Belial (pronounced: /biˈlaɪʊl/ bee-LY-ul listen) was the lord of Phlegethos who, along with Fierna, his daughter, were the only archdevils allowed to share rulership over one of the Nine Hells by Asmodeus. Belial was the veteran schemer in their abnormal alliance, contributing diabolical deviousness and greater conspiratorial experience.
Belial was the most handsome of the archdevils, appearing as an impressively built, 10 ft (3 m) tall figure of masculine beauty. He was tall, dark and sensual, practically oozing carnality through the regal garments that clung to his body in such a way as to promise pleasure and further his libidinous image.
Before Mephistopheles took on a more infernal appearance, Belial was also the most devilish looking Lord of the Nine, an impression enhanced by the ranseur he always held in his claws. Some said his skin was scaly and ash-black while others purported it was red, and early reports claimed he had a glossy black tail and wings. Other signs of his hellishness could be seen in the small horns, the same black as his tail and wings, that emerged under his hairline, and his large, slanted eyes that glowed and smoldered red with lustful intent. His monstrous features however did little if any to detract from his aura of civility and overall mesmerizing physique.
Greatly confident, mesmerizing in personality, and said to be incredibly vain, Belial delighted in the use of manipulation and domination. He was a profane being of great lust with an insatiable hunger for physical pleasure and pain, as fond of killing and the feeling of hot blood against his skin as he was in traditional debauchery and gratification.
Despite his deep passions, Belial was also intelligent and experienced, not so rash as to become so caught up in his amusements that he didn't take proper precautions and prepare contingencies. The old devil was of shrewd judgement and cunning political prowess which, along with his good looks, aided him in his ambitious, diabolical machinations. He was also of glib tongue, always coming off as civil even despite the threatening, underlying messages that could be found in some of his words.
Several of Belial's abilities were as archetypically infernal as his appearance and personality; his magic could produce flames and create walls of fire as well as beguile and make his enemies prone to suggestion. His more powerful abilities allowed him to mentally dominate his foes, instill fear with his gaze or in an aura around himself, and create symbols of pain and insanity, and he used these abilities to scatter his enemies and turn them on each other.
He was far more patient than Fierna when it came to combat, always casting spells such as magic circle and see invisibility before the fight began. He could summon baatezu ranging in power from spinagons, black abishai, barbazus, hamatulas, and cornugons, all the way up to summoning a pit fiend. Only once his summon or summons, typically a pit fiend, were distracting his opponents and only when his opposition was disorganized, weak, and quarreling would he move in and allow the pleasure of melee blood-spilling begin.
Belial's ransuer, or military fork, was his favored, iconic weapon, and wasn't any regular polearm. It was a minor artifact that filled those it struck with wracking pain, slowing them down as their bodies and minds dealt with the agony and said to be powerful enough that a heal or break enchantment spell was needed to fully recover from the crippling torment.
Belial ruled the most literally infernal of the Hells, the fiery hellscape of Phlegethos, a tortured, violent land, composed of ashen hills, smoking plains, crystalline fissures and active volcanoes, where tremors and earth-breaking eruptions were commonplace. The air of the realm was distorted by the heat and plagued by hot wind hurricanes, smoke, and ash, the starless void above illuminated only by the leaping flames. Molten magma seas, spouting jets of fire and oozing lava were often seen, but the actual fire, of which there were literal rivers as well as lakes, was the most strange source of heat. The flames were said to be nearly sentient if not literally so, bending unnaturally to scorch with spiteful mercilessness but leaving even fire-vulnerable devils and invited planar guests be.
