Batman Kills the Royal Family

Sneaking into the Palace itself proves relatively tricky, but you discover that both of you have quite some aptitude to sticking in the shadows, avoiding the guards and slipping past all unnoticed, even though Prince Khawan seems to be decidedly clumsier than Nadia. He gets it right… most of the time, at least the times that matter anyway. You case the joint and between you, identify the easiest way in, through the great windows on the ground floor and thence into the heart of the palace. Getting there is easy, and quitely opening a window before squeezing yourself through it is surpringly simple.

Inside, you see an airy maze (who would have thought to build such a thing - they should be claustrophobic and scary, or not a maze at all, and nice and purfumed) which takes a good hour to navigate around before you discover your bearings. Nadia is instrumental in identifying where exactly get into the main rooms and where to find Queen Sibylla and her sister at their most vulnerable.

Everything is set and the Prince sets off to conceal himself and await the sisters…

You change your costume and then sneak yourself into the dining hall, awaiting the arrival of the sisters. It is some time before dinner is served, and alone in the hall you work on practicing your voice…

Servants suddenly appear and begin laying tables and after an interminable amount of faff and waste of time, Queen Sibylla and her sister are allowed to enter. Besides them and the handful of servants, the room is light on the guard, but two at each of the two big doors, and one in an alcove at the end of the room.

As the third course is about to end, you drop down, shouting “Ladies and Gentlemen, behold the Kingmaker!” impressively, stunning all to silence, even the guards freezing for the two seconds you need to leave your axe in the Queen's head, and a crossbow bolt in her sister's heart.

The Guards suddenly spring to action however, and you are force to calculate your way out. The explosion of smoke helps distract about half the guards while you bawl into the other two. Even as you leave the table, you feel a great sickness overcome you for a moment, and it seems, it feels… almost like you lose control of your body (no, Khawan's body) for a second. Then you are composed, managing a knife-thrust in one, but too slow for the other. You then throw yourself into the doors, which are thankfully unbarred, and into the rest of the Palace. It takes you a few minutes to get back onto the roof, but there you at least feel safer. Even as you have finished changing, Nadia seems to appear as out of nowhere, nearly causing you to imbed your dagger in her chest.

Escape is now crucial. With people dead and the Guards ready to kill anyone looking suspicious, there are few options. There is no easy way off the roof, but perhaps… perhaps that haystack, there. Nadia nods to it, the Prince scrutinises it for a second, then shrugs, checks his belongings on his body, and takes a running leap off the roof and into the haystack. Then landing, and out of it, and Nadia right behind them. Both considering, while in flight, for a second, why there is a haystack so conveniently near to the palace…

Then running away, over the wall and into the streets…

Why so Serial Killer?

The Siege of Jerusalem

As the great men and women of the Kingdom of Jerusalem leave Constantinople and the peace of the Covenant the shadow of Civil war hangs over the kingdom. In the north Philip of Jerusalem musters his forces at the city of Acre. In the south Raymond holds the Holy city itself and has gathered the forces of the nobles loyal to him within the city.

The first move is made by Philip who with the standing army he has created moves down towards Jerusalem. He is joined by the Byzantine General Karantenos who has landed his forces at Acre. The two armies combined are the greatest force the Holy land has seen for decades and they move swiftly towards the walls of Jerusalem under the banner of King Baldwin V.

Outside the great eastern gate of the city of Jerusalem the majority of Philip’s force amasses, Karantenos’s men are dispatched to block all the supply routes into the city, effectively cutting it off the rest of the Holy land. The Holy city is now under siege but Philip’s forces make no move to attack not wishing to cause harm to the city or its populous and not wanting to throw their forces against the massive walls of the city which have turned back both heathen and Christian hosts in the centuries past. For three days and nights the army waits outside the city until at noon on the fourth day Raymond of Tripoli himself, beneath the banner of King Baldwin V, stands stop the eastern gate and addresses the besieging army.

