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Part 1[]

I woke up in a birthing sac. Panicked and choking on amniotic fluid, I clawed at the fleshy walls, fighting with all my terrified strength to free myself. With a wet, ripping sound, I was dumped onto the muddy cobbles of the street below, twisting my ankle as I landed.

Cold rain blasted my naked body clean of the sac’s liquid, I tried and failed to get to my feet. The street was alien to me, an insane medley of architecture ranging from the modern to the prehistoric. The sky above boiled with storm clouds, illuminating my surroundings with non-stop flashes of lightning.

A man walked over to me, his hair was matted with filth and the rain streaked down his mismatched leather clothes. He said nothing, just watched me squirm on the floor.

“Please,” I gasped. “Help me.”

He answered by slamming a foot down on my face, breaking my jaw and making my vision reel. He moved onto my limbs, stamping and tugging until he heard the bones snap. Crippled, naked and screaming, there was nothing I could do to defend myself when he started to eat me alive.

My introduction to Hell wasn’t unusual. Very few people survive their first hour, let alone their first night. When they die, they go through the same thing again, emerging from a new birthing sac in another part of the city. Eventually they learn to attack the first person they see and, if they’re lucky, they’ll be able to kill that person.

That’s the one rule of Hell, the strong take from the weak. Get used to the idea and you might just make it through the afterlife.

I’m going to give you a helping hand. Consider this your handbook to Hell, a primer on the Inferno. Make no mistake though, I’m not doing this out of the goodness of my heart. When you die, you’ll owe me one. Don’t worry about trying to find me, I guarantee we’ll run into each other eventually. Eternity is a long fucking time, so it’s a matter of “when” rather than “if.”

Do as I tell you and you’ll have a better chance than most of avoiding my own nasty introduction to the pit.

Welcome to Hell[]

Some people swear they saw a light at the end of the tunnel when they died. To my mind, those people either hallucinated or they’re lying. Most of us just wake up in a birthing sac a few minutes after death. The buildings of Hell are covered in the things, horrible, yellow-brown pimples growing out of the brick.

I’ve already mentioned that the first thing you need to do is claw your way out and get ready to fight. This is where the real bitch of the situation comes into play, since not everybody has the strength to break through their sac’s flesh. You get the body you had just before you died, see. So, let’s say you were born a cripple or maybe you died too young or too old … tough shit. You’re going to have a rough eternity drowning in birthing fluid over and over.

If you manage to break free of your sac, don’t waste time moping around, wondering what the fuck happened. Get on your feet and get ready to defend yourself. Chances are good that the first person who sees you will be hungry. There are no plants or animals in Hell, so cannibalism is your only option if you don’t fancy starving to death and having to start over. Aim to kill the first person you see.

It might take a few tries. Most of Hell’s residents have been fighting for survival a lot longer than you. They might have armour made from tanned skin, scavenged metal and bone. They’ll almost certainly have a shiv, club or axe. All of that will be useful to you if you can take it from them.

The next thing to do is find shelter. It never stops raining in Hell and pneumonia is a shitty way to die. Luckily, you’ll have a selection of buildings to choose from. Ever wanted to live in a rundown Victorian manor with half a roof and no furniture? How about an ancient Egyptian mud-brick hovel? If people have built it, you can find a crumbling version of it in Hell. Pick a building, kill any squatters you find and move in.

The best houses are the ones that come with a supply of scrap metal and timber. Not only are these good for making weapons with, they’re also vital for getting drinkable water. I learned the hard way that Hell’s rain is teeming with disease. It has to be boiled before it’s safe, so getting a fire going and something to make a bowl with is a necessity.

So, we’ve killed our first man and found a home. Things are going well. Get that far and you’re going to want to hang on to what you have forever. You won’t. Something will kill you eventually and you’ll have to start over. My record is a year, if you want to beat that, you’ll need to understand Hell and its denizens.

The Damned[]

The people of Hell can be grouped into two categories. The first, the fresh meat, are those who’ve just climbed out of a birthing sac. It’s kill or be killed when it comes to fresh meat, always has been. The newly birthed want clothing and tools and will kill to get hold of them. The second category, the residents, view fresh meat as a quick and easy supply of food, leather and bone.

Residents have an easier time of it for sure and all of them will fight to retain their resident status for as long as they can. Make no mistake though, residents victimise each other just as much as they prey on the fresh meat. If you’re a woman for instance, well, you better get over any hang-ups you have about rape. Women get raped in Hell far more than men, it’s just a fact. If you’re not one of those body-builders or warrior women, do the smart thing and prostitute yourself for protection. Self-respect doesn’t keep you breathing.

