How's it going? Yeah I know it took ages to post this chapter up, but I hope that it was worth the wait. Anyways, I may or may not update in the following weeks since my mom's got a whole ton of things planned that I really don't want to participate in. But heh, I can't argue my way out of this one. ;) Ok enough rambling, on with the story!
Hotshot45: Thanks again. :)
D-I-WaRrIa: Nah not everyone, only the evil group of people. ;) Anyways, I didn't get to see Batman Begins (or any or movie in a while) lately, but I'm hoping to watch it soon. Thanks for the review, and I hope your last weeks of school go by fast. ;D And yeah, I am a guy. :P (Dunno if I already mentioned that before)
teentitantruefriend: Thanks for the compliment. :) And thanks again for reviewing!
taylor: Thanks, I still have a few more chapters to go before this fic is done. ;)
Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans.
Chapter 20: An Enemy Within
Cyborg, Beastboy, and Terra arrived at Emporia shortly after sunset. The main streets were magnificently lit up in a variety of colors from the many shops that lined them. People still filled town at this time, though things were starting to wind down.
"Welcome back, Titans!" Karthor greeted the trio as they arrived at the castle's main hall, "So I assume that your efforts at the Jungle Temple were a success then, yes?" The Titans found it hard to reveal what really happened, knowing that the elder would soon be quite unhappy.
"Err, not exactly," Beastboy said, "You see, something sorta happened when we were fighting the temple guardian. It goes like this..." The Titans told Karthor everything that occurred, right down to every minuscule detail. The elder was rather shocked upon hearing their claim.
Karthor sighed, "Well, this really didn't turn out the way in which we intended it to. But at least the Water Barrier has been destroyed; one of the seven is finished for good."
"I just hope that the others were successful at the Jungle Temple," Terra said, still oblivious to the fate of the remainder of the team.
"Now that I think about it, I wouldn't worry too much," Karthor said, gaining curious faces from the three Titans, "Earlier today I saw a flash of green that was emitted from the forest, which probably means that the Jungle Barrier was disposed of."
"Really!" Cyborg exclaimed, quite overjoyed at this sliver of hope.
Karthor nodded in the affirmative. "Yes, but many things could have still obstructed their way back here, so we can't assume everything will be fine just yet. Anyway, the rest of the day is yours. Feel free to relax and enjoy this brief rest from your quest." Karthor waved and left the hall.
"Do you think Robin and the others really did break that barrier?" Beastboy inquired his friends.
"Well if Karthor said he saw that flash or whatever, then it must be true," Cyborg said, "Aight ya'll, I gotta go recharge; that temple took a whole lot of power outta me." With that, the mechanical teen set off for his room elsewhere in the castle.
Terra already started off for the giant open doorway of the castle, "Hey BB, I'm going back to town. Wanna come with me?" She gave him an irresistible face which the changeling could not turn down.
(A few miles from Emporia)
"I'm telling you, we should go find the others before leaving," Raven argued as the group of teens headed along a familiar path that led to the World of Darkness's only large civilization.
Robin countered, "We already know that they aren't in the temple. What's the point of even going back there for nothing?"
"But what if they are? We can't just let them rot there!"
"Yeah but what if they already returned back to Emporia, one way or another?" Raven didn't argue that point and remained silent, "If they aren't there, then we'll go back."
Raven gave in, "Alright then."
Starfire was looking uneasily at the two of them, "We shouldn't be wasting time arguing about these sort of things. I'm sure that when we find our lost friends, then we can really extract revenge on the temple guardians!" Her mood seemed to cheer both Robin and Raven up. The rest of the trip back to Emporia was silent and uneventful; no creature attacked the group along the way.
"Finally, we have arrived!" Starfire exclaimed as the group reached the main front gate of Emporia. The guards, already knowing their purpose, let the Titans through without any question. It was almost nighttime by now, and the streets were becoming exponentially less crowded by the minute. This allowed easy passage for the three Titans as they made their way up the street leading directly to the castle.
