Lightest of Nights: A Deck of Minds
Connecting the Dots
The Riddler's voice had come and gone once more. And just like previous attempts Damian had failed to get a distinct lock on the location for where Riddler was broadcasting from.
"There must be another way," Damian declared. "This method for trying to track Nigma is proving to be ineffective. I need to find a way to spring him out into the open.. but how?"
His entire mindset completely shifted. In his mind taking a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive one would be the fastest way to determining Riddler's location.
Hiroshi held the phone close to his ear. He moved back and forth in a secluded area of the gallery. The tune of the ring played clearly in his ear, fading as it had the past four attempts. With no success Hiroshi placed the phone back into his pocket.
"Still no luck in getting in contact with him," Hiroshi stated.
"Of course not," said Haibara. She did not seem surprised by this development in the least.
Hiroshi was curious as to why. "What are you trying to say? That you know why Shinichi hasn't contacted us back?"
"I believe I do," replied Haibara. There was an assurance to be heard within her voice. "One of the communicator devices the Riddler spoke of in his initial broadcast, I'm certain Shinichi found the one located here."
"You really believe so?"
Haibara nodded. "I do." There was no mistaking it. "He must be locked in the challenge Riddler keeps speaking of."
"You're right." Hiroshi now felt enlightened. "That in itself would prevent him, or at least keep him from being able to respond at this time."
"There's no telling how long this will drag on for."
"There must be something we can do to help," Hiroshi said.
"There isn't much we can do with the limited information we have," replied Haibara. "For now all we can do is wait."
Hiroshi smiled. "He'll pull through. He always does."
Nightwing placed a hand above his eyes, shielding his view from the brightness of the sun.
"What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides," spoke Nightwing aloud.
"We both agree the location we need to find is in Gotham," radioed Kogoro. "I'm not particularly familiar with Gotham if I am to be honest."
"Perhaps you'll be able to determine the location after we have pieced it all together," Kogoro said. "We've already determined the meaning of the riddle at face value, what each element represents."
"All that is left to do is apply it to a location we need to find," Nightwing concluded.
"Our biggest hint in the riddle is darkness intertwined with light."
"How do you figure?"
"I see it this way," Kogoro began. "The location we're looking for will be considered in high regard by most, possibly even well known. On the flip side, it will be a place that holds a darker side, something secretive.. something your average tourist would not be aware of."
"Tying directly with the yin/yang and two sides of a coin point we agreed on," said Nightwing. "You know, you might just be onto something."
"Is there any place in Gotham you can think of that could fall in line with the described?"
"Nothing at the top of my head comes to mind," admitted Nightwing.
The former boy wonder raised a hand to his chin. He thought hard on the matter. Many possibilities came to mind, all of which lacked a distinctive or notable importance to the city itself. Nightwing was certain whatever it was Riddler was hinting at would be a location of importance. Over four minutes had passed since they last heard from the Riddler, meaning only six minutes remained.
"Wherever it is, I better figure it out. Time is fading, and fast."
In another part of Gotham
Flash had since stopped running. To decode the mystery was to break it down piece by piece.
"My heat runs to serve all. My voice can be heard from behind, from below, even from above. What am I?" The words of the given riddle looped in his mind over and over.
"Yo, Flash," Kaitou Kid dispatched. "About the first line of the riddle, what do you think 'heat' is representing in this case?"
Flash replied. "I believe the heat in this case is directly referencing the location we need to find," Flash noted. "A location that is seemingly everywhere, that is if we take the riddle at face value."
"Runs to serve all."
"What was that?" Flash asked.
"That is the line directly following the mention of 'heat'," Kaitou Kid responded. "A line which I feel we have overlooked. It could very well be the key to determining where the mystery location is."
Flash came to a complete stop in that moment. "There are two parts of that sentence to breakdown."
"Runs," Kaitou Kid began. "Run like the wind, as they say."
"To serve all," Flash completed.
"Runs.. that could very well be implying the location we need to find is possibly one that is moving?"
It was now starting to come together. "My voice can be heard from behind, from below, even from above," repeated Flash in reference to the second half of the riddle. "That part of the riddle seems to back that possibility. If you can be heard from below one moment, behind another, and above the next then it would stand to reason the location we're looking for is in fact one that is moving!"
"To serve all," said Kaitou Kid. "That's the key to unlocking the what and where. What could it be that is moving that serves all? Any ideas?"