“You are lead by a traitor! A kinslayer and a usurper. Philip of Jerusalem has murdered his own family to make himself King of Jerusalem.” He cries.

“God will not forgive those who turn against this most Holy kingdom at the behest of a devil such as he. Turn over the traitor and you shall receive the king’s pardon from my own hand, fight and you shall die as traitors and sinners.” His words arte emotive but Philip’s army does not seem to respond.

Philip himself rides forwards and halts before the lines of his host.

“It is you who are the traitor Raymond. The true King sits at Acre and once the vile magic you ensnared him with is banished he shall once more be enthroned at Jerusalem.” He shouts in turn, his oratory a match for Raymond’s own. He continues however, his tone more conciliatory;

“It is not too late though Raymond, stop this madness and surrender the city and you will be shown mercy.”

“I need no mercy Philip, not when I have God and the Kingdom on my side” with that Raymond turns away and leaves the wall.

It is two more days and no attack comes from either side of the conflict. Raymond’s strategy is unclear, with the city under siege and no food supplies entering it Raymond cannot simply sit and wait for long lest the people of the city turn against him. On the eighth day of the siege Raymond’s plans becomes apparent. From the south comes his own force; assembled by the nobles loyal to him and the regent’s own troops from Tripoli who have landed at Ashkelon. The Regent’s army moves quickly but Philip and Karantenos agents spy them before they are able to approach their own army. Moving their combined forces into ambush the two leaders prepare to strike at the village of Ramat Rachel, a mile away from the walls of Jerusalem.

Raymond’s force arrives swiftly and fighting fit but it is not well armed, it seems that Raymond and his allies have had a great deal of trouble raising the necessary funds to muster a large army and have been hindered in doing so by some of Jerusalem's wealthiest individuals. Hence it is smaller than Philip’s force and more importantly is not lead by the combined strategic expertise of Philip and Karantenos. As the two forces meet it is clear that Raymond’s is outmatched and Karantenos quickly destroys the right flank of the army; curving around into its rear and dividing it into two. However Raymond is not done yet and while the two forces meet outside his walls he musters a guard of Knights to attack the rear of the besieging force. Raymond’s knights ride out and strike at the command post where both Philip and Karantenos are watching over their armies. The attack is swift and brutal and many of the two general’s guards are cut down as they try to defend their leaders. However Philip’s own Knights quickly turn back and engage Raymond’s strike force. In the ensuing skirmish both Philip and Karantenos are forced to draw their blades and join the fight; cutting down the knights loyal to Raymond even as they cry out orders for the front.

Raymond’s strike force is decimated and the handful of remaining knights wheel about and gallop towards the gate of Jerusalem and sanctuary. Philip is quick to follow with his own mounted force and leaping into his saddle he gives chase to Raymond’s knights. Their lead is too great however and the Gates of Jerusalem close even as Philip nears them. However as they slam shut a great commotion breaks out behind the walls; screams and cries of fear echo over the fortifications followed by silence. A moment later the great gates swing open to reveal a small group of Philips men surrounded by the corpses of knights and gate guards.

With the gates open and under the control of the besiegers; Philip gathers a larger force of his most skilled and loyal knights and enters the Holy city.

A Regent’s Fall

As news of Philip’s breach of the city defences spreads the underlying tensions in Jerusalem begin to boil over. The populous of Jerusalem seem deeply displeased with Raymond’s leadership and riots begin to break out all over the city, first in small pockets but then congealing together in larger more angry mobs. Pope Peter II has issued a proclamation against the tyrannical rule of Raymond and has stirred support for the righteous young Count Philip with his call for justice.

Raymond, realising he has lost the outer city, withdraws his forces to the massive central citadel. It seems that some of his allies among the Privy Council and the nobles of Jerusalem are beginning to have doubts about his future prospects. Many of them begin to flee the citadel and their homes but the people of Jerusalem will not allow them to escape so easily and many of them are hemmed in by angry shouting crowds and Raymond is forced to send his troops onto the streets to protect the nobles and batter back the angry inhabitants of the city with sword and truncheon.

