|Hell: an artist's impression|
Hell is the name traditionally given to the abode of demons, those former angels who due to their quarrel with the Creator are now in a state of eternal wretchedness. Their home is consequently a place of endless sorrow and torment. It is also said (and the case of the Neapolitan soldiers appears to support the common belief) that the souls of the wicked dead, when they depart this world, travel to Hell and there become its subjects. Pitiable indeed is the condition of those who become the playthings of these unhappy but impressive Spirits! for their fall from grace has augmented their cruelty but not impaired their ingenuity a whit.
According to many authors one of John Uskglass's three kingdoms lies adjacent to Hell, a situation which surely must have cost him many a sleepless hour. To share a border with the Infernal Realms is a challenge that would tax the diplomacy of the most adept politician, and it is to be feared that Uskglass himself was not always successful in his dealings with Lucifer (the Archregent of Hell). We have a hint in the words of the famous prophecy:
"The weapons that my enemies raised against me are venerated in Hell as holy relics;
Plans that my enemies raised against me are preserved as holy texts;
Blood that I shed upon ancient battlefields is scraped from the stained earth by Hell's sacristans and placed in a vessel of silver and ivory."
This suggests that relations between Uskglass and Lucifer have at times sunk very low indeed, and reached a stage of, at best, continual plotting against the King and on occasion open warfare. There are other hints however that at times the King has attempted a rapprochement, a coming-to-terms with his unlucky neighbour. He certainly had dealings with the she-fiend Alrinach and is accused by some of his sharpest critics of having sworn fealty to Lucifer himself. Be that as it may, his general deportment* has been such that one cannot believe he is in any real sense a subject of Hell, for such a submission would surely leave its mark upon his conduct. We have the words moreover of the famous Lady Catherine of Winchester:
"...the Raven King, the dear king of all magicians, who stands between England and the Other Lands, between all wild creatures and the world of men." [LoGA].
These imply that, far from being some conduit through which the demonic influence might pour into England, the king is the gatekeeper who prevents so dreadful an outcome.
- Uskglass certainly behaved infamously in the matter of Henry Barbatus; but we should give some credit too to the many other instances where he deported himself like a true king, the protector of his people.