Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fate

It is a dark and stormy night. But then again, it is always a dark and stormy night outside the Tower of Fate. Inside, the Tower's lone occupant sleeps fitfully, unable to find a true center due to troubling dreams. The Helm of Nabu sits alone on a shelf, a fire it can't feel crackling away in the nearby hearth.

There is a pounding at the door, frantic and booming, but it is lost to the thunder. The Master of Fate sleeps on, troubled dreams turning to nightmare. A woman's voice wails, pleading, "Let us in, let us in!" A man shouts to stay back, stay back.

But Fate sleeps on, trapped in a nightmare. Visions of past lives, past wearers of the Helm and bearers of the name Fate strobe through the dream. They are yelling too, pleading, begging. Is it prophecy? Memory? Tears and blood echo the rain on the windowsill.

Fate sleeps on.

Commotion now, the sounds of battle, metal on metal. Is it the dream or what is happening on Fate's doorstep? The shivering whine of a bolt of magical energy cannot be confused for lightning, not be lost in thunder to one such as Fate.

The Master of the Tower begins to stir, disoriented after such a long and restless slumber.

The woman screams again, her cry swallowed up by a deeper bellow of rage and defiance. By the time Fate is up and at the stairs that bellow has been cut short. Senses finally alert and alive, the Master of the Tower commands the door to be flung open. The sudden rush of wind causes the hearthfire to flicker and dance, the candles to blow out. For a brief moment the sound of weeping can be heard, but by the time Fate reaches the base of stairs, it too has faded, whisked away by wind and rain.

As Fate approaches the open door, a bolt of lightning crashing overhead illuminates the Golden Helm, searing the bloody tableau into Fate's mind. Just like the dream. Outside the tower a storm is raging, but as Fate crosses the threshold it ceases, just like it always does. Outside it is sunny and clear, a beautiful New England morning in Salem, Massachusetts. From the Tower's little island at the mouth of the Naumkeag, Fate can see the rest of the world pass by on its mundane business. But the mundane ignores Fate. Why shouldn't they? They can't see Fate's Tower. Should the residents and tourists just passing by the water's edge even think to look out at the little island, they'll see no Tower, at least not one of stone and magic. Instead, they'll see an electrical tower, bones of metal holding powerlines aloft. Not worth a second look at all.

Except for today. For there is a body on the little island at the mouth of the Naumkeag. A body of a man who died in violence and terror, killed by his own sword. Fate shows no emotion, extending the shrouding spells that protect the Tower to the rest of the island. If anyone had been watching at that moment, maybe a commuter on their way to work or perhaps the author of this piece who can actually see the island in question from his desk at his home in Salem as he types this, they would see the body simply fade away.

So too would the golden helmet, floating without visible means of support.

Nightmaster has been murdered on Fate's doorstep. Why?
A woman is missing. Who?

To find out, you'll have to read The Badge of Fate (14/52). Follow Fate's appointed agents, the magician Zatanna and layabout John Constantine, as they hunt a killer who is targeting former members of Fate's previous agents, the Shadowpact. The deeper the two delve into the magical side of the Drewniverse, the more questions they uncover.

Who robbed Dan Cassidy of his demonic nature? Is Zatanna's father really dead? Where is Detective Chimp? Will Constantine accept the Badge of Fate on a permanent basis, or will he simply repay the favor he owes Fate and leave? Who stole that black glass urn from Wesley Dodds? Why does Etrigan stalk the two investigators like a hungry wolf? Where has Neron gone?

----

So as I've mentioned, there's something going on with magic in the Drewniverse. Badge of Fate will be the main venue to investigate it, though we'll probably get some crossover with previously announced Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Zatanna and John will serve as our Mulder and Scully. We'll keep their origins (although in John's case we'll be mainstreaming a bit, just like DC is going to do when they import a version of him from Vertigo) and pieces of their shared backstory. Zatanna is the lead here, having been called in by the Helm to investigate the murder of Nightmaster. She is able to recruit John on the basis of their shared past (from personal experience, a woman in a tux and fishnets can also make me do about anything), the favor he owes the Helm for some unspoken assistance in the past, and the fact that John actually knew Nightmaster Back In The Day when they were both in bands. Maybe Mucous Membrane and The Electric played a few gigs together on some podunk tour?

Anyways, we'll have the two knocking on the doors of mystery in no time. In addition to the whole "we used to date" facet to their relationship, we'll also have some conflict over their use of magic. Both Zatanna and John feel like the other is Doing It Wrong, but that's probably par for the course for most magicians. Zatanna see's John as someone with a massive amount of wasted potential. John sees Zatanna as someone who was born into magic (homo magi) who never had to work at it, or deal with the price of power like he did. Maybe we'll be able to get into the magic-side of class warfare?

The Helm currently has no wearer, which means it's pretty much stuck on the little island for the time being. It can leave in dire circumstances, but for the most part it has to remain so as to maintain the Balance. If at some point the Helm finds someone worthy of it, it gains a lot more freedom in its movements. With no bearer, the Helm can only leave for, say 15 minutes at a time. With a "make-do" bearer, it can leave for longer, say a day or more depending on the wearer's natural magical ability, with the Chosen bearer, leave is much longer, weeks, but in the end the Helm and Tower are linked. This may be important in the future. The Helm itself needs little backstory - it's essentially The Fatman to Zatanna and John's Jake. The last wearer died in a way the Helm does not like to talk about, which is why it has been working through agents for the past several years.

Still, the Helm will be represented in the badge itself. I've always thought it looked a little badge-like anyways, so it seems natural to me that the cover of Badge of Fate #1 would be a slightly fish-eyed view from a door's peep hole of Zatanna and John come knocking, the former holding up her badge so the viewer can see it. 

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