Philip’s force moves quickly through the city, helping where it can to beat back Raymond’s goons and aid the people of the city. As they approach the citadel it is obvious that Raymond has lost control and a heaving mass of peasants have blocked the great gate of the citadel preventing it from closing upon Philip. The nobles have abandoned the place and taken their guards with them and there is little active defence of the citadel's walls. As Philip nears the huge bridge over the citadel's moat a great cry goes up and Raymond’s remaining knights burst from the gate tearing through the crowd, trampling and crushing them under hoof. They thunder across the bridge and engage Philip’s own knights on the list ground beneath the walls. The citizenry scatters, unable to compete with heavily armed knights, and the two forces explode into each other.

In the bloody chaos that ensues Philip spies Raymond himself, his golden broadsword cutting down Philip’s knight’s left and right. Spurring his mount forward Philip’s own sword smashes into Raymond’s shield, who raises it just in time and with that the two men begin to duel. Both are skilled warriors and their blades dance off each other’s weapons and shields, metallic sparks leaping from them as steel slides against steel. For long minutes they strike at each other until, losing his balance, Philip slides from his horse. With a cry of triumph Raymond raises his blade to deliver the killing blow but Philip, young and quick, heaves on Raymond’s leg and hoists the man from his saddle. The two fall to the ground a mess of armour and sword. They rise as one, their shields gone, and once more engage in a whirling dance of blades.

“Let me show you how a man fights boy!” Cries Raymond as he slices down toward Philip’s neck only to find the young count has spun aside. With a quick slash Philip drives his own sword into Raymond’s side and the Regent crumples, blood seeping between the bands of his plate mail. The wound is obviously crippling but not fatal.

“Surrender Raymond.” pants Philip as he pulls the helmet from his head, “You’ve lost. The city is ours.”

With a growl the Regent picks up some sand from the ground of the field and hurls it into Philip's eyes. As Philip reaches for his face the Regent grabs the saddle of nearest free horse and pulling himself on gallops towards the gates of the Citadel, his hand still clasped to his bloody flank. Whatever forces remain to him have secured the gate and it slams shut as he passes over the threshold.

A Lurking Shadow

You move silently through the citadel of Jerusalem or at least as silently as you can dressed as a bat. Frankly you’re beginning to regret this whole bat costume idea; the cape is billowy and impractical and your tongue keeps getting caught in your masks mouth hole…its maddening.

The Dome of the Rock is prepared and you have spent allot of time stuffing it with prodigious amounts of alchemists fire. You are pretty sure that it will be extremely spectacular when it goes up

You have already seen Raymond ride out to meet Philip of Jerusalem’s knights; you only hope that he comes back alive. Within a few minutes you hear a commotion in the great courtyard below you and you see the Regent and his remaining knights ride back in through the gates. They are fewer in number and Raymond is obvious injured. Keeping to the shadows you move down into the Citadel until you hear voices:

“We must get to the escape passage and away” Raymond’s voice is weaker than before “If we can get to Tripoli we can rally our allies and march on Acre. Fetch my belongings.”

His manservant rushes off and leaves the regent along in the corridor. You strike.

Raymond has lost too much blood to fight back and from the shadows you quickly hamstring him rendering him helpless. With your hand over his mouth his screams are muffled as you pour the caustic alchemist's fire over him and drag him up the stairs of the citadel.

Warning: Flammable Regents

Philip looks about him and sees that Raymond’s knights are nearly defeated but as he turns he sees one of them; charge towards him mace held high ready to smash his skull to pulp. Before the deadly strike lands however the knights head flies from his shoulder’s as the sword of Michael of Bethlehem cleaves it off. The forces of the Order of Mary Magdalene follow close behind and in moments the remainder of the Knights loyal to Raymond have fallen.

