"Stop her!" Duke Blood called out, pointing to his bodyguards and indicating that they follow after the retreating form of the Queen.
"Stay away from me! Just stay away!" Raven cried out, hands up in front of her defensively. A blast of magic shot out of her exposed palm, however, and nearly hit the Duke who flailed and screamed as he fell backwards. The stairs he was standing on now were coated in ice, spiky ice produced by Raven's fear. She turned and ran again, this time directly out of the town square.
Starfire tried her hardest to keep up after her sister, who was running swiftly through the streets of the town, the temperature dropping all the while. Terra wasn't too far behind her, calling out for her to calm down and listen, yet Starfire wouldn't have it. Clutching the glove to her, she followed Raven.
Raven had now reached the bay, and paused briefly at the water's edge. Hearing Starfire's agonized cries, she tentatively placed her foot on the surface to find a beautiful icy pattern met her shoe the second it made contact. Spreading out until it was wide as a large dinner plate, the ice solidified the water and Raven, now determined to remove herself from this environment, placed her full weight on the surface and began running.
More icy disks formed under her as she ran, keeping her from sinking into the dark water beneath her; she reached the other side swiftly, and began her journey into the mountains.
Gar in the meantime had seen the direction she had chosen but also noticed poor Starfire crying out for her desperately, and made a quick decision based on this. 'Raven can handle herself, and I'll be able to find her. She'll leave a trail. I can't let anything happen to Starfire, she'd kill me...' with these thoughts in mind, he raced off to where he figured he would find the people he needed.
Robin and Sven had just finished eating a very measly dinner together in the town square and were preparing themselves to head back out into the mountains in search of more ice. Ice during summer was very hard to come by, so the journey would be long and hard. Just as Robin climbed into his sleigh and started off, however, a blur of blue and whirling icy air smacked right into him and almost knocked him off his seat.
"Gar! What did I tell you about landing BEHIND me when I'm driving?" Robin yelped, keeping his course steady but now with a small coating of frost along his coat and a frown on his face.
"Shut up, now's not the time... Raven's been found out. Starfire's gonna go after her, I just know it... I need to go talk to someone about all this and find Raven, so you need to watch out for Starfire okay? No questions about it, just make sure she's safe!" Gar blabbered quickly. Robin had never seen him look so fretful and truly concerned about something, so he simply nodded.
"But what if I can't find her? I don't know which way she's going to go" Robin asked, thinking that the Princess would probably have no clue how to navigate a mountain range at all and would get eaten up by wolves instantly.
"Just wait for her to leave. I've seen how she acts when I um, stayed in the castle" Gar explained, faltering a bit.
"You mean creeped around in the castle" Robin countered, which only earned him a snowball in the back of the head.
"I've gotta go. If you haven't noticed, it's started to snow and we're in summer" Gar said, pointing upwards at the sky which was now in fact raining down cold, powdery flakes of snow. Robin gawped but continued on his path out of the city. Gar took off, floating back up into the sky and dashing back off towards where he could feel the winter magic the strongest.
"Now that that's done..." Gar muttered to himself, conjuring up a perfect snowball before enchanting it as he flew.
"Santa? Hey, Cyborg, you there?" he called into the snowball. Nothing for a minute or so, but suddenly it began to glow and a distorted face appeared in the crystal after a moment.
"Yo, Gar! It's been a while! What have you done this time, hm?" the Guardian replied, giving him a look that suggested more often than not Gar caused such problems.
"It's kind of a long story..."
Raven somehow had made it to one of the highest points of one of the highest mountains in the entire range of her kingdom, and as she walked along the snow she realized just what had happened and the magnitude of her secret being exposed.
Worry began to crash down on her; she knew she had to get out of there, no one wanted a witch as their Queen, Starfire could just as easily take care of everything for her and everyone already loved the bubbly Princess much more than her...
She surveyed the snowy ground in front of her, taking a deep breath. It glowed white all around her, the only footprints in this desolate area belonging to her.
"A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I'm the Queen" she said to herself, a bit sarcastically but with a bittersweet tone. A sudden pang in her forehead caused her to wince a bit, as her emotions whirled around her.
"The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside... Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I tried" she continued talking to herself, hugging herself a bit in a sign of lonely comfort.
"Don't let them in, don't let them see! Be the good girl you always have to be! Conceal don't feel, don't let them know... Well now they know!" she continued, her father's words echoing through her. She had failed him, and now it was too late to turn back. She grabbed the glove that remained on her other hand, ripping it off and flinging it to the wind.
