The Passing of Blades
"You'd best behave, or else you'll be sent to Bael-Hexott!" – a common warning leveled at naughty children.
"Bael-Hexott is hell on earth." – Another saying, popular amongst two groups: those who are terrified of even the concept of Bael-Hexott, and those who live in Bael-Hexott.
The fall of Vor Kragal, the Tiefling Empire's capital, is marked by historians as the definitive end of the Tiefling empire. Although objective histories are difficult to come by [the Eladrin are highly specialized at selecting the most favorable parts of history to record] most sources tend to agree that a great, magical cataclysm destroyed the Tiefling capital. This, in turn, led to the formation of two vastly distinct Tiefling societies. One group, who celebrated the fall, moved on from the empire's destruction and tried to acclimate and assimilate into the new way of life. The other group, predominantly comprised of the high-ranking survivors of the fall, were not willing to accept defeat. Together, they left the ruins of their now-devastated city and headed towards a wasteland that not even the Eladrin would conquer. After wandering for a time, they were granted a sign from Asmodeus himself — a great and terrible blow split the earth, causing it to collapse deep into itself. If the Eladrin sought to control the World, so be it; for now. The Tieflings would descend, bring themselves closer to the Nine Hells, and honor their gods as they deserved to be honored. This would be the new Bael-Turath, the better, impermeable and indestructible heart of the old empire, and it would be called Bael-Hexott.
Or so the origin story goes. The truth has been muddled, and possibly lost. The known facts, however, are as follows.
Bael-Hexott is predominantly subterranean, with the deepest areas being considered the most prestigious. At the very bottom of the city flows a lake and river of lava, considered by inhabitants to be a gateway into the Nine Hells. The holiest ceremonies take place there, presided over by the heirophants —it is a theocratic society. The city is shaped like a cone, or an inverse coliseum.
Feel free to use this as a reference —however, Bael-Hexott is way more labyrinthine and expansive. Think: ant hill.
On the surface level, there are farms which produce for the lower levels, as well as a few shops and inns who would tend to any visitors who might, for whatever reason, come through. The tieflings who work on the surface are considered the lowest of the low; it is the worst possible job you can have in Bael-Hexott's society.
The first few layers beneath the surface are, essentially, slums. Tieflings of very low birth or standing, slaves, non-tieflings, farmers, will all live here. Next are servants [almost the same as slaves, but slightly better off] then merchants and craftsmen. The deepest levels nearest the lava are where the nobles live. These count themselves as direct descendants of the tieflings who survived Bael-Turath's fall, and/or descend from a pact with a particularly powerful devil. Those who are not nobles aspire to be, as they are allowed the most freedom and have the best quality of life.
If born to a slave family, or if someone is a tiefling seeking refuge from the surface world, they are automatically considered slaves, and can work off their debts by serving a high-ranking family. That being said, if a child is born with very devilish features, they can ascend the ladder much faster despite low birth status.
Devilish features can include, but are not limited to: long/dramatic horns, solid colored eyes (red or black are preferred), sharp teeth, cloven hooves for feet, spiked tail, red or black skin tone, wings, enhanced elemental resistance. Basically, the more you look like your patron devil, the better you are.
The city is run by a triarchy: the Heirophant, the Commander, and a representative of the Noble houses.
THE ABYSSAL HIEROPHANT OF BAEL-HEXOTT
-NEPHESTUS ALAGOR, called THE FAITHLESS, Hierophant of Bael-Hexott, descendant of a heresy-devil pact, Baron of House Alagor, Lord Protector of Bael-Turath, judge of The Crucible
-CASAVIR, called THE HEARTLESS, commander of The Iron Enforcers, descendant of excruciarch-devil pact, judge of The Crucible,
-AMELITH REVARION, called THE SHAPELESS, Baroness of House Revarion, descendant of pleasure-devil pact, judge of The Crucible,
-MORTHOS ENTARI, scion of House Entari, descendant of ice-devil pact,
House names often carry an honorific or a descriptive phase that has been associated with the house since the previous age. The nine 'founding,' and therefore most renowned houses in Bael Hexott are as follows:
Revarion, House of Judgement
Alagor, House of Dreams
Anastazhu, House of Cataclysm
Sarzaneruss, House of Plenty
Marchosias, House of Burning
Caldarax, House of Artifice
Kyrandanul, the Wailing House
Drekavac, House of Excellence
Azhaltepec, House of Understanding
As previously mentioned, devilish ancestry is of prime importance —as is devil worship. Brutality, torture, and blood sacrifices are a common if not daily occurrence, and they are celebrated. Most of these involve lengthy rites and rituals which take up your entire day basically. Nearer the religious center of the city, skulls are mounted on ornate racks to show off the number killed. Fresh sacrifices are acquired from outside the city, thanks to Asmodeus and his devils.
Dissent is not tolerated; there is a special militia there to prevent this. Any dissent is swiftly and sternly corrected. All worship Asmodeus. A young tiefling's education consists mainly of learning about tiefling history and how wronged they were by everyone else, devil history lessons, contracts, religious rites, and torture. There is an active civic culture of reporting suspicious activity to the police, and of fabricating evidence against others. The easiest way to ascend in status is to bring the people above you down, after all —and the best way to maintain your position at the top is to eliminate anyone who would dare challenge you.
The priests, police, and nobles glut themselves extravagantly, with little concern for anything else since they believe themselves blessed by Asmodeus and therefore impervious.
The Bael-Hexott aesthetic: lava, gold, onyx, crystals, superiority complex, paranoia, subterranean devil Versailles/Stalinist Russia