“The Regent?” Asks Michael, “Is he dead?”

“Fled into the Citadel” replies Philip, still trying to regain his breath “He…”

There is a bloodcurdling scream that pierces the silence of the fight’s aftermath: atop the bastion high above them stands Raymond, a long thin sword protruding from his chest. Behind him wreathed in shadows is a black figure, seemingly half man and half bat. It wears tight black leather armour to which, inexplicably, someone has sowed artificial nipples.

In a deep gravelly voice the man-bat intones “In the name of King Philip”

The Regent erupts into searing blue-white flames. For a moment he writhes on the parapet as the fire engulfs him and then with a terrible wail he plummets from the wall to fall burning into the dry moat of the Citadel.

The cape of the bat like man billows dramatically and from behind the overcast sky emerges the moon, silhouetting the figure in its pale light for a moment. With a swish of its cape the figure leaps from the wall, nimbly grasping onto seams in the wall, and lands cat-like on the roof of the royal box at the side of the list field. For a instant it looks down on them and then sprints away, along the tournament stands and onto the roofs of the city.

“After it!” Cries Michael, and charges after the black clad figure, followed by a handful of his knights.

The Man who would be King

Across the rooftops of Jerusalem the man-similar-in-appearance-to-a-bat races; his speed and agility are impressive though his large billowing cape seem ill adjusted for rooftop chases and it gets caught on nails more than once, jerking the man backwards with a grunt. On the street below him gallops Michael of Bethlehem, sword drawn.

Through the winding alleys of Jerusalem they race, upwards towards the temple mount. As they reach the summit the bat-mimicking-man leaps from the last rooftop and somersaults to the ground. He races up the mount and vanishes into the shadowy structure of the Dome of the Rock. Michael dismounts and approaches carefully, his sword still drawn.

As he steps closer a titanic roar fills the night air and from the windows and doors of the holy shrine explode huge gouts of orange fire, striking upwards into the sky above Jerusalem. From the burning portal of the mosque emerges the Chiropteran figure of the assassin.

Shielding his eyes Michael engages his foe. The Knights sword strikes seem clumsy and his opponent easily dodges them but its grace of a few moments before seems lost and it moves sluggishly as Michael slashes at it. The black clad figure gets in a few glancing blows to Michael but then with an inelegant strike from Michael falls to the ground. Even as it does so there is a metallic groan from behind them and the great golden dome above them collapses inwards, spewing burning motes in a great cloud about them. The bat-attired-person spins and kicks Michael away, it flips into a fighting stance and then as the sparks envelop it, vanishes.

As Michael picks himself up; Philip and his knights arrive with the remains of the Order of Mary Magdalene. Michael bends and picks up a leather pouch that the assassin seems to have dropped during the fight. From it he pulls some sheaves of parchment which he holds up to the fire light to examine. As he looks at them his face tightens and he glances up at Philip.

“Place Philip of Jerusalem under arrest.” He commands. The Order’s knights make to move but as they do Philip’s own men draw protectively around him.

“These papers show that Philip ordered the assassination of his family and the Regent” says Michael “We have no choice but to arrest him.”

“Ridiculous” Speaks Philip, his voice full of righteous indignation “I…”

“If you will not detain him” Overrides Michael, his gaze sweeping across the assembled knights “then I shall.”

Philip makes to protest but Michael closes his eyes as if in prayer. A second later a dazzling light fills the summit of the temple mount, swamping out even the burning shrine. Standing on the air above them is an Angelic figure its vast wings outstretched as the blinding illumination pours from them. Its impassive burning gaze falls upon Philip and it gestures at him. Golden chains spring from nothingness enveloping the young count in unbreakable shackles. Even as the dumbstruck Philip tries to speak the radiance flares and with a roar of celestial trumpets the Angel and the Count vanish leaving the group in the orange light of the burning temple.

