Philosophy by Numbers

Duxtal (planar mezzoloth [he/him] / Mind’s Eye / NG)

I am Duxtal, a member of the Mind’s Eye, a mezzoloth from the Gray Waste and a former veteran of the Blood War. I wish to convey my message to coming generations and to those creatures who are on a journey similar to mine. I was once a fiend in the true sense of that word, a monster completely lost in the darkness of the Lower Planes. Now I am reformed, living the good life as a factioneer in the greatest city the planes have ever known. Trust my words: Even the least of creatures can become great, and the most wicked among us can become good. It is my desire to be a living testament to that.

Since my inception when I devolved from a damned soul to an even more-damned yugoloth, I was a creature of unparalleled destruction. I have participated in horrors beyond what Caged cutters can imagine. I have inflicted upon bodies fates worse than death. I have overseen the deaths of entire prime worlds. I have firsthand experience with the darkest places the multiverse can offer.

As an agent of havoc I attained a high rank as a mezzoloth soldier. I was proud of that once. I am still haunted by the screams, the rivers of bursting flesh, endless plains of writhing worms, the songs of the dead, the burning of innocents and the howls of countless dying fiends. I regret taking all those lives and it took me centuries to learn to forgive myself and move on from that kind of existence. As a fiend, I didn’t know any better in those times and it was simply in my nature.

This is why I say that the highest good is a reformed fiend and the lowest evil is a fallen angel. Because to attain such a status is to sacrifice oneself, your whole nature and everything you know in the process of becoming something foreign, alien and opposed to your very being. Every fibre of your being screams and protests against the violation of your inherent alignments.

When I left the Lower Planes I could barely speak a language. I was engaging in evil acts — lying, killing, stealing… you name it. To replace all that evil with something of equal value was a constant struggle, and a fight to the death against my inner nature and my alignment.

Originally from Pluton, the third gloom of the ‘Wastes, my earliest memories are training for the Blood War. I can remember the nycaloth generals telling us that it was a ‘loth’s greatest honor to participate in the Blood War. Eventually my career as a soldier lasted for two hundred and forty years, until a mission in the Abyss went awry. It was a mission to sack a demon camp in the Wells of Darkness, the forbidden 73rd layer. It was there that some unknown creature cast a spell that flung my party to Chamada — the most volcanically active second layer of Gehenna. We spent the next forty years seeking a way back to Hades, with no luck. There were lava cascades dozens of miles wide and city-sized volcanoes yawning open on the slopes; it was an extreme test of durability. The air was foul with acrid smoke for ten miles above the surface and would blind us and cause us to cough up blood and viscera. When we got the chance we would huddle below ground where the air was fresher, but stank of burning flesh and hair—but it was nothing we weren’t used to. Where there wasn’t lava, the rocks were slick with pus and my comrades would often slip and fall far down, losing us months of progress. Finally all my comrades had died from exhaustion, lava tsumani or volcanic explosions. Just as I was reaching my breaking point, I came upon an ancient goblinoid shrine that had a portal leading to Acheron. Once on Avalas, I managed to recover from the gruelling years of torture and eventually I joined a raiding group that sacked and looted prime worlds from their headquarters on Klangor.

From there my bloodlust and sense of vengeance went unchecked. I rampaged through many prime worlds and destroyed kingdoms of primitive humanoids. I remember looking down on primes and finding great joy in causing them as much suffering as I could inflict on them. That must have lasted about a hundred years. On one such excursion I got seperated from my party and taken captive by celestials. These cutters were believers in some kind of great experiment: Was it possible to teach kindness to a fiend?

I was dragged to Arcadia in shackles and put to work as a physical labourer in a Harmonium reeducation camp. Slowly, the good nature of that plane began to have an influence on me. The sensation felt like being bathed in waves of searing flame. I coughed up what must be twenty gallons of sludge during the process. Somehow even the furnaces of Chamada felt like a warm breeze compared to this. With birds in the forests, flowers in the meadows, people acting in good faith, and with everything is in its place, Arcadia was a sensory overload the likes of which I had never experienced.

In the end could not endure it, and my lust for vengeance was still great, so I murdered my captors and broke loose from my chains. I spent about a year stalking through the wilderness and evading the Hardheads. There in the forests of Arcadia I hibernated in a silver cave, but when I awoke months later, I emerged as a somehow changed being. My carapace became brighter and I developed a conscience and a deep feeling of shame for my past actions. I snuck through a gate to Fortitude to reach the Outlands, where I began to wonder about life’s Big Questions. I contemplated the nature of the multiverse, my role in it, and the countless lives I had destroyed.

