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The Chronicles of Sheol

 
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ddicerc
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:38 pm GMT    Post subject: The Chronicles of Sheol Reply with quote

Foras brooded in his office. Such brooding was not uncommon for such a thoughtful devil, but this time his thoughts were rather more dark than usual (which is saying much, given how dark Foras' brooding was most of the time). The angelic taunts still rang in his ears: "It's not yet our time, but soon He will be coming!" The legions of Sheol had barely fought off the final onslaught of the Other Place, and all of the daemon lords felt the sting of their losses in battle.

The simple fact of their loss would be bad enough, given the threat from Above, but Foras was concerned about another factor. Despite their obvious weakness, the daemon lords had begun to initiate hostilities against one another again. Foras himself, of course, was not party to such destructive behavior, at least not yet. Still, the day would come when the provocation could no longer be ignored, and Foras doubted that Sheol could survive if the lords chose to batter themselves in senseless displays of hubris.

Despite his reputation for finding solutions to knotty problems, Foras saw no way out of this one. The legions of Sheol were not known for their careful consideration of the logical outcomes of their petty battles. If they chose to start, and an all-out infernal war broke out again (which would be the sixth one since the Great Divide), the Other Realm might find Sheol ripe for the taking.

Just then a buzzer sounded on his desk. Foras slammed his hand on a button and snarled, "What is it, Blankstare? You know not to disturb me when I am thinking!"

His secretary's sultry voice calmed him, somewhat. "Lord Foras, Lord Asmodeus would like to speak with you."

Foras bristled. Asmodeus was one of the newer daemon lords, not particularly strong yet but already developing a reputation as a subtle and effective schemer. "Tell him to make an appointment!" Foras thundered back.

"He's here in front of me already." Blankstare replied. "He claims it is urgent, and that the future of the kingdom of Sheol may depend on what he has to say."

Sure he does, thought Foras. Thinks he has the answer for everything. His brooding thoroughly interrupted, Foras decided he might as well see what the schemer had to say. At least he could see what the junior daemon was up to. "All right, send him in," Foras muttered.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:03 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asmodeus showed a proper respect on entering Foras' inner sanctum, bowing to just the right degree to acknowledge rank, but not enough to suggest servility. Foras glared at the junior lord, annoyed yet intrigued at what would bring him to request an audience with a senior daemon lord. Asmodeus stood patiently, while Foras ticked off the seconds in his head, waiting for exactly the right moment before...

"Have a seat, Asmodeus," Foras intoned. (As a senior lord, he recognized Asmodeus' status, but the etiquette of Sheol required that a superior never acknowledged such status in a junior.) He indicated a small iron chair that was just decorative enough to be mildly honoring to its occupant, and Asmodeus sat in a dignified manner. Foras moved behind his desk and sat in his own magnificent obsidian seat. "Now, what is on your mind today? You indicated to Blankstare that you had some idea that might be of importance to the Kingdom."

"Indeed I do," Asmodeus confidently replied. "You well know the situation we find ourselves in. The last battle left us all weaker, yet we can't seem to overcome our desire to engage in petty fights among ourselves. This is a recipe for disaster."

Foras nodded gravely. "I have been pondering that myself," he said. "But let's cut to the chase. What do you propose we do about it?"

Asmodeus chuckled silently. (It would never do to allow a superior to hear you indicate anything even remotely resembling mirth.) "Have you heard what's happening down in the pits of Gehenna?" he asked.

"The waste piles?" Foras asked, genuinely surprised. He seldom gave a thought to that region, since it was merely a disposal area for the Kingdom. "We used them to deposit the...remnants of our troops from the last battle. I have not been aware of any other use for the pits."

"Perhaps that is because you are a distinguished and accomplished lord," Asmodeus purred in an obsequious tone. "But some of our decidedly inferior cohorts have taken an interest in the pits. They have...well, perhaps it would be best for you to investigate yourself. Would you take a stroll with me to the Abyss?"

Foras was curious, but not enough to take the bait. "I haven't the time for such an expedition," he snapped, "but if you indeed have an idea to save us from ourselves that depends on that region, perhaps I can send Barbas with you to investigate and bring me a report."

