Zatara Journal Entry, 1 August 2019:
It's strange to believe how quickly something can just seem to dissipate.
The Greyscale Society seems to be AWOL on the magic side of their operations, and they have been for at least three days. Stephanie's been on patrol since my encounter with the first Imbued soldier, but yet I have not found any signs of my brother's interaction, or even my brother for that matter. He seems to be untraceable, even through paranormal methods. However he has done this, it is the most worrying symptom of this whole ordeal. His presence in the magical community is often a booming one, and his signatures could be traced even by a novice magician. I know that the Detective I met on patrol, Crispus Allen, is a part of it somehow, but it is still foggy to me how he would be affected.
I've been performing my usual nightly shows, but there's no energy to them. I just know something terrible is about to happen, but am clueless as to how or when. I believe my audience has noticed my apparent lack of being in the moment, and while they are still selling out, I can't put my heart to it.
The city's filled with smoke, but no fires have started yet. But for the life of me, I cannot how to prevent the entirety of Gotham from spontaneously combusting.
ADDENDUM: My friends, something terrible will happen. My passive stance cannot resume; I need to find Crispus Allen and figure out how he could figure into this plot. I simply didn't realize how dire the situation was. I saw him. He did not speak to me, but his presence told me that I could not simply wait for something to happen any longer than I already have.
His shadowy figure still lingers in my thoughts, but when I look at the gap between the trees in front of my apartment where I saw him, I see that he has already left.
Zatara's Guide to Deities and Mystical Beings: The Phantom Stranger
Very, pitifully little is known of the Phantom Stranger, but the first written mention of him comes from a journal from English occultist Xander Stolls in 1848. The journal, being the originator of the name "Phantom Stranger" used to describe the interloper today, said of him: "I saw, lurking in the shadows of the alleyway, a grimacing man in a grainy blue cloak and hat. [...] Seeing his figure invoked in me a feeling, that something grand was about to happen. I wanted to meet and study this phantom stranger, but alas, he was gone within an instant." This visit was tied to the rediscovery of the Helmet of Fate in an Indian archaeological dig within the days and weeks that followed. While this was the first confirmed mention of the Stranger, many have likened him to such myths as the Markovian "vaukilok," an old man who would warn village elders of diseases or magical crises; and a pre-Islamic Biyalyan folktale of a young boy named Yazid, who was informed by an old ghost of an impending attack on his village from a sorcerer, and who would later defend it to victory.
Despite the Stranger's prevalence in myths as conveying information verbally, he usually only stands idle as a sort of early warning beacon. In fact, there have only been two recorded instances of the Phantom Stranger speaking: once to Marine Corpsman Kent Nelson, who later donned the Helmet of Fate to fight the Spectre's Jim Corrigan iteration in Hungary; and once to none other than Superman, where he was warned of an Apokoliptan invasion that the Justice League faced off against. The latter case is also the only known occurrence of the Stranger warning someone about a non-magical threat. While Superman has not spoken about what exactly the Stranger said to him, Kent Nelson spoke openly in the decades after the war about his encounter with the Stranger, saying that while he doesn't know why he personally was spoken to, he is very glad that the Stranger was there to guide him. Kent described the Phantom Stranger's voice as raspy, but also yearning for something, leading many to think that the Stranger was cursed somehow.
Zatara Journal Entry, 2 August 2019:
I sat down with Crispus Allen over coffee this morning. It was not a perfect arrangement, but it cleared some of my worries away--and brought forth others. All and all, though, it gave me a very clear understanding of how he fit into the Greyscale Society's puzzle.
"You know," he chuckled over a morning bagel, "I was a little suspicious of you when I first saw you out on the street with that creature. Almost wanted to take you in for questioning, but I knew enough about who you were not to."
I remained silent, not knowing what to say to him at first. I felt like this was probably reason enough not to immediately start on the "you're in danger" train with him.
Crispus smiled. "Overshare, I guess? I reviewed your files and I don't have any concerns about you anymore."
"No, no, no," I said, absentmindedly. "It's just that I came to warn you about something, but I don't exactly know what."
Crispus let out a hearty laugh. "You know, John, I'm not exactly trained to take on magical threats. It isn't like I don't have enough on my plate right now."
My stomach dropped. "What's happened?"
"My fiancee," the GCPD Detective said quietly. "The Greyscale Society kidnapped her. I was able to retrieve her from captivity with Batman's assistance, but she was missing an arm after having been tortured by the Great White Shark. She still doesn't want to talk about the events leading up to it, but I have no idea what kind of depravity led to that."
"I'm so sorry," I said, taken aback by his radical honesty. "Is there anything else that happened?" I didn't want to ask it, and regretted asking as soon as I did, but I needed to know the answers to this.
"Yes," said Crispus. "The number of police deaths has increased massively in my precinct. Greyscale's seemed to switch from avoiding the police to actively hunting them out. It's increased the workload for me, but nothing replaces the friends I had in the force that..."
Detective Allen began sobbing. I tried to get a word out, but he started speaking again.
"And then yesterday morning, a member of the Greyscale took my dog from my backyard. I looked everywhere for him, and eventually, I went hiking and found him in the woods near Gothic Acres with a... with a bullet in... in his chest."
