Daru Ib Shamiq, The Lie Weaver: Baernaloth of the Demented (5 of 13)

Shemeska the Marauder's picture

If you do not wish to be lied to, do not ask questions. If there were no questions, there would be no lies. – B. Traven



It’s just a tiny little thing, a small little lie, a half-truth really. You tell it to yourself, you rationalize, and eventually you forget it started that way as you come to believe it yourself ultimately by repetition. This happens to us all you see; falsehood borne of weakness, complacence, and unwillingness to accept consequences. That is how it starts. That is the first change before it goes further and further along the descending, ever falling, downward spiral into habit and malice.


 Like a rogue cell in one’s breast, one tiny, minuscule change that begins this moral cancer. It’s like the mutation that initiates that cascade of more and more corruptions towards the inevitable tumor. And, like a bodily, physical cancer these lies begin within ourselves; a potential that waits within us all. You have only to whisper it and it begins, harmless at first like that single cell, but in the end leads to pain and death. Release it. You have only to release it, unlock that potential and spread its misery.


 It’s just a tiny little thing, a single little lie: “I actually regret it you see, what I did to the solar, the Maeldur et Kavurik.”






 The Solar, one of the firstborn of Chronias, one of the shining beacons of the Sevenfold Burning Mountain, and one of the chosen heralds of the Lords of the Celestial Mountain, he looked down on the ravaged landscape that stretched out before him. There was no sun in the sky, but a pale corpse light washed over the land, leaching it of all its color. He, one of seven, narrowed his eyes in pity at all he beheld.


 “You are early…”


 The Solar turned and faced the source of the voice and looked into its cold, unfeeling eyes. The fiend’s putrid flesh was bleached of color as much as the plane that they both stood upon, and it seemed to epitomize that ravaged land and its soul sucking despair.


 “Yes I am. Is that a problem?”


 The Baernaloth, Daru Ib Shamiq, shook his head and chuckled to himself. “And so the lauded child of Chronias comes into the bastion of despair, here to consult, conspire and consort with the lords of agony. And you are even early. One might think you eager to sit and speak with me.”


 The Solar, named Maeldur in the tongue of the heavens, narrowed his eyes in disgust. “You would be wrong.”


 “Would I be?” Daru smiled knowingly, “Then correct my preconceptions. Tell me just why you have come to speak with me.”


 The Maeldur sighed and nodded, “You should know much of this already, and it pains me to stand here.”


 “Do you think that it pains me less so? We are not immune to our home. Not at all. We simply embrace it.” Daru smiled in an almost pleasant manner, “But here I am, rambling. Do continue my friend.”


 Maeldur narrowed his golden eyes and spoke, watching as the gleaming light that streamed from his body caused smoke to rise and curl from the flesh of the fiend who seemed to take some sick pleasure from it all.


 “Celestia has sent me to bargain with you and yours. The gleaming mountain has turned its eyes elsewhere to other places where our glory can spark a light now, immediately, rather than simply being hurled like seeds into salted earth. I…”


 “Celestia lies to you.” The fiend said bluntly, interrupting the Solar.


 “You are lies incarnate.” Maeldur said, rebuking him as the golden light from his body seared more harshly into the fiend. If there were to be a conflict there, directly, the Baernaloth would stand little chance of surviving intact…


 Daru ignored the pain and continued in a cold whisper, “I have seen the future. We have ripped open the gates of time and seen what will come to pass. And indeed, you have been deceived by your own.”


 Maeldur said nothing and waited for the prattling of the Baernaloth to end.


 Daru continued, his eyes reflecting the dead light of the Waste as his words took on the inflection of a fanatic. “A future where the Heavens have locked the doors to their paradises. A future where they stare out at the planes through barred and buttressed gates, prepared for a siege that does not come, and too afraid of bringing it upon themselves to unleash their wrath on the unclean.”

“They will watch as evil washes over the innocent. They will shed their tears till they have no more to weep with, and then they will rationalize their inaction with the words of the blindly righteous.”


The Solar struck him across the face suddenly and swiftly, dashing him onto the ground, leaking blood and darkness. The Baern snarled bestially as he picked himself up from the ashen soil. But as he turned towards the Solar again and cleaned the dust and blood from his maw, there was not a glimmer of anger on his face. No, there was a look of smug triumph.


“How quick you are to rise to anger and fury. Doubt is not wrong. But not all of that which you have is reserved for me and mine. No, you question the very reasons that you were sent here to bargain with the very darkness you oppose.”


Maeldur drew back his golden fist, preparing to strike the fiend, but hesitated at the last minute and did nothing.


Daru gave a chuckle. “Don’t trust me, that would be weak and foolish of you to trust one such as me at my word. At least that is your preconception. Let me show you proof of the future that we have seen. Let me show you a glimpse of what is to come.”


Maeldur seemed uncertain as he looked up towards the sky, seeming to search for guidance. Daru continued in the absence of objection.


“The 7th mount will abandon its children and bottle itself up in its own light. Your light, hidden under a basket, lights the way for no one but yourselves. All that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing, and Celestia will deny you and abandon you all.”


Maeldur reacted to the slander, “You lie.”


The fiend sneered, “Do I 3rd Glory? What has the 7th told you? What has She whispered to your ears my friend? I am evil. That much is obvious. I make no attempt to hide this fact, and ostensibly you came here to offer unto me and mine a truce, a temporary reprieve from the assaults of our children while your own slaughter the rigid, slithering darkness of Baator. You will win that battle only to replace it with something worse. A truce with us will not be a rallying cry to the banners of Heaven, but a planned retreat. You have been deceived by your own.”


“You lie fiend!” The solar’s rebuke was louder and again he struck out, sending the Baern sprawling and bleeding once more. But there was hesitation in his tone.


Daru looked up and continued through bleeding teeth and gums, “Let me show you. Let me show you what I have seen, what we have seen that will come pass.”


