Instead of posting a short story this month, I’ve decided to post my version of Hell from my newest book, The Infernal King! And no, this is NOT just because I have absolutely no ideas for a short story.
I built my Hell based the most on Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, so if you’ve read it before you’ll notice the similarities. There are certainly a few differences as well, such as Limbo. Unlike in Dante’s Inferno, Limbo is not considered part of Hell.
As Riven explains to Blair, only the truly wicked are sent to Hell, the ones who left a stain on the world from their deeds or beliefs. Though a sinner can fit into several circles, the further down they are placed is the worst of the sins they’ve committed. They are tortured for their sins for eternity. As one would expect with Hell, it’s a very dark place with a constant red sky overhead but the landscape changes based on the circle they’re in.
I put a lot of thought into the tortures in Hell for each sinner. Some are like Dante’s, but others I have changed. I did a lot of research to assign the archdemons of Hell to specific circles too (some differences you might see from the usual Archdemons is that 1. Some of the sins have been switched around, and 2. I made Abaddon an Archdemon instead of Leviathan). Honestly, touring Hell in The Infernal King was the hardest part to write, considering that this part of the book what where I did most of my research. But I’m pretty proud of how it turned out.
One last very important note: in my version of Hell, not every sinner on Earth will go to Hell. There has never been a human on Earth that hasn’t committed some kind of sin at least once and since that is the case, if everyone who committed a sin was sent to Hell it would be overflowing. The real reason sinners get sent to Hell (in my book) is because the person’s sin has harmed another person.
Below are the concept pieces I made as layouts of Hell (mostly to help myself write it), based on other art made of Dante’s Inferno. Please remember that I am a writer and not an artist for a reason.
Enter into Hell
- To get into Hell, one must pass Minos, the former king with a snake-like tail who judges the sinners to determine which circle they shall be sent to by coiling his tail however many times around his body. If it coils one time, they’re sent to the first circle, and so on. The souls of the sinners pass through the wrought-iron gate then disappear, reappearing in their determined circles.
Circle One: The Circle of Lust
- The Circle of Lust is ruled by Lord Asmodeus, Archdemon of Lust. The circle holds sinners who committed lust and adultery. The circle itself is a deep gorge with tornados that whisk the sinners up and tumble them around, occasionally striking them against the cliffside.
Circle Two: The Circle of Gluttony
- The Circle of Gluttony is ruled by Lord Abaddon, the Archdemon of Gluttony. Cerberus, the three-headed dog, watches over the gluttonous sinners in her stead. The circle has rain pouring endlessly down on the sinners, a mix of small hailstones and gray snow that smells like something had rotted, while the sinners thrash on the ground to avoid getting wet.
Circle Three: The Circle of Greed
- The Circle of Greed is ruled by Lord Mammon, the Archdemon of Greed. The sinners in this circle are made up of two types: the hoarders of excess money and the lavish spenders. The sinners themselves are covered from head to toe in mud and dirt and struggle to push giant boulders with their chests across a line drawn in the center of the circle against another sinner.
Circle Four: The Circle of Sloth
- The Circle of Sloth is ruled by Lord Belphegor, the Archdemon of Sloth. The circle holds the River Styx, a bog-like river that extends across the entire circle. The only way to walk across it is on planks suspended above the water, forming pathways. Like with the Circle of Greed, there are two types of sinners in this circle. The angry, who disparaged people different from them, who thought they were better than others for being of a certain race, nationality, sexuality, or the like. They fought for their right to believe and feel as they believed they should, so they are engaged in eternal combat on the surface of the River Styx. The sullen, those who gave up on life and never regretted it, exist there as well, laying listlessly on the floor of the river.
The Boat Ride
- Once the Circle of Sloth ends, there is a small bit of land with a lighthouse overlooking more of the River Styx. The way is shrouded by mist, and the only way to pass is by the boat ferried by Charon. There is another light that can be seen in the distance as the boat rows across the river, coming from the City of Dis where many demons reside.
The City of Dis
- The City of Dis is where many of the demons in Hell live, especially lower-class demons. The city’s red-hued limestone gates are guarded by the Furies, bat-winged women with hair made of snakes. Inside, it seems like a normal city, with painted buildings and a large marketplace for demons to trade items. In the center of the city, a huge bonfire roars in the center of the cobblestone square, coming from an opening in the ground.
