In Hell: The Streets Of Hell
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
This contribution is part of a series:-
1. In Hell (5-Sep-2011)
2. In Hell: The Streets Of Hell (9-Oct-2011)
| ||In the streets of Hell, where the Souls of the damned slave for the Demons, one lonely Soul gets a chance to escape.|
| ||The demon Kratak is sent on a scouting expedition that leads him into lethal danger. This is part two of the Hell series.|
screaming skies of Hell seemed to be dripping blood as the demon Kratak made
his way up from the street, through the narrow portal, and into the outer
chamber of the palace. To both sides of him, work gangs of Souls scraped and
polished at the stone, shaping and forming it under the supervision of
watch-demons. The palace, though incalculably ancient, was far from complete,
and in the scheme of things, never would be.
Kratak ignored the watch-demons and the Souls. His heavy
stride carried him through the lower, inner portal and into the main chamber
where guard-demons stood aside when they recognised his Sigil of power. Kratak
was a Demon-Master; not a very high ranking one, but any Master was far beyond
the challenge of a mere guard.
Kratak was gigantic. His immense arms and legs were covered
with grey skin like armour, studded and spiked with sturdy knobs and spines.
His face, which grew into a heavy snout, was guarded with thick protrusions of
bone above and below his amber eyes, and two hooked tusks thrust out of each side
of his mouth. He was so tall that he had to bend his head to enter the inner
portal, but he moved with a grace and speed belying his size and bulk.
His clothing was simple and functional. He wore short thick
boots and leather overalls, both fashioned from the skin of a monster of the
Abyss which he had killed in single combat. He was unarmed except for a
rune-incised knife at his belt, but in one hand he carried a short staff of
bone.At the top of this staff his Sigil was affixed, so intricately carved that
the eye was lost in its lines and whorls, its circles and spirals and boxes. As
he walked into the main chamber, he held the staff up, so that the Sigil was
held up for the guards to see.
The main chamber was huge, so big that the far side was lost
in darkness. Its black walls sloped up to a domed ceiling high overhead,
illuminated only by narrow slits through which the red Sun of Hell shone dully.
Things moved and crawled in the shadows, nameless things that even the guards
who spent endless time in the chamber had never seen clearly, and had no wish
But Kratak had no business in the main chamber. In the
centre of the floor there was a shaft leading down into utter darkness, and he
paused only a moment before gathering himself together and letting himself fall
The distance he fell was unknowable. It may have been only
twice his own height, or he may have fallen just less than forever. Time and
space could be twisted by the Master Demons, and there was no way to tell.
Kratak landed on his feet in a circular stone chamber
illuminated by a glowing soul-torch set in the wall. The chamber was roughly
finished, its single wall interrupted by doorways at regular intervals, leading
into dark corridors. Kratak selected one and passed through it into complete
He had been down here many times before, but never got used
to this stinking maze of passages, where strange sounds came out of the walls
and the very air tasted of unknown things. No demon from the outer reaches ever
came down here unless he had to, and no demon who came down here ever departed
but with relief.
Here, in these vaults and tunnels, things happened which
were only whispered of in the upper reaches of Hell, in the black desert under
the red sun, among the caravans that crept along the lonely highways, and in
the streets of cities like Dis and even Pandemonium. Only rumours ever emerged
of what happened to demons, even if they be Masters, who fell out of favour
with the Lords of Hell, and found themselves in these tunnels. Kratak – though
he had been here many times before – hurried nervously through the maze, deeper
and deeper, through tunnels half submerged in liquids whose nature he could not
even guess, until he came, finally, to the place he sought.
It was a place of such profound darkness that even Kratak’s eyes
could not see a thing, so vast that the noise of his footsteps disappeared into
silence without an echo. But his other senses gave him an indication of what
sat before him on a gigantic throne, high above the floor. Walking slowly and
steadily to the foot of the structure, he made obeisance.
[ Continue to page 2 ]