Demon Lord. Marduk the Lens of Chaos

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Demon Lord. Marduk the Lens of Chaos

Here's another fanon collation and extension. Marduk was a Demon Lord back in Gygax era D&D, and is mentioned in his Gord novels. As per usual, if some of your online content has worked its way into here its because you're a total legend, and feel free to credit yourself.
-Dalmosh

Marduk
Demon Lord.

“WITNESS!!! Even this thing we call Chaos is is is is is itself a slave to patterns and rules and AND LAW! And this Great Coil repeats itself endlessly throughout Creation; echoing infinitely through the cells of our bodies and the patterns of the stars! Hahahahahaha!!!! Now can you feel the spiralling fire twisting inside you!? HE is the coiled spring that makes your GEARS turn!”
- Trymon san Oroth, the Laughing Lord.

Titles
The Lens of Chaos, The Twister of the Spring, The Lunatic Blaze, The Great Pariah
Formerly: The King of Fire Demons, The Lord of Abyssal Flames.

Portfolio. Chaos, Madness, Fire, Architecture

Marduk is the patron of great leaders become lunatics and madmen. He is the shell of former greatness, the feverish gleam in the philosopher’s eye, the maddened cackling of the high priest and the sick, exquisite pastimes of the eccentric nobleman. His fire is fitful, captivating and ever-changing, and it consumes order and sanity. Marduk’s fevered yellow eye gazes into an impossible future with glazed surety. He knows that the only real truth lies outside the bounds of rationality and he craves its tantalizing scent with the narcissism and devotion of the most desperate opiate addict.

Never well-known in the worlds of mortals, Marduk’s own personal descent into madness stripped him irreparably of the unparalleled respect and prestige he once bore in his home plane. The Lens of Chaos is the first and oldest of all balors. At the height of his power he was among the six greatest Demon Princes in the Abyss and the core driving force behind the tanar’ri Blood War host. Ultimately, his desire to dominate and control the Infinite Layers proved his undoing, and his brush with the Great Chaos beyond profoundly altered him. Today, Marduk has relinquished his power and prestige to revel in his own personal architectural projects; bending planar physics and causality in a deranged desire to usher a new age of unsullied Chaos unto Creation. He scoffs at the opinions of the other Lords, acting spuriously at the bidding of the buzzing whispers he hears in his soul, entrenched deep inside his crumbling territory. He is obsessed with the patterns and rules that his cultists assert govern even Chaos, seeking a freedom never before imagined from a cage that no one can see.

He hungers mortal belief and souls as raw power to drive his experiments. Retiring from the Blood War, his existence is devoted to his inner calling for non-Euclidean geometry and physically impossible architecture. Marduk is studying and redefining the very essence of Chaos and the results send worrisome ripples across the Great Wheel and beyond. His impossible structures erode the very fabric of the Abyss, straining age old wards of power and stable planar systems in ways that defy even the systemic rules intrinsically hidden in the chaotic Abyssal morass. He is a grinning prism for entropy itself, and his rare mortal thralls and true devotees are poison to the sanity and causality of the spheres.

Worship

Marduk wears the name of a Lawful God, allowing him to usurp and leech a portion of his namesake’s followers’ devotional belief. Doing so has also served to protect him from unwanted magical summoning over the eons by letting him hide behind the other’s face. He Who Twists has slid himself into the god’s domain, becoming a darker aspect of the other. He is Marduk as war maker; the lord of storms and lightning. This side of the god Marduk’s faith exemplifies the honour and glory in slaying and conquest. The demon’s corrupted dogma spares no dragon from the sword – teaching that all dragons are aspects of Tiamat, and can never be redeemed of evil and treachery. He demands expansion and forceful conversion of heathens, and encourages Marduk’s followers to burn heretics alive within vast iron bulls.

