Power Girl interrupted the tale. “Wait a minute! So Batman knew he could use Nichols’ hoodoo to get back in time to when the herbs were more plentiful and in the box? I guess, with time travel, anything is possible. Why not just go back to before Batwoman touched the box and warn her?” she asked.
Red Robin kissed her and said, “It doesn’t work that way. Batman knew that changing time could cause unforeseen effects. We never had that trouble doing things the Nichols way.”
Power Girl frowned and crossed her legs. “That makes no sense, but you do have a proven track record of success. So, did Batman have the Prof send him back to where the box came from?”
“Right,” said Red Robin. “Via the same method, he journeyed back to the source of the box’s odd inner lining — Camelot!”
“How’d he know it came from Camelot? I suppose you’ll say it had a little Made By Merlin label!” she scoffed.
“No! It had a crest Bruce recognized,” said Red Robin. “One you should know, too. It’s sort of your family crest, in that it was the symbol of the Kent family,” he said, smiling.
“The Silent Knight!” cried Power Girl.
“Exactly!” said Red Robin as he continued the story.
Having returned to his own time, Batman noted that the box lacked the lining that he had seen when Prince Jon showed him the version his sister had owned.
“The lining must have worn away or been replaced between Jon’s day and my time,” mused Batman. “The original lining was still present in Jon’s era — lining I recognize as carrying the heraldic symbol of Sir Brian of Kent, alias the Silent Knight!”
After a hasty talk with Professor Carter Nichols, the Caped Crusader found himself in the days of knights.
Robin would love this! he thought as he approached a castle that was the ancestral seat of the Kents.
“Halt, knave!” said a grim guard.
“I seek an audience with Sir Brian!” said Batman.
“Sir Brian? You mean the whelp who dwells with Sir Oswald?” sneered the man. “He’ll likely turn maiden before he ere gains knighthood!”
“He’s gone!” gasped the startled guard as he glanced for the now-missing Batman.
From above, Batman swung up and over the gateways and raced across the top to drop down far behind the guards. “Can’t get good help these days… or knights!” he joked. Batman then spotted a blond lad in a stable combing down a horse.
“Easy, Argo,” cooed the lad.
“Brian of Kent?” asked Batman.
“Yes. Who are you, sir?” asked the lad who would one day be the Silent Knight. “What manner of odd raiment do you wear?”
“I am a friend,” he replied. “I am known as Batman because of my emblem.”
“Odd title, but one most striking,” said the boy. “How may I aid thee?”
“I seek a box with your seal or crest within the lining,” explained Batman, “a box of gold with a raised lid. A life may hang in the balance.”
“The sign of the Kents has always been a hawk or falcon,” Brian said with a puzzled look. “Such a box would indeed belong to our kin. However, no such box do I know ought about.”
Batman frowned. “Your father or mother might have owned it. Did your mother keep her jewels in such a casket?”
“No, sir. The Lady Julia had no such box, but perhaps, if it be of decorative design, it could be found nearby,” he said wistfully. “The cavern of Wyrd holds many golden objects which I would one day hope to earn.”
“Take me to this Cave of Wyrd, please,” requested Batman.
Soon they rode across the estate to a wooded glade.
“Yonder lies the cave where a wyvern is said to dwell,” said Brian. “No man may live who dares enter the abode of Wyrd!”
“A dragon!” said Batman. “That figures.” He stopped the lad before their horses reached the cavern mouth and said with a smile, “I suggest we take the back door!”
As Brian watched in awe, Batman placed a small pellet from his belt against the wall of the cavern where it sloped into a hillside. “Stand back!” he said.
The explosive rocked the hillside and split open the cavern’s rear.
“Zounds! You do magic like fabled Merlin!” said Brian.
“Follow me, but be careful!” said Batman as he led the youth into the rocky chamber. He spotted gold and cups, coins, necklaces, and indeed chests. “There! That fits the size and shape of what I seek. Perhaps this could be easier than I’d hoped.”
Brian smiled. “I always knew the legends were truth!”
“Perhaps you’ll inspire a legend or two yourself someday!” said Batman as he ruffled the lad’s hair.
“Perhaps you’ll enhance mine own legend by being the only man to survive my anger for over hundreds of years, only to die at my pet’s claws!” said a dark man.
“Immortius!” cried Batman as he saw the man he had fought centuries later.
“You recall my name from our duel in Rome!” said the evil man. “How fitting, then. I have never forgotten your cursed symbol. I assumed you to be an heir of the man who defeated me, but to my wondering eyes, you are the man himself — survived through the generations, even as have I!”
“You want the chest!” said Batman.
“Want it?” he sneered. “I plan to use it along with much of the wealth my pet has won for me!”
Brian gasped as a huge, scaly wyvern rose up from under the piles of truer. “Good sir, ‘twould seem all the legends ’bout this place be true!” he cried.
Batman wasted little time. “Brian, stay back!” He ran forward and tackled Immortius. “You can call that creature off! Do so now!” he said.