Inhabiting these liquid fires, all of which were interconnected, were wandering salamanders, brought long ago to be bound to Belial's service. Unfortunately for Belial, salamanders were creatures that took orders only if they so desired, and so most of them had to be immediately slain, the few survivors still bound to the plane and forced to survive by picking off individual creatures close to the rivers. They would have been rooted out earlier, given that they couldn't create more of themselves, but they could leave rivers at will and flee to new ones, not to mention that the devils of the plane were typically busy. The other inhabitants of the plane, constantly roaming and patrolling for some reason or another, consisted of many kinds of devils, particularly spinagons, imps, hamatulas and cornugons. The lower, wetter, reeking borderlands of the planes were inhabited by lemures, abishai, barbazus and a few amnizus, as well as hell hounds and certain mephits.
Belial ruled his realm and its inhabitants from the city of Abriymoch, the Mount of Leaping Flames, a fortress city built on the interior walls of a volcano reported to be in varying stages of activity. Abriymoch was the strongest stronghold in the middle hells, protected by legion devils, fearsome osyluth policers and thousands of hamatulas. It was constructed of obsidian and crystalline rocks, basalt towers crowning the lips of the crater. The rest consisted of several tiered chambers that each opened up to the central shaft of the volcano like balconies and were connected to each other via stairs, shafts, and the giant spiral path that winded through the inside. The lowest levels were where Phlegethos's infamous hell hound kennels were kept, breeding specimens dangerous enough to compete with Nessus's warhounds. Wealth from transactions was also stored there but Belial's personal wealth was kept in his personal chambers high on the volcano's rim.
Abryimoch was something of a paradox, although an excellent parallel to the rest of Hell regardless. On one hand, it was something of a pleasure palace, a carnival of dark desires filled with infernal reflections of casinos, theaters, taverns and other similar establishments where devils on break could enjoy themselves. On the other hand, it was extremely well-policed, the laws allowing for fiendish fun rather than strict regimentation but order nonetheless being strongly enforced. After all, it was the home of the Court Infernal or Diabolic Courts, an impossibly complex labyrinth of confusing precedents, ancient codes, intricate laws and plentiful loopholes presided over by a circle of pit fiend judges. Belial himself didn't actually live in Abriymoch, instead spending most of his time in a serpentine spiral of crystal typically referred to as his daughter's palace.
In more recent times, Belial focused on the duties as the lord of Phlegethos, specifically overseeing the judicial system of the Diabolical Court. Though independent judges loyal to Asmodeus were in charge of the institution, responsible for overseeing contract disputes, accusations of battlefield cowardice and dereliction of duty, and other criminal charges, Belial still supervised the system. Him and his underlings were also the ones that administered promotion and demotion rituals for devils, a procedure that could leave the subject in wretched torment or in the throes of ecstasy. Aside from that, Belial's personals concerns revolved around his own scheming to overtake Stygia and indulging in his lusts. Though Fierna had a greater reputation for thoughtlessly going through men, Belial was no better, frequently sating his needs with captives, slaves or other devils.
Belial's daughter was, for some time, the nominal ruler of Phlegethos, the Lord of Pain and Suffering having stepped down after the Reckoning to avoid punishment while putting his daughter in place. Some believed that Fierna was simply a puppet ruler that Belial manipulated while ruling from the shadows while others thought Belial was soon to fade into obscurity as his kin replaced him, and both were wrong.
Fierna was just as capable a politician as her father and the two commonly discussed strategies, it was just that she had little interest in taking part in the convoluted web that was the Baatorian government. She perpetuated the rumor that she was simply Belial's mouthpiece out of convenience, but both ruled Phlegethos together, bound as they were by blood and politics, even before it was officially allowed by Asmodeus. Belial was capable of focusing her fiery rage and acted as her guide in the "arts of love and pain" from within the Hall of One Thousand Sighs and Screams in her palace.
As for the other archdevils, Belial wasn't particularly liked by most of his peers. He had a strong hatred of the archdevils above and below him, Mammon's machinations restricting his mobility and Geryon being his mostly fiercely despised nemesis, although Moloch was a close second in terms of loathing. In this respect, the Reckoning worked out fairly well for him, ridding him of both Geryon an d Moloch and leaving Mammon cursed with a serpent form he despised. The most disappointing aspect of the Reckoning for him was that Levistus, another old devil and a worthy opponent, was put in place of Geryon, though he had little fear of the Hag Countess.
