Sable Heart 11 - Connection
Raven has vanished, taken by the unknown shadow. The Titans are no longer in defense mode. Let's see what they do.
As they are now separated, I'll make sure to note when we change location.
"X'Hal!" Starfire ground out between her teeth. She was stomping around the common room, repeatedly clenching her fists and uttering curses in Tamaranian. Her eyes hadn't stopped glowing since the reality of Raven's abduction had set in. Cyborg watched her carefully: he had never seen her like this. The tips of her hair were beginning to glow like burning embers. Beast Boy sat on the couch, hands interlocked and head bowed between his knees. He hadn't uttered a word since his frantic promise to Raven. I'll find you, Raven. He wondered now how he would even begin. Robin was still downstairs, examining the corridor where Beast Boy had fought the shadow. He used every trick, skill and tool he had to try and find something - anything - to lead them to Raven. So far, he had come up empty. Suddenly, the monitor flickered into life, showing a dismayed Superman. Cyborg stepped up.
"You got Robin's message?" he asked. Superman nodded.
"We did. I'm sorry," he said, genuinely. Cyborg nodded his gratitude.
"We need to find her. Give me some good news," Cyborg said.
"Batman's forensic examinations have turned up very little. There have been residual energy traces but we're still analysing the data... it's new to us," Superman admitted.
"Maybe it's mystical," Cyborg said.
"We think so too," Superman acknowledged. "Zatanna says it feels familiar but can't place it. She's the one performing the analysis, if that's the right word. Divination?"
"I don't care," Cyborg said. "I just need something to shoot at."
"We'll find her, Cyborg. We'll find all of them. Superman signing off," he said, the screen going blank. Cyborg stared at the surface, struggling to organise his thoughts and control his anger - he'd be no use that way. Starfire paced. Beast Boy brooded. Cyborg waited. Eventually, finally, Robin entered. His expression didn't bode well.
"I found that same energy from the other sites. Sent what I have to the League. Nothing else. Not a damn THING!" Yelling the last word, Robin punched the wall next to him, cracking the surface. Starfire made her way to him and held his shoulders gently, though her countenance was still furious.
"Do not harm yourself in frustration, Robin. Save your anger and inflict it upon our enemy," she seethed. If any of the Titans had forgotten her warrior spirit, they were reminded now.
"I told her I'd find her..." Beast Boy whimpered. Cyborg's hand landed on his shoulder.
"You will, B. We will," he assured. Beast Boy forced a smile and nodded.
"But you will probably need help," said a new voice. In half a heartbeat, the Titans were battle ready. The newcomer emerged from the shadows, a woman wearing a long white robe. They saw it was similar to Raven's attire.
"Who are you?" Robin challenged.
"I was sent to help you by... a greater power. Something is meddling with your world and can no longer be ignored. I was chosen as I have a certain... closeness to Raven. And to her captor," the woman said. The Titans relaxed slightly but kept their guard up.
"Then I'll ask again," Robin said. "Who. Are. You?" The woman smiled sadly.
"I no longer have use for a name but, when I was alive like you... I was named Arella."
Raven stirred, her eyes shifting beneath her eyelids. After a few more moments they opened and took in the room around them. It was bare. Stone walls, stone floors... but looking around there were chairs, tables and even spartan beds lining the walls. There was one door, thick wood shod with heavy iron. As she struggled to rise, a stranger's voice came from her right. A woman.
"Well, well, well... look who decided to join us in the land of the living. Raven turned and tried to focus on the woman before her. She wore a green costume, complete with a green witch's hat.
"You're... the Enchantress?" Raven grumbled, finally finding her feet.
"Indeed I am," the woman replied. "And you're Raven, yes?" she asked. Raven nodded.
"Where... where are we?" Raven asked. The Enchantress shook her head.
"No idea. Had a positively unsettling encounter with some shadow character and woke up here. I don't suppose you know if my team - the Shadowpact - are alright," she asked.
"Last I heard, they were fine, if a little concerned. Once the creature had you it lost interest in them," Raven recalled. The Enchantress let out a small sigh of relief, though her nonchalance returned soon after.
"Well, now that that's no longer an issue, we can concentrate on escaping this vile place," she said. Raven raised an eyebrow.
"You have an escape plan?" she asked. The Enchantress dithered for a moment.
"Well... not a plan as such. But I'm sure we can come up with one!" she enthused, though her bright outlook dimmed before she spoke again. "The truth is, Raven, I'm not much use outside of magical combat - this is way outside my comfort zone. A lot of the prisoners here aren't even superheroes or even aware of their gift. They're just people. The only people I've recognised so far are you, an old man without his prop and a blind woman."
"Who?" Raven asked. The Enchantress beckoned her silently into one of the corners. There she saw an older, balding man, dressed in fairly ordinary. clothing. He lay on one of the beds and stirred as they approached. "Mumbo?" she whispered. The man looked up and she gasped. He had been beaten, severely. Her gaze was most drawn to his right eye: it was missing, the wound cauterised.
"R-Raven?" he mumbled. Seeing that his appearance had cracked even her stoic shell, he attempted to laugh but just coughed instead. "That bad, huh?" Raven knelt by his side. Mumbo was an enemy, though she largely considered him an annoyance more than a genuine threat but right now, she only saw a helpless man in pain.
"Who did this?" she asked, gently. He shuddered.
