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War of Worlds: Chapter 3

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War of Worlds: Chapter 3

CHAPTER 3: A SCHEME BECOMES A SPARK


Scythe sat impatiently in the skiff waiting for the mists of the Styx to separate. Getting to the other side of the Field of Nettles seemed to be taking much longer than he thought it should, though had he decided to walk it would be days rather than the couple hours that the short ferry ride was lasting. Not to mention he probably wouldn’t survive such a trek with thousands of fiends marching for war on the endless battlefield.


Aside from feeling a little anxious, Scythe was also much more nervous about his next task than he was in meeting with Darius. Oinos had a lot to do with that, he knew. The longer he stayed on this plane the more his emotions tended toward chaos, and there was simply nothing he could do about that.

Scythe kept telling himself it was mostly the nature of this world, though it didn’t help. However, a good portion of his uneasiness did derive from the anticipation of who he was going to see once those mists did separate. The tiefling found himself slightly hoping that the person he expected to see wouldn’t show up, but reality and experience told him otherwise, as did the voice he now heard jeering at him through the haze.


I keep asking myself how foolish a sodding mortal can be, that he would cast away his responsibilities as easily as one casts a stone into the bottomless abyss.

The voice, which was no voice at all, assaulted Scythe as if each word was a hammer strike upon his brain. Telepathy was not a form of communication Scythe was normally accustomed to, in fact he abhorred it. Whenever someone spoke to him in this manner, he would insist that they speak audibly, but he knew who was calling to him and, therefore, knew that audible speech was an impossibility.


And as the mists now started to clear, he saw who it was he knew was speaking to him. “Accept my apologies, Seyquoatl. You know it is not in my nature to be late.”

Seyquoatl, the ultroloth, stood on the bank of the Styx with his arms crossed. Scythe could see no expression on his face for he had no face- just a smooth and slender egg-shaped head with large, black and red bulbous eyes. He was very tall, standing close to eight feet, but he was also very thin, seemingly lighter than Scythe himself by the tiefling’s estimations. However, Scythe knew his gaunt frame was no indication of how dangerous an ultroloth was. He was the ruler of this plane, hailing from a fortress named Khin-Oin, the Wasting Tower. He also knew, as Seyquoatl was shaking his oblong head, that this yugoloth was not a patient one, something that did not bode well for Scythe.


I have not dealt with you enough times to know what is in your nature, Seyquoatl reminded him. He unfolded his arms and walked closer to the edge of the bank. As Scythe approached him, the ultroloth held out his hand to assist the tiefling out of the skiff. Resignedly, Scythe accepted and was surprised at the strength of Seyquoatl’s grip as he was pulled onto the bank.

The tiefling now stood directly in front of the yugoloth, so close that he thought he would be swallowed up by Seyquoatl’s black, tattered cloak. He stepped back a pace so he wouldn’t have to arch his head back to the point of discomfort in order to talk with the yugoloth. Scythe also noticed that Seyquoatl was alone, or so it appeared that way, for he looked all about and saw no one else save for the two of them.


Yes, I am alone, Seyquoatl, guessing the tiefling’s thoughts, said as he also looked around. I prefer it that way. I’m too easily bored and annoyed by those in servitude to me. They all live their pathetic existences waiting just to hear an encouraging word from me. I guess I just don’t what it’s like to be as they are. Seyquoatl paused and chortled as he looked at Scythe. Ah, but you understand them, don’t you Scythe?

Scythe was fully aware of what Seyquoatl was trying to do, that he was trying to impose upon the tiefling an air of superiority. And though there was no doubt the ultroloth was more powerful than Scythe, he was not about to allow himself to appear inferior or overtly reverent to Seyquoatl.


“Actually,” Scythe began with a nonchalant pace to his step, “I’ve never answered to anyone, except my mother of course. But I know how things work out here in the lower planes.”

Oh, Seyquoatl replied, his interest piqued, and what do you mean by that, exactly?


