As he is reading the story of the search for Nth Metal by the heroes of Earth after the invasion of the Dark Multiverse, Dream of the Endless says that there is a library full of impossible stories that would never be told and should any of those be read
- And with those words, this book, and all hope, burns to ash.
- — Dream
Synopsis for the 1st Story
As he is reading the story of the search for Nth Metal by the heroes of Earth after the invasion of the Dark Multiverse, Dream of the Endless says that there is a library full of impossible stories that would never be told and should any of those be read, the library will burn... and the whole world with it.
In the Dark Multiverse, dark versions of Superman wake up Bruce Wayne from his unending nightmare. He is no longer needed, as he did his job of luring Superman in so that he could become the Great Battery: soon Bruce's world will be low enough for them to travel through and claim it. While Clark keeps powering the dark tower, the Dark Supermen prepare to send Bruce deeper into the Dark and away from his friend. Unexpectedly, Bruce finds the strength to react. Recognizing that these Supermen relied on weaponry he created, Bruce pulls off of one of the Dark Supermen a gauntlet he calls "Five Finger Death Punch". The gauntlet contains every color Kryptonite in existence, so it's sure to destroy every Superman around, including his own friend. As the Dark Supermen attack him, Bruce remembers what Dream told him a long time ago ("Call me in the place of the Black Sun", referring to Clark's role as an energy provider for the Dark Multiverse), so he calls for help and he and Superman disappear.
At the Rock of Eternity, cosmic center of the Multiverse, Wonder Woman, Doctor Fate and a reluctant Kendra Saunders are fighting the Seven Deadly Sins, who protect the Rock from intruders. Fate is puzzled by this, as the monsters are supposed to welcome them, considering their mission is vital for saving the Multiverse itself. Kendra seems shady and when questioned by Wonder Woman she says that Carter was here when he left for the Dark Multiverse, so she assumes the Nth Metal they sense is his Mace. She and her Blackhawks never came here to destroy it because she was afraid to. Suddenly, Aquaman communicates with Wonder Woman as he found something.
At the outskirts of Atlantis, Aquaman and Deathstroke stand in a sacred and forbidden place: the ancient burial ground of Atlantis' first king, Arion. The guardians of this place were murdered and when Aquaman asks a fish who is the culprit it only speaks of blinding darkness. Deathstroke cuts the story short shattering the rose window on the tomb with his sword. While Aquaman is enraged at his disrespect for Atlantis' sacred laws, the opening reveals a portal, through which Slade can sense the Nth Metal deposit. Aquaman and Deathstroke proceed to enter it.
Meanwhile, Hal Jordan and Mister Terrific are on Thanagar Prime, and they are being escorted to the ruler of the planet so they can ask for the Nth Metal. Hal is surprised that he never knew of the existence of this place, as it's his job to monitor the planets in the universe, but Terrific explains that its location is a phased presence, meaning it exists at multiple coordinates at once. They get to the throne room and meet Onimar Synn, a long time enemy of the Thanagarian Empire, who took power and lured them there. He is aided in this by his ally Starro the Conqueror. Terrific thought he had killed it, but instead it regrew itself from a piece of his own exploded tentaclaw. Even though the existence of the entire Multiverse is in peril, the two villains have no intention to cooperate, as they have known about the Dark Multiverse for eons and are armed with the Phoenix Cannon, which is supposed to be able to raise the earth, should Barbatos's legions come for their planet. Onimar first wanted to use the cannon to destroy Earth, but now he found a much bigger purpose for it, which includes the Plastic Egg. Hal and Terrific are trapped as Starro slows down their synapses to prevent them from being able to think properly.
Superman and Batman find themselves in the dark, but Dream appears to reassure them: they are not lost. As Bruce accuses Dream of doing nothing to help for so long, Dream takes them to The Dreaming, his realm, where he explains he is more personally involved in what's happening than they think. They are in Lucien's Library, in a section reserved for stories that should never be told, made from the horrors of the human hearts, which Barbatos is turning into reality. As he does so, the library burns and with it all stories, forever. Dream says he can't join the heroes in their efforts, but he can arm them with a story:
From the dark came a great spark of molten potential. The spark created two opposing existences, Matter and Anti-Matter. With them, came the brothers, set to monitor all that had been created, and a third being, tasked to watch over what had yet to come. This being resided at the World Forge, deep in the roiling cauldron of possibility you call the Dark Multiverse. For eons, it hammered out universes from the hopes and fears of all living beings. The most stable worlds rose into the Orrery. For the twisted, unstable worlds, the Forger had a Great Dragon (Barbatos) to destroy them and return their energies to the Forge. But the dragon, a being who knew only destruction, killed its master, and thus, worlds that should have been dissolved lived on, and the Forge began to darken.
Thus, the only true hope for the Multiverse lies at the World Forge, where a much more powerful metal than Nth Metal resides, assuming that Barbatos hasn't already turned it completely to darkness. Dream says he can create a passage to the World Forge for them, but they need to walk with hope and wonder in their hearts, lest they be lost in the Dark Multiverse forever. Bruce claims he can't do it, as the years spent in the Dark have dissolved his hopefulness, but Clark manages to convince him to stay hopeful as he thinks of his son, Damian, and the rest of his family.
At the Rock of Eternity, Wonder Woman can't connect with the other teams, so she asks Doctor Fate if he senses the Mace. He answers that he does, faintly, but that there's something else, too, coming from Kendra. She stands holding in her hands the shrunken Astral Brain of the Anti-Monitor. Kendra reveals that the Council of Immortals entrusted her with passing the anti-matter through the Multiverse's center to hit the Dark Multiverse in an attempt to destroy it for good. The problem, says Fate, is that this could destroy everything else, too. Kendra starts bleeding and suddenly her body is torn apart to reveal Lady Blackhawk. Meanwhile, Doctor Fate is dissolved by Black Adam, as he and Vandal Savage have made their own deal with Barbatos, not believing in the Council's decisions.
As Dream reads their story, Batman and Superman manage to reach the Forge of Worlds, only to find it gone dark. Bruce remembers how Carter Hall wrote in his journal that the Forge was supposed to be a place of creation, of beginnings, but... behind them, a giant, hawk-like creature appears, claiming to be Carter Hall himself, Dragon of Barbatos, Keeper of the Dark Forge, states that now there are only endings.
Appearing in the 1st Story
- Doctor Fate
- Justice League
- Mister Terrific
- Black Adam
- Lady Blackhawk
- Onimar Synn (First appearance)
- Seven Deadly Sins
- World Forger (First appearance)
- Plastic Man
- Lucien (Voice only)
- Arion (Mentioned only)
- Council of Immortals (Mentioned only)
- Damian Wayne (Mentioned only)
- Vandal Savage (Mentioned only)
- Dark Multiverse
- Marianas Trench
- Polaris System
- Blue Kryptonite
- Green Kryptonite
- Green Lantern Ring
- Lasso of Truth
- Nth Metal
- Red Kryptonite
- Yellow Kryptonite
- Eighth Metal (Mentioned only)