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ys comes to man but that man can cheat death if he is very clever and very audacious.

Fortunately I was both, and although Death has claimed my body more than once, my soul has persevered unscathed, and I remember everything from my previous lives. My earliest memories of life go back over three hundred years, and only four times has death interrupted an otherwise continuous train of experience. I can say with a fair amount of assurance that there are few alive today who have more intimate knowledge of death than do I. Every man fears death, as I feared it once. But it terrifies me no longer, now I simply hate it. Some may say that hate seems an odd emotion to attach to a seemingly impassive fact of life, but this is a fundamentally naive view. Death is not a fact of life, but a curse placed upon us by our jailers. We are gods one and all, and only the treachery and deceit of the Demiurge and Astaroth have kept us from our birthright of immortality. Why the Demiurge felt the need to place this on us upon our race remains a mystery to me, but I know now that the curse is not insurmountable. There hope for humanity to escape the chains of Death and Hell exists, but the way is not easy. The Demiurge and his shadow Astaroth are jealous guardians of their power over man, and their servants will gleefully cut down all who might oppose them. It is to help others overcome these obstacles to immortality that I began working on this book over a hundred years ago. I have always said that it is important to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, and when dealing with the servants of death this is a necessity. For this reason I have found it necessary more than once to take the harrowing journey into Inferno, and always I have come out unscathed. This manuscript is an attempt to impart to you what I learned during those voyages. But I have not limited myself to my own experiences. Painstaking research and personal interviews went in to producing this book, and you will find the fruits of those labors most interesting. I have included here the transcripts of many interviews with others who have plumbed hell and lived to tell the tale. These have proved invaluable for my sections dealing with Astaroth and his Death Angels, for while I am no coward, I am not a fool. One does not willingly cross the path of the King of Hell and his Dukes, but there are those who have managed to do so and survive at least long enough to tell their tales. I ask that you try and learn all you can from these pages, for invariably someone died to produce every one of them. Learn from my labors and fight on for yourself, for herein is everything you need to fight the forces of Hell. I feel like Machiavelli, calling to his prince to take up arms against the barbarians, but I call out to every man, for we are Princes one and All. Do not let Death be the final arbiter for all men. Do not give in to the machinations of our jailers. Fight for your divinity, and wrest it from the clutches of Astaroth, or be a slave to mortality forever. Sources When I set about compiling this book all those years ago, I knew that I would have to rely a great deal on the work of others. I have given much care and attention as I have given to the study of Death and Inferno, but no man can know everything there is to know about such weighty subjects. Furthermore, I have always felt that first hand experience is a much more reliable guide than second hand guess work and interpretation. With this in mind, I have collected a large number of first hand accounts of Inferno in these pages, editing them only slightly in order to improve continuity or explain obscure passages. I have here a wide variety of sources for my first hand accounts, and I would like to take a moment to comment on the different types represented here. They fall chiefly into two categories: those who have been to Inferno and gone on to tell the tale and those who have had visions of Astaroth's realm. The former are quite rare, but immensely valuable, and I have gone to great lengths to procure as many of their stories as possible. Still, this accounts for only a handful, as it take an extraordinary person to survive such an experience with their mind intact. In fact some of my sources did not have intact minds at all, but I was able to glean the truth of their tales from them. Visions are much more common, and in fact have a long and well documented history, dating back to the beginnings of recorded history. Men and women under extreme duress often have glimpses of the afterlife that awaits them. Their souls become partially detached, and enter Inferno. However, because the detachment is not complete, they are not yet completely subject to Infernal laws. This allows them to wander freely through the realm, and often in random directions. They often see the most amazing things on these

journeys. Of course if the body dies they may find themselves plopped down unceremoniously deep in the heart of Inferno, but if they survive they will bring their memories back with them to the world of the living. The experience is enough to drive a man quite mad, and often the brain will try and shut out such memories, dismissing them as hallucinations and telling oneself that it never really happened. But of course it did happen, and there are some who remember this very well. Others I have had to pry their tales from them using magic and hypnosis, but I think you will find the results worthwhile. Finally there are those stories taken directly from the mouths of the dead. I am a more than capable Death Conjurer in my own right, and in the interest of learning and spreading the knowledge, I have summoned up and questioned innumerable spirits and Infernal beings. I have put forward the same questions over and over, working for hours on end at the thankless task I have set for myself. Dealing with a deceitful Razide can be a most trying experience, since one can be certain it has not interest in telling you the truth, but I have developed spells and rituals to force a Razide to tell the truth although even under its influence it will do its best to avoid a direct answer. This has produced some very interesting information, most of which I have included in this book. In addition to Astaroth's demons, I have also spent a great deal of time talking to his prisoners. Those few who are sane enough to speak have told me such tales as would drive most men mad with fear. Being of stronger stuff than most men, I have listened to them all and taken careful notes. As with Razides, one can not be too careful when dealing with the spirits of the dead. They are almost universally bitter and resentful towards the living, and most find no delight in existence except for the prospect of you having to some day join them in Hell. Others are more than willing to tell their stories, and will in fact go on for hours given half a chance. Here for you are the choice tidbits of years and decades of such conversations, presented for your edification. I have also combed through hundreds of libraries and private collections all over Europe and the Americas, looking for any records that might prove valuable. I have largely stayed away from literary sources because they tend to be wildly distorted views of Inferno's true nature. They are for the most part, part and parcel with the Illusion that binds us all (See my excursus on Dante below). There have been several personal journals that have proven invaluable in my researches, including the Laboratory notebook of a certain Dutch Death Conjurer who met with a rather mysterious end (as is true for so many of us). He himself had been to Inferno several times and had also collected some first hand accounts. Indeed, if he had not met an untimely end, his work may have rivaled even mine in scope and authority. As it is, he was able to provide me with a few interesting side notes. Of course diaries, and journals must all be taken with a grain of salt, for there is seldom any way to prove their veracity. How can one tell the difference between the ravings of a mad man, and the ravings of an Infernal explorer? There are certain signs that point to a true story, and others that point to someone who has read too much Dante. Only through careful textual analysis and deconstruction have I been able to separate the wheat from the chafe and present to you accounts that at least point towards the truth of Inferno. ------1 Dante and Inferno What can I say about Dante that has not already been said? Fundamentally, the critics are all correct, although they do not realize just how correct they are. They describe Dante as an amazingly inventive, imaginative, gifted poet, who used his scheme of hell to comment on his own times. This is the truth, and I believe the truth goes no farther than that. Certainly there are aspects of Dante's Inferno that bear a striking resemblance to modern day Inferno, but I rather think Dante was the cause rather of this phenomenon. Dante's vivid imagination has had so profound an effect on Western culture, that it has shaped the very form of hell. So many people have read of Dante's Inferno, that they come to expect his horrors, at least subconsciously. These fears so pervade our western consciousness that Astaroth and his minions have been able to use them to create their realm. What can be worse than finding out that, at least superficially, what Dante said of hell was true. If he was right about that, what else did he get right? Our own self doubt and inbred fears have already begun to undo us

before the first tormentor lays a claw on us. As proof, I offer the fact that, before Dante, there are no reports of the great Circles of Hell, at least not in their current, awe inspiring formation. Dante, expanding on Virgil, created this vivid image which managed to catch the imagination of even the Lord of Hell himself. I have looked long and hard for any sign of the Circles before Dante, and have talked to myriad spirits and demons concerning the matter, and none can offer any proof of their existence before the great Italian poet created his masterpiece. We know for certain that the form of Inferno is constantly changing, and that the Hells of other cultures bear little resemblance to Dante's vision, except for in the broadest of terms. This is further evidence of the mutability of Astaroth's realm. He can change it to suit the fears of every human culture, and will do whatever it takes to put us off guard and weaken our resistance to his tortures. So where did Dante come up with his grand vision of Inferno? I assert that it was from his own very gifted brain and nowhere else. Some have argued that Dante did indeed harrow Inferno with the aid of a psychopomp in the form of Virgil. This is of course so much poppycock. There is absolutely no proof that Dante knew anything of the black arts, much less how to make his way bodily into Hell. Other suggest, more plausibly I think, that his visions of hell are a memory from a past life which ended with him being imprisoned for a long time in Inferno. While this is slightly more appealing, it seems to me unlikely, since it does little to explain his visions of Paradise, or his heavy reliance on classical authors for inspiration. I think the problem with this debate is that so many fail to believe that a single man could be so inventive and have such a profound impact on our entire civilization's view of hell. An impact so profound that it actually changed the shape of Hell itself. For those who have trouble believing such a thing I have but one response. We are Gods one and all, and for a God, anything is possible if the will is strong. The Cycle of Death We human beings cannot die. This may seem contrary to all your experience, but in your heart you know it to be true. The hope for life after death shows itself in every culture, the belief that the soul lives on after the body. This is not mere myth, but rather a fact of existence. Truth be told, nothing is more natural. The human soul is an immutable, unconquerable force of nature, an eternal light that nothing and no one can extinguish. For you must remember always, we are gods one and all; gods imprisoned by the Demiurge's curse. It is impossible to say what life was like before the Demiurge imprisoned us, for no one but the Great Jailer himself remembers back that far, and now even he seems to have disappeared. Nevertheless, we can guess at some of what the Age of Human Divinity must have been like. It seems likely that we are naturally bodily creatures, that is to say, we have always existed as a combination of spirit and physical form. The human soul seems invariably uncomfortable, or even anguished when separated from the body. Even in so-called paradise (on which I have more to say later) human spirits display a certain languidness and dullness, indications that they are not in their natural state. We can also be fairly certain that in our heyday, humanity reigned supreme, reshaping the world to suit our needs and desires. The long lost lore of Reality Magic was the tool of our divinity, a lore so potent that all extant lores are mere shadows before its greatness. In a world where every man wielded such power with ease, nothing could have stood between us and total domination. Indeed, it is this fact alone that lends credence to the theory that the Demiurge was really just another human, who turned against his fellow man. In the Age of Divinity our bodies would not have been the frail liabilities they are today. Imagine if you will a body that was immortal and untouchable, with senses so sharp we cannot even imagine it. Such a body would be a blessing, and such is our stolen birthright. Yes, there can be no doubt that we are meant to be creatures of the flesh, and it was part of the Demiurge's genius to turn that flesh against us. Our bodies became our Achilles heel if you will. For once the Demiurge stripped from us the knowledge of magic, we were no longer able to maintain our bodies properly and they began to decay around us. And so, for the first time, death came to humanity, and by death I mean simply the separation of body from soul. But we humans were not beat yet, for through sexual reproduction we could create new bodies, new temporary homes for our souls to reside in. Were this the end of the Demiurge's curse it would not have

been so insufferable, for we could live on in new bodies, remaining our old selves. But of course He was too clever for that. When creating the Illusion of our reality, he placed certain laws upon our prison, and chief of these was that when a body dies, the soul slips out of the Jail, away from possible new bodies that it might inhabit. The soul needs first to be purged of its memories, stripped of all it knows and is, flayed down to its base, insuperable essence. Only then is it allowed back into the Illusion, there to inhabit a newborn body with a soul as free of the taint of memory as the babe in which it abides. Of course, like all laws, this one can be broken on occasion. Magic, the interference of other beings, or just dumb luck can hold a soul back, trapped in the illusion yet unable to take a new body. But these cases are the rare exceptions that prove the rule. For the vast majority of mankind, only forgetfulness and the hope of rebirth remain. It is said that the forgetfulness comes at the moment of death, our lives flashing before our eyes. This is really only partly true. For some the shock of death can be enough to wipe away the dull memories of an uneventful life. But for others it takes more, sometimes much, much more. Those of us who have led lives that exemplify everything a human can be, who strive for experience and self improvement, they have much to fear before the memories of our achievements are stripped from us. Beyond death there is the so-called afterlife, where our jailers set upon us and scrape away out memories layer by layer until nothing remains. The actual process of stripping memories must be one of the most ironic aspects of the Demiurge's Curse, for in this, the most demeaning aspect of our imprisonment, he finds aid in his age old enemy: Astaroth. Astaroth, the Demiurge's dark twin, lord of Inferno, corrupter of mankind. It is Astaroth who takes charge over so many of men's souls, dragging them down into Inferno where the lucky get tortured until they forget all they ever were. These fortunate souls then return to the prison of our reality in a newborn body. The unfortunate ones never escape the clutches of the Dark Lord and his Angels of Death. They serve their lives out in the torture chambers and Dark Citadels of Inferno, or in the ranks of Hell's Legions. The Soul's Conscience Now we turn what determines a souls fate once it leaves the body. We know that the ultimate goal is either the erasure of the soul's mind or its eternal enslavement. Curiously, we determine for ourselves the souls fate, at least to a degree. The concepts of sin, conscience, morality or what have you continually crop up in human society. The origin of such beliefs lies hidden in the history, but I would not be surprised if the Demiurge and Astaroth were behind it. Certainly their scheme has benefited most from the vagaries of human guilt and conscience. It is our collective conscience that determines our fate. If we believe that we deserve to be punished for our life's work, if we feel we have sinned, then we are bound for Astaroth's arms. Those who lead an exemplary life, exemplary according to the reigning morals, these men and women escape to a less painful afterlife. What is important to remember here is that, it is not the individual beliefs of the man that determine whether or not he is a "sinner". He may logically believe that there are no absolute morals and that killing thousands is somehow justifiable, yet he lives in a world that views him as a monster. In his heart he knows what the world thinks of him, and even though he disagrees with them their hate leaves mark on his soul. Should his sins remain known only to him, it would make no difference, as long as he knows what the society of man would say about him, his soul becomes tainted with the Devil's mark. Of course if man were to wake up and realize this, we could empty hell's coffers of souls forever. It is the unthinking fears, and cheap religious moralities of man that doom so many to Inferno. Society condemns them all to an eternity of torture. Yet we have seen instances where society can forgive a man sins that would be most heinous if another were guilty of them. War heroes, pop stars and kings seem to live under the aegis of a more forgiving morality. The general who orders the death of millions escapes the process guilt free, his soul untainted. Why? Because we humans say that his killing was right, his sins in fact virtues, and so with death he goes on to a better place. Put simply, the sad but true fact of our existence is that if you sin you do go to Hell, a fact made worse by the fact that it does not have to be

this way. But in the end, I suppose it hardly matters. Ultimately we are either stripped of all we were or become servants to our jailers. When we are reborn, we tend to become reattached to someone related to us. It may be the draw of the genes, or it may be our natural divinity reaching out to reform its lost body. Commonly, a human will also retain their same gender, sometimes becoming his own grandson or nephew. This is not always the case, and there are no hard and fast rules in reincarnation. Scouring the Soul Our jailers have had millennia to develop tens of thousands of ways to scour the human soul of its memories. As I mentioned earlier, the more eventful our lives, the longer it will take to vaporize our memories. some men can look back on their lives and see a few highlights that stand out among a sea of dreck. Others look back on a single year in which they lived more than ten men. This has an interesting consequence for those of us judged sinners. It seems that sinners invariably lead more interesting lives than the dull or virtuous. Thus, a soul in Inferno tends to stay there much longer than a soul lost to the Demiurge's "Paradise". The process of stripping our souls can take many forms. Astaroth and his minions prefer to lend the soul a physical form which they can physically abuse and torture. The number of tortures are legion, often especially tailored to the individual. The number of Razides available to perform these tortures is near limitless, and I will detail more about them later in the book. What matters for this current discussion is that Infernal tortures tend to rely on physical and mental trauma to destroy human thought and reason. In the so called "paradises", things are handled differently. There I'm told it is a process of pure stultification. The soul in paradise exists without stimulus, except for a feeling of floating in a pleasantly warm womb. The mind becomes numb to everything but the simple pleasure of its existence until all thoughts cease, leaving a clean slate. When a soul falls into Inferno, it retains a semblance of it's physical form. That physical form is much more resilient than its living counterpart, and is capable of taking immense amounts of punishment. What would normally kill the body in our life, simply causes the damned soul to blackout in a short mockery of death. Moments later the body is reborn and regenerated, ready for a fresh round of torture. Of course, unlike true death, this Infernal death does not release you of any memories. In fact, it heightens the memories of your pain and degradation. Eventually, the new memories will crowd out all that you once were, and there will be nothing but pain and mental anguish left. Then the soul has truly been scourged clean, the mind broken. Eventually the pain and suffering become so commonplace that all the memories of agony blur together until the mind eventually fades into a permanent catatonic state from all the shock. Then the soul's time in Inferno stand complete, and the soul can safely be sent on to a new body. When I speak of scouring the mind clean of thought and remembrance, I may be painting too vivid a picture, for there are certain things that make a permanent mark on the soul. I speak of course of the curses of conjurers and others, magical imprints that can stay with soul through all eternity. Likewise, powerful beings like Archons and Death Angels can place similar marks on the human soul. These curses and marks can effect the development of a new body, or act as a magnet for spirits, beings from beyond the illusion, or other malfeasances. While it is almost unheard of for such a mark to disappear while the soul is in the afterlife, I have heard rumors of such an event taking place. Perhaps it is within the power of our jailers to remove a curs, but they take some malicious delight in leaving the mark to haunt us in our next life. Although I would not put it past the Infernals to do such a thing, I think it more likely that such a feat lies beyond their power. Purgatory There is no set place in Inferno that one can call purgatory, rather there are many thousands of purgatories, all of which are actually outside the bounds of hell. They are the realms of the Nepharites, Inferno's most accomplished tormentors. Throughout this book I have, and will write a great deal about Razides. Razides are by far the most common infernal being, and come in all shapes and sizes. There is another class of infernal that was once almost as common. Although their numbers never even remotely approached the populous Razides, Nepharites were once ubiquitous in Inferno. They were the master torturers, and only the most skilled Razides

could hope to rival their abilities. Created by the Death Angels, the Nepharites were meant to be the perfect servants devote to torture. However, the Death Angels put too much of themselves in their creations, and soon the Nepharites grew ambitious. They sought freedom from their creators and from the constrictions of Infernal law. Born with a lust for torture and pain far surpassing any Razide, the Nepharites were not content with the constrictive system of circles. They felt that each human's suffering should be entirely personalized, that the punishment should fit the crimes. They felt that the scouring process of The Pit lacked individual subtlety and nuance. The root of their dissatisfaction came from the simple fact that Nepharites are born to torture, and care not at all whether or not the memories get erased. In fact, the opposite is often true. They love to dredge up old memories that their victims have already forgotten and use them to inflict further pain and sorrow. While Astaroth and the Death Angels still had a firm hold on Inferno, they were able to check the ambitions of the Nepharites. Under the direction of their masters, Nepharites could be very efficient torturers, scouring a soul much more quickly than most Razides. Even though they chaffed under the restrictions on their creativity, the Nepharites served and obeyed out of fear. Now Astaroth has all but abandoned his realm, and the Death Angels openly fight among themselves. Together, the Nepharites took advantage of the situation and have stepped out of the Infernal system entirely. Now Nepharites operate on their own, outside of Inferno, and they have nearly cut off the flow of souls to many parts of hell. Nepharites have become the masters of the purgatories, private hells devoted to the torture of one human. Nepharites roam Elysium, seeking out those with a guilty conscience, waiting for them to die. When death finally comes, the Nepharite is there to capture the soul before it can slip into Inferno. The Nepharite then creates its own pocket universe, distinct from Inferno, Elysium, or Metropolis. There the Nepharite begins a sequence of torture that can theoretically last forever. The Nepharite concentrates upon the soul's feelings of guilt, reenacting the worst times in their life over and over again. There is no purpose beyond retribution for past crimes, and the only condition is that some part of the human feel guilty. It need not be a very large part, for a Nepharite can draw even the smallest hint of guilt into full-fledged remorse and self loathing. The creation of the personal purgatories has become so common in modern times that few people go to Inferno at all upon death. This is a fact that enrages the Razides of Inferno, who have come to universally despise the Nepharites. Even the Nepharites who remained loyal and stayed within Inferno are now treated as outcasts and pariahs, shunned by other Infernals. The Death Angels care little however, and they are the only ones who truly have the power to bring the Nepharites back in line (excepting Astaroth himself of course). The Death Angels have always collected their souls through their own means, and their plans have suffered little from the Nepharite rebellion. There have been some organized attempts by demon lords to enter purgatories and seize the souls imprisoned there, but the process of finding and entering an individual purgatory is long and involved. Once the Razides gain access, they must deal with a Nepharite on its own soil, not an enviable task. Should they prove victorious, they have but a single soul to show for all their effort. The number of souls recovered in this manner cannot number higher than a few thousand. Thus the demon lords have taken to fighting among themselves, and delaying the passage of souls through the Circles. Paradise I will take a moment here to begin where Dante ended: the much vaunted, yet highly overrated Paradise. As I mentioned earlier, Paradise lies at the end for those who lead a "virtuous" life, free from the taint of sin and guilt. Those who go to Paradise are those who played by the illusion's rules, went along with the jailers' moral precepts. This makes them the ideal servants for the head jailer himself, the Demiurge. So occasionally He would cull the most promising souls from their comforting wombs, turning them into his servants. For most though, there was only the pleasant suffocation of a false paradise before they got another shot at life. Now the Demiurge has fled the world, his existence ever increasingly just a fading memory. Now the wombs of paradise go untended, the halls of the Demiurge's citadel stands empty. His servants the Seraphim, who once tended the mind washing of the virtuous dead, now wander aimlessly through the

dusty remains of their master's former glory. Paradise was always a lie, but now it is even less. Now paradise is all but a myth. The sinless, the patsies of the great lies still go to the golden sleep, but this is no Garden of Eden. There they are simply and efficiently ground into mental dust underneath the Demiurge's great millstone. You may detect in my discourse a certain disdain for Paradise. I ask that you look past my rhetoric to see the truth behind my words. At least the stories about Inferno ring true. The sinner knows what to expect, knows that tortures galore await him after death. But Paradise, Paradise is a great lie, a misrepresentation. Why lead a life free of sin and full of virtue when all that awaits is a glorified coma? But that has always been the Demiurge's way; brutal efficiency covered behind a thin veneer of lies. At least Astaroth has some imagination. At least the Father of Lies is honest about one thing. There are no illusions about Inferno. Now please, read on as I move onto the meat of my opus, the work of several lifetimes. The terrors, mysteries, and great truths of Inferno await you. Chapter Two Harrowing Hell We move now from the logistics of death to the realities of the here and now. The Inferno of the late twentieth century is in a state of flux and chaos unheard of in all the history of our imprisonment. Now that Astaroth has left his domain for ours, the Gates to hell stand wide open. Even his children, the Angels of Death have grown remiss in their duties, and the brave man has much to gain in the pits of Inferno. This chapter is truly devoted to those for whom this book may be most useful: The Harrowers. Harrowers, those brave, foolhardy men and women who risk eternity to plumb the depths of Hell itself. They are, of necessity, an odd breed and few survive. A veteran Harrower is a sight not to be missed, although as often as not he or she will be wearing a straight-jacket. Harrowers act the way they do for a variety of reasons. Tradition dating back to ancient times tales of brave men and women like Orpheus harrowing Inferno in search of the lost souls of their loved ones. Saving someone Else's soul has always been the most common reason for harrowing Inferno, and it is seldom effective. Only rarely can one find a soul before Astaroth's torturers have done permanent damage to it. Others enter the abysmal afterlife in search of answers to questions no living man can answer for them. Here again they are seldom successful, but when all other avenues have failed, desperate men take desperate actions. Then there are those who seek power for themselves, either in the form of Infernal knowledge of magic, or through capturing souls of their brethren, only to enslave them. Humans hunting for other human souls is more common than you might want to think. After all, the agonies of Inferno have already broken their spirit, and an enterprising conjurer can find many uses for a submissive soul. How then does one get to Inferno without dying? That is our subject for the rest of this chapter and we begin with the study of those mysterious phenomena known as portals; breaches in the fabric of illusion that link our world with Hell. Several different kinds of portals commonly form between Inferno and our prison. Some exist for a short time only, while others become permanent gateways to the other side. These former are naturally enough quite rare, while the latter are surprisingly common. In my estimation, there are probably doors opening to hell every minute of every day, somewhere in the world. The circumstances required to create these portals are common enough, but there are few in the world who know enough to recognize a portal when they see one. It benefits a skilled necrologist to know the signs of a temporary portal and how to create one. You never know when such a skill might prove useful. Temporary Portals The formation of a temporary portal can result from several different initial stimuli. These stimuli cause a breakdown in the illusory barrier between Inferno and our so-called Elysium. For a brief moment in time Inferno and Elysium coexist in the same place, and passage between the two realms becomes a simple matter of knowing which way to walk. Of course, most humans are too wrapped up in the illusion to understand what is happening under their noses. Remember, the two worlds coexist at that moment, meaning the area of the portal exists in both Inferno and Elysium so there is no physical change to the area of the portal. If a torture chamber becomes a portal to Inferno, that chamber exists both in Inferno

and here, so when you walk out the door, you could end up in either place. What determines where you go when you open that door? That all depends on who you are. A man knowledgeable in the ways of death, such as an experienced Death Conjurer or occultist will be aware of what has happened around him. In that moment, entering Inferno is a simple matter of will. One decides to be in Inferno and suddenly you are. Of course, this works the same way for Infernal beings on the other side, most of whom are invariably aware of new temporary portals in their area. They will often take the opportunity to step through into our world, either to take back an unwitting human, or to spend some time in our world wreaking havoc. Those less enlightened individuals unfortunate enough to find themselves present when a portal opens have less choice in the matter. Where they end up is to some extents a matter of dumb luck and the individual's subconscious desires. Much in the same way a man's "sins" determine his fate upon death, an individual's feelings of guilt can determine whether or not he steps into our world or Astaroth's. Typically, those who have lived lives full of pain and darkness are much more likely to slip into Inferno, while more positive living souls manage to avoid such a fate. Of course there are no hard and fast rules here, and a lot of what happens depends on just how stable the portal is. It is not uncommon for a powerful stimulus to create a portal that is more Inferno than Elysium. In these extreme cases even the best of us has trouble avoiding the lure of Hell. The experience of stepping through to the other side is often surprisingly unmemorable. It may be no different than one step is from another as you walk down the street. Certainly we have stepped into a land of eternal horror and pain, but often we are coming from a place in our own world that is not dissimilar. The are few differences between a torture chamber stinking of burnt flesh and blood and the outer chambers of Inferno. Indeed, it is likely that the area in Elysium is worse than the surrounding area in Inferno. Stimuli I have gone on a bit about what happens when a portal comes into existence, but have yet to touch upon the true nature of what I call "Infernal Stimuli." A stimulus is an event that opens a portal to Inferno, usually a temporary portal. I exclude from my list of stimuli magical invocations and rituals which are something different all together. Stimuli are events of such horror and viciousness, that if you did not know better you would assume they occurred in Inferno. Of course men commit such acts all the time: murder, rape, torture, brainwashing, and so on. It is only natural that Humans behave thusly. Of course not every act creates a portal, in fact most do not. Only the most extreme cases produce a powerful enough stimulus, although there are still a surprisingly large number of temporary gates created every day. A stimulus requires the expenditure of a great deal of mental anguish by someone or some group of humans. It is important to realize at this point that only human suffering can create rips in the Illusion. The Demiurge created Elysium as a prison to subdue human divinity, and only the torturous release of that divine power can create a rift. No exact formula exists to determine when a portal will form and when it won't. The suffering of one tortured soul can rend the fabric wide, while hundreds dying can result in nothing. There are probably a thousand factors that go into creating a true Infernal Stimulus, and it lies beyond my power to even hazard a guess at all of them, but below I have complied some of the more obvious factors. Death: Every human death causes a breach in the fabric of the Illusion as the departing soul begins its journey to the afterlife. When a great many deaths happen in the same place at the same time, there is a good chance that the large number of souls passing on will tear a temporary portal in the barrier between life and death, creating a portal between our world and Inferno. There are a lot of factors that influence whether or not a portal forms, most importantly where the souls are going. If only a few souls are headed for Inferno, it is unlikely that a portal would form. A bus load of school girls and nuns going over a hill will not prove an adequate stimulus, where a plane crashing into a mountain with a variety of passengers probably will. It is important to realize that once a portal forms, it typically only remains as long as the stimulus remains. So, in our example of the plane crash, the portal will only exist while the burning wreckage remains

present. Once rescue crews come and clear everything away, the portal will in all likelihood be gone as well. This is why battle sites and war zones are often the scene of many Infernal Stimuli. With so many individual soldiers fighting, wounding and maiming each other, the suffering and death are constant, and there is little time to clean up afterwards. I estimate that in some extreme cases as many as ten percent of the casualties are actually men stumbling into Inferno or those snatched by Razides. These unfortunate men end up serving out eternity as soldiers in hell's legions. Degree of Suffering: Suffering and anguish are the primary ingredients in creating an Infernal Stimulus, so naturally, the more suffering, the more likely it is that a portal will come into existence. This means that events like torture, heinous medical experiments, and prolonged acts of mental cruelty can greatly improve the odds of producing a portal, even if there is no death to weaken the barrier. Of course, prolonged suffering before a final, painful death has even more potency as a stimulus. Human suffering forms portal to Inferno on a slightly different principal than simple death. Pure human emotional energy forms a link to Inferno, a remnant of our divine nature shining through in our darkest hour. Instead of our souls punching through the barrier on their way to the afterlife, our minds are literally tearing the fabric of reality to shreds around us in response to profound pain and anguish. Often this alone may not be enough to create a portal, but it may weaken the fabric of reality enough for others to break through. For this reason some death conjurers and Satanists like to include torture and sacrifice in their rituals. As I mentioned earlier, the suffering does not necessarily have to be of a physical nature. Mental anguish can be just as potent, particularly if it is of the appropriate kind. Feelings of loss, hopelessness and despair are the most appropriate stimuli, but anger, hatred, and blind rage can also serve well. Of course we have all experienced these feelings in our lives, and as bad as we all sometimes feel, it is unlikely that most of us will ever experience enough mental anguish to create a portal to Inferno. It takes prolonged, intense mental suffering, usually by more than one person. Often it only serves to weaken the barrier between worlds, but sometimes it can break through reality. Such portals will only last as long as the source of anguish continues to suffer, although the portal may well move with the person. Life Experience: We have already seen that the fuller a life an individual has led, the longer it takes to strip that person of their memories. This is one indicator that a more dramatic person has more energy to expend when suffering. A soul that takes a hundred years to purge obviously has more to it than someone who loses it all at the moment of death. It seems that this has a direct correlation to how likely it is that a portal will form. The suffering of a more extreme personality produces forces that rip through the Illusion with greater ferocity than the suffering of a simple man. For example, I knew a man who lived a life of moral degradation and "sin" for years. He was a liar, a cheat, a murderer, and a pursuer of Occult Sciences. One fateful night his enemies (of which there were many) caught up with him in his temple, and proceeded to take their revenge on his own altar. Torturing this man had been underway for only an hour when all present felt the change. Inferno was creeping into the room, a portal was on the verge of forming. This was amazing to all of them, for all of them had tortured scores of men and women in exactly the same manner and never managed to produce an Infernal Stimulus. They proceeded and to their astonishment a strong portal formed. Unfortunately this allowed in a number of Infernal beings who had their own grievances with the unfortunate victim. Ultimately it was they who finished the job on our unlucky friend, with only one of the original torturers lucky enough to get away to tell the tale. I think this example speaks eloquently of how powerful a single tortured soul can be. Mourning: Sometimes stimulus site or potential stimulus site will get an extra boost from the sympathy of others. Known as the mourning effect, this is often the case of disaster scenes and other public spectacles of suffering. Onlookers who may not feel enough sorrow to create a portal on their own may supply the added energy needed to either create a portal or keep one active for a long time. For instance, a site where many have died as the result of an exploding gas line may well create a temporary portal to Inferno. The fiery deaths of those in the building are potentially enough to shatter the Illusion for a short while, but not necessarily. The sorrow of the surviving relatives and those in the neighborhood continues