This was before Glasya replaced Malagard, uprooting all his plans and forcing him to wait due to his daughter's own positive relations with her and her status as Asmodeus's daughter. Belial's only notable ally besides Fierna was Baalzebul, an alliance that managed to survive the Reckoning even if it was more of a secret. Belial would come to Baalzebul's aid if needed and vice versa, assuming the Lord of the Flies could find some advantage in doing so, although doing so would likely provoke Mephistopheles. The Lord of Hellfire would probably try and use Belial's daughter against him, preferably as an ally and failing that as a hostage, although Baalzebul was more concerned with her as a threat to him and Belial's alliance given her relationship with Glasya.
Fierna's mother and Belial's consort was the late Naome, an astute and well-liked devil with a light sense of humor, appreciated for her level-headedness and ability to bargain. Like the rest of her family she enjoyed a good fight, battling with both spells and a long scimitar.
After Belial stepped down and placed Fierna in his place, his court was heavily divided as to where to put their loyalties. The Black Duke Bathym, so called due to his jet-black armor, foreswore his former master in favor of Fierna along with the powerful pit fiend Zapan. Meanwhile, other devils stayed loyal, the most obvious example being the boisterous Balan. A reckless devil with tactics like that of a demon, Balan's lawfulness as explained by himself was to bring the absolute order found in death. He was cruel, lustful, violent and belligerent, only avoiding fights if facing a superior foe, although despite this behavior and being seldom appreciated by anyone around him, he was still given command over forty companies of barbazus, having stayed with the lord who had long helped him sate his terrible desires.
Also still loyal to his master was Gaziel, an osyluth-like fiend given command over eleven companies of the same devil type. Cold and mechanical, though strangely savage when a particular fight caught his interest, Gaziel was in most respects a perfect general for his master. Belial's legate was Chamo, a polite and calm but nonetheless abrupt devil said to know every hiding spot in Phlegethos. Even before the Reckoning Chamo was reported to have plans to overtake Belial and he showed specific loyalty to neither him nor Fierna. His deputy was the pit fiend Zaebos, who was also Belial's lietuneant and given permission to speak to the Lord of the Fourth's vassals on his behalf. Also of note was the pit fiend Gazra, leader of the Abriymoch patrol force and Fierna's aid despite technically being more beholden to Belial. The pit fiend held a hateful jealousy towards Belial and desired affection from his daugther, but managed to keep such feelings hidden.
Belial's cult was somewhat small, even before he abandoned that aspect of his work to Fierna to focus on administration. The few mortals that worshiped him saw him as a patron of secret knowledge and trickery, as well as domination and seduction. He could be seen as the opposite of Baalzebul in respect to his worshiper base, his followers more interested in personal rather than political corruption, even those that worked in institutions.
Perversion was a known element in their schemes, such as kidnapping others to force them to play out twisted fantasies. Even if not initially present, Belial's dark power, as well as Fierna's, could consume a cultist's mind with sinister urges and a perverse sensuality. They indelibly drew pleasure from their pain and had dreams of endless wealth, magical power and other fulfilled desires, and could spread those wants to others.
Most of Belial's clerics were male, favoring thin, tenderly cared for beards, red and black clothes and the use of a ranseur as a weapon. Temples of Belial were typically found in elegant towers and marble halls with an understated but tasteful decorum that could be easily maintained, and featured circular, bloodstained altars as well as black and red candles.
Aspects of Belial loved to participate in the finer things in life; they enjoyed fine fortresses and mansions even more than fiery surroundings and surrounded themselves with beautiful servitors, devilish or otherwise, to sate their rampant lusts. They wore elegant and expensive garments and kept gold to pay mortals when needed, not that they weren't willing to simply steal what they wanted given Belial's recent losses. Any society that offered extreme pleasures, whether in the Hells or on the Material Plane, attracted them, and they were known to throw wild parties that resulted in the corruption and death of the young and wealthy. Though they tried to avoid melee they had no other method of self-defense, and resorted to focusing on one enemy with their ranseur once forced to fight.