Remember how you get the body you had just before you died? Well that fact forms the core of Hell’s society. The truth of the matter is that throughout history, it’s usually been men who die in battle. That means that in Hell, there are a lot of men with young, strong bodies fit for war. Don’t like it? Tough. Those are the guys who call the shots. If you can’t fight them, you better do as they tell you.

If you live long enough and fight well enough, you might get invited into one of the resident tribes. These are groups of people who band together for the sake of safety in numbers. Believe me, being part of a group makes things a lot easier in Hell. However, keep in mind that you’re only part of the tribe for as long as you’re a resident. Get yourself killed and it’s back to being fresh meat.

Tribes offer the closest thing to civilised society you’ll find in Hell. If you’re part of a tribe, you have people on your side who probably won’t kill you unless shit gets rough. Doesn’t sound like much but that’s about as good as it gets.

My own survival record was thanks to getting into a tribe. Life was good for a while there. We had about fifty soldiers and plenty of girls to fuck. Nobody could touch us and the men abided by an honour code, so the usual fear of being stabbed in the back by your friends wasn’t too much of an issue. I could have spent my eternity in reasonable comfort but Hell has ways of fucking over a good thing.

Human flesh and boiled rainwater doesn’t exactly make for a balanced diet and sooner or later even the strongest resident dies of malnutrition. I did well to last a year on it, though the last few months were agony. If I believed in God, I’d swear he designed Hell in such a way that nobody stays on top of the food chain for long.

The City and the Wasteland[]

Most of the damned live in Dis, the city of Hell. That’s where all the fresh meat is born and considering the size of the place coupled with the short life expectancy, a lot of people will spend eternity without ever setting foot outside of Dis.

Take my advice, do not leave the city. Things are rough on the streets, that’s true, but trust me when I say it gets a whole lot worse if you try to leave.

Dis is surrounded by a wasteland called Gehenna. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much, just an empty expanse of grey stretching out into infinity. Sometimes the damned lose that fire in the belly, the will to survive, and set off wandering into Gehenna. Most of them never come back.

I made the walk myself once, a long time ago. I don’t care how hard you think you are, spend enough time in Hell and it starts to break you down. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m a good person who never deserved this. Nobody can say that and not be a liar. I’m not evil though … or rather, I wasn’t. Not until I got to Hell.

You murder, rape and torture because you know they’d do the same to you. You’re murdered, raped and tortured because they know you’ll do the same to them. Give it long enough and you just don’t want to face it anymore. That’s when you take the walk into Gehenna.

The first couple of miles I walked were nothing special. The rain stopped after a while, the sludge beneath my feet giving way to grey ash and I caught my first glimpse of Hell’s sky beyond the clouds. It was a flat grey with a white sun, completely devoid of beauty or warmth. I trudged on.

While walking through Gehenna, I lost any urge to eat, drink or sleep. My body started to waste away but I didn’t care. Even when my skin started to peel away and my bones were exposed, I didn’t care. The further I walked, the hollower I became in mind, body and soul.

I don’t know what would have happened if I’d kept going. Frankly, I don’t want to know. Some part of me still wanted to live, so I turned back. I’d walked for days, maybe weeks, yet when I turned around, Dis was only a few steps away.

I stepped back into the city and my body finally fell apart. When I emerged from my birthing sac, I swore never to step foot into Gehenna again.

Escaping from Hell[]

There are ways to leave Hell. That should be obvious, otherwise I wouldn’t be talking to you would I?

Sometimes the living get it into their heads that they want to talk with the dead. They get their crystals, incense and spirit boards in the hopes of reaching their loved ones. Most do nothing more than trick themselves into thinking they’ve made contact. They smile or cry, convinced their beloved Granny is playing the harp on a cloud somewhere before getting on with their lives.

A few have the skill to actually reach us though. They can open a gate between Hell and the world of the living that we perceive as a pillar of fire stretching down from the clouds. As soon as one of those pillars shows up, the damned scramble to be the first to get to it.

You haven’t seen the true nature of man until you’ve watched thousands of the damned swarming over each other, kicking, biting and clawing to be the one who escapes. Contacting the dead always results in a bloodbath. Even the most civilised tribes fall apart the instant it becomes clear that only one of them can leave.

I’ve left Hell twice now, left my body behind and ridden that pillar of fire up into the clouds.

Some people believe that you can be possessed by demons. Let me tell you something … demons aren’t real. What the living see as demonic possession is just one of the damned testing out their new body. Let’s face it, if you’ve fought your way through Hell to get back to the world of the living, you’re not going to be on your best behaviour for long.