"I don't know how we will break the news to Smilax and Karthor," Raven said in her regular monotone voice, "Um, don't those two people look like Beastboy and Terra?" The dark witch pointed at two people standing by a shop that was selling various foods unknown to Earth.
Starfire immediately identified them, "It's them! Our friends are safe!" Robin and Raven watched in amusement as Starfire sneaked up on Beastboy and Terra and gathered them in one of her trademark backbreaking hugs.
"Um, it's good to see you too, Star," the changeling managed to say, trying to break free of Starfire's unreal strength.
"Yeah, but it would also be nice to breathe, too" Terra arduously said, relieved upon getting released.
Starfire could not contain her happiness, "I apologize for my uncalled for hug, but I am overjoyed at the fact that you are safe! But where is Cyborg?"
Beastboy was stilled recovering, "Oh, tin man is back at the castle recharging," he said, "And don't worry, he's alright as well."
"It's great to see that you're still alive," Robin added, "But what happened when you fell down that platform back when we were still fighting the Abyssal Shadow?"
"We'll tell you once we get back to the castle," Terra said, "it's getting sorta dark out here." Indeed, night was close at hand, which prompted the (once again) reunited Titans to return to Emporia's castle.
(Outside the castle)
King Smilax and Karthor were slowly circling the castle, deep in discussion. "I'm concerned about the missing Titans," Karthor said, voicing his concern.
"But I'm not," Smilax said, earning a look of disapproval from Karthor, "because they are approaching us as we speak." Indeed, the group of five Titans, including Robin, Starfire, and Raven, was on their way to the castle's main entrance. King Smilax and Karthor rushed over to meet them. "It's great to see that you survived!" the king said, apparently overjoyed to see the teens.
"Likewise," Karthor said, leading the group into the dining hall which was now set up for the supper meal. Various foods lined the buffet tables, many of which looked very appetizing to the hungry teenagers. Everyone grabbed something to eat and sat down at a specially prepared table.
Robin decided to bring up the subject of the Titans' fight with the Abyssal Shadow midway through the meal. "So anyway, what exactly did happen back when we fought the Shadow?"
"Personally, I'm not sure," Terra said, taking drink of water, "It was like we blacked out and then found ourselves in the Water Temple." Terra proceeded on to tell the rest of the events that took place in the temple.
King Smilax was pleased with the results. "Excellent, so this means that two barriers are now taken care of. This just leaves us with five more," he said, "But to make your lives easier, I'm going to organize a group of skilled warriors to take out one of the other temples." The Titans gladly accepted the king's help, relieving their burden ever so slightly.
Just as supper was coming to a close, a person that the Titans didn't see before came through the main hall's entrance. He was just under six feet tall and appeared to be about Robin's age. He wore dark brown baggy material pants that went down to his jet colored boots. On his upper body, he wore a fairly thick, long sleeved, black hooded shirt. A gray belt lined with various primitive explosives went diagonally across his chest, starting from his left shoulder to down and around the right side of his waist. The young man's face had brown eyes along with moderately short silver hair spiked upwards. His right ear was pierced with a silver ring and he sported a long crimson sword, about five feet in length, with an elaborately crafted handle containing a few emeralds and sapphires. Upon entry, he looked around with confusion at the Titans.
King Smilax noticed the person immediately. "Ah yes. Titans, I would like you to meet my son, Shi'voc," the king said proudly, "And Shi'voc, these are the Teen Titans. They arrived here through a portal from the planet Earth."
"Nice to meet you," Shi'voc said in a smooth voice, "Um, where exactly is this Earth anyway?"
Karthor chuckled, "Rather far away from here. But you see, they are helping us to destroy the seven barriers."
"Seriously?" Shi'voc was rather shocked, "This means that we can liberate this planet from the evil that controls it now!"
"Exactly," King Smilax said, pleased to know that Shi'voc remembered about the barriers, "And they already managed to destroy two of them in the Jungle and Water temples. Additionally, I'll make sure that Emporia's finest warriors take care of the Fire Temple."
Shi'voc was completely overjoyed. "Excellent! So with three down, that just leaves four to go. They hopefully shouldn't be too much trouble."