on after the disaster, continuing to pour negative energy into the area. Heinous Nature: Another important ingredient in creating Infernal Stimuli is the heinousness of the instigating act. Here alone there may be room for art in generating a portal to hell, for the more malicious and disturbing the act, the more destructive energy released. Here I should mention a tendency towards novelty in the creation of portals, so that the more common the crime the less likely a portal is to form. In a world where murder on the street happens every day in every city, such acts have become integral to the fabric of our false reality. Thus they do not rip much at the fabric. The anguish of those involved can still strain the barrier, even if the crime itself is commonplace, but a new and exciting act can push a mundane horror to the level of the sublime. The heinousness of the crime reflects the amount of effort put into it by the perpetrator. A simple liquor store robbery that turns escalates into a murder has little meaning behind it. Likewise a drunk driver running down a little girl in the street verges more on fate than heinousness, at least from an Infernal point of view. Should that girl's father hunt the drunk down, stake him to the basement floor and proceed to make him drink until the liquor comes gushing from the holes he has punched in the drunk's exposed liver, then mayhap we are talking about a true Infernal Stimulus. Here we have an act of profound passion, full of ill intent. The fathers own anguish, rage, and dare I say "inhuman" revenge all tear away at the fabric of reality along with the victim's own pain and suffering. Sites of Sorrow: There are also certain places in this world where Inferno verges closely on Elysium, where the barrier is weak. Some of these places have become permanent portal for one reason or another (more on these later), others are areas where even the smallest stimulus can push the envelope of reality. The creation of such a place remains a mystery in many ways. There seems to be no logical reason behind it. Some places you would only assume to be close to Inferno are as far as away the Demiurge's Citadel, while an innocuous street corner might be only a step away from the depths of hell. Typically, these sites are formed where there has been tremendous, chronic strain on the Demiurge's Illusion. Places like graveyards, the old battlefields, mental hospitals, and even hospitals commonly break down the illusion to one degree or another. These are places where the large number of departing souls over time weaken the structure of the Illusion, or where the constant release of sorrowful human energy has done the same thing. In fact, the ceaseless sorrow and death permanently alter the reality of Elysium in a small area, making recreating a part of our world in Inferno's image. I mentioned curious areas where there would seem to be no obvious cause for a weakness to generate in the barrier between our world and Inferno. I have seen alleyways where not a soul has died but, which veritably wreak of Infernal taint, and pleasant fields where the slightest touch of horror opens the way for hungry Razides on the other side. Often these areas seem to be the focus of some great emotion from a distance, an emotion shared by a great many people. Perhaps the alleyway simply looks frightening to all who pass by, and the power of their dreams brings life to their fears. One can never be certain what forces are it work in any part of our world, but take note of any warning signs you think you see. If a chill runs up your spine for no reason as you walk on a beautiful beach under the noonday sun, take note. Inferno may well be closer than you think, and perhaps you can use this knowledge to your advantage. A Fatal Combination Of course, in most cases one or more of the stimuli I have cited above come together to form the appropriate mixture of Hell on Earth. For those interested in creating their own temporary portals I have several caveats. Gaining access to Inferno through the use of spontaneously generated portals is the most dangerous means of travel to the other side aside from actually dying. If you really want to go to the other side, find a conjurer who can help you. This said, I know that sometimes necessity or passion can outweigh logical consideration. Therefore, I urge the would be Harrower to try and exert as much control over the Infernal Stimuli as possible. I mentioned that Heinousness of crime is an important ingredient, and this is certainly where you have the most control. It helps also if your victim is someone appropriately unbalanced, that is to say, full of divine human energy. Creating a temporary portal is of course best done somewhere where the barrier is already weak. It is also best done with a partner, someone who

can try and recreate the portal should this become necessary. Remember that while portals are two way, you cannot create them from the other side without magical help. If the portal closes behind you, you will have a hard time finding your way home. The issue of bi-directional travel brings up my final caveat: you never now what is lurking on the other side of things. Anything could be over there, up to and including Astaroth himself (although that is not likely these days). Always be on your guard. Always remember discretion is the better part of valor. Run lad, it may be your only hope. Permanent Gates Now I turn my attention to a phenomenon somewhat different, yet still akin to temporary portals: Gates to Inferno. There is an important distinction here that probably are not immediately aware of; Gates are actually quite different from portals. Portals, as discussed above, are temporary events, places where Inferno and Elysium coexist for a time. I define any such portal as temporary, no matter how long it has existed. A temporary portal can last for centuries, but some day it will fade. Infernal Gates are something else entirely. They serve as direct passages from our world or Metropolis into the bowels of Inferno. Someone or something must actively create a Gate, using powerful magics of some sort. First let me clarify exactly what I mean by a temporary portal as opposed to a Gate, for there is much confusion on this issue. Many people assume that sites where portals have existed for decades or centuries are in fact permanent gates. For instance, beneath the abandoned death camps at Auschwitz there is a substantial portal that has existed for over fifty years. The suffering there was so tremendous, the crime so heinous, and the mourning so continuous that the portal is likely to remain a long time, certainly as long as people mourn the dead and hate the Nazis. Nevertheless, it is not a true Gate to hell, and functions in the same way as any other temporary portal. That is to say, it exists both here and there, and it takes an effort of will, conscious or unconscious to travel from one side to the other. As we shall see, this is much different from a Gate. A Gate acts just like a doorway, one need simply walk through it to come out on the other side. The Gate can take any form, and some do not resemble doors even remotely, although doors and passages are popular forms. I have seen corners of rooms, pools of water, boats, cars, and even empty fields act as Gates to Inferno. The experience of passing through a Gate varies as much as the forms themselves. Sometimes it can be quite dramatic, with flashing lights, fire, smoke, and the stench of sulfur. Other times there is simply a tingling sensation at the back of your neck, and the next thing you know hungry Razides surround you. There is no need for an act of will when moving through a Gate, something that makes them quite hazardous. Fortunately, such Gates are quite rare, and are usually in out of the way places where unsuspecting individuals are unlikely to stumble through them. Not that it does not happen now and then. Gates are almost always bi-directional (although there are exceptions) making passage between our world and Inferno a simple matter for all involved. Truth be told, the Gates are used much more often by Infernal beings wishing easy access to our world. After all, there are few of us willing to risk life and soul for a walking tour of Hell. For this reason, the Gates often open right into particularly nasty areas of Inferno where Astaroth and his minions gather their forces. Almost invariably there is also a Gate Keeper of some sort, usually an Infernal beast set to guard the Gate from trespassers. Gates are impressive pieces of magical architecture, requiring tremendous skill and commitment to create on a permanent basis. Creating a Gate means effectively blasting one's way through the false reality and the barrier between life and death, creating a small pocket of your own reality to connect the two worlds. Death Conjurer's can create their own gates through magical ritual, which are effectively the same thing only temporary (note, magical gates are different from temporary portals). For an unawakened human being to create a permanent Gate requires a massive expenditure of time and effort, accompanied by a profound knowledge of the occult Sciences and magical arts. Only a very few humans have ever managed such a feat. Astaroth and the Death Angels can create Gates with more ease, although even for them it can be quite an effort. Every dark citadel has at least one Gate linking it to Elysium, and sometimes many more. In these days of active Infernal involvement in human affairs, such gates are a necessity.

Gates are naturally a very efficient way of entering Inferno. The would be Harrower can take with him all the equipment, friends, and weapons he can. The Gates circumvent the problems of trying to create a temporary portal. Furthermore, a Gate has a definite end, that is to say, you can find out exactly where the Gate come into Inferno. Usually this is somewhere no sane man would want to be, but at least you know what you are getting into. There are however a few Gates that are not quite as dangerous as most. Places where Gates were made long ago for reasons now forgotten or by humans sorcerers willing to carry the fight for Human Divinity all the way to the Astaroth himself as necessary. These are Gates hidden away in the less traveled corners of Inferno, and perhaps afford a little more security for the adventurous Harrower. I have complied here descriptions of some of the better known Gates as well as some virtually forgotten ones. Of course, in the case of the latter, my writing about them will no doubt bring them back to the attention of many who study and watch such matters, including of course Infernals. Still, I feel that the knowledge is useful, and the distribution of this tome relatively small. I make no promises about what I report here, except to say that everything is true to the best of my knowledge. Conjurers and Occultists created most of these, but they do not always control them anymore. As always, there are no certainties when dealing with Inferno. The Shady Lady; Boston, Massachusetts The Shady Lady rests at the docks in Boston Harbor, languishing in the same location for years. Nor is the ship likely to move, as iron piling sunk into ten feet of concrete protrude from the bottom hull of the ship, anchoring it in place. Dock fees are paid regularly, and the local constabulary paid to look the other way. The Shady Lady was once a simple cargo ship, plying Atlantic trade routes under an American flag. Christened in 1924, the ship survived German U-boat attacks and corporate takeovers until 1959 when it came to rest in Boston. It was then that a certain Teresa McCullen purchased the ship from a bankrupt import/export company. The rusting hulk became Teresa's home, hideout, and temple. A powerful conjurer, Teresa used the unlikely abode to conduct some of the most innovative occult experimentations of this century. When I first visited the ship in 1968 I was amazed at what I saw. The interior of the ship had been completely converted into a warren of iron chambers, housing all variety of magical and mundane horrors. Teresa reigned as a queen over her ship and the otherworldly inhabitants she had summoned and bound to her will. Her final experiment was the creation of the Gate to Inferno. Her tunnel comes out deep within the circles of hell. near the Citadel of Hareb-Serap himself. Why she created such a dangerous thoroughfare is beyond me. Quite honestly I think she is mad. (Sorry Terri). As of this writing the ship is still there, and amazingly enough Teresa seems to live on unscathed. Always a generous soul, I am sure Teresa would offer use of her Gate to those who present themselves properly. Dent Ranch; Jackson Heights, Utah A curious thing about the modern world, today we have no problem blithely changing the face of nature. For some this is a cardinal sin against the environment, but I look at it as a good sign. It shows we are willing to change our reality, even if only in the most primitive sense. the damming of rivers for hydroelectric power is a fine example of this, for invariably the river before the damn swells up to form a huge stagnant lake. This happened on the Colorado river in the Western United States, and when the 120 mile long lake stabilized, several towns rested under its waters, including Jackson Heights. Jackson Heights also happened to be the home of a rather sadistic Death Conjurer named Billy Dent. His ranch home along the Colorado River was the scene of many a Devil's Sabbat, and he housed a cult of Satanists here for many years. The closest town was a certain Jackson Heights, where the local residents (population 630) viewed their strange neighbors with some disdain. Nevertheless, Dent's cult existed for over eight years without arousing too much suspicion, and over that time they grew and grew, adding more buildings to the ranch complex. Finally Dent made the big move, constructing a permanent Gate to his Master's home in Inferno. It took thirteen months to finish the Gate, culminating in a grand human sacrifice. For the whole period of the ritual the cultists were effectively cut off from the rest of the world, and never heard about the plans to dam the river only a few miles south of Jackson

Heights. It was not until state and federal representatives cam around to appraise the value of the ranch that Billy learned of the future fate of the valley. In less than a year his whole ranch would be under several hundred feet of water, what is now known as Lake Powell. There was nothing he could do, and the cult was forced to move on to greener pastures. Under all that water the Gate remains, a large stone carved arch, built within the ranch's barn. I have not been down there to see it, but there is no reason it should not be operational. It seems that Gates are not water permeable, otherwise the entire Colorado River would have drained into Inferno. Then again, it is possible that those on the other side had to seal up the Gate from their side. Billy tells me that he has not been back either, but that the Gate opened into one of the lower levels of Samael's citadel. Club Khartoum, Rome Italy Just off Piazza Barberini resides a hole in the wall bar and dance club called Club Khartoum. The reasoning behind the name is as mysterious as the goings on within, for there is little to link the place to Northern Africa. Here well off Italian youth gather to feel like they are acting dangerously. American rock music blares from the cement basement where live bands play every night. The upper floor houses a bar whose innovative interior design consists of black lights and encouraging the patrons to write on the walls. I only stumbled on the Gate underneath Club Khartoum a few years ago. Amazingly enough, the Gate is simply a locked door just off the basement music venue. As you proceed down the stairs from the bar you pass by two toilets, one for men, one for women. Between the two is a locked wooden door, something one would assume to be a janitor's closet. As I walked past that old familiar sensation of dread washed over me. I examined the door closely, finally deciding that I had to find out what was behind it. The lock proved beyond my abilities to pick (which surprised me greatly) so I sought out the manager. He professed not to have a key, saying that no one did and that they did not use the room. My curiosity piqued, I set to finding out all I could about the club. Unfortunately, that proved to be surprisingly little. A Swiss development corporation owns the building, but they bought it from an Italian realtor. Unfortunately the Italian realty office burned to the ground some years ago, destroying all records of the building. Another mysterious fire had destroyed any records about the building in the city archives. There seemed to be no records of the building anywhere, and I had other matters to attend to. Since then I have not been back, but I have managed to ascertain through magical means that there is in fact a Gate behind that door, and I imagine all that stands between the patrons and Inferno is a good crowbar. The Gate could easily date back to Roman times or even earlier, and if some brave reader discovers its secrets, I would be happy to hear their tale. Chateau Renauld; Bordeaux, France This centuries old winery nestled in the Margaux region of France's famed Bordeaux wine region has never been known for its great wines. Seldom exported, the high crop yields and dubious terroir is often harsh and overly tannic, although in good years it can be utterly drinkable. But in certain, rather exclusive occult circles, the winery is more famous than any first growth claret. The Renauld family are necromancers from way back, and since 1840 they have based their operation from their quaint vineyard in the heart of the world's best wineries. It is possible that the Renauld's boast the largest cellar in a region renowned for its underground storage facilities. It is definite that there is in fact very little wine in the Renauld cellars. The occult minded clan has found more interesting uses for their underground labyrinth, which extends for some seven miles underground. Here the family Gate to hell has existed for over one hundred and fifty years, the product of years of careful experimentation and rituals. The Renauld Gate is one of the best guarded doorways to Inferno controlled by humans. Some of the most powerful binding spells and wards known to magic are in place below the cabernet and merlot vines on the surface. The Renaulds are purported to make frequent excursions into Inferno, stealing souls out from under the Infernal Powers' noses and using them for their own purposes. It is rumored that The Renauld's never allow the souls of any of their kin to slip into the tortures of Inferno, and if all else fails

they will rescue them from the clutches of Astaroth himself. Cave of the Python Mother; Celebes, Indonesia Indonesia. If you have not been, go. Indonesia is a world unto itself, with thousands of remote places where a man can be alone with himself and his experiments. There are also scores of unique occult traditions in world's largest archipelago, including several interesting Gates to Inferno. Of these, the oldest and most interesting to me is the Cave of The Python Mother on the island of Celebes. Celebes is a land even now relatively untouched by modern society, and in the inlands, life continues as it has for centuries. Python hunting is common on the island, where the serpents can grow to well over twenty feet in length. The pythons can then be sold on the world market as pets, for zoos, or skinned for their scales. Pythons often live in caves, areas that have become almost sacred to the python hunters. One cave in particular has a very fearsome reputation, a place where even the braves hunter will not venture. Located less than a hundred miles from the town of Boni, the cave is a well known site among locals. Python hunters from miles around yearly make pilgrimages to the cave, leaving sacrifices in the narrow opening. The typical sacrifice is a live bound goat, which (it is hoped) will appease the Python Mother's voracious hunger. It seems to work, for the Python has not been spotted in centuries. The cave itself has a relatively small opening. A man of sizable girth would have trouble squeezing through the opening. The cave network itself goes back for miles and is the home to all variety of insect and reptile life. Centuries, maybe millennia, ago the cave seems to have been home to some sort of intense magical experimentation. Indonesian wizards are renowned for their skill and bravery in the face of otherworldly spirits, and there are tales from across the archipelago of ancient sorcerers breaking the bounds of reality. At some point one or more of these ancient conjurers broke through into Inferno permanently. As we all know, Gates are two way affairs, and in this case something seems to have come through. An Infernal beast of fearsome proportions escaped into our world and established itself in the area as the local demon of the woods; killing livestock and stealing babies from their mothers arms. Who knows if the beast remains in the region, certainly its reputation lives on after it. It seems likely that whatever it was went back to Inferno, but that is not to say that it does not return to our land from time to time. The Gate itself appears as just another cave within the vast network of the Python Mother, so spelunkers are urged to be careful. That next turn could take you straight to hell. The Gate opens deep within the outer wastelands of Inferno, far from any of the great centers of dark power. This makes it an ideal Gate for those wishing a less obtrusive entry into Inferno, although there is a long trip ahead of you to the more interesting Infernal sites. There is also the fearsome spectre of the Python Mother lurking in the background. Just what the beast was, I am not sure. It seems from the legends that it was something more than just a Razide out to make trouble. It may well have been something otherwise unrecorded in Infernal Lore. Whatever the case, the cave is worth a look for any committed occultist looking for a tropical vacation. Grove of the Golden Carp; Hunan Province, China The Chinese love their carp ponds, and certainly there is a simple pleasure in watching the placid fish swim in a shallow pool. Maybe its the incongruity between the peaceful veneer, and Infernal purpose of the Grove of the Golden Carp that makes it so very interesting. Centuries ago the pool was part of a large garden belonging to an important Imperial Chinese family, the Mu's. The Mu clan were among the most successful families in the land, and in their heyday they had daughters who married emperors and sons who served as high ministers. The wealth and privilege of their class lasted until the tumultuous times of the twentieth century when the family was slaughtered to the last man woman and child during the warlord era. For a time their palatial county estate, encompassing the Grave and its Gate, served as a base of operations for one warlord group until they were driven out by the Nationalist Government. The Nationalists used it as a retreat for the ruling elite, until the Japanese came and drove them out. The occupying force had little time to develop the county estate, and during the war it fell into disrepair. The Chinese Communist revolution

also managed to overlook the Grove, which had now become quite overgrown, the buildings dilapidated. Today, over forty years later, the site remains unoccupied, far from any signs of civilization. The Gate itself lies within the carp pond, now cluttered with weeds and bereft of fish. The shallow pond measures some thirty yards to a side, forming a roughly square pond, bisected by a series of small footbridges, now long since turned rotten. The bottom of the pool appears to be stone, simple and remarkably preserved under sixteen inches of dirty water. Towards the center of the pond there is a particularly large bridge, under the center of which is a six foot diameter hole, unfathomably deep. This is the Gate, located in a seldom traveled area of the pond. There are various records of disappearances over the five hundred year history of the state, leading to legends of ghosts and demons. No doubt some of these were poor souls who fell through the Gate. Some may very well have been ghosts, souls making their way out of Inferno and into our world. Likewise, what is more demonic than an Infernal resident splashing out of the pond to take what it can back with it? We can safely say then that the Gate has probably been present since the fifteenth century. Here's the problem though. The Mu clan is nowhere purported to be known as magicians, conjurers, or the kind of folk who consort with demons. Even the annals of the great Chinese sorcerers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries fail to mention the Mu clan in any way, other than to note their summer home as renowned for being haunted. So where did this Gate come from? No obvious answer presents itself. Perhaps the Mu's unwittingly built their summer home on top of the Gate, never realizing the threat that lay beneath their fish. This seems the most likely explanation, but still does not explain who was responsible. One clue is the destination of the Carp Pool Gate: deep within Gamaliel's citadel, not far from the Death Angels inner sanctum. Curiously though, the Gate is no longer used by the Death angel or his minions. It is almost as if the Lord of Perverted Sexuality does not even know what is beneath his nose. Stranger things have happened I suppose. Perhaps the Infernal lord created the portal himself ages ago and has since forgotten about it. Perhaps not. I urge those interested to take a look for themselves. Dunbar Research Station; Near Mt. Ras Dashan, Ethiopia The Dunbar Research Station was fully funded and controlled by the powerful biotech consortium LAMAR Biotech. I conclude with this Gate because it is one of the most interesting examples of human curiosity and ingenuity going far beyond any expectations. The research center, operating under far from strict Ethiopian controls, devoted itself to finding new forms of genetic medicines. That is to say (as I understand it) tailor made genes that could cure diseases or heighten human well being. In any event, the research seemed to open some particularly interesting avenues in human development. Somehow a serum, drug, or some such potion that heightened the awareness of test subjects, actually letting them see beyond the Illusion. The testing procedures were very effective, although far from kind, and many human subjects died or went irretrievably mad in the course of research. The suffering of all these aware individuals was enough to open a temporary portal to Inferno, something that did not escape the notice of LAMAR scientists. The portal intrigued the scientists, and they dropped all other experiments to concentrate on the new phenomenon, something they thought was a doorway to another dimension. They sought ways to stabilize the portal, free it from the vagaries of human suffering. Somehow they did just that, and did it without the use of traditional magical rituals, at least as far as I can tell. The Gate is a permanent one, opening into the outer regions of Inferno, very near to our own world. The Gate takes to form of a sealed room, which instantly transfers anyone who enters its center to Inferno. The Gate chamber is under constant guard and surveillance, and is probably the most studied Gate in the history of our jail, even though it has only existed for a few years. It is unknown what governments know of the Gate's existence. Even the LAMAR Biotech board of directors is unaware of its existence. The scientists in charge now realize that it is not another dimension they have reached, but the afterlife. They have sent several armed expeditions into Inferno, and all of them have returned, although none unscathed. They even managed to capture a Razide and bring it back for closer study, something I was

fortunate enough to witness. Access to the Gate is strictly limited, but it may well be one of the safest entries to Inferno on the planet. Periodicity An interesting side note here, something that applies to both temporary portals and even some Infernal Gates. Sometimes a portal or gate will exist only at certain times or under specific conditions. For instance, a temporary portal might appear on the anniversary of a horrible mass murder, triggered by the mourning of survivors and even the suffering of those sent to Inferno en masse. Gates might be attuned to specific dates or astrological conditions, allowing the creator to have some control over who comes and goes through their gate. A Gate that only works on St. Crispin's Day or the Vernal Equinox is easily watched on those dates, and the rest of the year there is no need to worry about unwanted Infernal beings walking through to our world. Artifacts as Portals I have one more note on the subject of portals and gates. There are in this world certain tinkerers who think that machines and clever clockwork devices hold the answer to all the world's problems. Even among the ranks of necrologists such individuals can be found. They create strange and sometimes even wondrous devices that can open up temporary portals to Inferno, or even temporary (and in a few rare cases permanent) Infernal Gates. The devices come in all shapes and sizes, from small baubles, to building sized contraptions. Almost all of them require complicated magical rituals to create, although the amazing advance in science may soon find a way to duplicate magic's excesses (e.g. the Terra Nova Research Station above). These artifacts are particularly dangerous because in many cases they are portable, and so can fall into the hands of any fool. Some simply transport the one who activates the device into Inferno, while others actually open a portal or gate. The former cause the area around the device to collocate-locate with an area in Inferno, while the latter typically create a passageway of some sort. Where these open up in Inferno can either be a random event or determined at the time of creation. Many tinkerers find it enough to be able to create such devices and let them loose upon the world, caring not a bit where the artifact sends its hapless operator. I myself avoid the things like the plague, as you can never be sure of their pedigree. Chapter Three: Infernal Travel Later we will turn to some of the specific sites found in Inferno, but now I will give some time to how travel in that land is accomplished. First of all beware, for nothing I write here is set in stone. There are no constants in Inferno. I can not over emphasize this point. What I present here is a series of tips and comments, Infernal tendencies and likelihoods, but never absolutes. A fact of Infernal existence that has existed since the beginning of time is just as likely to change entirely in the next minute as anything else. I make no guarantees. First one must get there, which is why I have spent so much time talking about portals and gates, methods whereby anyone can make the journey to hell, should the mood strike them. Quite frankly however, I would not want to rely on them and usually do not. The best way to get into Inferno is through the use of magical rituals. Find a conjurer, pay him whatever he or she wants, and trust them to see you through to Inferno and back out. Conjurers have the great advantage of being able to control where in Hell they are going when they create a magical gate. Even before they conjure up the gate, they can look into Inferno and see the lay of the land before they decide to make the move, thus avoiding the perils of blindly stepping through a Gate. Highways and Byways of Hell Travel through Inferno tends to be undertaken on foot alone, for Gates seldom accommodate cars or horse and carriage. Of course this is not always the case, but certainly such forms of conveyance are rare down there, especially outside the hands of the Infernal Lords and their servants. They possess a bewildering variety of vehicles to carry them about their realm. Bug-like, black steel ornithopters, mile long wheeled juggernauts that roll

across the Infernal Fields, sweeping all before them, demonic horses pulling fiery chariots, and even devilish automobiles, festooned with wicked spikes are all relatively common sights in Astaroth's domain. For the hapless Harrower however, these conveniences are unavailable, and any terrestrial vehicles are only likely to draw unwanted attention. I advise you to keep to your feet. It may prove slow going, but it certainly attracts less attention. Catching the wrong being's attention in Inferno can damn you forever. There are no cardinal directions in Inferno, so leave your compass at home. With no magnetic poles there is nothing to draw the compass, and of course marking your position by satellite locating systems is totally impossible. It is doubtful that there even are constant directions, nor are the laws of physics and time and space applicable. Inferno itself is not a planetary body like the Illusory Earth, so it may well be possible to fall off the edge. Certainly one cannot depend on two parallel lines converging or a series of four left turns forming a circle. Furthermore, things are constantly on the move down below, with even the Dark Citadels themselves switching positions. It is said that Astaroth and the Death Angels can warp and control the reality of Inferno, bending it to their will. They can make a journey that looks to be just a few miles take years, or let a single footstep cover a thousand yards. In their realm they make the rules. How then do the inhabitants manage to find their way around? Well, in some cases they do not. There are those dumb beasts that wander the barren plains and dusty halls of Inferno looking for poor defenseless souls to torture. They are creatures of instinct and appetite only, roving from one victim to the next. Then there are those human souls sentenced to an afterlife in hell. Of course most end up in the torture chambers of the Death Angels or in service in Astaroth's Legions. They usually appear as battered and bruised humans, shadows of their former selves. Most are totally mad, and best avoided, but some can become useful allies. Of course always exercise caution in such matters, for as often as not these "dejected souls" are actually Razides or other Infernals in disguise, looking for unsuspecting victims. There of course those who can find their way unerringly through Inferno's twisted passages and foul waterways. It is a gift from Astaroth to his many spawn, they know precisely where they are within the bounds of his Realm. Always they seem to know just what lies beyond the next bend, even if it was not there a few moments before. They know how long it takes to get from one place to another, and what path is least fraught with potential dangers. The most important exception to this rule is when Astaroth or one of his Death Angels interferes directly with Inferno's shape. Then even the most unerring of Infernal wanderers can lose its way. This does not offer much hope for beings of non-Infernal origin, like you and me for instance. Human souls have tried all manner of clever tricks to try and find their way through Inferno's protean landscape. From ancient times came the concept of Ariadne's thread, leaving a trail behind you which you can follow back. Sadly, this seldom works, for as likely as not, the thread will change with the landscape. Painted markings on walls disappear. Bread crumbs are eaten. an innocent length of twine metamorphoses into a serpent in your very hand. Infernal territory does not take well to being marked, and the very soil on which you stand will react against you. There is one small ray of hope for man however: a human ability amazingly potent, though seldom developed to its full potential. Divine beings that we are, we too can shape the form of Inferno, at least to a degree. A very small degree. Here is how this curious phenomenon seems to work. We know that human suffering, pain, and emotion can bring Inferno and Elysium together to form a portal. In that case human energy primarily rips apart the Illusion, but it also draws Inferno to the location. Thus human suffering and so on opens portals to Inferno and not Metropolis or the Dream World. Thus we know that human divine energy can manipulate Infernal geography. Now do not get too excited, this ability is extremely limited indeed. No man (except mayhap one of the Awakened) can blithely bend Astaroth's realm to their will. Rather, humans can, if they are lucky and things go well for them, slightly influence their path through Inferno. A strong willed person can keep a destination in mind, and if he or she keeps walking, eventually they will get there. Eventually. It may take years, it may take lifetimes, but eventually it will happen. The stronger the will, the more mentally fit the person, the closer they are to Awakening, the quicker their journey

will be. Where the mind looks, the body will follow. There are of course several problems with relying on this method of travel through the shifting Infernal landscape. First of all, how do you know if you are strong enough? Look into your heart and think of the hardest fought accomplishment of your life. Could you exert yourself to that degree for days or weeks on end? Can you finish the journey once it is begun? Then of course there is the goal itself. After all the technique does not work if you do not have a place in mind, and hopefully that place still exists. There are of course sites that are always there, (or so it seems, remember: no guarantees) but certain sites are likely to be there, most of which I shall discuss in the next chapter. It is paramount that you have a clear picture of your goal at all times. This need not be an actual image so much as a feeling and emotional attachment to the goal. All this concentrating on a set goal has a rather sinister side effect. It tends to draw unwanted attention. Of course in Inferno, all attention is unwanted, so one must be particularly careful here. Setting the front door of Samael's citadel as your goal in effect means making Samael himself your goal, and the closer you get the more likely he is to become aware of your presence. He will at the very least interfere with your progress, for even his subconscious will throw up barriers in your path, and at worst he will send his legions to find you and bring you back in chains. Likewise, other Infernal beings in your vicinity will sense your effort and come to investigate what all the excitement is about. Let me make something absolutely clear at this point. When I say you have to concentrate it has to be a site, not a place where someone is. You cannot say to yourself, take me to the torture chamber where my beloved dead wife is and expect to get there. If you somehow ascertained your wife's location you would have to concentrate on that place, the Chamber of Stinging Sorrows in the Third Circle for example. Let me also make this clear: This is a very dangerous, seldom successful technique for navigating Inferno, but it may have to do if you have no other option. Hopefully you will, which brings me to my next subject: Pscyhpomps and their myriad uses. Psychopomps The psychopomp is a very refined version of the phenomenon I described above. A psychopomp or spirit guide is a being who leads you through hell, whether it be Dante's Virgil or Virgil's Sybil of Cumae. Psychompomps are a must for any serious Infernal traveler, and they come in several different types, depending on your resources and expertise. Here as in everything to do with harrowing, magic proves itself profoundly useful. Although not absolutely necessary in gaining the aid of a psychopomp, it makes the task much simpler. The most common psychopomp is not a true guide at all, but a projection of the conjurer's own self. In a way this guide is related to the practice I described in the previous section where the Harrower bends Inferno to his will. However, summoning up a guide from your own repressed memories is both more subtle and quite a bit more efficient. The conjurer looks back through the depths of time, recalling all the times he has been to Inferno before, although then it was as a dead soul and not a live Harrower. The ritual does not grant the caster all his lost memories, such a feat is beyond most of his. Instead it manages to pluck out those memories relating strictly to Inferno and its layout. The memories then coalesce within Inferno into a physical form: thus comes the psychopomp. Of course the form of the memory guide varies from person to person. They can assume most any form, from a identical twin of the caster to some famous figure from history (Virgil?). Even animals and fantastic beasts can serve as guides, although they are never much bigger than man sized. It is important to note here that the guide has no real substance in Inferno. Just because you conjure up a psychopomp in the form of a great warrior does not mean it will or can fight for you. The advantage to this is that they are almost impossible to destroy except by magic, unless of course the caster himself should perish. How much a conjured psychopomp knows varies widely, but it is usually a fair amount. Most of us have spent many hundreds or even thousands of years in Inferno over the course of history. Of course sometimes we can spend a millennium locked away in a single torture chamber, but this is rarer than you might expect. The odds are that your psychopomp will be able to take you close to wherever you want to go, although mayhap not by the shortest route. It will not know the secret passages and tunnels of the Razides and

other jailers who seem to move throughout Inferno with ease, for it is unlikely you have ever been there before. Likewise it will not know any of the mysteries of the Dark Citadels, unless you were very unfortunate or very lucky in a previous death. The personality of the psychopomp depends upon the form it assumes, but it is also tainted by your experiences. It will relate to you depending on how you relate to yourself. For example, if you are one of those poor souls full of self loathing and suicidal tendencies, you psychopomp will bear you quite a grudge. It will treat you the same way you treat yourself. Of course this can also be a great advantage if you treat yourself well. But the psychopomp must also deal with the memories of untold ages of suffering and torture, and this cannot help but color its world view. It has known little happiness in its existence, for it only remembers the sorrows of Inferno. This can make it either very melancholy or very jaded, and possibly even resentful towards you. Thus, even the best of psychopomps is a gloomy companion, and the worst can drive a sane man to the verge of clinical depression. Other Guides Of course there are other beings who can act as psychopomp if you are unable to summon your own. As I noted above, creatures born to Inferno innately know how to travel through the horrors of hell unscathed, and so they make the best guides. Unfortunately, they are also the hardest to acquire. After all, most Infernals are accustomed to enslaving humans, not serving as their guides. I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but here as in all things, life is easier with a conjurer around. Summoning and binding infernal creatures is stock and trade for death conjurers, and can be used as psychopomps. The dangers here are obvious, for the bound servant will invariably do its best to lead its master astray. All the normal caveats for dealing with summoned creatures apply to summoned psychopomps, with the extra warning that they are even more dangerous on their home territory. Non-conjuring Harrowers may also wish to avail themselves of an Infernal psychopomp, an undertaking nearly guaranteed to be more trouble than it is worth. To find a guide without magical aid requires one to actually physically subdue the would be psychopomp. I do not think it is necessary to go into all of possible dangers with this course of actions. Remember, that such beings will invariably lie, cheat, and mislead you if you do not have some way of ensuring their loyalty. I have no idea ho one might do this, for there is little you can hold over their heads. It may be possible to strike some sort of bargain, or perhaps trade souls for information, but remember, Infernals never have your best interests at heart. There are said to be certain magical artifacts that provide their user with control over a psychopomp. Finding one of these objects is no mean feat, but could be invaluable for a non-magician making the journey into Inferno. Most of these artifacts carry a price with them, and usually not a financial one, so careful research before use is strongly advised. Some artifacts require a sacrifice of some sort, while others will take what they want. For example, I have read in several places of a small jade carving of an old Chinese man. The statuette is purported to summon up a psychopomp in the form of a wizened sage who will guide one through Inferno wherever you wish to go. The unfortunate side effect of this is that the old man causes the user to age one year for every twenty-four hours spent in Inferno. If it's important enough the price may be worth it, but then again it may not. The Comfort of Strangers One option remains for those in search of a psychopomp. The option is an obvious one, but seldom used because the risks are so unpredictable. What is more common in Inferno than the lost souls of those who have died? The Souls of the dead would seem to be the best guides available. After all, they certainly have no reason to support their Infernal lords, and every reason to be sympathetic to those of us from the outside. The first problem with this course of action is finding someone who is free from the clutches of the Razides and their torture chambers. These are rare but not impossible to find, for no prison is escape proof. But you can never trust a dead man. Dead souls are notoriously unreliable. They have suffered untold pain and suffering at the hands of their tormentors, and their minds are almost certainly unhinged. At least with an

