The Wonderful Worlds of Hell Gate
As I mentioned last week, Hell Gate sees Daemon Grim journeying to Jahannam, the Arabic depiction of the afterlife where evildoers go to be punished. There, he meets the Al-Jinn, fierce warriors who make up the Blades of the Left-Hand Path.
Who and what they are exactly, you’ll discover as you read the story. I guarantee you’ll love the flavor these fiery creatures bring.
Before you do, I thought it would be a good idea to take a little look at what the Arabic concept of hell is all about. As you’ll see, it’s rather compelling, as punishment is meted out in accordance with the degree of evil one has done in life.
Suffering is both physical and spiritual and will vary according to the Gate a condemned person is sent to. Specifics vary, as not all Arabic or Muslim scholars agree whether hell is an eternal destination, or whether some – or even all – of the condemned will eventually be forgiven and allowed to enter paradise. So, here’s a simplified overview of the basic principles.
Jahannam (also referred to as al-Nar) The Fire, is divided into seven levels, or Gates. Listing them from the bottom up, you get:
Sá-eer (The Blaze)
Haawiyâh (The Abyss)
Hatamâh (That which breaks to pieces)
Jaheêm (Blazing Fire)
Although there doesn’t seem to be a precise explanation of what each Gate incorporates, references are filled with indications of torture, fire and flames that crackle and roar, with fierce boiling waters, scorching wind and black smoke. Inhabitants sigh and wail. Their scorched skins are constantly changed for new ones so that they can taste their torments anew. They must drink festering water, and though death surrounds them on all sides, they cannot themselves die. They are linked together in chains 70 cubits long, and wear pitch for clothing and fire on their faces. Boiling water is poured over their heads, melting their insides as well as their skins. Hooks of iron drag anyone back who tries to escape.
Can you imagine such a place?
I certainly could, and used these basics as a foundation on which to build a fictional realm of suffering that would fit into the Heroes in Hell universe, and the results can be seen in Hell Gate.
I hope you enjoy how it’s turned out, as I expanded three of the Gates – Sá-eer, Haawiyâh and Hatamâh, to include some impressive sites and scenery.
Next week, we’ll take a closer look at two of those realms in particular, as they inspired me to create a couple of out of this world fantastical places that were a treasure – and pleasure – to play in while the story developed. You’ll see what I mean when I introduce you to the Gulf of Tears and the Hall of Shattered Dreams.
See you then.