Sooner or later, we take things too far. Our host dies or their family cave and recruit an exorcist, then we’re fresh out of the birthing sac and on the streets again.

I’m going to go now. When you get to Hell, remember my advice and that you owe me one. Maybe we can form a tribe someday?

For the time being though, I want to see what my new body can do.

Part 2[]

By now you should have a good idea of what you can expect from Hell. You know to kill the first person you see when you fight your way out of a birthing sac. You know to find clothing, tools and shelter. You know that no matter what you do, how well you do, someday it’s back to being fresh meat.

Dis is the biggest city you can imagine. Tribes fight and die for territory and taking a wrong turn is a fucking death sentence. You’ll get a feel for where you should and shouldn’t go eventually, develop the kind of street smarts you need to stay a resident for more than a day.

Even so, there are places in Dis that you should know about. Let’s do a little sightseeing tour of Hell, maybe the advance warning will do you some good.

Skin Street[]

Allow me to tell you about the first time I saw Skin Street. I dropped out of my birthing sac onto the road, stood straight back up and got myself ready to fight. Nobody was there. Not one single person was out on a street that stretched for miles in either direction. I relaxed a little and took a look around.

Most of the streets in Dis are a labyrinthine network of buildings. You spend most of your stay in Hell paranoid that, just around the next corner, there’s someone ready to beat you down. Skin Street isn’t like that. It’s a single straight line with only the rain and the darkness to hamper visibility.

I felt more vulnerable there than I’ve felt in any other part of Dis. You ever walked into a wide, empty space and suddenly felt exposed? Yeah, imagine also being naked, unarmed and in Hell. Still, I knew what I was supposed to do. The first step was to find some clothing.

That’s where I learned how Skin Street got its name. Every building, every busted street light and gas lamp was decorated with flayed skin. I’d been in Hell long enough by that point to not be too freaked out but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me. In a fucked up kind of way, it reminded me of Christmas. Y’know? People hanging wreaths and lights from their houses, that sort of thing. I remembered the time I’d spent with my family … with my kids on Christmas morning.

Feelings like that get you killed. I pushed them back down and pulled some scraps from the nearest building. If somebody was going to leave clothing material lying about, I may as well take it, right?

I didn’t know it at the time but every step I took on Skin Street was being watched. When the attack came, I didn’t even get a glimpse of the guy. Bang! My skull fractured from an expert swing of a club. Whoever hit me went for my eyes the second I hit the floor, stuck his fingers right into my sockets. I was blind and crying like a baby when he started to peel away my skin.

Here’s the thing, some people are fucked up even by Hell’s standards. The loners, serial killers, stalkers and psychos all make their way to Skin Street in the end. Most of the damned use the whole body of a kill but the Skin Street people like to take trophies. They leave their ornaments out as bait for the ignorant, skulking in the shadows and waiting for the best moment to ambush.

If you find yourself on Skin Street, you’re going to have to think fast. Forget clothing, just grab a rock, piece of wood or anything else you can use as a weapon. Stay out of the shadows, keep checking behind you and get out of there as quickly as you can.

Perdition Farms[]

You’re going to be chased in Hell, that’s unavoidable. At some point, you’ll stumble into somebody bigger than you or you’ll find yourself outnumbered. Forget about a fair fight, if somebody can take you down without you fighting back, you bet that’s what they’ll do.

It’s easy to lose focus when you’re running for your life. You can forget to pay attention to your surroundings. That, my friend, is a big mistake.

The outskirts of Perdition Farms are littered with billboards. They promise free food and safety to anybody fucking stupid enough to believe them. The tribes that fight over that particular territory like to herd people off the streets and into the industrial complex they call home.

The good news is that those tribes won’t kill you. The bad news is that they’re big fans of taking people alive. They’ve got a project you see, been working on it for as long as I can remember. I couldn’t tell you who originally decided that Hell should have organised food production, only that the idea stuck and that over the years, countless tribes have taken it upon themselves to try and make that dream a reality.

Get yourself captured by them and you can look forward to a bit of slave labour.

For the most part, the Perdition Farms tribes try to make use of the birthing pods as a source of food. They force their slaves to harvest them from the walls, grind them up in industrial vats, mix them with blood, body parts, rainwater and anything else that could conceivably make a broth.