The fiend stood up and moved closer and closer to the solar, whispering, cajoling and tempting, “Listen to me and see the truth that we have seen. Watch, listen, and learn from these lips to thine ears. Let the scales fall from your eyes and let us save you. I can set you free…”


“How did you find this knowledge?” Maeldur asked as he tried to ignore the feeling of revulsion as the fiend laid its hands upon his side like a whore to a lonely mortal.


“My brother, the Blind Clockmaker. He has reached into the future and shown me the past and I have described it for him: that which he can find but cannot see. And now, if you wish, I will show it to you. I can share it with you, if only you say the words and ask for it. The choice is yours.”


It might have been second, minutes, hours, weeks even before the Maeldur gave his answer, but to the Solar it was an eternity of self-doubt and uncertainty. Before he had ventured down into the pit he had keenly felt that he was not being told all of the reasons behind his mission. There had been a subtle current of change in the hosts of heaven of late. Celestia had taken a number of seemingly unrelated and quixotic actions outside of the great crusade in Baator, the Guardinals had gone silent and abruptly withdrawn from the conflicts, and the Passions of Arborea had grown ever more bold as if they were preparing for something momentous in the coming weeks. On top of it all there was war in the Outlands at the very base of the spire as Neutrality had birthed another race of equal but opposite mores.


All of creation had gone mad, and he was an island in the midst of it, trying to make sense of the chaos. Surely the fiend was not telling the whole truth, they rarely if ever did, but even if there was some glimmer of fact in what it was saying… perhaps it might not be too late to change the course of events. It was for the greater good after all. He was not consorting with evil out of any desire but to make things right, to impose a greater order and meaning upon the planes for the betterment and harmony of all creation. If harm came through this, it would only be to him, and he was willing to become a martyr if it would prevent what the fiend had spoken of.


And so he stood there, a single tear dropping from his face and falling into the bitter soil below, and all the while the fiend caressed his face like a lover. He turned and looked into Daru’s eyes and answered him.


“Show me.”


 Time passed, indeterminate and inchoate. Maeldur stood and shivered, and only gradually did he become aware of the hands of the fiend upon his back. Only now they didn’t feel so very instinctively repulsive, rather they felt comforting in a way that can only exist between persons who have seen the very same horrors. Something had changed between them, and something had changed within the solar himself.


“What did you see?” Daru asked, his voice suddenly less cold and distant.


“Darkness staring back at me. Heaven’s gate’s sealed and locked. We did nothing against the forces of evil. How could we… staring back at me… how could she…” Maeldur trembled and wept.


Daru cradled the head of the Solar like a parent to a child, a lover to their partner, priest to confessioner, “Come and sit with us. Let me tell you more. Now listen, and listen closely my friend, for there is much to discuss.”






“You’ve come here about Maeldur Et Kavurik. You’ve come to put it down. But you don’t know where it is. And you expect me to tell you. … The Funny thing is – I will.” – Daru Ib Shamiq, ‘Hellbound: The Blood War – Squaring the Circle’






 Twelve figures stood together under the bleak and pitiless ashen skies of Oinos, a conclave of a dozen of the most ancient of the beings of the Waste. One by one they had answered the call of their sibling, come from the depths of Hades, hidden places upon the prime, a demiplane deep within the heart of the trackless sea and places more exotic still. But here they stood, gathered and keen to listen to the words of the Weaver.


 Twelve sets of eyes regarded each other like siblings as they ringed a monolith of black stone that stood between them all. The Lie Weaver had been the last to arrive, his blind sibling, the Clockmaker, silently being led along by the tug of his hand. The thirteenth of their number was there, He was never absent, and He would speak if he so desired, that they were all certain of.


 The never stable, ever shifting nightmare form of the Ineffable looked up at Daru and his sibling with a dozen, then a thousand, then a hundred thousand eyes, all crawling and mingling in the darkness of its form, a hundred thousand tiny mezzoloths of liquid shadow screaming silently and molded into the rough shape of one of the Baern. The emerald lamplights of hell that were the eyes of the Wanderer turned to regard them both, and that one was clearly unhappy to have been diverted from its chosen task. The others as well regarded the pair as they took their seats around the monolith.


 “There is a simpler way of course. Perhaps more prosaic, but much more personally satisfying. The screams would be something to remember for the eons…gnashing wailing rending ripping stirring the bloody silence, and it was good…”


 Tiny rivulets of blood dripped steadily down the face of the speaker, past bloodshot and murderous eyes, and from the innumerable open wounds that covered his entire form like sanguine paint upon a canvas of flesh. The Sculptor stood out, a blot of color against the uniform ashen gray of their surroundings. He chuckled and cut a series of bloody slashes across his own chest in a fevered, habitual cycle of self-mutilation.


 “Ring the spires of Khin-Oin with the entrails of the elite. Keep them alive in perpetuity and conscious of it all. I would enjoy that lesson for the little ones…”


 The shadow of the Shepherd hissed and contorted in displeasure behind her physical form. The girl looked up from where she had been playing with a rag doll of a Mezzoloth, “Too direct…this time. Subtle means are required to force them into self-sufficiency. That is what we require from them in this age, in this time.”


 “The Weaver and his brother have called us here together with the details of the situation and a glimmering of their ideas to rectify it. Let them suggest a method of action. It was the Lie Weaver’s tongue that so long ago set the stage for this present dilemma, so let him weave his words to us this time and not the celestials nor our children."


 Twelve sets of eyes turned up towards the towering spike of black marble that they had gathered around: the Oinian Loadstone. The final member of the thirteen, The Architect, was there and not, superimposed over their current reality and at once spread over a dozen others, simultaneous in its actions in each.


 Lazarius Ibn Shartalan spoke with a rumble across the layers of reality, filtering them through the loadstone and into the minds of his siblings, “The current concerns all bear your handiwork Daru, and the tatters in the tapestry are yours to mend. But as always, you had a method in mind already before you called us together…”


 Daru splayed his fingers wide and tapped them together wordlessly as the Clockmaker touched his shoulder and turned its sightless, clouded eyes out towards the others with a ragged grin upon its face.


