Hell Is Real

April 23, 2016:

Magdalena hopes to recruit a prospective mayor in the fight against Hell

St Paul's Cathedral, New York City

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Saint Paul's is the largest cathedral in New York and has been the 'headquarters' of the Catholic Church here for centuries. It is where the business card left by Maria has led Oliver. The place is currently being renovated so there isn't a lot of 'civilian' traffic…or is that sinner traffic…and when he arrives the priest nods about who he seeks and then leads him off into the bowels of the grand building. Where stone and mortar are the construction materials and winding staircases lead down into dark rooms filled with ancient artefacts.

"Ms Esteban, Mr Queen is here to see you" the priest announces once they reach a large chamber filled with overstuffed bookshelves. There is a pause before the woman in question appears from behind one of the bookcases…and she is wearing a short-sleeved SCUBA suit. "Mr Queen? How nice to see you" she smiles before nodding to the priest. "Thank you, Father." She offers her hand to Oliver. "I wasn't expecting you to come here or I would have dressed better" she laughs, her skin and clothing beaded with water as if she had recently been swimming. In the basement of a cathedral.

It wasn't unusual for Oliver to visit New York City, although his schedule had been hectic over the past few weeks with everything being undertaken in both of his lives. However, when he had been driving down the road and seen the cathedral it had triggered the memory for him of the invitation and note that had been relayed. A short scheduling later and here he was, in the old church, half expecting lightning to strike him.

Accepting the hand, Oliver shakes it politely while nodding to the departing priest. "Sorry that I did not get a good forward of my plan to visit. I'll admit, the idea struck me rather suddenly while passing nearby and thought now was as good a time as any. I can reschedule if need be however."

"No, it is fine. God's Will and all that" Maria smiles sweetly before gesturing behind her. "Walk with me?" She turns and starts walking, the suit clinging to her body. "How is the mayoral elections going? You have a long campaign, yes? Debates. Pamphlets. Calling people in the middle of the night to ask them to vote for you. That kind of thing? Though I doubt I would ever vote for someone who called me in the middle of the night." As she leads the way, the stone ground becomes damper…a thin layer of water over it. "I wished to talk to you about the Catholic vote. How you would govern if you won."

Oliver hesitates just a moment before following the woman as she begins to retreat into the recesses of the cathedral. Listening to the commentary about the election process has him smiling just a bit before he responds. "Don't forget kissing babies." The last one is tacked on since it is the standard politician 'job'. "In reality however, most of the campaign work has been spent talking with smaller groups of people and a few large rallies. No late night phone calls, I'm usually in bed by the middle of the night."

It is the statement about the Catholics that has him blinking though, a bit surprised perhaps. "Well, honestly I don't think there'd be anything to worry about. There's no real power to do anything towards a religious group, not that I ever would. My entire Campaign is built on the concept of being United."

"Unity is a noble cause" Maria nods as she turns a corner and stops in front of a giant pit in the ground. Water laps at the edges and lights have been set up in its depths to show off furnishings in the darkness. It looks like there is a room down there. "The Archbishop would like me to ask how you would /help/ our cause so that we can help yours." She frowns at her own words. "I would rather we stayed out of such things but I am merely a servant. Do you SCUBA, Mr Queen?"

Oliver looks at the pit and his eyebrow goes up a bit. There is a moment of hesitation before he looks at Mags and shakes his head some. "I tend to avoid the water actually, ever since the accident it has been a mild fear of mine." Whether true or not, at least it is a convincing enough story. He is more interested in the conversation topic. "I do not understand, help your cause? I do not personally endorse religious views. I believe everyone is entitled to their viewpoint as long as it is not oppressive to another person."

"And I agree with you" nods Maria before glancing up at the ceiling. "Unfortunately, there are those who think otherwise." A pause before she looks at Oliver. "I was looking up at the Archbishop, not God" she clarifies with a smile before looking down at the pit. "I have another suit if you are interested in exploring what is in there" Maria offers brightly. "It is very interesting but I will understand if you do not wish to." Then it's back to disreputable business. "I believe the Archbishop is interested in 'greasing wheels'. What kind of donations he can expect for ensuring the Catholic vote is yours." It is obvious that even saying this is disgusting Maria but, orders are orders.

"Ah." Oliver says with a nod of his head. "None." The response is rather flat, he creeps a little closer to the water to glance at it before looking at Maria. "I don't scratch people's backs so they can scratch mine. If a person wants to vote for me, I want them to do it because they believe it is the right thing to do; not because I'm going to get them something. Any person who can be bought off that easily, I don't want their support." His eyes brighten a bit, "I would rather lose with integrity." Squatting down, he taps his finger to the water. "How deep is it?"