“You don’t kill, Batman!” he said struggling with the powerful hero. “You showed me that weakness back in Rome!”
The wyvern spread its leathery wings and turned toward the pair.
Brian drew his sword. “This be the day I prove myself to all, or die trying!” He charged the wyvern, only to be sent flying by a sweep of its huge wings.
The monster turned to confront the brave lad, and Batman saw his chance. He shoved Immortius back and hurled his line around the creature’s narrow neck. He strained to hold back the hungry beast.
Immortius laughed. “I rule this day. You rue this day!” He handled an odd scepter in his gloved hand.
Batman shouted, “Brian, get the box!”
Brian rushed toward the box, only to have Immortius step in his way.
“Bah! No stripling can challenge one who was old when the pyramids were made!” he said.
Brian grimaced. “I am not afraid!” He stood his ground and struck out with his sword. The man called Immortius cursed as the boy’s well-aimed blows kept him occupied.
Meanwhile, Batman released the wyvern at once and tossed a batarang toward Immortius. He disarmed the evil man and smiled as he caught Brian and pulled him toward the box. As the youth grabbed it, Batman saw a frantic Immortius leap for the scepter.
“Cursed fiend!” he gasped. “The scepter is all that holds yon beast in my power!”
The wyvern, free from all control, snapped at the villain as Batman pushed Brian to safety.
“Run, lad! This day’s battle is over,” Batman said to assure the chivalrous lad. “I can assure you that our foe will also escape the fangs of the wyvern to fight anew!”
As they exited the cavern, the struggling monster brought down the roof.
“We barely made it out,” said Brian. “Is this the box you wanted? It would make a fine jewel box for a lady fair!”
Batman examined the box. It was clearly what he sought; however, the herbs within were in the same amount as those he had given to the Viking Prince a few centuries hence.
The crumbled remnants of more herbs flaked out when we opened the box, mused Batman. That means there once were more within. I suppose all I can do is use Nichols’ method to go back to ancient Rome when the herbs were first put in the box by Immortius. From his words, it seems like I already did so, anyway!
Batman noticed that the poison needle was not in this era’s box. “Fascinating. The needle must have been added after this time, but before Jon found it,” he realized.
“You are the bravest knight I ever saw!” said Brian.
Batman grinned. “You will make a fine knight. You have courage, skill, and, most of all, heart. You cared for the fate of Immortius when he would have coldly killed us both. Heart makes a true hero.”
“I hope to become a knight one day, too,” said Brian, “to prove to Sir Oswald that I have the ability to be someone worthy.”
Batman nodded, even as he thought of the irony inherent in the lad’s desire for fame. He would be a hero as the Silent Knight, but he would long keep his identity a secret for many reasons. He tossed the box to Brian. “Keep it for your own lady love someday!”
Brian nodded. “‘Twould make a fine keepsake box with our family crest added within. Someday.”
Batman journeyed onward.
Power Girl smiled. “I bet this Brian of Kent did, in fact, give the box to some future bride with their crest added to the lining. Then someone added the poison needle trap before it ended up in that cavern in Norway, where Batman and Jon the Viking Prince found it.”
Red Robin nodded. “See, I love you for more than your legs! That’s what we figured occurred. Brian later had a famous romance, and his wife used the box.”
“Tell me — is this Immortius creep Vandal Savage?” asked Power Girl. “I mean, he was around back then under various names.”
“Nope,” said Red Robin. “Savage never needed an artificial means to keep his immortality. This guy was someone else with a chemical-based immortality. Batman never encountered him after he entered that cave where Garm was resting. I guess the big dog killed the foe like Batman suspected.”
“Yeah, but he obviously survived the wyvern somehow in order to have fought Bruce in Viking times,” said Power Girl.
Red Robin nodded. “True, but how many immortal madmen could there be out there plotting against the world? Let’s be glad Immortius met his end.”
“So Batman went to Rome and fought Immortius for what was chronologically the first time!” said Power Girl.
Red Robin continued the story.
Batman had gained a sense of hope from the fact that he had learned that the poison only created a sleep, and not death itself. That gave him hope that he had time to rescue Batwoman.
Hang on Kathy! he thought as Professor Carter Nichols hypnotized him once again and sent him back to the glory and grandeur of ancient Rome.
I know I apparently met and defeated Immortius here, and he is obviously the man who put the herbs in the box, even if he didn’t make it to begin with, thought Batman. I suspect it holds more of a secret than even he knows. The wear and tear of ages did nothing to damage the box itself. I wonder if it is of alien or magical construction.
The Caped Crusader climbed high above the city and watched the passersby. “The Forum will be the place he’ll be, if he is here at all. No doubt of that,” he decided, knowing the public center was the very heart of the so-called immortal city.
He watched, and in what seemed a short time, he spotted his man. Immortius! he thought. He wears a toga, but is not any younger than he was centuries later in Britain! His immortality either developed when he reached his fifties, or he may have been middle-aged for eons!