Asmodeus smiled to himself. This was what he expected, and it would be enough. If Barbas can be persuaded, Foras will back me, he thought. "That would be an honor, Lord Foras. When can I expect Lord Barbas to join me?"

Foras consulted his daetymer globe. "I can have Barbas meet you at the entrance to Gehenna in thirteen infernal hours. Do not be late." He waved casually toward the door, indicating the interview was over.

Asmodeus took the hint. He stood, bowed slightly, and excused himself from the senior lord. His plan working perfectly so far, he left to prepare to show his brilliance to Barbas.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:57 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbas was in a foul mood as he strode toward the gates to Gehenna. (Not that a foul mood was anything unusual for Barbas, although this one was a particularly bad one.) He hated being jerked around by Foras in the first place (the result of a poorly calculated challenge), and being asked to escort a junior daemon lord was quite beneath him. Foras had intimated that this expedition could yield something positive for the cause of the Kingdom, though, so Barbas took on the task, grudgingly but admittedly a bit curious.

He spotted Asmodeus waiting just inside the gate. The suave lesser lord bowed to the correct degree, and Barbas acknowledged with a curt nod of his head. As was fitting, he spoke first. "Lord Foras tells me you have some information about the Pits here that could be significant. Would you care to elaborate?"

"Perhaps you have heard some rumor of what has been happening down here among the workers in these nether regions," Asmodeus responded. As he anticipated, Barbas' even more foul grimace told him that the rumors had not reached the daemon lord (not to mention telling him that the senior lord was quite annoyed at not having heard them). "They discovered an odd quirk of the pits, and have exploited it for, frankly, their own entertainment. But I think there may be more value in their discovery than they think."

"And just what is this 'odd discovery'?" Barbas inquired.

Asmodeus approached Barbas with a proper decorum. "Rather than telling you about it, I'd like you to see it," he said smoothly. "If you would care to follow me, Lord Barbas, I can open your eyes to a new possibility for the Infernal Council."

Barbas snorted, just loudly enough to be heard but not so loudly as to cause undue offense. Asmodeus has a reputation for grandiose scheming, and he suspected that this would prove to be just another example of that. Still, Lord Foras had felt it necessary for him to investigate, so he would finish the job. "Then lead on, Asmodeus," he said.

It was a brief walk to the first of the disposal pits. As they approached, Barbas became aware of daemonic shouts of war, foul curses, and a general air of diabolical mayhem. Such tumult could mean problems, and Barbas was always wary, but he felt reasonably certain that Asmodeus could not afford to have anything happen to a senior lord here.

As the two approached the edge of the pit, Barbas peered down, and was startled by what he saw. How have I gotten no word of this? he thought angrily. After a moment, he began to realize just what it was Asmodeus saw in this pandemonium.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:58 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slopdragger bared his fangs in a hideous smile as his fiend smashed his arm into his opponent's leg, crippling him. Jugboose's fiend crumpled to the floor of the pit, unable to move. A shout went up from the crowd as the referee (a squat little daemon nicknamed, appropriately enough, Squat) pointed to Slopdragger and declared him the victor. Jugboose snarled in anger, but came forward to pay off on the bet, while in the crowd various items of infernal value changed hands amid a mixture of trash talk and profanity.

Barbas and Asmodeus stood well out of sight, not wanting to spook the party below. Asmodeus wore a smug expression, while Barbas processed what he was seeing. He was somewhat miffed that he had never thought about doing this himself, but then again none of the other daemon lords had come up with the idea either.

"So," he murmured to Asmodeus, "they found a way to fuse the parts of defeated fiends and make their own creations. And they use them for nothing but a fight club?"

"They call it the Proving Pit," Asmodeus replied softly. "They think of it as a place where they can show off their own skill and intelligence in creating destructive forces to hurl at one another. And some are quite good at it."

Barbas looked down on the scene below. "Slopdragger-he's one of the custodial supervisors, isn't he?" he asked.

"I think he's one of the daemons who came up with the idea for this," Asmodeus answered. "He's also probably the champion of the Proving Pit so far."

Barbas looked over some the odd creations below him. Body parts from a variety of fiends were apparent; he could spot the festering boils on some, while a few radiated with glowing heat or frosty cold. Some parts dripped rot, with others had an unmistakable stench of death. He could make out a few other types as well.