"There are rooms down there so it is about…twelve feet deep?" Maria had to do a quick metric conversion there. "I am happy you feel that way, Mr Queen. Though the Archbishop will be livid." That actually makes her smile a touch. "Do you believe in God, Mr Queen? When you were lost, did you pray that you would be found?"

An interesting question, one that has Queen looking at the water but not responding for a bit. Finally, he does.

"If there was a God, a just God, then being on the island is where I should have been condemned for all eternity. I belonged in a prison, I was put in a prison." His words are quiet as he speaks them. "But yes, while there, I prayed I would be found." The tone doesn't help that, some of the images of who found him — well before he left the island — flash through his mind. "But no. I don't particularly believe in God; at least not one who would give a damn about man."

"God is a just AND forgiving God, Mr Queen. He sees the good in all and even if there is only the slightest ember, isn't that worth turning into a flame rather than let it die in the coldness of punishment?" Maria replies softly. "And as the cliche goes, he believes in you" she smiles before nodding over to a SCUBA/diving suit on a nearby crate. "If you would like to get changed then we could go investigate what lies beneath" she offers. "I promise I won't look."

Again Queen hesitates before realizing this woman is clearly wanting to SCUBA dive. Relenting, he straightens up and pulls out his phone to tap a message into it and send it off. Walking over to the gear, Queen begins to remove his jacket and shirt; the process of changing beginning. Of course, he speaks while doing it. "I've accepted that, if he exists or not, I'm not going to let it affect my decisions. The ancient Greeks believed in Ethics; the collective good of man, coming from the internal state. You would define it as coming from God. Either way, it is the same end goal regardless of origin."

"And where are the ancient Greeks now?" Maria smiles yet without any sign of mocking them. "He affects your decisions regardless but he also gave us free will and if you choose not to believe in his existence then so be it. He will not be bothered." She sighs softly as she remembers something. "I think I dated a Greek god once. I wonder whatever happened to him. He was amusing." Maria looks over at Queen. "I mean he /thought/ he was a Greek God. Obviously he wasn't a real one." A pause. "Those are some telling scars on your back, Mr Queen."

Oliver doesn't turn around, but he does sound faintly amused as he comments, "What happened to not looking?" The inquiry given he finishes donning the equipment. "Surviving in the wilderness for years comes with scars, physical and emotional. No way around it." After finishing his prep he looks over at Maria. "I didn't think nuns were allowed to date."

"Nuns aren't allowed to date" Maria confirms. "I'm a librarian. And contrary to popular opinion, librarians do date. And I wasn't looking, I just happened to glance that way." Great save there as she zips up her top and pulls on a tank. "You might want to take a speargun" she notes casually while pointing at the weapons in question. "These rooms were flooded in the early eighteen hundreds so who knows what is down there."

Oliver eyes the spearguns then looks back at Maria. "Right. A librarian." There is definite doubt in his tone as he says that but does go to pick up one of the spear guns after setting his own tank. "Try not to shoot me. I'm pretty sure that's against the rules, right?"

"Killing you is against the rules. Shooting you…" Maria considers for a moment. "It's a grey area." Putting on some goggles, placing the breather in her mouth and then checking her own speargun, she slips into the cold water and starts to dive down. Diving flashlights have been left in the room and she picks one up and switches it on before aiming it northwards and into another room. Then she starts to swim that way, athletically muscled legs propelling herself forwards.

Despite saying he doesn't like the water, Oliver is actually a decent enough swimmer and has scuba dived before. Following after Maria takes him only a moment, grabbing his own flashlight after she does. He mutters however before putting his mouth piece in. "Good Work Queen. This day just went completely weird."

Maria leads him through what looks to be a rather luxurious mansion…only it seems to have been built underground. Lights line the walls to show the way until Maria is leading him into a section still dark…and cold. The water clammy against any bare flesh. Through a doorway and into a large hall, Maria kicks upwards and breaks the surface. The water not all the way to the ceiling here. She kicks in place while waiting for Oliver, removing her breather and pushing up her goggles. "Is politics all you do, Mr Queen?"

Queen arrives at the surface of the water as well, pulling his mask off in order to speak and respond to the question. "No. I also open restaurants." Which is the most prominent thing he's done of late. His eyes have been taking in the location and finally he is forced to ask the question on his mind. "What is this place?"

"That's what I'm trying to find out" Maria replies about what the place is. "Do you know your bible much, Mr Queen?" She nods to the walls where a mural has been painted. It is deteriorating but still can be made out…at least where large chunks haven't fallen away. "For some reason the owner of this house, built under the cathedral remember, decided to paint the Book of Revelation on the walls of his ballroom. It's all here. Rise of the Antichrist. The Rapture. Except that the end has been changed. In this version the bad guys won. I know you don't believe in God, Mr Queen, but do you believe in the Devil and his host?"