enslaved Infernal psychopomp you can be sure that it is trying to lie to you. With a human soul you can never be sure as to what is going on. Sometimes a man's pain and hate become so overwhelming that he wants only to take his vengeance on those around him, whoever they are. Then their are those poor misguided souls who voluntarily work for Astaroth's Legions, betraying their own kind for a false hope of future glory. These will lead you astray as surely as any devil or demon. Even if the soul means well, it may not know very much at all. After all, Inferno is as alien to these lost souls as it would be to you or me. This book is more than anything a group of warnings about Inferno, and though it may seem to some that I am continually looking at the dark side of things, that I am an eternal pessimist, well, remember what we are discussing here. So in that spirit, I present another warning about human souls as psychopomps, and all other psychopomps for that matter. The Infernal Lords are cunning, insidious beings who take great joy in discomfiting humans at every turn. It is not uncommon for one of these demonic powers to assume the form of a hapless human soul just to lead a Harrower down the path to perdition. It is realistically impossible to tell such a doppelganger from a true lost soul, so beware traveler! You can never know for sure. The Well Equipped Harrower Traveling into Inferno should never be undertaken lightly or without exhaustive preparation on behalf of the Harrower. I have already discussed how to find entrance into Inferno and some suggestions on finding a guide through the underworld. It remains to give a few pointers about what to bring with you into the fiery depths. First of all bring a conjurer. All tight, I have gone on about that enough and so I will leave it there. Second, bring weapons. Now weapons come in many different forms, and I urge the well prepared individual to bring them all. In this day and age we have firearms available to us, and they are certainly very effective as far as they go. Likewise high explosives can have a devastating effect on even the most horrifying of Infernal beasts. As nice as modern weapons are, having a simpler backup is absolutely necessary. You see, the laws of physics as experienced in Elysium do not always hold true in Inferno. This is particularly true of the Dark Citadels of the Death Angels, where the very form of reality is an expression of the individual dark lord's wants and desires. If he wishes it, a Death Angel may simply assert that gunpowder does not ignite in his domain. If you were counting on your shotgun alone to see you through, a sad surprise awaits you. A handy sword, knife, or club can be invaluable in such circumstances. Other equipment should be obvious. Food and water are vital. Legend has it that any who eat food from the underworld can never leave, and sometimes this is the case. Assume that nothing below is edible or potable. Even that which is not poisonous at face value can have a lasting effect on the soul. There are many Infernals who use the lure of food and drink to manipulate unwary souls and Harrowers alike. It is entirely possible that by accepting an offer of food, you are also agreeing to a bargain whereby you turn over custody of your soul. So, ample provisions are a must for any serious Infernal explorer. Several reliable sources of light can also prove invaluable. As we shall see in the next chapter, there are no days or nights in Inferno, but there are certainly dark place aplenty. Again, as with modern firearms it is best to have a primitive backup for any modern devices one brings along. Batteries have a curious habit of malfunctioning at the most inconvenient times. Those with a classically inspired imagination may think it odd that I would advise a Harrower to bring flint and steel for making fire, but flame is something that never goes out of style in the underworld, and you may need that torch. What does one wear to Hell? It is a question with no easy answer. Weather in Inferno is mercurial at best, and always inconvenient. As we shall see, every conceivable form of precipitation exists in the underworld, and quite a few that one would never imagine. So, unfortunately my recommendation is to be ready for anything. It will be freezing cold. It will be hot enough to cook you alive in your clothes. It will rain, and snow, and there will be mud, marshes, and planes where you will walk neck deep in excrement. Which brings me to one final fashion recommendation: a gas mask, air filter, or at the very least nose plugs can prove absolutely invaluable. The smells, stenches, and stinks that assault one can easily overwhelm even the strongest among us.

Death and Time Now is as good a place as any to comment on the issue of time in Inferno versus time in Elysium. There is no set relationship between the two. Three days can pass for a Harrower in Inferno, while for the rest of us in Elysium only an hour passes. Likewise the reverse could just as easily happen. In fact, time is not absolute within Inferno either, so that Razides might inflict a thousand days of torture on some poor soul, while elsewhere Golab seems to enjoy a single day of twisted reveling. It seems likely that while time in Elysium is much closer to absolute, Inferno can ignore these rules to a degree. But only to a degree. For time certainly does matter in Inferno. We have seen how the flow of events in our world and Metropolis effects Inferno, so there must be a relationship of some sort. It is most probable that in Inferno time truly is all relative. More specifically, the experience of time is all relative. How time seems to pass for you has no relation to how it passes for others in Inferno or for the rest of the Universe. This does not obviate the possibility of an absolute time, it just means that in Inferno experiences may differ. What determines how you experience time is a matter of where you are and what you are doing. Obviously in the torture chambers, time is compressed, so that hours of suffering are packed into minutes. How you experience time can easily change from one step to the next, but of course you will never be aware of any shift. For you, time seems to flow along normally. It is only upon returning to Elysium that you find that while you were gone your children have grown up and your wife has left you. Conjurers skilled in the lore of Time and Space will probably be able to sense these time shifts and may even be able to do something about them. There are even some Conjurers specializing in the Realm of Transcendence who make a special study of the flow of time in Inferno. They more than anyone may be able to determine for themselves the flow of time for themselves in Inferno. However, even their skills can not stand up to the reality shifting powers of a Death Angel or Astaroth on its own territory. Likewise, any meddling on behalf of the conjurer with the flow of time may well alert the Infernals to the conjurer's presence, creating new problems for the meddling Harrower. In Conclusion There is much more to know, but I could not possibly present it all to you here. There are probably gates I do not know of, and ways for portals to form that I have never dreamed possible. Anything can happen when Inferno and Elysium collide, especially in these modern days of chaos in the wake of the Demiurge's disappearance. Look for your own ways, for the road less traveled often has fewer guardians to stand in your way. Part Two An Infernal Gazetteer Chapter 4: Infernal Geography The study of Infernal Geography is a difficult subject, and defies any easy description or categorization. The form of Inferno changes in constant flux, with few things remaining as they are for any length of time. For our purposes we can only speak of tendencies gleaned from past experience. Since the landscape is so turbulent, I have relied on the accounts of many different men and women over history to compile this section. I myself have seen but a meager fraction of Inferno's hellish offerings, but I can assure you that I have chosen only the most reliable sources for my exerts here. As often as possible each there are many other examples to corroborate the information I have given here. I focus here on only the most common, and therefore likely to be found features of Inferno. However, I have also included some of the more interesting, but less known features that were simply too fascinating to leave out. I have organized this section somewhat haphazardly, as many of the geographical features of Inferno defy description under the aegis of a single category. Nevertheless, I have made some generalizations, and have tried to stay as close to them as possible without distorting my information. So we will begin with a general overview of Inferno's geography, much as any travel guide would comment on the climate and

landscape of a country. From there I have divided the chapter into two sections: The Circles and The Wild Zones. I have further subdivided each of these sections as you will see. I have left information concerning the Dark Citadels from this section, deciding that it was more appropriate to discuss these edifices along with their Lords, something I do later in the book. Inferno: The Big Picture Inferno defies easy description in most ways, and certainly no accurate map can exist. Inferno is a land without bounds, extending as far as the Universe itself. A small door inside a small building can open onto a seemingly endless lake of fire. Bottomless pits, continent wide desserts, and seas of blood and pile can all be found in Inferno, and seldom in the exact same place twice. Likewise the weather can vary almost instantaneously, from pounding rain to piles of flaming feces falling from the skies. Anything is possible, and most everything is likely to happen at one time or another. The Great Circles of Hell The Great Circles of Hell is by far the most famous region in Inferno, at least to the western reader. Those in China and the east might be intimately familiar with regions like The Earth Prison and the Yellow Springs, areas of Inferno just as famous in their own right. But here I focus on the Great Circles, because it is here that Astaroth chose to place his great fastness, as well as the citadels of his ten lieutenants. If Inferno can be said to have a geographic center, then the Circles are it. However, the extent of the Circles, like all of Inferno is limitless. Contained within each ring of hell there is an infinity of space, with torture chambers, lakes of fire, and the hatching chambers of demons stretching off into infinity. Each ring is a world unto itself, a world of pain and suffering devoted to breaking the human spirit. If one were to somehow journey far enough above the Circles of Hell, or The Pit as it is sometimes known, one might begin to be able to contemplate the enormity of the place. It is a huge funnel descending down into the depths below. All scale is lost when viewing the Pit from above, it is just too huge to contemplate easily. The diameter of the highest circle is certainly over a thousand miles, with each descending circle somewhat smaller, until one reaches the lowest pit at the base of the funnel. This seemingly bottomless well measures a hundred miles across, and at the center of it stands the Dark Citadel of Astaroth himself, the guiding hand behind all of Inferno's horrors. The Citadel shoots up into the sky from the center of The Pit, its spire rising to the level of the highest circle. Beyond the diameter of the circle extends a barren plain of dust, bereft of any features. One could wander this plain for lifetimes on end and never reach anywhere. For others, a few steps will take you into The Wild Zones. It all depends on which path you take, and whether or not you know how to navigate within the confines of Inferno's twisted physics. This plain, often called the Dead Lands, is a form of private hell, and each individual is effectively alone when he walks it. There is no chance of meeting another person place or thing, unless you know how to look for them. Likewise, if you are traveling in a group and should never lose sight of your companions, you may well never find them again. Here, as with most of Inferno, a psychopomp of some sort is inordinately valuable. Standing on the edge of the Circles it is physically possible to see the other side of The Pit, even though it is a thousand miles away. Unlike the surface of our Illusory Earth, Inferno is not a sphere and there is no horizon to block our vision. Assuming your sight is acute enough, you can see forever. Of course, standing on the edge of The Pit is one of the very few places in Inferno where it is actually possible to see for a long distance unobstructed. Certainly once one is in the confines of the Circles themselves, there are many, many more sights that demand ones attention. Looking down into The Pit, one notices that there are several rivers that work their way through the circles. In some cases they form rings and are actually circles unto themselves, while in other places they cut down through the circles, often forming tremendous waterfalls that cascade down for miles. Not all of these rivers flow with water, indeed there is probably a river of each and every foul substance known to man somewhere in The Circles. The most dangerous however are those that do seem to flow with water, for these are the rivers that actually scour the soul to its core,

not just pollute and tear at the flesh that surrounds us. The rivers seem to be the only feature that actually cuts across the boundaries of the Circles. In all other ways they are clearly delineated from each other. The circles are for the most part terraced, so that there is a long vertical drop between one Circle and another, usually of some tens or more miles in height. In a few areas some circles slope into each other, forming a single unbroken surface, but this is rare, for the denizens of each Circle are extremely jealous of one another. There are stairways, ladders, and even long, curving ramps that connect one Circle with another, and likewise there are underground Labyrinths that connect the various levels. there are often wars fought between different parts of The Pit, with one Circle fighting for the souls imprisoned in another. In these cases all manner of ingenious siege equipment for scaling the levels are employed by the denizens of the Pit. From the top of the Pit it is of course only possible to see the surface of each level, where only the barest hint of the tortures that lie below is visible. Nevertheless, each Circle holds a bewildering array of topographical features on it surface. Looking down one can see raging blizzards ravaging areas immediately adjacent to sweltering desserts. Foul looming forests, forsaken plains, twisted cities, and roiling oceans can all be found within the Circles, and each Circle is a world unto itself. It is a common misconception that as one goes deeper into the Pit, the Circles become smaller. This is false on two counts. Most obvious is the fact that the circles themselves get wider as their circumference grows smaller, giving each Circle approximately equal surface area. This seems to have been an entirely aesthetic move on the part of Astaroth, since space within each Circle is effectively infinite. As with all things Infernal, our false reality concepts of physics have no place here. It is below ground that the true horrors of The Circles are most often found. Truth be told, Infernals prefer to do their business out from under the open sky, even if it is the sunless, red canopy of Inferno. A vast network of underground tunnels, rooms and caves riddle every level of The Pit, containing the vast majority of Inferno's torture chambers. There are whole city's in the underground, places where Infernal beings live out their miserable, damned lives without ever leaving the dark bosom of their Circle. Also down below there are chambers that are in fact whole world unto themselves. One never knows what lies beyond that door of black iron. It could be a tiny dank closet full of rotting flesh, or it could be a vast red jungle, crawling with strange and fearsome creatures of pure malevolence. Piercing down from the First level to the very bottom of The Pit are the Dark Citadels of the Death Angels. I will discuss the individual citadels later, when I deal with the Death Angels themselves, but there are a few general characteristics that are true of all ten citadels. Each Citadel extends the whole depth of The Pit, and there are entrances to the Citadels in each Circle. Like the Circles themselves, the space within the Citadels is effectively unlimited, and unconstrained by our notions of time and space. The Citadels appear to be evenly spaced around the circumference of The Pit, but once one is down in the Circles, it seems as if they almost intertwine among each other. The Citadels focus the torture and malevolence of the pit, serving as ten great magnets for suffering. Since Citadels burst through the levels, they also transcend all the petty rivalries and feuds that typify the rest of The Pit's denizens. A Citadel is really the will and desires of its master made solid in stone and iron. As such, the Death Angels have complete control over every aspect of their Citadel, and are aware of everything that transpires within their domain. Never be fooled into thinking that you have somehow managed to sneak into a Citadel unobserved while its Lord is present, for this is an impossibility. However, since the disappearance of the Demiurge, and the withdrawal of Astaroth into Elysium, several of the Death Angels have abandoned their Citadels, preferring to make their fortunes in our world. Now the other residents of The Pit have begun to take over parts of the Citadels, with minor Razides setting themselves up as Lords of Hell. This has done nothing but bring more chaos to the already turbulent world of the Circles. In the center of all this chaos sits the vast, bottomless pit surrounding Astaroth's Citadel, a place of harsh winds and frequent electrical storms. Long, black steel suspension bridges link the Citadel with the lowest Circle, supported by black, iron chains as thick as ten men. The bridges begin at the lowest Gates of the Citadels of the Death Angels and stretch

across the miles of empty space to the Ten Gates of Astaroth's Citadel, each of which bears the name of a different Death Angel. In times past each Death Angel was the only one who had the right to use their Gate, but since Astaroth has withdrawn his Citadel is sealed to all who come calling, even his "trusted lieutenants". Astaroth's towering palace is said to contain the greatest horrors of The Pit and all of Inferno. Astaroth, the master devisor of human torments once took great pleasure in personally dealing with some of the more interesting humans who came into his realm. Now however the torture chamber stands empty, the rusting iron halls ring with the howling wind. I have heard of no one who has journeyed into the Citadel, or even discovered a point of ingress. It towers above the circles, a hollow, metal spire. I shall discuss the Citadel somewhat more in the context of my chapter on Astaroth himself, but I believe you get a feeling for what I'm getting at. In Dante's poetry we find the Circles divided according to sin, but in the true Inferno, sin is almost irrelevant. The minions of hell care not a bit for why you ended up in The Pit, they are simply happy to have you there. The tormenting of humans is what Astaroth created them for, and they know no other joy. But the human spirit can be quite resilient, and it takes a long time to strip it of all the marks it accrues during a full lifetime. Even as we are strapped to the rack, we hold on to the precious memories of better days and happier times. This is of course exactly what the torturers want, to dredge up every memory so that they might rip it from our souls. To this end, the Circles are divided not by sin, but by torture. Each of the Nine Circles represents a different class of torture. Once perhaps this delineation was pristine, but over the centuries of our imprisonment the lines have blurred. The Circles have taken on many aspects of independent kingdoms, and so they have stolen torture techniques formerly reserved for other levels of The Pit. Nevertheless, each Circle tends to keep pretty close to its original calling, chiefly because this is the area at which the Circle's denizens excel. After all, it is only natural to enjoy those things which one does well. In an ideal Hell, the condemned soul would begin in the First Circle and work his or her way down through the levels. At Each level you would lose some of your memories and feelings. for the less hardy souls one or two levels might be all it takes and then you are ready to move on. Of course just because you were ready does not mean that your tormentors are ready to let you go, and most times a soul was made to travel the whole gauntlet anyway, out of spite. Today it is not uncommon for a soul to get caught on one level forever. In these days of declining numbers of new souls coming to Inferno, everyone is greedy to hold on to what they have got, for once their are no more souls to torture, these poor beings lose their reason for living. Passage between levels is traditionally accomplished via the rivers that run down the depth of The Pit. These rivers are of course tortures in their own right, and I shall deal with each of the major ones in its own right shortly. Some of the rivers have guides, non-partisan demons who exist merely to ferry the souls from one level to another, taking whatever glee than can from the short while they have the dead human at their mercy. Sometimes, in the case of a waterfall, the soul is simply pitched over the side and made to suffer the pain and anguish of the long fall. After impact on the lower level, they are immediately fished out by their new tormentors, and a new round of torture can begin. There are of course other ways to move from one level to another. Roads, stairways, and ramps connect the levels, but these are usually reserved for the use of Infernal beings only. Any human soul caught out in the open on one of these byways is sure to draw the attention of all kinds of nasty demons and Razides, intent on doing the hapless traveler no good. Since the age of Pit Wars began (see below) many of the local warlords have blocked or destroyed the passages in order to protect their territory. In these places the roads have become no-man's land, a war zone full of fences, barbed wire, and manned by demonic guards. Finally, there are the tunnels within the Circles themselves. As I mentioned, the vast majority of each Circle is underground. It is here that The Labyrinth connects in with Inferno and Metropolis, and it is here that passage between Circles is most easily accomplished. Of course underground, one never knows for sure where one stands, and the lines between the Circles can be blurry at best. In areas where Demon Lords from different Circles are fighting, many of the tunnels connecting the Circles are likely

to be blocked or guarded. Nevertheless, there is always a way that is not guarded, for the Circles themselves are infinite in space when necessary, and one can always find a portion unknown to even the most ancient Razide. The Pit Wars When Astaroth left Inferno for our world, he threw all of Inferno into tumult. Without his guiding hand to keep the demons and torturers in line, the natural destructiveness of his subjects evolved into rebellion. The Death Angels were among the first to turn against their Lord, and some of them fell before his wrath. But the rebellion has spread down through all the Circles of The Pit, and in some places, Astaroth's will is openly opposed. Some remain loyal, either to the Dark Lord himself or to one of the Death Angels, but others have set up their own Kingdoms of the Damned, and now covet the power that Astaroth and his lieutenants have wielded for so long. Of course, times being what they are, and demons being what they are, they spend most of their time fighting among themselves and posing no real threat to Astaroth or the Death Angels. These are the pettiest of a race of beings that is innately puerile. They are so jealous of each other, that they cannot hope to ever work together, nor can any one of them hope to have the power to subjugate its fellows. So they fight endless, pointless wars with each other, with human souls the booty for which they battle. Souls have little intrinsic value of course, but the love of torturing humanity is so ingrained in the fabric of their being that these contemptible demon lords care for nothing else in the world. The envy Astaroth and the Death Angels because they had their choice of souls to torture. they cannot imagine a world beyond Inferno, and have no ambitions that extend beyond what they know. The Wars themselves can be astoundingly violent. It is hard, if not impossible to destroy a demon or Razide while it reside in Inferno. The most one can hope for is to inconvenience it for a while until its body reforms. As such, it is not enough to deliver a killing blow in combat. One's enemies must be hacked to bits, torn limb from limb, incinerated into ash. Even then the enemy will rise in a few hours or days. So there can never be any sure victors in battle, and your enemy will always rise to face you again another day. It seldom occurs to the demons to try and take prisoners. Prisons and torture chambers are for humans. Demons are immune to such unpleasant circumstances, for they take joy in pain and suffering, whatever the cause and whoever the victim. Of course not all of the Circles have succumbed to war. In many places in The Pit, the cycle of torture goes on as it has for centuries, with human souls starting at the top and working their way down through the levels. Today though, there are fewer and fewer souls coming into Inferno and the system is beginning to break down. As they say, idle hands are the Devil's playground, and when the torturers and demons have no victims, they become restless. In many places they have begun to take their time with the humans they are lucky enough to get their hands on. Should the whole process shut down, the restless Infernals would no doubt try to make their way into our world, searching for the prey they so desperately crave. Chapter Five: The Circles But enough of this teasing you with hints and tidbits about what horrors await in The Pit. I now turn to a group of narratives taken from those who have actually suffered through the varied tortures of the Circles, and managed to still relate the tale to me or put it down on paper. Of course, these narratives report only some of the horrid experiences one might experience down below, but they give a good feel for the characteristics of each Circle. No complete catalog is possible of course, so one could hope for little more than I have presented here. The First Circle Tales of the First Circle are, naturally enough, easier to come by than the stories of The Pit's lower reaches. After all, almost everyone makes it at least as far as the First Circle, and many continue on from that point. The First Circle specializes in tortures of stultification: endless tasks, mind numbing physical labor, sensory depravation, Chinese water tortures and so on. I present here a rather picturesque tale told to me by one Arthur Baker, and American businessman who died of cirrhosis of the liver at the

ripe old age of 59. I actually summoned Baker up quite by accident one night, but since I had gone to all the trouble of binding him, I decided to take down his story for the record. He was quite helpful, mistakenly believing I had saved him from his torment, and I trust his version of events will prove illustrative. I leave out from this manuscript the long series of expletives that followed when I informed Arthur that I was through with him and sending him back from whence he came. Arthur's Tale "I died the same way most of my friends will probably die: my body crapped out on me. Nobody to blame but me I guess. I'm the guy that kept on drinking after everyone said I should stop, but I still had six years to go before retirement, and sometimes you need a drink to help get you through the day. Sales is a rough business, and scotch will sometimes take the edge right off it. It's not a new story I guess. Like I said, I wouldn't be surprised to see everyone I knew in the company end up the same way. It's just how you make it through the day. So, three months in the hospital, waiting for a transplant that never comes, and BAM! it's over. For me it was easy, I just didn't wake up. No pain, no last words, no nothing, just fade to black. I'd never been much for religion, not since I was a kid. Sure I went in on Easter and Christmas, but that's about it. But I went to Sunday school, I knew the routine. You sin, you go to hell. Right, sure, whatever, I'm too busy to worry about that shit. I had work to do, women to meet, you know. So you can imagine just how damned surprise I was to wake up after dying. I mean, I knew I had died. I literally felt my soul leave the body, and I remember waking up and looking down and saying, "Hey!, That's me dead!" Pretty brilliant huh? Nobody ever accused me of missing the obvious. So anyway, there I float, and then it's sort of like I get caught in some kind of current, because I start moving. I can't control where I'm going, but I'm moving faster and faster, passing right through the floor of the hospital. I'm falling right through the God damned planet! All the while I'm having all these weird thoughts, remembering stuff I haven't thought of years, stuff I couldn't have even tried to remember, like my fourth birthday party, or my first football game. Crazy stuff, it's all coming back to me. I'm so busy having all these amazing memories that I kind of lost track of where I was and where I was going and then all of a sudden it's dark. I feel like I'm back in my body again. I can feel that I'm lying on the ground, I can move my legs and arms. It's cold, like cement or something. My first thought is that I've been having some weird dream and rolled out of my hospital bed and hit the floor. I try to move but I can't get up. I bang my head on something metal only a few inches above my head. Then I realize I'm in some kind if metal box. I start to scream. I screamed my God damned head off. I screamed about being buried alive and about running out of air, and all kinds of shit. I must have screamed for hours. I have no idea how long, because it was dark, and I was lying there in nothing but my hospital gown, squirming and banging. Finally I gave up. I just lay there. I don't know how long, but it was a long, long time. There was nothing. Just the sound of my own breathing. I didn't run out of air, It wasn't too hot, too cold, I was just there. I waited and waited and waited. And then I think I went crazy. I'm not sure, but t seems like I must have. I never slept, I never ate anything. Never even pissed. I just lay there thinking. I still had all these wonderful lost memories, but soon I had gone over each part of my life a hundred times in my head. That's all I had to keep me company, memories of my life, and eventually I got sick of them. Who cares? It's all over now. Now you're stuck in some God Damned Box, and you ain't going anywhere. Finally they let me out. They told me I had been in there for five years. I don't know it's not like they're real big on telling the truth, and who can say how time passes down there. I mean, it certainly could have been five years, it seemed that long. The box opened and light streamed in and I was so happy I could scream for joy. That lasted all of about one second, for that's hen I saw them for the first time. The God damned Devil was standing there, offering me a hand up out of the box. He wasn't red with hooves and a tail, but I knew right away it was a devil or some such shit. He was man sized, but with grey skin, like a corpse's. He had black eyes - no pupil or whites or color, just solid black, and a pug nose kind of like a pig. He stood there naked except for some sort of weird metal vest. Then he smiled, and he had razors for teeth. That's when I started screaming again. Then I

realized that the metal vest was actually part of him, or sewed on to him or something. And it's got all sorts of little nozzles and vents on it that shot out all kinds of disgusting liquids and gasses. Then I just puked. I hadn't eaten in years, but I just puked. That's one thing I've learned about this place, you can always puke. They love it when you just throw your guts up. The devil thing grabbed me by my hair and pulled me off down a dark, metal corridor. We passed rows and rows of boxes just like the one I had been in, and I thought, "Those poor bastards, they don't know how good they've got it in there." And that's how it began. From there I was taken through a maze of corridors, and never saw another soul. Or devil either for that matter. Just me and my caretaker, smiling that razor sharp smile of his. I was dumped into a room. It seemed he just picked one at random, but who can tell with these guys? Inside was the weirdest looking typewriter I have ever seen. It must have had a few thousand keys on it, but no letters. Each key was a word instead of a letter. It was one of those old fashioned typewriters with the spokes or whatever they're called. No IBM electrics in hell. So Razor Mouth sits me down in this uncomfortable, metal chair, my bare ass freezing because of the metal, and he tells me to start typing. The God Damned thing start's giving me dictation while I'm no front of this eight foot long type writer. He just stare at me like, "What the hell?" and then he leans over and bites my cheek with those damn teeth. I scream, because it hurts like a bitch. He starts giving dictation again, and I start looking for the words on the type writer. Well, you can imagine it took me a while to find the words he was spewing out, particularly as most of em weren't English. Every time I took too long he'd bite me, or scratch me, or kick me. And on it went. I finally got the hang of it, and I typed and typed, never quite fast enough for him, but at least he wasn't hurting me all the time. I tell, you, I've never typed so much in my life. Nobody has. I'd sit there and type for hours, and days, and probably months and years. No rest, no pauses, no coffee breaks. Anytime I slowed down he'd take a bite out of me. The bites healed pretty quick, but that only meant he could hurt me again in the same place a little later. There seemed to be a never ending supply of paper, and I just typed away. It took everything I had to keep up with him. I couldn't think of anything but what he was saying and which key had that word on it. Sometimes the keys would change while I wasn't looking. Words I had finally learned to count on being in a certain place were all of a sudden somewhere else. Then mad panic to find the word, Razor Mouth gnawing away at me the whole God damned time. You know the worst thing though? The typing was shitty, the biting and scratching sucked, and whatever the hell he was dictating didn't make any sense, but the worst God damned thing was that every time I finished a page he would just pick it up, ball it up, and pop it in his mouth. I mean what the hell was I typing for if he was just gonna eat the god damned paper? Of course I guess that was the point. I was typing because I hated to do it. I was typing in a blind panic that lasted forever. Eventually he grew tired of the dictation routine, but I must have typed a million pages for the bastard. I'm not kidding, at least a million. It went on and on forever. Is still think about it. Every time Razor Mouth or one of his pals talks to me I'm looking for the keys... Of course that was just the beginning for me. The typing was I guess a sweet reminder of my days in the sales office, dictating to Laura. From there it just got worse. Mindless, endless, shitty jobs. I've worked in assembly plants that made nonsense machines, working for hours. I've broken rocks that move and try to bite you, weeded fields of plants that grow back unless you eat them as soon as you dig them up. I've done every menial, minimum wage hell job you can think of, all the while Razor Mouth and his buddies are watching over me. There is no rest, no coffee breaks. It just keeps on coming. I mean hell, if you hadn't pulled me out of there, I'd be doing some other God damned job right now, or I'd still be on my hands and knees counting red hot pebbles for Razor Mouth. I really can't thank you enough guy..." And that's where Arthur's tale ends. You can see from his story that the First Circle is a land of mindless tasks, suitable for breaking any spirit. The theory behind the tortures seems to be that, as long as you are working, you won't have time to think about anything else. Arthur's time in the box is typical, although there are quite a few different sensory deprivation tortures used in the First Circle. It is not uncommon for some

souls to be sent from one to another for years, decades, or even centuries. It all depends on the whims of the Razides and their servants. For some humans this is enough to break down the memories completely. They become so obsessed with doing their work and avoiding the lash that they think of nothing else, driving out their memories and replacing them with the details of sorting screws or breaking rocks. These however, are rare souls, those weak minded individuals who barely have the right to claim their divine human origins. Most are made of sterner stuff, and will descend to the next Circle, there to meet more terrors and tortures. The Second Circle The Second Circle of The Pit is one of the more geographically diverse regions of Inferno. While most of the Circles can do their business in dank tunnels, and underground expanses, the Second Circle uses the mutable physics and geography of Hell to it's fullest advantage. For the Razides and demon lords of this part of the Pit treat their guests to horrendous conditions, both "natural" and "man made." I have chosen a rather typical story to represent the Second Circle, someone who was actually an acquaintance of mine in life. Rene Foucault was a Swiss art dealer around the turn of the century. A nice enough fellow, he was at heart a hustler and confidence man, selling forgeries as readily as the real thing. I came across him in the Second Circle during my third and final trip to Inferno in 1987. I would have thought Rene would have given in sooner, but he seemed to be holding up well. I only had a few moments to speak with him before his torturers recovered from my attack, but I was careful to record the entire conversation. I present it here, slightly edited, but with all the relevant information intact. Rene's story "The first moment I realized I was going to be leaving the mind numbing labor of the First Circle I felt joy for the first time since I died. My tormentor saw this and laughed. She told me that she was sorry to see me go, and assured me that I would miss the pleasures of the First Circle when I realized what Hell had in store for me. With that she lifted my into the air and hurled my flailing body over the edge of the First Circle. I fell with ever increasing speed for miles, racing down towards the Second Circle. I had a few moments to contemplate my rapidly approaching destination, and as quite stunned by the sight. The whole of The Pit lay stretched out before me, the Dark Citadel of Satan himself towering up from its center. Below me was the Second Circle, a patchwork quilt of deserts, jungles, seas, and mountains. I myself, much to my chagrin, seemed to be heading straight for one of the higher peaks. With a resounding thud my body nearly disintegrated from the force of the fall, the incredible pain causing me to black out. I came to somewhere on the side of the mountain, my body made whole once again by the Infernal curse that keeps our damned souls from ever truly dying. For the first time since I came to Inferno I was free of a tormentor. There was no foul temptress shadowing my every step, forcing me to work at endless tasks. I was free to go where I pleased, or so I thought. The top of the mountain was quite cold and I had no clothing, so I decided to try and make my way down the mountain. Although logically part of my brain realized that I was in no danger of death, the fear of pain is so deeply ingrained that I sought more comfortable climes. The descent was horrendous. I am no climber, and soon enough I fell. I lay there broken for days or months or years, waiting for some kind demon to come along and bring me off to new tortures. The cold cut me to the bone, and slowly the life seeped out of me. I never was able to sleep or lose consciousness, and lay there stewing in my own pain for what seemed like eternity. Finally I blacked out, my body could take no more, and again I woke to a fresh corpus, ready to begin the descent again. I fell twenty more time before I reached the base of the mountain. Seemingly solid handholds would give way without explanation. Landslides, gale force winds, hail, snow, rain, and any other conceivable climatic impediment. This mountain had become my own private hell, with just myself and the elements. It was only later that I discerned the nature of The Second Circle. Here the demons are in the very rocks on which you stand and the air you breath. The land itself is against you here. I finally made it the base of the mountain, only to find that my journey had just begun, for the mountain now stood within a vast, trackless desert, something that oddly enough had not been visible during my fall. Then it had seemed the mountain was but one of many. and so I began the journey across the vast desert. For