"I agree," King Smilax replied, "But for now, let's put this entire business to rest. I assume you Titans must be exhausted from the constant fighting, so I recommend you take the next day to rest. How about it?"
The Titans, rather surprised by the king's hospitality, accepted without question.
"Then it's settled," Karthor said, standing up along with everyone else, "Anyway, it's late. We'll you see in during the morning feast."
"It was a pleasure meeting you, Shi'voc," Robin said before he departed for his room.
"Same with me," Shi'voc said with a friendly smile, himself retiring for the day.
Sleep didn't come to the Boy Wonder easily. His nights were plagued by the same nightmare that he experienced during his first night here. Except that each time it was getting clearer and clearer almost as though it was trying to warn him. And this night was no different...
Robin felt himself go flying into a wall as Acrimon's spell struck him. "What the hell are you doing here?" Acrimon demanded.
The Boy Wonder replied with anger, "Why did you throw Starfire down there! She didn't even do anything to you!"
"Because she interfered with us for the last time," Breaker said in his strangely human voice, "So one way was to kill her and move along with our plans."
"What plans? What is going on here!" Robin replied, tears of hatred starting to fall down his face. Quite frankly, Robin didn't understand what was going on here at all. Wasn't King Smilax supposed to be helping them? And how did Breaker get in the World of Darkness in the first place?
King Smilax sighed impatiently. "I can't believe that you didn't see this coming," he elaborated, "I have no interest in your well being, nor about the safety of your team. Put it this way: I needed you to do something that I couldn't."
"And that would be?" Robin demanded.
Acrimon rolled his eyes, "To break the barriers you moron. Isn't it obvious that Smilax is a bit... out of shape for this type of journey? Shi'voc would be capable, but he wouldn't dare betray the trust he has with the people of Emporia. Therefore Firesprite sent you over here to complete my side of his bargain."
The Boy Wonder was shocked to hear this. "You... you know Firesprite?"
"No kidding," Acrimon said, "I'm his damn brother for crying out loud! And the only way for him to..."
"Brother!" Robin blurted out, unable to contain himself, "That's a lie!"
Acrimon chuckled, "Why don't you ask him yourself? Oh wait, that's right! You won't be seeing him ever again because I'm going to rip you to shreds on the spot!" The warrior unsheathed his sword and attempted to slice Robin's throat. The Boy Wonder tried to pull out his staff to block the attack, but it was too late...
Robin screamed as he woke up in a cold sweat once again. "Not again..." he groaned, placing his head in his hands in an attempt to fend off the sharp headache that came over him. "I'm probably just hallucinating, but that nightmare won't stop. Maybe I'll just walk it off or something." And with that, the Boy Wonder quickly got dressed and quietly headed outside.
'Man, why do these nightmares keep coming up?' Robin pondered, walking around the various stone paths that crisscrossed the elegant courtyard, which was occupied with fountains and carefully trimmed plants, 'It's like they are trying to tell me something...' The Boy Wonder was startled when he heard footsteps behind him. Upon turning around, Robin discovered that no one was there. "What? Am I hallucinating again?" he said aloud, getting rather paranoid. However, the more Robin walked around, the louder the footsteps became. Deciding enough was enough, the Boy Wonder started heading back to the castle.
"Going somewhere?" A voice rang out in the courtyard, prompting Robin to immediately stop. He looked around once more, but there was not a soul in the courtyard. However, Robin did a double take when he saw someone moving around in the shadows near one of the fountains.
"Who... who are you?" Robin asked, seeing the person walk into the light of the castle. The Boy Wonder's eyes widened as he recognized the figure to be the same one he saw talking with King Smilax a few days ago... and in his dream where Starfire was murdered by him. The man's face was cloaked under the shadow of his helmet, light not daring to reveal his facial features.
The person laughed, "Don't even try to tell me that you weren't spying on my conversation with Smilax, because I know you were... Robin."
The Boy Wonder was taken back when the person said his name. "I... I don't know what you're talking about."
