Fierna[note 1] was the lady of Phlegethos who, along with Belial, her father, were the only archdevils allowed to share rulership over one of the Nine Hells by Asmodeus. In their peculiar partnership, Fierna was the young newcomer with fiery passion and undoubtable appeal.
Fierna appeared to be an incredibly attractive young woman, a lithe, statuesque, 6 ft (1.8 m) seductress of stunning physique. Tall, dark and sensual, her garments were as royally fine as they were scantily clingy, furthering her image as a being of perversion and indecency.
Giving away her infernal heritage were the small pair of horns that emerged under her hairline, and even then the fiendish features somehow managed to enhance her enchanting appearance. Her red eyes shined and smoldered like fires were dancing within them and implicit promises of pleasure could be gleaned from her gaze.
Befitting an archdevil of fire, Fierna was well-known for her short fuse and volatile personality, her temper striking fear in almost any devil. Her rage escalated quickly, frustration leading to fury, which erupted, quite literally since she angrily moved about on fire when enraged, into bloodthirsty vengeance, oftentimes with little warning. Additionally, she was self-absorbed, sadistic, and just generally mercurial, flitting about like a lit flame between her various obsessions and displaying a "party girl" attitude.
However, assuming Fierna was just a bratty beauty was a grave mistake, for both political schemers and would-be courtiers. Fierna was prodigiously brilliant in the art of emotional manipulation with charisma to match that of Asmodeus himself, lighting fires in the hearts of mortals and immortals alike that she could control like any other. Her explosive outbursts seemed chaotic and random, but she was a being of law, simply following a pattern that perhaps only she understood.
Though she saw being viewed as incompetent a useful ploy, she was no less adept at politics than other archdevils, but had no interest in taking part in the overcomplicated, governmental web. The black-hearted archdevil had more hedonistic goals, desiring to use her position to indulge in luxurious comforts and lecherous pleasures while allowing others to actually administrate. At least, this was her stance at one point, but later on she became more professionally-minded, still toying with lesser beings, but making efforts not to immediately discard them upon growing bored and attempting to enter the "grownup" world of diabolical conspiracies and power plays.
Fierna had unmitigated mastery over fire, able to create it and cast a vast array of fire-based spells as well as control all fire within Phlegethos. Rather than rely on weapons, she fought with a blade of pure fire that she summoned to her hand, twice as powerful as ordinary flame blades. She rained burning death upon her enemies, first conjuring a fire shield before destroying her foes with a meteor swarm and flurries of fireballs.
Though she eagerly partook in slaughter, particularly enjoying the feeling of hot blood splashing against her, she only entered melee if victory was certain and was smart enough to know when to retreat, often with teleportation. Instead, she engulfed her foes with flames from afar, quickly summoning reinforcements in the forms of spinagons, barbazus, hamatulas, or a cornugon.
Strangely, magical or otherwise, the cold did little to stymie Fierna's flames and similarly water could not extinguish them, ironically only earning her fiery ire and getting the presumptuous assailant scorched.
Fierna ruled the fiery layer of Phlegethos, the most archetypal of the Hells that commonly appeared in mortal minds when Baator was mentioned. Like the Plane of Fire, the unending flames and unbearable heat swiftly scorched most forms of life, with much of the scalding expanse being covered in ashen hills and smoking plains. Of the lawful planes of Hell, Phlegethos was the most environmentally chaotic; tremors were common and violent eruptions or the random openings of fissures were sporadic, although despite making it more dangerous it gave trespassers a wider choice of hiding spots.
The tortured hellscape was rife with mountainous volcanoes which spewed the rivers of molten magma that dominated the plane, the structures of Phlegethos having to be made to withstand its random redirects. All bodies of the liquid lava were interconnected, either in bubbling pools, lakes of fire, or igneous seas. The firefalls, where the fiery streams fell from sharp ridges, made it one of the most visited hells, at least by magic-wielding outsiders that sought to use the flames in works of incredibly alchemy or magical item forging.
