With Anguished Vision and Malicious Intent
Spring had arrived and I had been dwelling in Gotham for over a year. It was a lovely evening in April, and Miss Emma and I were celebrating her seventeenth birthday by taking her sister and her mother out to dinner. My Slayer's choice was a small bistro off the beaten path that apparently served the finest lasagna in the city.
The meal had gone quite well and I had even managed to stifle my madness from leaking out and spoiling Miss Emma's evening. Then as the young waiter was removing our dessert dishes, it all went very wrong. I felt the tik-tik-tik of the deathwatch beetle laugh behind my eyes. My beast roused itself and began sniffing around for the source of anger and pain. It was close, very close and I could clearly see the evergreen and snow white and iris's purple and blood red roiling around in front of me as if coming from the three crones' cauldron, even the witches' chanting was plain to hear. Then I saw the gold of harvested grain and black that should be and could be scrubbed clean and knew that intense pain, sacrifice, and longing was bound into this morass.
I found myself laying on the floor with Miss Emma shaking me. I blinked as she and her family clustered around me prone form.
"I'm alright my dear. I just suffered from a momentary attack of the vapours, " I rose to my feet and resettled myself in my chair, "I should be returning home, but you should spend some more time with your family. You keep the auto, I'll have a cab summoned."
"Are you sure Dru?"
"Of course Miss Emma. Clement will look after me you know. Please, have a wonderful evening."
"Thank you Dru and I'll call Clem and make sure you headed straight home!" she stood and gave me a hug goodbye.
After I left the restaurant and was firmly ensconced in a taxi, I called Renee.
"Are you out?"
"Yeah. What's up? I thought you and the protege were doing the family birthday thing tonight."
"I saw something. Something horrible."
"Where do you want to meet?"
"Figures, " she sighed, "See you there, and I'll call her too."
"Thank you, " before putting my phone away I contacted Clement and informed him that I was going to be delayed.
"But Dru, Emma said you collapsed. Are you sure you should be out?"
"I have no choice in the matter. Clement, would you do me the honor of a favour?"
"Open my bed stand and get the buff envelope from it. Call the number and ask if they'll come."
"Oh? Ohhh! Of course Dru, no problem."
"Thank you Clement."
By this time the taxi had arrived at my destination and I exited and paid the cabbie. As he left I looked up at the craggy stone facing and began to climb.
I had worn my now semi-regular apparel of shirt, trousers, and coat, so I was not hindered in the way I would have been, had I been garbed in my normal gown. Still, with the misting rain, it was an exhilarating ascent. By the time I reached the bell tower and my friends the gargoyles, the rain had stopped and the clouds had begun to scatter letting the stars illuminate the city's shadowed places.
I felt Kate's approach from the air wafting around her. It told me she was almost there and she was worried about me. That feeling was like a stunning bolt from heaven. Someone was worried about Dru the Mad? My beast raged, claiming that tale was merely the fibbing of trickster air. No one cared about me and I was even madder than I thought if I believed that lie. I banished it back down inside me with memories of a fairly spectacular hallucination about garden gnomes and marmite, and waited for Kate to land.
"What's wrong Dru?"
"Wait a moment, she's almost here."
A minute later Renee's false faceless entered from the stairway.
"There is something old and evil being called now. A calling based on madness and fear. It has called to me and would have gained my allegiance if it had not been already given. There is a sacrifice required for the completion of this calling and should it not be satisfactory, what is called will be very angry."
"Right, so we should..."
"Hold it Question, " Kate's hand had moved to the side of her mask.
"Dru, is deep madness one of the requirements?"
"For what I felt? Almost assuredly."
"Joker and Quinn just busted out of Arkham."