Flash's mind ran through several possibilities, all while remembering everything Riddler had said to them in his last message. The speedster's eyes widened after recalling Riddler's closing statement.
"I've got it!" exclaimed Flash.
Kaitou Kid was pleased to hear this. "Please do share?"
"May luck come to your stop," Flash conveyed in response. "That was the last thing the Riddler said before cutting off communication."
"What runs to serve all that comes to your stop?" questioned Flash. "The answer, a train."
"So the riddle was hinting at a train," Kaitou Kid realized. "Any idea where this supposed train is located?"
"The Gotham Rail." Flash was certain of this. "Kaitou Kid, do I have your consent in going to-"
"Gotham Railit is."
Nothing more needed to be said. The agreement was clear. Flash took off, wasting not another moment.
He stood silently in the west corner of the building he stood atop. How much time had passed since the challenge was issued? Three minutes? Five? The riddles content surfed through his conscious with every passing moment.
'To find me is to pass the hills and bridges. I am a goddess, I am a lord. My beauty mark of 2071 is matched by few. In my heart lies what you seek'.
What was it? What grounds held the mystery of the riddle?
His thoughts would soon be interrupted. "Knight, can I ask you something?"
"What is it?"
"2071,what does it mean to you? As I noted earlier, I believe it is hinting at a coordinance to the location we need to find."
Batman gave some thought to it himself. "Maybe.." Something hit him in that moment. "That's right."
Everything was slowly coming together. "From the beginning the theme of Riddler's game has been a mirrored misdirection and time. This is no different."
Conan was curious as to what was meant by this. "I'm open for elaboration."
"2071, a mirrored reflection gives us 1702. A number which I believe does not refer to a particular coordinance, but rather time," explained Batman.
"Time as in?"
"A year," replied Batman. "The year 1702. The location we need to find I believe is tied directly to that year in some important way."
"You might be onto something."
"To find me is to pass the hills and bridges."
"I am a goddess, I am a lord," Batman continued. "Could it be that the location we seek is viewed in high regard?"
"My beauty mark of 2071, or rather 1702 is matched by.. hold on." Conan paused.
Had he figured something out? Batman wanted to know. "What is it detective?"
"Hills and bridges, a goddess.. a lord. A beauty mark of the year 1702." Conan couldn't be any more certain. "That has to be it, Rikugien Garden!"
"Rikugien Garden, established in the Edo Period on the date of 1702," said Batman.
"You're more informed than I would have thought."
"Rikugien Garden certainly falls in line with all of the details of the riddle."
"So, are we in agreement that Rikugien is the location that needs to be investigated?" asked Conan.
"You have my permission to proceed."
"That's all I needed to hear," said Conan. "Though there is one problem, Rikugien is closed off to the public. Viewing hours are from nine a.m. to five."
"And that will stop you from entering?"
"Well.. of course not."
"Remember, 'In my heart lies what you seek', which means whatever the Riddler wants us to find will be somewhere near the center of the garden."
"My thoughts exactly."
"One final thing, once you've reached the premises of Rikugien, stay alert," Batman stated. "There's no telling if the Riddler set up any kind of traps. I certainly wouldn't put it past him."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"We've gone over all necessary details. Now go," Batman instructed. "We have less than seven minutes before the deadline is reached."
Nothing more needed to be said. Not wasting another moment Conan leaped aboard his skateboard before soaring off into the direction of Rikugien Garden.
Kogoro and Nightwing were the only two who had yet to determine the location for where their riddle was pointing.
"What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides," Kogoro said aloud. "Come on Hartwell-san, you must have an idea to where the Riddler is referring to?"
"Before we can figure that out, we still need to determine what grounds the Riddler is referencing in the riddle," replied Nightwing. "It is clearly something specific. That there is where the problem lies."
"How do you mean?" Kogoro asked.
"To put it short, there are a number a possibilities," replied Nightwing. "There has to be something.. maybe something Riddler said earlier that could give us a further hint to the location."
"Or perhaps you're only focusing on the eye instead of the entire face," replied Kogoro.
"What I am trying to say is." Kogoro paused. "Perhaps you're looking for a specific detail in a painting, instead of looking at it in its entirety. Maybe the riddle isn't referring to a specific location, but rather Gotham City as a whole?"
