Belfas held the hammer against the side of Blackblade's temple. The giant's scarred face twisted into a mask of misery and pain.
"I wasn't kidding when I said I couldn't say what she meant to me. The girl...the creature..." he trailed off, sobs wracking his enormous body. The only thing holding him upright was the strength of Belfas's arm.
Belphagor looked up, blinking away streams of hot tears. "I have killed hundreds. Thousands maybe. I have tortured, despoiled, and pillaged my entire life. That thing was by far the most horrifying thing I've ever experienced."
Belfas nodded slowly, the picture coming into focus. "She was controlling you. Not even one such as you would aid something so monstrous." He let the Breaker of Stormhold down gently, helping him to the ground.
The giant took a few deep, shuddering breaths before beginning his tale. "I found her being attacked by a group of Paladins of your very order. As a rule, I've always gone out of my way to stop you people," at a glare from Belfas he raised his hands in a warding gesture. "You would do the same if you found any of the Wielders of Blacksteel. Don't deny it to be true."
Belfas grumbled agreement, regretting now his vow of honesty.
"Go on," he said, voice gruff.
"I stepped in to stop them. I caught them unawares, half were dead before they knew what was happening-"
Belfas couldn't restrain himself, he lunged forward and seized Belphagor by the throat.
"I should strike you down for your crime! They were good men and women! You had no right!" he roared.
The piteous look in the villain's eyes managed to take the edge off his white hot fury. He threw him down, his heavy armor rang against the marble floor.
"Continue. I...I do not wish to hear the details of your murder. But," his eyes flashed fire, "you will pay for this crime. Believe me. I do not lie."
"Fine. I deserve no better for aiding that...thing. When I had her free of attack, I removed my gauntlet and reached out to take her pulse. My mind was immediately smothered by darkness. It was like staring into a hole in space, the void itself held me in its grasp. A voice came then, from everywhere and nowhere. It was," he paused to think, "it was like someone else thinking your thoughts for you. I don't know how else to say it. The darkness told me to obey, and I did. I was like a marionette on a string."
"It forced me to march for days, tending to the girl. It made me kill any who witnessed our passing," the giant's eyes filled with tears once more. "It made me kill my own brother, Greatheart. It made me slaughter John the Blackstaff. I didn't even duel him honorably. I struck him down...like a dog in the street!"
His story devolved into a torrent of sobs and hacking coughs.
Belfas barely heard. His face went pale, his knees went weak.
"The voice drove you here? To this place? To gain access to this temple?" his voice sounded distant to his own ears, barely audible above the beating of his heart.
Belphagor took note of his reaction, drawing him out from his self loathing.
"Yes, exactly. It lead me to your door. I struggled, hoping you could free me from its control...Do you know of this monster? Do you know what we face?"
Belfas nodded slowly. "We face nothing short of the end of days. I fear-" his voice broke. "I fear that we face nothing short of the end of days. The final battle of the Gods is unleashed."
Somehow the room had managed to grow even darker. As if the light were draining from the world itself. In fact, that wasn't far from the truth.
"What do you mean?" asked Belphagor. "What do you know Paladin?"
"Come with me, I need to show you something."
Belfas turned and numbly walked out from the temple, not watching to see if Belphagor followed. They walked down the main hall, flanked by murals depicting the Twelve Heavens in their splendor, and the imposing figures of ancestral suits of gilded armor.
Belfas stepped forward and pressed his hand against the ivory door which guarded the library entrance. Runes flashed into life, glowing softly red. The door swung open soundlessly. Belphagor followed behind, gaping at the sheer volume of books surrounding them.
"Are there so many books in the world?" Belphagor's despondency momentarily lost in the wonder of the place.
Pride seeped through the numb monotone of Belfas's reply. "We have been building this collection for centuries. It is our pride. But these lesser volumes are not why we are here."
He approached a massive statue of the God of Knowledge, Iritus. He bowed before the statue, chanting in a low and rhythmic voice.
Belphagor looked at the God's statue in wonder. It stood at over ten paces high, and was so intricately carved that he had nearly thought it was Iritus himself. The statue had the body of a man, the wings of an Angel, and the head of an owl. He nearly leaped out of his skin when the statue stepped backwards from the pedestal on which he stood.
Belfas spared him a glance. "He is but a golem. He will not harm those who have my blessing." With that, he placed his hand on the pedestal. Stairs opened up, sprialling down into darkness.
"Do I have your blessing?" When Belfas just continued walking, Belphagor shouted after him. "Do I have your blessing!? This isn't funny Belfas!"
Cautiously, Belphagor stepped onto the pedestal. He was relieved when the golem didn't smite him where he stood.
Just as he went to walk down the first step, the golem twitched. Belphagor leaped back, screaming in alarm. When nothing else happened, he realized the joke.
"That wasn't funny you bastard!" he called into the darkness.