Mardukite clerics and temples that have unwittingly fallen to the demon’s influence first begin to practice ritual sacrifice involving ceremonial bonfires and red hot altars as supplication for bountiful crops and success in battle. Marduk’s own holy shedu and lammasu start to spout increasingly contradictory and worrisome decrees, and the clerics descend into madness. Most such worshippers die in battle or have their temples destroyed by crusading paladins. The demon cares nothing for their fates provided he can siphon their souls into his great machines. Occasionally he manages to commune with a sullied Mardukite cleric directly enough to reveal his true nature and gain a valuable mortal thrall.

Appearance

Marduk is covered with shaggy red and black striped fur, studded with rune-carved torqs and perpetually wreathed in livid golden fire. His Huge heavily muscled humanoid upper torso has four arms, and sprouting from his back are four wings of pure golden fire. From the waist down his body is a long striped serpentine tail. Marduk’s vaguely lupine head is framed by two small curling bull’s horns, and crowned by a diamond circlet. Marduk can immolate himself at will into a similarly shaped form composed of golden fire. He is rarely roused to battle, though he often adopted different forms upon past Blood War battlefields, favouring those of a Fire Giant or a Great Red Wyrm.

Marduk’s presence and voice have a maddening effect on all who behold him. The surrounding kilometre above his throne in the Inverted Ziggurat is overlaid by a perpetual series of shifting multi-coloured dreamscapes. He rarely stirs from his coiled meditation; letting his dreams manifest into the growth and alignment of his machines and bidding those corrupted by his visions to go forth and carry out his ruinous goals.

Weapons

Bal-K’lar is a fiery golden greatsword; called the Firefan in Common. It is one of the most powerful artifacts in the Abyss and believes itself to be the greatest sword in the Multiverse. This Huge-sized double-handed sword remains infamous amongst mighty Exemplars for its dreadful powers. Bal-K’lar burns continually with white fire that completely inures its bearer against fire damage, while simultaneously rendering its victims more vulnerable to fire and depowering their own attacks. It has slain demon lords, Baatezu nobles and even solars, throughout its millenia-spanning service.

Its many powers include bestowing a continual Charm effect on all nearby balors, palrethee,and living holocausts, rendering its bearer the King of Fire Demons. Marduk himself can no longer really lay claim to this honour, because he forsook the blade and arbitrarily relinquished his Monarchdom. Today Firefan is rumored to have found a new champion in Kardum, the Lord of the Sixth Pyre.
Marduk himself retains a huge-sized magical morningstar, which he asserts was forged from the backbone of a powerful Baatezu general he slew upon Avernus. The weapon is plated in red steel, and its head is forged to resemble the skull of a pit fiend.

History

Marduk was bred by the Sibriex from a race of powerful fire demons called the Conflagrati. These elite War of Law and Chaos shock troops lacked the versatility needed to perform well outside the Abyss and the Inner Planes. His brood were developed as new paragon battle demons; infused with mortal souls and possessed with a greater agency across the still forming Outer Planes, and a deeper connection to the Prime Material. Marduk was birthed upon the Abyss of Flames (Layer 132); a being of unbridled carnage from the moment of his spawning. The prodigal child’s first instinctive action was to wrest Bal-K’lar from his father’s hands and run him through, before raping and massacring his conflagrati mother and newformed broodling sisters in an orgy of madness and destruction. From this foul congress crawled a handful of the greatest balors ever birthed to the Abyss; a few of whom serve Marduk still. Marduk and his kin were quickly bonded and adopted by the Abyss around them; copied iteratively across the Infinite Layers as a new demon type, and became the new pinnacle of what tanar’ri could be.

With his father’s awesome weapon, Marduk turned upon the fiery lord Palvlag who nominally ruled the Layer. Firefan was almost unsurpassed in power across the Abyss, yet Palvlag was ill-prepared to feel the brunt of its powers directed back at him. The proto-demon barely managed to escape the Abyss of Flames with a ragtag host of his surviving kin. Marduk rose as the new Lord of the layer and the new balors gathered beneath his banner. The new Lord of Abyssal Flames began to amass and consolidate a mighty legion to crush the Vaati in the name of the Queen of Chaos.

