Location: Nektar’s Cauldron
Timeline: AO 226
Some time later – who can say how long? – I recovered from my nightmare, and as I leaned against the cold stones of the passageway, I thought not of my craving for new souls, but instead forced myself to remember that which I most wished to forget – my recent visit to Illusia.
I had not enjoyed my master’s hospitality, but the visit one of necessity – I had visited Illusia countless times before and (as far as I knew) would need to return back there countless times again. For just like the other immortals, although I was ‘a god’ on Terra, I was nonetheless still bound by the laws of your universe: despite our seemingly divine powers, my colleagues and I were flawed — we could only remain for finite periods in a dimension that was separated from one of the Creator Gods (1). We ‘created’ deities had to return sooner or later to the presence of one of The Supreme Beings… lest we run the risk of slowly fading away into nothingness. Since I believed that A’H wanted nothing to do with a fallen lumenarc like myself, and since Zebub was now the <essence> of the Underworld (and thus unapproachable by me directly), my only option was to beg Zebub’s son for help — and that meant I had to return to Illusia.
Now even though I had long since earned my stripes in the pantheon of Dark Side gods, the King of Illusia seemed to have little appetite for remembering my heroic deeds of the past, and therefore he made me suffer like any other common lumenarc every time I needed more life force — for in both the mortal and the immortal world, nothing comes without a price.
Illusia is (2) a plane of existence vast beyond comprehension, larger than both of its older sister dimensions – Mittengarten (3) and Illyria (4). And whereas Illyria is tiny and sublime, and while Mittengarten is wildly natural and untamed, even together those universes do not compare to the near infinite monstrosity that is Illusia.
As you may recall my telling you, the netherworld was created eons ago by Zebub and the fallen lumenarc once known as Lucifer (5). It was Zebub who inspired Lucifer to incite a rebellion against A’H. Being a fool back then, I was among the rebels. We lost and Michael The Mighty cast us out of Illyria. It was Zebub and Lucifer who then ‘created’ The Middle Plane – or at least they believed they did. Eventually they realized that A’H’s fingerprints were evident throughout your dimension and thus the evil ones raged at being duped into doing A’H’s work. A rather clever lumenarc then suggested the pair try their hand at creating an entirely new dimension – Zebub and Lucifer took the bait and thus the netherworld was born.
Evil and Its son filled the underworld with all of the best facets that they remembered from the other dimensions. But in spite of their efforts, there was a problem — Illusia was itself but an illusion — an almost perfect work of art, masterful in appearance yet lacking that most important of qualities to make it real: life itself. Thus, the trees, the mountains, the seas, and even the individual blades of grass were naught but images…images without a soul. And worse still was the fact that everything, everything was warped out of its natural proportion, all overbearingly too large; so incredibly huge that what might have been considered heavenly beautiful on a smaller scale, was instead grotesque in its freakishness.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, in the process of creating Its masterpiece, Zebub allowed Its entire essence to become Illusia. As a result, the Supreme Being once originally known as Ze (6) had become trapped in the hellish world It had worked so hard to create. Illusia thus became a prison world for its creator!
Left in charge of the underworld, Zebub’s son Lucifer installed himself as king, wielding <The Power of Ze> against any who opposed him — much to the chagrin of my colleagues and I. Thankfully I was able to use all these happenings to my advantage (7). Thus is was that I convinced Lucifer (8) to allow my fellow lumenarcs and I to return to The Middle Plane in order to work on freeing Zebub from his bonds – the fool bought in to my plan and let us return to a dimension that was essentially a wild west of lawlessness. I set up shop again on Terra, while my friends terrorized other planets. Now initially, you’ll remember that Lucifer was not trapped in Illusia like his father – as a result, he often visited Mittengarten to check on the progress my colleagues and I were making. While there, Lucifer took advantage of the fact that there was no other Supreme Being who appeared to be overseeing operations, therefore he assumed that role — basking in the glory of being an Almighty One and assuming more cognomens than I could count. (9)
Naturally I used that to my advantage too — first I convinced El to create mankind with me (10). Later I incited his lust such that he raped the woman Eve – impregnating her in the process (11). At last his crimes caught up with him and then it was that El discovered to his horror that he wasn’t the supreme power of The Middle Plane — for that’s when Michael The Mighty made an appearance again, and wielding <The Power of A’H> Michael cast El (12) into the underworld, locking him there with his father. (13)
Left unfettered, I advanced my plans for Terra rapidly – inspiring the children of the original men to populate the planet, creating a few new altar-ego deities myself (14) to string mankind along with empty promises, and pretty much setting myself up for success. But alas for me, there was always a problem – I could only survive on Terra for a limited time before I needed more <hellfire>.
As you can imagine, when I next returned to Illusia, Lucifer wanted to make me pay for the my little stunt with Eve. He would have destroyed me had I not anticipated his plans (15) and surprised him with a gift that turned him back in my favor — a group of lesser demons that I called ‘baals’ and who fawned over Lucifer, stroking his ego. So enamored was the Dark Lord by my gift that Lucifer changed his name yet again to mark the occasion – taking on the cognomen Baal-Zebub. And leaving me to live another day.
