Zatanna groaned as she woke up. She hadn’t even realized she’d fallen asleep - the last thing she knew, she was in the park with Roy…
…and now she was back in her room in the cave.
All the stress and worry from earlier was still there, but it no longer felt like it was weighing over her head, making it hard for her to think, to feel, to talk, to stand…the fatigue wasn’t so overwhelming. The rest had been good for her, then. Although she was still groggy and tired, Zatanna felt like her head was a bit clearer.
She sat up slowly in her bed, feeling a headache coming on as she did so and laying a hand on her temple as if that would soothe the pain. Looking around her room, she noticed that her room looked different. More…spartan.
Oh. Right. She’d packed everything up and tried to leave. She still hadn’t put everything back. What was the spell she had to use to get all of that stuff out of her father’s hat…?
Wait. Zatanna looked around the room, searching more frantically by the second. Where was it? Where was her hat? Where was her dad’s hat, the last thing she left of him? Her dad’s hat which had all of her things, including her rabbit who was a living thing that needed food and water and…
‘Think, Zatanna, THINK!’ she scolded herself, and she took a few deep breaths, trying to remember what had happened. She’d packed up, gone to talk to Robin while wearing the hat, she was still wearing it when she ran to the park, and was…was she still wearing it when she had talked with Roy…?
No. No, she hadn’t been wearing it. And Roy had obviously taken her back when she had fallen asleep on him, so…
So it had to be in the park. Somewhere. And she had to find it. Losing that hat was not an option. Not an option.
Zatanna jumped out of bed, prepared to run there if she had to, but she had to take a moment to battle some brief vertigo. She still wasn’t 100%…but that didn’t matter. She quickly left her room and ran down to the zeta tubes, running inside them and finding herself back near Happy Harbor park. She ran herself horse to the park, until she made it back to the bench.
“Where is it…where is it…” she muttered to herself, trying not to panic.
Riddler watched silently as the young magician desperately searched around the bench. He remembered happening upon the hat by pure chance as he went for late night stroll to calm his nerves after another bank robbery was foiled. The hat was sitting under the bench fallen onto its side as if accidentally discarded. Curious, Eddie picked up the beautifully crafted hat and wiped off stray grass blades. That’s when he saw the named stitched on the inside, “Zatara.” As recognition of the name dawned on him, a slight twitch developed thinking of the annoying magic brat that had foiled his plans before.
“But, wait… This is far too large to fit the girl’s head,” his hands rubbed around the brim of the hat. “The elder magician, then… Who is currently Dr. Fate.” Riddler smirked as a scheme began to form in the back of his mind.
So, he waited until he heard the footsteps of the girl approach the bench and begin her search. He approached silently her from behind holding a chloroform dipped rag, which he fortunately saved from his previous attempt to kidnap Dick Grayson months earlier.
Zatanna had that funny feeling that she was being…watched. As panicked as she might have been, she wasn’t stupid. She took her training and skills seriously, and if there was one thing that Batman and Black Canary had taught her, it was to stay alert. So she stayed calm, but kept her guard up. She didn’t turn around and made as little noise as possible…
…as soon as she heard the slightest sound of a footstep, she whipped around and shouted “Ezeerf!”
To her surprise, when she become fully aware of what was in front of her, she saw the Riddler, frozen not a foot behind her with a rag in his hand.
“Riddler?!” she shouted, absolutely floored by the absurdity of the situation, but she kept herself in a fighting stance, ready to attack or use her magic if he somehow broke free of her magical hold stopping his movement. “What are you doing here? How are out of jail?” she questioned him, guard up and eyes narrowed in concentration and mistrust. “You should be able to talk, by the way. So start talking.”
The Riddler smirked at the girl standing before him. “Well, now. How I got out of jail? That is truly a riddle I can’t expect you to understand, Magic Brat. But you see I was just talking a little stroll through the park when i came upon something that I beleive was yours.”
Riddler twisted the top of his cane heating up the metal pole slowly leaving the ice still frozen for the time being.
"I was a black hat. A top hat specifically. Beautifully crafted, by the way. Now I placed it somewhere… I just can’t seem to remember where… Oh, wait! I left myself a hint! What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, has a bed but never sleeps?"
The Riddler smirked at the girl waiting for a reply.