The lord of war stood facing the window. Dis always felt bigger from this perspective. On the street you could only ever see what was in front of you. Buildings. People. Chaos. You needed distance to understand the scope. From up here, the faces and stench of the crowded streets faded into a thousand-thousand cogs, turning in a single infernal machine.
An agonized scream echoed up an iron pipe and into the office like music from another room.
“Do you think that men suffer more in the Nine Hells than in the Prime Material?” He didn’t bother to turn and face the creature he was addressing.
“I’m sorry, sir?”
“You lived there. Did the suffering of the forgotten and the abused taste sweeter amongst the humans and their laws?”
“It’s not in a Kobold’s nature to contemplate the flavor of suffering.”
“Still, you must have hated them for what they did to you.”
Zehra shifted the weight of her longsword awkwardly. There was no easy way for a kobold to hold the human sized weapon. It was strange that she was holding it at all. The paranoid archdevil had all potential threats confiscated at the gates of the tower. Yet she had dragged the comically oversized sword into his most private chamber without question. She now stood in the center of the room, fully armed and armored and he would not even turn to face her. A trap? A subtle insult? No way to tell, but still, it felt better to face the archdevil equipped than naked.
“My people are used to cruelty. I hate humans because they fear strength.” She continued carefully. Searching the dark form for any hint of intention.
“They kill their greatest leaders in the name of freedom. They search for cowardice and call it kindness. Praise dithering by calling it wisdom. What freedom is there in such an aimless and pathetic people?”
“but still you served them well for many years.” Dispater’s voice trailed. The next question went unspoken. Zehra fidgeted again and filled the uncomfortable silence.
“If there was anything I could have done to unite them I would have done it. It’s better to suffer in the legions of hell than to serve at the foot of a whimpering dog.” The flattery was obvious, but effective. Dispater turned to face her for the first time.
He smiled softly and walked towards her, seeming to grow with each step until his great ashen form towered over everything in the room. His voice was smooth, but deadly serious.
“would you disobey me if you thought it would make Dis stronger?” Plucking the longsword from her tiny grip as he spoke.
The trap was sprung. No sense in lying about it now.
“I would murder you in a heartbeat if I thought the Nine Hells would be stronger for my effort.”
“Then I have but one choice.” The iron sword ignited, crackling with white hot infernal power.
“Minion of Dis, kneel before your lord one last time.”
Zehra considered begging for her life. Like all kobolds, she wasn’t above looking pathetic if it gained her some advantage.
Dispater lowered the blade between her shoulders and neck. And repeated himself.
His imposing form loomed over her, and she knelt unquestioningly.
“I grant you the power of Dis willingly and ask for nothing in return.”
The baleful energy leapt from the blade and through Zerah’s tiny form.
“I release you from the bonds that hold you to this plane and grant you the autonomy to serve hell as you see fit. Now rise, Lady Zehra, Illrigger and knight of the Order of Desolation. Loyal only to the nine hells.”
Lady Zehra gasped as she regained control of her body and struggled to her feet. No words passed between the knight and her former master. A long moment passed while Zehra waited for…something. An explanation? Some sort of instructions? Dispater remained inscrutable. Finally, she picked up her sword and stumbled out of the tower, half in shock. Dispater returned to the window and the gears of the city of war ground on.