Talia walked in and kissed her father, greeting him warmly.
"Hi, my dear! And how is your friend?"
"He's better now. He's fine," she answered cheerfully. "I plan to visit him again tomorrow." She smiled at him. "Thanks for asking."
"It seems Nyssa is interested in him, too," he commented.
"So I heard," Talia commented dryly. The thought of competing with Nyssa....
Talia paused, studying her father: somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew there was more to the story. "There's something else you should know," she began.
The news was showing images of Aladdin, and explaining how Aladdin was once again calling for Gotham's inhabitants to submit to his will.
"Why again?" The man looked at the television screen, and wondered aloud. "If everything is in place, and Gotham has been offered the chance before to submit, why make the offer again? Why another delay?"
Behind him, a tall, bearded figure smiled an almost grandfatherly smile.
"Patience," he quietly replied. "Remember that we serve a cause greater than ourselves. We must set aside our own desires, and do things as appropriate for the greater good."
The man turned away from the television, and looked at the bearded figure behind him.
"And when they do not heed this latest warning? What then? Yet another?"
"Patience," he repeated. "When the time is right, the people of Gotham City will come face-to-face with the power that makes the stars shine in the night sky."
With great care, the bearded figure picked up a book and raised his eyes toward heaven. "When the time is right, Gotham City will touch the sun."
The master and Bruce Wayne were walking through the village.
"Talia came and checked on you again this morning, but when she saw that you were still asleep, she did not want to disturb you. Besides, she said she had some business to take care of," the master commented. "She said she would come again tomorrow."
Wayne nodded. "What happened?"
"Well, three days ago we left for the Buddhist temple in the hills. It is about a day's journey, on foot," the master began. "As we were leaving the village, you stopped in the market here," he pointed at the nearby market, "and bought some 'Emperor' brand cookies." The master looked at Wayne. "From that point on, your behavior was quite strange, although we thought you were joking."
Wayne looked at the master.
"You said you were going to visit the emperor." The master looked again at the market. "When we got to the temple, you addressed one of the monks as 'Venerable Father', then you lit a candle and handed it to one of the Buddhist nuns who was visiting the temple."
They were approaching the fortune teller's house, and her table was out, but she herself did not seem to be around anywhere.
"You then wanted to explore in the temple, and you walked inside a large storeroom. As you were doing this, the nun commented that you appeared to be delirious. The monk agreed, and then we all realized the reason for your bizarre behavior. You had commented a couple of times that you felt cold, even though the day was fairly warm. We realized you had a fever."
The fortune teller stepped out of her house and looked at Wayne.
"We spent the night at the monastery, and the next day were looking for a way to get you back home, when we bumped into this friend of yours, that young lady named Talia. It just so happened that she and a young man, an employee of hers, it seems, were out on some business in a truck. Well, she immediately insisted on driving us back home -- we knew you wouldn't be able to walk, it was quite opportune, really. She bought some teas and some herbs for you, and insisted on staying and keeping watch over you until your fever broke. Do you remember she was there when you woke up?"
"Vaguely," Wayne answered, as he began to steer the master over toward the fortune teller's table. Wayne wanted to hear if she had anything to say about all this.
"Well, you slept some more yesterday, Talia stopped in again this morning while you were still asleep, you woke up later, and now here you are," the master explained. "Are you sure you are feeling better?"
"I feel fine," Wayne answered.
"Nevertheless, perhaps you should take it easy for a day or so, just to be sure."
Wayne nodded in agreement. It seemed like good advice.
Walking up to the fortune teller's table, the woman smiled at Wayne, and bowed her head, then produced a shiny object. It was a sun-medallion.
With both hands, she reached over and presented it to Wayne.
Upon touching it, Wayne stumbled, off balance. Thoughts and images flashed through his mind: giant buildings burning, exploding, collapsing, their people falling dozens of floors to their deaths; a bright light in a box, threatening Gotham City, and a giant bat circling overhead; and, finally, another bright light, and a figure walking out of the light and touching Wayne.
As quickly as they came, the thoughts and images departed, and Wayne was left shaken, unable to understand what had just happened.
Something had just touched him.
"Are you okay, Mr. Wayne?"
Wayne looked at the master, who was holding Wayne's arm, trying to keep him from falling over.
"Yes, I'm fine," he answered, breathing shallowly. "I'm fine."
The fortune teller looked at him with a knowing smile.
Wayne went to bow down to thank her, and to kiss her hand, as he did when she gave him a gift, but she would not allow that, and instead said something to the master, as she kneeled down and kissed Wayne's hand.
"That is quite strange indeed," the master commented. "Quite bizarre."
The master looked at Wayne.
"She says that she must kiss your hand," the master explained. "She says you have 'touched the sun'."
Ra's al Ghul swiveled his chair toward the window, and gazed out at the forest.
He was thinking of the criminal mastermind Aladdin, and Aladdin's hatred for Gotham City. Aladdin had tried to destroy the Gotham Towers once, but his attempt failed. In the right circles, everyone knew he would try again.
But Ra's al Ghul knew something more; he knew that it would not end with the destruction of the Gotham Towers.
He turned to his daughter, thinking about his daughter's new friend, the young "detective" as Ra's al Ghul called him, who was staying with the master in the village.
"If this indeed has happened, Talia," he thoughtfully said, "then your friend, Bruce Wayne, is the most dangerous man on earth."
Bruce Wayne stood in the center of the room. His demeanor, his total being, conveyed determination.
He knew that what he sought was there, somewhere, lurking nearby.
"Pay attention to your surroundings, Master Bruce," Alfred had said.
Wayne knew he had to be careful not to overlook the obvious.
With his highly trained gaze, he methodically, systematically searched the room. He was determined to miss absolutely nothing. He surveyed every corner, every container... he judged where something could be hidden, no matter how small....
In a kitchen this size, he thought, there had to be another sweet roll somewhere!