34 Feathers in the Wind #34

Gazing at the laptop, now bearing the dubious badge of honor with bloodstains from its former residency in the guard cabin, I couldn't suppress a wince. Acquiring it was no walk in the park, but hey, beggars can't be choosers, right? 

Placing the laptop on the ground, I settled into a prime patch of dirt for a potentially enlightening date with technology.

"Ugh... could it be any more of a relic?" I grumbled, giving the loading screen the side-eye. Minutes passed, each tick of the clock echoing my impatience, until the laptop finally wheezed to life. Once fully operational, I nonchalantly inserted the question mark-shaped thumb drive, tapping my fingers while waiting for the digital dance to unfold.

"Here we go...," I muttered, delving into the folder to find only a modest rich text document. Curiosity piqued, I opened it to discover a grand total of four lines:

In twilight's sweet embrace, where the sun takes its final flight,

Where feathers catch the wind, traversing the night.

Seek the hidden realm where shadows gently swing,

Decipher this verse, and the clown shall sing.

I blinked at the poetic riddle. "Well, aren't we fancy? Typical Riddler," I remarked, scratching my head. 

Time to don the detective hat and unravel the mysteries woven into this cryptic message. The first clue that leaped out at me was the word "clown" in the last line. Now, we're not hosting a circus in the asylum, so it has to be either the Joker or Harley Quinn. 

The Joker, being the elusive prankster he is, is probably off somewhere concocting his next chaotic masterpiece since I haven't heard anything about him recently.

 On the other hand, Harley Quinn, thanks to Batman's efforts, is enjoying the delightful amenities of Arkham. My money's on her, but with the Joker, you can never be too certain. 

I honestly didn't want to deal with either of those two lunatics, but it can't be helped. Brace yourself for possible clown encounters, I guess.

Now, onto the third line instructing me to seek a hidden realm, a.k.a. a place within the asylum. So, logic tells me the answers and the directions to said realm lie in the first two lines since they both contain the word "where." 

"Twilight's sweet embrace, where the sun takes its final flight" is just poetic gibberish for saying west. Easy enough. Now, the third line seemed a bit more daunting to crack. It's like deciphering hieroglyphs with a broken Rosetta Stone.

Gazing at the words "Where, feathers, and wing," I sensed a puzzle waiting to be unraveled, like a cryptic game of charades. Clearly, it was pointing to a location associated with flight, dovetailing with the first line's mention of the sun's final flight to the west. 

But what on earth—or in Arkham—could it be? Sky? Mixing it with the west would make it west sky, which didn't make any sense. 

Airport? Unless they started manufacturing feathered planes, that didn't seem plausible, and good luck finding an airport in Arkham Asylum. There weren't any airports on the western side of Gotham either. 

"Ugh... this is frying my brain," I groaned, rubbing my temples. A real noodle-scratcher, huh?

As I lounged on the grass, pondering the riddle, a distant gunshot pierced the air. The sudden burst of sound startled the local avian community, prompting a flurry of feathers drifting gracefully to the ground. 

My eyes tracked one feather's descent, and bingo! A eureka moment ensued, minus the light bulb lighting up over my head.

 "Where feathers catch wind... 'where' isn't just a place; it's a clever play on words. It's the west wing, as in the section of the asylum!" I exclaimed, rising from my grassy contemplation spot, thoroughly pleased with my decoding prowess.

Still, The more I thought about the puzzle, the more I marveled at its intricacy—a trap within a trap, hints woven into hints. 

That deceptive "where" had me scrambling for a location, and sure enough, it led to a wing of the asylum, the western one to be precise, but in this case, it meant a section of a building that had nothing to do with flight. 

Yet, a sly twist came into play when I considered its synonym—the very wing of a bird, which is exactly where feathers catch the wind. 

Pure genius, if I do say so. Hats off to the Riddler for this mind-bender. But enough with the fanboy moment over the green menace; there's still a whole lot on my to-do list.

