“Circle eight!” Virgil proclaimed when they stepped into a huge stone amphitheater. There were ten ditches along it, with the a crack down the center, separating the first five from the last five. “The circle of the the fraudulent.”
“Awesome. What are these ditches?”
“Maleboges,” Virgil said. “Evil pouches.”
“That’s a stupid name. I can’t take ‘Evil Pouches’ seriously,” Dante snickered. “It sounds like a possessed Capri-Sun.”
Virgil gave him a flat stare. “You’re insufferable.”
They walked over to the first evil pouch. Dante looked inside and found two lines of people marching in opposite directions in this ditch, being whipped by demons.
“They’re the pimps and seducers,” Virgil explained. “They forced people to do what they wanted them to in life, so now their will’s being taken away. See that guy over there? He sold his sister.”
“Ooh, dats cold.”
“Yeah. His name is Venedicio Cappuccino. Er, wait, that’s not right. Venedicio Caccianemico. Yeah, I think that’s it. Caccianemico,” Virgil looked confused. “So yeah, that’s why he’s here.”
“Wait, isn’t that Jason on the Seducers side?” Dante asked. “I thought he was a cool dude.”
“He is. Well, cooler than the others, anyway, see how heroic he stands? But yeah, he seduced, impregnated and promptly abandoned. And that’s just not cool.”
“No, it’s not.”
Virgil held up a hand. “But that’s not all. He also seduced Medea and then left her even after she helped him soooooo much. What a class act.”
“Really, though,” Dante said with a scowl. “Come on, let’s go.”
They went to the second Bolgia, the one for the flatterers. Dante looked in and then reared back in disgust.
“Are they sinking in shi-”
“Well, crap,” Dante said. Virgil gave him a sidelong look and Dante caught his eye and they both burst out laughing. Gasping for breath and clutching his side, Dante managed, “This...really isn’t the time...for laughing.”
“You started it!”
Dante chuckled and looked back over the pit. He thought he saw someone he knew and squinted at the guy covered in filth.
“What are you looking at?” the sinner grunted.
Dante knew that voice. “You’re Alessio Interminei of Lucca, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
Dante couldn’t hold back a snicker. “Nothing....”
“What?” Alessio demanded again.
“It’s just that...”
Alessio glared. “WHAT?”
“...you’re covered in poo, did you know that?” Dante and Virgil burst out laughing again.
Alessio glowered. “I hate you.”
“At least I’m clean. See you!” Dante said, pulling Virgil away, still giggling. “So let me guess, there’s something symbolic about them spreading filth on the world?”
“Yep,” Virgil replied.
“Neat. What’s next?”
“Bolgia three, duh,” Virgil said, rolling his eyes. They progressed to Bolgia three, which was the simonatiacs, or the fraudulent who sold things like religious favors and absolution. “They’re being baptized in fire as their contrapasso.”
“Okay,” Dante said agreeably.
“And they’re also being replaced when more come down. The old ones fall into crevices in the rock and stay there for all eternity.”
“They’re also buried upside down.”
“You don’t really care, do you?”
Virgil sighed. Dante looked down into the pit where there were people’s legs sticking up out of the dirt and flames were tickling them. He didn’t hear any laugher, though, which was a shame.
“Hey! You! Are you Pope Boniface VIII come to replace me?” a voice called.
“Who said that?” Dante asked, whipping around.
“I did!” the voice called.
“Wave your leg,” Dante said. A pair of legs waved. “Oh, hey. And no, I’m Dante. I hate Pope Boniface with a burning passion.”
“Oh, sorry dude. I mean, it’s not like I can see your face...”
“Why, because yours is buried in the ground?” Dante shot back.
There was a moment of silence.
“That’s cold, dude.”
Dante shrugged, not that the legs could see him. “Who are you again?”
“Pope Nicolas III,” Nicolas replied.
“Huh,” Dante replied. “Well, don’t worry, man. The other popes are so corrupt that you’ll be getting company soon.”
“Hey! That’s not nice!” Nicolas shouted, kicking his leg out in a feeble attempt to hit Dante.
“Er...you keep at that. See you! Oh, wait, you can’t see,” Dante snickered.
Nicolas roared in anger. Dante was sure he was glaring underground. Virgil looked at Dante proudly. “You’re getting better at this.”
Dante grinned. “On to the fourth pouch.”
“That’s the fortune tellers and diviners,” Virgil explained. “They saw the future in life, so now they walk with their heads backwards so they can only see behind.”
“Okay...but couldn’t they just walk backwards and then see forwards again?” Dante asked.
