Mr Mestophilies stepped from the Gates of Hell into its first level, the burning wasteland of Avernus. He took wing quickly to avoid being jostled by the continuous stream of dammed souls entering into their own eternity of torment. He was careful not to fly so high as to attract attention, “no, it simply won’t do to announce my homecoming just yet” he muttered to himself. To this end, he slipped off his new hat. Mestophilies was particularly it had made the journey with him. Had the had not been product of a contract, it would have been lost when he traveled. It had been a pitifully tiny contract, but it was a start. He allowed a small grin, it wasn’t all bad. Besides, everybody knew that even great things had to grow from small beginnings. Looking down as he flew, his cruel smile grew slightly larger. Below, long lines of souls walked across never cooling lava flows towards the auction blocks. They staggered onward, driven by the barbed whips of devils. Here and there, the lava crust broke, dropping several dozen of the beasts into the lava below to serve as screaming bridges or torment for their fellows. Mestophilies let out a small chuckle, and pressed forwards, he still had a long way to travel. Flying was slow, and he could have teleported, however using his powers would alert others to his return…others whom he would rather not yet bid him welcome. He shuddered slightly, it was nice to be home again.
As he crossed the vast wilderness of Avernus, his destination slowly came into sight, growing light a mountain seen from several days away. Even from this distance, the Second Layer of Hell; the City of Dis was huge. Its towers he knew, stretched upwards for miles, and were decorated with souls impaled on spikes, or residing in gibbets for all time. It was home to most of the citizens of Hell, and also served as a mercantile hub and way station for those few travelers able to come and go as they pleased. It was here he chose to reside, its tangled streets, and population making it the perfect hiding place for his lair.
As he traveled, Mestophilies thought back on his recent time on the Prime Material. He cursed his stupidity for allowing that angel to discover his presence. It was sloppy, but he hadn’t expected that little gem of a surprise. He cursed again, even more stupid to have been taken down by a blind-mans thrown net. After a few minutes of profanity, his temper returned to his control. It was probably for the best that he had returned when he did. Granted, this method of return made some of his plans more difficult. But the fact remained, if he had remained on the Prime much longer, he would have been forced to either undergo his change, or abandon a century worth of accumulated power. Now that he was home, he would be able to add its transforming power to his hidden reservoir.
For lack of a better word, Mestophilies had been blessed when he discovered the long lost text of a great Devil Mage. It had revealed to him a profound secret: As a devil accumulates power, and eventually is able to undergo a metamorphosis into a higher form. This first part is common knowledge among devils, who understand it well, and often eliminate the smaller ones before they can change and provide a potential rival. The secret, he grinned, had been lost for likely thousands of years, long enough that not even the greatest devils remembered. It stated that the amount of power required to advance one step to the next increased greatly as one progressed. This makes survival to high ranks, and over a long period of time, a difficult endeavor indeed. Yet the book detailed instructions for siphoning off and storing this energy. This procedure had the duel effect of keeping one at a low power level until enough energy could be collected to jump several evolutionary steps forwards in a single bound. Mestophilies had everything set up in a well hidden location, his “peers” had not yet noticed that in over 1000 years, he had not advanced even once, and he planned on keeping it that way as long as possible.
Approaching the City of Dis, Mestophilies used just enough power to fly through the gates unseen. Once inside, he settled his hat carefully upon his head, and made swift travel to his lair. Now that he had lost his easy access to the Prime, his plans would be more difficult but not impossible. Anyway, even from Hell, he still might be able to make use of those adventurers. His thoughts continued as he made a careful approach, and unseen entry to his home. After making sure it was un-touched and safe, he settled to rest. His ritual would take a lot out of him, and it would be best to be prepared before attempting it. As he rested he thought of how best to make use of those fine shinny tools he had left behind on the Prime:
The problem with the Paladin, is that he’s too rigged in his sense of good and justice to use easily. However if careful manipulation can be used, he could likely lead a large number of men into battle. Also his still as a warrior is definitely of note…Perhaps worth using against a rival…
The Sorcereris definitely useful, as his ambitions of power, and arrogance had already led him into dealing with dragons, devils, and who knows what else soon…If he survives to wield any significant power, he might be tapped to complete to final stages of the ritual.
Of all the party, the Oraclemight prove the most difficult to use. It would depend on how his powers develop. He has shown a tentative willingness to make use of power when it suits, but may possess some protection against corruption of the soul.
The Thiefis interesting; there wasn’t much time to investigate fully, but even he could see the touch of one of the Great Ones on her soul. Whatever had happened there was likely, and very likely would be very interesting. Now that he had returned to Hell, he would be able to identify the owner of that mark, and turn the information to profit.
Possibly the most interesting of the group was the Bard. If he wasn’t mistaken, she was descended of old blood. He had felt the power flow through her veins as she played her music. He knew for certain, that this one had the potential to become a Chronicler, possibly one of the greatest the world had ever seen. Mestophilies knew the rarity, and value in identifying one such as this before her powers truly develop. He grinned, he knew just the thing. If she could be put to use, and the Sorcerer made to assist, he would be able to complete his ritual almost 100 years ahead of schedule.
Mestophilies smiled in his sleep, a rare event for a devil, and truly horrifying to behold.