 “From Lazarius’s lips to my ears…”


 The Proselytizer chuckled soundlessly at the feigned genuflection.


 “Our creations, our children, our tools, they are overconfident. They are full of their own bluster. Something is required to make them less so.”


 The Book Binder glanced up from a sprawling tome perched between his knees.

 “Kicking over the anthill once again. It has worked before, but that has always been isolated events and never towards the race as a whole.”


“The Ghoresh incident…” The Shackler said quietly.


 “That was more for manipulation of the bastard offspring of our own children, but the point is well taken.” Tellura’s innocent mortal voice asked as her shadow curled around her shoulders menacingly. She continued to play with the doll.


 Daru looked up at his brother and the two shared a knowing smile.


 “Indeed. Our children value their cherished position as puppetmasters, manipulators and masters of lesser beings. I suggest we cut the puppet strings and leave them to flounder. Make them dance under their own power for once.”


 “How so?” The Dream Reaver asked without speaking, her words flowering into being in the Lie Weaver’s mind as her eyes danced in motion beneath closed and stitched shut lids.


 “We engineer the loss of the Maeldur, my beloved friend of old.” Sublime malice dripped like saliva from his teeth.


 Thirteen sets of eyes regarded each other there under the skies of Oinos. Thirteen minds in agreement of what was to be done, and they would have others do it without ever being aware of it. Puppets without strings danced with the most grace; puppets who thought themselves the puppet masters even more so.


 “And it all begins with a lie…”






 The Yugoloth fortress, nameless in all its eons of existence, was nestled in the basin of a cluster of dead and burnt out volcanoes in one of the corners of Colothys in Carceri. A fine layer of white ash crunched under the feet of the Mezzoloths that marched along its ramparts as they had for untold millennia; the surroundings reminded them and the other ‘loths of the 4th furnace of Gehenna, and so it was that the spot was chosen for them to house the creature known only as the Maeldur.


 The great beast, the pitiable figure of the fallen solar, sat within a great iron basin like a mockery in flesh of the bubbling caldera of a volcano. It undulated and mewled at random, and now as they had always, the yugoloths ignored it entirely except for the arcanaloths. The snarling, barking sorcerers hovered in the air above it holding their great books and whispering to it the names of each and every Tanar’ri and Baatezu as they were born of fleshy rutting or the more perverse twisting of larvae and petitioners.


Of old, the broken celestial already knew their names, the names of its makers, tormenters and masters, the yugoloths. It had no say in the matter whatsoever, and it had long ago given up hope of release. But then in that moment as the canine muzzle of one of the fiends whispered to it the name of a newly birthed lemure, it felt something change in the air. Seconds later the world went mad.


Armalak the Rabid felt only the invisible, percussive force of the blast after it had incinerated the Mezzoloths around him and dashed him to the floor from where he had stood observing the Maeldur. Alive only by the prescience of his defensive spells, his ears swiveled to the north a moment before his eyes. Still seeing spots of color dancing in their field of vision, they beheld horror to match nothing he could have expected. The arcanaloth gave an insensate scream.


 A second meteor of iron and flame hurtled over the ring of mountains surrounding the fortress to impact upon one of the nine outermost towers just as the incomprehensible came into view. A titanic mobile fortress, Baatezu in origin, it rumbled over the lip of the mountaintops and set the ground trembling nearly as much as the hearts of the defenders of the fortress.


 Armalak glanced back at the Maeldur as the fortress rumbled ever closer and began to bombard the ramparts with its magical siege engines in waves of flame, explosion and the sound of buckling metal.


 “NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!” The arcanaloth screamed as he stumbled in a daze and the first flashes of teleports began to presage the Baatezu advance troops, teleports provided by the yugoloths, provided by the Maeldur.


 Armalak ran from the lawful fiends, running to save himself and to oblivion with the others. If the Baatezu took the Maeldur, his existence was forfeit anyway. They had to regroup and turn back the assault, bring in reinforcements from the Tower in Othrys, or barring that they had to send word to Khin-Oin and Gehenna.


 Armalak ran while behind him the other defenders of the fortress were swamped by a tide of barbazu and cornugons; the wrath of the 9 Hells of Baator unleashed on their creators.






 Rarthevik, 9th squadron leader of the Relentless stared into the darkness of the underhalls of the Yugoloth fortress whose upper levels they had taken swiftly and decisively. The gloom was nothing to his eyes as he saw the details far better than any fleeing yugoloths might have themselves.


 The cornugon walked in front of a dozen barbazu and his hands curled tightly around a greensteel-studded bullwhip as he expected a counteract to come at any time. None had yet emerged, and it seemed more and more that the ‘loths had been wholly unprepared for a surprise siege. They’d seemed confused and in stunned disbelief when the Baatezu had emerged over the lip of the burnt out volcanoes. Fools.


 Rarthevik paused and glanced down one of the intersecting hallways. He could have sworn that there had been movement down in that direction.


The cornugon stared intently before words whispered out of the darkness to the sergeant’s ears, “There is nothing down this hallway, go back the other way.”


The baatezu blinked and paused again, holding up his hand to signal the barbazu behind him to halt. He looked into the darkness, through the form of the Baernaloth that sat there motionless and invisible, cloaked in the murk of the passage, and then without truly pondering his decision he snarled and turned around.


“There’s nothing this way, we’ve other areas of the fortress to investigate. Back the way we came.”


The Baatezu did what they did best: they obeyed their orders without question; puppets with strings. But Daru was more concerned with the puppets without them that he had kept hidden from the invading patrols.


Behind him and cloaked in their own defensive wards to hide their presence from the Baatezu, two jackal headed arcanaloths snarled and spat at one another like rabid animals, blaming each other for the sudden, surprise assault on the previously sacrosanct and hidden fortress, and then for the failure of the fortress to hold after the assault began.