Gar, in the meantime, had finally found her and was trying to catch up as she made her way up the North Mountain. He saw her fling off her glove, an act of freedom but also defiance, and he made an effort to catch it but shot after her instead.
She still hadn't caught sight of him, but she bit her lip before flinging her hands up into the air.
"Let it go! Let it go! Can't hold me back anymore... Let it go, let it go! Turn away and slam the door! I don't care what they're going to say... Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway!" were her words, and Gar was startled by how powerful she looked just then.
As she had spoken, she released gorgeous flurries of snow and ice crystals, at one point swirling the snow around her and magically forming a small snowman. She turned away from it, pulling at her cloak and unlatching the clasp. She shrugged it off her shoulders and let it fly off; it whizzed past Gar who spared it no second glance as he was transfixed on Raven.
She had never felt this free, never felt this powerful in all her years of living. She began to strut forward, a new confidence taking hold of her as she surveyed her new landscape.
"It's funny how some distance can make anything seem small, and the fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all!" she said, staring off at the faraway peaks of mountains that seemed much tinier from her current position. She rushed forward towards the edge of a cliff, where the mountain had broken off and the highest peak lie to the opposite side.
"It's time to see what I can do, test my limits and break through" she told herself, reaching her hands out and crafting a perfectly sculpted ice staircase complete with two sturdy banisters from one end to the other of the gorge. She smiled wide, placing a foot on the step and gasping a little as the small patches of ice blew off and solidified the structure at her touch.
"No right or wrong, no rules for me... I'm free!" she sang out, voice light as she extended her hands once more and began running up the stairs. Her power pushed off the excess ice and created the perfect staircase as she ran.
"Let it go! Let it go! I'm one with the wind and sky! Let it go, let it go! You'll never see me cry... Here I stand, and here I'll stay! Let the storm rage on..." she continued, hopping off the staircase and onto a semi-flat surface of snow on the side of the North Mountain.
She stomped her foot on the ground and a large hexagonal snowflake of pure ice emerged, expanding and expanding as she created a new home for herself. She pulled the shape upwards with her magic, creating layers and rooms and more of the palace formed around her as she rose into the sky.
"My power flurries through the air into the ground... My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around... And once it crystallizes with an icy blast... I'm never going back, the past is in the past!" she continued, telling herself all these things as she felt them, creating a ceiling filled with spiny turrets of ice and a large chandelier made of spiky ice crystals descended from the new ceiling.
She took the crown from her head, staring at it for a moment before casting it to the side at this declaration of moving forward. With a deep breath, she then grasped her perfectly pulled back hair and yanked on it, breaking it free from the updo.
"Let it go! Let it go! I'll rise like the break of dawn. Let it go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone!" she continued, pushing swisps of her bangs every which way and letting the braid fall over her left shoulder. She noted that her hair instead of raven black now seemed to have a more violet sheen, much like the dark amethyst of her eyes. Tiny ice crystals began to form along her hair like little gems and remained encrusted there, and with a wave of her hand even her dress began to take a new form.
She wanted a whole new feel for herself, a new sense of who she was. As she looked down, her off the shoulder dress now was crystal-blue and made out of ice complete with a crystallized bodice that reflected little squares of blue and turquoise light. Her sleeves were now long and powder blue, and she created a sheer cape that attached to the back of the bodice, transparent and with large snowflake designs decorating it. Even her shoes now were made fully of ice.
"Here I stand, in the light of day! Let the storm rage on!" she emerged out onto the balcony she had created, arms raised in triumph and positive emotions swirling in her system as she looked out across her new domain. The sun had begun to rise, casting a pinkish glow that caught on her icy new home and reflected light across everything.
"The cold never bothered me anyway" she finished, a smirk on her face as she turned back into the room and slammed the two doors to the balcony shut behind her with a swirl of her cape.
Gar had been watching all of this intently, his heart thumping and pride swelling in his chest as he watched her work. She used her powers with a surprising amount of skill and artistry that he hoped he played some part of, as he helped her learn control of her creations a few years back. When she had changed clothes, however, and emerged in that new dress... Gar had felt his normally cool features flame up and a blush dusted his icy cheeks.