Supposedly, Asmodeus killed the original divine master of Phlegethos, his grave being a foundation for some crucial part of the plane. Regardless of how it was then, Phlegethos was currently a place of pain, with fires that seemed to harbor a strange, merciless sentience. Though welcome denizens, even those not immune to fire, seemed unharmed by them, intruders found that the flames leapt through the air, unnaturally bending to gleefully ignite them and their possessions. Even without the jumping flames illuminating the starless void above, simply staying still in Phlegethos was likely to get one destroyed, if not by the pyroclastic pumice interspersed throughout the flesh-roasting air then by one of the roaming inhabitants.
It was the most traveled of the Nine Hells, with hamatula guard patrols constantly hunting for intruders. Other common inhabitants, many of which stayed in the stinking fens on the outlands of the layer, included lemures, spinagons, imps, barbazus, abishai, and cornugons. There were also the less devilish efreeti and hell hounds as well as lawful evil fire elementals and mephits, the latter of which worked as spies for any who would reward them.
The seat of Fierna and Belial's power was the stronghold known as Abriymoch, the primary, if not only, city in Phlegethos. It was built in the caldera of the largest volcano in the realm, a hollowed out mount still overrun with molten rock. The buildings inside were constructed of jagged obsidian, igneous rock, dark glass, basalt and other crystals and the lips of the crater were crowned with towers. The fortress was composed of a series of chambers stacked on top of one another that opened into the volcano's hole through balcony-like structures and were connected to each other by stairs, shafts and a grand central spiral that snaked around the inner edges. Some rooms stretched throughout the inside of the volcano's sloping structure and had windows and other exits that opened to its outer walls, which were constantly poured over by lava rivers.
The city's actual streets were so flooded with lava that foot travel was impossible, forcing visitors to pay for one of the dented, green-steel gondola manned by hundreds of spinagons and barbazus to ferry them to their destinations. Green-steel, in fact, was a primary export of Abriymoch, the valuable ore being derived from Phlegethos's magma which made it a primary weapons and armor trade center in Hell. Relatedly, Abriymoch was the strongest citadel in the middle hells, with black towers that kept innumerable merregons and elite osyluths and malebranches. Hell hounds were also famous stays of Abriymoch, kept in kennels and raised in breeding pits that produced monsters to rival those defending Nessus.
Technically, the city was ruled by the pit fiend Gazra, although he answered directly to the archdevils, from a crystalline castle housing a legion of 5,000 hamatula reserves. His forces, also comprised of bone devils, were responsible for hunting down deserters, capturing unauthorized souls that slipped past the upper layers, spotting corruption amongst officers and checking the paper work for mortals and devils alike. Many unwary souls were killed by the zealous guardsmen as well as the hellish environment conditions, so few came to Phlegethos by accident, although intruders weren't much better off, being imprisoned in the seemingly inescapable dungeons under Abriymoch.
Abriymoch was also home to the Diabolical Courts, a maddening complex of loopholes and ancient precedents where various legal disputes between devils could be settled and souls condemned by an infernal contract could petition for their freedom. Ironically, despite being a place of unflinching law, matters of security and legalistic argumentation, Abriymoch was also a respite for many devils. Many of the laws governing Abriymoch allowed it to be run as a kind of carnal carnival, filled with infernal versions of taverns, theaters, casinos and various other establishments for the fulfillment of darker desires.
A key example of Phlegethos's pleasurable aspects was Fierna's palace, a slender, serpentine tower of crystal outside of the city, wreathed in blue flame and surrounded by a ring of magma pools. Only she and her closest companions were allowed inside since Belial spent a majority of his time there. Exorbitant marble halls and a bejeweled decor could be found deep within the tower, and following a scorching staircase underground, were deep caverns known as Fierna's pleasure domes, each dedicated to a different vice. The floor had grates that allowed access to the prison cells below, many of which housed celestials and paladins for a bored Fierna to prod with a long lance at her leisure. A fair fraction of the captives were Fierna's ex-lovers, allowing her current suitors to see the fate of those before them which they rarely considered they could one day share.