It’s true that old “BZ” (as I liked to call him) didn’t completely trust me, and eventually he started sending more of my colleagues from Illusia specifically to Terra (16) – thinking he was doing me a favor because I was making so much progress on my own. And that’s when all hell (almost) broke loose – little did anyone know that the fallen lumenarcs Baal-Zebub sent this time (17) all secretly hated him, so as soon as they got free of Illusia, they all rebelled. Now I didn’t bloody well know these fools were going to stab me in the back and I sure as hell didn’t want to be held responsible for them since all these treason-mongers were now on my pet planet – but naturally I got blamed for it all and when BZ fished me back to Illusia to account for myself, it was everything I could do to keep my head. I had to beg for my master to give me one more chance to make things right by convincing him to send two of his most trusted lumenarcs to Terra to partner (read: spy) on me. These were Inanna and Samyaza, the ‘gods’ of lust and war respectively. Ostensibly these paragons of evil were sent to Terra to help me re balance the scales in our favor, but in reality they simply caused problems (18).
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, now that you’re brought up to speed on why Zebub and Baal-Zebub were locked in Illusia, allow me to explain how the latter had continued to deteriorate over time — and how it made my life even more miserable. First off, the physical tortures that Baal-Zebub and his father unleashed on godlings like myself who were subject to their will were unimaginably horrifying, but worse still were the memories the Evil Ones left seared within our minds. For Dark Lord broke our spirits by impaling our psyches upon the barbs of his venomous words, ever threatening to withhold Zebub’s <hellfire> from us unless we could convince him that we would succeed in manufacturing a release for them when next we strode upon Mittengarten. A century of such anguish oft times seemed more like an eternity to me, yet thankfully always would it end with The Evil One providing me an adequate supply of <hellfire>, so that I could once more return to The Middle Plane.
Why did Baal-Zebub keep giving me more <hellfire>? That’s an interesting question – whether my lord really believed the hopeless promises I (or my counterparts) gave him or whether the Evil One simply grew tired of his own pointless games, I never knew. I tend to think Baal-Zebub tortured us because he could, but he also gave us the life force because he had no choice – we were his only hope at escape.
Regarding my visits, they were pretty much always the same – arriving at my master home, I entered his throne room and was immediately captivated with love for my lord, because invariably, my first glimpse of Baal-Zebub was a picture of such beauty that perhaps naught in any universe could compare to such a wondrous sight!
It should be noted that Baal-Zebub’s throne faced windows to the east so that whoever was in his court to see him could only view his right profile, his beautiful side. And what a divine sight it was – for the right side of Baal-Zebub’s body was a picture of perfection. He was an adonis, with lustrous brown hair flowing in locks around his shoulders, an enchanting male face with healthy pink skin and chiseled features, a youthful and muscular body obvious under his royal satin robes, and with his right hand bejeweled with sparkling rings which reflected the seeming sunlight that cascaded in through the palace windows. Yes, perfection and beauty all the way down to a milky white foot which was nestled in a soft, silkish slipper. From this aspect, Baal-Zebub literally oozed <Love> and <Acceptance> – and I worshiped him.
Now had this been the only view I ever saw of my lord, surely I would have treasured every visit to Illusia. Yet, such was not reality for Baal-Zebub’s godlings. Instead, as divine as my master’s right-hand side was, lo the nightmarish memories that were seared into my soul whenever he would turn to face me full-on and subject me to his dreaded defilement — for over the milennia, Baal-Zebub had become a Travesty!
My lord’s left side was the ultimate paradox, a directly proportionate nightmare — with a patchwork of clammy skin that fought to cling in limp folds onto a gigantic deformed skull; the skin often lost that battle and instead had fallen away — leaving only bone or decayed muscle to show through a horrific female face. Wet, oily strands of individual hairs hung in ones and twos from just a few remaining spots on her psoriatic scalp. Her left eye was just an empty socket that seemed to be the very gateway to infinite nothingness. An even Baal-Zebub’s clothes on that side could not hide her defilement, but instead her own vile deterioration ate outwards at them and not even my lord’s wondrous powers could keep them from eating away like the rest of her leftish self. As for my master’s other foot, it was not even there — instead that leg simply ended in a gnarled bone, cracked painfully off ages ago.
Maybe that was why The Evil One reclined back in this sole locale ever and anon. Waiting. Ever waiting… (19)
Perhaps it was Baal-Zebub’s eternal waiting for life to arrive upon it world, that allowed it the ability to be acutely aware whenever another would enter its domain – I believe this was especially so with a soul hoarder such as myself – someone so full of life, life that a soul eater like my master could consume to lessen its own pain.