“Actually, I think that’s what they’re doing...”
“YAY! I was right,” Dante said proudly. He watched them walking like a church procession and inexplicably started to tear up. “ You know, that’s really kind of sad....to see them mangled like that....”
Virgil shrugged. “Not really. Let’s keep moving.”
In Bolgia five, they found the barrators, the corrupt politicians, in a really, really, really dark pit. There were also demons everywhere which justifiably freaked Dante out.
“That demon is freaky,” Dante said.
“Agreed.” Virgil said.
The demon grabbed the sinner he was chasing and threw him into a pit of tar.
“HEY! Buddy demons!” the demon called. “Come help me! It’ll be fun!”
The demons all crowded around the sinner and poked him with pitchforks into the pitch. Dante cringed. Virgil pulled him behind a rock. “Stay down and stay here. I got this.”
But Virgil was already gone. He sauntered up to the demons, arms crossed. “Hey, guys, how about we put our weapons down? You know, be nice peaceful demons?”
As one, the demons turned to look at him. Virgil no longer looked quite so self assured.
“Put our...weapons...down?” the one asked slowly.
The others laughed, a deep chortle. They closed in on Virgil.
“Really guys, I mean, don’t you get tired of the violen-” They raised their pitchforks towards Virgil in answer. “Um...Dante? A little help here?”
Dante stepped out nervously. “Um, hi guys. We’re on a mission from God?”
And the demons surrounded them both. One prodded Dante with the handle of his pitchfork. “You’re alive.”
“And I’d like to stay that way, too,” Dante said.
“What are you doing down here alive?” another asked.
“Told you - we’re on a mission from God.”
They growled. “Fine. We won’t hurt you then.”
Dante let out a breath of relief.
“PSYCH! Let’s stab him in the butt!”
The other demons laughed heartily and Dante turned red. Just as he was about to get a pitchfork in the butt, the demon leader came flying over. “Don’t hurt him guys.”
“Whyyyy?” they whined.
“They’re on a mission from God.”
“Oh, don’t tell me that crap worked on you!” one of the demons shouted.
The leader-demon shrugged. “He’s got sunglasses,” he said, nodding to Virgil who looked cool in his shades. Ha, a shade in shades. Nice. “Ten of you, go escort them to the bridge. But be sure to keep torturing people along the way.”
“Okayyyyy!” The demons yelled.
Dante tugged at Virgil’s toga. “Um...Virgil? I really don’t want to be eaten today.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it, Dante. They just need someone to stab,” Virgil said casually. Dante turned pale. “Oh, I didn’t mean you! I meant that as long as we’re by the sinners, we’ll be fine.”
They went off with the demons. One of them farted loudly and the others laughed. That was completely pointless to mention, but hey, I didn’t write the thing. Well, not really.
“Hey! There’s a sinner to torture!” One of the demons called (I’m not figuring out all their names. This one will be named Fluffy). Fluffy pointed.
“Wait, wait, don’t torture me!” the sinner cried.
Dante felt kinda bad for him.
“Hey, who are you?” he said, to distract from the current situation.
The sinner proceeded to tell his whole life story, but not his name. The demons stood menacingly, prodding him. “Ooh, hey,” the sinner said. “I’ve got some italian friends you might like to meet! Let me just pop down here and get them...” He glanced shiftily at the tar.
“Ha, he’s just trying to escape,” Jelly the demon laughed.
“Ha! Ha!” Jolly chortled. “He thinks we’re stupid enough to fall for it!”
“Ha!” the others laughed.
“Hey, where’d he go?” Fluffy asked. The sinner had disappeared beneath the pitch. Fluffy roared in anger. He pushed Jelly. Jelly pushed back and Fluffy bounced into Jolly. Jolly was suddenly not so jolly. Then, their leader stepped up, “Break it up guys, no fighting! Just dive under there and get the guy!”
“But it’s his fault!”
Virgil elbowed Dante and made a silent motion to the bridge. Dante nodded in affirmation and they quietly slipped away towards the next bolgia.
“Phew.” Dante wiped the sweat from his brow. “That wasn’t fun.”
“Erm, it’s STILL not fun. Here come the demons,” Virgil said, pointing to the black shapes looming behind them.
“I got this,” Virgil said.
Dante groaned. “How many times have I heard tha- AHHH!”
Virgil scooped up Dante and leaped over the cliff.
And now you’re like “whaaaat?”
Yeah. Me too.
But now they’re in the next bolgia where the demons can’t cross, so that’s good. Naturally, the demons aren’t too happy about that, but who really cares?