Daru did nothing but watch as it unfolded. He said nothing, told nothing, tugged no strings but simply watched the sorcerers make their own decisions. It ended with a silver edged knife erupting through the neck of one of the two and being left to die in agony. Its last moments were spent looking up as its fellow vanished in the sudden glimmer of a gate. Amalak had opened it by channeled the power of his dying comrade to power the spell that would hurl him free of the fortress and tear through any anchoring wards the lawful fiends might have erected.


And Daru smiled as the other arcanaloth bled out onto the floor and whispered its death rattle up to him, the darkness that stood there in the gloom.


Daru turned, one deed accomplished, and slowly walked up from the underhalls to the topside of the fortress. The Gloom Father walked between the dead and the dying, the organized patrols of hundreds of Baatezu, and the remaining yugoloths as they were drug to the surface and executed one by one. Daru did nothing to help them as he moved towards the rippling mass that was the Maeldur et Kavurik.


“Hello my old and dearest friend. Remember me?”


Daru looked down at the Maeldur as the Pit Fiend commandant of the Relentless strode across the field of the dead with her entourage of bodyguards. The Baernaloth smiled mockingly as the Maeldur saw him and recognized his face and his laughter, and it began to quiver and weep.






 “What in the name of Furcas is it?” The question flew from the lips of the pit fiend Lydzin as she stood above the iron pit in the center of the fortress there in the hinterlands of Colothys. The… thing… contained there was like nothing she had ever seen.


 The scarlet light that reached up from the ground and up towards the pitch black sky contrasted with the blood of the yugoloths whose bodies littered the pavilion and ramparts of the fortress in the thousands. The neutral fiends had been taken utterly by surprise when the Relentless appeared through the portal that Lydzin had been given by a source in the courts of Bel. She’d never heard of her before, an Erinyes with the oddest white eyes. But she’d locate her later since this was a favor that she’d doubtless have to pay up on if she profited from it. But she pushed that out of her mind and returned to the present.


The arcanaloths that had surrounded the creature that Lydzin looked down upon had gone mad with panic at their sudden attack, stunned and horrified for reasons unknown. Some of them had wept and screamed like children. They seemed incapable of accepting that they could have been found and put under siege.


 Lydzin scowled at the weakness of the defenders as she stepped forwards and crushed the skull of an injured but still living Mezzoloth.


 “…I have no idea what it is my Lady.” The second in command of the mobile fortress, the gelugon wizard Jeird-athaca said as his frost coated mandibles quivered in uncertainty.


 The pit fiend circled the creature slowly, followed by a contingent of eighteen heavily armored cornugons that served as her personal bodyguards. The yugoloths had left no records in the fortress regarding the beast except for a book that had been carried by an arcanaloth who had died defending the creature. The book was blank, the magic that had been woven into it apparently cursed to prevent its contents from being read by any other than itself.


 But between the insane ferocity that the ‘loths had displayed defending it, and the words that her source had given to her, Lydzin was intrigued. “Power to raise your status in the eyes of Baator. Power to put your name among that of the Dark 8.” That was what she had been told by her source. That and a location in Colothys. Despite her power and her millennia old knowledge, Lydzin was clueless regarding the beast.


 She turned to the gelugon, “Gather several of the korachons and have them assist you in moving the creature from here to the Relentless. We’re bringing it back with us to Baator. Retrofit the main deck to contain it and report to me on board after you’ve done so.”


 The wizard nodded to her and vanished in the flash of a teleport as his commander turned to the other troops.


 Lydzin snarled and shouted, flickers of flame erupting in the depths of her maw, “Kill anything that lives. Clear out the tunnels of this place and scour it. I want this fortress sterile when we depart in three hours.”


Exactly three hours later the Relentless rumbled back through the portal and across the marshes of Othrys as they drained towards the foothills of the red litten mountains of the first layer of the Scarlet Prison. Lydzin found herself continually walking out to the deck of the fortress and for hours staring at the massive bulk of the creature that they had found. During the hours that it had taken them to approach near one of the portals to Maladomini, she had pondered certain things.


Whatever the creature was, it was clearly important to the yugoloths. They had defended the fortress like fanatics, but they had been completely outnumbered from the start. But whatever the thing was, it would be worth something to a great many people even if she didn’t yet know what manner of creature it was.


And above, the Bells of Othrys chimed and called out their eerie siren song, seeming to whisper down from the jet vault above. Lydzin gazed up into the black and starless firmament and pondered her future, mulling over her options, as the Maeldur suddenly and without cause began to softly cry.


 An hour later she found herself standing upon the deck again and watching the beast after having spoken to her immediate commander. She had told Nyruzalk, a pit fiend under the command of Dagos, that she had captured a high-ranking Tanar’ri alive. She gave no mention of the Maeldur, nor how she had gained details of the yugoloth fortress. Nyruzalk had ordered her to return immediately to Baator with her prize.


 She chuckled as she recalled making contact with and offering the slimmest details of the event, the true event, to agents and subordinates of Levistus, Baalzebul, and Mephistopheles. Those three numbered the Lords of the two major factions in Baator’s infernal politics, and the most powerful independent and unaligned Lord. With luck she would spark a bidding war, prize unseen, and vault herself into a high-ranking position within their courts and out of the immediate play of the Blood War. Greed and ambition danced in her eyes.


 And above, the Bells of Othrys chimed eerily, seductively, like the dark, mocking laughter of a god.


 “My Lady? You’ve received a communication… from Nessus…”


 Lydzin spun around at the words. She blinked questioningly at her second in command, Jeird-athaca, and at the scroll held in his hands. The Relentless contained a number of mortal petitioners bound to great devices that allowed those with the petitioner’s true name to communicate with them. The devices bound to the petitioners then transcribed the messages, sealed them and inscribed upon them the name of authorized recipients and the location of the sender. It all avoided the risk of transmitting the internal details to any other than the intended recipient.


 Lydzin took the envelope and dismissed the gelugon, waiting till he was gone before reading the contents of the communiqué.


