Harriet’s Hutch, Gotham City Center
“Hay boss?” the shop clerk called to the store owner, “Is it me or has there been a run on rubber this past week?”
“Rubber, leather, vegan leather, vinyl, wetlook, strap-ons, sex toys, bondage gear…” the owner said looking around the depleted stocks, “Last time I saw something like this was the week before the fetish shop I use to work at sponsored a kink convention.”
“Wonder what caused it?”
Maurice Wayne Arts exhibition hall, Gotham College- One week ago
“Be careful with that,” the supervisor said, “Says here it is from twelfth century France.”
The worker looked at the sealed urn.
“So if this breaks I am working for free for the rest of my life expensive?”
“And your kids and grandkids.”
“Right, use both hands,” the worker joked.
“Do you ever ask the professors where these things came from?” another worker asked as they opened another box.
“Often, they only have a slightly better guess than yours,” the supervisor said.
“I think this came from Paris in 1130 and has something to do with a person named Thatcher,” the worker holding the Urn said.
“Why do you say that?” his co-worker asked.
“Look at the bottom, I can’t make out the first initial but the name is Thatcher and it says Paris 1130,” the worker with the urn said.
“So it does,” his co-worker noted.
“Ok, quit stalling and get that behind glass nice and safe like…
Dusan al Ghul rode the horse to the gates of the city. He was looking for his sister. Word was that she had taken up residence here in Paris. While his father had cast Dusan off, he tried to keep aware of what the League and his half-sisters were up to. The Guard called for him to stop and three more pointed their bills at him.
“Hold there,” the guard said, “What are you doing here?”
“I am here looking for a sister my father had with his second wife. I was asked to seek her out while on pilgrimage,” Dusan said in rough French.
“You are not French are you?” the guard asked.
“No,” Dusan started the lie of who he was during this century, “I am Dustan of Delves Hall, son of Lord Richard of Brittany.”
“A fine man,” the guard said, “They say his first wife was a woman of uncommon beauty in England. Much nicer than his new wife. Dismount and come with me Lord Dustan. Any who would enter this city must speak with a priest by order of the cardinal!”
Dusan looked around but didn’t see much choice. He was in something of a hurry. But he had been urged to visit with Nyssa, his half-sister. Looking on the city there were smoke clouds hovering over the city. Dusan dismounted and followed the more talkative guard.
“Your horse and things will be safe,” the guard assured him, “Come now.”
Dusan walked into the city and saw much mayhem and tracks of burned out houses. Groups of priests were conducting rights in the streets. Dusan was brought into a church, and right to a desk in the back between pews. A monk priest was looking down at the notes and maps as Dusan was brought before him.
“What is your purpose here?” the monk didn’t look up.
“I am on pilgrimage to the holy lands, I was urged to stop and visit with my half-sister. I intended to see if I could find her this evening and then purchase supplies and continue in the morning,” Dusan said.
“Your name,” the Monk looked up.
“Dustan,” Dusan said, “Of Delves Hall. From England.”
“Take off your hood and cloak,” the Monk narrowed his eyes.
Dusan did as he was told.
“Your hair is as white as snow,” the Monk noted.
“Yes, I was born with a ghastly pallor, I am never without it no matter how much sun I get,” Dusan said faintly.
“Do you know what is going on?” the Monk asked.
“No father,” Dusan said in deference to the Christian clergy.
“If your sister is here, then the devil has claimed her,” the monk said, “Inform your father that she is dead if she was in fact living in this city. A demon has taken hold of the souls of the women and left them with unnatural lust and desire for carnal acts of sin outside the sanctity of the holy wedding bed.”
“Father?” Dusan asked with his eyebrows arched.
“Hold out your hand,” the Monk ordered.
Dusan took off the glove and held out his hand. The Monk put a silver cross on his hand and then a leather tome. Dusan knew it was a bible.
“Swear that you have rejected the devil and all his servants,” the Monk ordered.
“Father,” Dusan said, “Give me a prayer to dispel the devil in the lord’s tongue.”
“Lord I reject Satan and all his work, grant me the strength to continue on your holy path!” the monk said in Latin.
“Lord, I reject Satan and every his work, grant me the strength to continue on your holy road!” Dusan said.
The monk took the leather bound bible and the cross and looked at Dusan’s hand.
“You are free of the devil,” the Monk said.
“We should all work to keep free of his influence,” Dusan said.
“Be careful for the Devil will continue to ensnare you in his web,” the Monk finished the thought, “Go, buy your supplies and be gone by night fall.”
“By the Grace of God may you triumph in this city over the Devil Father,” Dusan said putting his cloak and hood back on.
Dusan smiled at the guard and walked out of the church he looked around for a market for fresh food to restock his saddle bags. A man carrying bundles of reeds was walking by.
“Excuse me,” Dusan asked, “Where is the market?”
“You are not French are you?” the man responded.
“No,” Dusan said.
“Where are you from?” the man asked in English.
“Devles Hall just south of the Scottish lands,” Dusan quoted his fictional biography in English.
“I am Joseph Thatcher, from London,” the man kept speaking in English.
“A London Thatcher?” Dusan asked.
“Aye,” Joseph said, “Many of the locals were sentenced with their wives… I was pressed to render services here at the request of the church.”
“I don’t see much construction,” Dusan looked around.
“I am not putting my talents to use on roofs as of late,” Joseph said, “I am working to make bundles to fuel fires. And if you know what is best you will flee before you find yourself in one of those fires.”
“So they mean to burn out the demon that plagues the city?” Dusan asked.
“And anyone it has corrupted,” Joseph said.
“Then I shall take my leave,” Dusan said, “Good luck to you Joseph the Thatcher.”
Dusan went to leave. He had enough to make it to the next town and beyond if he was careful, but he looked back he had the feeling that whatever the religious maniacs were trying to burn out of the city wouldn’t leave that easily. And the ashes might bring it elsewhere should they spread…