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Marked, Stacked, and Falsely Shuffled

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This story is No. 6 in the series "An Ode to a City". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Being the Third Part of our Heroine's Adventures in a Wicked Place

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
DC Universe > Batman > Drusilla-CenteredbatzulgerFR131613,66663315,8267 Feb 1015 Feb 10Yes

A Wonderland of the Mad.

I was listening to Clement tell me about the previous night's card game when I felt a shudder through existence.

"Call the Oracle and Sir Jason and tell them it's starting, Clement, " he looked briefly surprised then hurried off.

I ran down to the second basement where I saw Harley standing stock still. There were traces of cold blue flame illuminating the scars left by her torture. Little rivulets of fire played back and forth across her skin and under her clothing, then she opened her mouth and vented a soundless cry of anguish. I could the pain exiting her. It rushed past the vocal cords, past her uvula and lips and teeth till it expanded and flowed through the air like a hot vaporous bubble.

This lasted for several minutes, by which time my Slayer had joined me in watching, and then Harley collapsed in a dazed heap before us. Rushing to her aid we, carried her upstairs and deposited her gently upon the overstuffed settee in the library. Clement entered soon after and informed us of his attempts to notify the others.

"Phones are dead Dru, all I'm getting is maniacal laughing instead of a dial tone."

"The physical laws have changed...This will spread I'm sure of it. Miss Emma, I need you to take the car and go to Sir Jason's home. Tell him we need Etrigan, " she left running for the garage.

"What hit me...?"

"It has begun."

"I can feel it in my skin...Oh Mister J...what have you done?" she sat up and took a deep sip of the brandy I offered her.

"That's better. You're a great hostess y'know?" she gave me one of her lopsided smiles.

"Why thank you, " I preened slightly, "My mum always stressed that proper hospitality was a sign of good breeding."

"Your moms was right..." she was about to continue when Clement broke in.

"Uh, guys, what just happened?"

"Oh, the Old One just materialized in the Joker's body and is currently rewriting the physical and natural laws of the City's local reality."

"Is there any good news?"

"Well, " I thought for a moment, " I believe its sphere of influence is causality. Does that help?"


Harley was the first to work it out. "Causality is the sequence of events that goes from 'A' to 'B' to 'C' right? So that means whoever this Old One is, it can make any starting sequence go to any ending result. So a chicken could lay ice cubes instead of eggs."

"Well, it has just manifested, so its sphere of influence is fairly circumscribed. If we can find it quickly we may be able to stop it.

"If we get close we could be in a lot of trouble...Especially if it can access Mister J's memories like your beast can access yours. He has...had a pretty vivid and unusual world view you know."

I shuddered to think what could happen if some one as mad as I, had been used as a vessel for this entity, "Point taken, but it has to be stopped before it spreads. As my William once said, 'Why would I want to destroy the world? There's to many interesting things in it...' or something of that ilk."

"So what do we do?"

"Clement, take Harley in your truck down to the old clock tower. The security code on the door lock is, " I thought for a moment, "1653371BG." He repeated it a few times to himself then nodded, "Tell the person you find in there that I sent you and that they need to get a message to all of us that were at the meeting. Harley will be able to lead them to the right place." I gestured at the blue fire on her body and how it remained brightest on the side facing downtown, "There is the compass, now go!"

The mismatched pair took off running towards the garage and ascended the stairs to the widow's walk. Looking through the small portal set in the trapdoor to the roof, I saw that the very character of the sky had changed. Lifting the hatch I stepped out into a cyan light filled world.

Looking out to sea I could vaguely see a shimmering ripple that obviously laid the furthest distance of the Old One's effects. Looking back towards shore I saw Clement's truck speeding off towards the city with my motorcar distantly ahead of it. A wind had struck up from the centre of town and the scent it carried was not the smoke and pollution one would expect, but rather the odour of unclaimed possibilities and inspiration running at large and without restraint.

The air positively hummed with the sound of faint steam calliopes and distant screams. My beast savoured the air charged with impending death and pronounced it suitable for a true hunt. So much so, that it was taking every crumb of control I possessed, to keep it stoppered up inside like an ifrit within its bottle.

I remained on the walk looking out over my city when he arrived in his great black car. Scaling my house in a trice, he walked over to my small frame and grasped my shoulder, surprisingly gently, with one large gloved hand while he pushed back his cowl with the other, "Drusilla, your face has changed."

I reached my hand up and felt the rough of my skin, the ridge above my eyes, my so sharp fangs now clearly visible. With a great force of will I bid myself calm and slowly felt my true face's features melt away. I then let out a sob and threw myself into his chest burying my face in his shoulder. He stiffened, clearly surprised at my actions, then slowly relaxed and let me weep as he gently held me.

We stood there for I don't know how long until I sensed the sulphur and wingbeats of an expected caller. He heard noticed him as well and slowly, carefully released me so I could turn and greet the arrival.

"Lord Etrigan."

"Though now I have come when called.
I find myself appalled.
The Half-Breed's heart
Is clamoured by the dark
And she may become enthralled!"

Etrigan stood hunched a little smaller than myself, but he was far stronger and stockier of build with a scaly leathery skin the colour of the sun and eyes that burned red as hot coals. He was shaped much like that of a classical gargoyle, with small leathery wings that looked completely impractical for flight, and strong claws on his hands and bare feet. He was clad in red leather with bronze fittings and looked severely displeased.

Batman replaced his cowl and looked straight into the Rhymer Caste's eyes, "Explain."

"The intruder does his madness wield,
As his weapon, 'pon open moor, lonely crag, and farmer's field.
The Vampire you hold's
Beastly spirit has been sold.
And the Adversary may cause it to yield."

"But of fortune, all is not lost
For old mistakes she has paid the cost
Her choice must be true
As to what she must do
And her spirit she must not exhaust."

"Now we must fly to the place
Where both sides forces now grace
We should use your car
The distance is far
And we should arrive there post-haste!"
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