Nightwing took his words into account. Silence fell between the two for many seconds.
"Hey, Hartwell-san," Kogoro radioed. "You still there?"
Realization kicked in at that moment. "That's it!" Nightwing chanted. "Detective Mouri, you're a genius!"
"I.. I am?"
"I now know the location for where the riddle was referring to. I need to get to the Gotham City Police Department," Nightwing conveyed. "Do I have your permission to make my move?"
"Wooh woh, slow down," Kogoro said. "Aren't you going to tell me how you got to your conclusion?"
"I'll explain in time," Nightwing promised. "Please Mouri, we don't have much time."
"You better be right." There was uncertainty heard in his voice.
"Is that a yes?"
"You have my consent."
Nightwing was pleased to hear this. "Cool. I won't let you down. Hartwell out."
Kogoro stood in silence in his corner of the rooftop. He looked upward to spot the number of helicopters that continued to search the city. All he could do now was wait.
Where was the Riddler? Where was Ran Mouri? That was the question of the hour, and also his mission to determine.
"If I am not able to track the Riddler electronically then I'll have to find another way." How to proceed, that was the question that resided on Damian's mind as he advanced down the street. If he couldn't track the Riddler, then perhaps he could tempt him out of hiding? Something like that would be farfetched. It was now time for a new approach, one that could lead to finding Riddler. "The investigator's daughter."
Could it be that Ran Mouri was the key to finding the Riddler?
Damian stopped in his tracks. "Sometimes reaching the sought subject is not to take the direct approach," Damian stated. "I want to find Nigma, perhaps if I focus my efforts on finding the girl she'll lead me right to him."
Directly following this Damian reached into his pocket, pulling out an electronic device. "Father sent me all the information detailing Mouri's disappearance." He proceeded to turning on the device. "It all began when Nigma visited detective Mouri's office yesterday, presenting himself as a client. He claimed the daughter of his friend, 'Adam', had been kidnapped. He didn't name the kidnapper, simply referring to them as Goliath."
He looked over the next line of information. "The silver blade placed into your chest I pull out into creation of Gold. Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply. Bring to me the Light of whose hands are unclean to which he touches. Midnight's deadline waits at the Eye and Hand overlooking all," Damian read out loud. "That is the riddle that Nigma left with detective Mouri before leaving his agency. The riddle was sealed in a silver envelope, I wonder if there is any significance to that?"
There was certainly something to consider in that regard. "Fast forward to a day later, detective Mouri receives a package, one addressed to him from Eddy. No way could he have ever anticipated that the contents inside would feature photos of his own daughter," said Damian. "That marked the reveal behind Eddy's true motive for visiting the Mouri residence. There's also the fact Nigma left Ran's phone for her father to find, at a bust stop under a magazine.."
The question arose again, was there any relevance to that fact? Even with all he had, he didn't feel it was enough. It felt as if there were still pieces to the puzzle missing. "There has to be more. There must be something father forgot to mention."
In his mind there wasn't enough to build off of. He did the only thing he could think to do in a situation of uncertainty.
"Batman?" Damian radioed.
Seconds of silence passed before he received a response. "Now isn't the time Robin, I'm in the middle of-"
"Father, listen. I'm having troubles locking onto the signal the Riddler is using to broadcast his messages," relayed Damian. "Upon my investigation I have come to find that wherever Nigma is closed up isn't in one particular spot."
"On the move?"
"That seems to be the case," replied Damian. "Since I have been having troubles, I have since turned my investigation elsewhere. Instead of tracking the Riddler electronically I'm going to try finding him by tracking the girl."
"I have looked over all of the information you forwarded to me."
"I don't feel there is enough here to really be able to pin point where the Riddler might have taken her," replied Damian. "We know how Nigma operates, in between conversations he likes to drop subtle hints about the given challenge."
"I didn't hear a question?"
"In the past twenty minutes or so surely he has graced you with his words of challenge?" Damian asked. "There must be something he said, something that could give us a hint to where he is keeping Mouri?"
Batman replied. "Morning, day, and night. Are you able to name three consecutive days without using the words; Sunday, Saturday, Friday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, or Monday?"
Damian was confused by the given. "What?"
"Those were Nigma's initial words to me when we first spoke," Batman clarified. "I answered with 'Yesterday, today, and tomorrow."
"And his response?"
