As Samael’s consort, I have certain duties in Hell, such as punishing the Damned, but alongside that comes rulership. My favorite place in all the fourteen Heavens and Hells is what I call Pandemonium, my little slice of New York City meets Marrakesh in the Underworld. Azael recently challenged me for my queenship over this section of Samael’s kingdom, and I found myself in a near-death duel with one of the Watchers who thought I was too green to rule. I defeated her handily, and went on to enjoy a night of partying in Pandemonium with my people.
Pandemonium is the market district of Hell in the capital city of Dis and is a refuge for all different mythical races that have fled persecution of the Abrahamic faiths. You can find everything from qilin to fey to djinn to unktehi to Melusines roaming the streets, selling wares from fine jewelry to exotic diamond and jewel fruits to fresh food, clothing that’s every style from Steampunk to Lolita, pleasures and vices for sale, from willing bodies to Cabaret to drugs made of the distilled essences of moonflowers and dreams. The closest it comes is to a living carnival, full of its own customs, as Pandemonium is a melting pot of spirits. I adore riding the Behemoths, these great black elephant-like creatures that carry travelers and caravans aboard their backs, and hearing the Behemoths trumpet with their trunks. Only small vehicles are allowed, from caravans to horse-drawn carriages to motorcycles and steeds of every imaginable kind, and there is oftentimes dancing and masquerades going on, revelries of all sorts, from unholy mummer’s plays to traditions of each species’ homelands like Lunar New Year or Eid.
Pandemonium backs onto the Styx, where fresh fish come to the markets from the ruby waters, and tributaries are traveled by gondola and rowboat alike. It borders Asmodeus’ bars, jazz and swing clubs, and gambling district and also Lilith’s go go bars, strip clubs, and red light district, the lively circus of Pandemonium’s bodies and festivals and wares spilling into any open space available like a living organ. Buildings are temporary: yurts, tents, cloths, an open air market that is popular for shopping and romantic getaways with unimaginable tastes for the palate. Exit Samael’s fortress of a castle and the market starts, with paths winding and erected by a madman, lit by will o the wisps, fairies, and dragon fire. Danse macabre is a popular past-time as it is in Samael’s kingdom, and you’ll see the dead roaming the streets alongside the living. Ghosts and ghouls and spirits come alive at night in the shadows of the stalls.
At night, Samael holds balls and all of Pandemonium is invited to the castle, to the Devil’s Masque, which can best be described as a Viennese ball mixed with a blood orgy. Elaborate costumes, debauchery, fine wine and finer still blood mingling between lovers and enemies, the fruits of our labors and vintage of our wrath. His subjects wear enchanted masks to disguise their identities if they so choose and hedonism reigns. But my favorite holiday is the Festival of Lights, which happens on All Soul’s Day – the Damned and dead souls in Hell, all ancestors that dwell their for various reasons, are allowed to return to Earth as the archdemons open a gateway to the realm of the living and visit their descendants. Basically the Hell version of Dia de los Muertos. The Styx is lit with paper lanterns and souls returning to Earth are a Jacob’s ladder in the sky. There are fireworks, fresh roses strewn across the streets, and danse macabre throughout the markets.
I own a little bit of woodland, what I call the Screaming Hollow, more of a park at the border of the markets that backs up into Samael’s elaborate system of courtyards. This is the Lover’s Lane of Hell. Samael’s garden is famed for his blood-red roses and viticulture, with red wine made on site and trellises hung with wisteria and grapes, briars growing in forests around them. Here are the more dangerous spirits, the wild Seirim, the flying Lilin, the howling Shedim, and everything can be found in the Screaming Hollow for the right price – it may just cost you your soul. A river runs through it from a deep tap root at the Tree of Life and the waters are a pure crystal blue with raw garnet stones in the basin. Lovers wild off each other’s lips often come to the screaming hollow at midnight, when the witch moon sails through the sky. This is where the Witches Sabbats are held, at the heart of the woods in a crippled apple grove on a high, desolate hill – a piece of Eden plucked from Heaven and rotting. The witches in Hell I am a part of practice Satanic Witchcraft, if that wasn’t obvious enough, but there’s goes a step behind what the living could ever produce. Think Malleus Maleficarum but high on nightshade wine. Familiars are often lower-level demons, sent throughout the mythical realms to do their bidding, there is the osculum infame and blood sacrifices and cannibalism, and Samael presides over it all on a throne of bone as the Witchfather.
There are quieter parts of Pandemonium, like the residential areas, mostly stone and clay houses with thatch and patch roofs that are humble where the immigrants live. Those are diverse as anything, with Japanese style dwellings to adobe. Fronting the houses are often merchant tents, and the night carnival shifts each night, the heart of Hell where business off the ledgers is conducted. Throughout it is enchanting music, buskers and street bands and sylphs and dakinis and enchantresses and sorcerers singing and fluting their songs.
Everything is for sale in Pandemonium, everything can be bought for a cost, but the best parts, in my opinions, are free.