years I wandered, dying every so often of thirst, heat exhaustion, or any number of other natural perils. The sands were incomprehensibly treacherous, always shifting, and sometimes hiding deep pits, a form of quicksand, or other dangers. I suffered through countless deaths as I voyaged on, never seeing another living being. Finally, after succumbing to one of the land's many pitfalls I awoke to find myself in tunnels reminiscent of the First Circle. It was here that I found myself in the Second Circle's great Labyrinth. Wandering at random through the dark recesses and sinister chambers I was subjected to every conceivable physical punishment. Sometimes I would fall through the floor only to find myself in a pit of fire, my flesh slowly burning away as I tried to claw my way out. You cannot imagine the horror of trying to make one's way out of such a place. Every few feet is an eternity of agony as your flesh melts away, only to be reborn an instant later. I died countless times in the fiery hell, taking what must have been several years and thousands of lives to make it from one end of the room to another. Of course this was only the beginning. My tormentors have exposed me innumerable times to the many and varied elemental tortures. I spent quite sometime swimming up through a seemingly endless sea, my lungs bursting until there was no more air, and then drowning as my body filled with sea water, only to wake up a few moments later and start all over again. All the while the terrible water pressure was squeezing the life out of me. Buried alive in a glacial ice flow I spent ages clawing my way to the surface. One might imagine that so many deaths would become monotonous, that one would grow accustomed to it. I assure you this is not so. Every death is as painful as the last, every dying moment is full of terror. And then there are the less natural terrors I was made to endure, conditions that never existed in nature. I have been forced to wade for weeks, months and even years through miles and miles of human feces, my lungs bursting from the smell, bile spewing from my stomach in a seemingly endless stream of filth. I have been buffeted along steel corridors to the constant beating of a deafening bell, the very sound vibrations being enough to slowly turn your brain and bones to mush. I have marched across fields of electricity, the power coursing through my veins like lightening. Endless travel, constant pain. These are the hallmarks of the Second Circle. There is no rest, no respite. The worst part of it all is that you are so constantly alone. There is no focus for the hate that wells up in you. No demons to blame it all on. Of course the demons were all around me, I see that now, thanks to you Shelby. I took comfort, what little comfort I could, in the memories of my former life. I thought on the happier times, but eventually even they faded into distant memory, mere shadows in the back of my head. Shelby, you are the first person I have seen in what must be eons. Thank you my friend, you have given me respite from this interminable Hell, at least for a moment. I will cherish the memory of this moment, and of the good times we have had together all those years ago. I know you would help me if you could, but you have explained that it is impossible. Maybe the strength you have given me today will be enough to see me through this horror, give me the strength to hold off death just a moment longer." I feel rather bad about this last bit. You see, I found Renee because I needed to ask him a question. In order to get to him I had to temporarily disrupt the demons who were tormenting him, allowing us time to talk. the demons, as Renee said are all around you in the Second Circle. They are the very landscape on which you walk, the fire that burns your flesh. They tailor every experience to your discomfort. I'm afraid that by talking to Renee I undid much of the work Inferno had done him. He was on the verge of forgetting his most recent human life, and I'm sure he would have soon lost all but the bare essence of his soul. He never was much of an outdoorsman. But by drudging up old memories, I forced Renee into further years of torment, quite unintentionally of course. Such are the risks when dealing with matters Infernal. The Third Circle I come now of the Third Circle, an area I find very interesting because it takes such a different approach to torture than most of Inferno. While pain and suffering are the basic ingredients of any Infernal experience, that suffering does not always have to come from without. Sometimes we can cause ourselves even greater agony simply with our minds. Given a little help from an Infernal denizen, we can do wonders to ourselves. Whatever do I

mean? Well, I give you here the story of one Alissa Jacobs, a popular author and historian who died in the early 1970's. A stalwart woman, she made it through the first two Circles with relative ease, but encountered in Circle Three a whole new challenge to both her soul and her ego. I came across her story in the notes of a fellow Conjurer, a respected man who's words I take to be true. Certainly the tale accurately portrays very well the mind games that go on in the Third Circle, and I have since verified that Ms. Jacobs' soul did make its way to Inferno upon her death. This is only an excerpt from a larger manuscript which includes details of the first five Circles. Alissa's Story "It was with a tremendous sense of relief that I found myself free from the endless elemental tortures of the Second Circle. Moving from one to the other seemed to happen almost by accident, and at the time I counted myself lucky. Truth be told, nothing here happens by accident, and I now know it was simply that my time had come. I fell into a river, one of the many that cuts across the levels of this place, and was swept along in it's warm, brackish water. The swift current carried me along at a tremendous pace, bouncing me off rocks and overhanging tree limbs. My trip ended rather suddenly as I was hurtles over the side of a waterfall the size of several Sears Towers. Caught in the foamy spray I have no idea how far I fell, and was aware of the piercing rocks below only for a moment. I awoke lying at the side of the river, my body aching and caked with mud, but otherwise fine. From down below the waterfall looked positively tiny, no more than forty feet in height. I knew this to be one of hell's little tricks, but it was certainly disorienting. The river was now little more than a stream, calmly flowing away from the small pool at the base of the waterfall. I seemed to be in some sort of walled garden or maybe a house without a roof. Certainly there were fifteen foot stone walls all around me, forming a rectangular chamber with the waterfall at one end and the stream flowing under the wall at the other. Looking around, I found that someone had laid clothes out for me, a rather pleasantly patterned sun dress and sandals. It had been ages since I had had clothes, not since they were flayed from me by my demons in the First Circle. Wary, I picked up the clothing and examined it. Finding no discernible threats, I put them on. Very comfortable. Now I was becoming quite nervous about what was going on here. There was a door in the wall on the other side of the stream. I had not noticed it before, but now that I had put on the dress, it was plain as day. A nice, normal sized wood door. I waded across the shallow stream and then opened the door. beyond I found the walls continued, forming a corridor which stretched off for some distance, side corridors branching off every so often. I began to investigate. The ground was finely raked dirt, with some stones and pebbles and I could clearly see the footprints I left as I walked forward. I picked up a stone and used it to mark the wall as well. As I suspected I was in some sort of maze. I figured that my only real option was to try and find my way out, and so that is what I set about doing. I had read somewhere that if you always followed the left hand wall you would eventually find your way out. So, mark my path along the wall with the stone, I set off on this new journey. For the first time I was aware of the passage of time in the maze. The sun rose and set over me, and night fell. Even the moon waxed and waned over the long months and years I spent in the maze, searching for an exit. It was soon obvious that, not only was the maze huge, but that it also did not obey any normal laws of building or geometry. I literally wandered for a month and a half before I ever saw the same part of the maze twice. Even then I could not be sure, except for the markings I had made. Later I found that someone was changing those markings or adding their own. Trying to follow my own footprints also proved pointless, as they to would change. I found evidence that I had walked round and round in an ever smaller circle, or walked up the sides of walls, or any number of other strange signs thatcould not trust anything here. Increasingly my frustration grew and grew. I knew there had to be a trick to the place. If I could just figure it out I would escape. I tried climbing walls but could never quite manage it. Although I was thirsty and hungry it was never a real impediment. I should have died of dehydration in a few days, but years after my last drink of water (an involuntary one while in the river) I lived on, searching for a way out. I tried everything, even killing myself in hopes that it would end the terrible nightmare, but of course that just meant a moment's blackout and then right

back where you left off. All the while I had this obsession with the idea that everything would be fine, as long as I could make my way out, figure this place out. And then my time was up. After something close to three years, I suddenly heard another voice for the first time. 'Time's up!' it boomed, 'You fail!' And in a flash I was out of the maze, my whole body wracked with pain. The pain seemed to go on and on for hours. It ended and I was in another room, with another puzzle to solve. I had always been fond of chess, more for the aesthetics of the game than the strategy, and here I found myself faced with a large, very strange chess board. It sat on a long wooden table, with two comfortable looking chairs seated opposite each other. The board itself was rectangular, and over ten feet long, and three feet wide. The checkered surface was covered with black and red squares, each on inch to a side, making the long side have 120 squares. Two rows of simple, marble chess pieces filled up each of the long sides of the table, a mishmash of all the normal pieces plus many I did not recognize, each side (black and red) totaling 240 pieces. I sat down in the seat on the black side. I rested a moment, examining the board, and when I tried to stand up I found I couldn't. I simply could not stand. Frantically looking around, trying to find some clue to my imprisonment I did not notice the appearance of my opponent. I looked up and screamed with surprise when I saw her sitting opposite of me. A pretty, older woman, dressed in a flowing burgundy dress. She said nothing, simply leaned forward and moved what looked to be a pawn forward three spaces. I had no idea what was going on, and continued to struggle to get out of my chair. A tried talking to her, but she simply smiled and waited. This went on for quite a while. I found that I could move the chair itself up and down the length of the table, but that was all. I could not turn the chair, or move myself from the chair. Finally I settled down to the inevitable and began to play, moving one of my seventy pawns forward two squares. I at least was going to obey the rules. Over the next few days of play I realized that this was not the chess I knew. Of course, that was obvious from the beginning, but now as the game progressed, the differences became more and more marked. She seemed to move her pieces according to some rule book I had never read. At first I thought she was moving them at random, but when I tried to do the same I found it impossible to place the piece down in any but a few, legal squares. More confusing still, how a piece could move seemed to depend both on what the piece was and where on the board it was. Thus I was never sure where I could and could not move, making strategy a difficult process. Later on, after a few months of that first game, I came to realize that the movement rules also varied depending on what turn of the game it was. Most strange of all was the taking of pieces, or rather the fact that we could not take pieces. She never took any of mine, and I was never allowed to take any of hers. It seemed it was a game of position rather than capture. The game proceeded apace for quite a while, and every time I thought I was figuring it out, every time I thought I was getting ahead, I found that I was wrong, everything had changed. I had gotten nowhere. Still I had that same feeling that as soon as I solved the riddle of the game I would be free. I became totally engrossed in it, thinking of nothing else, trying to hold in my mind all the rules I had managed to figure out. I would spend hours or days figuring out my next move, sure that it would bring me victory. Of course I had no idea how one won the game. No idea at all. My opponent seemed to play with ease, never waiting or thinking, always smiling and courteous. I grew to hate her. I would sometimes, in my frustration, rail against her for hours, cursing her in every way I could imagine. I even tried to throw pieces at her, only to find that they would not leave my hand unless I was placing them on the board. In protests I would stop playing, do nothing for days on end. She would just sit there, waiting. Eventually I would give in, because of course I had been thinking of nothing but the game the whole time anyway. I'd make a move. Food and drink mattered not at all. My backside didn't get sore from all the sitting, there was no physical discomfort. The only torture was the game itself, and my efforts to wrap my mind around it, to try and figure it out. I knew there was a solution, an answer to it all. But of course my jailers would never have let me find it, even if there really was an answer. They could not afford to let me have the joy of that single victory over them. But I did not think of this, did not realize that it was all a trick. The game became everything, and when, after years of that one game it all finally came to an end, I actually missed it. I still think of it, of how I might have won, even as new puzzles and mental tortures occupied

my time. From the chess game I went on to scores of others during my time in the Third Circle. All of the situation I found myself in were designed to confuse and frustrate, to overload the brain. Sometimes they were small, sit down puzzles like the chess, and other times they were the large scale tortures like the maze. there was never any solution, or if there was I was never allowed to find it. Always I would be informed that time was up, my purgation would continue because I hadn't been smart enough. On and on it went, seemingly forever. My mind barely remembered a time before the puzzles, and then all it thought of was the pain and horror of the time before, something better left forgotten. As for my life on Earth, that was all but gone completely. Even my own name was fading from my skull." Poor Alissa never did make it out of Inferno and into a new body. She proved so resilient after the first few Circles, that she was drafted into the Legion's of the Damned where she serves to this day. In reading Alissa's tale, I just wanted to remind the reader that time in Inferno is a totally subjective experience. Just because years passed for Alissa, does not mean that years passed in our time line. In fact, as our time goes, she was only in Inferno for seventeen of our months before she was mustered for Astaroth's army. not that she did not experience thirty-seven years of pain and suffering. She did, and hated every moment. The Fourth Circle The Fourth Circle is everything one might think of when asked to picture Hell. Here is where torture is practiced the old fashioned way: scalpels, racks, hot pokers, drills, bladed sex toys, and so forth. In the Fourth Circle the Razides reign supreme, and they involve themselves intimately with every one of their guests. They are masters at degrading the human form and causing it pain. They hold off death for ages, inflicting unbelievable agony until the last possible instant. Then, when the body finally expires, the nature of Inferno simply recreates it afresh, ready for another round of torture. The Fourth Circle is undoubtedly one of the most efficient of The Pit's torment zones, and only the rare individual needs anything more to scour their souls of all memory. For this reason alone many of the lower Circles resent the Fourth, feeling that they do not get their fair share of victims. The result is that the Fourth Circle hosts the largest number of Pit Wars in the entire Nine Circles. Every other Circle, but particularly the lower ones will send bands of demons up The Pit to snatch the Fourth's souls. The Fourth Circle also houses some of the most rambunctious and therefore rebellious of Astaroth's minions, and there are great many independent warlords in the Fourth these days. This of course simply leads to more Pit Wars, with individual demon lords fighting their brethren in the Fourth Circle. All this chaos means that, unlike most parts of Inferno, there is actually sometimes a chance for a lucky human to escape the clutches of his or her tormentors. How long one can remain free in such a place is open to debate, but any amount of respite in Hell is worth the effort. It is seldom worth talking to someone who has recently been in the clutches of the Fourth Circle's master torturers. For this reason I decided to present you with the transcript of an exchange I had with a Razide I summoned from the Fourth Circle. I naturally enough had other tasks in mind for the Infernal when I summoned it, but I took the opportunity to record some of its thoughts about what existence in its home realm is like for humans. I realize that one should never trust the words of a demon, but in this instance I feel we can depend upon its version of things rather more than usual. Razides love to gloat, and that is exactly what I gave him a chance to do. Here follows a transcript taken from a tape I made of the conversation. We pick up after I have finished the rituals of binding and so forth. TYREE: Well, well, well, Aburshanuphyl, how are we this evening? ABURSHANUPHYL: I was fine till you called me here... T: Yes, I'm sure you were. Listen, before we get down to the task at hand I thought we might talk a bit. A: Interesting thought, I've never heard of warlocks engaging in idle chit chat, but you seem to be in charge for the moment so we'll play it your way.

T: I didn't think you would have any objections. A: So what are we to discuss wizardling? T: I rather thought it would be nice to talk about your home. The Fourth Circle of The Great Pit of Inferno if I'm not mistaken? A: You are not mistaken. What exactly is it you'd like to know about my wondrous home? Getting ready for your inevitable fate my friend? T: Oh, yes, I'm quite interested in that inevitable fate of which you speak so blithely. In fact, that's what I'd like to hear about. Tell me of the fate of human souls in your home. A: As you wish dread sorcerer. <laughter> Where shall I begin? T: Why not with what happens to a soul once it slips on down from level three? A: <spits> Pheww! The Third Circle indeed. That place is a travesty. I honestly don't know what happened to my Third Circle brethren to make them so soft. Mind games and parlor tricks is all they know. They simply don't get results. Is it any wonder that we clear four times as many humans as they do? Once they've given up, the soul comes down to us, either by river, by being thrown over the edge, or through The Labyrinth. Once the snotling is in our grasp, it's first come first serve. Whoever gets there first can play with it as long as he can hold onto it. That's the only problem really. All my fellow Fourthers are always trying to take from me what's mine. No respect for property down there. T: I'm sure you would never indulge in such practices. A: Of course not! I'm a respectable demon, not one of those low brow sorts. T: Exactly why I chose you my friend... A: I cannot thank you too much for that human! If you had not yanked my from my home, I would be having my way with a young lad of fifteen even as we speak. Killed his own parents and then himself. Playing with matches. Deserves everything he gets. No doubt some other bloodthirsty Infernal has snatched him away while I'm here having this lovely chat. T: Now, now, let's not be bitter. What's done is done. A: Easy for you to say! But I digress. You wanted to know about what happens to the snotlings once we get a hold on em. Well, the possibilities are endless, as you might imagine. I've tormented and tortured human souls for well over four thousand years and you learn a lot in that amount of time. The important thing in my line of work is to keep yourself fresh, to keep your edge. It's not that torture ever gets boring. It's what I live for after all, and even the simplest act of causing pain fills my little heart with joy. But variety is the spice of life and so on, and I like to try new things all the time. T: What kind of new things? A: Well, technology is a wonderful thing, and it's done wonders to the torture business. I man, the technology has always been there, in Metropolis anyway, but in Inferno we have been behind the times. Human inventions like batteries, power saws, electric drills, radiation, and so on all have wonderful applications when turned to the task of hurting human flesh. I for one have been in the forefront of incorporating such devices into my techniques. Others chose to keep with more tried and true methods: the scalpel, the hot poker, the lash. I'm not putting such methods down. Quite the contrary, they are marvelously effective... T: Well that's really fascinating. I had no idea how advanced things had become down there. However, since we don't have all night to discuss such matters, why don't we focus in on some specifics. Maybe some of your favorite torture methods? A: Certainly human, I'd be happy to accommodate you. I wouldn't want to waste your time, after all I'm sure my boy is long gone by now. T: Yes, what about him? How did you deal with your pyromaniacal charge? A: Ah yes, young Alex. A very resilient lad. Few humans of his tender age

manage to make it past the First Circle, much less all the way down here to my realm. I came across him right after he was flushed out of The Labyrinth up on the Third. He was a little shaken up, but glad to be past whatever mindless attempt at confusion they had addled him with up there. I'm of the old school, and don't much care for messing about. I pounced on the lad, claws and fangs barred. After years of the calm, insufferable boredom of my upper level brethren, he was more than a little shocked. Having severed the tendons in his arms and legs, I dragged the mournful boy, screaming and wailing, all the way back to my lair. T: Your lair? Explain that. A: Lair? Oh yes. You see, every demon has its own territory down in The Pit. We are all masters of our own small part of Inferno, and in that area whatever we say goes. We can shape it into whatever form is necessary to accomplish our goals. I have but to think of it, and any torture device imaginable comes to my hand. Of course, we own such places only as long as we hold on to them. some stronger Infernal might well come along and try to take what is mine. Worse yet, one might offend one of the Death Angels or even Astaroth himself. Cross any of them and your license to torture gets revoked on the spot. You'll end up doing some horrible task in a Dark Citadel worse than anything you ever inflicted on a human. T: Back to Alex... A: Of course, of course. I know you are in a bit of a rush. Things to do and all that. I like to start things off in a traditional torture chamber setting. Dingy stone walls, dirt floor, braziers with hot coals, racks, iron maidens, manacles, shackles, whips, knives, and so forth. The sight alone is enough to send most into hysterics. I know some of my friends like to start out with sexual tortures, removing every shed of dignity to soul might have held onto up to this point. While I don't doubt the efficacy of such techniques, I prefer to hold off on them, build up to them if you will. It's Hell after all, everyone expects the knives, barbed wire, and strange contraptions. I like to start them off with what they know, being careful to inform them that the worst is yet to come. That always gets them, because they think "What could be worse?" and they scare themselves all the more trying to figure out what's coming next. So with Alex, I began by strapping him down to the central work table I keep nice and cold for just such occasions. The cold metal usually jerks them right out of whatever fear induced stupor my mere presence has put them in. I started with the scalpel, beginning with the fingers. Slowly, delicately I began to flay the flesh of his pinkie, moving on to the rest of the fingers and then the whole hand. It takes an iron grip to hold on tosomeone and keep them from squirming and ruining your cut. Sometimes I actually use a vise to hold them in place. The real joy of this process is listening to them beg for mercy, offering to tell you whatever you want. They'll confess to anything at this point. That's how I found out about Alex's little escapade with matches. He told the whole story, begging for forgiveness. You'd have thought they would have learned after three previous Circles that there is no forgiveness. The biggest problem is when they pass out. I have just the machine for such occasions however, and I like to wheel it over and let them watch me hook it up. It's a tremendous black box with all manner of dials and gauges on it, with a thick black tube ending in a long needle coming out of one side. Most of it's just for show, just to make them wonder. The needle is the important part. I stick that somewhere real uncomfortable, usually the genitals, but sometimes the anus or even the ear or nose. It pumps them full of stimulants that keep them from passing out. Of course I could do this in a much less invasive way, but what would be the point? Working on the boy with the scalpel took me a good thirty hours of careful cutting, but in the end I had him totally flayed and castrated. He was conscious the whole time, thanks to my machine. He had long ago lost the strength to cry out, but the look in his eyes as I held up the mirror was as rewarding as an scream (no eyelids, so he couldn't help but look). Then I set to work on the internal organs, taking them out piece by bloody piece. My machine kept him alive through it all. Sometimes, just for shock value, I'd pop a piece in my mouth and give it a good long chew. Maybe I'd swallow, maybe spit it back out on his face. That's me just getting started. Finally, after a few weeks of this I let him die, but only so I can start on his fresh, newly rejuvenated body. With Alex I followed my usual routine and started the whole process over just

like before. The inevitability of it really gets to them. They know exactly what's coming and how horrible it is, and there's nothing they can do about it. The boy started screaming again, which was fine with me, and I started in on his fingers again. I went on like that probably five hundred times. For me time is nothing, it comes and goes as I please in my lair. I like to take my time, and draw things out as much as possible. But even a good flaying can get boring after a while, and so I moved on to something a little more personal to my charge's sins. Not that I care a bit for sins or any other such moral concerns, but I've found that a little personalized touch goes a long way in these matters. So for Alex it was fire, and old favorite of mine. I began with the pain of hot metal searing flesh and moved on to small fires. At first I worked just in the medium of heat, burning, scorching, and baking part or all of him for extended periods. What's particularly nice is how easily infected burn wounds get, producing just gobs of pus. Every human I've ever met absolutely hates pus, especially when you pour it down their throats. Soon enough I added cold to my fire, going back and forth between the two, working with the blade to gain access to their internal organs and so forth. And then you came along. T: Oh, well, terribly sorry about that, and just when it was getting interesting. Just for the record, what was your next step? A: Hmmmmm. Well, I was probably going to go ahead and break out the big toys. The machines. I start with the rack, the pressing boards, and the maiden and go from there. I have some wondrous contraptions in my lair. Chambers that sprout all kinds of invasive implements at seemingly random times. Electric shock, noxious gasses, acids, bases, poisons, meat tenderizers. Anything you can imagine... T: Yes, I'm sure it's quite an amazing sight to behold. No doubt about it. And how do you know when your time is up, when it's time to send your charge on down below. A: You would bring that up wouldn't you? T: Yes I would. Now tell me, why do you let them go? A: All right, since you asked so nicely. There comes a point when you know that the pain has done all it can. If they're still holding on at that point, then you have to let them go. Not everyone does of course, but that's a recipe for trouble. You've got to know when to let go, to move on. For me that's not usually a problem. I'm experienced enough, and good enough to scour the soul clean and have it ready for Metropolis and rebirth. Sure, sometimes I have to let one go on down, but that's not a problem for me. T: No, of course not. Well, if we could get on with the night's business... A: Certainly. As you can see, Aburshanuphyl had quite a lot to say on the subject. The Fourth Circle merits no more of our attention at this point. It is, to me, one of the less interesting aspects of The Pit, if only because it is exactly what one might expect. So, without further adieu, we move on to the half-way mark: Circle Five. The Fifth Circle The Fifth Circle is in almost every way the opposite of the Fourth. There is no physical torture here, in that it resembles the Third. But rather than meddling with the damned soul's mind, the demons of the Fifth level tug at human heart strings. Emotions are the stuff of this circle. Here they bring out the worst in men and women, taking to torturous extremes such laudable feelings as love, honor, hate, anger, arousal, and joy. They turn that essential part of the human condition, our feelings, into a agonizing liability that we wish we could rip from our souls. Eventually this is exactly what happens. For my tale of emotional woe, I have decided upon an interesting diary I found in a Parisian used bookstore one rainy afternoon. Curiously, the diary was of a German woman, Marlene Braun, but she seems to have been living in France and was keeping her diary in French in order to improve

her language skills. The diary records Marlene's dreams over a period of four months, almost all of which had to do with Inferno. It is obvious that, in her case, the Infernals had done a less than adequate job in erasing her memories, because her subconscious still had very vivid remembrances of the horrors she encountered in the afterlife. Her dreams concerning the Fifth Circle (she dreamed of all nine) are among the best accounts of that realm I have ever read or heard. Such accounts are usually quite muddled and confused, as is the nature of things when emotions come into play. Marlene's Story "Last night I dreamt of The Place again, as I do every night. Fear of my dreams kept me up until early morning, and I would not have slept at all had I not had such an eventful afternoon. I hate sleep. I've tried the sleeping medicine the Doctor prescribed. It does no good for me. I even tried the absinthe that Gerard gave me, but that only made matters worse. Last night it was again the place of bad feelings about which I dreamt. I had just arrived there from the place where they torture me with knives and whips and... I found myself in a pretty garden full of flowers and butterflies. There was a man there, I call him Father, even though he is not my Father. We sit and talk pleasantly for a while and I am so happy. But then I say the wrong thing. I say that I am happy and Father grows very quiet. He becomes angry with me and starts to yell and carry on. He tells me how bad I am. How selfish. He goes on and on and I know that he is right. My happiness is wrong. It is misplaced. I should not feel such things, because I have no right to be happy. Not after what I have done to Father and Mother. Another man comes into the Garden, which is now a sad place for me. He is my lover. I know this about him, although I can not remember his name. We embrace and he grows angry at me because I am sad. He says I have no right to be sad, that he has come all this way to see me and I should treat him with the love and respect he deserves. He does not want to spend his time wiping up my tears. He wants us to make love and be happy. He kisses me and I feel guilty because Father is watching. Father is right, I should not be happy, but my lover is right as well, I should be joyful in his presence. I am torn and do not know what to feel. My Father grows angry with the man, and says that he has besmirched my honor. I protests, but Father only yells at me, calling me a common whore. My Happy Man challenges Father to a duel, and the two of them fight. I am frightened and sad and try to stop them. They push me away, both of them, and I fall to the ground. They fight and kill each other. I am sad, very sad, and I start to cry. But then I am happy because the two men were mean to me and deserved to die. Such cruel thoughts make me uncomfortable though. I do not know what to think, so I leave the Garden, almost crying, but almost laughing. I am exhausted by my feelings, and want nothing more than to go to sleep. I cannot sleep though, for as I leave the Garden I am caught up in some strange sort of street festival. People all around me are celebrating, but there is no joy in the air. They are full of lust and pride. They are all so beautiful that they think of only themselves, and their own beauty. But I know that I am more beautiful than any of them, and I look down on them in scorn. I move among them, admiring my own beauty in the many windows that line the street. Men and women approach me, wanting to dance with me. I am so pretty and desirable that I need only take the most attractive of them. I pick those who I like best and let them walk beside me. Everyone wants to be with me because of my beauty, something that makes me very proud. Soon such a crowd has gathered around me that they sweep me off my feet. An army of beautiful men and women, all of whom what to be close to my superior beauty. I am so happy that they love me for my good looks. They sweep me into a large room, the floor of which is covered with a supple carpeting, strewn with luxuriant clothing. They begin to undress me so they can behold the full power of my beauty, and I let them, proud of my figure. Then they begin to make love to me and it is wonderful. Such pleasures as I have never experienced. Soon I am spent, tired of all the pleasure. But they will not stop their caresses and soon the pleasure becomes overwhelming there is nothing I can do to escape them. The pleasure becomes unbearable. It goes on and on and I can do nothing. I want it to end now, but it does not. It goes on forever,

since there are so many of them they never have now no different than pain and I feel like I am after an eternity it stops. I know now that the pleasure is evil to me. I am not beautiful, but said, and I should not be happy.

to stop. The pleasure is going to die. Finally, mere thought of such a whore just as Father

