Dungeon of Zork Entrance:
         Gates of Hades, 948 (A) / (B)
         Spirits guarding gates, 948 (A) 

   Subway Station, 1067:
        node: 1 / 2
        high-resolution (A) / (B)

   Subway Station Entrance, 1067:
         artwork: A
         node: 1 / 4 / 4b / 5 / 6
         Gates Open (high-res)
         Mailbox (high-res)
    (Prototype Hades Renders)
         (A)(B)(C)(D)(E) / (F)

Hades (also known as the "Land of the Living Dead", "Hell", "the Underworld", or "Kingdom of Decay") is the final (usually) eternal resting place of those who have been judged by Eru's holy standards as being wicked. Since nearly the beginning of creation, the Land of the Living Dead has been ruled by the pseudo-god Hades and his wife Persephone, who renamed it after himself. Hades is the primary abode of the Devil, also known as Belegur, following his fall; though he was able to venture the surface of the world in the vessel of flesh. Minos is one of the judges of the dead.

This subterranean realm is a boundless, horrible desolation filled with fire leaping upward from unseen depths below, dwarfing the worst battlefield or urban housing project. The battlefield metaphor is most apt, because on one side, near the gate, are heaps and piles of dead bodies, all in varying states of decomposition. These are the last remains of less fortunate adventurers who dared to enter Hades before their natural (or unnatural) demise. During the reign of the Dungeon Masters, those who dared to defile the bodies quickly found their disrepect costing them their life, as the powerful guardian of the Dungeon of Zork placed their head on a sharp pole.

Even from without, the thousands of voices of lost souls can be heard continually crying out with weeping and moaning as each one laments its own, no doubt well-deserved, though hideous fate.

The hazy, bronze-colored Hades is paved with exactly the same kind of rock and chips of stone that are found in the tunnels of the Great Underground Empire. As if the G.U.E. was just an extension of this monstrous place, or a kind of intelligence test for adventurers, and the dumb ones were required to stay in Hades through eternity. Although unlike the Great Underground Empire, there was nothing that smelled as potent as Hades. It is as though the rulers of the underworld contracted somebody to scoop up tons of rock from the passages above, soak them in some horrible solution until every stone reeked with a supernatural stink, and then they brought all that rock to the underworld and paved the place with it.

Other territories within this realm inside the Tomb of the Unknown Implementor, the Plain of Constant Conflict, the Great River Acheron, River of Terrible Fire, River of Wailing, and the river Styx.

While historians still differ in their conclusions as to whether Hades has a single gate reached by multiple tunnels, or has multiple entrances all over the Eastlands (there have yet been no reported descents in the Westlands), it is most probable that due to the significant variations of the descriptions of the gates in different accounts, that there are multiple entrances. If so, there seems to be two specific entrances. One of these is most definitely located at the south end of the Dungeon of Zork. Here to gain full entry, it is necessary to enter the gates before crossing the river Acheron. Nearby, is the Hades subway station, which is most definitely an alternate entrance, as here one is required to cross the river first, a completely different river, Styx, before passing through the gates to gain full entrance. Some see the winding tunnels which Yoruk took, beneath the Steppinthrax Monastery, as a third possible entrance. This cannot be proven decisively, as the caverns below the monastery have since suffered from many serious cave-ins since the descent of Yoruk. This geologists have not been able to determine whether these caverns are expansive enough to have once connected with one of the other entrances (namely the Dungeon of Zork), or in fact lead to a third gate. It is known that the Flathead Mountains could be crossed by entering through the Dungeon of Zork gate, then following an unguarded tunnel eastward which ended at the edge of Fenshire.

The Dungeon of Zork entrance is a large gateway set into the wall of a small room, that looks as if it had been made of wrought and cast iron pieces, but iron could not have survived a century in the atmosphere that seeped from within the abode of the damned. Clouds of noxious water vapor would surely have reduced the gate to rust, and the poisonous vents of sulfurous gases would have done worse, especially after the two vapors mixed, making sulfuric acid fog. So the fence that kept out the living and kept in the ghastly dead must have been constructed of some other substance. Inscribed in an antique style over the gate itself was a firmly fixed motto reading, "Abandon every hope all ye who enter here!"

Though the gate itself is always open, it is protected, not only by an invisible force to prevent its closure, but guarded by a legion of evil spirits and wraiths which will push back all intruders from entering as they laugh and jeer at their attempts to gain entry. For the jealous dead do not want the living traipsing all over their fire and brimstone. Many of these spirits are new spirits that have not yet been ferried across the river, while others will never be able to. 

There have been two known ways to bypass these spirits and gain entrance, both which involve rituals of ancient religions, which are of disputable mortality. Although these methods seem to make entry easy enough for a mortal to manage, it is getting out alive that provides the intellectual and sometimes physical challenge. One should also be made aware that mere mortals cannot be brought out of Hades through the gates without special arrangements made with Lord Hades (though half-mortals are an exception). While all physical items are permitted entry, only magical items are allowed to be brought back out again.

The first method to pass through the spirit infested gate is a powerful ceremony involving certain noises, lights and prayers of the local religion to call upon an unearthly power to exorcise the spirits and allowing anyone temporarily free access to the Land of the Dead. This method has been used by several famous adventurers to gain entrance, including the one who would enter and steal the crystal skull of Yoruk on his quest to become the Second Dungeon Master (948 GUE), as well as Bivotar and Juranda (less than a century prior).

