|LE Male pit fiend|
|Allies: Mercykillers, Sign of One, Tiamat|
|Enemies: Baalzebul, Mephistopheles, Zariel|
|Enter PF Stats|
As the first archduke to be promoted from within the ranks of the baatezu, General Bel of the Third Command holds a special place in the eyes of many of his fellows, a sign that perhaps someday they too will be able to reach similar heights. Yet Bel is no grunt; he is and always has been one of the premiere tacticians of the multiverse, the mind behind some of the greatest victories of the baatezu in the Blood War and unmatched in the art of the ambush or double-cross. Having served his masters almost since the Fall, it was a surprise to few when he claimed the mantle of Lord of the First. His present powerbase is unmatched, having extended the Third Command into every baatezu holding of significance upon Avernus.
Bel holds court from the Bronze Citadel, the former palace of Zariel Once of the Mount, though it has long since been scoured and purged of all Bel saw as decadence. It is from here that he plans the activities of the Third Command; while he is ostensibly under the command of Dagos of the Dark Eight even today, his title and his brilliance have given him largely free reign to determine the proper tactics to enact the orders given to him. Even now, he often fights in the field alongside his men on the more significant missions, but he has assembled a coterie of those devils he has determined most skilled and most loyal, giving each the right to act in his name either within Avernus or in the field. This collection includes the co-generals of the Third Command Meritos and Hanariel, as well as a number of other officers he has personally judged worthy: such military heroes as Goap, Amduscias, Yeddikadir, Malphas, and Nalebranc are included among his hand-chosen ranked, each publicly pledged to abandon the political schemes of the nobility and devote themselves fully to the defense of the baatezu.
Bel's name first began to spread in the early days of the Blood War, in its most tumultuous period. The Third Command was embroiled in a massive battle defending Avernus, facing an overwhelming force of tanar'ri whose forces for the first time drew near to breaking through to Dis. Near defeat, Bel enacted the brilliant strategy known today as the Four Cross, in which his forces switched sides a full four times and fully repelled the demon attack. In congratulations, Bel was promoted to general of the Third Command, ruler of all ground forces in the baatezu armies. It was in this role that Bel gained his first personal taste of power and his first opportunity to view first-hand the machinations of the nobility of his homeland, the first step on a journey that would span the millennia hence.
Over the following ages, Bel solidified his relationships with the Dark Eight, positioning himself as a premiere member of the armies of the Blood War. Renown by the diabolic forces, he (as with most of the soldiers of Baator) was largely ignored by the Baatorian nobility, but for those occasions when he was lauded for bringing them triumph. Thus he was able to bide his time on the front lines of Avernus and gain the trust of the various Lords of the First that have came and went — by far, the most unstable seat upon the Court of Baator. None of its masters ever considered the military as a source of political threat, but even an unwary archduke is still not to be underestimated, and Bel was patient.
Many Dukes came and went; some even aided on occasion by Bel himself, always in full support of the next Duke to come. Finally, some three centuries ago, he found his moment and his target. Zariel — the most recent Lord of the First before Bel, having claimed the throne some six centuries prior — had slowly been convinced over her time on the throne to solidify her ties to the armies of Baator, Avernus being the gateway to the plane (never mind that no tanar'ri army had reached Avernus in tens of thousands of years; Zariel was a recently-fallen celestial with little awareness of the history of her realm). Slowly, she shifted more and more of her forces into the Third Command, seeking to fortify the plane against any tanar'ri incursions. And with her own defenses were weakened, Bel, master of the double cross, struck out. The ultimate fate of Zariel is unknown (though the screams that echo across the plains of Avernus even today are certainly suggestive) but by the next day Bel had claimed the throne, earning the ire of every one of his newfound peers in the process. While each of the archdukes (but for the Hag Countess, who could hardly care, and Asmodeus, who approved) looked for means to depose him openly, none could be found, for his connections to the Dark Eight and his support among the lower ranks were simply too strong, and removing this upstart from the throne risked sending a wave of revolt not seen since before the Blood War. Nor could any succeed in subverting him secretly, for even the archdukes are only just a match for his tactical mind.
And so he remains upon the throne of Avernus to the disapproval of nearly every other Lord. With no allies amongst the nobility, he's been forced instead to find political support from unlikely sources. Tiamat in particular is a closer ally to Bel than to any Lord of the First previous, and his personal ranks swell with abishai. The factions of Sigil have found common ground with him as well, and he counts many friends amongst the Mercykillers and the Sign of One; in fact, his connection with the latter dates back far enough that some wonder if perhaps he had aid in his ascension from that faction whose interests have rested in that area for ages. Today, he seeks to increase the prominence of the armies that have so long gone neglected, viewing Baator as a decadent plane that deserves to be ruled more by the military than the scheming nobility; were he to have his will done, a pit fiend would sit upon the throne of each of the Eight, all under the direction of the great Asmodeus. No scheming, no vying for power, nothing but the chain of command. Law as it should be.
- Book of Vile Darkness, pp.143-145
- Dragon #359 - 1d20 Villains, pg.68
- Faces of Evil, pg.30
- Factol's Manifesto, pg.129
- Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells, pp.142-143
- Hellbound: The Blood War - The Dark of the War, pgs.13,20-21
- Planes of Law - Baator, pgs.13,16