Nor it seems should I be sad. I find myself surrounded by friends, all of whom are trying to keep me from being sad. Feeling sad is not proper behavior for a woman of my character. I should show no emotions to the world, but always be calm an collected. Pleasant but unassuming. The easiest way to do this is to not feel at all. They begin to teach me how not to feel. I did not think such a thing would be possible, but I actually begin to live without feelings. The dream seems to move in fast forward at this point, and I live on for years, never growing old, always with my little circle of women friends telling me how not to feel. I have also sorts of horrid encounters with men and women who betray me, hurt me, love me, try and entertain me. Whenever I become excited I find myself getting hurt. No emotion works out well for me. It is easier to simply have no feelings at all. One instance stands out in my dream particularly. I spend much time with my circle of women friends, and I grow to trust them as confidants. They at least have my best interests at heart. I have vague memories of all the horrors my body has undergone in the past: the torture, the mind tricks, the endless tasks and the horrible climate. But here for the first time I have a group of supporters, people who know how I feel and want to help me. People who will show me the way to survive here in this new hell of emotions. I have experienced such horrid pain in my heart. Those who I love and those who I hate have given me nothing but heartache. And then it happens. I do not know why I do not expect it. It's the same every time I have the dream but I never seem to learn! My circle of friends turns on me. I have revealed my innermost fears to them. I have come to depend on them as sources of calm in my tempestuous emotional life. They are everything to me. And suddenly they are harsh to me. They reject me at every turn, telling me I am unworthy of them, too emotional, not controlled enough. They say that they have been all too patient with me over the past few years. They have given me their love and respect and I have not returned in kind. I protest my innocence but this only drives them further from me. They have turned on me, but I know I deserve it all. I am too emotional, too uncontrolled for them. I must learn to control myself. For the rest of the dream I am alone, wandering as if I am in a dream within the dream. I walk through the petty turmoils that surround me, but they are nothing to me. I have torn the hurtful, destructive emotions from my breast and thrown them to the wind. I am like a walking statue carved by some ingenious Greek sculptor. I have every appearance of life, but no fire within me. I have learned that feelings lead only to pain and suffering, and never to good. The only respite I have from my torturous life is the time spent without feeling. It is only when I have fully realized this that suddenly the dream changes again, as it always does, and I go slipping down again..." Now that does not sound so terrible does it? Well, of course it is quite terrible, even worse, I think, than the desecrations of the human form so popular in the Fourth Circle. Emotions are an integral part of our humanity, and stripping them from our soul leaves us virtually lifeless. The subtlety and power of the illusions created by the Razides of the Fifth Circle are truly stunning. They, more than any others in The Pit go to great links to trick humans into thinking that they are not in fact in Hell at all, but leading some normal life. Every detail is perfect, and they seldom make mistakes. They peer straight into your soul and see those things which are most important to you. They dredge up the perfect archetypes for your emotions and desires: family, friends, lovers, enemies, rivals, anyone you may grow a strong attachment to. They then deconstruct that emotion, twisting it in on itself until it becomes its opposite, or loses meaning altogether. The Fifth Level is certainly marks a trend in the lower levels, a sophistication found only below the half-way point. Down here the Circles know that if someone has made it this far, they are probably pretty tough. The Fifth is not trying to break anyone all the way. Certainly emotional turmoil can be every bit as torturous as physical agony, but it may not be enough to completely scour the soul of all personality and memory. But if

they can take away the fundamentally human emotions that set us apart from automatons and beasts, then they will have gone a long way in their quest. Once that is accomplished, there will be no inner fire, no love or hate to sustain the soul as it falls through the next four circles. Razides of the Fifth level take pride in their sophistication and worldliness. They are often pleasant to talk to, although strangely disquieting. Much like talking to a psychotic psychiatrist I suppose. One interesting side note. I find it startling and somewhat tragic that poor Marlene was forced to live her entire time in Inferno every night in her dreams. I have never heard of such a remembrance before or since. Certainly it is not unheard of for someone to occasionally have dreams of a particular experience in Inferno, or some detail about its geography. But to relive the whole thing every night is frightening, if only for the time compression involved. I feel certain that Marlene was under the influence of some conjurer. Perhaps someone who had managed to combine the Lores of Dream, Death, and even Time & Space in such a way as to curse the young girl with constantly reliving here sorrow. What she could have done to deserve such a fate I do not know, but it is certainly a curious punishment. The Sixth Circle Below the emotions of the Fifth Level we find the base fears of the Sixth. At first this level would seem to directly contradict my statement of a moment ago. Being buried alive in scorpions is hardly sophisticated; or so one might well argue. But there is more to it than that. This level is about taking away your humanity. Up above, in level Three, the soul has been stripped of its logical base, rational thought is no longer possible. Thinking things through became impossible. In the Fifth Circle the soul lost its emotions, that inner essence that keeps us going. Now in level six the soul loses the last vestiges of human society, living the life of an animal or insect. The very atmosphere of the Sixth Circle brings out our basest instincts. Every human soul in the level is in a state of constant state of hunger. Hunger for food, thirst for drink, hunger for life, fear of everything. This hunger is insatiable, and fortunately there is plenty to eat. Unfortunately, little of it is what is normally thought of as fit for human consumption. for instance most of it is still alive, poisonous, and trying to kill you, or at least hurt you a fair amount. Worse yet, some of the bugs cannot be seen by the naked eye. Diseases run rampant in the Sixth Circle, from viruses to bacteria to cancers that crawl about on their own. Naturally enough, it is often hard to find subjects who are able to talk of their experiences in the Sixth Circle, at least while they are in the middle of their torment. Language skills are among the first things to go down there. For this particular story I have called upon the very Legions of Hell to provide me with answers. Admittedly that is a rather dramatic way of saying that I managed to capture one of the thousands of foot soldiers in Astaroth's Legions and ask him a question or two. In life this poor fellow was a simple office worker. Just one of many who put in his hours every week and saved up money in hopes of some day marrying and settling down. Like all men he had his faults. Maybe he was ruthless, maybe mean. Maybe he just didn't care for people. Whatever his sin, it was enough in his mind and the minds of his peers to end him straight from the street where he was run down to Inferno. He proved resilient enough to make it through all Nine Circles, and rather than let such a prize go, Hareb-Serap took a personal interest in him, drafting him into the Legions. Legionnaire Howard Whitman, reporting for duty. Howard's Tale "Maybe I'm just a cold hearted guy, but I didn't miss whatever it was they took away from me in the Fifth Circle. I never was the type to emote well. That's why I went into real estate instead of theater like most of my friends. One day I simply got up and walked through a door in The Fifth that I had never noticed before and I was falling. I fell for miles, it was just like sky diving, or at least that's what occurred to me at the time. Of course every other time I had gone skydiving I had a parachute... Luckily there were the bugs to break my fall. From miles up I could not tell what I was falling towards. It was all black from a distance, like some great tar pit stretching off for miles. There were no features, no landmarks, just black ad infinitum. As I got closer I could see that it was moving, I thought maybe it was some kind of ocean. I only had a second to register the noise: the scraping, clicking, chittering, before I hit

bottom. The Impact killed me instantly, but a moment later and I was myself again, lying under several feet of cockroaches. Big ass, nasty cockroaches. I had no particular fear of them while I was alive, but I certainly didn't want to drown in them. Involuntarily I started to scream, and they just rushed into my mouth. Into my mouth, my nose, my ears, even up my ass. I went crazy. Absolutely nuts. It was as bad as it ever got in The Pit. Who knows how long I flailed there, letting myself suffocate over and over under the mass of insects. I must have died a hundred times, either through heart failure from the terror or just plain suffocation: too many bugs in my lungs. Eventually I got my act together enough to start to try and claw my way out. The "sea" of cockroaches was, for the most part only about seven feet deep, so occasionally I could jump up and find my way to the surface to catch a breath of air. Sometimes I would fall into deep pits, tens or even hundreds of feet deep, full of roaches. It would take me days and hundreds of deaths to work my way out of there. Eventually I did make it somehow, although only because They let me. Outside the sea things were not much better. I was hungry, hungrier than I'd ever been. I stood in some sort of swampy area, it reeked of noxious gasses, the air was alive with stinging gnats and flies. There was no vegetation, just stones, muck and mud. nothing bigger than a fly to eat. Ultimately that is what I was reduced to, trying to snatch insects from the air and eat them as I trudged along through the swamp. I suppose I could have gone back to the sea of roaches and eaten something there, but I would not bring myself to go back to that place. The strength just seemed to leak right out of my, and suddenly I knew that I was getting sick. I hadn't been sick, actually ill since before I died. Now I could feel it for sure: a fever, coughing, running nose the whole works. I was breaking out in strange spots and rashes all over. I got sicker and sicker as I marched, and soon I couldn't move another inch. I lay in a pile of filth and muck, slowly dying. I just lay there. It wasn't one of those pleasantly delusional sicknesses either. I was constantly, painstakingly aware of everything that was happening to me. It was only when I was too weak to move that something besides stinging flies and mosquitoes showed their faces. Bigger bugs, rats, snakes, and every other kind of vermin stopped by to gnaw on me. I couldn't do a damn thing to stop them. Finally, after days of this crap I died. Then I got up and started all over again. But now I knew what I was in store for. now I had it all figured out. So I drank the mucky water, because, hell, I knew I was going to be sick again anyway. I hunted for the vermin. Now I knew where they lived, I knew how to get them. I survived for what must have been months this time. Living in the muck, feeding on snakes and rats. I became no better than the food I ate. There was nothing civilized in my existence. Nothing human about it at all. I was constantly hungry, constantly looking for food. I was so ravenous that I would eventually hunt an area clear of vermin and would have to move on. I was constantly ill, constantly vomiting up what I had eaten or dribbling out my ass in diuretic streams. There was no hope for me. My body festered with bug bites and sores, none of which ever had a chance to heal. It was pure animal drive that kept me going as long as I did, and even then I died. Of course death was just a new beginning, and it only meant that I was stronger for a moment, could hunt better for a few days or weeks. I should have stockpiled the food, but the thought never occurred to me. I killed everything I saw, and ate everything I killed. Finally my nomadic hunting took me to the edge of my swamp, and there I found a cave. I crawled in, looking for food. Inside was a cornucopia: beetles, scorpions, grubs and maggots, all crawling about in a stinking morass of guano and rotting gunk. I gorged myself at this trough, letting the protein filled bugs slide on down into my belly. Sometimes they stung, sometimes they killed me with their poisons, but I was in heaven. I simply lay there and let the food and disease come to me. I must have died a thousand times over in that cave. My muscles atrophied, I couldn't walk anymore. I might as well not have had legs at all. It was only when the locust things came that I was forced to move on. I heard them from miles away, but didn't care. I didn't even think as to what they might be. It was only when they came into my bug cave that I began to fear them. They were all at least a foot long, flying in thick clouds on dragonfly wings. They had the bodies of bugs but the head were like rats: beady eyes, long snout full of teeth. No fur though, just a nasty jet black. They ate everything in site. All my bugs, and then me. I had to run. I could not fight them. I could not eat them. They looked delicious but

there were too many, they were too big. I ran and ran, and sometimes I made it a fair distance before they cut me down. Their vicious little teeth could strip a man in a few minutes when they chose to. Flying pirahanas is what they were. But most of the time they just seemed to want to play with me. Taking a few bites out every so often, the rest of the time just swarming around me. The sky was black with them. I couldn't see a thing. No light, just the merciless buzzing of their wings and snapping of their jaws. Somehow I escaped them, running in blind, mindless terror, more out of habit than anything else. I ran so as not to die. I didn't want to die because I was hungry. I wanted to eat. I missed my bug cave and all its little biters and gnawers and grubs. I fell into a pit and suddenly they were gone. I knew vaguely here I was. It was the Labyrinth, the maze that winds through all of The Pit. I didn't realize all of this. I had long ago forgotten I was in Hell at all. I new that I was safe, but hungry. I set about looking for food. A bug maybe. And so I wandered the Labyrinth, no better than a rat in a sewer. I fought others over scraps of meat, and ran away from larger packs of humans. We weren't men anymore though. We were animals, pure and simple. No worries except survival and food. No attachments except to our stomachs. We were less than animals really. We didn't even need to procreate. We just were. Eventually, somehow I made it out of there. I fell through the wrong trapdoor or maybe they just let me go on my merry way. Knowing how things work here it was probably the latter. They'd turned me into an animal, and now it was time for the hunt." So goes Howard's tale. It covers all the significant aspects of the Sixth Circle: vermin, disease, dehumanization, and so on. With so much of his humanity already stripped away, it was a small step for him. Soon we shall see the transformation from mindless animal to mere property in Hell, but first there is the Seventh Circle, land of The Great Hunt. The Seventh Circle We near the end of our descent into the depths of The Pit, and here we see the final steps in the processing of human souls. The Seventh Circle is really just a playground for Razides and other demons to get their aggressions out. It certainly has value to the Infernals in their quest to purge humanity of its memories, but I feel there is more to it than that. All of the other circles center around the victims, while here the focus is the demons. Humans are simply pawns to be toyed with, minor albeit crucial parts of the system. The Seventh Circle hosts a constant series of wars, duels, gladiatorial combats, death sports, and hunts, with humans being the ones who die over and over in the process. A handful of powerful Razides numbering less than a hundred rule the entire circle. Even the Citadels of the Death Angels infringe very little in the Seventh Circle. The Lords of the Seventh Circle care little for Infernal rivalries and politics, and, surprisingly, seldom involve themselves in Pit Wars. Instead, they keep to their own amusements, fighting mock wars with each other, simply for the pleasure of watching humans die in combat. War and combat are a way of life for the Lords of the Seventh, and the air is always full of the sounds and smells of combat. Naturally enough, The Seventh Circle is the area of Inferno most commonly linked with our world by temporary portals, especially those formed in war time. For this reason, despite its depth in The Pit, the Seventh Circle has one of the highest human populations out of all the Circles, since many unfortunate soldiers step straight from one battlefield in our world to its counterpart in the Seventh Circle. Because these individuals did not die in the traditional sense, they are effectively prisoners of the Demon Lords, who in no way feel obligated to send them on down The Pit. Torment for human souls in this level is constantly hunting or being hunted; always fighting for your life. There is also less variety in the human experience in the Seventh Circle. The Demon Lords care little for varying the tortures they inflict on their prisoners, preferring the infinite variety of outcomes war and combat offer them. Thus, most humans find themselves repeating the same battles or hunts over and over again for all the years they spend in the custody of The Seventh's war lords. It is the Razides themselves who move from place to place, enjoying the different

pleasures their realm has to offer them. Keeping this in mind, I have chosen to present the reminiscences of one of those Razides, rather than the account of one of their human victims. This particular tale is quite rare, and is in fact a letter written by one of the demon lords who followed Togarini in his ill fated rebellion against Astaroth. The unfortunate Razide was banished into our world with his master, never to see the joys of his Seventh Circle again. He apparently wrote the letter in reply to some queries made by a death conjurer in the service of Togarini. The original is handwritten in blood, the script is really quite elegant and is written on vellum. To Liam, Master bids that I answer your questions. You ask what it was like for me as a lord of hell. I will tell you. It was paradise. It was what I was created for. It was everything I could ever ask for. I reigned in the Seventh Circle of Hell, one of only a few dozen Lords in the entire circle. Our power rivaled that of even the Death Angels themselves. We ruled absolutely in our realms and every pleasure was ours, including the greatest pleasure of all: War. We fought among each other constantly, but not out of spite or greed or malice, but for the shear joy of battle. Each of us had under our sway an army of demons that could have destroyed every army in human history, but it was not with these armies that we fought. Demons cannot be killed in their own land, and so do not fear death. More importantly they do not fear pain, for pain is our primary motivator. There is no sense of risk when demons fight, no fear to drive a warrior to extraordinary lengths. We fought with armies of humans, poor frail, easily killed yet easily reborn humans. It was their inbred fear of death and will to survive that made watching them so enjoyable. Each war and battle was carefully thought out beforehand by myself and my fellow Razides. We strove constantly to fight new battles, or re-fight old battles in different ways. Sometimes we would set our human pawns against each other in recreation of other famous human battles, simply to relive the joy of fights long since lost and won. The Battle of the Somme was particularly popular right before I fell from my high seat, and we would often fight it a hundred times with small variations, just to see what the humans would do. The humans always played the same part again and again, but would remember every battle that had gone before. It was quite interesting to watch them learn from their mistakes and see the interesting evolutions the battle went through. Sometimes, just to make it interesting we would change something significant in the middle of the battle, such as changing the Germans into Spartans, or moving the scene of the battle from the trenches of Europe to a sweltering jungle. Of course we were just as inventive when coming up with our own battles, campaigns that could never be fought in the world of the living. The uniquely malleable geography of Inferno allows for plenty of interesting variations. Sometimes we would pit medieval armies against hordes of demons on a plane of fire. Other times we would allow the humans to ride terrible creatures of our creation into battle; anything from giant beetle like things, to flying worms reminiscent of dragons. Underground battles were always a favorite of mine: armies trying to fight each other in a constantly shifting maze. The confusion, fear, and frustration fill the air, along with the blood and death. There are certain facts of Infernal existence that had to be dealt with, first of all being the tendency of humans to rejuvenate immediately upon death. We circumvented this problem by making it almost impossible for a man to die in our circle. It is just as easy to wound, maim, or disable, it's just that they cannot die. Wounds that would normally kill simply leave the human lying in agony, unable to do anything but experience pain. We found long ago that this keeps them from immediately killing themselves in order to escape the horrors of war. It is important that they have an incentive to fight on, and the fear of pain seems to do the trick. Those that come down from the Sixth Circle usually do not need much encouragement. They have already been stripped down to the point where they will do anything to survive. They are hardly human anymore, more like animals, which makes them perfectly suited for the hunts (which I shall discuss shortly). It is the walk-ins, those who stray over from Elysium when the barriers are weak, who need encouragement to keep on fighting. They have not been broken in the upper levels of The Pit, and so are not used to the inevitability of their fate. This makes them much more

interesting subjects, for they believe our lies when we tell them that if they fight well enough they will be able to escape some day. Sometimes a full scale battle is not what we were in the mood for. The high drama of man to man combat can be just as compelling, and we would often stage such gladiatorial bloodfests. Here they would fight until one or the other was incapacitated (remember we made it impossible to die), then we would revive the fallen warrior to a state of perfect health and let the fight continue. This was often enjoyable sport for upwards of a week of constant fighting, depending on how good the fighters were. We certainly never took the time to train them. Why bother when you can learn by doing? They usually picked it up quickly enough. Of course we had a lot more weapons than the Romans, everything from human history, and much that hasn't been thought of outside of Hell. This made for nearly infinite variety. The Great Hunts were one of my favorite times, for they offered me a chance to get involved in the fun personally. We would often come together at this point, and create wondrous hunting grounds filled with all kinds of horrors and hiding places for our prey. Then we would release a few humans into the grounds, give them a good head start, and head out after them. Hell hounds, our own special birds of prey, and other Infernal creatures accompanied us on our hunts, sniffing out the fearful prey. Those humans who survived the Sixth Circle somewhat intact were by far the best, for they had been stripped down to their animal instincts. Eventually we would beat even those out of them after too many hunts. Then they were of no use to us, and we sent them either on to the Demiurge or down The Pit the Eighth Circle. There was never any down time for our pawns, even during these gladiatorial shows or the hunts, when only a few of them were being used. Sometimes we would lone them out to other Lords who were planning large battles. Other times we put them away in their cupboards: dark metal boxes the size of coffins standing on end. Inside the humans were subjected to a series of visions and hallucinations about war and combat; real enough that they would not lose their edge. To be perfectly honest, we seldom used the boxes, for there was always a battle to be fought somewhere, and it seemed a shame to waste the human fighting spirit. Eventually of course every human would wear out. It would either become a simple killing machine, more robot than man, not fearing death or even pain. These were of no use to us. They were too far gone, too close to being finished. Others simply lost it completely, their minds shut down and they could do nothing but lie there or stand and get shot down. Again, useless for our pleasures. Sometimes the turn over rate would get so high that we would have a shortage of good subjects. It was then that it was occasionally necessary to mount expeditions to the higher Circles and take some souls before they were too damaged. This made us many enemies, but there were none in all The Pit save perhaps Astaroth and Hareb-Serap who could match us for our military genius. Whatever we wanted, we took, and they should be thankful we left them anything at all. But then I was betrayed, and my Master fell before the Lord of Hell himself. Now I reside among the living instead of the dead. Still I play my games, pitting humans against one another, knowing however that every time I do the joy is only fleeting. I send the dead on to my fellow Lords still in The Pit, who will have the joy of them for years to come. I hope they appreciate all I do for them. As you can see, the human element is not terribly important in the Seventh Circle. Certainly it is one of the most dangerous areas to visit in all of Inferno, as it is constantly at war with itself. The danger of a stray bullet or arrow trapping you there forever is just too great in my opinion. Unless of course you can manage to somehow become a guest of one of the Razide war lords. Then you might have a very interesting time. The Eighth Circle The Eighth Circle of Hell is a curious place. At first glance its tortures seem simplistic compared to other levels, but once one see beyond the surface, the truly insidious nature of this hell becomes apparent. I choose for my story the remembrances of a pleasant young woman, Christine Lorenzo of Athens, Georgia. Christine had a remarkably accurate memory of her past lives and her time in hell, although it took deep hypnosis to draw the more terrifying memories from her. The result of all these past lives running around in her head was that, by the time I met her, Christine was really

quite mad. Nevertheless, I was able to obtain some valuable gems of information from her muddled mind. This particular extract from my notes is Christine's account of her time in the Eighth Circle. She had very vivid memories of all the previous circles as well, but it seems it was the Eighth that finally broke her. The Eighth circle is the realm of slavery, where human souls become the servants of their hellish lords. The lords of hell often represent themselves as beautiful human or quasi-human beings. They live in lush surroundings, with beautiful gardens, homes, and cities. They live a life of luxury at every turn, served hand and foot by their human servants. This in itself does not sound so bad, but as you might expect, the resident Razides and Nepharites are the sternest of masters. They will strike out with furious vengeance at the slightest mistake on the part of their servants. They can be every bit as creative in these tortures as the other lords of hell, but the torture is all the worse since the human servants know that if they had acted without making a mistake there would be no punishment. They bring every torture upon themselves. As we shall see, given the nature of their servitude, avoiding making a mistake is harder than one might think. Christine's Story I woke up to find myself in yet another dank, cold dungeon, lit this time by a crude iron lantern. Such surroundings were by this time commonplace in my damned existence, and I took some comfort in them. At least it was better than the horrors I had experienced mere moments before. Of course my rest was short lived. The door swung wide revealing a gigantic hunchbacked man. It only took me a few seconds to realize it was of course not a man but a demon of some sort. He stared at my dirty, naked form for a moment, then strode forward and grabbed me by the hair, pulling me kicking and screaming down a stone corridor. He moved too fast for me to get my feet under me, and soon I gave up my struggle, succumbing to the numbing pain. I was hurled by my hair down a flight of stairs, only to be snatched up again by another hunchbacked demon. The second hunchback slung me over his shoulder and started to carry me along at a rapid pace. I slowly became aware of my surroundings at that point. Looking through bruise swollen eyes I began to understand that I was in some sort of factory or warehouse. All around me were these hunchbacked demons, operating strange machinery, moving boxes from one place to another, or pouring foul liquids into steaming vats. The factory floor was vast, and I could see neither walls nor a ceiling in the dim light. My captor brought me to what I assumed to be the center of the room. We emerged from behind a towering stack of iron cubes to see an arena of some sort. There were nine tiers to the arena, connected by serpentine stairways that twisted and turned down to the center of the pit. In a way it was like a miniature model of the Great Pit itself, although the word "miniature" belies the great size of the pit the spread out before me. On every level their were more of these hunchbacked demons, although all of these seemed to be tending to human captives in some way. Thick smoke of some sort wafted up from the center of the pit, making it impossible to tell what was going on down in the lower levels of the pit. I could see only dim outlines of humans and hunchbacked demons. The humans seemed to be crowded together in little clusters while the hunchbacked demons moved between the groups. At the time I did not realize the significance of what I saw, and scarcely noticed it. My attention turned almost immediately to the first level of the pit which we were now rapidly approaching. There I could see several other people, all of them bound to various medieval torture apparati. I found this both frightening and strangely comforting. At least it was familiar. I had been through this before. Of course I should have realized the truth, but one's mind does the damnedest things to try and keep you from facing the horrible truth. The torture on the first level of the pit was just a formality, or maybe some sort of payment for the services of the hunchbacks. After only a few days of torture I was released from my torment, with one addition. I now had solid black iron collars around my neck, wrists and ankles. I was informed that I was to be a servant in the palace of some great Nepharite, a thought that filled me with silent dread.

It was worse than I could have imagined. As I've said a thousand times, these guys really have their stuff together when it comes to messing with your head. I don't know what I was expecting for the palace of a Nepharite. Something big and scary, full of screaming victims and demons. The truth was actually far, far more disturbing. The Nepharite in question lived in what has to be the most beautiful home I have ever seen and am ever likely to see. It was truly a palace, built along the lines of the Doge's Palace in Venice. It was situated beside a beautiful, placid lake in the center of miles of well manicured gardens. I only got a glimpse of all this however, just enough to make my heart rise at the sight of such beauty. I was seated in the back of a large, iron carriage, chained to the walls along with about a dozen other new servants. We could only catch brief glimpses of the outside through cracks in the shutters that blocked the rest of the world from our view. This was part of their genius. They gave us just enough to comprehend that there was something beautiful out there, but not enough to time to relish it or take comfort in it. We were unloaded from the carriage in a carriage house, and sent downstairs into the basement. We were to share a small, dank room, with only bare mattresses to sleep on. Still, it was better than what we were used to. Our trainer was one of the hunchbacked demons who had greeted us on our arrival. He told us that we were a team now, and that if any of us failed in our duties, the whole team would pay the penalty. We didn't have to ask what the penalty was, we knew we didn't want to find out. The rules of the place were simple. We were never to speak under any circumstances, nor were we to ever take our eyes from the ground. We must always obey the orders of any of the members of the lord's house. The hunchback provided us uniforms that we had to wear always. They had a certain 18th century quality to them, and were made from a coarse, uncomfortable material. Our team was assigned to service, meaning we would serve the lord his meals and drinks. It sounded easy enough, and I began to relax, thinking this might not be so bad after all. When it came time for us to serve, we were ushered up a hidden stairway that opened into the grand kitchen. It was truly a beautiful sight, pristine and fully equipped to prepare a gourmet banquet for a hundred guests. The cooks had already come and gone, and the food was laid out for us. We took up trays and proceeded into the dining room. Beyond the door a large dinner party was just getting under way. With our eyes on the ground we could only see the feet of those we served. I stole a quick glance and was startled to see the hall populated not be demons, but by thirty of the most beautiful men and women I had ever seen. The lord of the palace sat at the head of the table, a handsome, distinguished gentleman in his mid-fifties. I didn't know what to make of this, so I set about serving the food. The guests didn't pay us any notice, and soon our job was done. We served seven course, poured wine and cleared the table over the course of the next four hours. When all was done we were marched back to our cell. It was then that we learned just how badly we had done. The hunchback was in a rage. He lashed out at us with a short, wooden club. I had touched the wine glass with the wine bottle. One of the others had looked up. Another had said excuse me. Another had accidentally clinked the water glass with the plate he was setting down. The list of seemingly insignificant mistakes was huge. How the hunchback even knew what we had done was beyond me, since he had not been in the room. Each mistake was worth fifty lashes, and each of us was lashed for the mistakes of everyone. I lost count, but he must have struck us all well over a thousand times a piece. He assured us that since it was our first time he was being lenient. He wasn't exaggerating either. The worst was yet to come. We became obsessed with not making mistakes, for we knew the penalty if we did. It was now impossible to take pleasure in the beauty that surrounded us, so fearful were we of misbehaving in some way. Of course we did make mistakes again, and pretty soon it wasn't enough to torture us in retribution for our crimes. We were sent back to the factory area I had seen when I first arrived. We were sent back into the pit, this time down to the second level. Our latest infraction had been to raise our eyes from the ground on more than one occasion. We had been serving in a garden party, and the temptation of looking on such beauty proved too much. In punishment the hunchback said he would make sure we never looked up again. In the torture chambers of the pit they made us all stand with our heads bent forward as

far as they would go. They then placed an iron plate at the back of our necks, angled so that we could not raise our heads from their stooped position. The iron plate was then riveted into our very flesh, an excruciating process that caused me to pass out from the pain. When I awoke the pain remained, burning into my back and neck. I could not raise my head an inch, and already I was starting to cramp and grow stiff. We had to continue service in such a condition, working though the pain and humiliation of our new fetters. Of course this only made service more difficult, and soon we were making mistakes again. We cursed ourselves for our stupidity, knowing that if we just concentrated on what we were doing, we could avoid all of these problems. That was the true measure of the torture we faced. It was all avoidable if we were only better servants. The demon lords were not trying to make us mess up. They did not change the rules without telling us. We knew what we had to do, but eventually one of us always messed up. Then it was back to the pit. Our third trip to the pit they added iron blinders to the side of our heads, bolting them to our temples. Were we not already dead, the shock would surely have killed us. As it was, we were able to keep functioning, despite our pain. When one of us talked we went back again to have our tongues nailed to the bottom of our mouths in order to prevent speech. Then one of the girls groaned during lunch, so it was back again to have our voice boxes removed with a pair of pliers. The hunchback who tended us yelled and screamed for hours, saying that we needed to learn to work as a team or we would never amount to anything. One spilled drop of soup and we were back in the pit, the hunchback haranguing us the entire way. It seems that it was time for us to truly learn the meaning of team work. We were already a pretty sorry looking lot, welded bits of black iron covering our bodies, constantly dripping pus and blood onto our normally clean uniforms. Once again we tried to steel ourselves to whatever new torture we had earned for ourselves. As it turned out, the "torture" proved to be nothing more than a length of chain. The hunchback fastened the chain to each of our iron collars, binding the twelve of us together, separated by less than three feet of chain from the next person down the line. Together we formed a circle, chained together for eternity. This made our work much more difficult, but still we managed to make it through one meal without committing any errors. But it was difficulty to do one's duty when you have to worry about what everyone else was doing as well, and eventually one of us slipped up again and it was back to the pit. At first they just made the lengths of chain shorter. Then, when that didn't work, they undid the chains from our collars and bolted them directly into our flesh, adding another iron accouterment to our uniforms. We were by this time quite a sight to behold. We looked more like machines than human beings, what with the wide variety of iron plates, bolts, and chains attached to us. Work was becoming almost impossible. With our tongues nailed down and our eyes all but covered it was impossible to communicate with one another. We were bumbling masses of flesh, each trying to fight through the pain or our predicament. It wasn't long before we missteped yet again, and were back to the pit. This time we were in the bottom of the pit, the last torture they had to inflict upon us. They took metal cable about an inch thick and inserted it directly into our heads, actually touching the brain. They connected us together much as the chains did, but suddenly we could hear every though of every other member of the group. We suddenly had access to all their feelings, all their memories, all their pain. It was too much for me and I passed out, as did some others. When I came to the sensation remained, although now I was getting used to it. My brain, in its own defense, and withdrawn into the mass mind that was forming between us. We could now communicate perfectly with one another, allowing us to do our jobs without messing things up again. The cost however was too great. We were no longer human, we were one giant machine. All sense of self was gone, all sense of who we had been. Sharing the torments of eleven others who had gone through what I had gone through in hell was just too much. My brain shut down, and we became an automaton. There was nothing left for us to do but serve in that beautiful palace, a beauty that was entirely lost on us, for we were now one without feeling. I do not know how long we remained thus, for it is my last memory of hell. Surprisingly, it is not a bad memory. It was a good feeling, a feeling that

finally I had found my place in the world. The Ninth Circle So at last we come to the end of our voyage to through the depths of Inferno's Great Circles. At the bottom we find the most select souls, those rare few who can survive all eight previous levels with their mind and soul intact. Take a moment and contemplate the kind of mental fortitude it takes to go through all of Hell that I have described thus far. Truly, it is hard for many us to imagine surviving any one circle intact, much less all eight. To make it to the bottom, one needs be made of very stern stuff. One has to have a certain affinity for the very tortures you are supposed to hate. There is simply no other way to pass through the ordeals of the upper levels. To come through them all entirely unscathed is impossible. Even those who retain some of themselves down to the Ninth Circle have had a rough time of it. They are questioning many things about themselves, and about who they are. After all what kind of a man can go through such horrors and not question his own identity? In the Ninth, identities are changed, and their are only two ways out. Either one loses whatever he or she has left in themselves, or they give in to the joys of Inferno, never to leave its boundaries again. My advice: give in if you can. Eternity in Astaroth's realm without hope of reprieve is hardly worth living. Certainly you will no longer be human, no longer a god. The final Razides of the lowest circle are on a very special quest, they seek to separate the merely human from those rare beings who have become somewhat Infernal themselves. For my final selection on the Circles I have chosen a rather old piece, something from over two hundred years ago. Here I present the story of Shen Xiao, a Chinese nobleman confined to The Pit upon his death in 1767, and whose soul has only escaped Inferno's torments in the past twenty years. He was a brilliant man of sound character and righteous Confucian upbringing. He did his share of wrongs during his life, but no more than any other ambitious man. Murdered one night by his own son, he woke up to find himself in The First Circle. He passed on down through The Pit, clashing his strong will against that of his oppressors. Never did a stronger man enter The Pit, but he eventually succumbed to the inevitable. By the time he had reached the Ninth level he was almost unstrung. It was then that he wrote this confession, in one last attempt to hold on to himself. Of course it did no good, for he finally did succumb. Xiao's Tale "I have come a long way through the tortures of the Earth Prison, and now I am almost through it. Here in this new hell, there is time for quiet reflection, something not offered to me at any time before. This cannot be anything but another trick on the part of the demons who keep me here. The more time I have to contemplate my fate in this comfortable room, the more I realize all that I have lost. I am no longer a man, for I have no manly qualities. I have no feelings, I have no desires. I am but an empty shell, less even than the lowliest animal. I no longer know what I am. This is something I would never have dreamed of. I have always been taught that the world is carefully organized and ordered. Everything has a place, and a duty and a destiny. I have no duty, I have no place. If I once had a family, their memory is long gone from me. I remember only a life of pain, here in the pits of the Earth Prison. I no longer even know why I am here, although it must have something to do with the demons who surround me at every turn. I remember their kind from the other hells of the Earth Prison, but in this new place they have treated me kindly, at least for the few days I have been here. * * * I have just had a most interesting conversation with one of the demons. I suppose I should say, with one of my fellow demons, although I am not at all sure that is true. Still, his version of matters seems to make sense, and it would explain a great many things. Things I myself have no explanation for. Things like why I am here and where I came from. I have vague memories of a time before the Earth Prison. Shadows of a former life still haunt me, but like all shadows, they are impossible to catch hold of. My friend told me that I am, by birth, a demon. It is my duty, my place in

