An ancient grimoire, a hidden sect of ambitious sorcerors, and Hell's pantheon.
In Part I, we learned the names and powers of four of the Demon Kings of Hell as described by the Ars Goetia in the Lesser Key of Solomon. Today we will discover the remaining five.
Asmodeus - The king of lust
Asmodeus is powerful. He commands 72 legions and rides upon the back of an infernal dragon, bearing a great lance. He has three heads: that of a bull, a man, and a ram. He is part dragon himself, with a serpent's tail and the ability to breath fire. Although his true form is monstrous, he often makes himself appear as a charming and attractive humanoid figure. As Rand al'Thor's teacher, he appeared as a tall, dark, and handsome musician. In fact, Asmodeus has gained a reputation as the represenation of lust itself. Some have even suggested that he was the offspring of a succubus.
His domain also includes gambling. He may be found at the head of baccarat tables and gambling houses, his eyes twinkling as he invites you to play. Money and sex are ever the weaknesses of man.
Some have said that Asmodeus is a fallen angel. He has been placed close to Lucifer in some stories. In the Abyssal Plane, he rules all from Nessus, the lowest layer. In the world of Dungoens & Dragons he stands as Lucifer himself and was said to have been an angel of law tasked with punishing sinful mortals.
The Talmud claims that he marries Lilith who is the first woman, a legendary demon and also a figure of lust. It also tells an interesting story about an encounter with King Solomon. In the story, Asmodeus hurls the king 400 leagues away with his great strength. The demon changes places with the king for years, enjoying the influence of his position. Ultimately King Solomon returns and Asmodeus has to flee his wrath.
In Islamic legend, Asmodeus is called Sakhr (The Stony One) because King Solomon is said to have trapped Asmodeus in a rock. In Islam Asmodeus is said to be the king of the Jinn, beings of fire and wind who were close to angels, created second after the angels by an all-powerful god.
Like several of the other demon kings, Vine knows all secrets of the past, present, and future. But he stands out as the one who can best build towers, destroy walls, and disturb the seas. There was an ancient wooden war machine called Vinea that was covered in leather and branches.
Vine takes the form of a lion, and rides upon the back of a black horse holding a snake in his hand. He is said to be one of the most powerful of the demon kings, with an ability to steal the soul of a mortal without their permission. The only check on this terrifying power is the need for Vine to receive permission from Lucifer before using it. Pray he never usurps the throne of Lucifer.
Balaam has a strong connection to the night. He is a demon of idol worship and avarice, and a formidable king. His appearance is similar to Asmodeus: three heads of bull, man, and ram, with the tail of a serpent. But where Asmodeus breathes fire, Balam instead burns from the eyes. He rides upon the back of a strong bear and carries a hawk on his arm.
I find the image of Balaam quite striking. The bear is thought by many peoples to represent travel between the physical and spiritual worlds. The hawk represent great intellect and, in its perch upon Balaam's arm, the act of hunting. I cannot help but shake the feeling that Balaam travels deliberatly to our world more than the others, intent on manufactoring exploitative encounters with mortals.
Balaam is known to grant the power of invisibility, and the art of wit and cunning. Like any true demon, his gifts will come with a terrible price, and souls will be in the bargain.
Zagan appears as a bull with the wings of a griffin, though he may also take the form of a man. He shares Balaam's gift for granting intellect, turning fools to wise men. His most notable power is alchemical transmutation. Zagan can transform wine to water, water to wine, and blood to wine. He may also take raw metals, such as copper, silver, and gold, and produce minted coins.
I once heard a tale of a young girl who rose to become a great merchant. In her youth, she lived in absolute poverty. One day, however, she appeared at the market with a strange iron coin. The coin had an unknown, mazelike inscription upon it. It captivated the merchants there and she was able to trade it for more provisions than her family was used to. With their improved diet, the girl began to grow stronger and even got a job as a farmhand.
Eventually she travelled to a larger town nearby, this time with a silver coin bearing the mazelike inscription. With that coin she was able to purchase enough basic materials to start creating garments. Those she traded, up and up, until she found she had established some wealth.
Finally, she was able to travel further to a much larger city, this time with gold coins bearing the mazelike inscription. There she approached the most successful merchant, a woman of great wealth with clear, blue eyes, and offered to buy her rare materials. She knew that with those rare materials, she could create the finest garments in the land and establish herself at the top. To her surprise, the clear-eyed merchant took one look at the coins and refused them. She was shocked. No one had ever refused her business. She implored, then cajoled, then insulted the merchant, demanding she accept the trade, but the merchant held her positino, keeping her lips tight and walking away.
In the end, the girl with the strange coins worked herself to the brink of death. After failing to make the trade in the great city, she worked harder than ever before, pouring all her time and energy into her trade. Strangely, though she redoubled her efforts, less and less people bought her garments. Within a year, her business was half as profitable as before, but she seemed twice as old.
Today she still sells garments, but only a few, and they are threadbare and cheap. She is the old woman with sunken eyes, brittle white hair, and leathery skin, who is always trying to give away gold coins with strange mazelike inscriptions.
BELIAL came last, than whom a Spirit more lewd
Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for it self: To him no Temple stood
Or Altar smoak'd; yet who more oft then hee
In Temples and at Altars, when the Priest
Turns Atheist, as did ELY'S Sons, who fill'd
With lust and violence the house of God.
In Courts and Palaces he also Reigns
And in luxurious Cities, where the noyse
Of riot ascends above thir loftiest Towrs,
And injury and outrage: And when Night
Darkens the Streets, then wander forth the Sons
Of BELIAL, flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the Streets of SODOM, and that night
In GIBEAH, when hospitable Dores
Yielded thir Matrons to prevent worse rape.
It is said that Belial was created first after Lucifer. He can distribute governmental power to mortals and is know for creating excellent familiars. Should you unwisely decide to ask him for something, know that Belial is amenable to fine gifts.
The passage above mentions the "sons of belial", which is a term to signify individuals of low moral worth who are focused on self-gratification. Another passage from Milton tells us that Belial was much like Lucifer in that he possesses the gift of influence with a serpent's tongue:
... On th' other side up rose
BELIAL, in act more graceful and humane;
A fairer person lost not Heav'n; he seemd
For dignity compos'd and high exploit:
But all was false and hollow; though his Tongue
Dropt Manna, and could make the worse appear
The better reason, to perplex and dash
Maturest Counsels: for his thoughts were low;
To vice industrious, but to Nobler deeds
Timorous and slothful: yet he pleas'd the eare...