"How did he figure this out?" Barbas queried. "This never occurred to any of the daemon lords. And how the heaven did they get these parts to stick together?"

"Why don't you ask him yourself?" Asmodeus retorted. "I've has the chance to speak with Slopdragger once or twice, and I'm sure I can arrange a meeting away from here. It wouldn't do to scare off the crowd just yet."

"Agreed" nodded Barbas. "Perhaps you could persuade him to come to my office later today. Tell him I have some questions about our waste disposal, and hint at a promotion if necessary,"

Asmodeus smirked. "Not that a promotion will be forthcoming, I'm sure," he said. "But I have a way with persuasion, so I'll get him there."

"Tonight at 14." Barbas paused. "But I think I need to do a consultation on this."

"With Lord Foras?" Asmodeus asked hopefully.

"Not yet," Barbas replied. "But I need to find out a few things before I meet this Slopdragger." With that, Barbas turned and headed back up toward the Hierarchical Hill, his tail snapping behind him.

Most promising, Asmodeus thought.
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 4:40 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbas sat down in his dragonleather office chair. (No, you don't see dragons on the surface, but that doesn't mean they don't exist somewhere. Besides, are you you going to question a daemon lord when he tells you his chair is dragonleather?) Asmodeus and his guest were due to arrive any moment, and Barbas was eagerly looking forward to learning the secret behind the Proving Pit. An annoying buzzing sound caught his attention, but it was only the intercom. He pressed a button.

"Yes, Nogginstrike?" he called.

"Lord Barbas, Lord Asmodeus and Supervisor Slopdragger are here for their appointment," Nogginstrike responded.

"Send them in immediately," Barbas ordered. He had barely released the button when Asmodeus pushed open the heavy mahogany doors, followed at a short but respectful distance by the somewhat quivering Slopdragger. It was obvious the lesser daemon was not accustomed to entering the presence of his superiors, at least not without some inkling of punishment hanging over his head. (His experience gave him good reason for that trepidation.)

"Hail, Lord Barbas," Asmodeus intoned with just enough respect to be noticed by the senior lord. "I have brought Slopdragger for the interview you requested." He bowed slightly, while Slopdragger fell to his knees in a terrified yet comical homage to Barbas. Looks like he's never seen one of the Infernal Council up close, Barbas chuckled to himself. This may be easy.

With a curt nod of recognition to the junior lord, Barbas waved the two into chairs by his desk. Asmodeus seated himself in a high-backed black locust chair carved with reliefs of some ancient devilish battle, while Slopdragger fell onto a small steel chair that vaguely recalled an implement of torture (and was, actually, used for that purpose in the past on the surface).

"So, Slopdragger," Barbas began, "I hear you've been doing some experimenting down in the bowels of Gehenna. I am interested in learning about these exercises."

Slopdragger looked like he would rather be in the heights of Paradise than seated here between two daemon lords. "Yes, sir, Lord Barbas, sir, your depravity," he gulped. "We just wanted to have a little fun after a hard day's work. Didn't mean no harm by it."

Barbas enjoyed watching the unfortunate garbageman squirm. It certainly helped that he considered himself in mortal danger; there wasn't much chance he'd lie to a senior daemon lord, even though lying came naturally to all the residents of Sheol. "Whatever possessed you to construct fiends out of dead body parts, Slopdragger? How did you think of a way to put them back together?"

Slopdragger looked like he was ready to soil his already-grimy uniform. "Well, sir, Lord Barbas, sir, you can't really put 'em back together. We can't make the doomed spirits live again. Just slap together some parts and use 'em for simple stuff, like fighting."

"They aren't alive?" Barbas asked, incredulous. "Then how do they move and fight? What kind of bizarre magic do you work on the dead?"

"Well, sir, Lord Barbas, sir, they ain't exactly dead. Least not the parts we use. They're only mostly dead," Slopdragger blurted out. "We saw 'em moving around down there, even fighting when they was nothing but hacked-up parts. An arm bashing a leg, a spike sticking in a brain, just kind of squirming around looking for something they could whack, I guess."

This revelation baffled Barbas. There was absolutely no record of anything like this in the ancient tomes of Hell. "Mostly dead? Moving around? I must say, Slopdragger, your explanation would sound like the dream of a witless worm-had I not seen them myself."