Fierna's presence was rarely noticed in Phlegethos, as she spent most of her time losing herself in pools of lava as others made decisions regarding the actual rulership of the plane. Although commonly thought of as Belial's mouthpiece, this wasn't entirely accurate, but part of a half-truth perpetuated by the Archduchess. Much of her pool time was spent with Belial as the two discussed strategems; rather than Fierna being a nominal puppet ruler or Belial being the true power behind the throne, both took a role in the decision making, albeit with Fierna being more preoccupied with her comforts. She was rightfully thought of as insatiably lustful, thoughtlessly going through members of the opposite gender, a trait she seemed to have adopted from her father.
Given her unexpected immunities, some theorized that Fierna was trying to master a second element, possibly in order to take over one of the colder layers of Hell, although she seemed generally uninterested in gaining new territory.
Fierna's father was the original archdevil of Phlegethos, Belial, and though many devils thought he was in decline and were waiting for Fierna to fully depose him, the two shared an unbreakable blood bond tightened by mutual necessity. He was adept at, if not quelling, focusing Fierna's fury similarly to how one controlled a fire. He also served as Fierna's mentor, teaching her from within the Hall of One Thousand Sighs and Screams of her palace about everything he knew regarding the "arts of love and pain."
However, the strength of their ties had undergone severe strain with the rise to power of Fierna's second role model, Glasya. Close even before becoming the Archduchess of Malbolge, Fierna's relationship towards Glasya was perhaps the closest that devils came to having "best friends." The Fiery Lady became friends with the Lord of the Sixth fairly fast, and spent much of her time within the latter's fortress in Malbolge, returning home to proclaim new initiatives. She seemed absolutely infatuated with Glasya and couldn't stop talking about her whenever she was brought up, her search for greater autonomy being in no small part a result of her influence. Some of her decisions were made with Glasya's advice while others were Fierna imitating her close friend, but the relationship between the two nonetheless fostered uncertainty and discomfort in Belial.
Belial's ally, Baalzebul, was wary of Fierna given her relationship with Glasya since Asmodeus's daughter ruled over his former domain. If however, Belial was to come to Baalzebul's aid then Mephistopheles, the Lord of Cania and Baalzebul's rival, would likely try to use Belial's daughter against him, preferably as a partner but as a hostage if needed.
Belial's consort and Fierna's mother was the late Naome, a shrewd, well-regarded 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.
Of Fierna's servants, one of the most loyal was the archdevil Bathym, a nightmare-riding knight with a black cloak and armor. He had served Belial loyally through the Reckoning but afterwards swore himself to Fierna after Belial cravenly placed her on his throne. Even before that, Bathym had secretly coveted Fierna, partially out of a belief that if he could seduce her, he could advance and potentially rule over all of Phlegethos.
There was also Gazra, who served not only as her general but as a constant companion and consort responsible for dealing with the uninteresting matters of statecraft. Though loyal to Fierna, Levistus occasionally attempted to convert him to his side, temptations he managed to resist, and Fierna was careful enough not to grant him too much power and remind him of her authority if he showed signs of turning against her.
Less interested with the Archduchess was Tymphal, a mechanical master smith whose lesser devil legions and hundreds of duergar slaves toiled in a volcano forge to produce weapons and infernal constructs. Her reckless passion led him to isolate himself in his forge, making a conscious effort to avoid the happenings outside of his domain.
Before deciding to take more responsibility, Fierna didn't bother with cultists, all worshipers of the Lord of the Fourth being those of Belial. However, at Glasya's behest, she began growing her own independent network of followers. At first her fledgling cults were composed of ragtag misfits and outlaws operating from a few improvised temples without actual goals or established tactics. She promoted herself as the patron of fire and pleasure, using her father's symbol and her deceased mother's weapon as items representative of her cult.
Eventually she gained greater footing, her once minor operations on the Material Plane expanded and her targets becoming more specific until, at some point, Fierna entirely took over the soul harvesting operations in Phlegethos, Belial leaving his daughter to fill their quota and even turning over his direct summons to her. As before, Fierna's cults attracted pariahs and undesirables, those that, for whatever reason, wanted to control others. Her supplicants, typically before her agents became involved, sought to foster certain emotions in others, whether they were specific individuals or entire groups, and Fierna provided them with the silver tongue and personal magnetism to do so. Some had been driven to desperation in their love lives or wanted to become beloved leaders with fanatical followers while others grasped for positions of power that commanded respect or fear.