The legends told of Marduk in the following eons are many and scattered. At the height of his powers he commanded a legion to dwarf those of Fraz’Urb’Luu, Demogorgon or Orcus, and in time it came to be the backbone of the tanar’ri war host. With the war’s end he actively assisted in purging the obyriths from the Infinite Layers. Many planars began to worship him as an incarnate personification of the dawning Blood War. He erected massive war engines, the like of which no demon had hitherto beheld. He bound slumbering behemoths from the deepest layers and coaxed them to war against the Baatezu. Some accounts even attribute him with the creation of the molydei as new war marshals for the tanar’ri legions. He forced Orcus to abandon an important Blood War stronghold upon the 133rd Layer, taking it as his own. The layer quickly soared in temperature and the ground shook as the Pyrophlegithon River coursed across it. Marduk had claimed a second layer, which he renamed the Bronze Furnace.

The writings of the archmage Iggwylv imply that as he began encroaching upon the mortal faith of Marduk, his sense of self was diluted; muddying his Chaotic nature and preordaining him to ape the Babylonian Power’s past deeds. He embarked upon a madman’s quest for the heart of the Abyss, to conquer and slay the primal Chaos itself. Marduk plunged down the Grand Abyss and into the mysterious Bottomless Pit below (layer 666). Perhaps in his heart he hoped to subdue and harness what lies within, becoming the embodiment of Chaotic Evil itself. Over the course of two days he fought deeper and deeper through broken wreckages of lost abyssal layers and bleached chunks of fallen Prime worlds; slaying the horse-sized locust demons that ward this most terrible of pits by the hundreds. Finally Marduk approached the awesome black morass at the centre, in the form of a titanic Fire Giant, and used Firefan to focus his powers at a spot in its heart. His mind brushed against something vast and incomprehensible on the other side. The encounter ruined and remade him utterly and he became the Lens of Chaos.

“There are those who babble of a breaking down of even the basic firmament of creation therein; a nexus there from which phantasmal voices whisper and ephemeral forms claw and scrabble. Neophytes to demonology blather about a gate therein called the Maw of Tharizdun. Others link this realm to the great Nameless Ones whom even the tanar’ri shy to speak. There are, as well we know, places where even demons do not go, and unspeakable taboos for even such as they. The reality is that none truly know what lies beneath the Abyss, save perhaps the silent Lord Abaddon; who wards and maintains this deepest chasm. I myself have stood upon the balconies of Gulthrax and gazed down upon the Final Gantry. I could feel the Abyss gazing back from my vantage point and I felt its pull like never before. Even trying to imagine the experience of descending deeper makes one shudder”…
“The repeating stanzas forged upon the great girders and struts of the Inverted Ziggurat proclaim Marduk as the prodigal messiah of demonkind. These inscriptions name him the Lens of Chaos; a presence whose essence has been echoed recursively from form to form since the Abyss began. They proclaim that their lord’s succession by Kardum was preordained, as was Marduk’s own overthrow of his predecessor. He is all of them, and none of them, and thus shall he remain, in recursion, for all eternity”.
- Malhavoc of Lunia, excerpts from The Abyssal Discourses

Relationships and Allies.

Marduk is the Great Pariah amongst the Abyssal Lords, and since his withdrawal from the Blood War he has fallen largely beneath the notice of his former peers. Demogorgon, Orcus and Graz’zt all keenly recall his former strength and audacity; for each has witnessed his might and lived to rue the day.

After Orcus was driven from the Bronze Furnace, he wisely ceded to a pact of non-aggression in exchange for military support and the opportunity to retain bastions of necromancers and undead retainers upon the layer. A handful of Orcus’s most powerful balors, including Klavikus and Ter-Soth the Despoiler were originally dispatched by Marduk to bolster his military might against Demogorgon. After Orcus died, Marduk granted refuge to a number of his powerful independent servants upon the Bronze Furnace when Kiaransalee took Thanatos. Now that Orcus has returned, his former ally seems a shadow of the Monarch he knew, and the Goat would be well placed to encroach upon his relinquished territory if it strikes his whim.