You see the Angel and Philip vanish. Your brother seems to have convinced everyone for the moment. You look down at yourself. You magic has indeed made you appear as glass but the effect is not perfect and you are by no means invisible. Light distorts and refracts where it touches you and its obvious that anyone looking closely enough would spot you. You retreat, exhausted, to your whore house.

The King who was an Elephant

Raymond is dead and Philip is imprisoned within the citadel of Michael of Bethlehem. Karantenos has taken command of Philip’s forces and withdrawn to the city of Acre. Within Michael’s fortress Getan de Reys has assembled the nobles of Jerusalem for a party to celebrate the fall of the traitor regent, the revelation of Philip’s evil schemes and, most importantly, the return of King Baldwin. The citadel is full of guards both from the Order of Magdalene and from the Order of the Venerable Bede overseen by their commander Henry of Gloucester who quite frankly looks contemptuous of the entire proceedings as he watches the guests file past him.

After the recent unrest many of the hundred noble men and women present were unwilling to attend and it seems that many have only come after receiving generous gifts of luxurious silks and spices courtesy of the al Nazihah trading clan. The great party gets under way and as with any of Getan’s affairs is both sumptuous and extravagant. The great pavilion looks even more exotic due to the strange symbols painted upon the floor by the scholar Brother Basilus, which curve and flow beneath the feet of guests in patterns that hare hard to follow. After the nobles have assembled; into the centre of the great pavilion is lead a grey elephant with bright golden eyes. Upon its head is a silver crown covered in eldritch symbols and next to it stands Maha al Nazihah and Donatien Alfonse Desgranges.

Getan looks embarrassed, almost nervous, as he announces to assembled nobility;

“And now good Lords and Ladies, we shall bow to the King of Jerusalem!”

With a flourish he bows low. The nobles seem somewhat taken aback, many not convinced by the elephantine king, but they follow his lead and bow. As they do so the scholar Donatien steps forward and pours an oily liquid onto the elephant’s crown, with a hiss the symbols dissolve away. From behind Maha steps a strange looking figure, his skin covered in markings, he looks around at the bowing lords and ladies and with a broad smile places his hand on the elephant's side. He grips some of the grey hide in his fist and then with a dramatic tug pulls the skin away. There is a puff of bluish smoke filled with silver sparks which billows outwards obscuring the elephant-king. As the smoke clears, standing naked in its midst, is King Baldwin once more wearing the form of a human. For a moment the silver crown upon his head emits a piercingly high note and then shatters, tinkling in shards around the king's feet. The smiling Djinn, now holding an artificial looking elephant skin, bows to the young king with a grin and vanishes with a pop.

The bemused crowd looks up at the nude monarch, who seems equally taken aback. Getan, seizing the initiative raises his goblet and cries;

“Long live the King!”

The cry echoes across the pavilion and the assembled crowd joins in while some servants hurriedly fetch the monarch a robe. Baldwin is returned.

As the nobles leave the party later a man in scruffy clothing, called Jacob by some, calls to them but none take heed since he is simply not important enough to talk to.

The New Regime and Aftermath

King Baldwin once more sits upon the throne of Jerusalem but he rules over a kingdom filled with strife and lacking a real government. The Privy Council has vanished, Getan the only remaining member. Michael of Bethlehem has declared himself the new Regent and appears to have gained the tacit support of the Vatican in this regard. Getan de Reys is Michael's chief advisor and has taken over much of the day to day administration of the Kingdom.

The people of Jerusalem do not like the fact that their beloved Count Philip has been imprisoned and many on the streets of the city are calling for his release, not least the Jewish community and the beggars of the city. Rumour has spread that even King Baldwin has sided with Philip in the matter and has privately demanded the Count's release. A force of Byzantine soldiers sits at Acre and Saladin has amassed a great army on the boarder of the Crusader Kingdom.