"He said I was wrong," replied Batman. "Whether those words have any bearing to where he is keeping Ran Mouri is another question in itself. At one point I asked the Riddler where he was keeping her, to which he replied by saying it depended on the time."
"Tomorrow she could be in several places. Today she floats a stream of the moment. Yesterday, you'll have to flip it all around to make any sense of that," Batman ran down.
"There was one final thing the Riddler said that was rather telling. A single finger? How about two? Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option," Batman relayed. "Those were Nigma's words in response to Mouri telling the Riddler not to lay a finger on his daughter."
"That would seem to imply something deeper," Damian agreed. "And you're certain there wasn't anything additional that Riddler said that could be looked upon as a riddle to the girl's whereabouts?"
"No, there wasn't." Batman was confident in declaring so.
"Well in that case, I will commence with my investigation."
It was clear what needed to happen next. Their connection seized moments later. Did he now have all of the necessary pieces? If so the only thing that remained, putting the puzzle together.
Seconds was all it took for the Flash to make his way to the Gotham Rail. To his surprise there was no one to be found at the station in the waiting room. It was odd, especially given the time of day. He then came to find no staff members present. Was it coincidence? Or had the Riddler set it up to where everything would fall in this order?
Wasting no time Flash began searching the area. First was the several chairs and select number of benches. Nothing turned up. He then proceeded to look behind trash cans and search the few flower pots that were present. Again, there was nothing noteworthy that came to eye. It wasn't long after that his wrist communicator began to ring.
"Yo Flash," Kaitou Kid radioed. "Have you arrived at the Gotham Rail?"
"I have," confirmed Flash. "I've searched the entire area, but.."
"You haven't found anything," Kaitou Kid figured.
Flash continued to walk in search. "There has to be something, I'm certain the riddle was referring to.. hold on."
"What is it?" Kaitou Kid asked.
"May luck come to your stop… what if the Riddler was referring to the train itself and not the station?"
"You could be right."
"Kid. I need you to do me a favor."
"I'm all ears Flash-sama," replied Kaitou Kid.
"Do you currently have access to something you can use to find out the current train schedule for the Gotham Rail at the east end of the city? Perhaps a mobile device of some kind? If the Riddler is referring to one of the trains, I need to find out which one is linked to the riddle. Also, I want you to look into what could have possibly warranted no one showing up to this train station today. There are no staff members here, nor anyone looking to travel."
"Almostsounds like a horror flick. Not to worry," assured the Kid thief. "I have just the thing."
"Whatever you're planning, you better make it fast. Every minute that passes brings us one step closer to-"
"Twenty seconds," Kaitou Kid declared. "That's all I need."
"Counting now," remarked Flash in response.
Every passing second felt like two. The tension couldn't be any higher. What would this challenge lead to? Was the train the final stage?
"Hey, I've pulled up the Gotham train schedule," Kaitou Kid announced.
"That took longer than twenty seconds."
"Twenty eight to be exact, but that's beside the point."
"So, what are we looking at?"
"You're currently at the east Gotham train station. The last train to pass through there was over twenty minutes ago," Kaitou Kid conveyed.
"When is the next train scheduled to arrive here?"
"There are actually two that will be passing through there in the next forty five minutes," informed Kid. "The first is traveling in from a place called Burnley."
"I know of it, that train is traveling from the south region of Gotham. And the second?"
"Otisburg," Kaitou Kid replied.
"North/West," Flash noted. "Kid, when are each of those trains scheduled to arrive here at the east station?"
"The one from Otisburg won't be there for another scheduled forty two minutes."
"And the train traveling from Burnley?"
"Given the current time." Kaitou Kid paused. "It should be there in less than seven minutes."
Flash then checked the timer on the communicator device that continued to clock down. "We also have just under seven minutes before the deadline is reached," Flash noted.
"Could it be..?"
"Yes." Flash was in full agreement. "The moment that train arrives at this station will mark the end of our time limit."
"Then you're going to have to get to that train before it arrives. Is that doable Flash?"
"Of course," Flash said as a grin found way to his face. Moving forward Flash dropped down to the tracks below. "Don't forget, I'm the fastest man alive."
"I'm going to hold you to that."
"Kid, what about the fact that there aren't any staff members working at the station today? Were you able to find anything?"
"Whatever is going on in that regard is a mystery," replied Kaitou Kid. "I was unable to find any information concerning that matter using a simple web search. Sorry partner."