 Lydzin, Commandant of the Relentless:


 By order of the Supreme Overlord of Baator you are expressly commanded to return to Baator immediately by the closest available route to Avernus. Once there you will proceed immediately within Baator to Nessus itself to deliver the being that you have captured in Carceri into safe keeping in Malsheem itself.

 The 3rd Glory will be held safe at all costs, including the lives of you and every other soldier under your command on board the Relentless. There are debts to be paid and these have come due with the possession of the 3rd. His Glory Asmodeus, King of Hell, will be handed over the Maeldur without pause.


The letter was unsigned, but imprinted with the seal of Nessus that had previously not ever seen use in the history of the Relentless. Lydzin slowly exhaled.


 “What in the name of Asmodeus himself are you that the Lord of Darkness knows you and demands you. Seems that He knows you, at least your name, maybe more. At least that’s what this hints at. My orders are my orders.”


 Lydzin hesitated only a moment longer, pondering how it was that Asmodeus or one of his generals in Malsheem had even been aware of her actions in Carceri. Perhaps the Overlord’s ears in the courts of the other Lords of the Nine were more complete than anyone thought. Or she had a spy in her own fortress.


 She snarled softly at the latter thought. But orders were orders and they would return to Baator immediately. Executions of her own troops for suspicion of subterfuge would occur afterwards. Still, she was certain now to gain promotion for this given the interest of the Lord of the 9th. Looking down at the blob of flesh nestled in the basin they had constructed for it, Lydzin laughed and grinning up into the dark of the sky.






“There’s a condition.” “There’s always a condition – whether they tell you about it or not. Heh. Believe me – you’re talking to one of the oldest deal-makers and string-pullers in existence.” “I do not exaggerate, nor am I a braggart. I saw the powers that now live being born, and the powers before them as well. But you must know this, or you wouldn’t be here.” – Daru Ib Shamiq, ‘Hellbound: The Blood War – Squaring the Circle’






 The nycaloth, Crassag, screamed in agony as white light blossomed in his field of vision from the pain of the Ultroloth’s displeasure. The Ultroloths of Khin-Oin had gone mad with a cold rage that had blossomed like a bloody rose on a grave suddenly and without warning. Crassag’s master was no exception, and he cringed and cried out as the elder fiend’s psionic fury lanced out once more.


 The nycaloth didn’t beg for mercy, no yugoloth would, they were incapable of it as a race. But he did make excuses for why the defenders of the Maeldur had been caught unaware even if he hadn’t been among their number. The deflection of pain and blame was a fine edged blade, and one that Crassag knew how to wield even as the Ultroloth screamed into his mind.


 And then he hit upon something that made his superior pause. It was an idea to turn their sudden and disastrous loss around, to regain the Maeldur, and not truly act themselves. They would use the celestials to do it for them. They would leak word of it to the benevolent fools of the upper planes and have them regain the Maeldur for them.


 Crassag blurted out his sudden idea and the Ultroloth paused and the pain in his mind vanished. The Nycaloth rose to his feet and answered the Ultroloth’s questions, the ideas simply coming to him.


 The Ultroloth seemed pleased, and he mentally sent the ideas on to a dozen others of his kin till it filtered up higher and higher in the hierarchy towards the summit of the Wasting Tower. Then he turned to Crassag and the nycaloth knew that he was dead, or worse. He had provided a novel idea, and inferiors couldn’t provide any hint of a threat to their masters.


He didn’t scream for several minutes, but then it was all too much and he screamed till he had no vocal chords left with which to use. By then the faceless Ultroloth was gone, vanished to confer with his fellows the rudimentary plans that the Nycaloth had provided him. It was all just glimmers and hints of a full plan, that the Ultroloths would detail themselves. They would detail it fully, but the seeds of it had been planted.


 And there in the shadows at the rear of the chamber, a single figure sat and smiled, strumming his elongated fingertips together as the ‘loths never noticed his presence in the slightest. He sat and smiled as he put down a tiny doll of a Nycaloth to whom he had been whispering. He patted its head as he then picked up a battered rag doll of an Ultroloth. It and the other had been given to him by the Shepherdess, tiny strings attached to their limbs, and he sat in the darkness and made it dance while the ‘loths scrambled, panicked and finally acted.






“In any case, the condition is this: Do not kill the Maeldur. Instead, tell it that it can be free. It could always have freed itself. It just didn’t know. That’s how we work, you know. Swear that you will free the Maeldur – swear upon your souls – and I will tell you how to find it.” – Daru Ib Shamiq, ‘Hellbound: The Blood War – Squaring the Circle’






The trio of Ultroloths glanced at one another as they watched the arcanaloth wander from the room. Greed was blossoming in its mind as the lesser fiend mulled over what it had heard from them. A series of lies, so delicately balanced on the opposite, razored dividing line between it and the truth. The seeds were planted and already their magics had pierced the normally sacrosanct thoughts of the jackal headed sorcerer and they knew he would sell them out. That was their intention all along of course.


 “It is done?” A voice asked them from out of the very air of the chamber.


 The Ultroloths immediately bowed their heads in deference and fear to the mental presence of the one who spoke to them.


 The first of the three answered, “It is done. He is truly one of us, only barely removed from Ultroloth status, but he will never reach that point.”


 There was a moment of silence and the second added, “He is now aware of our supposed plans regarding the Maeldur. He is convinced that we use the beast to force our hand, finally after the eons ending the Blood War and marshalling the lower planes to our ranks as one.”


 “He is justified in his horror at the very idea. It is too soon, too early, too rushed to consider that, especially in light of those things that he does not know…” The third Ultroloth said.


 The first spoke again, “And he is still loyal, utterly loyal to the Source.”


 “But not to you.” The cancerous, sickening voice said as it leaked from the very air like a poisonous vapor.


 The Ultroloths bowed their featureless heads as the flickering colors from their eyes scattered the shadows of the chamber. They answered their unseen master in turn.