The demonic assassin, the caped killer of crusaders, remains at large…is the city safe while he watches over it?

Batman Visits the Emperor

(from batman's POV) The evening is a balmy one in Constantinople and the palace is spectacularly beautiful lit with a thousand candles, torches, lamp, brazier and assorted other flammable bric a brac…how convenient

The Emperor’s massively obese form flows into view at the end of one of the palaces great golden corridors. You hang from one of the chandeliers high above, your black form lost in the shadows above the royal procession. You carefully follow the fat lord as he makes his way to his private chambers accompanied by a small herd of courtiers and very nubile young women. You are disconcerted by the number of Varangian Guardsmen lining the route to his chambers, they seem to have a variety of very pointy weapons and look like they know how to use them, but then you are the Batman.

The Emperor separates from his mobile court and enters his rooms with the two most beautiful young ladies. The door clicks shut behind him and the courtiers move off. As silent as a winged mammal you drop down to the door, directly behind the Varangian Guard who stands in front of it oblivious. Unobserved you enter the room.

The room is full of silks and gold, the two young ladies are in one corner preparing a bath and on the bed is the blubbery form of his Imperial majesty. You fish out a vial of the alchemists fire from Mansoor and pick up the candelabra on the table next to you.

The Emperor, no doubt expecting a sensual oil massage, is somewhat surprised when you simultaneously smash the vial and the candelabra over his prostrate form and becomes most agitated as flames engulf the royal person. As his squeals fill the air you turn to flee to the balcony but the Varangian Guard respond faster than you would have thought possible. Even as you sprint for the edge the door explodes open and you feel spears fly past you. As you leap for the railing your back is filled with searing agony as at least two spears embed themselves in your flesh. As you fall your world is filled with blood, fire and pain.

Revenge! Make them pay! Bring justice to the Orders!

You awake sometime later. You are tired and hungry and covered in blood. Not your blood, other people’s, lots of other people’s. In fact the wounds in your back seem to have healed, you must have blacked out for a long long time. You appear to be in a ditch just outside of Jerusalem.

Batman RIP

(from batman's POV)

Batman, Batman Everywhere

Within the fortress of Bethlehem preparations begin to move Prince Khawan, who has been accused of being the dread manbat; the scourge of kings, Crusader killer and dark Knight in the dreams of emperor’s.

Michael orders his Knights and jailers away so that he and Khawan are alone within the dank cell beneath the fortress. Michael hands Khawan the skin filled with fresh, warm pig’s blood. As Khawan takes the skin their hand touch and Michael looks into the eyes of the prince…the eyes of his sister.

“You have made this very hard on me Gabriella, I may have to break my oaths for you.” He says “I only hope this plan works or there is little more that I can do to protect you.”

Khawan takes the skin and places it by his breast under his tunic; he says nothing but meets his brother’s gaze and smiles. Michael turns to call the escort and as he does Khawan whispers,

“It will work.”

Michael of Bethlehem has agreed with the ambassadors of the Byzantine empire to transport The Lion of Tikrit to Constantinople to face the wrath of Emperor Isaac II who has sworn in front his court to watch the Prince die slowly and painfully. Makis Karantenos commander of the emperor’s armies has been dispatched to watch over Michael’s escort and a legion of his finest soldiers wait in the courtyard of the citadel of Bethlehem. Byzantine diplomat Simeon Gabriel has also joined the escort, no doubt to ensure everything is done by the book. Around the General’s men are mounted an escort from the Order of Mary Magdalene, dressed in full knightly regalia. It is Michael of Bethlehem who escorts Khawan out of the dungeons and into the warm dusk air of the courtyard. The General walks forward.

“You have the prisoner then. We must depart at once; the Emperor will become more displeased the longer justice remains unadministered” he says with a cool glance at the Prince.

“Of course general, we shall leave at once.” Replies Michael and he turns to order a horse for himself and another for Khawan.

