The darkness is absolute. The wind never falters and the chill never abates. Hell’s Second Circle is the home of the Lustful, those who put sexual hunger, physical beauty, and earthly love upon the altar and made a sacrifice of God and faith in it’s honor. Here also flounder those who failed at love and put their grief before all other concerns. The souls of the Second Circle are tossed about by an eternal hurricane: wind, rain, and hail breaking and battering them as they whirl through a lightless abyss. Lovers who find themselves here are tossed about together, learning that all the love they’ve had for each other cannot comfort them in Hell, their misery profound despite the presence of their idol and even amplified by the knowledge that the one they love suffers just as they do.
This was not my first visit here. When I become too sure of myself and forget that I am not my own, when I fail to do a task He has set for me to do, He hurls me down and leaves me for the wind. This time, I had the audacity to love. I was bold enough to claim a little bit of happiness, something which demons and minions are not allowed to do. I let myself feel for Deylin and reveled in the feelings he showed for me. I suppose He sent me here as a warning. Kill my human heart once and for all and return to the surface or remain here in the abyss. I’d lost all concept of time. It could have been hours or centuries since I was cast down when I felt a change in the darkness.
I strained my ears against the wailing of the wind, trying to identify the shift in atmosphere. I heard Minos rumbling, the spiral of his snake-like tail coiling and uncoiling. Ah, new souls descending from Limbo along the scaly pathway of his body, the gate keeper of the Circles providing them passage to the lower halls. Usually the arrival of new souls brings additional anguish. Their screams and moans echo up through the wind and swirl around you until you feel completely engulfed in their misery. All souls pass here on their way to the prison they’ve been condemned to, and only a select few stay here in Lust. The approaching souls were different, however. Misery, anguish, fear… all these emotions accompanied them, it’s true. But in the air was the distinct hint of determination, resolve, and even…. hope?
As the hurricane whipped me around the Circle, I could feel the echo of the new souls drawing closer. As I passed over their heads, I caught the sound of his voice. Deylin! My emotions became a windstorm to rival the one which battered me. He’s here? No, please, don’t let him suffer! Wait, Deylin’s a demon, Hell is his domain, though he loathes it. Why would he return to the pits? Could he be here for me? Could I be returning to the surface… with him? But who was with him? He never accompanies the souls he collects into their dungeons. The hurricane hurled me toward him again and I cried out his name, hoping my voice would reach him through the storm. His voice returned my call, crying out my name in a voice thick with shock. I heard the echo of another voice behind his and what remains of my human heart began to break. Issac? I knew he had died, He had told me Issac had died but why was he here? He shouldn’t be here! Why would Deylin bring him here? I heard his chuckle echo in my head as he whispered his taunts. -You want him? Fine, be my guest. Have one last moment before he descends further into Hell before returning to a world without you, where you cannot reach him.-
The whirling around me suddenly ceased and I found myself standing on the edge of a dark plateau. I could barely make out their silhouettes in front of me, the faintest of lights illuminating them, making steel grey shadows of them against the pitch black canvas of the Circle. I moved toward them but the distance between us never lessened and I finally stopped trying to reach them. Deylin? I could see him reaching out toward me and I reached out my arm toward him. Our fingers were millimeters and yet miles apart. Issac? I felt more than saw the incline of his head as he nodded and swallowed. What are you both doing here? What’s happened? I tried to ignore His whispers in my mind, focusing on Deylin and every moment I have here with him.
No, Deylin, please calm down… I know, and I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you. For both of you….. Angels?… I turned to look at Issac, my eyes widening in surprise as Deylin explains the quest. You have to travel through all the Circles?…. and Purgatory? How? What will doing that prove? It’s too dangerous, especially for Issac! He could…. Heaven? Really? The faint glimmer of hope I had fealt from them as they descended finally made sense. If there was a path to Heaven through the Circles of Hell and if they could make it through, Issac could finally be at peace. I couldn’t help nourishing my own small flame of hope that there might be some redemption for Deylin if this quest is successful. Suddenly, He whispered in my ear something that had been completely unknown to me. A child? Issac’s child? I turned to Issac and tried to speak.
Issac, you have started a dangerous and horrific journey. The darkness here infects souls like disease and for most there is no cure. But I want you to make it into the light. And if what I can tell you now can give you strength and resolve when you’re being tested beyond your limits, then I believe it will be worth whatever pain or sorrow it may bring with it. As we speak, up on the earth, a woman carries your child. A woman you knew only for a short time but who will be able to raise your seed to be strong and well-loved. Your child can never truly know you but, from the light realms, you’ll be able to look down and watch as your offspring grows.
Issac’s face had frozen with shock as I revealed what had been told to me. Deylin too was taken completely by surprise. As Issac tried to absorb the news, Deylin’s attention returned to me and my current situation. No Deylin, there’s nothing you can do. He’ll send me up eventually but only He can do it. He owns me…… You can’t wait here for that to happen, Issac has to make it through and the longer he’s down here, the heavier this darkness will make his soul. He won’t be able to climb out of the gate with all of that weighing him down. You have to keep going and get him through this place as quickly as you can. …. I know. … I don’t want to lose you either. But I’m already damned. Issac can still be saved. And you can save him Deylin. Please, help him reach the light. If even one of us can be redeemed, we owe it to each other to make it happen.
The wind began to pick up around me and I knew our moment was coming to an end. Before the hurricane reclaimed me, I took a moment to say what I had wanted to say for decades, ever since I had met Deylin. My whispered words were caught by the winds as I was once again thrown into the whirling throng of souls. I only hope that he heard them and that someday I’ll see him again. If I get that chance, I’ll say it again: the three tiny words I’ve said thousands of times without ever meaning them.. until this moment.