 “He will sell us out to any party that will end what he perceives as our madness. He is looking for the long term success of our race and our cause, something that the lies he has heard spoken by us three are very much in opposition to.”


 “It would not have worked had he not been utterly loyal. The celestials would not be deceived otherwise.”


 “And given his loyalty he would not consider tipping our hand to the law and chaos spawn. He would go to the celestials…”


 The air stirred and the congregated Ultroloths felt pensive, certain in their plans but uncertain as to the approval of their master.


 “Be present at the summit in five hours. Present to me then your details for subsequent actions on our part and contingency plans if they are required. You have done well.”


 The Ultroloths glanced at one another and bowed collectively to the awesome presence in their minds.


 “As you desire Oinoloth.”






 Shock, unease, disbelief and terror was reflected on the golden faces of the celestials as they looked to one another the moment the arcanaloth was gone from their presence. A sickening pall had descended upon them as they weighed the information that the living blasphemy had imparted to them.


 The first of the Solars spoke, “He was not lying. As impossible as it sounds, the yugoloth was telling us a truth that he believed.”


 “He sold his own kind out. That would be in their character. They are loyal to nothing but themselves and he has enriched himself by our hands. He has profited from this and damned his kind by it. He has acted according to what he is.” A trumpet archon said.


 The emerald face of a Planetar gazed out at the others, “But the question remains for us: what do we do? This cannot come to pass.”


 Another of the Solars answered, “Their ability to walk the planes and the spaces in between, all from the hands of one of our own, corrupted so long ago? We must free him, we must give him redemption or an end to his pain.”


 The Planetar shook her head, “We cannot act on our own, that would galvanize the lower planes against us just as surely as the ‘loths uniting them by their own power, perhaps more so. We must act by proxy.”


 The first Solar replied, “We find a mortal servant and have them pass what words they must on to others of their kind. We keep a degree of separation between ourselves and those who act on our behalf.”


 The third Solar at the gathering spoke, “We cannot allow a servant to know where we have gained this information though. We cannot allow it to be known that we, the wardens of heaven, have consorted with fiends. To know this would sully our purity in the minds of those who revere us, though he looks to us for inspiration and grace. We must not pass these details along.


 The gathered celestials, mostly composed of Aasimon with a smaller group of Archons in attendance began to discuss what exactly they should or should not do. The matter of action was in question though, as the three solars each encompassed one of the cardinal points of Good. But slowly they came to a consensus, though they did not entirely agree. But what they did, they did for the greater good.


“They will wish to know the details.”


 “We tell them what we must.”


 “We mustn’t tell them everything though.”


 “If we must lie in the name of the greater good and the protection of the multiverse than we must.”


 “How do you mean?”


 “We give the glory of this to another. We approach the mortals as heralds and messengers of another mortal hero that they will have heard of.”


 “And the mortal hero? What will they think of this ruse?”


 “We choose one who is no longer alive, one who died with less success than they had hoped, and then we exalt their name with deeds of our own. It will inspire those who work on our behalf.”


 “…another mighty hero and slayer of Cantrum…”




 “I know who we may use as such, our exalted hero. Have you ever heard of Sir Praetol?”






No sooner were the words spoken in the heights of the Seven Heavens than a miserable figure looked up from where he sat, cold and alone, in the shadow of a building in the City of Doors. A drizzle of ran from the spiked and bladed eaves of the structure fell down upon the broken figure of the fallen trumpet archon who had looked up at that moment. Zalatian, once known as Zalatian XXIII, Commander of the 5th Celestial Brigade, Lord of the Western Trumpets, and Regent of the Lesser Slopes; he was now nothing.


The fallen archon slumped in the gutters of Sigil, his wings tattered and his once golden trumpet turned a sullen color of lead. He had consorted with the fiends in the name of law and good, but he had kept his actions secret, he had lied to his superiors in the courts of the Hebdomad and having touched the face of evil, it had sullied him. And it had only begun with a single, tiny little lie.


There in the gutter, bereft of his glory, bereft of his heavenly pride, Zalatian wept as it began yet again.


“Not again. No, no, not again…”






“Actually, I don’t know where the Maeldur is. It’s been moved – taken by force, most likely. But I know how it can be found. I made sure of that in the early days – I was always thorough.” – Daru Ib Shamiq, ‘Hellbound: The Blood War – Squaring the Circle’






 “Sir Praetol found the dark of the Maeldur and he took his knowledge to the celestials. From them, a Deva carried that wisdom to me and I found you. We have a way to strike a blow unlike any other against the fiends. I need your help.”


 Those had been the words of the priest of Ukko, Father Irynimas Sanuire. The old priest’s home world on the prime, Qua-Nosham, had been ravaged by the fiends in a dozen spillovers of the Blood War, and he was keen to see that it would never happen again to any others. He had told them the story of the Maeldur, what it was, and what happened to it. If they could find it, they would be able to either kill it or release it and deprive the fiends of their most powerful ability.


 There was one problem though: he had no idea where it was. They would need to find it on their own.


 Finding it, that was a problem. But they, the six of them that Sanuire had found and charged with their quest, they had delved deep into the history of the name, Maeldur et Kavurik, and they had found another name associated with it: Daru Ib Shamiq, the ‘Penitent Fiend’. Furthermore, they had found a reference to a human hermit named Daruib Chamek who had lived for many years in an estate named Daubei’s Obscure Woe, on the edge of the blood swamp surrounding Torch, the gatetown of Gehenna.


 They found the estate, and they found a portal there in the crumbling ruin that was a thing of potent magic, constructed rather than natural, by techniques they couldn’t fully understand. But they had stepped through and there they had found him, waiting for them, a miserable figure of regret, apathy, and sickness.


 It had sat there in the darkness of its lair for some time, silently observing them but saying nothing. But then their cleric had given a startled cry and they saw its dead, luminous white, snakelike eyes glaring at them from the gloom. The Baernaloth was tired and sickly, no longer caring for the affairs of the world in which it had caused so much evil, so much misery. He might have been able to kill them, but he didn’t care to give the effort. The ennui of the immortal seemed to have long ago claimed him.


