Bulbus Poot – Halfling Warlock

The Archdevil Baalzebul, Lord of the Nine, Duke of Maladomini, the seventh of the Nine Hells of Baator, almost choked on his snack.

“A ha… ha… halfling?” He spluttered, spitting out a human arm.

“Yes, my Lord,” said the imp Agraxonimus, hovering back a bit, just in case. “He is quite desperate and will agree to anything.”

Baalzebul, who was pleased to take the form of a gigantic spider, lifted himself up on all eight massive hairy legs. His huge stinking abdomen wobbled and shook; his massive mandibles clashed together; his twelve round bulbous eyes dripped with tears of laughter.

“Oh, well done, Agrax old chap,” Baalzebul, sighed when the fit of mirth had subsided. He lowered himself carefully back into his bed of corpses. “Well done indeed. I can look forward to many years of amusement with this one, assuming he survives, of course.”

“Yes, my Lord,” nodded Agraxonimus, backing away. “The first year is always the most risky.”

“Quite,” agreed Baalzebul. His mandibles opened wide for the pit fiend waiting with a fresh corpse on a stick.

Bulbus Poot sat in the corner of a damp and stinking cell in the dark. They had imprisoned the unfortunate halfling under the castle for months. At first they give him food and water every few days, but not for over a week now, maybe two, and he was starving to death. Water trickled constantly down the walls in places and, though it tasted foul, he sucked it up to stay alive. Sometimes he heard things chittering and scratching in the blackness and felt something run over his bare feet, possibly an enormous spider or rat. He would have gladly eaten them but could not catch them, so instead they often nibbled him while he slept. He knew they had forgotten him and he would die alone in the dark very soon.

The imp Agraxonimus found Bulbus half conscious, too weak to move and only a few hours from death with bleeding, half eaten feet. Rats scattered, screeching in fury, when the imp appeared from nowhere, lashing his scorpion tail to drive them from their feast. He hovered in front of the halfling’s face on bat-like wings, his demon sight unhindered by the inky dark. The halfling’s appearance was alarmingly poor. Had he perhaps left it too late?

“Wake up, Poot,” Agraxonimus said anxiously. “I can help you… for a price.”

“What? Who’s there?” Squeaked Bulbus, surprised and alarmed.

“Someone who can get you out of here and more, give you the means to take revenge.”

“Get out? Revenge?” Bulbus whimpered. Had he finally lost his mind?

“Will you pay the price my master asks for the gift of your life?”

“My life?” Bulbus whispered.

“Will you serve him?”

“Yes.”

Less than one month later a transformed Bulbus Poot stood in the office of a captain of the city watch looking down with satisfaction at its late occupiers twisted corpse. This was the captain who had arrested Bulbus for the unforgivable crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The captain had needed someone to convict for a theft from a noble. No need for evidence of guilt, but only lack of friends, or anyone else who might come to his scapegoats defence. Bulbus had fitten that role perfectly, but now he played a much more satisfying part. He transferred a small bag of gold from the captain’s belt to his own and stepped around the sprawling bodies of three unfortunate guards on his way out. All four corpses had magical wounds thanks to Bulbus’s recently gained talents, a gift from his mysterious saviour and patron. He pulled his hood down to hide his face and drew his long grey cloak around himself before stepping out into the busy market square. It was five minutes before he heard the cry of alarm go up in the street behind. He smiled to himself, patted the gold and limped on towards the city’s southern gate.

Bulbus had grown up in this city, a halfling orphan. It was the only world he knew. His family had been the other urchins and scavengers in the back alleys. He had stolen to eat and fought to survive, but never killed until now. He felt more confident than ever before, thanks to his patron’s magical gifts. He would learn and grow in power until no one dared ignore him or look down on him again. His missing toes would never grow back, but his feet no longer hurt all the time and did not slow him down too much.

“Thank you, Agrax,” Bulbus whispered to the imp that clung to his shoulder, invisible, in spider form.

“You are welcome, sir,” the imp said directly into his mind. “And my master is pleased.”

“I am glad. Let us go out into the world and see what we can do.”

Deep in the seventh level of Hell, Archdevil Baalzebul, now as a giant slug with grotesque human arms and face, chuckled and grinned through sharp, slime dripping teeth.

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