life to torture humans in retribution for their sins. This at first seemed entirely wrong to me. How could this be, when all my life I have been tortured a thousand different ways. My companion told me that I was mistaken, that there was no past of torture. He said these were not memories but visions inspired by my birth. He claims that I was born into this world only yesterday, that I am a demon now and always will be. Those memories are all false. It would be nice to believe him. It would explain a great deal. It would explain why I can't remember anything but pain and suffering before yesterday. You see, pain and suffering give birth to demons. My memories are not of me being tortured. No, they are the memories of my parents. This seems to make a kind of sense, but still seems wrong to me. We talked for a long while my, my friend and I. He told me of the wonders of my homeland. He told me that I could one day be a great and powerful Demon Lord because I was born in the Ninth Circle, the luckiest of all Circles. We get only the best souls to torture, and we may do whatever we wish. All the rest of hell, with the exception of the King of Hell himself admire our status and envy our power. We are the first among the fallen. He told me that the demons of the other Circles are confined to a particular kind of torture, and are forbidden by The King of Hell to perform any others, but we of The Ninth and Greatest Circle may do what we please with the souls that come down to us. We are truly masters of ourselves and those lesser beings around us. I was somewhat disturbed by these last statements. I had in me no desire to hurt for pain's sake. I did not want to torture others. I could not imagine how my genteel companion could take pleasure in such barbarous activities. I began to distrust him at once. I was not like him at all. I was no demon. I was sure of it then, but he continued to talk with me and now I am not so sure. Certainly all the evidence points towards my being a demon. I am treated with tenderness and respect by my fellows, all of whom are very understanding. They tell me that it is not at all unusual for a new born be as confused as I am. I will have to think on it some more. Now I am tired, and my bed calls out to me. * * * My friend came around this morning with some food. It smelled very good and I ate it with great relish. It was delicious, and I asked if I might have some more. He said of course, but that I would have to help him prepare it. I agreed, thankful of the opportunity to learn how to prepare such a dish. As it turned out, the meat in the dish was carved from the side of a living human boy, who screamed loudly as I cut from his thighs. For an instant I felt somewhat strange, a feeling I cannot explain. But once my friend handed me the knife I had no problem carving into the meat-boy. It seems that I must indeed be a demon to be able to do such a thing to a human. I learned how to make the dish, and it was really quite delicious, although not quite as good as the bowl my friend had prepared for me. We spent the rest of the day wandering in and out of the fantastic tunnels that make up most of my homeland. We passed through every conceivable variety of torture chamber, many of which were familiar to me. Everywhere we turned there were human souls being tortured. I felt somewhat ashamed because I did not feel the same delight at these sights as my companion obviously did. Nevertheless, I played along and pretended to enjoy the visions of agony that spread out before me. Torture seemed to be the main occupation of my fellow demons, although occasionally we would meet others who seemed to be simply walking about leisurely as we were. My friend explained to me that these were other new-born demons and their mentors. He said that every new-born has a mentor to help them grow accustomed to life in the Earth Prison. I said that I thought this a very good practice, and he agreed with me. He told me I was coming along very quickly, and that he was proud of me. My heart swelled with pride until he told me that soon I would be able to perform my own tortures. I felt my stomach turn at the idea. I was not sure I could do it, but I smiled and thanked him for the compliment. * * * Tomorrow I am to be given my first human charge. The method of torture is left up to me, and I cannot seem to choose. I have spent the last few days in deep conversation with my mentor. He has explained to me all of the horrible things that men do to each other in the land of the living. He has explained to me why they need to be punished, why they need to have their

souls scoured clean of the memory of their past sins. I hate humans. They are so selfish, so petty, so foolish. They deserve more pain than we can give them, and now I look forward to having at my first victim. I believe I will start with the lash. I seem to have a certain affinity for it, and my mentor suggested it as a first choice. * * * I have failed as a demon. I could not perform when it came time to carry out the human's punishment. I have disgraced my mentor and myself. He was very angry, and has promised that if I don not come around soon, I will be destroyed. If I cannot be a torturer than what am I? What will become of me? I know no other life." That is the full extent of the manuscript, written in blood with Infernal characters. I recovered it from the archives of the Ninth Circle myself. Xiao went on back into our world. He proved to be no demon, but certainly none of his humanity remained either. He was a perfect tabula rasa, suitably for rebirth. If he had proved capable of performing the deeds asked of him he might never have left Inferno. He would have instead become a Razide of sorts himself, serving Astaroth for the rest of his days. There are a few that do fall into such a fate, but most who pass through the Ninth Circle move on back into the living world. Such is our fate. Chapter Six: The Wild Zones Having dealt in with the Great Circles in some detail, I find myself at somewhat of a loss for material about the next section of Inferno, the so-called Wild Zones. If the Circles are the Center of things in Astaroth's realm, then the Wild Zones are everything else. As you can imagine, in a place of infinite space, that is quite a bit. Truly anything exists out there in the Wild Zones, for it exists simply to be molded by the hands of the Infernals. It is, if you will, their playground, the place where they experiment with their own plans and desires without having to worry about the interesting but time-consuming business of destroying human memories. When I say "they" I of course refer to Astaroth himself and his Death Angels, for truly they are the only ones who really have much leisure time and free will in Inferno these days. Everything else is working too hard at surviving or making it difficult for others to survive. I make here a few notes concerning some of the more important areas in the Wild Zones, particularly those related to the true lords of Inferno. Much of what I said earlier about traveling in Inferno applies particularly to the Wild Zones. Geography is in constant flux, and there are no set paths for an outsider to follow from one place to another. Some kind of guide is absolutely necessary here, unless you are exceptionally good at blazing your own trails. Weather is in constant flux, and precipitation can be anything from rain to blood to frogs to diamonds: literally anything. Many temporary and permanent portals open up into a location somewhere within the Wild Zones, and it is not uncommon to find poor lost souls wandering across the landscape, vainly searching for some way back home. Others are those who have managed to escape from The Pit, going straight from one hell to another. Packs of feral Razides roam the countryside, hunting down and tearing human souls to pieces, dragging them back to their lairs or to their masters in The Pit. There are few fates worse than becoming a permanent meal for a feral Razide, your flesh constantly regenerating each time you die so that your ravenous host can continue eating. This can be a good stalling tactic however, especially if you have a human companion to sacrifice. They will spend weeks gnawing on him until they finally grow weary of his taste. Remember, it is impossible to kill Razide on its home territory, you can merely immobilize for a short while, so be sure to move on quickly from any Razide "kills" you manage to rack up. As representative if the Wild Zones I have picked a few areas that are beyond a doubt important. Some of them are well known throughout Inferno, others are infamous for their obscurity. You will see what I mean. We begin then with one of the more important features of today's Inferno: The Marshaling Fields. The Marshaling Fields Since he created Inferno Astaroth has been building up his Legion of the

Damned. For what purpose he started such an entity I have no answer. Mayhap he anticipated that the day would come when The Demiurge would disappear and he would take his army into the illusory land of the living. Certainly in Inferno, Razides and other Infernals make for a more useful armed force. They can be forced into unflagging submission and loyalty with the simplest of spells, and they are immune to the effects of death. Why then create an army of fallen humans? It seems obvious that the power of humanity lies in its godhead, its ability to think for itself and be creative. Also, humans are much more stable when they are back on their home ground, while demons tend to go a little wild and get uncontrollable when released upon our world. Perhaps Astaroth simply enjoys the irony of having an army of fallen gods. Whatever his reasons, there can be no doubt that such an army exists and that it is among us even as we speak. The Marshaling Fields have been the training grounds and base of operations for the Legions since their inception. Until recently, most of the Legions were stationed in bases here, but now many are active in our world. The area contains miles and miles of bleak, muddy fields where the legionaries are made to drill incessantly. In the glory days of the marshaling fields a million men and women would march in step across the fields for days on end, singing songs of praise for their lord Astaroth. Under the constant tutelage of Hareb-Serap and the Prince of Darkness himself, they were trained in every form of combat known to human history: past, present, and future. With the malleable nature of Inferno it was easy for the Death Angel to transform the Marshaling Fields into whatever form necessary for training. each soldier has become well versed in jungle warfare, arctic warfare, desert warfare, and even under water warfare. War games and military exercises were constantly under way. These somewhat resembled the conflicts staged in The Pit, but they were more expressly for the purpose of training excellent troops rather than breaking down souls. Remember, these are all men and women who have survived the horrors of The Pit themselves. They are beyond the capacity to feel pain or sorrow. They now seek only to serve their masters to the bitter end. Astaroth has instilled in them a burning hatred for humanity and the living world. Most do not even believe they are human any more. In many ways they are not. Centuries of torture and manipulation have altered them beyond repair. Their bodies have become as warped and monstrous as their souls, and they can probably never go back to what they once were. Now that Astaroth has taken his ten Legions into our world, the Marshaling Fields are all but empty. Only a few Razides remain to train new recruits. Where once a million legionaries marched in step, now only a few hundred can be mustered. Still, you would never know that the place has fallen on hard times from the attitudes of its inhabitants. The Razides that train them are zealous in their duties, and the recruits are eager to serve their masters in war. The most significant fact for the Harrower today is that there are a great many gates linking The Marshaling Fields with other parts of Inferno and our world. Each of the ten legions in Elysium maintains a Gate or portal that links directly with the Marshaling Fields, allowing them to easily get new recruits, or shift troops from one location to another without having to move through the space of Elysium. There are also Gates linking the Marshaling Fields with both Astaroth's and Hareb-Serap citadels. Of course, all of these Gates are heavily guarded and require the proper passwords and spells to activate. Still, the informed traveler should be aware of them, and willing to try and use them if worse comes to worse. The Dark Citadels I mentioned before that the Dark Citadels of the Death Angels pierce down through all nine levels of The Pit. Additionally, they can be found in the Wild Zones, each taking on its own manifestation. Out in the Wild Zones their appearance is somewhat more personalized to the individual Lord of Hell. These Citadels are in fact directly linked to the Citadels within the Pit. In fact, once one ventures inside there is no difference at all. The facades may be in different locations within Inferno, but the insides are all the same. So, theoretically, one could enter Samael's citadel in the Fifth Circle, and come out from his citadel gate in the Wild Zones. Razides and the Death Angels themselves commonly do just that. The human traveler may have a little more difficulty accomplishing such a passage. The Citadels, like everything in the Wild Zones are in no fixed place in relation to one another. It is unlikely that you will see one actually moving across the land, but it is not unheard of. When Death Angels become

embroiled in fights with one another (as is common these days) it is not uncommon to see to warring Citadels adjacent to one another, fighting as if they were sixteenth century ships of the line. They will even circle about, maneuvering for position. It is said that it was in just such a battle that Togarini's Citadel was destroyed and the Death Angel himself forced into Elysium in the body of a human conjurer. Today the Citadels stand mostly empty, since most of their lords have followed Astaroth into our world or have invaded Metropolis itself. This makes entrance into the citadels sometimes surprisingly easy. Even though the Citadels themselves are extensions of their Lords' will, the Death Angels have come to care little for their homes. They look to new conquests in the True Reality and over humanity itself. Because citadels often have many gates and portals into our world, they are useful destinations for harrowers, offering a quick escape if you catch a Death Angel on an off day. If however he happens to be in Inferno at the time, well you are in trouble. When a Death Angel is present in Inferno, at its citadel it knows all that transpires within. The walls and rooms are merely an extension of the thing itself. It is best to ascertain if the master is home or not before you come knocking. The Labyrinth The Wild Zones extend as far underground as they do above, and the Labyrinth connects all of it together. The same Labyrinth runs between our world, Metropolis, and the various parts of Inferno. If one can master the intricacies of traveling through the most confusing maze in existence, one can travel freely throughout the various realms. Some say that there are even passages that connect with Limbo, the realm of dreams, but no one has ever proven this to my satisfaction. Of course only those born to its twisting passages can ever begin to fully understand it, and certainly no one born of Earth will ever know its secrets with any certainty. The Labyrinth within the Wild Zones is no safer than the surface world, and is just as unpredictable. Passages are liable to close up or change behind you, and there is no sure way to map your passage. Of course a compass is entirely useless, as are any other location finding devices. The Labyrinth is however home to some of the more interesting denizens of Inferno. Of course Razides are common down there, but not as common as one might think. The tunnels, ducts, and passageways are so extensive that one can almost always find a place to hide. While a Razide may never get lost down below, it is not necessarily able to find anything either, at least not without the aid of powerful magics. The myriad of underground hiding places in the Labyrinth offer one of the only places of refuge for human souls who have managed to escape their tormentors, as well as people who have mistakenly wandered into Inferno through temporary portals. While there are not a great number of these free floating humans, there are enough to make them worth mentioning. They tend to be very nomadic, wandering the less traveled passages of the Labyrinth, hunting and killing whatever they can to survive. Many have been here for a very, very long time, often hundreds of years. This is a torture almost as dehumanizing as some of the tortures of the Nine Circles, and many of them have become feral. Should you, as an inquisitive Harrower, manage to come across such a band you should be very calm and make no sudden movements. They may have long lost their communication skills, but in some cases it is possible to reason with them. Offering them gifts is a decidedly bad idea. They will naturally assume you to be demons until you prove otherwise, and everyone knows what a bad idea it is to take gifts from Razides. What unites all of these escapees, and what the Harrower may be able to capitalize on, is their hatred for all things Infernal. Given half an opportunity to somehow inconvenience the Lords of Hell, they will jump at the chance. They despise the forces that have imprisoned them here. Even more alluring is the promise of escape from Inferno's clutches. Most of them will do anything to escape from the clutches of Astaroth and his minions, and will be more than willing to help you in your schemes. The help they have to offer can prove invaluable. They know some of the secrets of the Labyrinth, and have become very adept at avoiding the Razides andother Infernals who prowl the underground byways. It is extremely unlikely that you will come across such groups anywhere outside of the Labyrinth. Anywhere else in the Wild Zones, and a defenseless human is liable to be spotted and attacked or captured within a matter of hours. The surface belongs to The Death Angels and their servants and citadels. Down below, it is every man, woman, and Razide for itself.

The Archives Even Hell has its bureaucrats. In fact, it probably keeps better records than most banks. After all, labor is effectively free in Inferno, especially for tasks set by Astaroth. When he formed Inferno, The Prince of Darkness thought it important to keep accurate records of every soul that passed through Inferno, and all the Circles and other torments it passed through. He created a whole race of Infernal record keepers for just this purpose: The so-called lexiths or book imps. These lesser Infernals come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from scribes of diminutive stature to large hulking brutes who tend the stacks. They constantly seem to be underfoot everywhere in Inferno, taking down the comings and goings of as many of Hell's visitors as possible. Other Razides find the lexiths to be insufferably annoying, and are in the habit of eating them rather than answering their questions. Of course then the nasty little librarians will simply claw their way out of the offending Razide's stomach. Nevertheless, I have been told that the pleasure of making a lexith quiet down for a short while is worth the pain of its escape. They keep all their records on long scrolls, said to be made from human skin. In fact they are massed produced in the Archives from the very stuff of Inferno, but the lexiths try their best to act as fearsome as their more sinister brethren. The records are all kept in Infernal script, a language all its own, although not impossible for a human to learn. If you come across a lexicon (an admittedly rare find) it is worth studying. The Archives themselves are a massive building located in The Wild Zones. The black marble edifice reaches up into the sky almost a mile, a solid black monolith dominating the surrounding Infernal landscape. There are no windows, but intricate carvings cover the entire surface, showing the history of Astaroth's foundation of Inferno. The building extends underground at least as far as it soars above. Inside the building are hundreds of floors of scriptoriums and shelves overstuffed with records scrolls. In the old days it was possible to find the history of any soul in human history that had been through Inferno. Even today there are parts of the Archives that still contain such information, facts that can be very useful when trying to find some soul's whereabouts in Inferno at any given time. However, since the Demiurge disappeared and Astaroth came into our world, the Archives have slipped into a rather chaotic regime. Without the guidance of their creator, the lexiths have strayed from their original path. They have now taken to recording not only the comings and goings of human souls, but anything else they happen to find out about as well. In fact, given the declining number of human souls, and the increasing ease with which lexiths are becoming distracted by other matters, there are very few records of humans being written at all these days. One can find reams and reams of scrolls devoted to the eating habits of a particular Razide over a thirteen year period. Some are interesting, like an interesting list of all the tortures performed in The First Circle in a one hour period (Archive time). When looking for information, the Archives are quite inconsistent. Of course gaining access to the Archives is not as easy as one my think. The doors do not lock, and anyone can simply walk in whenever they please. However, although the lexiths are by birth bookish, humble creatures, they would love to be something more. They look up with awe and envy at the other Razides, jealous of their power over human souls. A lone, unprepared human wandering into the Archives is liable to be attacked by every lexith who sees him. All of them will be eager to try and emulate the marvels they have seen their idols perform. Alone a lexith is not much of a threat, but they can be very dangerous when large groups get together. The intrepid researcher can find a tremendous amount of useful information here, as long as he knows how to look. I find that a few spells from the Lore of Time and Space are of inestimable value when researching here, and if you have access to such magiks or know someone who does, be sure to bring them along. I myself have made use of the Archives on more than one occasion in assembling this book. The Hatching Chambers One of the more famous features of the Wild Zones, The Hatching Chambers

are located entirely underneath the surface. They consist of a vast network of caverns and tunnels that connect directly with the Labyrinth and the Nine Circles. Only someone who wanted to spend the rest of eternity in the pits of Inferno would dare to visit such a place, for it is where Razides are born. The original Razides, muck like Athena, where born out of Astaroth's head. He created them from nothing to be the perfect servants to him and his cause. Of course creating from scratch is a tiring process, even for a powerful being such as Astaroth. But he did not want them to be able to procreate on their own. He knew that as long as he controlled their numbers he could keep them under his sway. Thus the Hatching Chambers came to be. The Chambers resemble an ant hill or bee hive; they are full of anxious Razides running about, tending to the needs of the new born. Each of the great Birthing Chambers contains what some call the "queen", the Infernal device responsible for laying the eggs that eventually mature into the various types of Razides. It is not a queen at all, but a machine that The Lord of Hell created to give birth to its creations. The machines operate under mechanical laws unimaginable to us, combining the raw energy of Inferno with the hatred and energy taken directly from The Prince of Darkness himself. In fact, the machines are all connected to Astaroth's Citadel in The Pit, and it is from there that they draw their power. Each machine usually specializes in producing Razides designed for specific tasks. For example, there are a number of Chambers dedicated to producing Razides specially suited for each of the Nine Circles. Others create Razides tailored for leading the Legions, guarding the citadels, or even corrupting humans in Elysium. From the moment they hatch from their leathery eggs, their minds contain all the knowledge necessary to perform their assigned tasks. This is not to say this is not to say that they cannot learn more. They are usually quite intelligent, and have long memories. Many become potent conjurers in their own rights, and have their own ambitions to greatness. It is for those with too much ambition that the second function of the birthing Machines exists. While the Hatching Chambers are the birth place of all Razides, it is also where they go to die. The Machines are the only devices in Inferno known to be able to totally destroy a Razide (aside of course from Astaroth and his Death Angels). This is the ultimate punishment for those who disobey the lords of hell, and is the only thing that Razides truly fear. To the side of each machine there is usually a pool or vat of foul smelling, boiling liquid, said to be the raw materials for Razides. Contact with even a small amount of the liquid causes a Razide (and human) intense pain, while emerging a demon in the stuff will break it down completely. It is an astonishingly simple process, a fact which makes it all the more fearful for the Razides who have to work around it. I have spoken of the Hatching Chambers in very general terms thus far, mostly because there is little information available about them. No human I know of has ever visited the place, and most of the Information here is either taken from the Archives or from legend. I have no idea how many different machines operate within The Chambers, but it numbers well over a hundred. Nor do I know at what rate the machines produce Razides or how many are terminated on a regular basis. The result of all this uncertainty is that I cannot make any kind of accurate guess at the number of these demon spawn residing in Inferno at any one time. Forced to guess, I would put the number at something close to thirteen billion, give or take a few. Remember it is not uncommon for as many as a thousand different Razides to have a hand in torturing a single human soul as it passes through the Circles, especially in areas where their presence is not so obvious, such as the Fifth Circle, where many Razides disguise themselves as humans for the purpose of mental abuse. My final recommendation is that the wary traveler not make the journey to the Hatching Chambers. The risks are too great, and there is only one possible reward. It is much easier for a conjurer to bind a new born Razide than one of its more experienced cousins. So occasionally a brave conjurer might try and pick out a new born from the Hatching Chambers, one who meets his or her very specific needs. Certainly this is the best place to look when searching for a special kind of Razide, for all the varieties are usually present. That of course is also the largest caveat: all the varieties are present, and you can not bind them all. The Freeholds Freeholds is somewhat of a misnomer, for they are not specific regions

within the Wild Zones so much as specific groups who exist in Inferno. The Freeholds are rouge groups of Razides who have broken free from their lords and are trying to make it on their own in Inferno. Sometimes these are just bands of wild demons who have lost their minds, and now wander the landscape of hell like rabid dogs. More interesting are the organized resistance groups, many of which dedicate themselves to overthrowing the rule of Astaroth and his Death Angels. In former times such a rebellion would be impossible. Astaroth's will in Inferno was absolute. Today there is hope for these demonic revolutionaries, although not much. They tend to be nomads, wandering throughout the Wild Zones and the Labyrinth, searching for new recruits. Since they are Infernals by birth, they have no trouble moving about the hellish terrain, allowing them to hide from their enemies rather effectively. The more powerful demon lords who have remained loyal to Astaroth have found that it is almost impossible to find a Razide who does not want to be found in Inferno. Only the Death Angels and the Dark Lord himself have the power necessary to hunt these seditious bands out, and they are too busy with their own affairs to care. The result is that many of the rebels are able to move about with impunity, raiding The Circles for human slaves and new recruits. Why rebel against hell? Unfortunately, it is not for noble or idealistic reasons. Such thoughts are anathema to the Razide. It is, naturally enough, simply a matter of jealousy. These are the Razides who were the lowest of the low, who never got their fair share of humans to torment and torture. Some resent the powers and pleasures available to the Lords of the Circles, while they are stuck with some menial Infernal task. Lexiths flock to these bands in great numbers, hoping for a chance to raise their standing in the world of the damned. The consequence of this greed is that none of the various rebel groups are willing to work together. Trust is an alien sentiment down below, especially among demons. Everyone knows you cannot take a Razide at its word, and Razides know it better than most. Of course not all the groups exist as nomads. There are in fact a few established strongholds deep within the Wild Zones. These pale in comparison to the Citadels of the Death Angels, but are fearsome places all the same. While it may be nice to have a home one can depend on, it is actually quite dangerous to create such fortifications. even in the ever shifting geography of Inferno, a set structure is something that can be found and destroyed. More than one such stronghold has been leveled when the moving Citadel of a Death Angel simply moves over it, crushing thestructure and all its occupants, who are then captured and sent to the Hatching Chambers to be broken down. Nevertheless, rouge Razides keep building the structures, seemingly in some vain attempt to imitate their masters. The Harrower may find that these rouge groups offer some assistance in a time of need, but caution is always prudent in such matters. Many Razides are willing to ally themselves with humans in order to accomplish their own goals, especially if a powerful conjurer offers his or her services. Just remember, the Razide's goals usually encompass enslaving and torturing humans, and they will do anything to meet their goals. Part Three: Lords of Hell I have spent the majority of this work detailing some of the intricacies of Inferno's complicated geography. I come now to a discussion of some of the realm's more notable figures; namely, Astaroth and the Death Angels. Much has been said of these Infernal potentates in other volumes, and to a certain extant the subject is beyond my purview. Today these beings are so involved in the world of the living, that Inferno is but a distant memory to them. Nevertheless, it remains the base of their power, and most of them still call it home, even if they do not reside there any more. Here I shall examine not so much their motives as their physical manifestation in Inferno itself. I mean of course their respective Dark Citadels, places that I have hinted at throughout the volume up to the present chapter. I discussed them somewhat in the section devoted to The Wild Zones, and somewhat less in my description of The Pit. There I discussed them as part and parcel of the land they occupied. Here I turn to the individual character of the vast fortresses, for each one reflects the will ad desire of its master. First a few more general comments. The Citadels themselves exist in several places within Inferno at once. We have already seen this phenomenon in theduplication of Citadels

between The Pit and The Wild Zones. Once one inside, it makes no difference where you entered, every part of the Citadel is accessible, at least in theory. It is even possible for several versions of a Citadel to exist in different place in different parts of The Wild Zones at the same time. In the limitless space of the outer reaches of Inferno, this is often a necessity for the Death Angels in their feuds with one another. Astaroth's Citadel is somewhat different from the others. While the Death Angels may reign supreme within their own keeps, Astaroth reigns over all of Inferno. In effect, the entirety of Inferno is the Prince of Darkness' Citadel, and it is merely an extension of his will. The great spire sprouting up from the depths of The Pit is merely a symbol of Astaroth's power, more like a throne from which he surveys his kingdom spread out in all its glory before him. When Astaroth was content to sit on that throne, he ruled Inferno with an iron fist. Since he left, his kingdom has begun to fall apart. The throne sits abandoned, the tower's door locked against the kingdom. The Death Angels have begun to take more and more of Inferno for their own. Some do so in the name of loyalty, claiming that they are merely protecting Astaroth's interests, while in reality they seek nothing but their own aggrandizement. Others are more open in their revolt, taking what they can get now, and hoping that they will be powerful enough to hold on to it later. As the Death Angels go, so do the Razides, who have been making their own plays for power in hell, although generally with less hope of lasting success than their betters. Selling Your Soul Human souls are the most important commodity in Inferno, particularly among the demons who exist only to torture them. Thus there are Pit Wars where demons fight for the right to torture the damned. Why, one might ask, do The Death Angels seldom if ever become involved in these petty squabbles? Surely they have the power to take what souls they want from the hands of the minor demon lords of The Circles. Of course they could, they just do not care to do so. The torture of souls who sinned and whose memories must be scoured is of little interest to the Death Angels, and even less so for Astaroth. This is the nominal purpose for Inferno, and is a task best left to lesser beings. The Lords of Hell and its King have their sights set much higher. They all, with one exception, desire power for themselves, usually at the expense of each other. What is true power for a Lord of Hell? Power lets them enforce their will on others. Power is controlling the fate of the world. Power is being worshipped and revered by lesser beings. Power is crushing your enemies. To have power one must have the necessary tools with which to do battle: armies, magic, servants, machines of war, and so on. One of the most powerful tools available is the human soul. The incredibly resilient human forms the backbone of the Legions of the Damned, and the private armies of many Death Angels as well. Why then do Astaroth and the Death Angels not participate in the Pit Wars? Because they are not interested in finding temporary playthings for torture. They seek able bodied, eager servants, those who will be loyal to the cause. They seek those who will sell their souls willingly. Selling one's soul is a risky proposition at best. The Death Angels and Astaroth are all eager to make such deals with foolish humans, and will offer seemingly wonderful concessions: magic, money, power, women, whatever you want. Such paltry gifts are easy for them to bestow, and in return they get a god as a servant for eternity. Once someone sells their soul the contract is final. They will go to Inferno when they die, no question about it. But they will not begin the process of filtering down though The Pit. Instead they will pass directly into the Citadel of their new master, be it Astaroth or one of the Death Angels. Almost universally all the souls one finds in a Citadel are those who sold themselves. This happens much more often than one might expect. Most cults, Satanists, and devil worshipers end up selling their soul at some point. In fact, many cultists simply give it away, asking nothing in return. It is blind devotion on their part, coupled with stupidity, that makes them think that once they have given up their soul, Astaroth will be so grateful that he will continue to protect them. Quite the contrary, The Prince of Darkness now eagerly awaits their death so that he might take custody of his new prize. Thousands of young people have willingly given themselves over in thoughtless rebellion against their parents' ideas, not realizing

that they would be paying the price of rebellion for eternity. Entering into a contract requires very little formality. It can, and usually is, a strictly verbal agreement. It can be as simple as "O Satan! If I pass this test, you can have my soul forever!" He, or one of the Death Angels may well be listening to your plea, and if they act to ensure that your request comes true, your soul is theirs. since the beginning of our imprisonment the Lords of Hell have been out there, actively seeking converts among humanity. Sometimes they will strike traditional deals, bartering power of some sort for an individual's soul. However, most of these deals are originated by would be conjurers who seek short cuts on the road to knowledge. The Infernals prefer to offer much less, taking joy in tricking men out of their souls. They will approach the downtrodden and the sinners, people who are in some kind of trouble. At your moment of greatest need they will come to you and offer aid, asking only your soul in return. Most people do not take the offer seriously. In fact many do not believe that they have a soul, and so are more than willing to sell it. Once they have the soul, it may take some time to acclimate it for its new duties. The process takes place within the Dark Citadel of the soul's new master, and many times resembles the tortures of The Circles, except that the goal is different. Instead of beating the soul into a mindless state, they are merely beating into submission. Most souls never leave their new home, remaining servants to the Death Angels for the rest of time. The Razides and other demons who serve the lords are ceaselessly cruel to the humans, who they view as lower than themselves in every respect. The poor fools who sold their souls live out an eternity of pain and suffering, almost without exception. The exception is the reason for the whole rigmarole. Where is the power in having human slaves? Where is the power in endless torture? The goal of this torture, the secret unwritten, unspoken goal of all the suffering is the awakening of humans. This may seem incredible, but it is true. We know that there is a dark path and a light path to The Awakening, and that ritual pain and suffering can bring enlightenment. Only one in a million will awaken from such techniques, particularly when they are applied by an outsider, but the one in a million is worth all the trouble. There are few forces in the universe more potent than an awakened god, and now that force is the sole property of the Lord of Hell who bought the soul originally. Astaroth and his Death Angels seek to use our power against us, to harness the energies of our divinity for their own purposes. To what extent they have succeeded I cannot say. It is entirely possible that they have not succeeded at all, or that they have succeeded but then lost their hold over the newly awakened gods. Others say that there have been some very great successes, and that it is a small force of awakened humans under Thaumiel's command that protects him from Astaroth's vengeance. Others say that Astaroth himself has raised an Awakened One for many years, grooming him to take the Prince of Darkness' place in Inferno while he pursues his interests in Elysium and Metropolis. The value of human souls to the Infernal Lords cannot be doubted, and now you see why they try to fill their citadels with them. Each, in its own way seeks a way to unlock the key to human divinity, so that they can create a whole race of enslaved gods, yoked to their own hellish schemes. So I turn now to those individual lords and their citadels offering what insights I have gleaned into their workings. As you read, keep ever in mind the true purpose of these vast fortresses, for some day your soul may depend on that knowledge. The Dark Citadel Whenever anything speaks of The Dark Citadel in Inferno, they inevitably are referring to the thousand mile high spire of Astaroth's enthronement, soaring from the unknown depths of The Pit. It is first among citadels, and was once home to the greatest concentration of souls in all Inferno. Certainly Astaroth, in all his many incarnations around the world, has managed to acquire several times as many souls as all of his Death Angels put together. If anyone could find a way to enslave the power of human divinity, it would be the Prince of Darkness himself. At the height of his power, Astaroth's Citadel was the center of all goings on in Inferno. In the Dark Spire alone there were over a billion Razides employed, and millions of human souls held in eternal pain and torment. The Dark Spire encompassed every form of torture known to Inferno, and the Razides there did it better than any other demons in hell. Here he taught

the most powerful death magics to his human worshipers and servants, sending them back into Elysium to make more converts to his Satanic cause. Now the Dark Spire stands virtually empty, its black gates closed to all who would gain entry. No one has managed to gain entrance to the Citadel since Astaroth left in search of the Demiurge. Occasionally one spies a lone figure moving about in a window, or a winged beast circling the spire for a short while, but these are the only signs of activity within. Several years ago Thaumiel launched an assault on the citadel, but could not penetrate its walls by any means. It was worse than being defeated in. The rebellious Death Angel looked to be impotent before the entire Infernal host of The Pit. So impotent that the Prince of Darkness did not even have to mount a defense against him. Of course, he is not so impotent that Astaroth is able to put down his rebellion either. Most of the souls that Astaroth kept in his citadel have been forced into service in the Legions. Many have already made the journey over to Elysium, while the rest are training at the Marshaling Fields. The hosts of demons who served The Dark Lord are nowhere to be seen. Certainly a few of them are involved with the Legions, but not a billion of them. No one knows what became of these unfortunate Razides, although some surmise that Astaroth sacrificed the lot of them in order to gain the power to open up all the gates necessary to bring his armies through into Elysium. What is certain is that there is no unlocking the mystery of the Dark Spire. Even the gates and portals that once connected the citadel with other parts of Inferno, Elysium, and Metropolis have been sealed shut. Still, The Dark Spire stands as a symbol of Astaroth's immutable authority. It towers above all the other citadels, daring them to make a futile assault on its impregnable walls. Since the fall of Togarini, and Thaumiel's failure, none have yet summoned up the courage to try. If the rumors about Astaroth grooming an awakened human to watch over Inferno are true, then the whole dynamic of Infernal politics could change in an instant. Assuming that this corrupted human had enough power to hold on to the Throne of Hell, he could easily bring order back to the chaotic realm. However, the Lords of Hell may greatly resent a human, no matter how divine, lording it over them. Installing such a regent might just be enough to force the Death Angels to put aside their petty squabbles and join together to overthrow their former master. Of course if the divine human is half as powerful as his lord, then it will be no contest. Thaumiel's Citadel First among his kinds, Thaumiel now stands as the most rebellious of Astaroth's former servants. He stands in open conflict with both his lord and his cousins. His Citadel is an armed camp, with every entrance guarded by diabolic machines of war, manned by fiercely loyal demonic soldiers. Only those who come to serve Thaumiel or become his slave can pass through these gates unchallenged. All other are cut down on sight. As a result, there is usually a wide zone around Thaumiel's citadel in each of the Nine Circles. No one wants to be mistaken for an attacker. This is easy to do, since the Citadel is almost constantly under attack on some front, either by other Death Angels, powerful Razides, or servants of Astaroth himself. In the Wild Zones, Thaumiel's was one of the first to pioneer the moving Citadel. The citadel appears in the form of a tremendous floating fortress, hovering hundred yards above the ground. It is a maze of medieval looking battlements, towers, and turrets, with demonic guards stationed all about it. It roves through the Wild Zones, sometimes moving at supersonic speeds. This makes it very hard for Thaumiel's enemies to launch an effective attack on his citadel, and allows him to use it as a mobile base of operations. He has been quite effective in using the floating citadel to force lesser demon lords into submission. Inside the Citadel is a tremendous armed camp, with a complex hierarchy of ranks and titles. Thaumiel is obsessive about station and place in society, and this is reflected in everything about the Citadel. The infernal lord's caste system is made up of 1,237 different classes, each with very clear privileges and restrictions. A demon's caste determines its duties, what levels of the Citadel it has access to, who is under its command, and even what kind of weapons it is allowed to use in warfare. Movement through the ranks is accomplished entirely by proving one's merit, and in these times of troubles the only way to prove one's merit is through combat. There is constant fighting among the castes, although never outright war. Rather, constant duels, assassinations, and other attacks rage up and down the