The man called Immortius walked with the languor and the pride of a citizen born. He was surrounded by slaves, and his chariot was regal.
He seems to be a man of importance here, mused Batman.
Tracking him back to a large home high on a hill, Batman prepared to confront him. “Immortius! You and I have business to settle!” he declared as he stepped inside.
“From the look of you, I best allow my guards to deal with you!” said the evil man. He clapped his hands, and armored men rushed inside with swords drawn.
“I’ve seen this picture before!” joked Batman.
A man in golden armor rushed inside to help him as the soldiers charged the Caped Crusader.
“Thanks, friend!” said Batman as he jumped over a guard and elbowed him to the floor.
The man in gold smiled and knocked another man down with the flat of his sword. “Anyone fighting Cinna is my friend!” he vowed.
“Cinna? I thought he was called Immortius!” said Batman as he knocked down another man.
“Nay! He is the fiend who once owned me,” said the swordsman as he slammed his sword down on a guard. “He is the cause of the sorrows that have marked my life. He is the bane of my life. Alas, he is also the uncle of my true love, Lucia!”
“Cinna? Wait, I’ve heard of you,” Batman said as the stalwart champion struggled through the armored men with ease. “You are the finest fighter Rome ever had. You are Marcus the Golden Gladiator!”
Marcus brought his knee up into a guard’s stomach and tossed him toward Cinna or Immortius who watched from within. “I did acquire a bit of fame when I won the Golden Helmet and my freedom from the gladiator pits,” said the warrior, “but I still fight this wicked old man for he plots against the empire as a whole, and me in particular!”
“Don’t stop fighting him!” said Batman. “You’ll win Lucia. I have faith in you!” I also read the chapter on Marcus in Gibbon’s history! he added inwardly as he tried to reach Immortius.
“Immortius! The herbs you use for vitality are needed to save a life!” he said. “Surrender a few, and we’ll end this brawl!”
The dark man laughed. “I share my possessions with no one. That includes the nubile, young niece of mine called Lucia!”
Marcus hurled his spear and pinned Immortius to the floor by his toga. “Don’t soil her name with your foul tongue!” he cried.
Batman grabbed Immortius and said, “Call off the warriors! I see the very herbs I need in that bowl!” He pushed past Immortius to grab the herbs that would save Batwoman from her trance.
As Batman passed the evil man, Immortius drew a dagger and charged him. But Marcus jumped between them and took the dagger in one shoulder as it glanced across his gleaming armor.
Batman whirled to knock Immortius flat. “You could have killed this man — all for your senseless vanity!” he said, shaking the evil man.
“Kill me if you must,” he sneered. “I shall never grovel to a former slave, even if he is accompanied by one of the very Furies from Olympus!”
“I don’t kill,” said Batman. “Release Lucia from her room.”
Cinna/Immortius reluctantly handed him a key. “Free her and let her join her beloved gladiator,” he laughed. “I have time to gain my revenge! Let all of Rome fall — I shall still survive!”
Opening the door, Marcus soon embraced a beautiful girl who kissed him passionately. “Take me away from here, my love!” she begged.
Marcus smiled at her and said, “Lucia, we owe much to this man. He fought off half the guards as I made my way to you.”
Batman pocketed the herbs and said, “I owe a life or two to you, Golden Gladiator! I thank you!”
“More prisoners within that room, I’d say!” cried Marcus as he kicked open another locked door.
“Stop!” cried Immortius. “The other gladiators are within that cell! They’ll rip me apart!”
Indeed, the angry slaves stormed out to tackle the struggling Immortius.
Batman led Lucia and Marcus away from the scene. “I can assure you that Cinna — or Immortius, as I knew him — will survive this attack, although I believe his power here is shattered,” he explained. “His warriors are beaten, and his slaves are freed. He’s finished here; all he has left is his immortality.”
Lucia frowned. “He claimed to me my uncle Cinna, but I’ve never found any trace of family features. I’d almost think him to be an impostor.”
Batman nodded. “The name of Cinna carries weight in Rome. He may have killed the true Cinna and taken his name long ago.”
As if on cue, Batman found himself departing this era. Strange… Professor Nichols seems to have some failsafe that brings us back when we finish what needs to be done!
After leaving Professor Nichols as Bruce Wayne, he resumed his Batman role and returned to the Batcave, where he gave the herbs to Batwoman and watched in relief as she awakened.
“Batman! I feel as if I slept a hundred years!” she said with a yawn.
“More than a hundred by my calendar,” he said with a smile.
Power Girl looked over the little gold box. “Man! All that trouble for this thing!” she said. “Still, after it led Batman through three perilous adventures in time with three famous heroes of history, I’d say it earned a spot in your little Bat trophy case.”
Red Robin agreed. “Funny thing is the herbs came from Immortius, but the box was another mystery entirely. Being so durable, I see you can’t quite bend it, either. I guess we’ll never learn the secret of the golden box.”
They would, but that could wait for another tale.