The revelation that Barbas had witnesses the fights had the expected effect on the poor lesser daemon. He fell off his chair to his knees, face buried on the ground, whimpering and quaking. "Lord Barbas! Didn't know you'd seen us-was just a lark-won't ever happen again-don't kill me!" he sputtered.

Barbas smiled to himself, satisfied. He glanced at Asmodeus, whose face bore a similar expression. Now let's got to the bottom of this, thought Barnas grimly.
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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 8:48 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbas bared his fangs in an ominous grin. "Don't worry, Slopdragger. We're not going to kill you," he purred. "In fact, if you cooperate with us, there just might be something extra in it for you."

Unsure whether or not this was good news, Slopdragger fumbled back into the chair. "Sure, Lord Barbas, sir, anything," he stammered. "What can I help you with?"

"Exactly how did you find a way to combine these body parts into functionals fiends?" Barbas asked.

Slopdragger shrugged, but looking at Barbas and Asmodeus decided he'd better come up with something. "Well, Lord Barbas, sir, I'm not exactly sure how we do it. Just started when we grabbed a couple of them mostly dead parts that was fighting and tried to squeeze 'em together. Stuck an arm on a leg, and one of my buddies stuck wings on a tail. I was surprised that they hung together so good. Let 'em whack on each other 'til one of 'em stopped moving. Tried it again, but used more parts. Kept building bigger fiends for longer fights."

"How big can you make them?" inquired Barbas.

"Well, Lord Barbas, sir, I guess you can keep going as much as you want," answered Slopdragger, "But 13 seems to work pretty good. Some of the guys try to build 'em bigger for what they call 'Battlefests,' but most of us stick to 13. Don't know why, except it's a lucky number."

Barbas paused to digest the information Slopdragger had given him. "So, you can take 'mostly dead' body parts, fuse them together somehow, and get them to fight each other," he recounted. "About 13 parts makes a good-sized fighting fiend. And there are how many parts down there?"

"Well, Lord Barbas, sir, I'd guess there's tons of 'em," Slopdragger guessed (rather imprecisely and inaccurately, since there were about half a million casualties of the last battle, but then again no one, not even a custodial supervisor like Slopdragger, knew the actual tally). "You could build thousands of fiends with them parts. We mix 'em up as we go."

"So you stick the parts of a fiend back together..."Barbas began.

"Well, Lord Barbas, sir, they don't have to all be from the same fiend," Slopdragger interrupted. "You can put parts of different fiends together, even different breeds of fiends. We call 'em 'half-breeds' or 'mongrels,' depending on how you make 'em."

Barbas' head was starting to reel from all this. Inconceivable! he thought. If all this could be done, why hadn't one of the lords found this out? "And what happens when you 'mix up' the parts?" he finally asked Slopdragger.

"Well, Lord Barbas, sir, different things," the lesser daemon answered. "They all get these crazy extra powers or something, depending on what kind of fiends you use and how much of a fiend has the parts. I don't even know all the possibilities myself-keep trying out new combos."

Almost infinite possibilities? Barbas mused. He turned to Asmodeus. "And just what does all this have to do with your fabled plan to save the Netherworld?" he asked the daemon lord.

"Everything," Asmodeus replied, smiling diabolically.
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(Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...)


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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2013 3:42 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asmodeus faced the senior lord confidently. "You and Lord Foras agree, I am sure, that the current situation among the members of the Council is perilously close to bringing on another war among the factions. Such a war would prove costly, even for the victor, and given the price we paid for our recent victory over the Host, would leave Sheol in great danger of being overrun."

Barbas nodded in agreement. "I have thought that myself," he replied. "But how does Slopdragger and his pastime figure to prevent that?"

(At the mention of his name, Slopdragger slunk off into the shadows, which are prevalent in the Nether Regions, but unfortunately remained very much in the attention of the two daemon lords.)

"It's a matter of the conservation of our resources," explained Asmodeus. "What we cannot afford is for valuable assets to be made waste. But if we use assets that are already waste, it makes no difference what happens to them."

Barbas' eyes lit up as he gathered in the import of this statement. "I see!" he cried. "If we were to create armies out of these 'mostly dead' parts, and use them instead of sentient fiends..."

