A mystic theurge on a quest to reveal the true origin of his demonic heritage.
Sitting at the bar beside the dwarf you turn your walking stick in your hands over and over, studying the names etched there. Irongate, Highfolk, the Free City of Greyhawk, and many others. The one on which you have focused your attention is the one that appeared there most recently: Sasserine. The city which you travelled across half the world to find. “Every journey begins with a single step,” Trevelyan would say.
Trevelyan was a follower of Fharlanghn and was guiding an expedition to an island far beyond the edges of the known world. In one of the most perilous voyages he ever undertook, Trevelyan led the team to a forsaken temple where a group of cultists was in the midst of an infernal ritual too terrible to detail. As their chanting reached a climax, a fireball exploded in the center of their circle. It was then that the leader of the expedition gave the order to attack. They stopped the ritual, but not before almost every member of the party was killed. Surveying the carnage, Trevelyan came upon the focus of this dark ceremony. In the center of the circle was a deformed child tainted by the blood of a demon. Trevelyan said he knew then that the reason he was brought here was to decide your fate. He could have killed the child in fear of where he had come. Instead, he chose to make you his son.
Your youth was an exciting time. Trevelyan was always on the move, always following his walking stick to what lay just beyond the horizon. He trained you in the teachings of Fharlanghn, the god of distance, travel, and roads. “The road goes ever on and on,” he would say with a grin. Your diabolic visage could sometimes be a hindrance, so Trev taught you a simple ritual that allowed you to alter your features into that of another race. You learned it so well in fact that you were able to change back and forth at will. He took you from one end of Oerik to the other. You met people of every culture, saw ancient monuments and fantastic events, but always your thoughts turned back to the dark night of your birth and what purpose those cultists may have had for you. Whenever you would mention this, Trevelyan told you that whatever they intended, you always have a choice. You can choose to be the spawn of some dark ritual and let the ones who summoned you decide your destiny or you can choose to be your own man and follow your own path.
One night by the campfire, overcome by the need to know more about the circumstances of your birth, you asked Trevelyan when this journey you two were on would end. He looked back at you with sadness and simply said that was up to you. When you awoke the next morning, Trevelyan was gone. All that remained was his walking stick, his small pendant, and a note which read, “So you may one day find yourself.” The stick was etched with a dozen cities that Trevelyan had carved there over your time together, but there was one that had not been there before. You took Trev’s hint and set out for Sasserine, far to the south of the Flanaess, across the Azure Sea.
You look up from that stick to see the dwarf looking at you. He raises his mug to you and you nod back in return. You met the dwarf, so different now than he was when you first knew him, at the House of the Dragon. You enrolled here because it was the arcane school with the most extensive library, and began poring over old maps and sea charts and chronicles of expeditions to uncharted islands. After a year your research had turned up nothing useful, so when the dwarf told you he was leaving the school in search of adventure, you decided perhaps it was time to set out for the horizon once more.Trevelyan always said a journey is not about where it begins, but the choices you make along the way. The choices you’ve made have brought you here to the Rusty Pirate in the Merchant District on this still, humid night. Above the sounds of water lapping against the docks, you’re fairly sure you can hear thunder in the distance. A storm’s coming.
grarris addition, to be edited into above story later… pickin’ up where his mentor left him in the forest.
When Belial awoke, to find his mentor had abandoned him, he became enraged. All throughout his life, he had failed to find solace in the company of mortals, possibly due to his bloodline, the demonic ichor pulsing through his dark heart, possibly due to clarity of his vision, though often clouded red with the lust for blood and destruction. For whatever reason Belial found himself alone, abandoned, in the forest, the only mentor with whom he had ever connected, gone. Belial uttered a curse to the gods in defiance, daring them to strike him down. When no response came, Belial laughed drunkenly and set out on his own.
After journeying for several days, Belial’s food supply became exhausted. He fell back on the foraging techniques his master had taught him but, for whatever reason – either divine or infernal providence, or through dumb “luck”, he picked the wrong mushrooms. Belial was famished, and that night, as he sat around the campfire, he ate a huge quantity of the mushrooms he had picked earlier.
An hour later, his stomach became twisted in knots. The world started to fade around him, the trees seemed to laugh mockingly, the stones became crouching, toad-like demons, the grass reached up to devour him. It was at that point that the flames of his campfire sought to envelop him. He felt himself being consumed by fire. The pain was indescribable. It devoured his skin, his corded muscle, his bone, bit by bit, until only his soul remained. That too was consumed, in a conflagration of infinite proportions, somehow like a vast sphere, of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere. Time lost all meaning. There was only Light, there was only fire, the pain of creation. He felt united with time itself and had a glimpse of all life in all planes being conceived, born, procreating, dying, the process repeating eternally, like a serpent eating its tail. “All is suffering. All must die. Death is an act of mercy.” This thought repeated itself until it had etched itself on the convolutions of his mind.
He felt himself falling, as if through an infinite blackness. He was on the floor of an unfathomably deep level of the abyss, but he was not himself. He was a mane, the lowest form of demonic life. He survived by eating the detritus and filth that congealed on the volcanic abyssal hellscape that interred him. He hid when larger demons came… at least he hid for a while. Eventually he was discovered, torn limb from limb and devoured, but his consciousness did not end. It continued. He felt sentience even as his body was eaten alive, even as he was digested. He was defecated out, and his remains nurtured the slime and filth that lined the floor of the abyss. This in turn was devoured by a mane. As Belial was consumed, this time, his essence united with the mane and he became the mane, but he was no longer “Belial”. He was what he became ever changing, annata, no-self. When that mane was devoured, he became the demon who devoured him. This process repeated itself for what seemed like aeons. As he spent untold seasons in the abyss, he eventually was devoured by a demon Lord. Finally, he was Lord of the Abyss. He peered up through infinite layers and dimensions of planar space-time and saw the gods in their respective domains. A rage unlike any he had ever felt possessed him. He yearned, with every cell, every fiber of his being, to slay the gods, to disembowel them, to devour their entrails and unite with them, to pull them into the abyss, into utter blackness. He yearned to devour creation itself, devour worlds… the thought seized him, “if I can consume ALL, then all can rest in oblivion.” Death became an act of cruel love, creation an act of sadistic horror.
Gradually the vision faded, and Belial gradually became “himself” again. He found that he was in the process of chanting “I am Lord of the Abyss, I am the Godslayer, I am the Devourer of worlds.” He had been walking all night. He had made his way through the forest. The spires of city pierced the horizon…