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Authority or rank in the Nine Hells, put bluntly, was the right to the origin force of Baator. As such, it was of paramount importance, and became the foundation of the devils’ hierarchy.
The eight Archdevils divided most of this authority between themselves. They had tight control over the devils under them, and could even decide which devils would rise and fall in rank. Because of this, without the approval of their direct subordinates, it was impossible for low-ranked devils to move up.
The lords of each hell had their own individual subordinates, and possessed an absolute right over their lives. This was evident from how Leylin could do as he wished in the prime material plane using Beelzebub’s memories. He’d easily taken care of the church of gluttony.
Devil society was like a bureaucracy. Status was difficult to obtain, and it was impossible to advance in rank without pushing someone else down. This made it so that the ascension of a greater devil left another one demoted in rank. The new one would gain tens of enemies that were eyeing the same spot. It was so competitive that it was almost pitiful.
The disappearance of a lord was an unprecedented matter in Baator, unheard of since the ancient dusk of the gods. Now, the pit fiends, greater devils, and even the more powerful devils that were loyal to Beelzebub found that they had lost their powerful background. What would they do?
These people lost their senses when met with the possibility of advancing to the highest rank in Baator. In such turbulent darkness, Asmodeus and the six other Archdevils joined in and caused Dis to enter even more chaos. This was also the reason why numerous devils left.
If the Nine Hells were analogous to a region in ancient times, Asmodeus was the emperor in name. The remaining seven Archdevils possessed their own lands, subordinate kings with troops and generals of their own, the pit fiends and other greater devils.
The emperor wished for more power, but these kings all wanted to increase their territories as well. The generals under them worked extremely had, hoping for a chance to be promoted. Some even wished to take over their master’s position. Conspiracies were rife, and the most ambitious side would have the last laugh. The reward? The greatest authority in the Nine Hells.
Beelzebub’s disappearance was like the loss of a king. The resulting unrest was only the tip of the iceberg. This alone put Leylin on guard.
‘The Second Hell has already descended into panic. While Beelzebub still holds power, many have begun to sense his weakness…’
Leylin looked at the ordered devils as he strolled around the entirety of the Bronze Citadel, the place bustling with life. He then stopped in front of a demon’s skull, as if admiring the valuable spoils of war.
‘The devils think this is a conspiracy. Beelzebub’s underlings are saying their leader isn’t as weak as the rumours state, and he’s only hiding in a dark corner waiting for everyone to come after him. He’ll capture all of them in one shot, they say… Quite a few lords have done such things since the race came into being. Even Asmodeus himself used a similar strategy once, and to great effect…
‘Other rumours say that Beelzebub has been captured by another lord, and is imprisoned somewhere having his energy extracted… These devils are really quite imaginative…
‘I stole most of his law of gluttony, as well as almost all his divinity and divine force. He’s definitely in a deep sleep right now, and no matter what happens in the outside world it’ll be hard for him to awaken…’ Leylin’s main body was the one who’d reduced Beelzebub to his current state, so there was nobody who knew the truth better than himself.
Having taken over much of his power and memories, Leylin naturally knew how grievous such an injury was. Unless Beelzebub defeated his Warlock body and devoured everything in return, it was basically impossible for him to return to his previous state. A weak lord was a form of prey that his underlings anticipated.
‘There’s numerous secret lairs and treasures made just in preparation for this. They’re all over Baator, as well as across other planes…’ Leylin had a grim look in his eyes. Because of their sly natures, their ability to set up safety nets was something nobody could compare to.
‘It seems like he’s considered the idea that someone might obtain his memories. The probability of him using those lairs is minuscule, and there could even be traps there instead…’ Numerous thoughts crossed Leylin’s mind, allowing him to quickly come to a decision, ‘Whatever it is, I have to go to Dis!’
Leylin would find the Lord of Gluttony, and devour everything that was his. It would make for the best opportunity for his main body to advance, something he would never give up on.
‘Authority amongst devils, as well as access to the World Will. How interesting!’ The astuteness he had as a Magus combined with the origin force detection of a legendary arcanist allowed Leylin to sense something. Although Baator had great amounts of World Origin Force, there was no complete will. It was possible that the World Will that controlled this origin force had been split into eight, one part each going to the lord of each level above the first.
Leylin now had access to much of Beelzebub’s powers, which gave him authority over the World Origin Force. He could demote or promote any pit fiends and greater devils. He also had the authority to kill the devils subordinate to the other lords. This was a decision of Baator’s origin, something that couldn’t be fought or changed.
‘Devils are far too pitiful compared to demons. They need the approval of their lords to advance, and it uses up a large amount of soul energy as well. The higher seats have long been filled, and one can only wait for the right chance to ascend.’
Leylin suddenly felt thankful that he hadn’t been reincarnated in hell. However, further thought told him that with Beelzebub’s authority there was nothing holding him back. He would advance rapidly as a devil, all the way to the highest echelons. He would control others, not the other way around.
‘As long as I kill Beelzebub and take over that last bit of law and authority, I’ll immediately become the lord of Dis,’ he realised. He also knew that because of the chaos on the prime material plane, as well as the great authority in Baator, people still thought Beelzebub held on to his power. The terror of that protected the sleeping Archdevil, preventing others from killing him. It seemed rather ironic.
‘The authority to access Baator’’s World Origin Force…’ Leylin closed his eyes. Ever since he’d come to the Nine Hells he’d felt like he was one with the place. The world itself seemed to answer to his very breaths, its power ready to listen to him. Upon his command it would burst forth, becoming an absolute pressure that dominated everyone else.
Of course, he could not use this as he pleased, or he would face unthinkable consequences. However, Leylin had already estimated that the strength he could muster with the power of this authority was greater even than what he’d gained when he’d sacrificed the Wisdom Tree sapling to awaken the Purgatory World’s World Will,
‘With this boost, even ordinary devil in hell can use the strength of a Magus of laws without restriction… It’s similar to the gods. If a mortal were lucky enough to acquire godhood, they can jump past all the loops to become a powerful being of the World of Gods straight away.’
Leylin suddenly understood how the hierarchy of the devils worked, ‘Lesser, intermediate, and greater devils, as well as the pit fiends… It’s all a display of how much power they have in this world. However, the lords have true access to Baator’s origin force, what the rest obtain is only a slight bonus bestowed upon them by the lords they serve. It’s difficult to move up and down the hierarchy of devils due to this, and with how easy it is to recall it caused the false opinion that the lords of Baator can give and take life as they wish…’
Understanding all of this, much of the fog in his mind seemed to dissipate, allowing him to see the truth of the Nine Hells, ‘Asmodeus and the other six Archdevils want to take over the authority in Beelzebub’s possession!’
Having come to know their true aims, Leylin would find it much easier to counter their plans. He could even connect this to other matters, ‘Then Avernus should technically have a lord as well… Where is he?’
Someone with the authority to the First Hell was on the same level as Beelzebub. He would face no difficulty in taking over the place.
‘Perhaps there are too many powerful devils on the level, or maybe the existence of the two true gods and their divine realms causes the authority to be split further… In that case, there might be rogue devils here that don’t fit into the hierarchy.’
With authority over Baator’s origin force, even if it was partial, a devil would gain complete independence. They could advance without the approval of a superior! This was obviously an existence that the eight lords would never allow to exist.
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