"I have a better idea," Asmodeus interrupted. Barbas stopped and glared at the junior lord for his insolence, but Asmodeus hurried to explain before he faced the wrath of his elder. "Excuse me, Lord Barbas, but why armies? Why not just single fiends, just as the Proving Pit uses? That way even our waste is conserved and left available for future use."

Barbas, barely mollified, pondered this thought. He glanced over at Slopdragger, then spoke. "If he and his friends could devise a way to use these parts. a daemon lord should be able to do so even more effectively," he mused. "Perhaps even add some weapons from the infernal armory, or magically empower some of these body parts...yes, I see where this could be an outlet for our aggression."

Asmodeus continued the thought. "Such battles would become spectacles," he added. "The Council could devise ceremonies and rituals to cover challenges and battles, and all daemon lords could pledge to honor the results of the fights. That way, honor could be served with little cost to the hosts of Hell."

"Such honor could be observed, and still allow for future challenges," Barbas said. A diabolical idea occurred to him. "With little actual cost, the two sides could fight regularly, with the results perhaps changing constantly. This would keep our more aggressive lords occupied with the games, rather than devising plots to rule Sheol. Asmodeus, I think you may indeed be on to something, though we will have to tread carefully.

"Do you think you can persuade Lord Foras to give me an audience?" Asmodeus inquired.

"Let me speak with him first," Barbas answered, "but I believe I can convince him to hear you out." He turned toward Slopdragger. "And bring the inspiration for your idea as well. Lord Foras could be most interested in him."

Asmodeus bowed, while Slopdragger curled up into a ball on the floor, whimpering.
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2014-2015 U.S. National Champion
(Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...)


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PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 6:44 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Foras pondered Barbas' report. "Asmodeus thinks that this is something we can exploit?" he asked.

"He certainly seems to believe that," Barbas replied. "There may even be possibilities he hasn't considered."

"Not likely," snorted Foras. "That scheming brain of his is always looking for an advantage. He wants nothing more than to elevate himself into the Inner Council. Still, from what you say I can see the potential."

"More than that," answered Barbas. "If you, as a senior daemon lord, push for a proposal, it will carry great weight, and you will certainly gain some of the credit. Most, if you play your cards right."

Foras smiled wickedly at the suggestion. "To outscheme the great schemer?" he mused. "That would earn any credit I'm given. Still, I don't think Asmodeus would surrender the glory that easily."

"Well, to be honest, it seems from my investigation that should Asmodeus look to take credit for this, Slopdragger could prove a foil to his ambition," Barbas said. "It was the daemons of the Proving Pit, apparently spurred on by Slopdragger, who discovered this. Asmodeus would hate to be seen as stealing an idea form such an inferior."

"And for myself?" interjected Foras. "I would be seen as stealing from both a minor daemon and a junior lord. Hardly a glorious situation."

Barbas was ready for this. "However, Slopdragger is in no state to challenge a senior daemon lord for credit, and he could easily be bought off. He quaked at the thought of meeting me, much less a lord of your stature. I think we could deal with him easily."

"And Asmodeus?" asked Foras. He saw a solution, but wanted to challenge Barbas. (Barbas had a reputation for seeing the way things worked out, and Foras hoped one day to have him placed on the Council-firmly under his control of course. So he liked to test Barbas to encourage his growth so he could gain stature in the Nether Realms.)

"Less easily than Slopdragger, but I see a possibility," Barbas suggested. "He wants glory? Let's find a way to have his name attached to a small portion of the proceedings. In exchange, you, as the driving force on the Council, are to be given full credit for the development of this idea. Asmodeus must know that without your support nothing will happen, and his reputation will at best remain stagnant. I think he could be persuaded,"

Foras nodded. "Whatever his ultimate scheme is, he needs to have these fights take place-of that I am certain," he declaimed. "He may be willing to forego the greater honor in order to see his plans go forward. Now , what's in it for me to help him do this?"

"Oh, I have an idea," Barbas said, grinning.
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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 8:40 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Foras enjoyed hearing the buzz about the hall. It seemed that Lord Asmodeus was spreading his own rumors about some big announcement, and doing so quite effectively. (Not that he was doing it himself-a daemon lord has minions to do that sort of work for him. But Asmodeus' minions were good at this sort of thing.) Foras' own efforts among some of the lords had been done much more quietly, but he hoped it was nevertheless equally effective.