"Not a big deal, I'll get back to you soon. Flash out."
The dynamics of the mission was now clear, board the train before it could arrive at the station. Flash didn't waste a moment. He took off with an explosion of speed. A mere second was all it took before the train came into view.
"Here we are."
Now within feet of the train Flash launched himself up as he went on to vibrate all of his molecules, allowing him to pass through the outer walls of the train. Once inside his eyes widened. What he came to find was not something he was expecting to.
There was not a single person to be found on the train. This was unsettling.
"First there was no one present at the east Gotham train station, and now this? This can't be a coincidence." Flash was certain of this. "Is the Riddler behind this?"
If so, was it relevant to the challenge? That was something that had to be considered. Instead of choosing to advance Flash activated the communicator device in his ear. "Flash to Justice League, can anyone hear me?" When no one responded he tried for a second time. "This is Flash, does anyone-"
"No, no, no! Bad Flash! You know that is not how this game works."
Flash immediately recognized the voice. "Riddler."
"You know the rules, you can't reach out to anyone in this game outside of your chosen shepherd," Riddler reminded. "Unless.. unless you would like to use a certain card? Service card number one?"
The Riddler chuckled at the thought of it.
"You blocked my signal," Flash stated.
"Not so much blocked as intercepted," Riddler corrected. Anticipation began to boil in his voice. "Let's not beat around the bush Flash. What is your decision? Will you use a service card or will you opt not to?"
Should he use a service card? Flash was still uncertain of why no one was at the train station, nor why no one was aboard this train. There had to be some significance to this, right? Was the wager of losing time worth it? Flash's fists tightened, knowing whatever he was to decide needed to happen soon, they were losing time with every moment that passed.
"Riddler, I.. I have decided I would like to use service card one," Flash hesitantly conveyed.
Riddler was intrigued. "Is that your final answer? You haven't forgotten service card number one decreases your time by five minutes?"
"A minute is all I need," replied Flash with a bold of confidence.
"Very well." Riddler found himself humored with the decision "You're remaining time drops from six minutes and twenty two seconds, to only a minute and.. now twenty seconds. Good luck, contestant."
The train immediately increased in speed, confirming that when this train reached the station his time would be up. Flash wasted no time in trying to make the desired call. "Flash to Justice League, this is an emergency."
A few silent filled seconds passed before the voice of another was heard. "Loud and clear Flash, Cyborg here."
Flash sighed in relief. "Couldn't have hoped for anyone better."
"What seems to be the problem?" Cyborg enquired.
"I don't have time to explain at the moment, I will when I get the chance. Right now there's something I need you to look into for me," Flash said. "There's a situation I'm caught up in here in Gotham City."
"Gotham?" Cyborg questioned. "Sounds like something you should take up with Batm-"
"Batman has his hands full at the moment, to put it simply," Flash informed. "We're both tangled in a dance if you will, but that's beside the point."
It was clear they were dealing with some kind of disturbance. Knowing this Cyborg jumped straight to the point. "How can I be of assistance?"
"The train station located in east Gotham, there was no one there when I just departed. There was no one in the waiting area, not even any staff members working the counter. It was almost as if the place had completely been abandoned."
"That certainly is strange."
"There is also a train that departed from Burnly Gotham which I have just boarded that is en route to the East Gotham train station. Like the station, this train is empty."
"And let me guess, you want me to look into what could be the cause?"
"I'd sure appreciate it," Flash replied.
"You can count on me," Cyborg said in response. "It'll only take me a minute."
"We don't have a minute."
Cyborg could hear the urgency in his voice. "Give me twenty five seconds."
"I'll be here."
Conversation seized. What was to happen next was clear in his mind. "It's time to search this train."
If this was truly the location that the riddle was referring to, then there would have to be something on board for him to find? Flash began his journey down the aisle of the train, looking from one side of the train to the other as he did. It wasn't until he made it halfway through that he caught eye of something sitting in one of the empty seats.
"What's that?" Stepping toward the left Flash came upon a brief case. "Did someone accidently leave this behind, or could it be..?"
There was only one way to find out. Leaning forward Flash reached for the silver colored briefcase. Now in hand he flipped it over to the other side to bring eye to a green colored question mark.
"The Riddler," murmured Flash.
