Story-time Saturday: Gotham 1459

More art-inspired short stories. This time, Batman set in 1459.

Original Artist's gallery can be found : HERE

The Crusader:

"I don't follow, sir. Is he a Man of God, or some form of heathen demon?" asked the noble as the rope tightened across his chest.

"Oh, he's both. He's neither. Best not to ask too deeply, My Lord," answered the highwayman, who's crude Crusader raiment (stolen, no doubt) was crusted with symbols of the wild tribes painted in blood.

"If he be a Man of God, surely I can appeal to him. I am no mere Lord. I have quite a few friends in Rome. He need not suffer under these Demons which afflict him," the rich man whispered.

"And what would Rome have to offer us?" came a gravelly voice behind him.

The noble's brow flushed with heat and sweat as he turned to face the monster that had attacked his caravan and killed his guards with a primal fury. Swallowing loudly, he quickly spoke, "Absolution! Protection from your demons, for surely you are a man possessed of many demons!"

The crudely stitched loincloth flapped in the twilight's breeze, weighted down by the pristine half of the Crusader's raiment. "Protection? We don't think it's us that need protection," the devil answered, lifting his mismatched arms to encompass the carnage about them. The noble's guards lay still in growing pools of blood. The other highwaymen, dressed in various, but crude, imitations of their leader, were quickly stripping the corpses of anything useful.

"Perhaps gold, then? I have more wealth than you have gained here, I can offer you more if you release me to retrieve it, Good Sir," the noble begged, his voice beginning to rise unconsciously as panic began to grip him.

"Perhaps," the Devil answered, pulling a gold coin from his tunic. "Are you a Man of God, sir?"

"Indeed I am."

"Then let us see, Man of God, if His luck is with you," the man began, holding the coin up to the light, where a Crusader's cross was stamped, "or not," he finished, turning it over, revealing savage cuts across the soft gold's opposite side.

"Told you not to ask," the highwayman whispered to the newest pool of blood and shattered bones, left to rot on the side of the road.

The Jester and the Jailed:

"Who's there? Speak, I pray you!" called a desperate voice into the darkness.

"I? I am but no one," came the reply, tinged with the sing-song tones of the court fool.

"You?! What brings you to my cell, at so late an hour? Come to mock the fallen Champion, have you?" the man fought back tears as his hands hung limp above him, the manacles digging into his aged wrists.

"Mmmmm, perhaps I am. Perhaps I came to offer you an explanation of your fate," came the reply.

"What is there to explain? The Lord is most displeased with me, and there is little hope of swaying his mind, once it is set," replied the man, twisting his head about in the dark, attempting to spot the Jester.

There came a soft jingle from the man's belled hat to his left, but in the faint square of light offered by the crescent moon's coupling with his cell's window, nothing was visible. "Indeed he is, at that," there was punctuating giggle which threatened to become a full laugh, but it was stifled with a cough. 

The Prisoner could almost hear the scarred visage of the Jester splitting into an obscenely large smile, his eyes wide with more madness than most men were comfortable with. "A hard man, our Lord. Though his mind has been distracted of late." There was a theatrical sigh accompanied by the soft chorus of bells.

"The rogue who has been dispensing justice?" asked the Prisoner.

"Aye, indeed. Our Lord does not like it one bit when someone takes the King's Justice into his own hands, and neither do I. The rogue seems to like you, always leaving you...presents. Although I must say, your stealing from the Lord's coffers these past few months was an endeavor doomed from the start, my old...friend," the Jester answered.

"But I did not steal anything. I told the Lord that it was missing! Surely I would not reveal my own plot to steal from him!" the Prisoner exclaimed.

"That is what makes your plan so inspired! Surely one would not suspect the man, the most trusted of the Lord's Men, to reveal his own theft!" This time, the giggle became a full-throated laugh, echoing eerily off the stone around them. "That is why your betrayal hit our Lord so hard. It was perhaps possible to prove your innocence even when the gold was poorly hidden in your chambers, and in sacks marked with the Baron's standard, no less. It was not easy to convince the Lord of your...change of heart. You made me work too hard, sir."

The Jester's words soaked in to the Prisoner's mind. "You? You placed the gold in my chambers? Why?"

The giggle returned as the Jester stepped into the light, his colorful raiment muted in the dim moonlight. A toothy smile split his face in two, stretching the scars along his cheeks, "Because you were in my way. Most of all, because it was fun, Sir Gordon."

Sir Gordon's fingers itched to tighten about the neck of this damned fool, but the chains attached to the wall held his arms fast. He felt hope leave him as he slumped into his restraints and tried to shut out the sound of Madness as the Jester began to laugh once more, with no sign of stopping.


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