“Thanks, Virgil,” Dante said. “Where are we?”
“Bolgia six, the hypocrites.”
Dante looked around and found some guys wandering around slowly in these really stupid looking gold cloaks. They didn’t look happy, but who in hell did? Two of them whispered to each other and their voices carried.
“Who’s that dude?” one said.
“No clue. But why’s he alive?”
“No clue. Where do you think he’s from?”
“No clue. Why do you think he’s here?”
“No clue. Wha-”
Dante couldn’t take it any longer. “Hey! I’m Dante, I’m Tuscan (plot twist, I thought he was from Florence, but whatever), and I’m on a mission from God. Who are you and what are those cloaks for?”
“The Jovial friars,” one said.
The other continued, “And the cloaks are lined with lead so they’re really heavy. They look pretty on the outside, but aren’t really.”
“Like us,” the first added.
“Right. Cool,” Dante said. He tried to edge away, but, like every sinner, they seemed to want to share their whole life story.
“We were supposed to keep the peace-”
“-but then we became self seeking-”
“-and allowed violence in Florentine.”
“Not cool, guys,” Dante said. “That’s my ‘hood.”
“Yeah, whatever. Bye.” Dante turned away from them and stepped on someone’s hand. Or face. Probably face. “Oops, sorry.”
“Eh, it’s nothing new,” the sinner nailed to the floor moaned. “Everyone walks on me. I have to bear the weight of the world’s hypocrisy. All because I was a priest who wanted to crucify Jesus. Is that really so bad?”
Dante blinked. “Um...yeah. Yeah, it really is.
“Oh. I’m Caiaphas, by the way.”
Dante kept moving along. Virgil was scowling. “Those lying demons. They told us that the bridge couldn’t be crossed between bolgias, but it’s still useable.”
“They told us that?”
“Yeah, you musn’t have been listening.”
“Probably not,” Dante said. “On to bolgia seven, then?”
“Yeah, but we’ve got to climb back up that hill,” Virgil said.
Dante frowned at the steep bank. “It was more fun sliding down. In your arms.” He looked at Virgil and blushed.
“Umm....let’s get climbing,” Virgil said awkwardly.
At the top, they crossed a bridge. I think. The same one that the demons lied about. I think.
“This bolgia’s all about thievery,” Virgil said. “It’s also kinda creepy and gross.”
Dante looked down and watched as one sinner was wrapped in a snake and then suddenly started to morph with the snake, and then was part snake and it was horrific and scary and disturbing and he stopped watching.
“That’s really gross.”
“They stole from people in life, so they’re having their bodies stolen from them.”
Dante met the eyes of one sinner, who threw his arms up dramatically and yelled, “Don’t look at me! I’m ‘ideous!” in a suspiciously Fleur Delacour way.
“Who are you?” Dante asked.
“I’m not telling.”
“Aw, come on.”
“What if I say please?”
“Try it and see where that gets you.”
“PLEAAASSSEEEEEE,” Dante begged.
“Fine. I”m Vanni Fucci. I tried to steal some treasure and now I’m here. Happy?” Vanni fumed. He raised his fists to God in a very offensive way. “Now how about you go talk to the Five Noble Thieves? They represent all of us.”
“How are they noble if their thieves?”
“Haven’t a clue, just leave me alone,” Vanni snapped.
“Well, someone’s in a bad mood,” Dante muttered. He walked away a little ways, before being stopped.
“I am,” a new voice said sadly. “I’m always in a bad mood.”
“Who are you?”
“Pucci Sciancato,” the guy replied. He was full human.
“Why are you in a bad mood?” Dante asked. “You should be happy you’re not part snake.”
“Yes, but I have to wait and dread my punishment later. Because I was such a bad guy, you see.”
“Yeah,” Pucci replied. “I was pretty bad.”
“Erm...well, have fun waiting.”
Dante tried to pick his way across the thieves to the next bolgia, but was stopped by Cacus, a centaur.
“I’m in a bad mood, too, if you care.”
“I don’t, really,” Dante replied.
“I can’t guard the Phlegethon with my bros because I stole from Hercules’ herd,” Cacus said.
“Yeah. But she was a beautiful stallion....” Cacus trailed off wistfully.
Dante nodded slowly. “...Yeah. Remember the part where I didn’t really care?”
Cacus scowled, but let him pass. The poets continued walking. Dante groaned loudly.
“Are we almost done with the evil pouches?”
“Three more,” Virgil replied. “Then the last circle and Lucifer.”
