The pit fiend Cantrum was the founder of the Dark Eight.
Cantrum was a pit fiend, a giant bat-winged humanoid with fangs dripping with green bile and a red scaly body prone to bursting into flames.
According to baatezu legend, Cantrum saw the necessity of further order among the baatezu ranks, and so founded the Dark Eight to provide it. There is some debate on the plane on whether the Dark Eight were given their idea by the Lords of the Nine or whether the idea was purely theirs. As it happens, the Dark Eight (originally called the Dark Nine when Cantrum was part of the group) was founded in secret prior to the Reckoning. The nine pit fiends, who had a variety of positions within Hell's nobility to start with, maneuvered their way to become the nine generals of the plane's nine armies, each of them working for a different archdevil. During the Reckoning, they revealed the true control they had been hiding even from the archdevils they purportedly served; they turned their armies against the rebellious Lords of the Nine, making it clear that Asmodeus's cleverness could not be matched and his power could not be questioned. To further chastise the rebels, Asmodeus took command over the Blood War armies and much of Baator's society out of the hands of the archdevils and gave it to the Dark Nine, who would guide Baator's society from his palace in Malsheem.
Shortly after the rebellion, however, Cantrum fell to an assassin's blade. Most versions of the story say that his killer was a paladin, though a few fiends swear it was an abishai. Rather than replace their irreplaceable founder, the other pit fiends of his order renamed themselves the Dark Eight and carried on without him, though they swore to always honor Cantrum's memory. Supposedly they learned a lesson from the assassination and protected themselves against the secret violence and intrigue that characterizes diabolic society. In actuality, though, many of the current Dark Eight are not the original members; they simply rename a new pit fiend with one of the original founders' names when a position is vacated. The only assassination that has been admitted to publicly is Cantrum's.
The Ring of Cantrum
Every 100 years, 100 osyluths (bone devils) meet with the Dark Eight to promote gelugons to pit fiend status in a moot named after Cantrum. The osyluths gather in a ring around the Dark Eight and present information on which gelugons show the most potential, the most successes, and the most obedience. All 100 osyluths combined have one of nine votes cast in the Ring.
Cantrum was first mentioned in the Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix (1991).
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