Man and Fiend is the thirteenth quest zone, part two of Rule in Hell (Story Volume), and is unlocked by defeating Lord Occulus in Infernal Affairs on Normal difficulty. Defeat Lord Bluthkurbu on Normal difficulty to unlock The Battle for Krezzor.
If you've tasted infernal power, what must it be like to lose it?
- 1. Purple Is In -
- 4. Old Flames -
- 5. Written on the Wind -
- 6. Burning Men -
- 8. Across the Lava -
- 9. Demons of the Deep -
- 10. Bluthkurbu's Last Meal -
Optional Boss Encounters
Boss Card Reward
- Dagunar's Tide (Dagunar)
- Y'Raxa Krund (Lord Bluthkurbu)
He was alone.
An ominous and desolate universe contrived to remind him of this. Grey plains stretched from the hillock on which he sat to the distant horizon, where strange lights warred and sinister shapes loomed with the aspect of nightmare. Debris littered the bleak expanse. Most of it was obscured by the gloom, but here and there a great cracked skull or a sepulchral ribcage told the tale of myriad deaths. A few gnarled, grotesque trees stood watch over this macabre dominion. Their appendages twitched like spiders' legs or tentacles, creeping and curling -- either probing the cold, doom-scented atmosphere or else forming wicked prayers to monstrous gods.
A small dark form flitted through the air. Four mismatched wings glistened around a bulbous black blob. The creature descended in a tumbling, inelegant swoop, perhaps seeking some invisible morsel among the bones. Its haphazard path brought it near to a tree. An appendage darted out and skewered it. The four wings thrashed, until the limb retracted and the ugly animal disappeared within the shadows that embraced the tree's twisted trunk.
Hugh shuddered. Was the tree staring at him as it ate? It was eyeless, and yet...
This is our place, interloper, it seemed to say. You don't belong here.
He averted his gaze, but there was little better to rest it upon. Even the sky offered no sanctuary in this grim, alien realm. The dark and distant vault hung over his head in an almost visceral mass, a canopy which throbbed and seethed with patches of bulging illumination that made it seem like an immense, beating organ. Or else the hideous hide of an inconceivable monstrosity, poised to swallow the infernal plane and all its denizens -- to bring about their final damnation, digest them into utter oblivion.
A noise made him gasp. His hand groped for the cleaver which lay beside him, and closed around its hard, unfamiliar handle. The weapon was heavier now, rough and almost unwieldy. Its weight was a mockery instead of a comfort.
Dark shapes, just below the hillock... Horrible figures creeping through the gloom...
Hugh exhaled when one of them came into focus amid the shadows. A huge eyeball met his stare, then looked away. Just Brachus' minions, patrolling the edge of their makeshift camp. Most of the eyeball-headed demons had melted away over the course of the day. Their master had sent them off in little packs to do his bidding. But some remained, and stood guard whilst Hugh's friends slept. Their presence brought him little solace.
He put the cleaver down. The weapon was the same as it had always been, and yet... He sighed. Just another reminder, as if he needed one. But the universe was wasting its time. Hugh already felt the full measure of his isolation with every beat of his heart.
The Titaran's body was hollow, as though a surgeon's rusty tools had scooped out the core of each muscle. Every thew protested at its newfound weakness. His flabby gut was an unpleasant, encumbering weight, a mound of fatness that made any movement a clumsy chore. He was lighter than he'd been for years... The traveler's life, the days of trekking and hours of fighting, had seen to that. But it was as though he'd gorged himself for months on end, then woken one day to find himself trapped in the unsightly results of his excess.
Walking, climbing, carrying his cleaver... Fatigue... Aching joints... Gasping for breath. He'd never enjoyed physical exertion. How often had he moaned and complained over the past months? Hugh grimaced. What a bloody fool he'd been... Now each slogging footstep, every scramble up a slope, was an ordeal.
Even... He almost groaned aloud at the memory... Even taking Rakshara into his arms had been different. Hard, unyielding crystals had dug into his soft flesh. Strong, heavy oroc limbs had felt like they were crushing his ribs, breaking his spine. He'd hidden the pain as best he could, but he knew she'd noticed. The look of understanding, of pity in her eyes had been worse than a slap or mocking laughter...
And for all their bitterness, those were but the echoes, the faint carrying ripples, of the real change wrought upon him -- the true measure of what had been stripped away.
If his body felt hollow, his mind was a void. A single set of thoughts rattled around in a cavernous, abyssal gulf. There was no second voice within his head to hear and allay his doubts, to strengthen his resolve with its ancient, omnipresent wisdom. He would shape something inside his brain, some plan or notion or question, expecting Brachus to answer. But instead the thought hung there in nothingness, known to him alone.