“Great,” Dante said. “So the eighth bolgia is...?”
Dante muttered, “I bet they drank evil capri-suns.”
“Shut up.” Virgil sighed and calmed down. “Sorry. Anyway, they gave bad advice for corrupt purposes. So since they used their tongues for bad, they’re now trapped in tongues of flame. Get it?”
Dante nodded. “Yeah.”
“Here’s one with two people in one tongue. That’s because they’re Ulysses and Diomedes, responsible for the Trojan horse affair.”
Dane’s eyes widened. “Oh, can we please, please,please talk to them?”
Virgil shrugged. “I can. You can’t. They’ll be speaking Greek.”
“Good enough,” Dante said and they walked over.
Virgil said something to the two pronged flame and it said a whole bunch of somethings back.
“What’re they saying?” Dante asked.
Virgil shrugged. “Basically their life stories like everyone else. Pretty boring really, and I don’t feel like translating. Let’s keep going.”
Dante walked up to another flame which shouted out, “Hey! Hey! Do you have any news on Romanga?”
“Yep, still in turmoil.”
“Oh,” the flame said sadly.
“What’s your name?”
“I’d rather not say...”
“But I just gave you news,” Dante replied.
The flame considered. “Well... I guess since you’re down here, and nobody leaves, it won’t do any harm. I’m Guido da Montefeltro.”
“HA!” Dante said. “I am leaving.”
“Don’t tell anyone you saw me!!” Guido insisted.
Dante just grinned, thinking, Yeah, I won’t tell anyone. It’s not like I’d write your name in my book to be immortalized forever in print in one of the most famous classics int he world...No, I’d never do that. “Sure thing, bro,” he answered.
Guido let out a smoke ring of relief. “Thanks.”
“Ok, I’m leaving now. Bye!”
And he left with Virgil, headed to the ninth pouch. There, they found a bunch of people cut up. Literally cut in half, some of them.
“Hi there, I’m Mohammed!” a friendly guy with his intestines falling out said. “You might have heard of me, I founded islam.”
“Cool. What are you doing here?”
“Apparently that sowed some religious discord,” Mohammed said with a shrug that made his intestines bounce sickeningly. “We split people in life, so now we get split in a more literal sense. Then we heal and get cut again. Fun, right?”
“Very,” Dante said, watching the little piece of bloody gut jiggle. He looked disgusted.
“Oh, and over there is my son Ali,” Mohammed said, pointing. “He caused the split within Islam. It runs in the family, I guess,” he said with a chuckle.
“Later on, a boxer will conveniently take on both my son and my name, how cool is that?”
“Awesome...”Dante said. “I’m going to go now...” He waved vaguely over his shoulder.
Dante shared a skeptical look with Virgil. That guy was way too happy for hell. He glanced back and almost ran right into some guy with his throat slit. The slit opened like a mouth and said, “Watch it.”
Dante screamed and jumped back. “W-who are you?”
“Pier Da Medicina. I did some political discord sowing. And that guy over there is Curio. He’s in the same boat, but he doesn’t have a tongue,” the slit continued.
“Yeah, uh, how are you talking through your throat without a tongue?”
“No idea. Oh, and then there’s Mosca without the hands,” Pier continued. “But he’s not important.”
“Okay....” Dante looked around. “Who’s that guy carrying his head?”
“Bertrand de Born. He split a father and son, like the head and body.”
“Symbolic,” Dante said, nodding. “Well, nice chat. See you!”
Dante almost ran out of there. He didn’t really do well with the whole blood and guts thing...so hell wasn’t that great of a place for him, on the whole.
“Last bolgia,” Virgil said.
They walked across a bridge and found themselves in a place which was basically a breeding ground for every disease known to man. It was because these people were the falsifiers of metals, people, words and things. They were diseases to society.
“DANTE, YOU SLIME!” someone cried.
“W-what?” Dante asked.
“YOU DIDN’T AVENGE ME!!!”
Dante turned nervously to find a guy with small pox. “Uh...hey uncle Geri Del Bello.”
Geri didn’t look happy to see him. “Get out of my sight, you idiot.”
“Gladly,” Dante said. He didn’t want to catch whatever that guy had.
“That guy over there is Griffolino who said he could teach this dude how to fly,” Virgil pointed out.
“Could he?” Dante asked.
“And that guy is Capocchio-”
“Another Cappuccino? Ugh.”
“-he practiced alchemy.”
“And now they have the Ebola.”
“Yep,” Virgil said. “Let’s move on, last circle. Want to get this over with.”