Kardum is widely considered the modern heritor of Marduk’s mantle. His rapid rise to become the most powerful and warlike of the balors, combined with his rumoured inheritance of Firefan have served to distract most major players from the bizarre return of the real Marduk. Many balors and members of Marduk’s cult consider the two Demon Lords recursive aspects of the same eternal being, whose soul has been trapped outside of time since his great descent. Neither Lord is forthcoming about the truth of matters; Marduk passively acquiescing to the gradual trickling away of his forces to the Sixth Pyre, and Kardum happily taking credit for Marduk’s past victories as his own. In every respect the two act as though completely oblivious to one another’s existence.

The Abyss’s other fire lords universally despise Marduk. Eblitis the Demon Chief of Genies is ever vigilant against any rival Power courting the worship of the Efreet, and he works tirelessly to stop his fellow fire demon lords establishing any strong ties with one another. He dislikes the allure that the Inverted Ziggurat seems to hold for certain of his children and watches proceedings there closely. His agent provocateur Dasim the Angel of Discord has been slowly orchestrating a war between Marduk and Flauros the Son of Suns. Flauros smells weakness in Marduk’s diminished station and yearns to slay and immolate a Lord so powerful, hungering to seize and conquer his layers in the mistaken belief that this will make him the new King of Fire Demons. Flauros is an implacable and powerful foe, who presents an increasingly severe threat to the Abyss of Flames as this plot unfolds.

Demogorgon is Marduk’s greatest historical foe. The Demiurge despises Marduk for his alliance with Orcus, and Firefan has an ancient personal vendetta against an artefact he wields called the Venomfountain. The older members of both Lords’ hosts hate one another bitterly, leading many of Marduk’s more powerful servants to resume Blood War service under the more militant Kardum, hoping for potential clashes with the hated forces of the Sibiliant Beast.

Graz’zt was always an upstart in Marduk’s eyes, with no place amongst the older Tanar’ri Monarchs. Their feud became personal after Graz’zt seduced a handful of balors from under the nose of the King of Fire Demons to form his own personal honour guard, led by a traitor named Morflos. The Dark Prince has openly courted the alliances of some of Marduk’s sworn enemies, notably the fire lords Palvlag and Alzrius the Lord of Infernal Light. Graz’zt has high hopes of one day binding and sealing Marduk away inside Skullrot once and for all.

Across the Planes, a bizarre new enemy is stirring in the souls of a thousand beings. This is the quickening of a dormant Obyrith brood slain by Marduk’s forces during the Uprising. The Caligatio were never exterminated, merely subdued into dormancy, and their fractured psyche has taken millennia to re-unite and reawaken. The blank-eyed hosts of the Caligatio are only just beginning to understand their strange urges and the calling that speaks to them in their dreams. The flickers of the demons within them hunger for revenge and the Caligatio cult stands posed as a major new player in Marduk’s path.

Servants and followers.

Marduk now places much less emphasis on military might. His true power lies with his potential as a catalyst for change; expressed more directly through the great planar engines and monoliths he has raised. He nevertheless retains an awesome host, albeit haphazardly, comprising some of the most experienced Blood War veterans in the Abyss. This legion comprises a greater number of flying fortresses and Abyssal siege engines than those of most other lords, which are typically dragged into the field by marching columns of Goristroi or Abyssal Giants. He is even purported to control one of the Ships of Chaos.

