.
Feeling emboldened by my response, the creature continued. “I’m sure we can come to some arrangement. I can ferret out secrets such as you never dreamt of.”
I was not about to play things his way. “The arrangement is simple,” I announced. “You speak and you are free to go; otherwise, I will destroy you. You please me and you are free to go; otherwise, I will destroy you.”
“So self-assured you are, mortal,” said the Snitch with a look of false hurt in his eyes, the devil’s show of mock bravado. “What matter is so important that you risk your soul in facing me?”
I smiled a grim smile. “Tell me, Snitch, of the Hidden Lord.”
Unconsciously the devil cringed. “Would that you had asked me to speak of Eblis or Sammael,” he spat. “Fewer consequences in risking their ire. Must it be of that arch-devil we speak?”
I nodded solemnly in reply, watching with interest as the Snitch began to shiver. “I know enough of all arch-devils save him alone. Tell me of the Hidden Lord… or is he beyond the webs of your master?”
The trembling increased at that, and I recognized that the devil was shaking not out of fear, but out of anger and shame.
“I can tell you nothing of the Hidden Lord, Maker,” whispered the Snitch at last. “He hides where I dare not seek.”
I sighed at his response. I had heard similar before, though never from one ranked so highly as the Duke of Secrets. Shaking my head, I squared my shoulders. “So be it. I will keep my end of the bargain.”
Resolutely I stepped within the circle.