This briefcase was clearly meant for him to find. What was inside was anyone's guess. He began to open it. His heart was now racing. In the matter of a second he pulled it open. What he came to find left him speechless.
"Is this.. is this a detonator?"
Somewhere else in Gotham
Its words played through his mind several times over. 'What is it to be dark, while also being connected to light? What has a tail, face, and nothing more? Find the grounds that hold the likeness of all sides'.
What was the answer to the riddle? It was now as clear as the sun gazing on from far above. Closing in on the edge of the building Nightwing picked up in speed as he prepared to launch himself to the next.
"The GCPD headquarters, of course," Nightwing thought to himself. "It's not the headquarters itself the Riddler was pointing to in the riddle, but rather what resides on top of it."
Nightwing went airborne, swiftly touching down to the next building. Raising his arm he checked the wrist communicator to find that exactly five minutes remained before the deadline would be reached. "There's no doubt about it, what the Riddler was referring to in the riddle is the bat signal." Nightwing was positive of this. "Being connected to light, while also the dark. Light is what the signal represents, symbolizes.. one bedded in the darkness and secrets of this city."
Nightwing took aim with grappler as he looked to latch onto a building across the way. "The grounds that hold the likeness of all, I see it now; it was never referring to a specific location. No, the riddle was referring to the entire city." Nightwing took flight, swinging to the top of another rooftop. "In a way the bat signal represents what Gotham is, a never ending shift in balance between good and evil. Riddler must view Gotham in that light."
Nightwing placed a hand above his eyes to block the view of the sun. "There," Nightwing pointed. "The GCPD headquarters is now in view."
It was after speaking this that his wrist communicator began vibrating. Nightwing activated the moment it did. "This is everyone's favorite sheep speaking, how may I be of service?"
"Hartwell-san, are you almost at the headquarters you spoke of?" Kogoro asked.
"Roger that cap'n, it's in view now," informed Nightwing. "I'll be there in no time."
Kogoro was relieved to hear this. "So you get to that police headquarters, what happens next?"
"We'll just have to wait and see," Nightwing replied before dropping off from the edge of the building. Now in free fall he tightly gripped his hook-line as he proceeded to take aim. "Perfect."
Once more he used the grappler to propel himself onward, welcoming the cooling wall of air that blew in defiance of his path. With one final swing Nightwing soared onto the top of the police headquarters. "Detective," Nightwing radioed. "I'm in position."
"Good to know we're making some progress," replied Kogoro. "So tell me, what are you seeing? What exactly is there that lead you to believe that is the location the Riddler was referring to in our written challenge?"
"Gimmie a sec. I'll know for sure after I check something out." Nightwing's attention fell to what stood on the opposite end of the roof. "Now for the moment of truth."
Nightwing hurried along, knowing every coming second was just as important as the last. The bat signal was reached in short time. It was here that he came to have his hunch completely rewarded. "I knew it!" There sitting atop the signal itself was a small silver colored notepad, one which had a green question mark attached to the center. "Detective Mouri, we've got something."
"What is it?" Kogoro was anxious to know.
Nightwing reached forward. Now with the notepad in hand he responded. "Why don't we find out?"
Back in Japan
All the pieces he needed were now in hand. The only thing that remained was to put it all together. "This will be a piece of cake," Damian declared. There were two things he needed to determine, the Riddler's location, and the whereabouts of Ran Mouri. "I doubt Nigma has the girl with him. He wouldn't make it that easy."
The question now became who to track first? Could their locations be connected in some way? That was something else he had yet to confirm.
"There is one line in particular that has sparked my interest. 'Come tomorrow's fall of dawn the Gold shall flow with waves towards its destination of multiply'." Damian thought long and hard on that particular line. "If we are to believe that the Riddler is truly on the move, could this perhaps be a hint to where he is going?"
It was certainly a mystery. His mind then reverted to something else of notability. "A single finger? How about two? Double provides for a two way route, in turn allowing an additional option." Those words that had been relayed from Batman played back in his mind several times over. "That could also be something the Riddler said as a means of giving a hint of his or Mouri's location. Could it be tied to the riddle in some way?"
He began walking once again. "Morning, day, and night.. the two main themes of Nigma's challenge is misdirection and time," Damian noted. He took some time to consider both elements. "Could it be that they're intertwined somehow? Maybe the Riddler and Mouri's location are dependent on what the time is. Then there's the mirrored meanings behind the majority of the riddles that have come our way thus far. Is it a possibility Nigma and Ran's current locations mirror one another?"