Within the Abyss he is nominally served by a vast army of tanar’ri soldiers, and his legion of balors is one of the largest in the Abyss. Most of his forces continue to serve directly in the Blood War, but their devotion to Marduk has been considerably weaker after his descent. The cities on his layers are occupied mostly by tieflings, lamia, undead, duergar, derro and a smattering of deranged engineers from the City of Brass and Acheron. The abat-dolor can often be encountered amongst the thronged crowds of his Layers’ bazaars. In addition to demons, his most common troops are living holocausts, mephits of several kinds, and salamanders. He commonly enlists maug mercenaries.

Upon the Prime his most common followers are deluded human Mardukite Templars and extremely rare Thralls who are more likely found in high society or academic institutions. He has small followings amongst derro, yakfolk and hobgoblins on a few Prime worlds too.

Ferror - is an advanced balor who is Marduk’s most influential and loyal servant. This grim general has served as Castellan of the Bronze Furnace since his forces first wrested it from Orcus. He tirelessly marshals a broad interplanar rear-guard of balors to defend his master’s territory against invasion. The Layer’s strong connections to Acheron have altered him over the millennia, and he now appears covered with dull grey metallic plating and iron spikes. He often leads strike forces into Avalas against the Baatezu outposts there.

Grezzas’yutb - was the appointed balor general of Marduk’s Blood War host, before his master’s fall. Now, in the absence of strong leadership and direction he is succumbing to his master’s madness. One of the dozen most powerful balors in existence, he is commonly found wandering aimlessly across Pazunia immersed in boundless acts of pointless frenzy or gratuitous personal excess. He spends increasing amounts of time in the Bucket of Blood, breathing intoxicating soporific poisons and gorging himself upon lesser demons. Grezzas’yutb led the purges against the Caligatio during the Uprising, and their rising mortal cult of possessed is steadily drawn to him like moths to a flame.

Cynshara - rules the City of Torment within the Abyss of Flames. A strange and primal creature, some suggest she is a Fire Weird long ago fallen to the Abyss. She leads a cabal of fiendish fire elementals that appear as eerie faceless maidens composed of crackling multi-coloured flames. Some say that Cynshara arose there spontaneously on the same fateful day Marduk lost himself in the black heart of the Abyss. She rules and directs the Soulfire Siphons that act as the channelling conduits for her master’s projects. Bound to an octahedral lake of fire in the city centre, her very presence permeates the air around her with maddening visions and illusions. Some mad cultists across the Inner Planes hear her siren-like call and seek her out to give themselves over to her master’s dream.

Phenex the Raging Lord.- Also known as the Prince of Blood, Phenex patrols the skies of the Abyss of Flames, bringing carnage and ruin on any who would seek to march upon the Chaos Cube or the City of Torment. Phenex wields powerful storm magic and perpetually rides the fire storms and hurricanes that gust around the Abyss of Flames. In terms of sheer physical strength, he is one of the greatest balors alive. He has remained bound and trapped upon the 132nd Layer since he attempted a coup against Marduk long ago, now unable even to venture into Marduk’s two coterminous border layers . He chafes against his forced stewardship and longs for freedom and revenge against his master.

Codrichuhn, the Lord of Coagulus.- Codrichuhn is an advanced blood fiend who resides as Marduk’s regent vassal of the Bronze Furnace. Originally a servant of Orcus, Codrichuhn bowed to Marduk’s rule after his master was slain. He retains strong diplomatic ties with Thanatos, and works carefully to ensure that the layer’s undead do not rise against Marduk. He rules from a foul fortress of clotted blood called Coagulus. He spearheads an engineering project at his master’s behest, seeking to determine the true nature and latent powers of the war cubes of Avalas. His forces are currently drilling a well right into the Furnace’s heart, hoping to excavate its interior.

The Layers and Realms of Marduk

Senseless, Layer 35.