The sobbing became louder than anything the Detective could have said beneath them. I wanted to sympathize, but the pattern was perhaps the most horrifying sequence of events that my brother could have inflicted on him.
Zatara's Guide to Important Magical Figures: Jim Corrigan
James Harold Corrigan is the only publicly-known iteration of the Spectre, a Spirit of Vengeance that bonds itself with the souls of men (and potentially women) who have been wronged tremendously. Jim Corrigan was a US Marine who was drafted during World War II to fight on the Eastern Front. Corrigan was shot by a British military officer who went rogue in Hungary, and on his way to the afterlife the Spectre attached to him, destroying almost a third of Hungarian towns and a few in Austria before being finally bested by Doctor Fate, his Helmet controlling the body of Kent Nelson. Occult historians list 6 main factors for why Corrigan ended up attracting the Spectre's attention:
1. A grave massacre of the soldiers in Corrigan's unit, including many of Corrigan's closest friends and acquaintances, by German forces.
2. A German prostitute, one that Corrigan claimed he had a real connection with, being taken to a Nazi concentration camp in front of Corrigan. The woman was rescued, but was famished and near death herself.
3. A message from Corrigan's parents claimed that his childhood dog, Goldie, had had to be put down. Goldie was a very important part of Corrigan's childhood, with historians noting that Corrigan talked about him more than any other figures at home.
4. Corrigan's parents and uncle, having owned a restaurant in Opal City under "protection" from the Mafia, being shot and their business ravaged. Corrigan heard this only a week before his transformation into the Spectre.
5. The night the shooting happened in their unit, Corrigan was dishonorably discharged after information was found under his bed claiming he communicated with German spies. This material actually belonged to the Brit who would carry out the massacre, but it was dumped on Corrigan a few days before the shooting; it was found right before the attack.
6. The attack itself was carried out by the man whom Corrigan considered his best friend within the Corps. This likely was the turning point that got Corrigan's spirit noticed by the Spectre in the first place.
Zatara's Collection of Oddities (Non-Magical Appendix #12): Spoiler Journal Entry 8-2-18:
I know that Zatara's going to be mad at me for this decision, but I can't patrol for him tonight. I know, I know, he CALLED me up today and he seemed really, really angry. Not at me, but you know the kind of anger directed at nobody in particular, but also at everyone? Yeah, that kind. He acted as if he had just seen a ghost. He told me specifically to guard the parents of some random Gotham detective? Yeah, I don't get it either. But anyway, I am NOT going crimefighting today. That's FINAL.
Why? Well, I just don't feel very good.
My stomach hurts a lot, my nose is runny, and I've been throwing up. I haven't told Uncle Marsh yet, because I should usually be asleep this time of night, and if he doesn't think I sleep like a baby every night he'd probably figure out that I was the Spoiler and I'd be grounded for months upon months. So I've been taking care of the cold MYSELF, just like any self-reliant teenager should be doing. So yeah, it's kinda just a cold plus vomiting, but there are some other weird things that seem to be happening. I've been feeling random electric shocks on my fingers, even if I'm not touching anything. And I'm CHILLY. Like, not just when-you're-sick type chilly, but like there's a ton of cold wind passing through my bedroom. I'm not usually cold, but sometimes I just feel a breeze that really, really shouldn't be there. There aren't any fans in my room, and it's just a really, really hot room normally. I just don't GET it.
Oh well, I'll be better in a few days. I can't keep worrying about this type of thing; Lord knows I need sleep.
Zatara's Guide to Protection Against Curses: Zeus' Fury
Zeus' Fury is a strange illness that is the most common way these days that Zeus smites his enemies. It is a sickness that usually only feels like a case of the flu at first, but with weather-related symptoms. By the third day one has this disease, their body begins seizing up, and they die usually within the first 4-5 days. These cases of illness usually befall people who have evoked Zeus at a younger age and not gotten a response, but these mages get many warning signs before this curse begins to affect them: inexplicable birthmarks, bad luck, lightning that strikes dangerously close to their person. The mages can therefore enact preventative measures to lessen the effect of, or stop entirely, the disease. However, this makes it much more likely that Zeus will smite these people instantly with a clean lightning bolt.
Rather, the best thing to do is to wait until the first day, and enact the preventative spells then. This will reset the disease to the state it was at when the person first contracted it. However, there is no known way for human mages to fully cure someone of the disease, although immortal beings of magic can sometimes cure a person of Zeus' Fury. A person inflicted with Zeus' Fury often has to treat it like a chronic illness, and these rituals as a medication. Zeus is unlikely to strike someone who already has the disease with other methods, but it has happened in the past.
While the only people who have been known to contract Zeus' Fury have been channelers of Zeus themselves, it is hypothetically possible that someone with the repertoire of Zeus would be able to call this on another person. However, this is not something to worry about, as the only one with enough of a relationship with the deity is my brother, Maximillian Zatara; while we have had our serious disagreements, Maxie is not a man to destroy someone in quite the same way Zeus' Fury would. He just isn't that type of person.