Snatching up the radio device, I swiftly connected with Commissioner Gordon. "Commissioner? Agent Jon Jones here. Ran into a bit of a hiccup with some rowdy inmates, but consider them prepped and waiting for your squad at the second checkpoint along the road, near the guard cabin.": 

The commissioner's voice crackled back, a hint of surprise evident. "How in the...?" he began before deciding against pursuing that line. "Never mind. Sending my crew to deal with the inmates now."

"Also, I'll need the best gas mask you can get me. Send it with one of your men as soon as possible," I said, and the commissioner replied with a simple "Affirmative," ending the conversation. 

Detecting the resigned acceptance tone in his voice, I couldn't help but chuckle as I put away the radio device. "That's right, old timer. Don't question it... better for your mental health that way..." I muttered, leisurely leaning against the nearest tree, waiting for Gordon's men.


Within the reception area of the west wing, the power outage had shrouded everything in darkness, and the scent of blood lingered in the air. What was once a low-security section for less dangerous inmates had transformed into a gruesome scene of chaos as various unhinged individuals unleashed havoc upon the asylum.

Amidst the carnage, one inmate felt right at home. Standing shirtless, his back adorned with scars resembling tally marks, he loomed over a less dangerous resident of the west wing. 

The crazed expression on Victor Zsasz's pale face revealed the delight he took in the terror of his prey. His knife pressed against the terrified inmate's neck as he questioned, "Tell me, why are you so afraid? Why resist?"

The scarred inmate's voice held genuine curiosity, but the fear-stricken patient could only shake his head, unable to articulate a response. 

Victor Zsasz sighed in disappointment, contemplating the pitiful existence before him. "I'm here to free you from your pathetic, mundane existence. So why do you show me such a pathetic expression?" he mused, preparing to end the patient's life and put him out of his supposed suffering. 

However, his dark intentions were interrupted by the echoing footsteps that reverberated through the reception area. 

Victor Zsasz turned abruptly at the sound of approaching footsteps. The demented villain lifted the helpless patient, keeping the knife on his neck as he cautiously regarded the newcomer. 

Dressed in everyday attire, the newcomer concealed his head and face with a hood and a gas mask, exuding an air of nonchalance with hands tucked into his pockets.

Releasing the trembling patient, Zsasz rose to his feet, fully facing the intruder. "Are you here to be freed?" he inquired, a disturbingly wide grin stretching across his pale face. 

The masked man regarded him, tilting his head in apparent amusement. "Whatever gave you that idea?" he replied, the muffled voice from the gas mask carrying an air of mystery.

Raising an eyebrow, Zsasz questioned, "Don't we all long to be liberated from this wretched existence?" There was a genuine sense of sincerity in his inquiry. 

The masked man chuckled softly, taking in the chaotic surroundings. "And I suppose you helped liberate these patients...? By killing them...?" he asked, redirecting his gaze to Victor Zsasz, who nodded eagerly in response. 

"Indeed. I've freed the essence of these people from the loathsome mortal shells they call bodies... they are unburdened now," Zsasz proclaimed, his excitement growing with each word.

The man grinned subtly beneath his gas mask. "Yet here you stand, still entangled in the same state of mundane existence," he mused. "Maybe it's not these victims you're trying to liberate but rather yourself. Maybe these unfortunate souls mean nothing to you," he continued, his words lingering in the eerie atmosphere.

"Your actions might not stem from an altruistic desire to free others but are instead fueled by past trauma and delusions. Maybe, in essence, you're nothing more than a deranged killer," he calmly concluded, maintaining an air of detachment. 

These words stirred a turbulent reaction in Victor Zsasz, manifesting as gritted teeth and a contorted expression of anger and resentment.

"NO! NO! I'm the chosen one! I will liberate this world from suffering!" Zsasz vehemently retorted, forcefully shoving aside the patient he used as a hostage. "You will see once I free you!" he declared, charging aggressively toward the masked man.


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