Senseless is an endless sprawling void of kaleidoscopic colours and fractal patterns nominally ruled by Marduk. Spheroid asteroid islands twist and float in the void like snowflakes. The orb islands are studded with long graceful crystalline stalactites. The sky coruscates with hypnotic recursive patterns, and there is no gravity here at all. The region Marduk controls is swelteringly hot, and the surface of each orb is burning to the touch. Marduk’s conquest of this bizarre realm was his first action upon returning. The Codex Anathema contains a cryptic paragraph about this place, implying that it was part of Cabiri’s holdings in the Age Before Ages. Legend has it that the Eyes of Madness set his prophecies here, and echoes of his prescient dreams can still be discerned amidst the patterns and motion of the realm. Marduk spent many years here floating and dreaming, musing upon what he had learned and seeking eldritch secrets from outside time. He still uses this place as a source of inspiration and contemplation.

Most travellers that end up here inadvertently die screaming and giggling, for their minds are too weak to behold its secrets. These hapless wretches become bodaks, each one sealed within a crystal orb for eternity. They lie curled-up inside the crystalline spheres, each hopelessly scrabbling at the walls of its prismatic prison and directing its baleful necromantic gaze at any to set foot above them.

Some powerfully warded wizards and archivists do survive brief excursions to Senseless, and the revelations they receive are often well worth the effort. Liches and Kaorti in particular are quite at home here, as they are immune to the worst of its awful potential to ruin rational minds. The layer is largely deserted except for a handful of Howling Dragons and Occuli who twist and play in the beautiful, hypnotic skies.

The Inverted Ziggurat. Layer 131

The Inverted Ziggurat is Marduk’s capital city. It’s borders are extremely porous with both the Abyss of Flames and the Bronze Furnace. The three layers bleed into one another repeatedly and disorientated travellers here can easily wander across their borders without realizing until suddenly confronted with the next layer’s hazards. The three realms are also sequentially linked through the Pyrophlegithon River, which sluggishly oozes here from the Terrible Forge Primeval (Layer 100) on its way to the Sulfanorum (layer 303). The Inverted Ziggurat is linked closely with the City of Brass by a number of semi-permanent gates.

The Inverted Ziggurat is an endless, recursive city of bronze, obsidian and black iron that belches smoke and steam from a thousand furnaces. This impossible and maddening place appears as a colossal stepped pyramid hanging point downwards in a fiery void. It stands as a testament to Marduk’s defiance of time and causality; blending archaic megalithic stonework, Mesopotamian ziggurats and hanging gardens, with impossibly vast steam and clockwork powered machinery built from ore shipped in from the Bronze Furnace. Its ultimate purpose is known only to Marduk, but deranged archivists speculate that its movements are continually chewing up space and time out on the fringes of the Multiverse.

Each layer of the structure is itself a bustling warren of city districts and meticulously winding streets. The whole twists and churns like a gargantuan machine, with district sized blocks grinding and rearranging themselves like the gears and pistons of a mighty engine, or some impossibly elaborate puzzle box. One can cross from district to district through a byzantine forest of ratcheted ladders or elevators powered by steam engines and turntable winches hauled by goristroi or stench kine. Ascending or descending the layers is a fruitless and maddening process, as there is little to differentiate one from another, and despite appearing to diminish in size as one descends, each one appears subjectively endless upon entry. Travel here is dangerous as the Inverted Ziggurat’s motions frequently crush and scour areas of its own streets, as parts of its great mechanism grind against one another.

The Pyrophlegithon courses through the Ziggurat’s core in a concentric pattern of constantly rearranging and dangerously haphazard locks, canals and culverts. Occasionally, one of its dams bursts as the city blocks around it shift, and a street or two is engulfed in lava before the great machine adjusts itself to contain and redirect its flow again. The river fuels and powers many of the city’s factories and powerhouses.