The life of a slave is short, brutal and disgusting, particularly when those slaves are then used as guinea pigs for the latest concoction. You see, amniotic fluid can be drunk if you’re desperate, though drinking too much is guaranteed to make you empty your stomach from every available orifice. The flesh of the sacs is a different matter though.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what the birthing sacs are. Some people say they’re actual flesh while others swear they’re more like a fungus. What I do know is that they repair themselves over time. Eat some of their flesh and over the next few days you’ll grow a new birthing sac inside you. It’s a small mercy that you won’t live long enough to see it break through your skin. You’ll be dead shortly after your stomach bursts.

If you’re lucky, your days as a slave will end when the tribe decides they want some real meat. They’re not stupid enough to test their broth themselves, not when there’s no shortage of slaves in Hell.

Look, I can’t force you to stay out of Perdition Farms. I can only offer advice. In my opinion, if you think you’re being herded there, it’s better to take whatever’s to hand and cut your own throat. I’d take fresh meat status a hundred times before spending another day on the farms.

The Boneyard[]

So maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey. I’m the kind of nutjob who’d join a cult. Is there anything in Hell for me?”

If that sounds like you, the Boneyard has you covered. You see, there’s a certain kind of religious fanatic who really does belong in Hell. I’m not talking about the old dears who bake cakes to raise money for the new church roof here. I’m talking about the guys who went to war because God commanded it, who burned women for supposedly consorting with demons and who saw nothing wrong with fucking the odd kid.

When those people get to Hell, they’re too thick-headed to make sense of what happened. Why face reality when you can pretend it’s all just a test of faith? They find likeminded folk in the Boneyard.

I’m told that at one time, the Boneyard was a cathedral surrounded by a cemetery that stretched from horizon to horizon. Maybe that’s true, I don’t know. These days, it’s a shanty town of temples and churches built from materials scavenged from the streets. Everywhere you look, you’ll find wild-eyed zealots preaching their own twisted version of redemption and gangs of masked men on the prowl for fresh converts.

Mortification of the flesh is the main pastime in the Boneyard. If you listen to the cacophony of sermons, you’ll be informed of how the flesh is wicked and must be purged of sin. How lucky we are to be given such a holy duty, how fortunate to be given the opportunity to redeem ourselves before God.

The people of the Boneyard have had a long time and plenty of fucking practice when it comes to mastering torture and degradation. I’m not a good person. I’ve killed, raped and cannibalised but I can honestly tell you I’d never have been able to dream up some of the shit that goes on in the Boneyard.

I wandered in there by accident once and I’ve never been able to get what I saw out of my brain. I watched a woman, naked and bound, forced onto her knees and violated with iron rods. A preacher sewed his own eyes and lips shut in front of a crowd before sawing off his manhood with a piece of slate. A boy of maybe fourteen was publicly crucified, a girl was drowned in shit, an older man had sharpened flint pushed under his fingernails … I could list off a hundred other atrocities done in the name of redemption.

Stay away from the Boneyard. The people there decided that Hell just isn’t hellish enough for their liking.

Forget about redemption. Forget about God. The only way out of Hell is by riding a pillar of fire and taking over a living body. Focus on that if you want to escape. The damned can’t offer you salvation. The damned only offer pain.

Part 3[]

I have to leave you soon. If I’m to make the most of life on Earth, I’m afraid I’m going to have to skip town. While I’ve had plenty to keep myself entertained, this body just isn’t suitable for a run in with the police. It’s only a matter of time until some nosy neighbour thinks to pick up the phone. With the humidity over the last few days, mummy and daddy are already pretty ripe.

Here’s something you have to understand: Hell is a big place. I’ve given you fair warning about a few of the locations I myself have run into and that will have to do. Even if I wrote a library’s worth of novels solely dedicated to mapping out the distinct locations within Dis, I still couldn’t tell you everything about the city.

What I can do is give you a bit of information about some of the damned.

The Slaughter Man[]

Take a moment to think about all the celebrities you know. How many of them do you reckon would do well in Dis? Not many, I’ll wager. Perhaps none. Fame and fortune on Earth doesn’t count for shit when you’re dead. Very few people are strong enough, mean enough and downright psychotic enough to earn a reputation in Hell. Those few who have what it takes are people you never want to meet.

The Slaughter Man is one of Hell’s legends. A huge, bearded man with filed teeth, bloodshot eyes and foam on his lips. Rumour has it that the day he first emerged from a birthing sac, he was unlucky enough to land at the feet of a slaver tribe. Well those tribesmen chuckled to themselves and readied their clubs and whips, only too happy to take some fresh meat captive.

Outnumbered a dozen to one, naked, unarmed and brand new to Hell, most people wouldn’t stand a chance. If you believe the stories, the Slaughter Man shrugged off the clubs battering against him and the whips cutting into his flesh as though they were insect bites. He picked up the first slaver, put his hand into the man’s mouth and pulled his jaw right off his skull. He moved onto another, then another, tearing them apart with his bare hands until the survivors turned and fled.