Shaking off these feelings, he knew he needed to talk to her and quickly. He had snuck in through the front doors of the castle, making his way inside and up to where Raven was now pacing. Her cheery demeanor from moments before seemed to have vanished completely.
"Raven? Are you alright?" he announced his arrival, coming into the room and floating down next to her. She whirled around to face him, large tears having formed in her eyes. Gar instantly knew why.
A gem now appeared on her forehead. It was diamond shaped, and blood red; smack in the center of her forehead, it glistened and shone like ice but was not made out of anything Gar had ever seen before.
"What's happening to me? I thought... I thought everything would be okay. I'm fine out here, aren't I? I can't hurt anyone up here" Raven seemed to be telling this to herself as well as Gar, and so he took her hands in his. Startled by the sudden touch, she stopped talking.
"I can't tell you what that" he gestured to her new accessory "is, but I can tell you that it's all going to be fine. A friend of mine should be here soon to help us figure stuff out... It'll all make sense soon" Gar explained, squeezing her hands in his own. Raven took a deep breath and nodded, suddenly feeling a bit fatigued.
"You haven't slept at all have you? It's probably best if you get some sleep, okay? I'll wake you when he gets here" Gar said, and they walked together towards a room that adjoined this one, where together they pulled their powers together in order to create a large ice-bed, complete with a soft snow mattress and icy blankets. Raven protested a bit before he managed to get her to lie down in it.
"Time to close your eyes, overlook the darkness, and try to dream tonight. Not so long ago your world was bright! So take a deep breath and count to ten, and maybe you can dream again" Gar spoke softly to her, sitting next to her on the bed and keeping a hold of her hand. He wouldn't ever admit it out loud, but this felt the nicest it had in however long he'd existed.
Raven listened to his words as he comforted her and relaxed her enough to sleep a bit, feeling calmer but not enough to dream of anything pleasant, which was exactly what someone watching them was hoping for.
When Raven awoke, it was due to a disturbance that she was feeling in her icy palace. Gar was no longer by her side, so she pushed aside the icy blankets and slipped her shoes back on before returning to the main room. He seemed to be speaking into a snowball, a glowing snowball that he held in the palm of his hand.
"Oh, she's awake now. You can come now!" Gar said, after catching her looking at him from the doorway. She shot him an inquisitive look before her eyes were immediately drawn to a large portal that had opened up in the middle of the room. Gar let the snowball crumble in his hands before floating over to her and placing his arm lightly around her waist in support.
"What... How? Who?" Raven managed to ask, but her question was answered as a large brown boot stepped out of the portal. Following that was a... metallic leg? And the rest of the large body followed.
It was an immense man with dark brown skin and shockingly blue eyes, although one seemed to be a bit less real if that was even possible. He wore a black fur hat that covered a head devoid of hair, and yet the beginnings of a dark beard covered his chin; surprisingly it was not solely black hair, but also silvery white hair that donned his face. A long red coat with black fur trimming covered him, and a red plaid shirt paired with dark blue pants completed his outfit. The metal leg stuck out of one of the pants legs noticeably.
"Gar Frost! How long it's been!" he exclaimed, a twinkle in his false eye revealing it to be metallic as well; it flashed briefly and changed from a human eye into a fully red robotic one, as the rest of his face followed and blue silvery circuits revealed themselves on that side of his face up to his cheekbone. He removed his coat, exposing the sword strapped to his waist and the suspenders holding up his pants. His right arm was also fully metallic, circuits whirring and flashing as he moved. Both forearms were covered with two sleeve-live tattoos, intricate in design, with scripts that read 'Naughty' on the metal right arm and 'Nice' on the human left arm.
He turned to stare at Raven, who was surprised her mouth hadn't dropped open in shock at seeing this man. He chuckled a bit, wriggling his eyebrows at Gar when he noticed the arm still draped around her waist, before clearing his throat.
"I am Victor St. North, also known as Santa Cyborg... but you may call me Cybrog if you like."
Sorry there was so little Starfire in this one, you guys get a whole chapter of her (and Robin!) next time to make up for it!
On the bright side, Cyborg is here! And points to all of you that noticed what song I had BB/Gar sing to Raven as he was putting her to sleep.
(Okay I'll tell you, it's the song at the end of ROTG, Still Dream by Rene Fleming. I just had to. I almost made them duet it, and it may happen later on if you all like that idea, but I wanted that moment to be about Raven and her discovering her power's true potential!)
Leave me a comment, I wanna know your thoughts! :)