Circle Five: The Circle of Heresy
- Outside the City of Dis lies the Circle of Heresy, ruled by Lord Leviathan who is not an archdemon. The sinners here are the heretics and blasphemers, those who go against the word of God, who purposely misinterpret the Bible to shame and abuse other people. The circle is a desert filled with open graves. Each of the graves have stone coffins within them and the sinners are inside, lit on fire and writhing around to put out the constant flames.
Circle Six: The Circle of Violence
- The Circle of Violence, ruled by Lord Aristopheles (also known as Riven), the Archdemon of Wrath. It is split into three parts. The Minotaur, a creature with the body of a man and the head, hooves, and tail of a bull, guards the path to the first part. A group of centaurs exist in this circle as well, led by Chiron who defers to Lord Aristopheles.
- Part One – the River Phlegethon, a river of boiling blood, surrounds the Circle of Violence. Tyrants and terrorists stand in the bloody river and hear the screams of their victims. The further in the blood they are submerged, the more violent the sins they committed.
- Part Two – the forest of dead trees holds two types of sinners. Sinners who lived their lives as animal abusers are hunted by dogs while rapists and pedophiles hide in the trees to escape Harpies, birdlike creatures with the faces of women. If any of them are caught, either the dogs or the Harpies will tear them to shreds.
- Part Three – the sandy plain in the center of the circle, like an island within the forest, is where other violent sinners, like kidnappers, arsonists, loan sharks, those who commit hate crimes, and so on, reside. Embers of fire fall from the sky and burn the sinners.
- The River Phlegethon splits into two streams at the end of the circle, leading up one higher path and down another lower path. If one follows the lower path, the river will turn into a waterfall. Geryon – a monster with the face of a man with fanged teeth, the body of a serpent, two paws, a spiky pointed tail, and dragonfly wings – resides in a cave behind the waterfall. The waterfall ends as a lake at the beginning of the Seventh Circle.
Circle Seven: The Circle of Fraud
- The Circle of Fraud is the largest circle in Hell, ruled by Lord Beelzebub, the Archdemon of Envy. The circle is a valley shaped like a basin, surrounded by walls of dull iron-colored stone, and the valley itself is divided into ten pouches (ditches) with bridges across them for demons to walk.
- Pouch One: Sex traffickers are chained facing the wall and whipped by demons across their backs.
- Pouch Two: Gamblers are compelled to scratch their itching skin until it’s raw. Also the circle for other addicts, those this circle took money from their own families or friends, ruining their lives and their own reputations.
- Pouch Three: Catcallers and bullies are stuck in a pool of human excrement
- Pouch Four: “Alchemists” (better known as mad scientists; those who experimented with God’s creations and turned them into monsters that tormented others) suffer from fever, headache, and delusions. They are forced into a feverlike state, where their delusions put them in the place of all the beings — people or animals — that they experimented on.
- Pouch Five: False diviners and prophets who claimed they could see the future have their heads contorted until they’re reversed so they can only see their past.
- Pouch Six: Thieves are chased and bitten by snakes of varying sizes.
- Pouch Seven: Hypocrites are immersed in pools of boiling pitch while demons push them further into the tar with pitchforks.
- Pouch Eight: Corrupt politicians are hung upside down and split from groin to chin by sword.
- Pouch Nine: This pouch holds various other fraudulent sinners with their own punishments. Some examples are liars and counterfeiters. Liars’ tongues swell up so large they can’t breathe and they suffocate to death, then their soul reawakens and it begins again for the rest of their eternity. Counterfeiters thirst for water but never receive any. They collapse into ash after several days, then are remade and begin again.
- Pouch Ten: False counselors or advisors, ones who ended up hurting those they swore to help, burn for eternity wrapped in individual columns of flames.
Circle Eight: The Circle of Betrayers
- The Circle of Betrayers are for sinners who betrayed their country, partners, friends, or family and was previously ruled by Lucifer, King of Hell and Archdemon of Pride, until he passed away. A winding, stepped path leads down the cliffside from the seventh circle into the eighth. The stairs turn slick with ice halfway down as the circle becomes a giant icy lake. A castle carved into the bedrock is located on the far end of the circle. Sinners who committed more severe sins are deeper within the ice, like with the river in the Circle of Violence.
Well, that’s all I have for the Circles of Hell. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions! I always love explaining my worldbuilding. Remember, my book The Infernal King is now available for preorder on Amazon!