Balam pounded the Stone of Naberius on the left arm of the Black Chair of Judgment, the seat of the current president of the Infernal Council. He has been elected through some intrigue (and a convenient quarrel among three other lords vying for the position), and he knew how to wield the power of his position well. The roar of the daemon lords diminished into a jagged murmur, so Balam decided it was appropriate to begin. (Waiting for silence is Sheol is a waste of time, since the daemon lords find that complete silence disturbs their concentration.)

"The Infernal Council is hereby called into session," he intoned. "Let us invoke the honor of the One Who Has Faced the Enemy."

A cacaphony of lines muttered, shouted, or cried filled the air. Balam allowed it continue for just enough time to be respectful, then banged the Stone again. "The business of Sheol may now commence. Let the lords state their claims."

A dreary line of complaints, arguments, and recriminations followed, each preceded by long, insincere paeans of praise for the President. Foras sighed. If this meeting ran as usual, it would be many infernal hours before he would state his own business. (The Council heard cases from the least daemon lords first, working all the way up to the current President himself. And Foras was one of the most senior lords.) He knew Asmodeus wouldn't dare to broach the subject himself-not yet, anyway.

He was quite shocked when Asmodeus arose on his turn. "Most masterful Lord Balam, worthy of wielding the Stone of Naberius, wisest of concilors," he began. The remainder of his too long and obsequious patter flitted through Foras' mind without landing. At last Asmodeus reached his point.

"For too long, the denizens of the Nether Regions have wasted their efforts and treasure in the pursuit of petty quarrlsl among ourselves," Asmodeus orated. "We have placed ourselves in grave danger, not only from each other, but from our enemies above. I fear greatly for the hosts of Hell if we continue along this path."

"What would you have us do, Asmodeus?" queried Balam. He appeared both bored and annoyed by the speech (which, of course, went on well beyond what is recorded here, but I spare the reader).

Asmodeus gave a dramatic sigh. "If only there was one of our number who could devise a plan to save us from ourselves!" he lamented. "I fear I am only the bringer of these bad tidings. Would to Lucifer that someone had the wisdom to lead us out of this state and on to a more productive use of our time."

"Speaking of time, you have wasted mine," Balam grunted. "If you have nothing else to say, sit down, Asmodeus, and let us continue."

Looking much more humble than Foras knew he was, Asmodeus slunk overdramatically back into his chair. He glanced quickly at Foras, who nodded back. Crude, but effective, he thought. I can take it from there.
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(Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...)


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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 3:59 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Foras drummed his fingers on the gray marble tabletop, making a small but definitely irritating clicking as he did so. Such a minor annoyance was scarcely noticed in the Council; it was pretty much standard operating procedure for most daemon lords. (Plus, Foras' inferiors would not dare to complain about a more senior lord, and his few superiors would never acknowledge that it bothered them anyway lest they be seen as weak.) Finally Balam intoned, "Lord Foras, have you any business to bring before the Council?"

"Indeed, Lord Balam, I have a proposal to make to the other lords," Foras stated. His statement raised more than a few eyebrows around the table (as well as a few brows over things other than eyes). Foras was not known to offer many proposals before the Council. It had been many infernal years since he last said anything other than "No, Your Lordship" followed by a bored sigh. Shrewd though he was, Foras generally kept his counsel to himself.

Balam caught himself about to move on to the next lord. He had not expected Foras to have anything to add to the meeting, especially as this one was dragging on and most of the lords were starting to look positively itchy to get out of the Council Hall and back to their own lairs. (Although, to be honest, many of the daemon lords looked itchy most of the time anyway.) He stared at Foras, and shrugged. "Speak then, Lord Foras."

Foras rose to his feet. "Fellow lords, we have recently faced a setback in our war with the Realm Above," he began. "While we will surely recover from this and sink to even greater depths of power, we cannot deny that the war has significantly drained resources from all of us. We require time to regain what is rightfully ours."

A buzz of agreement sprung up around the table. Such a pleasant sound, thought Foras, before continuing. "In order to allow ourselves the necessary time to fortify our own positions, we need a respite from battle. Yet all of us also have the need and the desire to prove ourselves worthy of our positions and to defend our honor in the face of the varied insults we might perceive." Nods of agreement and a few muttered expletives met this assertion.