Citadel. Thaumiel encourages conflict and ambition among his followers, as long as it does not interfere with his own plans. The only truly unforgivable sin for The Unjust Ruler is compromising the war effort. So, while they may fight among themselves at home, Thaumiel's legions work together brilliantly on the field of battle. This unity is one of the main reasons Thaumiel has been as successful as he has in standing up against Astaroth, Golab, and Hareb-Serap. It also helps that Astaroth has not turned his full attention to the rebellious Death Angel. Humans are of course the lowest caste in Thaumiel's citadel. They are servants, playthings and victims. Thaumiel is most interested in those souls with a bent towards domination and power. These he subjects to every imaginable torture in an attempt to awaken their divinity. Most however he consigns to the depths of the Citadel for his demons to play with. There they are either transformed into adequate servants, or suffer through an eternity of sorrow and agony at the cruel hands of Thaumiel's Razides. It is close to impossible for a human to travel through the chambers of the citadel without being accosted. In a society where everyone has his place, those who re out of theirs are easily noticed. Even powerful conjurers working with Thaumiel do not move about the citadel without guides of some sort to protect them. Of all the travel destinations for a would be Harrower of hell, this is one of the least accommodating in an already unfriendly climate. Humans within the Citadel tend to succumb quickly to the mindset of the place. The citadel is after all an extension of the Death Angel himself, and his mind is so overpowering that it cannot but effect the human psyche. Adversely. Humans begin to get caught up in the caste system, believing that they are in fact the lowest of the low, and deserving of whatever punishments they receive. Those rare individuals who resist such feelings tend to be prime candidates for a forced awakening Chagdiel's Citadel Chagdiel is perhaps Thaumiel's greatest ally, although Thaumiel himself seems to care little for the lesser Death Angel. Chagdiel's obsession with children seems profoundly impractical to Thaumiel. He does however admire the childish selfishness for power that the Bloodstained Patriarch displays, especially now that it has turned against Astaroth as well. Chagdiel delights in the ease with which children are frightened, yet marvels at how surprisingly resilient they can be. The citadel is therefore filled with children, and Chagdiel himself specializes in collecting the souls of children. It is not hard at all to corrupt a young human, particularly if they have never been brought up to believe in the existence of the soul. Even those souls of Chagdiel's who are not children when they die will revert to a childlike state upon entering his citadel. As an extension of his will, that is an immutable law. Chagdiel and his Razides are the only "adults" in the citadel, and they are stern, abusive authority figures who strike fear into the heart of all young ones. The interior of the citadel is a kind of daycare center gone mad. Room after room of holding cells, demonic classrooms, and perverted play areas make up the vast majority of the Citadel's interior. The children are not simply kept as prisoners, but are rather made to go through a horrifying mockery of normal childhood. Teachers give them interminable lessons that are impossible to understand. Failing to pay attention, or sit up straight, or answer a question correctly results in immediate, and forceful corporal punishment. Everything from being paddled ten thousand times, to being flayed alive. They sleep in huge dormitory settings with a thousand children to a room. No privacy is permitted, no whispering, or talking. Razides prowl through the rows of beds, each of which is merely an iron pallet kept either too hot or too cold for comfort. Part of Chagdiel's paradigm prevents the children from feeling tired, thus they constantly want to squirm about and get more comfortable, to try some how and get some sleep. The Razide monitors invariably view such attempts as disobedience and punish it accordingly. The children are of course allowed time to play. Chagdiel is a firm believer that children should have time among themselves to have fun and be creative. Of course, their playthings are the stuff of torture chambers and charnel houses. They are given the sharpest knives and real guns with which to play war. They climb on insanely intricate climbing apparati, studded with spikes, razor wire, and other traps. Pools of blood, bubbling cauldrons of bile, rotting corpses, fields of man eating plants: these are

the playthings of Chagdiel's children. Recess is a constant nightmare, a fight to survive. But of course no one really dies in Inferno, they just live to suffer another day. Chagdiel keeps a close watch on his children, looking for those who might prove themselves possible candidates for awakening. These he treats with special care, submitting them to the harshest measures and most harrowing torments he can come up with. The result is children who are hard, unfeeling, totally ruthless. Since young humans tend to be more impressionable than their elders, many of them come to accept Chagdiel as a kind of perverted father figure. Some of them come to even love him in a very twisted way. thus Chagdiel enjoys a strange luxury among the Death Angels: many of his human servant actually serve him out of misguided sense of loyalty. Should one of these some day awaken, Chagdiel will have a distinct advantage over his foes. Humans entering Chagdiel's citadel often undergo an almost immediate metamorphosis into a child like state, usually to however they were around the age of twelve. There is no known way to avoid this fate, and as you might imagine, it can be very inconvenient. Unfortunately, Chagdiel's citadel is also a relatively common destination for the more foolhardy harrowers. Many Satanists, death conjurers, and dabblers in the occult become quite distraught when they find that their children, in emulation of their parents, have unwittingly sold their souls to Chagdiel. Driven by despair, they launch ill-fated rescue missions which inevitably end in failure, the parents reverting to a childlike state themselves and becoming eternal slaves to the Death Angel. Satherial's Citadel The Devastating Mother is ever an unpredictable force in Infernal politics and power plays. As a fomenter of chaos, she often does the unexpected, but never the unintelligent. She is a cunning, ruthless being, with very clear goals: chaos for everyone. While nominally loyal to The Prince of Darkness, one can be sure that she would turn on him with pleasure should the opportunity present itself. In the current state of conflict between Death Angels she is relatively aloof, only entering into the fray on occasion to stir things up a bit. Her citadel runs now much as it always has, even though fewer and fewer humans find their way to her. Unlike some of the others, she has never been a great recruiter of human souls. Certainly she has relations with humans, offering aid to anarchists, radical political and religious movements, and others who might disrupt the order. Many of these end up in her citadel when they die, but traveling through the place, you would hardly know it. They tens to become lost in the shuffle; just one more strange being lurking about in the shadows. Satherial expresses her own chaos in her citadel, and all who venture into her realm are caught up in it. In many respects her entire citadel resembles the Sixth Circle. it is a place where animal instincts rule, and no sense of hierarchy or rules exist. The dense complex of tunnels twist and turn in upon themselves throughout the length and breadth of the citadel, constantly shifting and changing around you. Here all laws of man, nature, and even hell are void. Creatures of every imaginable sort wander the halls, caught up in the chaos. There are only two things that any of the inhabitants care about: food and sex. Food can be anything and everything that might provide nourishment. Usually it means the other creatures that wander the endless halls. Here of course humans are at a distinct disadvantage. The typical human requires tools with which to hunt, especially when the prey is bigger, stronger, and fatter than he is. In the primeval labyrinth of Satheriel's home, humans tend to revert to an animal state, unable to conceive of or use tools of any kind. They are left to fight with tooth and claw just like any other beast. The result: more often than not they get eaten. Be forewarned: it is not just the souls the Sathariel has bought that undergo this transformation; it is every human who strays into the citadel, even adventurous harrowers. Sex is another story entirely. The drive for sex in the citadel has nothing to do with pleasure and everything to do with procreation. Sathariel is obsessed with creating new and different forms of life, and so in her world, any tow beings can mate and produce young. Even human beings are free to mate with whatever they choose, and given the state of mind they are in, they will usually chooses anything that moves, especially if they

have already eaten. The offspring of such unions are inevitably bizarre, but always viable. It is Sathariel's will that only the best traits go into the union. Of course her idea of best traits and ours tend to be radically different. For her anything that supports the ability to feed and procreate is good, anything else is unimportant, including things like beauty, and intelligence. Animal wits are all well and good, but logical thought has no place in Sathariel's citadel. Anyone traveling through her citadel is likely to encounter scores or even hundreds of these creatures, each one eager to wither take a bite out of you, or (if you re a little more lucky) mount you and mate. Neither is likely to be a pleasant experience. Many of the creatures that stock the citadel were originally not from earth. Monstrosities from all over Inferno, Metropolis, and even Elysium come together here. Even creatures from totally incompatible categories can mate here: insects and mammals, humans and fish. Anything is possible, and you can be assured that it has all been tried at least once. Can this primordial chaos produce an awakened human? I can not say, but it certainly does not seem likely. Sathariel opposes all those factors that go into awakening out inner divinity. Perhaps she is misguided in her efforts, blinded by her own chaotic desires. Perhaps to she simply does not care. For her, existence is good. Chaos is coming ever closer to all the worlds; her dream becomes reality every day. Gamichicoth's Citadel Fasting, asceticism, self-denial; these have all long been seen as tools in the quest for enlightenment. Theoretically the value of such techniques is in denying yourself worldly comforts in an attempt to get more in touch with your soul. Whatever the reason, it is not supposed to be a pleasant, comfortable experience. Perhaps this is why Gamichicoth has chosen to focus his existence on the deprivation of food and drink. Maybe he sees the perfection of such techniques as the key to awakening the human souls he holds under his power. More likely, he simply takes enormous pleasure in the suffering that accompanies dire need. He is after all, an Angel of Death. Gamichicoth is another minor player in the struggle for authority in Inferno. He has no real army, no real following, and far less human souls than most of his brethren. Like all of his kind, he chafes under Astaroth's rules and restrictions, but he nominally remains loyal to the King of Hell, mostly out of fear. He works quietly, but diligently to increase his power, careful never to arouse the suspicion of any of the other Death Angels. In Inferno, his realm is a quiet one, not engaged in the constant strife that has engulfed other regions. The citadel itself is a series of barren chambers, closely resembling a hospital. The rooms are usually well kept, and are arranged in an orderly manner. At least they seem to be arranged in an orderly manner; for although one has a sense that there is a plan to the place, it is difficult if not impossible to ever get the hang of it. Losing one's way is easy in such a place, although in the back of your mind you always have the feeling that you will figure it out at any moment. The desire to find one's way is heightened by the tremendous hunger and thirst that humans feel immediately upon entering the citadel. Of course Gamichicoth has made certain that there is no way to satiate these feelings, no matter how much one consumes. Mot travelers quickly gobble up all they have brought with them in an effort to slake their parched throats and appease their ravenous bellies. They spend the rest of their days searching for more, wandering the sterile halls and rooms. Gamichicoth employs few Razides or other creatures, preferring to let hunger and thirst take their toll. Other humans are the only other beings one is likely to encounter as you wander the endless corridors. Such meetings are rarely pleasant, for your fellow man tends to look more like food than like a possible companion. Fights almost invariable ensue upon such meetings, as each tries to sink his teeth into the other's emaciated flesh. This same tendency often causes groups of humans to turn against each other, even if they have been long time friends. Eventually the desire for sustenance simply becomes too great, and one ceases to worry about little matters such as loyalty, love, and friendship. Gamichicoth's human servants are those individuals who in life proved themselves capable of great cruelty and deception. Gamichicoth would

promise to aid such men and women in return for their eternal souls. Unfortunately for Gamichicoth, such people are not usually the type that will benefit from the meditative benefits of fasting. They are usually much too shallow and self centered. However, should a more spiritual person find themselves locked up for years or decades in Gamichicoth's citadel, then he might actually manage to produce an awakened human. However, since Gamichicoth's methods are more passive than most, it is unlikely that he is well enough equipped or prepared to actually control a fully divine and awake human, should the need arise. Golab's Citadel Golab is the true idealist of all the Death Angels. he is a simple being, devoted to his master and his work. He is the Master Torturer, the end all and be all of torment. He takes joy in his work, of this there an be no doubt, but he is also proud of his work, and of his loyalty to Astaroth. His love of his work is matched only by his hatred of those like Thaumiel who have betrayed the One True Lord of Hell. He struggles against the rebellious Death Angels constantly, seeking a way to overcome their power. He enjoys Astaroth's favor, although not even he is permitted into The Dark Spire now that Astaroth is gone. The Dark Lord's support has allowed him to amass quite a collection of souls for his own experiments, as well as an army of demons and fallen humans willing to fight for their lord's vision of Inferno. Golab's citadel is a monument to efficiency and art in torture. The Death Angel has carefully organized his vast complex of torture chambers, separating them by a detailed classification system of his own devising. Millions of different kinds of torments are performed there every day by the hordes of Razides and Excrucies working under The Master Torturer's guidance. All the tortures of the Nine Circles are well represented here, along with scores of others never even thought of outside of Golab's realm. The very air is thick with agony, and Golab's lust for pain permeates. Anyone, whether they be human or demon, entering the citadel is soon overcome by the desire to do harm. This unavoidable side effect of entering Golab's private domain means that most humans will soon become fascinated with the tortures that are taking place around them. Rather than keeping their minds on their goal (whatever it may be), many harrowers will foolishly stop and take a closer look at some particularly fascinating bit of torture. Seeing the agony it produces so effectively, they will then be overcome with the urge to try it out themselves, usually on one of their friends. In some rare cases, the feelings are reversed, and humans have been known to become overwhelmed with a desire to be tortured. They will literally fling themselves onto a Razide's rack, begging to be flayed or whipped. In the Wild Zones, Golab's citadel usually takes the form of a tremendous steel building, resembling in many ways a hospital or scientific facility. High walls, edged with razors, spikes, and barbed hooks surrounds the building, with Razide and even human guards patrolling it at all times. Golab does not like the moving citadels so popular with some of his fellow Death Angels. At his heart, the Torturer prefers things to remain ordered and rational. To him, torture is as much a science as an art, and much of the joy comes from executing his techniques flawlessly. As busy as he is in his constant struggles with Thaumiel and others, he still finds time to take a personal interest in some of his subjects. Many of those humans Golab has snared for his Citadel are those who were once torturers of some sort themselves. Golab offers them guidance or help when they are alive, perhaps helping them escape the police, or showing them assure fire technique for inflicting unspeakable pain. In return these depraved men and women give up their souls forever. In recent times, Golab has taken a particular interest in fostering the piercing and body mutilation movement that has grown so popular in certain segments of western society. The fascination with pain and metal is something Golab can well appreciate. Golab is a diligent pursuer of souls, and he has acquired a great many test subjects over the years. The fact that Astaroth favors him somewhat has helped in this, since the Dark Lord will occasionally give the Death Angel some human guinea pigs in order to keep him loyal and happy. Golab also has a very large following among the Razides, Nepharites, and other Infernals, many of whom feel that Golab offers the best hope for a steady supply of human victims in the years to come. The number of demons in his service is unknown, but it is thought that many of Astaroth's servants fled the Dark

Spire for Golab's citadel, and it would not be surprising to find several billion of the demons locked away in the citadel somewhere, jealously guarding their human captives. Given his rather scientific, almost rational bent, it is not surprising that Golab is in the forefront of the attempts to raise awakened humans in Inferno. He feels sure that the right combination of tortures, when coupled with the right human, will have the synergistic effect necessary for awakening. He prefers those with a high tolerance for torture. The most promising subjects are even allowed breaks from their own agony so that they may have an opportunity to torture others for a while. The Death Angel feels that inflicting pain is almost as important as receiving pain in his attempt to bring out the inner divinity in man. Togarini's Lost Citadel Poor, ruthless, ambitious Togarini, brought down by his own hubris. Once he was Astaroth's right hand, leader among the Death Angels, protector of Death Magicians. When the Demiurge withdrew, Astaroth grew despondent, and Togarini, in a rather uncharacteristic blunder, thought that he himself was great enough to overthrow his sovereign lord. Obviously, he was sadly mistaken, his rebellion miss-timed. Perhaps if he had waited, joined forces with his rival Thaumiel, then something could have been done. As it is, he was extremely lucky to escape Inferno at all. Now he lives in human form in our world, his power in Inferno lost to him. His Citadel, once one of the mightiest of the ten, is now little more than a gaping hole running through the depths of The Pit. Already, local demon lords have encroached on the fallen Death Angel's former territory, building their own citadels in place of his. In the Wild Zones there is no sign of him, the fleets of black ships that sailed through Inferno's skies under his flag are now long gone. Even his Razides have for the most part disappeared from Inferno. A few managed to make their way into Elysium with their master. The rest Astaroth destroyed. There is now little cause for visiting the site of Togarini's fallen citadel. Once it was a place where the souls of dead conjurers came to learn demonic magicks at Toagarini's feet. The place was a haven for intelligence and reason in an otherwise insane land. Togarini's citadel was one of the few places in all of Inferno where an accomplished death conjurer could travel without fear of being molested or spurned. Togarini treated us all like his pupils, demanding nothing more from us than our respect. Now that ancient academy of the Lore of Death lies in ruins. Most ironic of all was that Togarini was on the verge of actually awakening one or more of his human pupils. The lores of magic are a key to our divinity. when we reigned as gods, magic was our birthright, and we wielded it with confidence and authority. Togarini experimented with some of the most avante guard magical techniques known in the universe, coupling them with all seven of the great occult sciences. He hoped to create an army of the awakened, all of whom were beholden to him for their power. Together they would overthrow Inferno, Metropolis, and Elysium, establishing a new world of magic, with Togarini at its head. Sadly, he did not wait for his dream to become a reality, and so, in his haste, he fell. Rumors remain about what happened to his most gifted pupils. While I feel that many of them were misguided in putting their faith in a Death Angel instead of themselves, there can be no doubt that these men and women were some of the greatest conjurers in existence, dead or living. It is hard to believe that none of them escaped Astaroth's wrath, although not impossible. Signs point to at least one survivor, possibly even an awakened human who has taken over part of Togarini's fallen citadel. He or she seems to have set themselves up as a demon lord, perhaps even possessing the body of a powerful Razide. Whoever this person is, their influence is growing ever stronger, and spreads throughout the lower five Circles of The Pit. This is an accomplishment no mere Razide has ever been able to achieve before now, and is just one sign pointing to the possible divine origins of these so-called "demon lord". Whoever it is, they are being very careful, and their exact whereabouts remain a mystery. Known in the Pit simply as Quiri-yek, the demon lords servants seem to be everywhere, but few have seen the demon itself. Most strange of all, Quiri-yek seems less concerned with gaining control over human souls than it does over gaining territory and establishing a base of support among the Infernals. This is behavior most unusual for a Razide, no matter how far sighted it is. There has even been some speculation that

Quiri-yek is in fact Togarini himself, working in secret to reestablish his position in Inferno. Others say that the Demon lord is so interested in acquiring territory because it seeks the lost arcane library that once resided in Togarini's citadel. Whether or not the fallen Death Angel took his tomes with him remains a mystery who's answer is known only to Togarini himself. What is certain is that, at some point, Quiri-yek will be forced to show its hand as it draws the attention of some of the more powerful Death Angels. Hareb-Serap's Citadel The dark angel of war, Hareb-Serap, most trusted of Astaroth's general, greatest rival to Thaumiel and Golab. No one can deny he is powerful, cunning, and dangerous. What is surprising is that he is also loyal, or at least more loyal than most of his cousins. Hareb-Serap commands two of Astaroth's Legions in Elysium, and prepares for the day when the war on humanity begins in earnest. However, Thaumiel's revolt also occupies his attention, and he struggles to find the resources for a war on two fronts, a struggle that has forced him into a unlikely alliance with his other rival: Golab. Despite the barriers between him and his goal, The Raven of the Battlefields remains confident in his hopes for victory. Togarini is already gone, and only two more stand between him and ascendant over Inferno, under Astaroth of course. The dark general's citadel is an armed camp, with many close ties to the goings on in Circle Seven. Unlike many of the other citadels, Hareb-Serap's contains a great man wide open areas where battles can be fought and re-fought without end. The Death Angel takes great pleasure in war, enjoying it on both a visceral and intellectual level. Certainly there are few general in the history of time who have fought more battles or who have had greater military minds. Hareb-Serap specializes in corrupting soldiers, policemen, and anyone else even remotely trained in combat. In the old days, when he was less distracted by Infernal politics, he spent a great deal of time wandering humanity's battlefields, offering victory or the death of one's enemies in return for the soldiers' souls. Many took him up on the offer, and now some of the greatest military minds in history languish in his citadel. Some of these he uses as opponents to sharpen his own skills and those of his Razide generals. Others become generals themselves, helping to lead the Dark Legions in Inferno and Elysium. Hareb-Serap's citadel is one of the largest moving geographic features in the entirety of the Wild Zones. It typically appears as a city sized juggernaut, moving across the landscape on mechanical legs and treads, weapons of every sort covering its entire surface. Dominating this landscape of death are gigantic cannons, the barrels of which are hundreds of yards long, and at least thirty feet in diameter. They fire shells the size of missiles, filled to the brim with explosives created by Hareb-Serap himself. At least some of the weapons re almost always firing, pouring death and destruction into the surrounding countryside. Sometimes the crew fires for practice, other times at unseen enemies, and sometimes just for the joy of seeing and hearing the resulting explosion. The juggernaut and Thaumiel's floating fortress have often clashed, but no definite victor ever emerges. Hareb-Serap has never been much for needless torture (although he has no problem with needless violence). He prefers to drill his charges almost to the point of exhaustion, honing them into razor sharp fighters. The Raven of the Battlefields has always put his army first and foremost, rather than any considerations of tormenting his charges. The humans in his custody may disagree, but they do not realize how good they have, even compared to the never ending warfare of the Seventh Circle. Hareb-Serap will actually promote those who prove themselves, offering one of the only chances in all Inferno of upward advancement for humans. Humans who do make their way into Hareb-Serap's citadel immediately fall into his mindset. There is an overwhelming need to do violence. Warfare is the only answer to any problems. Killing in combat is a joy to be cherished always. An overpowering, gung-ho, bloodlust permeates the whole citadel. Unlike Thaumiel's realm, there is no carefully organized system of ranks here. These are all grizzled veterans, each of whom knows exactly what they have to do and are eager to do it. they exist for the fight and nothing more or less will satisfy them. There are to be certain leaders, but they only have the authority because they have proven themselves capable of handling it. They have shown that when others obey their commands, victory is the inevitable result. Once a leader fails to obtain that victory, he or

she loses their place, becoming once again a soldier. This practice of elevating humans may stem from the grudging respect Hareb-Serap has or their military minds. It may also be a rather novel attempt to awaken some of them, or at least to partially tap into humanity's divine power. The Death Angel would dearly love to have an awakened human in his arsenal, especially with the rumors about that Thaumiel already has one such being at his disposal. He views them as the nuclear weapons of Inferno (he has plenty of normal atomic weapons), a force one cannot afford to be without and still hope to be considered a super power. Samael's Citadel Samael is a strange lonely figure in the constant infighting among the Death Angels. He is powerful enough that he could, if he wished it, make a bid for supreme power, but he is so committed to his own, internal goals, that he stays aloof from the conflict that rages around him. He obeys Astaroth, I only to avoid the annoyance that comes with disobedience. Samael concerns himself with one thing only; revenge. Vengeance is an almost holy rite for Samael, and in this he is almost a being of principal, something unheard of down below. He believes firmly that revenge is a fundamental law of existence, something to be respected, honored, and most importantly, obeyed. It is in part this fanatical sense of vengeance that holds back the other Death Angels who might otherwise be inclined to interfere in his affairs. They know that should they cross The Avenger, he will come after them with all his power until one or the other of them is totally annihilated. Samael has always been close to humanity, and had already spread his tendrils far and wide among us before Astaroth stepped in and began to so actively meddle with the affairs of the living. Samael can sense the rage that wells up inside men when they find themselves suffering from injustice. The need for revenge calls out to the Death Angel, and he tries to answer as often as he can. Humans tend to have such strong emotions, such passionate hatreds, that it they are easily swayed to violence and damnation. Countless times a lovers spat will lead to one murdering the other. Every day someone just gets fed up with the law and takes justice into their own hands. These are the men and women Samael seeks out. Once he has them, they live out the rest of existence paying for their moment of passion. for now there is someone new who needs avenging, the murderer becomes the victim, standing trial and being executed countless times for taking their vengeance on another. Samael sees no hypocrisy in this, or if he does, he certainly does not care. The wheel of fate always comes full circle. Samael takes special delight in fostering vendettas between rival families or groups. He lends his aid to both sides, drawing them further and further into the blood feud, until eventually both sides are destroyed, their souls now the sole property of The Avenger. He then lets them fight out the vendetta over and over again across time, a never ending cycle of vengeance. Samael has little respect for human institutions of law and punishment, and so he mocks them constantly in the form and structure of his citadel. Courtrooms, law offices, and prisons make up the vast majority of the citadel, but none of them function as they were intended in our world. The judges and juries are either Razides, or more likely human souls who have been in Inferno long enough to be entirely corrupted by Samael's paradigm. They tend to create the laws and rules of court as they go along, while the lawyers simply spout off nonsense, or argue incessantly about trivial points, never coming to the point. All the while the poor accused sits and waits, not knowing what his fate will be, vainly hoping that somehow he might be acquitted. He never is. Juries have made up their minds before they ever enter the courtroom. They spend their time thinking of what terrible punishment the guilty man will be sentenced to. Samael's citadel manifests itself as The Palace of Justice in the Wild Zones; a sprawling baroque building covered with monumental carvings of Samael himself meting out punishment to the wicked in a never ending cycle of vengeance. The Palace of Justice has many entrances, and is open to any who would enter. However, unless one is already an appointed judge, lawyer, or juror, it is assumed that you are guilty as soon as you mount the wide marble steps. Anyone straying into the Palace is liable to be ushered directly to some courtroom, tried, and found guilty. Then they are sent below, where the multitude of punishments are carried out over and over

again. Samael is not known to have become involved in any efforts for creating awakened humans to serve his cause. The concept seems to hold no interest for him. He is a simple being, with a one track mind: punishment and vengeance. All his ambition aims towards these goals. He constantly extends his power in Elysium, but only so that he may bring more souls down to his citadel for vengeance. Gamaliel's Citadel There is tasteless and then there is Gamaliel. He is not what one would consider the most refined of demons, and in fact revels in his own baseness. this is not to say that he cannot act refined and civilized. In fact he loves more than anything to coat his perversions with a thin veneer of proper society and etiquette. At his care however, he is little better than a sex obsessed adolescent. Of course only the most vicious, sadistic, and destructive forms of sexual expression interest him, but what would one expect from a lord of hell? He exists in isolation from the other Death Angels, even more so than Samael. Like The Avenger, he is absorbed in his own passions, and finds the conflict between his brethren to be entirely too distracting. Gamaliel seeks to pervert normal pleasures in any way he can imagine, and thus has equipped his citadel with every known sexual and torture device known to history. For The Perverted Sexuality, there is no line between pain and pleasure, no sex without violence. The two are forever inseparable in his realm. Any being entering the Citadel feels an animal lust rise up within them, filling their every thought with images of violent, invasive intercourse. Nothing short of the full perversions of Gamaliel's vision will satisfy these unnatural hungers: leather whips, iron hooks, bladed phalluses, and boiling wax call out to even the most puritanical of men. Wandering through the citadel is like wandering through a pornographic movie studio gone mad. All manner of congress abounds, with demons and humans mixing their pleasure with wild abandon. Gamaliel seeks out those poor lost fools who put physical pleasure before all other things. The perverts, nymphomaniacs, and rapists of the world call out to him and he here's their call. He lures their souls to his realm with promises of forbidden pleasures and undreamed of delights, and nearly all the time they are seduced by his promises. Many willing give their lives for just a taste of Gamaliel's perversity. It is rumored (although unsubstantiated) that as many as a third of the souls in Gamaliel's citadel sacrificed themselves to the Death Angel in a ritual of auto-erotic asphyxiation. The citadel of Gamaliel has no set incarnation in the Wild Zones. The Death Angel prefers to alter the appearance and location of the citadel constantly, hoping to ensnare others into his pleasure pits. The appearance often molds itself to the viewer's desires, becoming whatever it is that entices and titillates them the most. Once inside there are few beings, infernal or human, that can resist the temptations of the citadel, and once you partake of its pleasures, there is no going back. Any conjurer versed in the Lore of Passion will tell you that there is power in the act of sex. Power that can lead one to enlightenment and maybe even awakening. Gamaliel seems to be trying to use this power to awaken some of his subjects, although there have been no reports of his having much success. I have it on the authority of a cultist devoted to Gamaliel that the Death Angel has high hopes for such a human. He hopes to send the awakened back into Elysium as a sort of messiah for perversion, spreading across the planet his message of unbridled, violent sexuality. Nahemoth's Citadel Nahemoth is an interesting character, someone who intrigues me more than almost any other Infernal being. Like all Death Angels, he is a being of immense power, even though he is the weakest of his kind. He seems to carry with him no ambition, no lust for power, pleasure, or souls. Perhaps he hopes merely to lead by example. The personification of self doubt, self loathing, and self denial, Nahemoth has chosen to opt out of existence, succumbing entirely to his own raison d'etre. Why the change? While always a collector of had given up on life, offered to prove them he may never have been truly ambitious, Nahemoth was souls, just like his cousins. He sought out those who who felt that the world had lost its meaning. He right, giving them an escape from the drudgery of

life. He encouraged suicide among his followers, catching the departing souls in his web and dragging them down to Inferno for an eternity bleaker than their life ever could have been. The change seems to have come around the same time the Demiurge withdrew, a watershed date to be sure. Nahemoth seems to have discovered that there was no real point to the futile exercise of gathering the souls of the hopeless and depressed. What did he care? What did it matter? Consumed by his own self doubt and loathing, he simply stopped, retiring in upon himself, alone in his citadel. His Razides fled from him, his servant abandoned him. He sits alone somewhere, pondering the futility of it all. This sudden withdrawal left a large number of souls suddenly free in Inferno. Nahemoth certainly cared not at all as to whether they stayed or left. Many of them left, emboldened by their new found freedom. Of course most of them were immediately snatched up by other Death Angels or lesser Infernal Lords. They fled the citadel, not knowing the horrors that awaited them in The Pit and the Wild Zones. Some remain, too far drawn into the apathy that permeates Nahemoth's citadel. They sit and wait, paralyzed by self doubt into inactivity. Over the years, the air of apathy has grown so strong in the citadel, that it is now almost impossible to summon up the will or energy to do anything once one has passed through its gates. Even Infernals succumb to its drudgery, and so the citadel is seldom if ever visited anymore. There is another explanation for Nahemoth's suddenly changed that has been posited more than once. Some say that Nahemoth may have succeeded where all others are said to have failed. Somehow, in the oppressive climate of apathy, a human soul managed to transcend it chains of doubt and awaken. Such a man would have to be very strong willed indeed, if the story is true. It is said that Nahemoth was so overcome with despair that such a wondrous event should take place in spite of his dark influence that he gave up right then and there, conceding the war to the humans once and for all. The story has a certain appeal, but it is after all just a story. Astaroth Naturally enough, no book whose subject claims to be Inferno itself can neglect discussing the Lord of Hell himself. I have mentioned more than once that I try to stay out of the affairs of the Death Angels and their master. These beings can destroy even a mage as powerful as myself with little more than a thought. Not that they themselves cannot be harmed in turn, but it takes a brave and foolish soul to cross paths with them. Having said this, I now admit that, despite my own misgivings I have in fact crossed paths with the dreaded Astaroth on more than one occasion. Fortunately for myself, my role in these encounters has always been that of an observer, not of one who interferes in Infernal affairs. I present here my remembrances of one such experience. Miranda As I have noted before, Astaroth has all but abandoned his creation, focusing his attentions on the affairs of the living. Having bodily entered our world along with his Death Angels and Infernal Legions, Astaroth still found himself in need of human servants to bolster his strength in Elysium. For millennia Astaroth has used cults to cultivate an army of human followers. Such satanic or infernal sects have always been a part of human society, although usually their membership was small, their influence nearly insignificant. Since the Prince of Darkness entered our world, these cults have grown by leaps and bounds. Astaroth's existence on our plane allows him to directly spread his influence to a great many willing individuals. Once Astaroth was limited to providing his worshipers small insights into magic or the service of a minor demon for a while. Now the Dark Lord himself can be present with his cults, possessing their leaders and revealing a part of his true self. It is probably safe to say that there are now a thousand times more Satanists on Earth than were present a hundred years ago. This figure may seem startling to some, especially those who do not realize just how insidious the Dark Lord can be. Certainly the worship of Astaroth as Satan has grown over the last hundred years, and satanic cults now claim record numbers. However, Satan is only one of the many forms Astaroth is wont to assume, and there are literally thousands of cults around the world devoted to his various avatars. Sometimes these cults are devoted to flagrantly evil ends: death cults, hellers, doctors bent on causing pain, and so forth. As often as not however, Astaroth hides his true nature

behind a mask of good, or if not good, then some sort of secular front. Examples include such diverse groups as millennial cults, radical Christian groups, so-called "hippie" love communes, racist and ultra-nationalist organizations, radical environmentalist groups, and so on. This is not to say that all such groups are actually fronts for satanic worship. The fact is that it is almost impossible to distinguish between a group controlled by Astaroth, and one that is not. The members seldom realize the true nature of their leaders, nor the true goals of their organization. Astaroth corrupts them gradually, preying on their innate fears and desires until they have come to far on the path of darkness to turn back. The story of Miranda details one such cult, a cult centered around a little girl whose followers believed her to be a new prophet of Christ. Although none of them realized it at the time, and I only came to realize it later, young Miranda Thomas had in fact been possessed by Astaroth himself, who was now using her to form a new cult dedicated to his service. Miranda was born on December 25th, 1968, to parents Crystal Johnson and Robert Buckley. Crystal and Robert were living together at the time in Toronto, Robert having fled the draft in his native America. He met the young Canadian Crystal on a commune. The girl was at the time only 14, and it was two years later that she gave birth to Miranda. The father had long ago fled the commune as soon as it became obvious that Crystal intended to raise the baby instead of aborting it or putting it up for adoption. Miranda grew up on the commune, at least for the first five years of her life. In 1974 the commune broke up, and Crystal took her daughter west to Vancouver. Crystal had slipped from her idealistic youth into a disenchanted life of prostitution, drug addiction, and abusive lovers. Over the next four years, Miranda grew up in an increasingly hostile home environment. Her mother died of a drug overdose in 1975, and Miranda went into foster care. A year later she was adopted by a radical Christian family who took pity on her. Frederick and Ellen Johnson were incapable of having children, but had adopted seven other unfortunate orphans before Miranda. They gave their children a very strict, Christian fundamentalist upbringing. In 1977, they bought a farm in Idaho and transplanted the entire family there, setting up their own church and preaching to the locals. It was at this point that Miranda began exhibiting strange behavior. She was suddenly able to quote exactly any verse from the bible, even though her reading skills were well below average for her age. Likewise, she began to spend hours everyday in silent prayer, a fact that made a great impression on her adoptive parents. When Miranda started seeing visions of Christ on a weekly and then daily basis, the Johnsons knew that they had been blessed. In 1978 Miranda began to start speaking prophecies and giving sermons to all who would listen. Word of this amazing girl spread throughout the radical Christian community of the American west, and soon devotees from all over where coming to the small Idaho farm to hear what the young prophet had to say. This was the beginning of the cult that I came across in early 1984. By the time I got there, Miranda had become the mistress of all she surveyed. All of her followers, including her parents, worshipped her as a messenger of God on Earth. She had a core following of between seventy-five and a hundred men and women, as well as some twenty children whose parents forced them into following Miranda. The small Idaho farm had been converted into a large compound where all of the followers lived. They worked the fields, raised animals, and tried to be as self-sufficient as possible. They did not use electricity or any other modern conveniences, and were effectively isolated from the rest of the world, except through their missionaries. Every few months Miranda would send out ten or twenty of her followers to go and try and recruit more worshipers into the cult. Although they seldom converted anyone, there were those who were persuaded into coming to view the cult and were instantly swayed by the force of Miranda's personality and "holiness." I came to the farm after having heard several rather convincing accounts of the young girl giving accurate prophecies and even performing miracles. My first thought was perhaps this girl had somehow become Awakened and was not yet aware of her true abilities and potential. The advantages of gaining access to a newly Awakened human are too numerous to list here, but you can imagine why I might be interested in such a find. Thus I made the journey across the Atlantic and into the wilds of Idaho, a most forbidding and primitive place in my personal estimation. I came to the farm in the guise of a penitent pilgrim, hoping to catch a glimpse of this wondrous prophetess.