Occasionally he sent aspects to Faerun, typically doing so in the past to keep track of Fierna's fledgling cults while fostering new cults of his own.
Belial had long been the ruler of Phlegethos, although his exact age was debatable. He was old enough to regard Levistus, who himself rivaled the likes of the ancient Dispater in age, as a worthy adversary given that he was a "devil of the old school". Despite his hatred for Moloch, he allied with Baalzebul during the Reckoning, following which he was demoted while Fierna took up the mantle of rulership. Though this could be seen as a cowardly move, and indeed it was a ploy to sate Asmodeus's wrath and get him to target other archdevils, Fierna was fine with the situation, at least until Glasya's ascension to rulership of Malbolge.
Belial had been met with a series of setbacks ever since the Reckoning. His plans to take Stygia from the new lord of the Fifth were stymied after Levistus was put in charge and his Gazra-led legions were swiftly decimated. He focused on trying to outmaneuver the Frozen Prince politically for a time before once again attempting to assemble armies against him, confident that he would be able to defeat him and then perhaps the Hag Countess shortly afterwards. But it was Glasya's surprising rise to power that proved, if not the most detrimental, the most life-altering for him. Fierna saw a kindred spirit in Glasya and the Princess of Hell could be considered her "best friend", at least as much as devils could have them. At Glasya's urging and in imitation of her close companion, she had begun growing interested in ruling Phlegethos in more than name, calling herself an archduchess, creating her own cults and devil networks, and introducing new initiatives to her father.
As much as he would try to hide it, his daughter's newfound ambition struck sweaty terror in the old Lord of the Fourth, for even as Fierna claimed she simply wanted knowledge on rulership if something happened to him, he was firmly of the mind that any untimely death would be at her command. Belial, for his part, attempted to keep tabs on his daughter's behavior without provoking her to greater autonomy, even putting many of his schemes against Levistus on hold while considering various actions against Glasya to make her a less appealing role model for Fierna. He was fully aware that the line he trod was thin, however, as any obvious strikes against Asmodeus's daughter could not only inspire his own progeny to rebellion, but be construed as moves against Asmodeus himself.
If Glasya was attempting to drive father and daughter apart to force some final confrontation between them however, the results were debatably successful. The two had managed to reconcile their differences and completely rework their family dynamic publicly ruling Phlegethos as a team. Fierna participated in the "family business", by managing their soul quota, something she proved to be far superior to her father in, while Belial handled the administration and other "work" to which Fierna was apathetic. Calling the two partners wasn't exactly accurate however, as they showed a confusing combination of hate, respect, rivalry and companionship all at the same time. They constantly made moves against each other, although not so much as to be a dangerously exploitable weakness, Belial's greater experience countering Fierna's superior glibness.
Rumors and Legends
The exact relationship between Belial and Fierna was suspect, a mystery not helped by the fact that there being two Lords of the Fourth was sometimes a matter of contention, with one being proposed over the other. Gossip between the infernal courts of Hell was equally unhelpful, as some suggested that Fierna had replaced Naome and was serving as Belial's incestuous consort. At various times they were thought of as parent and child, husband and wife, lord and consort, all of which could be true and none of which truly encompassed the infernal, paradoxical relationship shared by the two entities of immortal evil.
The death of Naome was another point of contention in diabolical gossip circles. Although it was once reported that Asmodeus destroyed Naome as punishment for the Reckoning, another theory put forth that she died before it had truly begun. Naome had never been particularly fond of Glasya and had potentially called out her nefarious scheme to start the Reckoning. She wisely suggested to Belial to ease the tensions between groups, but before the archdevils could be united by their common foe in the Abyss, Glasya, according to the rumors, assassinated her.
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