Alzhan Bulwark



23. The diabolical tyrants of hell
24. The awesome and terrible pinnacle of devilkind
25. Possessed of ingenious evil intellects and indomitable physical power
26. These are the Pit Fiends
27. Born within the Nessus, the ninth and deepest layer of Hell
28. The embodiments of Hell's merciless Law

68. Of all the Tieflings born to the mortal realms, those begot of a Pit Fiend are the most terrible.

From Asmodean Disciplines. Book 9, Chapter 12, Verses 23-28 and Verse 68.

9-12:68 Alzhan Bulwark has this tattooed on his chest, stamped out in thick black lines against his red emblazoned skin. Brinto, an accomplished Korvosan tattooist, had never had to spend so much time on such a simple piece before. He broke needle after needle on Alzhan's semi-scaled skin, a few of which had to be pulled out with thin pliers, and had to hammer harder than he ever had before. It took fifteen sessions and Brinto's hands were cramped and his arms sore after each one. Had he known it would be this much work going in he would have refused the job.

Then again; getting far too many looks at the massive tiefling's clawed, almost-human hands and large lion-esque fangs Brinto was fairly certain he didn't want to say no to this creature. Alzhan, or Bull as he'd heard the monster called, was also the least moving and affected customer Brinto ever had. Through the most vigorous sessions the tattooist had performed Bull's countenance never slipped from a slight, toothy grin; never once flinching or moving at all.

In the end, though, Alzhan paid Brinto well for the work and promised favorable words to his friends. Brinto wondered what friends a huge, red beast who smelled of wet blood and brimstone could possibly have. 'Ah well, even devils have friends I guess' Brinto mused.

Perhaps if Alzhan's mother had stayed in Celiax, his birthplace, he might have more friends than he had in Korvosa, of Varisia. Alzhan's birth was planned, in every sense. His mother was a dark anti-paladin of Asmodeus and a low ranking religious soldier in Egorian, Capital city of Cheliax. Her name is not important. Her master was a cleric named Barabus, who enjoyed moderate wealth and affluence in Egorian.

In Cheliax it is believed that Asmodeus and his mass of devils in the realm of Hell serve the nation. While in most nations tieflings are at best conspicuous, and at worst slain on the spot; In Cheliax they are seen as the lowest servants of Asmodeus, sent to serve mortal man in an effort to prove themselves before they return to hell. Barabus had decided he wanted a tiefling servant himself and no mere average tiefling would do. Barabus wanted a tiefling born of the most terrible and powerful devil in hell; a Pit Fiend.

To accomplish this Barabus elicited the help of a great wizard to summon a pit fiend. Alzhan's mother was chosen to bear the child believing her fortitude would help her survive the Pit Fiend and carry it's spawn to term.

A great summoning ceremony was devised. There were only a few in attendance: Barabus, Alzhan's mother, the wizard, and a few priests who wished to witness the event. True to his power the wizard was successful in summoning the terrible devil with a practiced chant which lasted hours. When the Pit Fiend arrived in the middle of the summoning runes in all his fearsome glory he was displeased, as Pit Fiends always are. He lashed out at the closest priest and crushed his skull with one grasp. Barabus and the wizard spoke quickly to confer their proposed deal to the Pit Fiend. An arrangement was made that suited the humans during their mortal lives. However, upon their deaths they would all, unwittingly, find themselves slaves to the Pit Fiend for an eternity their minds could not imagine.

Alzhan's mother survived the encounter only through the help of Barabus' healing magic. Upon completion of the contract The Pit Fiend disappeared back to hell and 5 months later the anti-paladin bore a tiefling into the world. As was expected, she died during the trial of birth. No one cared. The weak die, the strong survive.

Alzhan was a frightening sight even as an infant. His skin was red as fire, his fangs as long as his fingers, his skin was thick and tough, and his horns curved like a ram's. He grew more quickly than his human peers, as tieflings often do. During this time he was well educated by the church in many aspects of knowledge. He was also worked to be strong, to act as a bodyguard to Barabus. When Alzhan was five years old, his clerical master was called to a new land. To a Chelish founded city in Varisia called Korvosa. The church of Asmodeus was struggling there and Barabus' wisdom was requested to help promote Chelish initiatives and endeavors. So Barabus and Alzhan traveled to this new city. A society less hospitable to the ways of Asmodeus and Cheliax.

Life for Alzhan changed little with the move save he was kept inside the walls of the church a little more. Upon reaching twelve the Pit Fiend spawn, as much as he resembled any human, appeared to have the maturity of one in his late teens and so it was determined that his time as Barabus' servant would begin.

Overall Alzhan did not mind his position. He soon learned that the cleric mostly just wanted Alzhan as a sort of religious status symbol and did not often require his servant to do much. When his master went out Alzhan would often accompany him in full armor just to look intimidating to anyone who might not appreciate the appearance of an Asmodean cleric. Rarely did Alzhan have to act to deter would be assailants, but when he did his training allowed him to make quick work of any hostile entity.

