BELIEVE IT

The first thing to be noticed is the unfriendly heat. Next is the choke of sulfurous fumes permeating the entire chamber and the dull reddish light which has no discernible source. The light baths everything in sight without really providing any tangible illumination. Last thing of note, is the noise. Terrible sounds oh heart rending wails emanating from the depth of tortured soul right after the slash of whips. The rattle of heavy chains complete the rowdy orchestra.

Somewhere in the smoky interiors a whistling sound can be heard, low at first, but steadily rising above the din. The floor trembles in slow succession, as if giant footsteps approach, though as yet the being treading is unseen. Soon however, tips of a large pair of folded wings appear, followed by an extremely large head, crested with two curved horns. The face is not visible in the dull red light.

Much further in the fiery depths of Hades, away from the whistling beast, Baal sits on his Throne of Disgrace surrounded by a posse of cackling demons. His attention is focused on a small black object which he cradles in his hands while the demons in attendance are up to various forms of mischief. Their different conversations although repressed, altogether sum up to a loud murmur. In spite of the atrocious heat, everybody looks fine, their scaly skins very well adapted to protecting them from the harsh environment. Thick swirls of sulfur bellow intermittently from blow holes in the floor but don’t seem to be impeding anyone’s breathing. The moans and wails of condemned souls being fed their daily disbursement from the crucible of punishment provide an eerie soundtrack in the background.

One of the demons stood up and raised both hands. Standing almost eight feet tall, all dark scaly skin and rippling muscles, with little wisps of smoke funneling from his nostrils, he looked a terrifying sight. The others continued their murmuring until he screamed at no one in particular.

“Silence!!!”

The hush was instantaneous. Dragaar stood there for another minute slowly looking from side to side as if daring anyone to make a sound, his countenance terrible to behold. Finally satisfied he had total silence from the audience; he slowly turned to face the throne of disgrace, where Baal sat in opulent nonchalance, bowed from the waist and addressed him in a guttural voice.

“Greetings Lord Baal. Custodian of pain and Confuser of Innocents. The Grandmaster of trickery and deceit. Absolute ruler over the entire realm of darkness. Tempter of all creation. Long may you reign.”

Baal nodded to acknowledge the greeting but didn’t raise his head; his attention still fixed on the black object which was balanced in his huge claws.

Dragaar remained standing, unsure whether to proceed or wait for his master to finish what he was doing. After a minute or two of the profoundly awkward silence, Baal looked up to see why the conversation had not started.

“Go on Dragaar, I’m listening to you.” Then he immediately went back to fiddling with his gadget.

Dragaar bowed again.
“I thank you dear master for this opportunity to state my case.”
He changed position slightly so as to be able to look the other demons in the eye while he spoke.
“I’m sure most of us have been witness to the recent drop in negative energy around this place and are wondering about the cause. Today, I can tell you it is directly related to the falling levels of disagreement emanating from the world. For those who are not aware of what’s happening, our records in the Department of Social Discord show a considerable and consistent drop in the level of disagreement amongst men. Usual hotspots of chaos and disorder have suddenly calmed down and we’ve been recording previously unseen levels of harmony. A reduction in lies and arguments automatically impact on the negative energy levels around this kingdom. Recently we’ve had to embark on rotation of power to various chambers due to the inadequacy of supply. The fear is that if things continue like this, soon we may not even be able to keep the fire in the Pit of Tears burning consistently every moment of the day. That would be catastrophic. Can anyone imagine the Pit of Tears without fire? How then do we achieve the eternity-long torture of damned souls?

The demons surrounding the throne of disgrace all started to murmur again, discussing amongst themselves the undesirable scenario that Dragaar had just painted. Baal himself just continued fiddling with his toy.
Dragaar seethed inwardly, wondering what it was that could so totally captivate the master. His face however remained impassive while he remained standing. The master surely would respond when he was ready.

None found.