For, despite Illusia’s size, still I was never able to enter that world without my master immediately knowing the very moment I had arrived; without Baal-Zebub calling me the second I had taken that last step down the Stairway of Infinity; without the Dark Lord forcing me to instantly obey its summons, and then imprisoning me before its throne for 100 years! There, at its foot, groveling in hopeless agony, there did Evil enslave Death with the sinister malevolence of its rabid ravings — force-feeding my mind with such a multitude of malignant thoughts until such a point that the very fissures of my skull oozed with the black ichor of my master’s ancient evil being.
Yet it was my last visit that was the worst of all – for then it was that Baal-Zebub began to fill my mind with images of a mysterious blade of power – a weapon it named Dagaal — an impossibly twisted, fiendish little dagger, perhaps but a hand and a half in length. Its handle, hilt, and blade were all made from one long piece of bone. And yet, although Dagaal was quite sinister looking, and would have made any mortal shudder to behold, still it shouldn’t have been something I feared – after all, why should Death have anything to fear?
Ah, if only that had been the case.
Yet there was something unusual about this dagger – something which triggered in me the memory of a time before even my own existence – something perhaps as ancient as Time itself.
During the century of my last captivity, Baal-Zebub forced me to behold Dagaal again and again and again – to the point where I knew it’s every atom by heart – as if it was a part of myself.
The dagger’s handle was straight and unadorned – without even a wrap for a grip — and where a base or pommel might have been, the bone looked as if it had been merely snapped off. The hilt was an extension of the blade bone that had grown outward at opposing angles to form an upside down “V,” with barbed tips that extended towards the tip of the dagger. But most gruesome of all was the actual blade — a illogically distorted corkscrew of bone that twisted its way in width, from the size of a fist, down through its coils, to an almost invisible tip — a point so sharp that its final apex was invisible to the naked eye, for so keen were its edges.
The time passed slowly on Illusia and the more Baal-Zebub tortured my mind with Dagaal’s image, the more I found myself filled with countless questions about the blade’s making. Unfortunately there was never the opportunity for a dialogue with my master, thus I was unable to learn the how, when, and where of Dagaal’s crafting. Yet soon enough I realized why this weapon terrified me so: for the bone which Dagaal was made from had actually been taken from ME! (20)
How I rue the day I came to that realization – for Baal-Zebub rejoiced in my agony and used that fact to make my torture even more unbearable.
“Yes.” My master agreed, enjoying my pain. “It is the very bone that my father first used to create you with. And…it is the same one by which you shall one day be destroyed.”
Even as The Evil One said it, I knew it was true – and I was afraid.
Sure, my ‘existence’ on Mittengarten was always time-bound by the supply of <hellfire> I had available to me and I guess, technically, had I ever allowed my <hellfire> to totally drain away, it’s possible I could have ceased to exist. But no deity has ever allowed this to happen and to be honest, it wasn’t really something I feared – that’s not to say I didn’t religiously return to my creator to get my <hellfire> replenished (21), but there was never really a sense of my imminent demise.
But such was not the case as I beheld Dagaal – for this weapon had but one purpose – to destroy ME! – and the thought of being confronted by one’s own mortality was not something a divinity should ever had to ponder.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a choice – for Baal-Zebub repeatedly forced me to behold the sight of my bane, searing the image into my mind, making it impossible for me to forget.
“Lest you ever believe you are beyond my grasp,” My master warned, “simply remember that Dagaal allows me to recall that which is mine. For with this simple weapon, any insignificant creature of Mittengarten can serve as my agent and have the power to slay a god.”
What could I say, I knew Baal-Zebub spoke the truth – because of Dagaal, Evil was always within reach of Death.
Naturally these ideas were quite terrifying to me, yet my fear was at least somewhat mitigated by knowing that because Baal-Zebub possessed the blade, Dagaal could not harm me unless it were to be used by my master’s own hand (22).
But then, just before my time on Illusia was up, Baal-Zebub suddenly stopped torturing me with the sight of Dagaal. However rather than give me a reprieve, my master’s new tactic was even more sinister.
“The time has come for you to know,” Baal-Zebub said slyly, “Dagaal is no longer safely locked away in my armory. Instead I’ve let one of the baals take it to Mittengarten. The bone dagger is now there… waiting for you. <Ha, ha, ha!>”
And with that, my lord expelled me from it presence and forced the baals to drive me pell-mell to The Stairway of Infinity – casting me out of Illusia once again.
It was a helter-skelter journey for me up The Stairway, made all the more terrifying by the fact that I was returning to a world upon which there was an object which could destroy me – a prospect I’d never confronted before.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t confused as to which way to go, but once on The Stairway, I knew I had to keep climbing – fast!
Eventually, as you know, I did make it up The Stairway and re-emerged onto The Middle Plane. Yet I barely had time to celebrate my escape before the nightmare of Dagaal had incapacitated me.
“The Bone Dagger — upon Mittengarten!” I screamed as I awoke from that bad dream. And exhausted from the visions, I barely managed a pitiful swipe at the empty air, before once more falling into unconsciousness.
Yet this time — thankfully — it was a sleep without any dreams…