The Warrior, Part 3 of 3
They were having tea: the master, The Ancient, the man who had arrived with The Ancient, the master's old friend, and Bruce Wayne. The master was serving.
"What would The Ancient have done if I had failed the test?" Wayne asked.
The master translated the question, and everyone laughed loud and hard. Then, The Ancient said something back. Wayne looked at the master.
"He says that if he hadn't known how you would do on the test, he wouldn't have travelled all this way to see you," the master translated.
"If you no pass test, The Ancient no waste time," added the master's old friend in his broken English.
"Well, if he already knew how I was going to do, then he did waste his time," Wayne said. "Why have a test if he already knows how I'm going to do?"
The master translated Wayne's question, and everyone laughed again, even harder than before. The master's old friend laughed so hard, tea sprayed out of his nose. Wayne couldn't help but laugh a little himself, although he had no idea what was so funny.
While the others were still laughing, the master took it upon himself to answer Wayne's question.
"The test was so you would know, Mr. Wayne."
Rick looked around. It was unusual to have two meetings in the same week. Something must be happening. Johnny, Tyrone, Elliot, Abdul, the shooter, and a couple of others... something big must be happening....
Johnny started speaking.
"A couple of loser reporters are making some connections that we don't want made."
Rick looked around again. He was trying not to be obvious.
"This is causing problems not just for me, but for people I do business with." The boss sounded serious.
"Well, boss, your problems are our problems."
"Thanks, Rick, I appreciate that." The boss looked at his lawyer, Tyrone, and his accountant, Elliot. "Suppose they connect us to the Gotham Towers and to Aladdin. What kind of damage are we looking at?"
Tyrone and Elliot looked at each other, then looked back at the boss and just shook their heads.
The boss slammed his hand down on his desk. "That's what I mean." He looked around at everyone, slowly. "We got problems."
"Why don't we just have something happen to the reporters? After all, Gotham is in the midst of a 'War on Crime'," Johnny smiled. "Things happen every day, ya know what I mean?"
"Why not have our friends in the mayor's office declare them to be 'with the criminals'?" It was Elliot. "Gotham Police picks them up, they get one of these special, new interrogations that the mayor's office brags about.... That'll make an example out of 'em."
Rick didn't like speaking at these meetings, but he felt he had to say something again. "Who tipped these reporters off?"
"One of them was seen talking to that 'Batman' the other morning, like I was telling ya," answered the boss.
The boss looked at Rick, as Rick considered what the boss had just said, and, more importantly, how he had said it. The boss, like Johnny, was from the streets, but the boss had learned to speak educated English. When things got tense, though, the boss reverted back to the kind of English he had learned on the streets -- and the boss was doing that now.
"That's what I mean," Rick began. "The reporters are nothing. It's this 'Batman' that's causing us the problems. Shut the reporters up, this 'Batman' finds more reporters." Rick looked around. "It's this 'Batman' we gotta get."
"A very astute analysis, Rick," the boss said. "I like that." The boss swiveled around in his chair and looked out the window at Gotham's nighttime skyline.
Wayne sat dumbfounded as the master and the master's old friend cleaned up the tea that had spilled while everyone was laughing. Meanwhile, The Ancient and his companion were taking something out of a satchel. It was some kind of statue. The Ancient began to speak slowly, pausing frequently, as the master translated for him.
"You are afraid of bats, Mr. Wayne," the master began.
"How do you know?" Wayne asked quickly.
"The Ancient said so." The Ancient's companion handed Wayne the statue. It was a statue of a bat. The Ancient continued speaking.
"He is talking about the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table," the master continued.
Wayne looked at The Ancient, surprised to hear a reference to an English legend from such an old Asian man in a village in the middle of nowhere on the opposite end of the world.
"He says that you are about to become a member of a special group, something like the Knights of the Round Table, if you should choose to continue," the master explained. "It is a group that spans time and distance, with a history going back many generations," the master added, as The Ancient paused.
"How did he know about my fear of bats?" Wayne asked.
"Do you recall in the village when I told you that these two men were connected?" the master asked.
"Well, it's true, though not in the way you took it. The Ancient is connected. He perceives."
The Ancient continued speaking, as Wayne studied the statue of the bat.
"He says that you are very brave and very honorable. He is using several words in his language, but in English, it is one word: 'chivalrous'." The master paused as The Ancient continued, then the master translated again. "He says that like King Arthur's men, you are a knight in shining armor, Mr. Wayne."
The Ancient talked a great deal, making gestures toward his head, as the master nodded and listened.
"He is telling the story of the Monkey King," the master began. "The Monkey King was given a crown, and when he put the crown on, the monkey had magical powers and great intelligence. But, when he tried to use it for his own benefit, the magical powers failed him, and the crown tightened on his head, causing the monkey pain," the master explained. "In the same way, the gifts you have will only work if you use them to do good for those around you, like you sought to do for the little girl in the village today; otherwise, they will fail, and cause you pain."
The Ancient spoke some more, and the master translated.
"The Knights of the Round Table wore shining armor, but you shall be a dark knight and your armor shall be dark; you shall be a creature of the shadows and of the night. Your heart will be pure, and your works will be good, yet your existence and your reputation will strike terror in the hearts of those who do evil, and it is through this terror that you shall be victorious."
The master paused, and looked at The Ancient. Wayne looked down at the statue of the bat. He looked up again, and noticed The Ancient's gaze fixed on him and the statue. The Ancient continued speaking.
"That statue was made for you," the master translated, "centuries ago!"
Wayne looked at the statue. He was at a complete loss for words; all he could do was keep his mouth from dropping open. He noticed an inscription in three languages. One looked like Chinese; what the other two languages were, he couldn't even begin to guess. "What does the inscription say?"
"It is a prophecy. It was fulfilled once beyond all expectations, beyond even the wildest of dreams, two millenia ago by the greatest of warriors, and it has been fulfilled again periodically over the centuries, both before and after that event," the master explained, then paused as he looked at The Ancient. The Ancient nodded to him.
"It says: 'In a world darkened by the overcast of evil, one man will emerge, a warrior, and in defense of justice, he will work magic.'"
Wayne thought about the fortune-teller's six cards: The World, Darkness, Evil, The Warrior, Justice, and The Magician.
The Ancient continued speaking, and the master translated: "Just as the Knights of the Round Table each had a name that he was known by, so will you have a name that you shall be known by."
Wayne looked at the statue of the bat, remembering also the drawing of the bat he had been given by the fortune-teller, as she explained that it was his destiny.
Choked up, Bruce Wayne drifted away in the thoughts and images that raced through his mind: his parents' murder before his eyes when he was a child; the teachings of the master; his own readiness to sacrifice everything to defend a lost little girl in a foreign land....
Tears clouded his eyes as he quietly asked, his voice breaking, a question that he knew had been answered hundreds of years before he was born.
"What will my name be?"
The boss turned back from the window, and looked around at the people in the room, making eye contact with everyone. Then, he slowly looked upward and thoughtfully stared at the ceiling.
"I have given a name to my problems," he announced with great deliberation, "and it is 'Batman'."