In the shadows on the battlements above something moves and one of Michael’s knights cries out in alarm. Everyone looks and there high above them is the silhouette of the bat creature deep within the shadows of the citadel. Khawan cries out and crumples to the floor a crossbow bolt protruding from his chest, blood pouring from the wound. With a gasp he clutches at the air and falls into the dust of the courtyard.

“After it!” Cries Michael rushing to the fallen prince and seemingly pulling out the bolt.

Karantenos’ men also rush forward and together a large group races up the stairs to the top of the battlements but the figure is gone and only the shadows remain. In the courtyard below Michael and one of the fortress’ physicians crouch over the prone form of Khawan. Michael turns from the body and calls to Karantenos;

“He’s dead and it would seem that he was not the assassin we wanted.” He nods in the direction of the vanished bat figure. “I am sorry the Emperor has been denied his prize. I will have the corpse disposed of here in Bethlehe-“
“No” The general cuts him off “I was ordered to bring the Prince before the Emperor and I will do that. The corpse rides with us.”

Michael looks as if he may reply but then nods he ascent with a glance at the body.

Your illusion worked well and you are sure that you captured the essence of both the batman and the crossbow bolt. However you listen with frustration to Karantenos as he insists that your corpse is taken to the Emperor in Constantinople. You will have to adapt you plan. You saw no sign of Nadia so perhaps she will show herself later and give you another opportunity to escape.

Calm Before the Storm

The sun has set but the heat of the day still clings to the desert outside of Bethlehem and in the skies above a storm is forming, huge thunderheads boiling over the Holy Land. The Lion of Tikirt is in a wagon within the midst of the armed escort at the head of which ride Karantenos and Michael. The group is making for Jerusalem where it will spend the night and are they travelling down the road from Bethlehem between the rocky crags of the desert.

You can hear the sound of the knights around you even through the thick blanket that covers your corpse. Overhead you can sense the fury of the storm that is building over the desert. You sense that this is your chance. Your escape must be now or never. The storm will mask your escape and in the shadows of the wilderness you can melt away from the Knights and their horses.

You tense and then with a leap you cast the blanket aside and somersault backwards onto the driver’s plate of the wagon. Overhead lightning dances through the sky and thunder booms around you. As your eyes adjust you see some of the escort staring at you in amazement but others are staring out into the desert where, in the light of the storm, you see the form of a humanoid bat. Nadia! You feel the sting of the crossbow bolt as it strikes your flank and you flail as the force propels you from the wagon.

In moments chaos breaks out as the storm overhead reaches its roaring climax. In the wagon the corpse of Khawan leaps to its feet in a graceful somersault and at the same moment the silhouette of the bat assassin appears above the escort with a crossbow raised. With a thud the crossbow bolt slams into the reanimated Khawan and he falls, flailing, from the wagon.

As the horses shy in response to the storm the knights attempt to wheel and draw their weapons. Simeon is thrown from his horse and is knocked unconscious on a rock. Confused cries break out among the knights as both Michael and Karantenos shout out orders. The bat figure has vanished but even as the knights make to move to its previous location from the rocks around the escort robed fighters run forth. They are dressed as Arab warriors and as they streak toward the escort they cry;

“For Emperor Andronikos!”

At their front is a large man carrying a great sword, his face covered by the desert robes, his eyes flashing in the light of the storm. His battle cry carries a distinctly Byzantine accent.

The mounted knights turn to engage the ambushers and battle is joined. The fighting is confined and confused and many of the Arabs and Knights are felled in the first few moments. Michael and Karantenos continue to bellow commands and then each draw their own weapon; striking out at the Arabs around them. Michael does not seem skilled with his blade and is quickly driven back to the cover of his knights who form up around him. Karantenos seems much more able and the Arabs back away from him as he easily fells the first two to engage him. The Arabs are numerous and begin to encircle the escort party, they make directly for the wagon but as they get close a black form leaps from the shadows between the donkeys hitched to it.

