Beyond Satan’s soldiers, Hell burned like one vast forge. This realm of eternal torment was more terrible than anything Paul had ever imagined. Not that he had spent much time contemplating Hell. Some trainee vicars during his years at theological college had seemed more interested in Satan and the notion of divine punishment than in revealing the grace of God. Paul, however, had always thought of Hell as the absence of God, rather than a fiery pit into which the wicked were cast. He just couldn’t reconcile the notion of Hellfire and eternal torment with the God of love and forgiveness that he knew in his heart.
Now, looking across at the dark army before him, Paul realised that his theology had been all wrong. For here the worst visions of Revelations and the most phantasmagorical verses of the Bible were manifest. Where the ground wasn’t burning it was piled high with corpses; hundreds of ziggurats of rotting flesh screaming in pain and sorrow, even beyond death. Atop each heaving mountain stood a black-winged creature wielding a sword. From the sky fell a constant rain of naked human bodies, each landing atop a mound, there to be despatched by a demon and added to the pile. Though the bodies at the base of each mound had been smashed and rotted down to little more than rags and bones and human jelly, still they screamed in torment. Even divested of flesh they knew pain, their souls now subjected to eternal punishment.