It was a stretch, the possibility was certainly there. Damian's mind then channeled to something else the Riddler had said to Batman. "Tomorrow she could be in several places. Today she floats a stream of the moment. Yesterday, you'll have to flip it all around to make any sense of that." What was the meaning behind his words? Had the Riddler been speaking in literal terms, or were his words of symbolic meaning? That was something else Damian felt he needed to figure out.
"One could argue that I have everything I need to track the Riddler. Why then does it feel like there is still something I am missing?"
Several blocks away
Luckily for Conan the Rikugien Garden was only a couple blocks away from where he had been prior to the made deduction.
"Shinichi, are you almost there?" Batman asked.
"Rikugien is now in view," Conan confirmed.
"Remember, you need to get to the center of the exhibit," Batman reminded. "Whatever the Riddler wants us to find will be there somewhere."
"Loud and clear."
The entrance to the garden itself was closed off as expected. This presented a problem. "How am I supposed to get in?"
Upon reaching the towering doors blocking his path Conan came to a complete stop. How was he to get in? As that thought ran through his mind something caught his attention. "Huh? What's that?"
Stepping away from his skate board Conan walked toward the entrance doors. There pinned on the center was a silver envelope with a green question mark on it. There was no mistaking it, this was left here for him to find. Grabbing hold of the envelope Conan ripped it open to find a note inside which he read out loud.
The moments those words were spoken the doors to the garden began to slowly open. Conan took a step back. "Is someone there?"
The doors came to a stop soon after. Now with an opening Conan stepped forward, pressing on with caution. Once past the doors he came to find there was no one there. How did the doors open without someone doing it? He was now more alert than ever. Now in the premises of Rikugien Garden, Conan held the voice changing bowtie over his lips before reporting his progress.
"Don't forget what we discussed. Stay alert."
"Right. There's no telling what the Riddler has in store."
"You better get moving. Five minutes give or take before the deadline is reached."
Conan understood that fact just as well. He moved forward, stopping after hearing the swing of a tree branch off to the right.
"Anybody there?" The only response that came was that of a cool breeze brushing pass the side of his face. "It.. it was just the wind."
Conan turned on the flash light attached to his watch. Given the time of day, he was going to need it to keep a clear path. He couldn't help but wonder about the circumstances of the others taking part in this challenge.
"I wonder how Kid and the old man are faring. No way any of us will be able to live this down if we fail."
By the second Conan made his way deeper and deeper into the exhibit. He marveled at the beautiful sights of the many different trees, looking on in awe at the view of the moons ray tracing the tops of the lake. Without even realizing he became lost within the moment. It was the ring of the communicator that jarred him back into the game.
"Shinichi, where are you now?"
Conan stopped before flashing his light to observe the surrounding area. Now with the bowtie in position he spoke. "I can't say for sure."
"There is something I wanted to address, what we need to address."
Batman's words came as a bit of a surprise. "And what might that be?"
"The last line of our given riddle; In my heart lies what you seek," Batman noted. "We both came to an agreement that the heart is the center of the garden."
"There is just one thing wrong with that idea," Batman said. "What does the Riddler consider to be the starting and ending point of the Rikugien?"
Conan didn't quite follow. "What are you trying to say?"
"Since we last spoke I have since looked over a map of Rikugien Garden," Batman relayed. "Depending on what side of the perimeter you're looking at, the center of Rikugien varies."
His point was now clear. "I see. So the center of Rikugien Garden is dependent on what one would consider the face of Rikugien."
"And given that we don't know what that would be in Riddler's mind-"
"In my heart lies what you seek must be referring to something other than the center of the garden," Conan realized.
"Exactly," Batman said. "We need to figure out what that is."
"And fast, we have less than.." Conn abruptly stopped.
"What is wrong?"
"That's it!" stated Conan.
Conan did just that. "Outside of the garden itself Rikugien is also widely known for the Green Matcha Tea that gets served here."
"A tea house," Conan replied as he spun his head toward the right. "The shop itself is about two minutes from here. Do I have your permission to-"
"We don't have time to debate otherwise. Go," Batman said voicing his acceptance.
"Loud and clear."
And with that Conan took off. Could it be? Was the tea house where the challenges end awaited? He would soon find out.
To Be Continued