The frigid eighth plane of the hells is ruled by Mephistopheles, the mighty Lord of No Mercy or Cold Lord. This scheming arch-devil rules the frozen wastes of Caina with the help of his consort Baalphegor and his staff: Barbas, chamberlain of Mephistar (Mephistopheles’ iron citadel) and guardian of Mephistopheles’ wealth and treasures; Adonides, steward of Caina, who oversees the administration and defense of the realm; and Bele, justiciar, who sits in judgement of all disputes within Caina. Mephistopheles is cunning enough to allow the appearance of justice – and thus win the ease and resulting loyalty of his vassals, as well as reassurance for other devils elsewhere in the Nine Hells who might consider supporting him in a bid to overthrow Asmodeus, showing them that an independent judiciary would be installed under the rule of Mephistopheles, were he to become Overlord of Hell.
Malebranche and spined devils staff the iron citadel of Mephistar, which perches high in the icy mountains at the heart of the plane. Much of Caina is a land of icecovered boulders and mountains, ruins of stone (for it took the devils long to learn that nothing on the glaciers could withstand the inexorable ice), and sprawling glaciers. Bifrons, one of the dukes of Caina, rules from a cold blue palace carved out of the slow-moving ice of a rift in the center of the great glacier Nargus. This glacier is staffed by the ice devils who populate the plane, and by spined devils, who perform the most menial tasks.
Mephistopheles is one of the most careful and suspicious of the arch-devils, and the halls and chambers of Mephistar are patrolled and inhabited by devils in accordance with a strict schedule of activities. Only Bele, Barbas, and Adonides are free of this iron regimentation, and Mephistopheles wants to know where they are and what they are doing at all times. All three devils delight in deceiving their lord as to precisely where they are and what they are doing, but such deceptions are always small things, for they dare go no further in light of the possible punishments.
A visitor will find Caina numbingly cold – without heat, most warm-blooded creatures can only survive for a few hours before suffering chills, later frostbite, and then death. Certainly any such creature that goes to sleep, falls unconscious, or is rendered immobile in the open without heat will die shortly. Ice devils will be immediately attracted to any fire (note that the raw materials for such a blaze will have to be brought by the visitor, since no combustibles are to be found), and will attack without hesitation. If far from Nargus, an ice devil is not likely to inform Mephistopheles or his staff of the existence of intruders unless there is a chance that other devils have seen them too, and are likely to report them. If a party should escape a lone ice devil, the latter will not warn others of their presence, but will itself remain alert for signs of them.
Were it not for the cold and the lack of food (some tales speak of remorhaz or “glacier worms” in Caina, but if any exist they must be very rare), Caina would offer intruders many inviting places of concealment – there are many hidden valleys in the mountains, and countless icecaves. Corpses, it should be noted, will freeze and be preserved perfectly, so killers of all sorts are advised to seek deep crevasses or snowbanks to conceal such remains.
The dukes of Caina are Hutijin, who commands two mighty legions of pit fiends, the nobles of Caina (including Silcharde, Bechard, Guland, Sphandor, and Buldumech); Bifrons, who commands 26 companies of ice devils in Nargus; and Nexroth, who leads 16 companies of malebranche. The pit fiends and malebranche dwell in the rocky spires and pits of the outermost fringes of Caina. These are hot regions crisscrossed by colder, steaming, slimy waters which at length give way to marches of icy ooze which rise at length into the frozen mountains of the plane’s interior.
The strength and ambition of the pit fiends (particularly those named above) are a weakness in Mephistopheles’ control over his own plane – a weakness encouraged and delighted in by his foes – particularly Baalzebul, who has spies among the Malebranche, and seeks to foster unrest. Only a few of the pit fiends remain strictly loyal to Mephistopheles (without Hutijin, the Cold Lord would soon face open revolt and could not hold the plane). Most seek to gain the most power they can in any change of rulership, and favor dissent and change among the arch-devils as the only way to better their own lot. None have openly defied Mephistopheles yet, but a time will come . . . unless, of course, Mephistopheles defeats Asmodeus, whereupon their loyalty will be loudly conspicuous. Mephistopheles is openly distrustful of Nexroth, who is totally selfish and loyal only to himself; he will do whatever seems best for his own advancement. Nexroth retains his command only because he seems the most reliable of the pit fiends, and Mephistopheles dares not allow open conflict within Caina for fear that another arch-devil would take advantage of the situation. If not for this, the Cold Lord would cheerfully shift the command whenever it suited him, playing the pit fiends off against one another indefinitely.