Nobody knows for sure who he was in life. I’ve heard theories though, the most popular one being that he was the berserker of Stamford Bridge. Supposedly, a single Viking held up the English army single-handed. It didn’t matter that he could never win, that he was outnumbered, that his enemies had better weapons and armour. He stood on that bridge and he fought. By the time he was brought down, he’d killed no less than forty men.

I don’t know how true any of this is. I’ve never seen the Slaughter Man for myself and I don’t fucking want to. What I can tell you for sure is that people don’t become legendary in Hell without good reason.

I’d guess that the only one who knows the truth is the Slaughter Man himself and he isn’t saying anything. Since the day he arrived in Hell, he’s only spoken once. The fleeing slavers heard it as the Slaughter Man tore their tribe apart. Naked, bloody and surrounded by corpses, the Slaughter Man looked up to the storm-wracked sky and bellowed a single word…



How about a little story?

I wasn’t new to Hell. I’d made myself some clothes and a wooden club, found shelter and had a big slab of meat roasting over a campfire. The only thing I didn’t have was a tribe. The area I’d been birthed in seemed slummy even for Dis; all half-collapsed hovels and mud huts. Iron was scarce, barely enough to make myself a water bowl. All in all, not a good spot for a tribe.

My plan was simple enough. I’d have a decent meal, carve myself a shiv or two in case I lost my club, then find somewhere more or less dry to sleep. After that, I’d set off to look for a tribe. Even the mildest tribal initiations result in a few scars and a broken nose, so I wanted to be as well rested as I could be.

Sleep in Hell is both vital and dangerous. There’s a knack to finding somewhere that’s simultaneously sheltered, hidden and with access to an escape route. Even then, you never get more than a few hours at a time. In Hell, the slightest suspicious noise should scare the shit out of you.

A low, throaty growl definitely counts as a suspicious noise.

I leapt out of my impromptu nest of skins and wood, raised my club and returned the growl with one of my own. A woman had crept into my building and was staring at me with dilated pupils. She looked to be in a bad way, skinny, naked and covered in weeping sores. Her lips peeled back to reveal broken and jagged teeth.

It took me all of a second to size her up. She’d been living rough for days or weeks. Judging from her protruding ribs and bloated stomach, she was well on her way to dying of starvation. So, she was weak, hungry and didn’t even have a weapon.

“I’ve already eaten,” I said, relaxing a little and giving my club a few practice swings. “No sense in letting you go to waste though.”

I took a step towards her and she bolted. Just turned right around and scampered away in a strange, animal gait. I took off after her, certain that I could outpace her. Even if there wasn’t much meat on her, bones can still be useful.

I chased her through a few streets, struggling to keep my footing on the muddy ground. When I finally got close enough to swing my club, she stopped dead. The suddenness of it caught me off guard and I tripped over her, losing my club as I fell.

She howled in triumph, a sound that was echoed by a dozen other throats.

That day, I learned two things about the Hellhounds, the people who lose their minds and become little more than beasts after enduring centuries in Hell. Firstly, they have the necessary animal cunning to hunt as a pack. Secondly, human teeth and fingernails are perfectly capable of ripping flesh from the bone.

The Surgeons[]

Modern doctors rarely thrive in Hell. Academia and reliance on technology don’t leave you in the best state to endure the endless violence and brutality.

There are exceptions though. The people who learned to sew their friends back together amid the machinegun fire of the Somme. Shamans, witch doctors and holy men who endured famine and warfare. Survivalists who knew how to cauterise their own wounds in the middle of a forest. Those are some of the people who might just be strong enough to ply their trade to the damned. After all, working knowledge of basic medicine is just one of those things that’s beyond a lot of the meatheads roaming Dis.

Most of Hell’s surgeons find a tribe as soon as they’re able. Their tools might be crude but they soon learn to make do. Flint, slate and shards of glass serve as their scalpels. They make thread from human hair and needles from slivers of iron. Whenever a member of the tribe has an infected sore, a surgeon will be the one to drain the pus. A tribal surgeon could well save your life … but they’ll do it without anaesthetic.

Then there are the freelance surgeons, the people who try to go it alone. They make themselves a uniform, the theory being that the damned will recognise them if they all look alike. It doesn’t really work but then you can’t expect much logic from people who’ve lost count of how many times they’ve died.

For one thing, fashions change over time. I’m told that freelancers wore headdresses and bone necklaces at one point. The current trend is to mimic Venetian plague doctors by donning a beaked mask and wearing a long coat of fire-blackened skin.

