The fitful light played across the mottled hide of the dungeon beast. It was a lascivious maggot of a thing, spindly spines lining its flanks, its belly bloated and pale, marbled with fine veins that hinted at heinous viscera within. A thousand men had tried their blades against its malice, and all had failed! Their skulls were arranged in rising rows around the beast’s chamber, polished and kept gleaming by the monster’s friends. Only those with sincere death wishes ventured down here, because to come otherwise was to nurture false hopes, and all knew that false hopes were worse, far worse, than a death wish.
This had been proven by the Grand Vizier Al’ Makabar. He had spent two years locked within his ivory tower in the center of the capital city debating the point with endless scores of summoned demons and visiting angles, putting the question to each: was it better to accept whole heartedly an assured death, or suffer a much greater disillusionment in that final moment when one’s hope turned to ashes in one’s mouth as death reared its fulsome head and tore one’s body apart?
The angels and devils had disagreed. Grand Vizier Al’ Makabar had anticipated a long purgatory of scholastic studying till he could emerge victorious with a definite answer, but found instead that he more often than not had to play mediator, referee, judge and host to the yelling throngs that began to gather in his tower. From the lowest levels of Acheron to the Elysian Fields, word got out that an ongoing party was going on in his tower, and each night greater numbers appeared to talk and hang out on what was tacitly agreed neutral ground.
This pissed the hell out of Mrxaaxarat, a connubial devil who had run the Number 1 hot spot until that moment. As a young imp, Mrxaaxarat had had the uncommonly good fortune to discover the abandoned home of a Greater Pit Fiend, one who had displeased Lucifer and been banned to a prison on the seventh level of hell. Mrxaaxy (as his friends called him), had wasted no time – moving in, he’d put word out that free lava and pureed souls were to be had at his joint, and soon a motley crew of devils and demons were gathering at his place.
But Mrxaaxy wasn’t content with a handful of devils – he wanted to score it big, so he began to print a scandalous news sheet that documented the private sexual lives of the most sanctimonious angels. Soon his broadsheets were mandated reading everywhere, and many came to his hell hole to learn the latest gossip straight from his mouth. Bloated, with his black hair slicked back in the latest fashion (which changed daily), he presided over it all.
As much speculation revolved around the source of his information as the information itself.