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Batman and Robin Vol 2 23.3: Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins

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"The Demon's Tower": By the year 1285, rumours had reached the crusade knights that a powerful demon was gaining foothold in the east from within a dark tower. So powerful and feared was he that none dared speak his name, and it was said that death had no power over him - an affront to the crusa


Quote1 The world has changed in the last few days. But I have changed many, many times. Each bath in the Lazarus Pits leaves me reborn to strike against the world anew. Let us see what your masters bring. And then they will hear the rumors anew... a dark power rising in the East. The demon in his dark tower. The one who prepares to tear it all asunder and rebuild it in his own image. As he has always done. And as he always will. Quote2
-- Ra's al Ghul



Appearing in "The Demon's Tower"

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Synopsis for "The Demon's Tower"

By the year 1285, rumours had reached the crusade knights that a powerful demon was gaining foothold in the east from within a dark tower. So powerful and feared was he that none dared speak his name, and it was said that death had no power over him - an affront to the crusaders, who sought to remind him that God is the only master of death. They were lead by Prince Gerhardt, who rode under the command of Pope Martin IV.

The prince was met there by a servant to this demon, Dusan, who welcomed the knights with the information that they were expected. As they were led down increasingly deep and dark passages, every knight but Prince Gerhardt was slain, and by that time, Dusan had brought the prince to the foot of the Lazarus Pit, and shut the doors behind him. As mad laughter filled the chamber, the prince's anxiety grew, and he called out for the demon to answer whether it was a man or a fiend from Hell. Grinning, Ra's al Ghul responded that he was both - and neither.

Now, this story is legend. Prince Gerhardt's encounter with the Demon's Head is the first mention of Ra's in recorded history. The Secret Society understands how Ra's had wanted the West to fear him; to know his power but fail to understand its meaning. Despite the Society's promises of being able to hand over the perfect world that the Demon's Head has worked for more than 700 years to create, Ra's is unimpressed by their emissary, and requires that they fight in a duel before he will consider the offer.

The emissary struggles to defend himself as he tells the story of how Ra's led his people to the east as fear of him grew in the west. There, he learned the sacred arts of death and the secrets of the Lazarus pits. From there, he began to recruit the most dangerous men in the world to furthering his purpose, under the banner of the League of Assassins.

By 1666, London was burning under Ra's al Ghul's watch, as he prepared to build a better world on its ashes. In 1721, he began an opium trade using the shipping capacities of the East India Company. He saw to the spread of Cholera in 19th Century New York City. He precipitated the start of First World War by training and pushing Gavrilo Princip to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. As in these cases and innumerable others, Ra's al Ghul has wielded his power silently throughout history, pointing humanity towards its own destruction and planting the seeds of a better world.

Ignoring the chance at respite that Ra's gives him, the emissary tells of how his host sought a legacy beyond himself; a legacy he attempted to begin with the birth of Talia al Ghul. He had hoped to wed her to his chosen successor, the Batman. He had been impressed by the way Batman used legend to make himself more than a man, as he had with himself. Unfortunately, in seeking the Batman out directly, Ra's engineered a force capable of dismantling his entire centuries-long empire. He thwarted the Ra's plans at every turn, with the adoption of Damian - his legacy - by his enemy, and Talia's eventual demise, which signaled the final loss.

Angrily, Ra's knocks his opponent's sword from his hand, and demands that this dwelling on his failures come to a point. Cautiously, the emissary explains that the Secret Society has changed the game. The Justice League is gone, and Batman is dead. If Ra's will join the Secret Society, they will help him achieve what he might have achieved years ago, if not for the Batman. Unexpectedly, the Demon's Head begins to laugh. Turning, he warns that death cannot stop a man like the Batman. After all, Ra's has seen himself in the Batman - and he is a master of life and death. Formally, he rejects the invitation, calling the Society's masters cowards for failing to offer it themselves.

Annoyed, the emissary changes his tack, choosing instead to kill Ra's. Though he manages to electrocute Ubu, the man is soon pinned at the wrists with spears to a wall. Patronizing, Ra's explains that he had only allowed himself to be found because he knew he was being sought. The Secret Society's masters are cowards because they knew he would not bow to them, and so they sent him a sacrifice in the form of their own emissary. Dismissively, he remarks that while the world may have changed dramatically in the last few days, he has seen it change many more times, and he will see what kind of world these masters bring about. Sooner or later, they will hear rumours of a dark power rising in the east in a dark tower. The Demon's Head will be waiting to tear down that new world and rebuild it in his own image, as he always has and always will.



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