The fiend had sighed and spoken to them, answering their questions about the Maeldur and his own relation with it and its formation.


“I harbor my regrets of things done back to the beginning of time. In some strange way I am sorry for what I have done. Repentant? Perhaps. Seeking atonement? Unlikely in the fullest sense of the word. I don’t seek anything for myself, I am grown tired of this life, but there is one that is more deserving than me for some measure of grace for what I did to him. The Daru of old, of the first among the clan of Baern, he is gone. I am what I am, and I am long past forgiveness.”


“Who are you then?” The wizard among the six mortals had asked him, wondering what he was, if he was no longer truly the ancient archfiend he had once been.


“The voice of one crying in the wilderness.”


The Baernaloth’s reply was enigmatic and he turned away from them as he whispered it, more to himself than them.


 “How do we find the Maeldur?” The bladesinger among the group asked the fiend.


Daru turned to them once again, “What you need is a green gem called the Vuulge. It’s a magical item that confers the power to know the Maeldur’s location. It also allows you to speak to the behemoth in a language it can understand.

The arcanaloths discarded the vuulge long ago, after they learned to speak with the Maeldur directly. Fools. It passed from hand to hand until it fell into the clutches of a Tanar’ri named Tapheon. But he doesn’t even know what the vuulge is – doesn’t know what it can do. Not surprising. Few, if any, of the younger fiends even know the Maeldur exists. But it knows they exist, oh, yes – the Maeldur knows all of the fiends. Pity.

No matter, Tapheon is holed up in a place known as the Fortress of Indifference, on the 348th layer of the Abyss.

Now, leave me be.”






 The mortals left his presence with their hearts filled with hope and their souls full of puissant idealism. And there in the darkness, Daru Ib Shamiq the Lie Weaver smiled and laughed.


 All of the pieces were falling into place, strings of words and lies and desires tugging all the puppets whether they realized it or not. All of the pieces on the board were moved in accordance to how he had desired, and he hadn’t even moved them on his own, not once, not really.


 “The most useless tools are those who act willingly and believe in what they do. Yugoloths, Baatezu, Celestials, Mortals… all of them. And it all began with a tiny little lie.”


 There in the darkness, Daru smiled as he faded back into the darkness and waited for the final act of the puppet show, the final moves before checkmate on the chessboard. And all the while, Daru laughed.





 The mortals had found the Vuulge and then they had used it to find the Maeldur on the Relentless as it rolled across the blasted landscape of Maladomini, the 7th layer of Baator. There on the mobile fortress they had leapt upon the bloated, shifting mass of the fallen celestial and there whispered to it the words imparted to them by the Baernaloth: ‘You could always have freed yourself. The power was always within you, if only you knew your name. Maeldur et Kavurik, you are free.’


 The shouted orders by the Baatezu guards, the screams and shouts to halt or die, and the constant rumble of the Relentless then vanished in a terrible burst of darkness and cold as they and the Maeldur vanished from the deck of the fortress.


 There was a pause, a moment of weightlessness, and they looked out across the bleak and forsaken terrain of the first layer of the Gray Waste. Below them in that moment of sublime still, before gravity exerted its pull, they saw the glistening ribbon of the Styx. And then they were hurtling groundward, the air whistling in their ears and screaming like hellbound spirits as like a falling star they plunged towards the infernal river below.


 The mortals screamed in terror as they clutched hold of the solar and screamed out to it their names, hoping against all odds that it would hear them and grant them safety before it struck the river. It could have sent itself home, it could have found safety, but it only wanted to forget.


The Maeldur wept with joy as it hurtled towards the Styx, soon to be washed of the hell that it had endured for so long. He only wanted to rid himself of the things that he had been told, the miseries that he had seen, and the agony of his existence that bore him down like an anchor stone to the river below. He could not be truly free so long as he knew the things that had caused his fall.


Enraptured by its impending release, it turned its mind to its saviors. And, with a thought, he cast them away to safety as heroes of the celestials that had seen fit to send them. They vanished as tears ran down the multitude of eyes across the Maeldur’s rubbery surface. Release was imminent as the river grew larger and larger. Then he saw them.


The waters of the Styx rippled from the waiting forms of the hydroloths and there, first and foremost among the waiting fiends, he saw Daru. The Lie Weaver stood naked in the water, waist deep, his arms raised up into the air expectantly. Marraenoloths waited at the rivers edge in their skiffs and insectile mezzoloths guarded the banks, and there in the water the Baernaloth stood, smiling and laughing like a perverse mockery of a prophet awaiting a sign from the heavens.


 His shouts of joy and tears of happiness became screams of terror as the Maeldur plunged into the putrid river. He tried to stop it, he tried to prevent it all from happening again, he tried… oh he tried… but the fiend was upon him instantly to plunge his head below the surface of the water, submerging him and stealing away his memories and his taste of freedom in a mockery of baptism.


 And there as the Baernaloth forced him under the surface of the Styx, he looked up as the light from above faded, blocked out by the fetid river and the looming form of the fiend’s hand. Together, as his mind and consciousness began to drift away, it seemed all like a shadow descending upon him from above, like a wastrel descending out of the cloudless skies of the Waste to touch upon his head.


 Daru held him under till the struggling ended, expunging the lies and truth alike, robbing him of all that he had suffered and all that he had recovered. And as it was washed away and the darkness swallowed up the Maeldur et Kavurik, Daru smiled skyward and looked down upon the eyes of the fallen angel with unmitigated pleasure.


 “My creation, my child, I am so very pleased in you…”






The darkness lifted and the being who had been the Maeldur twitched his multitude of eyes and awoke. He looked up with blank confusion, unaware of where he was or even who he was. The sky was cold and black, a void in which he saw distantly a series of hovering, floating volcanoes all alone in the darkness.