Scythe considered, just for the smallest moment, whether or not he should continue this line of reasoning. He made up his mind and decided to see how far he could push the ultroloth.

“I’m no stranger to the workings of the lower planes,” Scythe remarked, sounding confident. “I know that the yugoloths ascend in their ranks by way of promotion just like their tanar’ri and baatezu kin.


The tiefling spat out the last word with emphasis, hoping that it would strike a chord with Seyquoatl, for he knew that the yugoloths thought of their race as far superior to those warring denizens that hailed from the Abyss and Baator. But the ultroloth showed no evidence of even being disturbed by Scythe’s comment.

Have you forgotten, Seyquoatl noted with sarcasm, I am an ultroloth, and therefore cannot be raised in rank. I am all-powerful and thousands of yugoloths obey my every command.


“I’m sure, Seyquoatl,” Scythe said, his head looking up as if pondering some distant memory, “if you think hard enough, I’ll wager you’ll recall that even you began your existence as some meaningless slave. A bothersome thorn in someone’s side, most likely. Always wondering what malicious and perverted act you could perform that would gain you just a bit more power."

“You know, I just realized,” Scythe teased. Somehow he could sense that Seyquoatl’s anger was growing, a thought he greatly enjoyed. “That is exactly what you’re doing right now- trying to gather up a little bit more influence over the world around you. You’re still a slave Seyquoatl- a slave to your own selfish desires.”


You fool, Seyquoatl shouted, so loudly that Scythe was stunned by the mental strain.

Seyquoatl stepped forward within a foot of Scythe’s face. The tiefling reached for Scorch and Scar, but his hands were frozen upon their hilts as he found himself unable to turn away from the ultroloth’s gaze.


Seyquoatl’s eyes began to swirl in a colorful hypnotic pattern and Scythe was awestruck by the beauty of it. Somewhere in his mind, whether consciously or subconsciously, he knew this was a trick, but that thought seemed so trivial at this moment. All that mattered right now were those magnificent eyes.

Yes, pathetic demon-child, Seyquoatl said, a mere whisper in Scythe’s mind, look deep into my eyes and know my power. Your travels have brought you wisdom, but you are a mere sapling, where I- I am an Arborean oak tree, seasoned and strong.


Scythe was now sensing he was in danger, and as hard as he tried to pull away from the ultroloth’s gaze, it only proved to be more strenuous and he began to sweat under the strain.

I could extinguish your life with but a thought, Seyquoatl continued. You are an insignificant mortal and yet you dare to mock me! Me, of all denizens that walk these planes!


“Do you… forget… Sey…quoatl,” the tiefling muttered, his voice barely audible through gritted teeth. “I… may not be… important… but what I have… is.”

Seyquoatl stepped back, but still locking Scythe’s gaze, and was silent for a moment considering the tiefling’s words. Very well then. Let us cease our pleasantries and begin our business. You are released.


With that, Seyquoatl turned away from Scythe, relinquishing his hypnotic gaze upon him. Scythe fell to the ground exhausted from his efforts of resistance. It took many moments for him to catch his breath.

Meanwhile, Seyquoatl sat down on a rather large rock, patiently waiting for Scythe to recover. Forgive me, he apologized. We began on the wrong foot and I blame myself for that.


It surprised Scythe, but Seyquoatl sounded very sincere with his apology. The reason for that was obvious, of course. Had the ultroloth killed him, then this transaction they were about to fulfill would never come to pass. Scythe knew that the both of them had put forth too much time and effort to jeopardize that.

“Forget about it,” the tiefling silently offered. He looked across the Styx and onto the Field of Nettles where he could see, off in the distance, the dust cloud formed by the marching Baatezu armies.


Scythe stood, now fully restored, and wiped himself clean. “So, how many legions did your boatmen bring to the field,” he asked. “I know I wasn’t here to witness it, which I admit is my fault, so I’ll have to take your word for it.”