For the first time, I was left to my own devices. I started looking at the universe through a different lens. Realising I could go anywhere and do anything was absolutely maddening after being used to a single-minded existence up until that point. All the multiverse was open to me. I clawed through desert sands and crossed rocky canyons for a time, trying to understand who I am. I remember I was crossing the River Ma’at when I met a nameless demodand from the third layer of Carceri, rowing its boat downstream. It stopped to talk and it turned out we were both Blood War veterans and had even been deployed to the same planes at certain points. The creature was a deserter and left the Blood War to pursue a different existence, and as punishment Apomps took away its name and its identity. It had never been to a good-aligned plane like me and its mind was still full of wicked thoughts. We decided to partner up and looked for valuables across the ruins of the Outlands. It invited me to raid caravans and take the caravaneers as slaves to establish a slave owner commune on some prime world. I believe it had delusions of grandeur, and an aspiration to rule over primes. I can’t deny that the fiendish energy it was radiating was exhilarating after all the time away from the Lower Planes. I travelled with the demodand for a while, and we grew on each other.

Alas, it was not meant to last as eventually the creature grew angry with me for refusing to raid and murder. In classic fiendish manner, it turned on me. With one well-placed slice of its blade the demodand sliced my arm off, nearly ending my existence.

Carrying my severed arm I fled until I reached the Dwarven Mountain. The dwarves there were suspicious and denied me entry. They challenged me to wait outside the gates for three times three years if I wanted in. I waited, and waited, and stood there holding my severed arm. It gave me plenty of time to overhear the dwarves and learn the dwarven language. I persevered and after nine years, the dwarven powers saved my arm, and for my patience, increased my strength and form. In exchange they had me do mining duty for one hundred years to earn my right to enter their realm. The dwarves have mines scattered across the planes. I spent seventy years carrying rocks in the Elemental Plane of Earth, and another thirty harvesting crystals from the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Salt.

The dwarves then finally allowed me entry, and offered me the position of a blacksmith’s apprentice. Seeing no harm in this, I agreed and started my smithing career. I worked under the supervision of one of Moradin’s proxies—a master of her craft who specialised in working with adamantine. At first she mocked me for my fiendish heritage but I think when she saw how disciplined and helpful I was we reached some kind of mutual respect.

I learned blacksmithing from her, focusing on working with adamantine. My hard work earned respect as I got better, and the dwarves accepted me more. After my year of servitude, they offered me honorary citizenship in dwarven kingdoms across various planes, and I rose through the ranks in dwarven society. I continued to hone my craft under dwarven supervision. Every fall of the hammer on the anvil, every fire stoked in the forge, was a step on a journey that was set before me by Moradin himself. It wasn’t work. It was a challenge to achieve greatness. I remember always repeating the Moradin prayer: “Hold my hammering hand firm, my crafting mind steadfast, and the tools I form in your image.” I translated it to Kurn’ragh as that was more comfortable for me to pronounce. I soon surpassed my teacher and became famous for creating the highest quality adamantine goods in the dwarves’ sphere of influence. I opened my own blacksmithy but this is when the trouble started. Dwarves who were upset about a fiend surpassing dwarves in their own divine realm. They tarnished the good name I was trying to make for myself, and hounded me until I turned my back and left for Sigil.

Seeking to resume my smithing career I entered the foundry as a new Seeker, a member of the Mind’s Eye and gave everything I had to the principles of that faction. I find serenity in my work and hope to someday attain greatness and become a smith god in my next incarnation. Now I toil as a smith and perfect my craft and use it to supply peoples of the Outlands with weapons they can use to defend themselves against raiders and the onslaught of the Blood War. I believe that to be the highest good.

I believe I became a seeker in my heart when I entered the Outlands after Arcadia. It was when I started to seek the higher self. Then under the dwarven regime I was able to refine myself by developing great skills and using them to change the world. With the guidance of the Mind’s Eye I really believe I am making a difference.

This is not the end of my story. Come to the Great Foundry and I’ll show you how to forge using adamantine. I’ll introduce you to the dwarven powers themselves. I’ll show you the secrets of the Blood War battlefields. But most importantly, I’ll show you how to be a good member of the Mind’s Eye.

Remember that no matter how far you’ve fallen you can still get up and walk the straight and narrow path. Even if your starting point is the lowest of the low you can still make it only if you try. In a multiverse filled with misery and uncertainty, it is a great comfort to know that, in the end, there is light in the darkness. When the walls come tumbling down, when you lose everything you have, you always have family. I work for the safety of all creatures who come to exist, even fiends. Be blessed.

Source: Mihailo Ćulum, mimir.net

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