"So the question before us is, how do we maintain our positions in the Lowerarchy while simultaneously preserving the precious resources of Sheol?" Foras queried. "As much as we might see a value in holding back our quarrels from the resource perspective, we most certainly cannot allow our positions to be assailed by those less committed to the cause of The One Below who are willing to disregard the needs of the many in favor of the needs of the one." That statement had a few of those seated at the table (and most seated behind them) scratching their heads trying to figure out Foras' point. Their confusion provided the opening Foras needed to make his case.

"I would like to propose a means for challenging the position of those who are perhaps unfairly placed ahead of us, and of defending our honor against those who would sully it," Foras said. "A means that would require little expenditure of our precious resources, yet provide a clear and decisive winner to all challenges. This means uses nothing but what Hell has already discarded, and give each daemon lord the chance to prove their own power."

The buzz grew to a roar. The Council was nearly out of control. The lords were struggling to absorb what Foras was saying and make sense of it. Still, their faces showed that if he could indeed make his case, most if not all (and Sheol seldom saw unanimity) might be persuaded to go along with this plan.

Balam slammed the Stone of Naberius onto the arm of the Chair. "Order!" he exclaimed. "Let Lord Foras continue." The cacophony settled back into a muted whisper. Balam turned toward Foras. "Do you have an actual proposal, Lord Foras, or merely some conjecture?"

Foras ignored the intended insult. "Oh, I have a proposal," he stated smoothly, pleased at how well the stage had been set.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:29 pm GMT    Post subject: Reply with quote

Asmodeus smiled as Foras continued to speak. Foras would, of course, take most of the credit for this idea, but without the senior lord's support Asmodeus knew the proposal was doomed to failure. Asmodeus was simply too cunning for the good of his reputation, even by fiendish standards. He was perfectly willing to allow the credit to go elsewhere, as long as the idea was approved. What it would mean for Asmodeus was much more than having his name attached to it formally.

Thus he was somewhat startled to hear his name invoked. (At least, to hear it invoked by a fellow daemon.) His attention quickly fixed itself on Foras.

"I have been assisted in developing this proposal by Asmodeus," Foras was saying. "He did much of the necessary legwork required to ensure that this was indeed a viable plan. I am not so small-minded that I begrudge him his due credit."

Due credit? smirked Asmodeus inwardly. Of course, neither Foras nor he could give him the credit he truly deserved, at least not if they wanted to see any action on the plan. Still, Foras could have taken all the credit, or given Asmodeus enough to sink the proposal in the minds of many on the Council. Grudgingly, Asmodeus admitted to himself that the senior lord had played it masterfully. His attention returned to the speaker.

"Thus, I would like to suggest that the agreement on the rules for these contests, once finalized, be given the name 'Asmodean Accords,'" Foras said. "Though the regulation of the arena will be reserved for the senior members of the Council, acknowledging our juniors-" Foras carefully and moderately emphasized the word-"shows that this is an agreement for all of Sheol to observe."

The buzz around the table was growing to an annoying level (even by the standards of the Council). Balam pensively fingered the Stone, glaring at those around the table. The roar subsided slightly, but enough for business to continue.

"Lord Foras, you will provide a copy of these accords to all here present?" he asked.

"Indeed, Lord Balam, I have them prepared now," Foras replied. In a puff of orange smoke, a stack of parchment appeared in his hand. "Allow me to distribute them for the Council perusal."

Balam nodded curtly. "Go ahead, Lord Foras," he said. Immediately the stack disappeared from Foras' hands, and tiny wisps of the same orange smoke announced the arrival of a copy at the place of each lord present. (At least, those lords deemed significant enough to speak to the proposal. More than a few were disappointed to be left out. Asmodeus noted with pleasure that he had received a copy, even though he had written the accords himself.)

"I believe some time will be needed to read and discuss this proposal," Balam announced. "Therefore, I will call a meeting of the Council for next Darkmoon to consider this proposal for a vote." He paused briefly, enough to be polite but not enough to allow anyone to actually interrupt. "Next, Lord Stolas..."

Asmodeus' attention was already elsewhere. There was still a need for some careful politicking, but he had every reason to anticipate success.
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