Into the Fray.
And so I found myself riding inside the Dark One's black motorcar, while a demon lord kept pace overhead. I could feel a buzzing through my bones now and my true face kept struggling to emerge. I started seeing glimpses of worlds all raucous with colour and screams, and worlds stained dried rust and stinking of stale blood. My beast bounded and leaped at each new sensation and I could feel the rules that this reality placed upon its slowly crumbling away.
The air itself had developed a different flavour, a strange cross between cotton candy and bile. The sounds of birds had drifted away into the faint croaks of swarms of circling ravens. The light as I had mentioned before had assumed a cold blue cast that stung unless you squinted slightly, and this sensed between my visions.
The Batman had said nothing to me as we approached the outer edge of the city, then he suddenly turned and spoke, "If I die, you'll help look after my people?"
"Of course, but I expect the same courtesy, " he nodded so I continued, "And if we both die, it really won't matter terribly much anyway..."
He looked back at me and smiled ruefully, "I'm afraid you're right on that."
We were getting close I could tell and I began informing the Dark One on the turns he should make. His vehicle's motor roars like a hungry animal and we speed through the quasi-night till we arrive outside an abandoned playing card factory.
He mutters, "It figures, " and slips out of the vehicle. I follow, dressed in black leather, my long hair in a pony tail, my sword strapped to my back. Etrigan lands beside us, visible in the dark as only the two red pits of his eyes.
"Full Bloods can not touch it
As a lifelong deal it's struck
To slay requires a half-breed
Or a human full of luck."
"I will fight its minions
For those I can effect
You must stop the Old One
And cause its plan to wreck."
We nod in agreement and ascend the building. Etrigan flies ahead, and strange deformed bodies, some still smoking as though exposed to intense flame, plummet to the ground from the rooftop.
The Dark One uses one of his tools to launch a line that hoists him skyward. I simply dig my nails into the crumbling brick and claw my way up the side. I reach the top shortly after he does and the pair of us watch Etrigan removing the rest of the external guards. Then the noise of another conflict rises to our ears.
Below on the opposite side a grand melee is in effect. All of our forces are engaging creatures that would have unnerved Bosch. Even Mister Osbourne has dropped his false face and his true lupine essence is revealed as he leaps and rips and tears. Miss Emma and Cassandra are teamed against a mighty slug-like thing that is spitting acid. They move and evade as one, truly a work of art. I am so proud of my Slayer, my dead heart seems fit to explode. Robin and Renee are holding off something ogre-like, while Kate, Nightwing, Spoiler, Oz and the Creeper are fending off a horde of scaled cats from a madman's mind. Then there are the others, the Crocodile is fighting alongside the Mistress of plants, Members of the constabulary are working alongside the Fat Man's thugs. There is no rivalry, simply a pure matter of survival. Instinctively all know, that if this fight is lost, so is the world.
The Dark One subverts the lock on the skylight, while Etrigan waves good luck to us and enters the frenetic melee. Moving silently we enter the rafters and begin searching for our opponent. We find him quickly enough. A purplish black form, almost a complete chromatic inversion of Mister Punch's distinctive colouration. He is seated on a golden throne that appears to sprouted from a heap of cardboard boxes. Even though we are well back in the concealing shadows, he looks straight at us, and beckons that we should stand before him.
The Dark One moves up and I follow till we are only ten feet from our opponent. I can feel that my companion is primed to leap and strike, but he is unclear on which points would be the most vulnerable. I look into its spirit and see only a dark smokey mass giving me no clear pathway to take.
Then it begins to laugh...