Freelancers are rare. Very rare in fact. You’ll see thousands of the damned for every freelance surgeon you come across. When you do come across one, be fucking careful.

Firstly, surgeons don’t get a free pass in Hell. The damned are more likely to attack a freelancer than they are to barter their tools, clothes or slaves in exchange for his services. You can’t be certain if the man in the bird mask and black coat is really a surgeon or somebody who murdered a surgeon and took his clothes. Perhaps they made the outfit themselves in order to draw the weak and the wounded close. Advertising doesn’t always work as intended in Dis.

If the freelancer turns out to be genuine, that doesn’t give you an excuse to drop your guard. Freelance surgeons aren’t usually the most stable people. Put another way, freelancers are usually sadistic fucking psychopaths.

Sure, they might stitch you back together and send you on your way. They might also decide it would be more interesting if they stitched you to somebody else. They might think paying an arm and a leg for their service should be taken literally. They might turn out to be some wannabe serial killer who’s yet to find their way to Skin Street.

For each freelancer trying to do a tough job in a tougher place, there are a dozen or so Mengeles who want to try out their toys on somebody too injured to fight back.

Stick with your tribe’s surgeon if you’re lucky enough to have one. Failing that, learn to patch up your own wounds. Trust me, if you’re able to read, you’ve already got the intellectual advantage over a lot of Hell’s residents. Universal education is pretty recent.

Freelancers aren’t worth the risk.


I’ll be honest with you here, I don’t know if cambions actually exist. What I’m going to tell you is something that somebody else told me. It’s up to you to decide if it’s true or not. Personally, I really fucking hope it isn’t.

People rape one another in Hell. It happens a lot. If you’re not strong enough, it’ll happen a lot to you. The good news for the ladies out there is that damned men fire blanks. You’ll almost never be impregnated. I say “almost never” because, if you believe the stories, there’s an incredibly slim chance that a couple of those little swimmers will be awake and looking for an egg.

Just to put this in perspective, we’re talking conjoined twins levels of unlikeliness here and that’s just conception. The chances of a pregnant woman surviving the full nine months in Hell are probably conjoined triplets levels of unlikely. You’re talking about a perfect storm of beating the odds here … but this is eternity. A monkey randomly mashing keys on a typewriter will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare if it goes at it for eternity.

The result of that perfect storm, of those monkeys with their typewriters, is a cambion. A child conceived and born in Hell.

I’m not saying they exist, okay? I’m saying I’ve met somebody who swears its true and that he’s seen a cambion for himself.

You see babies in their birthing sacs from time to time. Usually it’s just a body, occasionally you see one drowning. Most of the damned ignore them. They wouldn’t survive a day on the streets even if you could afford to devote your full attention to them. Better to leave them be.

It’s only the really fucked up people who cut through the sacs and... Yeah, I’m not going to finish that thought.

I'm getting sidetracked.

So, this cambion who may or may not have existed, apparently looked like a normal child. It cried, it shit and it sucked its mother’s tits just like a regular baby would. The mother was part of a tribe and they’d been able to protect her throughout her pregnancy. Couldn’t tell you why. Curiosity perhaps?

When it was born, the whole tribe gathered around to have a look. Among them was the man who told me this story, somebody I’d meet years later and eventually kill. This man cut the baby’s cord and lifted it up to his face. Every man in the tribe had raped the mother at one point or another and he wanted to see if the child looked anything like him.

The cambion looked like a normal child in every way but one. Its eyes were dead. Lifeless, like a doll’s. Sure, the kid was alive. It wriggled and cried like a normal baby. Those eyes were wide open though, not scrunched closed like a new-born’s eyes should be. Wide open, empty, doll’s eyes.

If that story is true, I don’t blame the tribe for killing the child. Something like that shouldn’t exist.

Right, I’m done. I have to go.

This is the point where people like to have things nicely tied up. A few dragons slain, a few maidens saved. At the very least, you could expect some kind of moral lesson to think over.

I think that, in this case, that sort of thing is missing the point. There are no dragons to slay, no morals to learn. We do not live happily ever after. There’s no grand revelation, no clever twist, no purpose, no redemption, no hope.

There’s only eternity among our own kind.

Part 4[]

The last body I had in the living world didn’t cope too well with my mind driving it. It’s sometimes hard to remember that the lessons you learn in Hell aren’t a good fit for the civilized world. When murder is just a normal part of existence, you tend to keep doing it out of habit. The inevitable result is either death or exorcism and a trip back to the city of Dis. Safe to say, I got a bit carried away the last time I was here.