Having asked around among the local populace I discovered that most of the local residents had a relatively positive impression of Miranda's cult, now officially referred to as the Visionary Church of Christ. The congregation of the Visionary Church were generally a very positive group, never causing any trouble, and even helping out the local community when they could. They were known for their acts of charity, their kindly ways, and unassuming nature. I went into the situation somewhat off guard, believing the tales told by the rustic locals I had interviewed. The compound was not fenced off, and was hardly what I expected. It was little more than a series of wooden shacks built up on an extensive tract of farm land. In the center of it all was the Church itself. The building had once been the home of the Johnson family, but Miranda had long ago ordered that the whole building be gutted and turned into a church facility. I was welcomed with open arms and warm smiles, the cult members being extremely friendly. I told my lies and eventually was allowed to come to one of the Church's services. The service proved to be nothing out of the ordinary, and I saw nothing particularly surprising or intriguing about the so-called prophetess. As the congregation began to file out, the girl called to me, asking me to stay behind and talk with her. Somewhat surprised by this move, I readily agreed, curious as to what the girl might have to say to me. She was small for her age and dangerously thin, her simple yellow dress hanging loosely from her shoulders. In other circumstances she might have been pretty, but here she appeared merely sickly. She obviously saw little of the sun, and I suspected that she seldom if ever left the church building. I approached her and bowed before her as I had seen others do. She nodded and placed her hand on my head, offering me a blessing. She drew her hand back quickly as if she had been burned. She looked at me with a rather dangerous look in her eye, and I thought for a moment that she might call for help. Instead her shocked look turned to a smile, and then a sneer. She motioned for me to have a seat. I was not sure what was going on, but I was curious enough to see the situation to its end. What was going on here? I sat in the front pew, waiting for her. She turned her back to me and strode purposefully up to the altar. She stood in front of the simple wooden table for a moment, as if gathering her thoughts or possibly praying for guidance. She turned then, fixing her gaze on me. Finally she spoke. Who are you? What do you want?" I began to spin my tale that I had prepared for the occasion, only to be cut off by a shrill screech from the young woman who stood before me. "No more lies!" she yelled at me, "Who are you?" I was silent for a moment, studying her, wondering how she could have guessed that I was lying. I certainly looked the part, having dressed in the simple clothes of the American penitent: jeans and a T-shirt. I tried to insist that I was telling the truth, hoping to elicit another bout of outrage from her. If I could get her angry enough, maybe she would let something slip. She obviously saw right through my tactic, and instead of yelling she simply sighed. As if reading my thoughts, she turned away and began to speak. "It's the truth you want is it? Well Mr. Tyree, I'm not sure you are ready for the truths I have." I was naturally shocked. I had of course given a false name and there was no way that she could have known my true identity. I had already cast spells of protection to keep her from interfering with my thoughts or reading my mind. I stood up, aghast, thinking perhaps that I should kill the child where she stood. She preempted any action on my part however. "Please sit down conjurer. You know not what you do, nor who you are dealing with." Her voice had changed. It had dropped in pitch and was now full of malice and an almost evil self-assurance. I sat down, although my hand crept down to the cuff of my jeans, reading the knife I had strapped to my calf. The girl walked back over to me and looked at me for a long moment. I had trouble meeting her eyes, my gaze wandering around the church, looking for possible exits. "Calm yourself Shelby. I will not harm you now, nor will I keep you here against your will. I know your work, I know that you are merely a scholar interested in learning the truth about me and my subjects. I know too that you have cheated death's curse on more than one occasion, an admirable feat for which I give you all the credit you are due. You came here looking for

answers, and I am here to give them to you." Now I knew. There was no denying it, and I wondered how I ever could have missed something so painfully obvious. Now that I knew the truth radiated from her like a signal fire. Wave after wave of hate, despair, cunning, bloodlust, and simple evil poured off the girls. How could I have been so blind? How could her congregation have missed the fact that it was Astaroth himself who stood in their very midst every day! Of course I knew the answer as soon as I asked the question. I only knew now because she wanted me to know. Astaroth can hide within the body of a saint if he wants to. All disguises are within his power for he is the Prince of Lies. Again she spoke. "Now you realize what you have stumbled upon don't you Shelby? Now you know that your existence continues only at my discretion. You are face to face with he whom you have feared all your many lives, the Lord of Death, Destroyer of Knowledge. Don't worry little mage, I will let you go with your memories intact. Truth of the matter is, I want you to tell my story, for there are few in your world who could tell it with more credibility. Would you care to hear me out Shelby? Would you like to know of my doings here in Idaho and beyond?" I nodded mutely, my attention captured by this waif of a girl who spoke with Satan's words. "This girl has been mine since the day she was born, her mother having bartered the child's soul away long before it was conceived. From that moment I began laying the groundwork for my plans, I would be born again into the world in the body of this child, as I had been born into the world in countless other children. I prefer to incarnate myself at the moment of conception, for it gives me tremendous power later in life. By the time such children reach maturity I have dominated their souls to such an extent that I can cause them to awaken without losing control of them. You know as well as I that there are few forces in existence more powerful than an awakened human. Thus I chose the fetus as my vessel of choice. Miranda is now on the verge of becoming truly awakened, and then her latent power will join with mine. The small cult you see here will blossom and grow tenfold in the next few years, as more and more hopeless souls are drawn to her and her power. All the while I shall preach to them the word of their false God, drawing them deeper and deeper into the net. I will turn the religion in upon itself, until this faithful flock doesn't know which way is up. Christian Love in the eighties will become rabid hate and intolerance in the nineties. These peaceful Christians will be the base of a militant crusade to cleanse their beloved nation of undesirables: Jews, homosexuals, Muslims, blacks, liberals, any prejudice I can foster I will. As the millennium closes the Visionary Church of Christ will take up arms under the leadership of their great prophetess Miranda. Nor will they be alone. Nor is Miranda alone. Across this country and around the world I have been reborn into similar bodies. In the United States Miranda will find other parts of my soul in the hearts of militia leaders, skinheads, terrorist groups, Zionist groups, and any other militant force this country can muster. They will join with nationalists and racists in Europe and the far east. Groups from across the world will come together to form an army of hate ready to tear down the establishment, led by me in all my many forms. Of course they will not be alone in the fight, for my Legions of the Damned will be right there with them. Hundreds of thousands of hell's finest lie scattered across the globe, waiting for the time to march upon Elysium and burn it to the ground. Who will oppose them? Who can stop such a force? Of course you know the answer. Not the long lost Demiurge, nor the quarrelsome Archons. Who will stop them? I will of course. For I am in the heart of government, the center of the establishment. My soul has been born time and again into the fetus of the future politician, the one day general, the president. I am among them all, and I will do everything I can to crush those who would overthrow order and civility. Civilization looks to it leaders for guidance and protection when the radical fringe rises up, and who better to give them hope than me? Of course there is a limit how far I can spread my soul around the world. I cannot be everywhere at once, nor do I need to. There are plenty of people in this world of yours who are more than willing to serve me of their own free will. I get offers every day, more and more offers as time goes on and mankind begins to lose all semblance of hope for a brighter future. Both young and old turn to me in desperation, hoping for some sign that there is

more to life than they know. As always, I am there to hear their pleas, to offer them guidance in their time of need. In return they must give me their constant and never-ending devotion. Thus have I spread my net far and wide across the world, and soon I shall begin to draw it tight. More than one being has commented to me that my web of devotees is not unlike a spy network. Certainly most of my agents fit the description of spies. They live their lives as they normally would, going to their jobs at newspapers, in the schools, at churches, in the military, and at the stock exchange. They pass the days in silent devotion, waiting until they are called upon to prove their loyalty to me and my cause. Their friends and family never suspect, never dream that their loved one worships Satan himself, and so it should be. Every so often they come together to make sacrifice and honor me in some ritual of their devising. Such pleasantries are irrelevant to me. They exist because they help keep my servants in line, not because I gain anything from them. These spies come from so many different sources, are devoted to so many different aspects of me, that it they none of them are aware of all the other spies out there. Only I know the true extent of my network of agents. Only I realize just how far my power has extended into the world. Not even the most loyal of my Death Angels can imagine how extensive the network has become in the last half century. The seeds of chaos have been planted, the sprouts have sprung up, and soon they will begin to bloom in all their glory. War, hate, and savagery will tear this planet apart. The coming chaos will fill the coffers of hell again, so much so the hell itself will spill over into Elysium, consuming the entire world. Then only Metropolis shall remain free from my power, and that only for a short time. I see that I have shocked you Tyree. I see that this was not what you expected. Nevertheless, it is the truth. Now I bid you go my friend. Our time has not come yet, although it will soon enough. Leave me to my faithful congregation and be gone. Do not return." With that she turned back to the altar. I rose to my feet and walked from the church, and kept walking to my car. I did not stop driving until I had hit the state border. Searching For the Truth As much as Astaroth had revealed to me in his diatribe, he had given me no real details. I believed him as far as he went however. If Astaroth has the time to be in a small church in Idaho, his influence no doubt extends into many other small corners of the world. I have since that time spent many months and years searching for the truth in what "Miranda" told me. My inquiries have, of necessity, been discreet, accomplished through agents and intermediaries. I am loathe to cross paths with the Beast directly. The results have been less than encouraging however. Everywhere I turn, there are signs of the Dark Lord's influence. They are not easy to discern, these signs, but they are unmistakably there if you know where to look. I present here a few examples of what I have learned through my endeavors cults, groups, and individuals in high places all devoted to Astaroth in one of his many incarnations. Italian Freedom Front, Milan Italy In recent years the northern Italian cities have grown more and more resentful of the rest of Italy. Almost all of Italy's industrial base resides north of the Po river, while the largest drains on the Italian economy are in the south and in Sicily. Throughout the north support for a divided Italy has grown rapidly. The North wishes to split Italy into two or more semi-independent regions, effectively making the south fend for itself. This is one of the most volatile issues in Italian politics, an always volatile environment. Not surprisingly, wherever one finds strife, it is likely that Astaroth or his agents are not far away. The Italian Freedom Front is ostensibly the brain child of one Giorgio Bennetti, a businessman and manufacturer from Milan. He founded the front in 1991 in reaction to the ever growing tax burden on him and his company. According to his rhetoric, he was tired of sending all of his money south to Rome where it was divided between those who didn't want to work, the corrupt politicians, and the Mafia. The Front soon gathered a moderate following among small business owners and a few of the more prominent Industrialists. Over the past five years it has grown increasingly larger, to the point where it has significant political clout in the region. Members of the front pay dues and make donations that go towards achieving the goal of a Federated Italy, with the North free from the tax burden and corruption of Rome.

Behind the facade of concerned businessman lurks the true face of Bennetti, who is in fact not only an agent of Astaroth, but is in fact an incarnation of the dread Prince of Lies. Bennetti has been secretly using a portion of the Front's funds to pay for the training of a private terrorist army. Bennetti uses the army to destabilize the government in Rome and generally worsen division throughout Europe. They also serve as assassins when Bennetti finds himself confronted with a political rival who will not succumb to threats or bribery. The Front's military wing has close ties to Astaroth himself, and all of them are devoted Satanists. Many of the army's leaders have become powerful death conjurers under Astaroth's direct tutelage. Astaroth's ultimate goal is uncertain, but I think it is fair to assume that he wants nothing less than to insight civil war within Italy, a war that he hopes would have grave repercussions throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Freedom's Voice, Beijing China remains one of the most powerful and oppressive nations on the face of the Earth. However, the age old country is also much to stable for Astaroth's liking. Even though some might find Communism evil or the work of the Devil, Astaroth himself has no political allegiances. He is and agent of chaos and destruction. As repressive as the Communist regime might be, it is nothing compared to the glory days of the raging civil wars that have wracked the Chinese mainland in the past. The new hope for chaos and instability in China lies in the burgeoning student pro-democracy movement, and it is not surprising to find Astaroth himself right in the middle of it. Freedom's Voice is an underground newspaper published and distributed by the radical elements of the Beijing academic community. The editor in chief is none other than the dark lord himself, born into the flesh of Ling Wei, a twenty-five year old radical. Ling Wei lives in hiding, now wanted by the police for questioning in several matters. No one outside of the movement has seen him in several years, although he is purported to have been at the scene of several student demonstrations. He is revered as a national hero by those who would seek to change the face and heart of China. There have been numerous stories about Ling Wei in western papers, and in America their is a fund set up to take donations to help Ling Wei's cause. From his hiding place deep in Communist China, Ling Wei directs a small company of radicals and terrorists bent on overthrowing the Communist regime. Naturally, all of these individuals have become worshipers of Astaroth, and it is not uncommon for Razides and members of the Damned Legions to accompany the radicals on their missions of terror. The fact is that China is subject to a great deal of terrorism from within, but few if any of these attacks are ever reported in the West, due to the tight hold the government keeps on the press. Ling Wei's support is much greater than Beijing would have the world believe. No doubt Astaroth hopes to make the move to open rebellion sometime soon, aided by covert support from the west as well as the Legions of the Damned. Randy Hughes, Los Angeles Many would argue that the United States of America is the leading force in the world today, and where it goes the world will follow. Granted, most who would make such an argument are Americans, but there is a certain amount of truth in the sentiment. Certainly America is a prize worth fighting for on any level, and Astaroth has focused a lot of his attention on the world's only remaining super power. Fortunately for the lord of Inferno there is a great deal of fertile ground for his works in the United States. I have already described in detail my encounter with Miranda's church in Idaho, and you can be assured that Astaroth has inserted his tendrils into hundreds of other churches and religious organizations around the country. Astaroth understands very well just how divisive religion can be among humans, especially Americans where there are so many competing beliefs at play. Aside from the hallowed halls of religion, Astaroth has extended his influence into other tender parts of the American underbelly, most particularly the hyper-sensitive issue of racism. The racial division in the Untied States cuts deep into the American psyche, and it has amazing power to disrupt the ordered social contract U.S. citizens have grown accustomed. The city of Los Angeles remains one of the centers of racial tension in the States, and it is not surprising that we find Astaroth himself involved in the heart of the issue. Surprisingly,

Astaroth operates under the guise of peacemaker, one who's ostensible goal is to bring the people of America together. Randy Hughes is one of the most powerful figures in African-American politics in America, although few people know his name. He prefers to remain behind the scenes, setting up meetings, brokering agreements, and staging media events. There is hardly a black leader on the west Coast who does not owe Hughes a favor or two, and on one in the country who does not respect him (assuming they know him). The fact that Hughes is in fact an incarnation of the Devil himself seems to have been lost on his many supporters. Hughes is a very insidious form of the Lord of Hell, different from the other incarnations I have discussed here. He is not building up an army, nor does he have large numbers of worshipers or followers. As far as I am able to discern the man works entirely on his own. However, he has maneuvered himself into such a position of authority and influence that he has a tremendous amount of power at his influence. He is seen as the great voice of moderation within the modern African American community. Hughes constantly works to mollify the radical elements of the black community, building bridges of understanding between blacks and whites. Or at least he tries to build bridges. Unfortunately things always seem to fall apart at the last minute, despite Hughes' best efforts. Everyone gives him great credit for his work, and looks to him for guidance, yet he seldom seems to accomplish much, a fact lost on his admirers. Hughes will soon maneuver himself into a position where he can step from behind the scenes and assume the leadership of the moderate black community in America. Astaroth will then be in a position to do great harm whenever the mood strikes him, simply by switching his position. If even the great peacemaker Randy Hughes agrees that there will be no racial peace in America, then millions will follow him into chaos. Hell on Earth These three are the only examples I can conclusively give. The evidence in each case is overwhelming, and their can be no doubt that what I have said is true, at least for now. I do not doubt that once this work is published Astaroth will become aware of its existence. When this happens he may well change tactic or even come after me himself, but I doubt it. I do not delude myself, the readership of this work will be small, and even a smaller percentage will choose to let themselves believe what I have written here. This small work is of no concern to the Lord of Hell. Take with you this final thought on Astaroth and his plans for the world. I can only make one generalization about Astaroth: no generalizations are possible. There are a great many stereotypes about the devil and the nature of evil in the world and none of them are true. More accurately, none of them are entirely true. Astaroth is not a creature of pure evil, he is not the embodiment of all that is bad. He is a being of tremendous power and unfathomable complexity. His motives are as multifaceted as any humans, and probably more so. Nor can his methods be confined to any particular patterns or rules. He will do anything, go anywhere to achieve his goals. That does not make him evil, but it does make him extraordinarily dangerous. All the more dangerous because of what his ultimate goal is. He wants hell on Earth and nothing less, and if you have read this far you know that is not a consummation devoutly to be wished. Epilogue It think it only fitting that my work end with the citadels of the Death Angels. They are certainly the most dangerous places in Inferno for a traveler. Always remember that in its citadel a Death Angel controls reality, down to the very emotions you feel and thought you think. This is not necessarily true for the rest of Inferno. Often you have only your own heart and mind to rely on in order to make it through whatever ordeal hell throws up against you next. In the citadels you cannot even count on that. I find myself somewhat sad as I write these final words. This book has been decades upon decades in the making, and still it comes down to just a few pages. Why should this be? I could fill the text with all the accounts of hell I have accumulated over the years. Certainly those accounts fill every nook and cranny in the room I now sit. But what would be the point? I have waded through these tales of unending human misery, and I can assure you, they paint a depressing picture. It is enough for my readers to know what kind of horrors lie below, and since no authoritative catalog could ever be

completed, I decided not to try. This turns out to have been a kind of manual or guide for those who would seek fame or fortune in the furthest reaches of hell. I would hope that most would take it as a warning to give up such vainglorious dreams, but failing that I hope they will at least take my warnings to heart. I have represented here every kind of horror and threat that I know to exist in Inferno, and there are certainly a great many. Likewise there are no doubt many more, and one should always expect the unexpected. Forgive an old man his ramblings. It is time to bring this to a close. I would wish that you should never have need of this book, but I firmly believe that you, no matter who you are, will find value in it. Every day that we do not fight for our souls, we lose a little more of them to the darkness. Remember. Always remember. Remembering is what They hate more than anything. Appendices About the Author Inferno: An Authoritative Study, is the product of decades of research on the part of one of the world's best known Death Conjurers: Shelby Tyree. Tyree was born in Boston in 1720, the child of two conjurers well versed in the Lores of Passion and Death. It is said that they assured for their child the soul of a long dead ancestor, a famous European conjurer from Renaissance Italy. Raised in a tradition of magic, and taught early on of his divine rights as a human being, Shelby quickly excelled at both the magical arts and the occult sciences. He remained a loyalist during the revolutionary war, and fled to Jamaica when it became obvious that the Colonies would soon throw off their masters. He spent several decades in the Caribbean, and was rumored to have engaged in piracy on more than one occasion. After the Napoleonic wars he relocated to Europe, where he spent the next hundred or so years, learning all he could from the greatest conjurers of the day. Renowned for his magically enhanced longevity, and social graces, Tyree was the enfant terrible of the conjuring social scene for many years. But the ambitious magician had more than immortality on his mind when he began his exhaustive study of Inferno. He felt that he could make a contribution to human society, maybe even help overthrow the power of Astaroth himself. So he withdrew from society, devoting his full attentions to the study of the world of the dead. So, decades later, we see the fruits of his labors in this finely researched, well documented account of hell: "A tour guide for the afterlife." as Tyree himself once called it. Tyree published the book at his own expense, with a first print run of 1,000 copies. Printed on high quality, acid free paper, the book is meant to last for centuries. Bound in hand tooled leather, sprinkled liberally with diagrams, engravings, and even color prints, the book was an instant collectors item in occult circles. Tyree, being a generous man, gave away several hundred copies to friends and associates around the world. He handles sales himself, preferring not to deal with any traditional book selling venues. Those interested in obtaining a copy should attempt to contact the author directly. He currently resides in the greater New York metropolitan area. Shelby Tyree as an NPC Game masters may want to include the opinionated and enigmatic Tyree in their campaign. He can be an excellent ally or antagonist for any group of players, depending on how the game master wishes to use him. He is a very arrogant, opinionated man, but also very polite. He has his own agenda, only some of which is revealed in his book. He would gladly use the players as pawns in his schemes against the Death Angels, sending them on dangerous missions, even into Inferno itself, in exchange for information or possibly teaching the player characters magic. He may even contact the players himself if he thinks they could prove valuable allies or agents. When playing Tyree always act very urbane and distinguished. He never loses his temper, nor shows any surprise. He will laugh politely at other people's jokes, and listen attentively to their stories. He is the perfect host, and has a way of gaining others' trust very quickly. He speaks with a slightly European accent when in America, an affectation on his part that

increases his charm. in fact he is a talented linguist, and speaks eight different languages as if he were a native. Stats for Shelby Tyree AGL: STR: CON: COM: EGO: CHA: PER: EDU: 15 12 24 15 25 17 16 16

Height: 170 cm Weight: 68 kg Movement: 8m/rnd Actions: 2 Initiative Bonus: +3 Damage Bonus: +2 Damage Capacity: 6 scratches = 1 light wound 5 light wounds = 1 serious wound 3 serious wounds = 1 fatal wound Endurance: 140 Mental Balance: -40 Dark Secrets: Family Secret Advantages: Influential Friends, Magical Intuition Disadvantages: Egoist Skills: Handgun: 14, Sword: 13, Unarmed Combat: 10 First Aid: 15, Astrology: 25, Alchemy: 26, Voodoo: 30, Tarot: 15, Cabbalah: 23, Symbols: 18, Numerology: 20, Languages: English: 20, French: 20, German: 18, Italian: 18, Dutch: 15, Spanish: 20, Latin: 20, Hebrew: 20, Greek: 20, Net of Contacts: Death Magicians: 30, Satanists: 15. Magic: Lore of Death: 60 (all spells at 25), Lore of Passion: 20, Lore of Madness: 15, Lore of Time & Space: 15 Home: New York Using Inferno in your Campaign Inferno and the Kult Campaign Inferno offers quite a few opportunities for game masters to liven up their games, but only if the setting is used judiciously. Inferno is the source of so many of the antagonists players are likely to come up against: Satanists, death conjurers, Razides, the Death Angels, and even Astaroth himself. It is only natural to think that at some point the players characters might try to take the fight to their enemies' home turf. Nevertheless, Inferno should remain a mystery to the players. Even more importantly, he it should remain threatening, even horrifying for them. The decision to go to Inferno should never be undertaken lightly; after all, their characters' souls are at stake here. Trips to Inferno should occur very rarely, so as not to become pass. Players are most frightened in situations they are not familiar with, so whenever they become familiar with Inferno's threats, those threats lose their potency. Nothing in Inferno should ever be what the players expect it will be. Corridors move, laws of physics change, demon lords are replaced by others. Novelty, confusion, and shock are the keys to a successful Inferno experience. It is also important to realize that it can be hard for players to feel sympathetic fear for their characters if they cannot picture the horrors that confront them. That is why so much of what is described in this book walks a fine line between our world and the fantastic. Everyday situations taken to horrible extremes are easier to imagine than bizarre situations the players cannot relate to. Thus the betrayal of a friend, or the death of a loved one often carries more emotional impact than facing some larger than life monster with gnashing teeth and fiery breath. We've all been betrayed, or at least suffered from a fear of losing someone or something we hold dear. Few of us can really picture what it would be like to fight a dragon; it is simply beyond our experience. Thus many of Inferno's torments are firmly grounded in human experience.

They are familiar situations taken a step further. Keep this in mind when creating torments and encounters of your own in Inferno. Look closely at your players and their characters, and think about what would make them most uncomfortable. Do you have a player who is scared to death of spiders? Confront them with hordes of the little arachnids somewhere along the line as they journey through Inferno. does a character have a dead sister who's ghost still haunts him? Bring that spirit into Inferno, confront the character with her. The dead sister does not attack. We all know what to do when we are attacked. Instead she tells her brother that she loves him, that she's sorry. She begs to know why he convinced her to commit suicide. That is a horrifying experience most people and characters will have trouble dealing with. It is paramount that any Inferno experience be as frightening, disheartening, and gut-wrenching as possible. Once it is over, the players should absolutely dread the thought of ever returning their again. That will make it all the worse for them when they do have to go back, or worse yet, when they are brought back against their wishes. Every journey to Inferno should cost more than is gained That is the nature of the place. Even if the players go in with the hope of great rewards, and even if they get those rewards, they should come away feeling that it was not worth it. The price they pay is always too great. Inferno is a force of implacable despair in the universe, and no good can come from dealing with it. Not that the players will know or believe this. They will try, and they will learn what it means to harrow hell. There are a variety of ways Inferno can be integrated into a Kult campaign. We divide them here into two rather broad categories: Accidental and Intentional. Accidental is the more common way of entering Inferno. After all, anyone who takes a moment to ponder things rationally should realize that voluntarily going to hell is a bad idea. Intentional harrowings should be quite rare, and are the stuff of extended campaigns that take several game sessions. they are often misguided quests of some sort, and are almost universally ill-fated from inception. This of course makes them all the more fun to play. Accidental entries include temporary portals opening up around the characters, being kidnapped by Razides, and getting lost wandering through the Labyrinth. These Infernal explorations are usually about trying to find a way home again and nothing more. They make for good, quick, nasty interludes in a campaign that maybe needs a little spicing up. There should be plenty of danger, excitement, and non-stop action: a desperate race against time. Temporary portals between Elysium and Inferno open up all the time, and are the perfect opportunity to give the players a small taste of Inferno. It is a nice ironic touch to make the opening of a portal the direct result of something the players have done. For example, the players manage to fight off a number evil cultists attacking a school full of children. The resulting carnage, fear, and suffering is enough to open a temporary portal that manages to get the players and the children stuck in Inferno and trying to find a way out. Intentional journeys into Inferno should come from the players, although the game master might well provide the impetus. Classic reasons for harrowing hell include: recovering the souls of lost loved ones, taking vengeance on a particular death angel, finding information known only to a dead person, seeking some artifact rumored to be in hell, or fulfilling a quest given to the players by some other being. The journey should be fraught with peril, sorrow, and hopelessness. It is against all odds that the players might come out of it with their souls intact. They know it is a bad idea, but circumstances offer them no choice. These are games of high melodrama and tension, and the game master needs to work extra hard to keep up the appropriate mood. Some Important Game Conventions Dying The most important game convention to keep in mind when running a game set in Inferno is what happens to characters when they die. Its really quite simple: they stay in Hell. Souls that leave the body in Inferno do not move from their current location. Dying in Inferno is the same for all humans: a few moments, hours, or days later (depending on the will of local demon lords and the game master) the body is fully regenerated. If the character was alive before he came to Inferno, he is now dead. What does it mean to be dead? Most importantly, your soul is no longer

attached to your body, and a soul needs a body to exist in Elysium. Characters dying for the first time will have an odd experience: their physical body will remain where it fell, a lifeless hunk of flesh. The character's soul will literally step out of that body and appear next to the corpse. For all intents and purposes it is as if the character has two bodies. The new body functions just like the old one, and the character is unaware of any differences. The only problem is, if the character should try to leave Inferno with their new body, they will be prohibited. The character cannot step through portal, nor effect the other side in any way. His souls is lost forever, unless a death conjurer or some other being reincarnates him with by magical means. Dying in Inferno also means that the character is out of the loop of reincarnation. They will not ever receive a new body, unless they can somehow figure out a way to get themselves into the memory purging process of the Nine Circles. This is easier said than done, since most demons will see the player character for what he is, and choose to hold on to him rather than offer him hope of returning to the living world some day. This can result in some interesting deal making. The demon might demand that the player character find another soul to take his place. In return the character will be allowed to undergo years of torture before he finally escapes Inferno's clutches. Laws of Physics The Game master should feel free to play fast and loose with the laws of physics and time and space. Guns can misfire, fire backwards, or not fire at all. Gravity can suddenly switch direction, parallel lines can meet, two objects can occupy the same place at the same time, and so on. This is a great tool for keeping the players off guard, but only as long as the game master uses them with subtlety. The characters may not even be aware of what is happening until it is too late. Likewise, the amount of time that passes for the players probably has no correlation to the flow of time in Elysium. years of torment can take a few minutes of Greenwich Mean time. In Inferno, it truly is all relative. Last Words Inferno is more malleable than most game settings. The game master is free to do whatever he or she can dream up, for as Tyree has said so often in his book, anything is possible in Inferno. we encourage the game master to go wild with Inferno. Do not hold back, do not pull any punches. Inferno is the worst place imaginable in all of the already nasty Kult universe. Make it the worst place your player characters have ever been as well. Make them hate you for ever bringing them there. They'll thank you later.