1963-11-23 - Misguided Faith


The robed man known as Jonas Thorne steps away from the meeting area within a forgotten subway yard buried deep under the streets of Manhattan. The soft flicker of candlelight does little to keep the shadows at bay though there's something about the soft orange glow which has always put his mind at ease. It reminded him of his childhood. Reminded him of home.

He returns to one of the old railcars, one which has been set aside for him as a makeshift home. Many of the cars down here have already been repurposed for such a reason, the so-called Children of Penance all needed somewhere that they could consider to be a safe space of their own.

Thorne's may be a bit less safe than he realizes. The car's sliding door is difficult to muscle closed, in dire need of lots of oil and a realignment. When he turns around there's a pair of piercing golden eyes cutting through the interior darkness, though he isn't startled by the presence. Instead, he smiles.

"Lady Jillian," he greets the other figure with an extended breath. "Please make yourself at home. Is there anything I may do for you?"

*

The voice which responds holds the edge of a winter's chill, an odd lilt which stops just shy of sounding like two voices blending together into one. "It is time to put an end to this foolish game."

*

Jonas looks puzzled by the demand. "I do not understand. What 'game' are you referring to?"

*

The dark creature steps forward, gliding on the balls of her two-toed feet. Her wings remain flexed back to fit through the narrow car, her whip-like tail hovering in the air behind her as it flows along in the wake of her passing.

Demon. Mutant. Neyaphem. A creature who is far away from home these days, herself.

"Your cult is based upon false ideals," she continues while coming to stand a foot away from Jonas. Now he has nowhere left to go, made to face her and what she has to say. "There is no forgiveness here. No redemption. I am not what you have made me up to be."

*

Jonas smiles further to this, dipping his head forward with a faint chuckle. When he looks back up to the indigo-hued creature, he asks "Are you so certain about this?"

*

Golden eyes narrow with suspicion. "Am I certain that you believe me to be something other than what I am? I believe I have already made myself clear on this matter."

*

"I am not so disillusioned as to miss the obvious, Jillian. I know you are not our savior. But, these people," he guestures behind himself, "they were lost. All they needed was something to believe in. With everything that has been troubling our world, threatening our very existence, what better way to renew hope than with a story of a demonic savior?"

*

"So you had decided to use me in order to gain the faith of these hopeless people," Jillian growls in warning.

*

Jonas dips his head slightly, more to try and appear humble rather than out of guilt. "I was inspired by you. Please..hear me out."

*

"Explain yourself, before my patience is next to lose its path."

*

Jonas lowers his head further, the friendly nature slowly erasing itself from his demeanor. "Four years ago, I lost my daughter and wife. It was no small miracle that I had been spared, though I had never stopped wishing that I could have perished alongside them. Not until I heard of you. -You- had given me something to believe in, something tangible and larger than life. You had inspired me to become something better, to rise above the challenges I have had to face."

*

"I am not interested in being your role model, human. Nor have I a desire to be a pawn to your games. I am not some idol for you to place upon a stage and preach about. This 'temple' you have created is a perversion, and I shall no longer play any part in it."

*

"I like to think that everyone is here for a reason, Jillian. That everything happens for a reason. Since you have been here, since I have brought this together, brought these people together… I have been able to reach them. Ronnie has not had a drop to drink in ten days. Evelyn has reached out to her estranged son. Jeremy has sworn off of street drugs. I never intended to 'use' you, not at all. But, you provided something positive to us all. By hunting those other beasts you have helped to keep us all safe, whether it had been your intention or not. And people, they are drawn towards what is positive. They needed something to believe in. They heard about you. Some even saw you for themselves. They chose to place their belief in you. This is the power of faith."

"As for you…" With gentle motions and a healthy level of caution his hands reach forward, seeking her own. Five fingers reaching out to three. "There is a darkness to your heart, my Lady, but not all of your soul is wicked. You have asked nothing of these people, yet you have treated them as your own. I have heard you speaking of us to others. You would have kept us safe from harm. Do you still believe there is no forgiveness here?" he asks with a curiously warm smile.

*

Jillian pulls her hands away, retaliating to the question with one of her own. "Do you think I made that promise out of the goodness of my heart?" Anger now puts an edge to her words. "The sorcerer would have sent me back to the Pit without a second thought. I have declared such an intention in my own defense."

*

"Then you have used us just as we have used you," Jonas gently states. "And we have both gained from it."

*

"If you are trying to mock me, human…"

*

"That could not possibly be any further from the truth," he reassures the angered demon. "Rather..we have succeeded in giving one another a new purpose. Yes? Now we may both discover our new paths in life thanks to the other. I truly hope that we were able to give something important back to you."

*

Jillian is feeling more conflicted by the minute. There's the anger, wanting to tear all of this down and destroy anyone associated with it. There's disbelief that these people could really be so simple-minded, so ..easily swayed. There's also hesitation, because somehow..Thorne's words are reaching through to her. Because of this, there is also resentment. Who gave this -human- the -right- to play her in such a way!

*

"If you do wish to leave then we must have played our part for you. What you have brought us in return will continue to gather momentum. The memory of you will survive amongst us for many years."

*

"Do you realize how insane this stunt of yours makes you appear?" Jillian presses. "If your followers learn of the truth they will not be so appreciative of your efforts."

*

"Maybe…" Jonas admits. "Should any of them ask I will tell them the truth. However..most of them wish to celebrate what they already have. Even if it is an illusion. Tell me..if you could have even a few days of peace before your end, would you not believe it worthwhile to pursue? I do not know what tomorrow will hold, for any of us, but for right now these people have found their moment of peace. I would not ask you to remain a part of this if you do not wish to, though I ask that you allow us to continue our work here. Allow this to remain and you will always have somewhere to return where you would be welcomed."

*

There's no question that she's uncertain of how to handle the situation. It has little to do with any feelings of morality and more to do with her own fate. She had come to this realm in order to escape another of her kind. If people remain here -celebrating- her it will draw attention to the fact that she has been here, and cannot be far away.

Then there's the matter of what Jonas had to say to her. 'The power of faith.' She owes these people nothing, yet she -had- claimed that no harm would come to them. Why..? Was it a matter of her own survival, or had something else possessed her to do such a thing?

If they really want something dark to believe in in order for them to find their light, why should she care? These creatures are all beneath her, right? They can remain down here in the murk with their delusions if it keeps them out of her way.

"You will remain responsible for everyone here," she tells Jonas just as Strange had once told her. "My hands will remain clean of this. Am I understood?"

*

Despite the warning, Jonas smiles anew. "Of course. I understand completely." With a moment of consideration, he adds "I do not care from where you have come from, Jillian. What interests me is where you will go from here."

*

"Somewhere away from this place," she lilts while turning to walk away from the strange preacher.

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