The Ziggurat swarms with beings of all kinds, who trade and manufacture goods, collect and imbibe psychedelic Ziggurat Spiders from webs in the girders and gantries, or simply marvel at its sheer awe-inspiring architectural blasphemy. Insane Artificers, geometers and tinkerers of all kinds are welcomed here, and the city has a particular appeal to derro savants and members of the Doomguard. Fiendish shedu and lammasu act as mad prophets to the bustling congregations who would hear Marduk’s words. Fire-touched succubi and vrocks fill the air. The streets throng with maddened tieflings, lamias, yugoloth traders, and even the elusive adat-dolor can often be seen dancing and cavorting through the senseless industrial madness. Outcasts and renegades from across the Abyss come here to hide and lie low, for hunting and finding anybody in such chaos is nigh impossible.

Marduk himself resides upon the ceiling of an inverted stone temple at the layer’s apex. This cathedral is a blasphemous mockery of a temple to his Babylonian namesake where vestal virgins are chained and defiled upon smoldering iron bulls and the air is pungent with the reek of burning flesh. The view between the stone columns is the maddening skies of Senseless, which Marduk finds soothing and beautiful. At all times he maintains a small illusory replica of the Chaos Cube hanging in the air beside him, that he may track the progress of his projects.

Marduk’s madness permeates the city above for three levels, altering and shifting the terrain into psychedelic multi-coloured dreamscapes where anyone else encountered appears as a twisted simulacrum of themselves, constantly aging, withering and being reborn again before their eyes. When Marduk wishes to speak directly, he generally favours a fiendish lammasu for his herald and mouthpiece.

The Abyss of Flames, Layer 132

Also called the Abyss of Wind and Flame, the 132nd layer is a primal and ancient place. Barges float from the Inverted Ziggurat into the blazing red-litten void beyond, eventually winding up here. The Abyss of Flames is an air and fire dominant void of raging fire storms dotted with small floating igneous earthbergs. Sages speculate that this realm was the first and oldest of the Abyss’s fire dominant layers; and gave rise to many of the more primal fire demons found upon other layers like the Sixth Pyre, the Bloodpyre Fields and Conflagratum. Living Holocausts abound here, including especially large ones of dreadful power, nominally ruled by the balor Phrenex. Gravity here is subjective, but it’s safer to ride from berg to berg along the Pyrophlegithon rather than simply plunging through the raw fiery void between. The layer is mildly positive dominant.

The Chaos Cube.- An immense monolith of volcanic glass and bronze hangs slowly rotating amidst the flames. The faces of this structure scintillate with colours and brief fizzling visions. The Chaos Cube is an orrery of unadulterated madness; a gigantic artificial thinking engine fuelled with devoured soul energy and raw mortal belief in chaos, madness and entropy. The Cube predicts and extrapolates futures that will never be, each time pre-empting fate and trying to nudge the causality of Creation along impossible and inherently contradictory new routes, eroding and corrupting the basic paradigms of Creation. Chronomancers and Inevitables abhor its very existence and its physical presence is anathema to any being of Mechanus. Any modron or inevitable to come within a mile of the Chaos Cube is immediately destroyed and reborn as a Law-eater.

The City of Torment.- Cynshara rules and directs the only sizeable city in the layer, assisted by a Sibriex, a cabal of her own corrupted elementals, a specialist corps of necrocarnates and a small army of chasme assistants. The City of Torment completely covers all faces of a mountain-sized basalt earthberg. The buildings are forged of bronze and obsidian, and comprise a network of laboratories, manes and larva pens, prisons and lorehouses. The very air here crackles and buzzes with madness and ephemeral visions as souls are dissected, re-processed and then fed as raw energy into the Chaos Cube through six gigantic brass aerial towers called the Soulfire Siphons.

The Bronze Furnace, Layer 133.

The 133rd layer is a dull empty void of greyish red, with a single bronze Avalas Battle Cube in the centre. No records remain of how and why this Cube fell to the Abyss. It’s surface is rent and shattered, and the air around it is full of orbiting chunks of jagged bronze that have broken from the main body. The cube’s surface is scaldingly hot and courses with boiling magma and streams of moltern metal. The Pyrophlegithon flows across two of the cube’s faces before plunging off into the void in a waterfall of lava. Certain spots in the void are planar vortices leading back into Avalas, all carefully utilized by Ferror and his troops.