Again Queen is silent before he looks over at Maria. "To say yes, would be an understatement." His response is spoken softly as he treads water, looking around. "So under the cathedral, a different ending to the world, hmm? Seems very… how do I put this. Occultish?"

"Do not suffer a witch to live" Maria states softly before smiling at her swimming companion. "You cannot believe in one but not the other, Mr Queen. That's just having your cake and eating it too. Though I have never really understood that. What else would you do with a cake?" She considers him for a long moment. "What if I told you that one hundred and twenty-three demons currently walk the streets of New York and Gotham City? What would I have to do to prove this to you? And what would the mayor of Gotham do about such a thing?"

"I would say that I've seen my fair share of the unexplainable." Queen treads carefully now, just in the water but also with his words. "That I think whatever label given, there are beings of power that are evil. Just as there are beings with power that are good. So I'm not surprised by that statement. Now if you mean Demons in the sense of beings sent by the Devil himself; well. In some people's eyes I am the devil aren't I?"

"Only to those with limited experience and limited vocabulary" Maria smiles about Oliver's qualifications to be the Devil. "These demons /do/ come from Hell, Mr Queen. And we are finding it very hard to send them back. But you don't believe me…not literally. Faith has diminished so over the centuries." A little sigh before she adds. "Follow me." The breather goes back in, the goggles dropped down and she is diving for a closed door in the wall.

"If Faith doesn't diminish, how can it truly be faith?" Oliver counters quietly as Maria slips under the water, his own breather being pulled back on and soon he is diving to follow the swimming woman deeper into water mansion.

Maria crosses herself before opening the door and they slip into a room that is bathed in light and the walls are adorned with endless crosses and crucifix of all sizes and quality. In the center of the room, in a cage that looks to be made of silver bars, sits a despondent creature that can only be called a demon. Humanoid but with an animal's face. Four limbed and with horns growing from its head. Its nakedness a hue of red and its member lewdly forked. It grins at the sight of visitors, not seeming to care about breathing underwater. Maria stops to float near the wall and looks over to Oliver in a 'what do you think' expression.

It certainly was not what Oliver was expecting. He floats there next to Maria, eyes taking in the sight of, well, the Demon does seem to be a rather apt description. For several moments he just looks then finally his eyes move to Maria. There is a questioning expression, the best he can offer considering they are under water.

"You have brought me a soul to eat?" asks the demon. Its lips do not move but the sound of its voice reverberates through the water. "I hunger so. Very kind of you, whore" he grins, his teeth rows of jagged points. "Why not let me out so I can enjoy the two of you?" Maria seems to take it all in her stride before indicating to Oliver to leave the way they came. "Aww, leaving so soon? But we haven't played yet."

The thought of the creature's words almost amuses Ollie; assuming that the man has any soul left is something even he questions. At Maria's nudging, Oliver does swim back out the way they came and makes his way to the surface in the previous room, lifting his mask as he does so. "You're kidding."

"Do I seem like the kind of person who has a sense of humor?" Maria deadpans. "That is a demon…from Hell. He has a rather long name that I won't bore you with but as you can see they are real. And there are over a hundred more out on the streets. They don't look like that. They hide in the bodies of people. They only emerge when someone like me calls them out." A pause before she smiles wryly. "Never underestimate the power of a librarian."

"Alright. So let's say I take the bait, and bite on this. Why are you showing this to me?" Oliver asks, eyebrow quirked up. "There's not a lot I could do about it as a Mayor of Gotham. That seems to be more of the work of trained experts. Ghostbusters maybe?"

"They're not ghosts, why would ghostbusters help?" Maria looks confused for a moment before shrugging it away. "I am showing you this so you can help us…help me. The mayor of Gotham City will know many…enhanced…persons. Some of them may be able to help…like Zatanna. We have worked together in the past. But I also don't want to cause a panic so the mayor of Gotham can help brush things under the figurative carpet."

"Ah. You want me to keep quiet a secret war against denizens of the underworld?" Oliver asks back, his green eyes looking steading at Maria. "Keep the populace ignorant of a threat to them? Well, if it's any consolation, I am already planning on keeping the nature of Vampires and Werewolves quiet, so I can add this to the list."

"The literal Underworld at least" Maria replies with a faint smile. "Thank you, Mr Queen. I hope that you win the vote then. I have looked into your soul, trust me when I say you are not as lost as you fear. I would know." She pulls down her goggles. "I should let you get back to the campaign. Thank you for your time." The breather is placed back in and she starts to swim back to the pit entrance.

Oliver treads water a few moments longer, glancing at the door where he saw the demon at. His goggles are pulled up and he mutters to himself. "Not even the weirdest day I've had this week." The mouth piece is put in and he dives to follow Maria.

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