A dozen legions exactly, just as you requested, Seyquoatl responded. Truthfully, they were here a bit early and were already marching by the time I arrived. You know how regimented the Baatezu can be. But I questioned the lead steersman, and I’m confident of his numbers. Seyquoatl pointed to a smoldering heap of bones some twenty yards behind him. He was then properly punished for not being here at the instructed time.


Scythe was taken aback by the ultroloth’s act of discipline. “A good reminder to me to be more prompt concerning our mutual business.”

Yes, Seyquoatl agreed, it seems my correction has served another means.


Indeed it did, Scythe thought to himself. Had this been any one of the other less important business deals between the two of them, he knew it might well have been his smoking corpse lying on the bank of the Styx.

That vision made the tiefling want to finish this business even faster. “I have what you want, Seyquoatl,” he said quickly. Already, the ultroloth seemed to brighten with interest. “But you must show me first if you have completed my side of the bargain.”


Though it is against my normal practices, Seyquoatl replied, I will agree to your terms.

The Ultroloth stood and moved to the side of the rock he was sitting on. With a wave of his hand, the rock began to ripple as if it were water and, within a moment, revealed itself to be a large, brassbound box.


Scythe watched as Seyquoatl opened the box and pulled out a number of items. One was a rolled parchment sealed and corked on the ends, about three feet in length that seemed extremely weathered and fragile. Seyquoatl was very cautious as he brought it forth and handed it to the tiefling. The other items were a small, leather bound journal a handbreadth’s width, a vial filled with a silvery dust, and a jar filled with a white, milky substance.

The scroll is a detailed map of Belgos’ breeding grounds. You must not open it until you reach Maladomini, the ultroloth warned. The ink is sensitive to all environments other than that of Baator.


Scythe responded with a nod. “And what of these other objects,” he curiously asked, holding the dust-filled vial up and turning it in his hand.

A sprinkle of that dust will allow you to roam Baator practically invisible to its inhabitants.


“Practically,” Scythe repeated, not fully comprehending.

They will see you, Seyquoatl explained, but you will appear to them as another fiend. Furthermore, all divinations to reveal your true identity will fail. Believe me, Scythe, he added, this dust is virtually priceless. You will find it to be a great asset.


The tiefling again nodded his approval and then held out the jar and the journal seeking their purpose.

The jar is your key to the seventh layer of Baator. It is filled with lemure flesh.


Scythe’s visage became grotesque as he considered what he held.

There is no simple key to the lower layers where Baator is concerned, Seyquoatl went on. Besides, the portal opens up only a few hundred yards from your destination, which is far better than taking your chances across the ruined terrain of Maladomini.


The journal that you hold, the ultroloth continued, is the most important tool of all, for it tells you how to bypass all the security measures of the breeding grounds, such as passwords, magical traps, and the like. It also shows you where the portal entrance is. And lastly, the journal tells you where to find Magetti.

“And Magetti is…” Scythe urged.


Magetti is my messenger, Seyquoatl informed him. He is under the authority of Belgos, but he is loyal to me. Seek him out, and your chances of a successful mission will double.

By the way, Scythe… the ultroloth added, what exactly is your mission?


The question took Scythe by surprise, and he cursed himself for not preparing for it prior to this meeting. Seyquoatl knew, of course, that he would not tell him, for it was not part of the bargain between the two. Scythe understood that the yugoloth was only interested in his reaction to the question. He also had a feeling that this Magetti person, whoever he was, was not so much an added benefit from Seyquoatl, but more likely a spy that would report to the ultroloth his movements.

“No doubt you will find out soon enough,” Scythe cryptically answered.


No doubt sooner than you think, Seyquoatl answered back, a note of sarcasm in his telepathic voice. I’m sure it won’t take long for me to hear the stories that tell of a barmy tiefling who was flayed alive while foolishly attempting… something foolish with the pit fiend who is most likely next in line to be promoted as one of the Lords of the Eight. Belgos is not to be trifled with.

Scythe sneered as he considered the ultroloth’s last statement. “Trifling is not quite what I had in mind,” he said, “but thank you for your concern. And I thank you for these items. I must admit, and I mean no insult, this is more aid than I though I would receive.”