The Lion Roars

It is Prince Khawan. He is obviously injured, a broken crossbow blot protruding from his flank, but he moves like the lightning that crackles in the storm above. In his hands are pair of daggers which whirl in impossible patterns as he dances around the Arabs surrounding him. The strokes of lightning throw the battle into brief periods of brilliant illumination and then plunge it into blackness once more. The Prince seems to move between these flashes with a flawless grace, his foes only seeing him as he plunges his blades into them before vanishing into the momentary darkness. Within seconds the Prince has felled the six Arab warriors surrounding him. Then he looks down the road and sees a path to escape.

“Not so fast! Al Khatara!” Bellows Karantenos and charges toward the Prince followed by two of his men.

Khawan, seeing that flight is impossible while pursued and injured, turns to face the General, his bloody knives held low. As Karantenos lunges forward the Prince ducks driving his blades into the men either side of the general, they fall dead on the spot. Karantenos’ strike misses and with deadly alacrity the Prince flips backwards onto his hands his foot slamming into Karantenos’ face at the apex of the handstand, the General falls back with a grunt. Khawan lands in a fighting stance and raises his blade preparing to hurl it into the General’s chest when the robed leader of the Arabs careens into him, the hilt of the man's sword striking the Prince in the head. Khawan falls backwards but recovers almost instantly his daggers darting out to catch the swing of the robed man's next attack. Their blades strike together seemingly in time with the bolts of lightning that lance overhead and their blows dance off each other in a deadly flurry. The two seem evenly matched, the acrobatic defence of the Prince a match for the deadly force of the robed man but Khawan is clearly suffering from his wound and as he makes a spinning strike at the man’s face he loses his balance and lands awkwardly. With a cry of triumph the robed man strikes down, driving his sword into the Prince’s shoulder.

Khawan cries out and Michael shouts something that is lost in the torrent of thunder. The robed figure pulls free his blade from the crumpled Prince and raises it to deliver the killing blow but Khawan spins away, not beaten even with two crippling wounds, and hurls a handful of dirt into the man's face before driving his fist into his opponent's groin. The man stumbles back with a groan.

Blood is pouring from Khawan now as he rises, the effort obvious. He turns and jumps onto the rocks by the side of the road scrabbling up the crumbling cliff face till he stands on the precipice overlooking the road, he turns to look back at the chaos behind him. With a furious cry Karantenos grabs a crossbow from one his men and raising it fires straight at the Prince’s back.

Lightning flashes overhead.

For an instant everyone present sees the Prince illuminated at the top of the cliff the crossbow bolt suspended in a frozen moment of time before him.


A second flash.

The Prince wobbles, the crossbow bolt protruding from his chest. On either side of him are two ghostly figures, the storm's light briefly revealing the ethereal features of a young man and woman. Simultaneously they reach toward the Prince’s body a look of terrible desperation on their faces but even as their fingers brush him the Prince’s eyes roll up into his head and the spectres evaporate away into nothingness, silent screams twisting their faces.


Death of An Hero

Overhead the storm has calmed, only few rumbles of distant thunder serving as reminder of its fury. The Arabs and their leader, seeing the Prince is dead, flee into the night. Karantenos moves forward to find the body of The Lion of Tikrit lying at the base of the cliff, ragged and covered in blood.

Panting Karantenos turns to his men, “Get the corpse in the wagon, we must not keep the Emperor waiting.”

Michael walks to his side and stares down at the body, he looks as if he means to say something but he bites his lip and is silent.

Khawan al Khatara is dead.

You have died but the Batman may yet live on through the batsuit and in the hearts, and other internal organs, of the people he kills. You can take solace in the fact that your legacy as a schizophrenic regicide will probably endure for centuries…and in the end isn't that what counts?

news/bm/batman.txt · Last modified: 2009/10/12 22:38 by oliver
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