When his master was within the church, which was most of the time, Alzhan was left with a great deal of free time with which to explore and learn from books and from those around him. Even from Barabus, Alzhan learned much. The man greatly enjoyed showing off his knowledge of everything from Asmodean dogma to tactics of war. Though perhaps the most important lessons Alzhan learned from his master were those of the Asmodean ways of clever thought coupled with strength and intimidation. An important tenant to the religion of Asmodeus is the ability to maintain the upper hand in all dealings; be it combat or contract negotiation. How to use twisted words, strength, and intimidation to one's benefit. Barabus was a master of this and Alzhan, too, had a gift for its implementation.

As a mortal man, though, Barabus eventually came to his end. He died at 87 and left Alzhan, at 56, beheld to no one for the first time. Barabus had not even required the tiefling to remain in servitude to the church. Given the late cleric's immense talent in creating contracts, this was certainly not an act of neglect. While tieflings grow faster than humans their life spans are significantly longer. As the direct child of a powerful Pit Fiend, Alzhan could only speculate that he likely had hundreds of years with which to now seek out his destiny.

Alzhan stayed loyal to the church of Asmodeus. He identified with the doctrines and practices of the lawfully evil deity. He continued his work with the church to slowly try to sway Korvosa towards a more Chelish way of thinking. Also with some time, but less than one might expect, Alzhan was able to use his coercive ways to secure himself a position as a night guard at the docks of Korvosa. A hulking, red skinned, ram horned, befanged devil guard worked wonders at keeping would be thieves away from merchant ships in the dark.

It was about five years after the death of Barabus that an event occurred which set in motion events that Alzhan had never anticipated.

One day a stealthy messenger from the church approached Alzhan while he was on shift at the docks. For someone who knew how to look, Alzhan was easy to find; he was the only guard not holding a torch. Though the other guards had difficulty in the dark Alzhan's devil eyes spotted the courier, though he did a good job to remain elusive from all else. The messenger handed a note to Alzhan. Just as quickly as he'd come he disappeared back into the shadows of human sight, before long even invisible to tiefling eyes. Alzhan read the note.

Oswald Stevens, a patron of our Church I believe you know, has been charged of murder. He swears his innocence. Innocent or not the case of the prosecution rests on the tongue of one witness; a fisherman who claims to have seen the incident. We cannot allow this act to be associated with the Church. As you are aware, our acts must be untraceable. Find this fisherman, silence that tongue of his. And remember, untraceable.

Alzhan strolled over to a torch planted on a post and discretely burned the note in its flame, the ash lightly floating up on the warm air of the fire. As Alzhan held his hand in the heat he was unburned. Being spawned of a Pit Fiend has its benefits.

The next day Alzhan gathered what information he could and found the location of this fisherman witness. He decided to pay the man a visit. He stalked the fisherman's small hut on the banks of the Jeggare in Old Korvosa. When no one was paying attention he swiftly entered, shouldering the door open. The fisherman jumped up from his seat at a table.

Alzhan quickly assessed the situation. The fisherman was maybe in his mid 30's. Sitting across from him at the table was a like aged woman with her back to the door. Before the man could speak Alzhan had a wicked dagger at the neck of the woman with one hand and raised his finger to his toothy maw in a sign indicating the fisherman should remain silent. With fear in his eyes the man stood still. Alzhan leaned over and whispered in the ear of the woman

"Silence you too, milady. Keep calm and I promise no harm to either of you."

Alzhan made eye contact with the man and pointed to his vacant chair. The fisherman displayed his understanding and sat back down in his spot. From his pocket Alzhan produced a few strips of cloth.

"Gag yourself now, milady. Make it tight and effective, mind you. I can't have your screams be heard too much now."

Crying heavily yet attempting to remain silent, the woman filled her mouth with the cloth and tied it tightly in place. All the while Alzhan kept the wave bladed dagger pressed against her pale neck.

"Now, fisherman, you're going to answer my questions in a nice low voice, or I'm afraid your pretty lady may not be as pretty when I leave."

Overall the fisherman was quite amenable. By the time Alzhan had the information he needed he'd also learned that the fisherman's woman knew well how to gag a person. He wondered what their night time activities consisted of. As he passed by a flock of seagulls pecking for scraps on the ground he tossed them the bloody upper portion of the woman's right ear. It was devoured in seconds.

'Gaedren Lamm.' Alzhan ran the name through his head over and over and couldn't say he'd ever heard it before. 'A crime lord' the fisherman had said. 'Paid me to frame this Oswald Stevens. I don't know why. I just took the money and did what they said.'

The next morning the fisherman had been murdered, but not by anyone affiliated with the Asmodean church. Without the witness there was no evidence on Oswald and he was acquitted. He told Alzhan he'd heard this Lamm character had the fisherman killed after it was learned the man had spilled the beans on the frame job.

"Like everyone else, 'crime lords' should be careful when choosing to go against followers of Asmodeus" Alzhan thought out loud. "Perhaps I should pay this Gaedren Lamm a visit."

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