I pride myself on surprising those whom I do business with. And trifling is what I’ve done far too long with you, Seyquoatl remarked, clearly becoming impatient. I will have my payment now, and be on my way.

“As you wish,” the tiefling responded.


With that said, Scythe reached inside his cloak and pulled forth a tiny, golden chest no longer than four inches. He then grabbed a golden chain from around his neck which had a very small key attached to it. The tielfing spoke a magical password, inserted the key into the chest, and opened it.

For a moment, nothing happened. But slowly, Seyquoatl could see a small purplish hole appear at the opening of the chest. As he watched, it continued to grow, and at a faster rate. Within moments, the hole was as large as Scythe and he could see the familiar white and silver motes floating in the void that was the Astral plane.


The extradimensional window was now completely open and Seyquoatl could see the enlarged version of the tiny chest concealed within. Scythe now pulled a much larger key from his cloak and opened the chest with it. He then reached inside with both hands and removed the object that was inside.

Scythe was clearly struggling with the weight of this prized possession as he carefully set it on the ground in front of Seyquoatl.


Uviele olle uyelviele, The ultroloth said in the yugoloth tongue, the Anvil of the Yugoloths.

Scythe closed the dimensional gate to the Astral and watched Seyquoatl as he gazed in amazement at the Anvil. It was the same reaction that Darius had expressed just a few moments earlier when he revealed to him the Hammer of the Yugoloths.


Scythe understood the reason for their admiration because he understood the power that these two artifacts represented. In fact, it was extremely difficult for him to bargain them away. To make matters worse, he not only had one of these antiquities in his possession, but both. While the Hammer would no doubt bring Darius a significant amount of influence- and likewise the Anvil for Seyquoatl, neither could be used for their true purpose while not in the same hands. But Scythe would have been able to exercise almost limitless power had he not given them up.

No, the tiefling was not one to fall to such temptations. There were more important things in life than boundless supremacy; at least he thought so where certainly others, like Darius and Seyquoatl, did not. For what good is power if it doesn’t heal the broken heart… or the tortured mind… or the shattered soul. A lesson taught well to the tiefling by his mother.


Seyquoatl picked up the Anvil with less effort than it exacted upon Scythe, but it’s size still proved cumbersome even to the ultroloth. This will be recorded as my most acclaimed acquisition, Seyquoatl said, still struggling to carry the object, and the most physically tiring.

“I’ll tell you what,” Scythe responded, “Since you provided me with more than I expected, I will make your trip back to Gehenna easier.”


Scythe removed the key from around his neck and handed it to Seyquoatl along with the miniature chest. “The password is malegard, which means ‘upper torso’ in the svirfneblin tongue.” Scythe laughed at the humor of the gnomish race. “Do you get it”, he asked the ultroloth, “upper torso… chest.”

I once ate a deep gnome, Seyquoatl replied as he placed the Anvil in the chest. They had a funny taste, as well. It seems their brand of humor comes from deep within themselves.


Scythe stood and regarded Seyquoatl’s own attempt at humor. It certainly was not a style he was accustomed to. “Save that one for your yugoloth friends, and I’ll try to forget it.”

You do that, tiefling, the ultroloth said, now with the artifact fully concealed in the Astral plane. I wonder, though, Scythe. Couldn’t someone find the chest in the Silver void and take it for their own?


“They could if they knew where to look for it,” the tiefling answered. “But there are better odds of finding a vrock nest atop Mount Celestia. I’m only offering you a convenience, not security.”

The ultroloth turned and began to walk away. And I am offering you my leave. Until we meet again, my resourceful friend.


Suddenly, the ultroloth simply disappeared, with no magical effect or through no planar portal. And Scythe knew just as he did with Darius, that they would meet again.

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Re: War of Worlds: Chapter 3

still reading this by the way - do you still want critiques?

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Re: War of Worlds: Chapter 3

nice post, thanks for sharing

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