This ritual involves several specific steps:
  1. Three items are required: a tiny brass bell, a pair of candles (plus something to light them with), and a book entitled, "Twenty-Two Favorite Exorcism Prayers of the Great Underground Empire."
  2. Ringing a tiny brass bell in the presence of these spirits will cause the bell to become red hot and fall to the ground, but the wraiths will slowly hush their gesticulating and catcalls, and stand in place as if they had suddenly become paralyzed.
  3. The next step involves the lighting of a pair of candles. The flames will flicker wildly, appearing to dance. The trembling earth causes the spirits to cower at the unearthly power.
  4. Then upon incanting the specific prayer in the black book, the words of the exorcism prayer reverberate through the halls in a deafening confusion, followed by a distant voice commanding the the spirits to begone. The spirits, sensing a greater power, will instantly through the walls, thus permitting free passage all the way to the docking of the Hades Shuttle Service. Unfortunately, the spirits will only be temporarily vacated by this ritual and later returned.
The second method of entry, has been completed by Glorian of the Knowledge (tenth century) amongst many others, is comprised of several steps as well, although much more dangerous (and also requires one to be condemned through the utterance of blasphemous prayers to the falsely so-called gods, Hades and Persephone):
  1. Many of the spirits at the Hades gates are desperately seeking the smallest drop of blood. Thus even the smallest of quantities are quite capable of luring their attention enough to pass through.
  2. Striding boldly through the gates, one must find the pinnacle where the River of Terrible Fire and the River of Wailing join together at the Acheron. The entire pack of numerous spirits (some had claimed more than a billion) will following, hoping to snatch a few drops of the promised blood. Though strong in count, they can easily be held back with a common sword. 
  3. Once the proper place is reached, a shallow trench of one cubit square must be cleared with a blade.
  4. Libations must be poured around the square trench, first milk mingled with honey, then a bottle of sweet wine, and last a plastic jug full of water. 
  5. Then white barely must be sprinkled over all that has been poured.
  6. The next step is praying to the pseudo-gods, dread Hades and his wife, the awful Persephone.
  7. After the detestable prayers are completed, one must cut the throats of a ram and ewe and let the blood pour into the trench, then flay the dead animals and sacrifice them, burning the flesh to Hades and Persephone. But since most do not bother going through this step of the old true ritual anymore, the pseudo-gods have permitted the pouring of cans of perviously preserved blood.
  8. Once completed the spirits will gather around the blood, distracting them at least long enough to buy passage into the inter territories of Hades and back.

The other known entrance to Hades is the subway station that is part of the Underground Underground. Doubling as the waiting room for passage across the River Styx, it is complete with generous lobby accomodations. It was from this entrance which the Hades Shuttle Service ferried the newly dead across the river. Instead of spirits guarding the gates, this entrance was protected by an assortment of hellish creatures, including Cerberus, Tantalus, Sisyphus, Tityus, Minos, and as a temp, the Two-Headed Hades Beast (Herb and Lairdus).

When a man dies and has been judged as wicked, their souls venture to Hades. Those souls which were buried with an obolus were granted passed into the depths of Hades, while those without one would be found stranded on the outskirts unless someone happened to be buried with more than one, and only if that one were willing to share (which was vary unlikely).

Though it was a rare occurance that one of the living tried to buy passage into Hades, it has been known to happen. Charon boated them across like any other spirit. Unfortuantely for those seeking to do so today, the end of the tenth century saw a change of policy, the Shuttle Service fully restricting pre-mortem individuals. Because of the increase of soul trafic to Hades, the same period also saw the addition of a second policy, which hoped to prevent the crowding of spirits near the gates from delaying their entrance for centuries. Thus even with the proper funds to ferry across the river, entrance into the inner regions of Hades was required to occur within a 10 day grace period. Failure to do so would result in a punitive 100 year waiting period. Other strict annexs included that absolutely no one was allowed back from Hades once they had passed through the gates.

There were common mix ups of transfers of body parts to Hades of dead patrons, sometimes a head could arrive at Hades, while the rest of the body containing the neck and vocal cords would be mis-routed to Nirvana. One historian believes that this is possibly what happened to Yoruk.

One of the most popular legends relating to Hades is the descent of Yoruk in 380 GUE. (see the entry on Yoruk for more information regarding this contraversal historical figure)

Hades is the central focus of an ancient religion deep underground in the Eastlands in the Temple of Zork. The tenets of this religion state that trespassers in the temple and breakers of the commandments will be sent to the Land of the Dead.

Once the Totemizer machine was uncovered by the Second Inquisition in 1033 GUE, one of the destinations for its output of totems was Hades. At first the evil spawn there took interest in using the countless totems are their playthings, but eventually their interest lagged. Even though the victims could still feel pain within their totems, they could not struggle against the torture. Finally, the hellish creatures stuck them into puddles of blistering acid and left them alone. Though those entrapped in the totems never really grew numb to the constant agony, they found other things to occupy their minds. For example, one later rescued victim had spent many centuries composing several light operettas in their head.