It was sodding ridiculous! He'd spent almost his whole life with only one mind in his brain (gods... how bloody stupid did that sound?). And yet...
He was alone.
Prince Brach'Xell'Ctharat'Sezrachus stood atop the ridge and breathed deep of the infernal air. After months spent sampling West Kruna's atmosphere through a human nose, its complexities were as a lavish banquet placed before a man who'd become accustomed to eating nothing but gruel.
That mortal kingdom's peoples often spoke of 'hell', as did demons themselves, to denote the entire infernal realm -- the vast plane where Brachus and his kind made their homes, and legions of doomed souls found torment. But 'hells' was far more appropriate. In each direction the prince gazed, far away on the horizon, the grey plain yielded to other terrains, other dominions -- each one perhaps as similar to the next as two siblings, or else as different as fire and ice. There were hells beyond number. Some were no bigger than a human or goblin village, others larger than their nations. And every one of them had its own unique scent, its special melange of flora, fauna, element, sorcery, and sin. Did mortal men and women understand how mundane their own world was when set against the boundless varieties of hell?
And now he had returned, able to appreciate its terrible splendor once more. Returned to the plane, and to his flesh.
His body was strange, a magnificent garment or exquisite panoply donned again after an interminable absence. There was a subtle sense of wrongness whenever he stood before the others. Even Rakshara was half a foot shorter than him now. When he looked down into her orange face, part of his mind kept insisting that he must be standing on a chair or a mound. And he still found himself emulating some of Hugh's mannerisms out of instinct. He'd reach an absentminded hand to a nonexistent knapsack to seize one of the Titaran's indigestible steak and kidney pastries, and grimace when his groping fingers met empty air. Or he'd glance at the oroc, confused that his love had faded (though not his lust... he wondered when they'd encounter a suitable demoness to express it upon).
Emotions were curious things. Hugh's were ghostly auras which still lingered around his own. Brachus stared into the valley below, where the party was camped between the ridge and the belt of hillocks. In his breast two overlapping sets of feelings burned for each of them -- Rakshara, Tessa, <player name>, Niknak, and all the others. Love, friendship, loyalty, mistrust, disdain... Sometimes they were echoes, the same notions improperly overlaid, like the blurry images from each of a drunkard's eyes. At other times two distinct and different impressions clashed.
Most bizarre of all was when his gaze fell upon Hugh, stationed atop a hillock, his back to the prince. To observe from a distance a body he'd once resided within, to watch the Titaran and wonder instead of know what thoughts were going through his mind...
But all this would pass in time. And such inconveniences meant little in light of the incredible sensations which accompanied them.
The moment he'd reformed, the infernal energies pouring from Hugh's mouth and coalescing to shape his body, an almost inconceivable power had coursed through him. A sense of arrogant, unconquerable might. If Occulus' former minions hadn't bent their knees, Brachus had envisioned himself storming among them and ripping each fiend apart with his bare hands -- and then perhaps tearing down heaven and slaughtering the gods, just to prove his superiority. Fortunately it hadn't come to that...
His purple chest, arms, and thighs rippled with muscles, thews so strong they still seemed miraculous all these hours later. He'd ascended the ridge with such easy, graceful bounds that he'd been almost weightless. It made him long for their next battle.
As for his mind... A faint smile creased his infernal visage. Peace, solitude... Privacy. He'd never thought to cherish such things. Now he could have built altars in their name and opened a hundred enemies' throats upon each one. Before, every thought, each musing, had been subject to Hugh's queries, incomprehensions, protestations, and derisions. But now...
Brachus laughed. Freedom... True freedom, of deed and thought.
Yet he forced himself to remember the dangerous path which still lay ahead. He'd regained his body, and a small foothold in the infernal realms. But it would take far more to win Krezzor back, or fulfill his promise to <player name> and the others.
The prince had bombarded Niknak with questions, learning all he could about the machinations of hell which had taken place in his absence. Schemes had formed in his mind, embracing and arranging the imp's information into patterns that might bring power and eventual victory. Perhaps the heady sensation of his returned strength was merely deluding him... But he was confident. With so many of this region's rulers absent from their dominions, battling around Krezzor...
Yes... A series of deft strikes and maneuvers could grant him all he needed.
He'd sent most of his warband here and there piecemeal, to make preparations and further his ambitions. The tasks which lay before the prince himself would be better pursued without a marching army drawing attention at his back. Besides, <player name> and the others were worthier companions, far more capable when it came to such deeds.
Prince Brach'Xell'Ctharat'Sezrachus had shared his plans with <player name> Kasan, discussing where they should each move and act. The human understood the ways of war just as the demon did. He'd nodded, and acquiesced as Brachus had known he would. Between them, it would be done.
Soon... Soon Krezzor would be his.