"Our benevolent jailer," he replied. "When she found out all my power was in the hat, she was very angry. Said I'd lied to her. Then she... she burned they eye right out of my head," he whimpered. Raven had already checked her powers: something about this place neutralised them.
"I'm sorry, Mumbo. I can't heal you," she said. He had already fallen back into uneasy sleep. Behind him, a woman rose from another bed.
"Raven?" she called. Raven moved to her side. It was Madam Xanadu, a powerful magic user and gifted seer who, in cruel irony, was completely blind.
"It's me, Madame Xanadu," she replied, taking the woman's hand. To Raven's surprise, Xanadu smiled widely and squeezed Raven's hand with both of her own.
"At last... at last!" she muttered, her voice thick with emotion. "You are the sign, Raven. The sign of our salvation," she said.
"I'm the what?" Raven replied, utterly confused. Madame Xanadu controlled her breathing, her smile diminishing a little.
"My gift is beyond mere magic, Raven. Though my control is dependent on mystic spells and enchanted tarot cards, I see things. I have seen that your arrival will herald the end of our imprisonment, though some of the images I do not fully understand," she said.
"What images?" Raven asked.
"A bird, escaping the shadow of a great bat," she recited.
"That must be Robin!" Raven exclaimed. Xanadu nodded in understanding.
"A builder, armed with weapons made of thunder," she continued.
"Cyborg!" Raven said.
"A shooting star, far from our world, crashing through our prison walls," Xanadu said.
"Starfire!" Raven hissed. She was smiling now. A part of her mind wondered if her disconnection from her powers had interfered with her emotional control: she could no longer hear her emotions.
"But they cannot find us," Xanadu said, causing Raven's smile to vanish. "The vision is incompl... wait. There! They walk the path to us, guided by... strange..." she said.
"What's strange?" Raven urged. Madame Xanadu shook her head, not fully understanding what she "saw".
"The path is lined on each side by thousands of animals. They all point the way for the other three, guiding them to us. And... they are all green," she said. Raven's already fragile control slipped and she smiled warmly, her eyes stinging a little.
"Beast Boy..." she said thickly. "Well..." she laughed. "He said he'd find me." The Enchantress, though not completely on the same page, had understood enough to smile in hopeful excitement. Their joy was interrupted by a loud clanging outside the door. The Enchantress went pale and dragged Raven to her feet. At her questioning look, the Enchantress spoke.
"Looks like we're getting a visit from our landlady," she said. Raven swallowed nervously, also concerned at just how nervous she was: her emotions were beyond her control. The door banged open and two guards, faceless in thick armour, stepped in and to each side of the door. Then she walked in. Their jailer. Their kidnapper. And to Raven's horror, she knew her. Unbidden, her name sprang from Raven's lips.
"Azar?" Robin said, doubtfully. "Raven has been kidnapped by the pacifist monk who raised her? Who she believed to be dead since she was thirteen?" Arella nodded.
"Yes, though someone like Azar is very difficult to destroy, she was... adrift for years. But she is not as she once was. Where she was patient, now she is controlling. Where she was understanding, now she is dismissive. And where she was peaceful, now she is aggressive and dangerous. Raven is not safe with her any longer. We must find her," she said. In that, at least, she and Titans agreed.
"But how?" Robin asked. "We've already gone over all the evidence... wait." He smacked his hand into his forehead. "The cameras! I didn't check them because it would take days to watch it all. Cyborg! You can download all the footage straight away, can't you?" Cyborg grinned, glad to have something to do.
"Yeah, I can! Initiating download..." Beast Boy looked bemused.
"Ummm..." he muttered but before he could speak, Cyborg's eyes snapped open and aimed right at him.
"You kissed Raven?!" he shrieked. The others whipped around to stare at Cyborg, then Beast Boy. Even Starfire's eyes had stopped glowing.
"Ummm..." Beast Boy repeated. A quiet ping signalled that Cyborg had downloaded the rest of the footage.
"TWICE!?" he screamed. "Aw man, I'm gonna have to scrub this make-out from my brain after we're done," he moaned.
"Ummm..." Beast Boy said again, shaking now. Whatever he was going to try and say, he forgot it when Arella stood before him, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder and closing her eyes. She smiled.
"Yes... you have great love for her. I am pleased for my daughter," she said. Beast Boy spluttered.
"L-love?! Whoa, there, we just got together we're not, like, in lo-"
"Apologies, Beast Boy. I refer not only to your budding romance but to your feelings of friendship. You have love for her. You all do," she said, her gaze sweeping over each Titan. They each nodded as their eyes met with hers. "This may serve us, this connection... it is more than friendship. More than love. It is... it is..." Arella trailed off as she struggled to name the sensation.
"Faith," the Titans said in unison, surprised but moved that they all felt the same. Arella smiled at them.
"Yes, that's it. Faith. I can use this to locate her, though it may take some time. Without any information from her end, the work is much harder," she admitted. Beast Boy perked up.
"Wait. Her mirror! We can use her mirror!" he yelled, running from the room. The others followed and found him in Raven's room, shouting at her meditation mirror, calling her name. There was no answer and he stared glumly at the others. Then there was a dim glow from the surface, and a quiet voice spoke from the mirror.
Dun dun duunnnn! Has Beast Boy made contact with Raven? Azar is the bad guy? Crazy times, people. Anyway, you know the drill: read and review and try and enjoy it somewhere in between ;)