The Maeldur blinked again and focused on a kindly voice that seemed to address him. He looked around at the smiling, jackal headed sorcerers that stood surrounding him, all waiting expectantly. One of them smiled at him directly, his eyes white and snake-like, the others seemed to wait on his word, deferential in some way.


“Greetings my old friend. You were nearly dead, robbed of your memories, but we found you and saved you. It will be long and difficult, but we will give you back what you have lost.”


The fiend smiled at him like a dear and precious friend.


“Come and sit with us. Let me tell you more. Now listen, and listen closely my friend, for there is much to discuss.”


 The Maeldur smiled at him, thankful and blissful in his ignorance, and something of beauty and grace had died a second time.






 But, as I told you, I regret what we did to him. I regret it even now. Trust me. Trust me like they all did.



Daru Ib Shamiq, ‘The Lie Weaver’:


 The following collection of speculations upon the nature of the Baernaloth known as Daru Ib Shamiq has been tentatively assigned as being penned by the fallen Ursinal, Delemthar the Penitent, priest of He Once Known as Anubis. This makes the second such collection by Delemthar regarding the nature of one of the 13. Delemthar’s current whereabouts are unknown: 



 Most known details regarding Daru Ib Shamiq, sometimes known as ‘The Lie Weaver’ and other times as ‘The Penitent Fiend’ come from Pihnmid’s Translation, an ancient and sometimes suspect collection of excerpts of the Book of Inverted Darkness.


 This text describes one Daru of the clan of Baern, first among the fiends of the three glooms, and sires of the General of Gehenna. Almost always mentioned therein and in other sources in conjunction with Daru, is one Maeldur, or Maeldur et Kavurik said to have been a native of Mount Celestia before his fall from grace. All sources describe Daru Ib Shamiq as the prime instigator of this event, though the reasons and rationale differ wildly.


 Pihnmid claims that this was due to Daru sharing some blasphemous truth with the being known as the Maeldur that caused the celestial to turn his back upon the heavens. Pihnmid may also have been Daru himself as some other sources have claimed, including one, ‘Gospel of the Thricefold Exile’, supposedly penned by a Shator high priest of Apomps.


 This latter source refers to another Baernaloth, ‘The Blind Clockmaker’ as being the brother of ‘The Lie Weaver’. The exact wording used in this source does not necessarily imply blood relation, but it seems strongly hinted at. According to the Shator source, Daru, despite being one of the weakest of the group of Baern known as The Demented, has schemes and plans in place that stretch across the planes themselves and thousands of years into the future. Only one other, who is never mentioned by name, is described as having perhaps greater goals and more far reaching aims than the Lie Weaver.


 To quote the nameless Shator author, “The so-called Penitent Fiend has spread a litany of deceptions about his own past and his own nature, many of them whispered into the ears of sages, wizards and scholars over the millennia to the point where they gain a libelous mass, turning them from utter lies into accepted truth. Simply put, nothing about Daru should be taken at face value, even more so than his other kin among the thirteen.”


The Lie Weaver’s appearance is perhaps the most mundane of his other twelve kindred. He appears ancient, diseased, and physically wasted as if from the ravages of time and atrophy by inactivity. Daru’s only overt physical flaw is his apparent frailty and a dry, rattling, intermittent cough. For one of his kind he seems weak, average, and terribly, terribly mundane. Lies upon lies, deceptions upon deceptions, a thin veneer above a living blasphemy.


 When taking another form, Daru generally keeps only one vestige of his true self: oddly white or clouded eyes save for an unusually small pupil, regardless of what race’s form he wraps himself in. When taking these forms he never presents himself as anything more than what he would appear to be; nothing special, nothing noteworthy; average. When found in his true form, always when he wishes to be found in that form, he affects a persona of apathy. He may claim to be tired of existence, oddly regretful for his past actions, not repentant truly, but wishing to take some things back now that they have served their original purpose. He has even gone so far as to fake his own death at the hands of those seeking him out to further this deception as ‘The Penitent Fiend’.


 For those seeking him for reasons varied and ill advised, Daru is said to lair somewhere in either the Gray Waste or Gehenna, with some obscure sources claiming that he posed as mortal for many years in the gatetown of Torch. The minor estate said to have been his, now a crumbling but well-known ruin, is known as Daubei’s Obscure Woe. Little is left, though local legend claims that ghosts, or ghost fiends haunt the structure, something impossible according to all scholarly knowledge of the subject.


 There are also claims of an intermittent portal somewhere in the ruins, supposedly leading to Daru’s lair wherever it actually exists upon the planes. But despite this being true or not, no natural animal will lair in the vicinity of the ruined estate. Additionally, while clerics detect no evil rising above the background of the region’s vicinity to Gehenna, they uniformly feel that something is simply… wrong… in the locality.


 But regardless of these questions, Daru is true to his name: The Lie Weaver. A word here, a name there, selling half-truths and subtly seeding falsehoods into otherwise truthful material; the fiend has ruined otherwise virtuous and powerful men, perverted nations, created strife where there was none before, and been a blight unto the multiverse since of old. But of course, he does not do these things himself, he allows others to do it themselves of their own free will, unknowingly acting by proxy for him. Of all the things that are suggested regarding the Lie Weaver, there is no direct evidence to place the hand of a master archfiend behind any of them.


There is such a temptation to place the Baernaloth at the heart of a master conspiracy of Evil upon the planes, simply to absolve us of culpability in any heinous act. It would be so terribly easy to do the things we do and push blame onto this outside source and wash our hands of the matter entirely, and therein the Lie Weaver would win another victory as we slide towards the pole of evil by our inaction and failure to take responsibility for what we ourselves have done.


 But even for those things that Daru Ib Shamiq seems likely to played a part in, to set the stage for what would come, to plant the seeds of evil in fertile soil, as Madam Opus in Sigil might say herself on such matters, “Alas, I cannot prove a word of it.” How fitting that a treatise on The Lie Weaver might be itself sprinkled throughout with just so many falsehoods.

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