Beleth

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Beleth, a Light Elf who had graduated as a Spellsinger from the Ivory Tower and stayed on as a member of the faculty, was originally a pure academic, more interested in studying the theory of magic than practising it. His area of specialty was the ancient laboratory of the Giants south of Schuttgart; through years of painstaking research and archeological excavations he became the world's foremost expert on the history of Arvitaire, the great city of those Genesis Creatures.

As he learned the Giants' secrets, however, Beleth gradually became seduced by the lure of the immense power they had wielded. He long hid the growing darkness in his soul from those around him, thereby becoming a true mad scientist. Institutions like the Ivory Tower (and also Hardin's Private Academy) were founded so that scholars could be in constant contact with their colleagues, laying open their work to review and criticism by their peers, thus avoiding to proceed with their research in a false direction. By hiding his thoughts, disconnecting from his academic environment, Beleth circumvented this sanity check.

Eventually the pursuit of power, the ambition to rule eclipsed everything else in Beleth's life. What he really desired, as he himself now knew fully well, was nothing less than the power of the gods. To achieve that goal, he would need their consent - consent that had been violently denied to the Giants who strove for that same equality ages before. Beleth was no fool and he had no wish to share the fate of the Giants. So he sought to ally himself with a god not of this dimension, a god whose vast power he could tap and harness for his own ends. He turned the full brilliance of his mind and the formidable power of his will to finding a gateway into another world where his plan could begin to take shape.

He succeeded, at least in name. People gave him the epithet "Devil", which is just a different spelling of "deva" resp. "deus" and actually means "god". Like a real god, he began to collect followers, worshippers, believers. With Sephia, a quite crazy woman herself, he still had to sign a contract, promising her immeasurable magical powers, but Meana from Devil's Isle, like many others, actually started to serve him out of her own free will. When the number of his followers had reached the dimensions of an army - there is never a lack of people attracted to powerful, charismatic leaders - Beleth decided to act. First he sent out floating eyes, constructs he had created with Giant technology, to spy out the lie of the land for him, then he went on what can only be called a crusade.

Beleth was fully aware that if his bid to take over the lands of Aden and Elmore was to be successful, he had to secure a reliable food supply for his army. One of his spies, among the local people only known as "Eye of Beleth", had reported to him about the fertile farmlands south of Gludio, and that was where he marched. The magicians of the Ivory Tower, on the other hand, realized immediately that once Beleth had taken possession of that vital area, a major food source for the whole south of Aden would no longer be accessible. Famines, maybe even hunger riots would break out and their own forces would be significantly weakened. They had to come up with a solution quickly.

Over the years, the library of the Ivory Tower had acquired several books and grimoires which should never have been written or at least have been destroyed as soon as possible. But destroying a book goes against the very nature of any librarian under the sky. So those works were catalogued as "forbidden tomes" and safely locked away. Faced with the threat of Beleth and his army, however, the magicians did what people usually do in such circumstances: they tried to unleash the "ultimate weapon". Elder Casian and his colleagues confronted Beleth at the Windawood Basin and opened "Kranvel's Spellbook", one of the forbidden tomes. Its fearsome power sucked the life energy from the living organisms in the area and then, in a process based on the Four Elements, threw it all back upon them. For two days and nights fire rained from the sky and dark magic swept the land like a whirlwind. The main part of Beleth's army was destroyed - while the native creatures of what is now known as the Wastelands were transformed into grotesque monsters - but his closest followers could escape. Beleth himself was captured in the end by the Elemental Summoner Sejarr - it takes an Elf to catch an Elf - transported back to Oren and locked up in a dungeon under the Ivory Tower.

The magicians cast a strong seal on Beleth's prison cell, but gradually the power of the seal began to diminish and the "Devil" regained his strength. Of course it would have been the simplest solution to just kill Beleth, easily done by stopping to provide him with food and water. Elves were created by Shilen, then Goddess of Water, and don't live for very long if one does not regularly give them to drink. One can't help the impression that at least some of the Ivory Tower wizards were hoping that Beleth would "come to his senses" and share the results of his research with them. However that may have been, Beleth finally escaped, presumably with some help from his followers. He made his way to what is now known as "Hellbound Island", enslaved the local population and had his assisstant Tully build for him the Steel Citadel where he is at present recovering from his long incarceration and continues to pursue his plan to conquer the continent.

To prepare the ground for him, Beleth has sent out various agents. Meana, an evil, Medusa-like heathen originally from Devil's Isle, has set up a base camp north of Giran Castle. From there, where she is protected by her maids and guard dolls, she undertakes forays into the Gludio area and is trying to spread fear in the hearts of the people, turning them towards violence and betrayal; the recent serial murders as well as the rash of theft an arson plaguing Gludio are the work of Meana. Thus she is hoping to destabilize the political situation and create a chaos that would make it easier for Beleth to gain a foothold on the mainland.

On Talking Island, Beleth pursued a similar strategy. Here he sent a whole group of red, bat-winged devils led by Nerkas, who for the time being were hiding in the underground library of the Elven Ruins. Fortunately High Priest Biotin of the Einhasad Temple had dreams warning him of the seed of evil lying dormant right at his doorstep, so he sent adventurers down there to slay Nerkas. This was not an easy undertaking; apart from his fellow devils, Nerkas was also protected by higly aggressive Undine sprites. But in the end the devil was killed. His dying words were: "The power of Lord Beleth rules the whole world!", thereby revealing to everybody who his master was. The hero who slew Nerkas also found a clay tablet, as they were used by mystics in the days of the Elmoreden Empire and, long before that, by the Giants and the gods. Nowadays only a few scholars can still read those tablets, but it is to be feared that Beleth has provided his agents with powerful spells he has found during his excavations in the Archaic Laboratory.