After my last taste of freedom, I knew that I had to get back out of Dis. My existence ever since I squandered my last host has been utterly dedicated to fighting my way back into a pillar of fire.

I had to escape Dis. After what I’ve seen, I had to escape.

This new body seems a little more durable than the last one. Now that I’m back, shall we take another trip into Hell?

Phlegethon Swamp[]

It rains in Hell. It rains all the fucking time and that water has to go somewhere. Most of it drains out into Gehenna where it sinks into the otherworldly ash and apparently disappears. The rest flows either into the sewers beneath the city or it collects in Phlegethon Swamp.

Remember how it’s a bad idea to drink the rainwater in Hell without boiling it? Well Phlegethon’s water will kill you no matter what you do with it. Even letting the stuff touch your skin can be deadly. You see, the swamp isn’t just filled with disease and rot, it’s also brimming with chemical waste. One pool might simply be undrinkable but another might dissolve your flesh.

If you’re mad enough to travel to Phlegethon, or unlucky enough to be born there, your odds of survival are slim. Phlegethon’s waters are inky black and it’s impossible to tell just how deep a pool is by looking. It could be an inch or it could be a mile. You never know whether or not your next footfall will plunge you into the cloying abyss. Worse still, there are places where the sewers gradually drain the water and create unseen vortices capable of dragging down even the strongest of the damned.

To navigate the swamp, you’re better off using the crumbled buildings as stepping stones. The corrosive water causes wooden supports to wither and collapse, so there’s plenty of debris lying around to stand on. Even so, if you don’t take it slow and keep your balance, it’s easy to slip and subject yourself to a fucking agonising death.

Last but not least are the wildfires. These are the reason that even the most insane tribes don’t try to establish a permanent stronghold in Phlegethon Swamp. All that chemical waste and decaying matter makes the swamp extremely volatile. A lightning strike or build-up of gasses can result in immense explosions that ignite Phlegethon’s surface for miles around.

Wildfires move fast. I guarantee you that you won’t outrun one.


The first time you see Cocytus, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d reached the very edge of Dis. The pit is dozens of miles wide and several times as deep. At some point in the dim and distant past, a fragile alliance of tribes put their slaves to work digging a quarry. Why they did this is lost to time but many believe it was an attempt to escape Dis. Perhaps those tribes hoped that if they dug far enough, they’d eventually tunnel their way out of Hell.

In my view, the more likely answer is that the tribes were looking for resources. If that’s true, then the excavation was a success. Miles below the surface, beneath the rock and dirt, there are caverns filled with veins of iron and copper. So far underground and sheltered from the relentless fucking rain, it’s far easier to create a fire hot enough to smelt ore.

The value of such a position wasn’t lost on the tribes and that alliance soon showed just how brittle it was. After a short but savage burst of treachery, the initial settlers of Cocytus all but wiped themselves out. Since then, the pit has been settled and mined countless times. Coordinated efforts from various tribes have transformed the quarry into an abyss. So far, these alliances have always been broken sooner or later.

Cocytus has many paths into its depths and the lower you go, the more labyrinthine the pit becomes. The sprawling caverns shelter entire shanty towns and crude smelting facilities. Some are abandoned, others have been lost to cave-ins, yet there are still plenty of tribes who fight, join forces and betray one another over the precious ore veins.

By this point, you have to go pretty fucking deep to find an untapped vein and this is where Cocytus becomes truly deadly. Anybody who thought they might be able to tunnel out of Hell would be sorely disappointed once they learn what lies in the depths.

In all these years, after digging for so many miles, not one person has run into some magical portal leading out of Dis. They also haven’t run into magma for that matter. Instead, the deeper you go, the colder Cocytus becomes.

I’ve never been to the very bottom myself. I’m told that down there, the air is cold enough to freeze your blood and shatter your skin. Maybe that’s true. I could certainly believe it. On the rare occasions I’ve been to Cocytus, I’ve always had to turn back once the walls became more ice than rock and the narrow walkways became a death trap.

If you have the numbers to do it, Cocytus is still a valuable place to settle. Just remember that when hunger, cold and greed are your constant companions, none of the damned can be trusted.

The Pale Witch[]

I’ve told you about The Slaughterman previously but Hell has other legendary figures, each with their own sobriquets: The Ripper, The Grim Doctor, The Tyrant and many more. So far, I’ve only encountered one of these figures. During my last stay in Hell, I came across The Pale Witch.