Fierna's aspects enjoyed company regardless of the activity and almost always were accompanied by at least one devilish bodyguard. Even though less potent, their exotic beauty still inspired lust on sight and they preferred environments similar to Phlegethos, although it was less out of personal comfort, since they didn't really notice the difference, and more out of the pragmatic advantage of being in them. They more commonly appeared in the Nine Hells than in Faerun, at least before she had gotten to grips with creating them, but occasionally appeared to commemorate the establishment of a new cult, a job typically performed by erinyes.
After the disastrous results of the Reckoning, Belial decided to retreat from public view, elevating Fierna to the official ruler of the plane while continuing to run things from shadows. Though beneficial to him in several ways, both Moloch and Geryon having been removed, the return of the more experienced Levistus prevented him from conquering Stygia and his original assault force led by Gazra being utterly destroyed. Afterwards, for a time, he focused on politically besting the Frozen Prince, sinking further into obscurity while allowing Fierna to take a greater public role. Eventually his armies gained enough power that he became confident he could best both Levistus and the Hag Countess, until the sudden rise of Glasya, throwing all his plans to the wind by introducing a figure he couldn't attack, out of fear of provoking both Asmodeus and his daughter.
The previously content Fierna began seeking independence, and soon Glasya's sway over Fierna seemed to have weathered down the partnership between father and daughter. Fierna began inquiring about the operations of Phlegethos, claiming only to desire the knowledge in the case of Belial's passing, something he believed, possibly rightly, would only happen at her hands. As Fierna grew bolder, Belial's confidence waned, and it seemed that the two would eventually have some confrontation involving either Belial's resurgence or Fierna's proper ascendance.
The degree to which Glasya's wedge-driving worked, however, was debatable, as Fierna and Belial eventually reached some unorthodox, familial understanding. Rather than one destroying the other, the two ruled Phlegethos in tandem, Fierna handling matters regarding mortal souls and Belial governing Phlegethos itself. Belial's cults had been small and Fierna was apathetic towards the "work" of being an archdevil, so their specialization allowed the former to reclaim his position as an official ruler while Fierna could put her interpersonal talents to use.
However, calling the two partners wasn't exactly accurate, for just as the two had reconciled as allies they had also become true rivals, showing a confusing combination of hatred and admiration for each other. The two were constantly trying to trap and undermine each other but Fierna's charismatic personality and persuasive power canceled out Belials' greater intellect and forward planning. Just as before, there were those that believed that their infighting could be used to overtake them, a partially true sentiment. But, any short-term benefit provided by their conflict wouldn't last, for a true threat to their rightful reign would prompt father and daughter to unite and defend their shared dominion.
Fierna once tried to court a mighty archfey, hoping to seduce them into relinquishing their soul. Her efforts ultimately went nowhere, but a group of the lord's satyrs became infatuated with her. Desiring some form of gain from her time spent on the lord, Fierna decided to corrupt the satyrs with her infernal powers and transformed them into the creatures known as forlarren.
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.
Fierna was known to personally pore through the mountainous reports of her soul-harvesting agents and still tempted mortals directly to better understand their hearts and minds. Exactly what secrets she gleaned from this or what she and Belial would do with them were uncertain, but it was said that she somehow managed to steal the secret behind unrestrained travel between the Nine Hells and Material Plane from the lich deity Vecna. Regardless of the truth, the fact that many infernal inhabitants seriously believed such claims was a testament to their respect for her abilities.
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 Naome.
Most archdevils suspected that the latter rumor was true, a rumor that Fierna must have eventually heard and that she either didn't believe or wasn't bothered by either way. Although some wrote off their alliance as relative newcomers sticking together, others believe that Glasya was actually using Fierna for her own plans. Glasya had made clear many times her intent to kill Levistus, pursuing some ancient vendetta against their family he made, and her alliance with Fierna could be a way of compensating for her lack of connections with the Dark Eight or general military might. Though Belial had long been plotting to steal Stygia, Fierna had little interest in conquering the frozen wasteland, and eventually Glasya could end up calling on her friend for aid in supplanting the Frozen Prince.
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