The six battle plains are scarred and pitted metal flatlands that are vast in scope, broken only by volcanic blisters and deep crevasses that mar their surfaces; oozing and bubbling with moltern metal and magma. Marduk is obsessed with an old legend about Avalas, that the floating cubes are each prisons for lost lords of Baator; cast there long ago by the rising Baatezu. Anxious to learn more about the ancient planar physics that govern Acheron, he has directed his followers to drill into the Cube’s centre to see what the core contains.

The Bronze Furnace is the mustering point for Marduk’s Blood War legion, and his most exposed frontier. Scores of balors are based here at any time, overseeing large companies of carnage demons, rutterkin, bulezau, arrow demons and vrocks. Despite the fact that many demons here are fire adapted, the Bronze Furnace is dangerously hot for most Tanar’ri and the lesser demons are rarely encountered outside of their protected compounds.

There are scattered outposts of undead here too, with varying degrees of loyalty to Orcus; led by some very powerful vampires, lichfiends and liches. With Orcus’s resurrection, many of his followers returned to Thanatos. Those who remain either have a particular personal connection or a specific strategic interest in the place. Most are sequestered deep within isolated outposts shaped from the layer’s bronze. Others, including a Lava Wight and several fire-typed vampiric lammasu rove the metallic planes hunting and slaying any demons they meet. They fall broadly under Codrichuhn’s jurisdiction and are tolerated by Ferror and his lieutenants, because their magical support is valuable to the layer’s defence, and their undead minions make diligent and efficient labourers in the cube’s excavation. There are also necromantic engineers based upon the Bronze Furnace who are totally sworn to Marduk’s madness; lending their own black arts to further his blasphemous dreams.

Codrichuhn’s zombie taskforce is magically inured against fire damage. They mine raw Abyssal bronze, as well as Abyssal bloodiron from seams beneath the surface. Much of this ore is shipped back to the Inverted Ziggurat to be incorporated into its mechanical structure.

There was a modron mining colony here too before the cube fell to the Abyss. The survivors have been systematically warped and rent by Marduk’s magic, becoming twisted blasphemies called Law Eaters. These tortured wretches are to modrons as bodaks are to humans. They follow nonsensical laws that make no rational sense in this Multiverse, obeying commands derived from unreal numbers and factors of the empty set. They roam the battle plains, spreading madness and broken logic wherever they go, positively hungering to “correctly align” reality to fit their own twisted notions of how it should be.

Coagulus is the closest thing the Bronze Furnace has to a capital. It is a fell fortress town of clotted blood, on the banks of a steaming blood lake that still wells up oozily from a vent in the surface, congealing at the scalding banks into stinking shores of clotted scabs. Codrichuhn oversees a mining site using a bone colossus modified into a massive drill borer. The Tongue of Marduk resembles a colossal bacteriophage virus, built of bones, onyx and metal. The shaft has sunk so far into the cube’s crust that it has struck something vast and fleshy that bleeds a geyser of blood. A resident cabal of Blood Magi are fascinated with the project; and have used the mysterious blood spring to create a new sentient form of Blood Hulk. They claim that the blood-lake of Coagulus holds previously unheard of properties, and are as anxious as Marduk to divine its source.

Kaelyn
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For what it's worth, Marduk

This is very good.

Vaevictis Asmadi
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This is pretty interesting

This is pretty interesting and well-written. I especially like the descriptions of his madness and his brush with the Chaos incarnation thingy; even for a Demon Lord it comes across as creepy. The mystery of what the heck is in that cube is a good hook too.

The thing I don't like is his still having Marduk's name and messing with the god's worship. It's just very dumb in my opinion that so many Babylonian gods had their names given to demons in D&D and in fantasy in general, and greatly wish writers would get away from that already. It's far more reasonable to say Kardum was always his name, and he's just no longer the war general he used to be.