As is always the case with legends, the truth about The Pale Witch tends to get lost amid the superstition. I’ve heard plenty of theories as to what she is. The Pale Witch is a shtriga who has the power of the evil eye. The Pale Witch is a gorgon whose gaze turns her victims to stone. The Pale Witch is a succubus who entraps the minds of those she wishes to consume.

All of that is bullshit. I’ve seen The Pale Witch and I know the truth about her.

When I first saw her, I didn’t realise who I was looking at. She was naked and locked in combat with an armed resident so I just took her for fresh meat. Here’s a tip for you: if you see a resident fighting fresh meat, kill both of them while they’re distracted.

I planned to do exactly that but something about the fight seemed off. Residents usually have the upper hand in a fight against fresh meat and this particular bout definitely seemed about as one-sided as it gets. She was naked whereas he was clad in leather and bone. She was unarmed whereas he had a club. She was waifish whereas he was huge.

Despite him having the advantage… the resident was clearly terrified of her.

The rules of Hell dictated that he should have cracked her skull, taken her skin and eaten her flesh but that just wasn’t happening. He was uncoordinated and apparently desperate to escape. Every swing he took was clumsy and the blows he did manage to land on her didn’t seem to have any effect.

I could only stare as this naked, vulnerable woman took the resident’s club from his unresisting hand and swung it at his knee. I’m accustomed to the sound of bones breaking by now but this time the noise caught me off guard. How the fuck was this happening?

She brought the club down on his other knee, then his elbows, then his ankles, then his shoulders. She left him broken and screaming on the floor. She could have finished him off with a blow to the head, stolen his clothing and taken her rightful place as a resident. That’s how Hell works! Those are the rules I’ve learned through bloody trial and error.

That isn’t what happened. Rather than kill him, she sat down beside him in the mud and took his hand in hers. I actually thought she was going to console him… until she started breaking his fingers. One by one, she snapped the fingers on both his hands with a calmness that made no sense to me.

Torture is common in Hell but there’s always a purpose behind it. The people in Skin Street do it out of sadism and the people in The Boneyard do it for their insane purification rituals. This woman did it without emotion and without reason. I honestly don’t know if she even understood that she was hurting him. I don’t think her mind works the same way as ours.

Eventually, the resident lost consciousness. A man can only take so much pain before the shock gets him. Surely now she’d be satisfied? Surely she’d take his clothes and restore Hell’s order?

No. She stood up, tilted her head slightly and uttered a noise for the first time. It wasn’t a victory cry, nor was it even a sigh of relief. Instead, the sound she made was nothing more than a faintly bemused, “Hmmm?”

It was as if she couldn’t comprehend why her plaything had stopped moving. She stood up and stepped away from him, apparently content to leave him alive, unconscious and crippled on the ground. She kept his club but didn’t take his clothing. The cold and rain didn’t seem to bother her.

Then she looked at me.

In that instant, I knew I was looking at The Pale Witch. I looked into her eyes and I couldn’t fucking move. I understood what she was straight away and the sheer terror of it froze me. The Pale Witch isn’t a shtriga, she isn’t a gorgon and she isn’t a succubus.

The Pale Witch is a cambion.

It’s hard to put into words exactly how paralysing the sight of a cambion is. That perfectly serene face and those dead, staring eyes just don’t belong on a body that’s otherwise human. It was like looking into the face of a mannequin and knowing that it’s looking back at you.


That noise again. That kind of detached curiosity shouldn’t exist in the world of predator and prey, might makes right, survival of the fittest. Nobody in the city of Dis has any right to make that noise.

She took an awkward step towards me and I saw that her right leg was broken. It seemed that her fight with the resident had injured her after all, she just didn’t notice it. She tried to walk normally, completely unaware that one of her legs had an extra joint. I don’t care how tough you are, nobody should be able to put their full weight onto a broken leg without even wincing.


She stepped closer. Her zombie shuffle steadily closing the gap between us as I stared at her. She raised her club and my survival instincts finally kicked into gear. Her transfixing spell broke just enough for me to stumble backwards and avoid her swing.

I ran.

I ran from a woman with a broken leg and I’m not even ashamed of it.

Looking back on my experience, there are some things I just can’t comprehend. The Pale Witch is a cambion, I’m certain of it. She was born in Hell and Hell is all she’s ever known. She also looked to be about thirty years old. That just shouldn’t be possible.

No baby survives long in Dis. Even if they had a tribe to protect them, there just isn’t enough nourishment for an infant to grow into a toddler, let alone an adult. The Pale Witch is a walking impossibility. Her existence is a defiance of all reason.

I would endure every torture the people of Skin Street and the Boneyard could conceive of if it meant I would never have to look into her eyes again.

Credited to Ratrotted