A/N: OK, first of all: THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU to Princess Locke!! You made my day, you really did. ^_^ Your question is answered in this chapter. Oh, and this chapter is a necessary evil: it's an explanatory chapter. Ugh, sorry, I know it's bad. So please review; they really make me happy. Thank you and enjoy.

Chapter Three: The Guardian Of The Hall

As I walked up the numerous steps a strange sense of composure washed over me. My thoughts, which had been just previously racing and crashing into each other in my mind, came to a screeching halt. My hands unclenched themselves and my posture straightened. I took a deep breath. The fact that I was in -hell- was swept away, and was replaced by the illusion that I was simply walking up steps to an unknown destination. Though I knew it was I lie, it was far more pleasant notion than reality, so I convinced my mind into believing it. I took advantage of my newfound composure and examined my surroundings.

An array of pillars on either side of me greeted my gaze. At first glance they appeared to be made of marble, though on closer inspection they were made of some slowly swirling white and gray substance. By looking at them, I thought that they might have been liquidy if I had touched them, but to touch them I would have to leave my steady steps up the staircase and so leave my facade of composure. Beyond the pillars there was absolute and total darkness. I tried not to let my eyes linger there too long; that kind of complete dark gave me the shivers.

My gaze had just shifted to the staircase once more when I realized something was appearing over the top of the staircase. It appeared to be a small winged demon made of stone, and as more of it appeared, I realized it was the decoration at the top of a throne. When I finally climbed the last of the stairs I could see clearly the being that was sitting in the throne.

It seemed to be a man of about thirty, his hair slicked back and his smile large. He was wearing a black suit with a dead carnation pinned on. Though he looked utterly normal, there was something about his posture, his smile, his -eyes- that screamed 'Hey! I'm too evil to possibly be human! Hate me!'. He looked me up and down as is he was assessing me, and then leaned forward.

"Lira Trakatos, I presume?" inquired the man, sticking out his hand for me to shake. His voice was sweet and smooth, as if coated in honey and oil. Apart from my eyes darting quickly from his hand back to his face again, I did not move. When it became evident that I was not going to take his hand, he drew it back and folded it with his other one in his lap, "My name is Minos. I've been expecting you, dear."

With those few words, the frail shield of composure that I had been working so hard to preserver shattered. My fists clenched and my breathing became ragged. I closed my eyes tight for a few moments, praying that when I opened my eyes the scene in front of me would have changed. When it did not, I took a shaky breath and asked the question I already partially knew the answer to.

"What's going -on-?"

Minos let out a short laugh, "I think you know the answer to that as well as I do, Lira, but I might as well help you get all the facts straight." He stood, and I took an automatic step back. Minos, however, did not seem to notice and continued to speak.

"You, my dear Lira, are dead." I shuddered; even though I had already come to this conclusion on my own, it still felt frightening to hear out loud. "You died in a car crash while driving with your mother, who, by the way, is alive and kicking. You have passed through the gates of Hell and Charon has delivered you to me, in the first circle of Hell. My job is to fill you and to deliver you to the second circle. Then- "

"Wait," I interjected, my damned (pun not intended) curiosity forcing me to ask the question that was on the tip of my tongue, "What about that whole balanced 'Hell-can-not-exist-without-Heaven' thing? I mean, I haven't done anything really bad in my life, why am I just being dropped off in freakin' Hell?"

Minos raised an eyebrow at my sudden burst of speech, but answered my question none the less, "Oh, Heaven exists, Lira. The problem is that you're buying into the idea that you go to either Heaven or Hell depending on your sins. That is only -partly- true. In truth, all souls are delivered through the gates of Hell, where they must work their way through all of Hell's circles the center of Hell. There their sins shall be weighed against their good deeds. If their good deeds weigh more than their sins, the soul is taken up to the gates of Heaven. However," he took a step towards me, and this time I did not step away or even flinch; I was too captivated with what he was telling me.

"If their sins weigh more than their good deeds, they are banished to the circle of Hell to which fits them best."

I scrunched my nose up in confusion, "If their souls are just going to be weighed anyways, why must the souls travel through the circles of Hell in the first place?"

Minos sighed in what appeared to be bored agitation, and looked directly at me, "-Everybody- asks me that," he commented, bringing his right up to his face to examine his fingernails, "The souls must travel through the circles of Hell to prove their worth. Most unworthy souls give up before they reach the center, either because they are not strong enough the get there or they realize how numerous their sins are and would rather spend all of eternity in a lesser circle."

"But- "

"Hey," said Minos, raising his hands into the air, "I don't make the rules, I just explain them."

I frowned in annoyance at the dismissal, and then looked straight into Minos' eyes, "What do you mean, a 'lesser circle'?"

"The deeper you go into Hell, the worse the circles get," said Minos, "There are nine in total. This is the first circle, Limbo. It's where everything is explained to you, and where the unbaptized lurk in the shadows." Lira remembered the darkness behind the pillars, "The second circle is for the lustful, the third is for the gluttonous, the fourth is for the avaricious, the fifth is for the wrathful and sullen, the sixth is for the heretics, the seventh is for the violent, the eighth is for those who commit fraud, and the ninth are for the traitorous."

I nodded, having assessed each circle as it was explained to her; I didn't really thing that I had done anything bad enough to merit my way into -any- of them.

"One last question," I said, having had mostly everything explained, "Will I meet any other souls along the way?"

Minos chuckled, then directed his gaze back to me, "Oh, you will -definitely- see other souls. Whether or not you shall see any other -traveling- souls is the question. But, alas, the time has come for you to go. Good luck, dear Lira."

He reached forward, took my hand in his, and kissed it. I thought that I was going to vomit. Having him touch me was like having a thousand maggots crawling all over my skin. I shuddered and pulled away.

Minos sat back down into his throne and returned to his original position, and as he did so the stone demon that sat atop his great chair's eyes began to glow a faint red colour. My eyes widened, and I stepped backwards.

Suddenly, it swooped down at me. I only had time to run a few paces when it wrapped it's stone arms around my stomach and began to fly out of the hole in the throne room's ceiling. I just barely caught a glance of Minos waving to me as I rocketed towards the sky.