"Really now?" the person said, "The name's Acrimon, I'm sure you've heard it before." Robin registered that name, remembering King Smilax mention it in that same conversation. "Anyway, I don't appreciate you eavesdropping on a private discussion." He had a tone of pure anger when he said that statement. Robin didn't know how to rebut his claims considering that he did indeed spy on Acrimon and King Smilax's conversation.
Robin swallowed loudly, "So why exactly are you telling me this?" There was just something about Acrimon that sent chills running down Robin's spine.
Acrimon shook his head, unsheathing the sharp-edged sword that he carried with him, just like in the first dream Robin had. "You shall pay the ultimate price for that intrusion." The warrior lifted his sword and charged at Robin, swinging it hard horizontally. Robin was too stunned to run, and therefore received a shallow lateral cut across his chest. The Boy Wonder screamed out in pain, but quickly forced his unwilling arms to pull out his bo-staff.
"By wielding your weapon, I assume you aren't going to surrender," Acrimon said coolly, "So be it. Permit me to strike the second blow." The warrior brought his sword down on Robin, who blocked it with his staff.
"Look, I don't know who you are or what you want," Robin said, taking a moment to catch his breath, "But you're taking this way too far."
Acrimon laughed, "I dislike people like you, and unfortunately I am obligated to get rid of you," He then leaped into the air and slashed his sword diagonally as the warrior came straight for Robin. The Boy Wonder attempted to parry Acrimon's sword, but missed by a few inches, gaining another cut across his chest. By now, Robin was getting weaker by the second from loss of blood. "Don't tell me that you are already finished," Acrimon snickered, "I haven't even broken a sweat yet."
The Boy Wonder, however, refused to give up. He stood back up and poised his staff for battle, but Acrimon slashed him right back down. Robin was indeed out of options, and his only remaining choice was to get the other Titans down here. But without his communicator and drained energy, that was close to impossible. Acrimon walked over to the fallen hero and picked him up by his throat. "You have made a fatal mistake, my friend." The warrior then punched Robin square in the face with his other hand followed by a knee to the stomach. While Robin was doubled over gasping for air, Acrimon brought his elbow down with tremendous force on the Boy Wonder's back, knocking him on the ground. Using his sword, Acrimon sliced a deep vertical cut up Robin's left arm, causing even more blood to escape. By now Robin was completely maxed out; his fate rested solely in th hands of Acrimon. "This is the end of the road for you," the warrior said as he positioned his blood covered sword directly over Robin's throat. Acrimon hesitated, however, feeling a familiar presence behind him.
"Let him go," a voice said. Both Robin and Acrimon looked over to see that the voice belonged to Shi'voc, who looked ready to slaughter Robin's attacker. "I thought I killed you before, how the hell are you still here?" The young warrior inquired with hatred in his voice.
Acrimon looked rather pleased, "Do you really think that you can get rid of me that easily?" Without warning, Acrimon charged up to Shi'voc with his sword ready to decapitate the warrior. His attack was for naught, however, as Shi'voc easily dodged it and countered with a slash across Acrimon's back.
"Leave now, or I'll alert the rest of the castle," Shi'voc said in a cold tone.
Acrimon seemed to be at a loss, "That's exactly what I expected of you," he said with a smirk, "You can never fight anyone without having reinforcements there. We will meet again, and when we do, I'll personally make sure to end your pathetic and worthless life." With that, Acrimon vanished into thin air with a wave of his hand.
Shi'voc disregarded the threat. "Are you alright?" he asked, looking over at the bleeding Robin.
Robin barely managed to respond, "Not really, but a little sleep will make me good as new." Shi'voc didn't really see this as a time to be joking, and instead began to run back inside the castle. "Just stay there, I'll get help!" Robin nodded, hoping that Acrimon wouldn't decide to show up and take advantage of the situation. The time that elapsed since Shi'voc left for the castle felt like an eternity. As more blood was escaping Robin's body, he felt his eyelids begin to close...
"He's right there!" The Boy Wonder heard Shi'voc yell as a group of people came rushing over to him, including the other five Titans.
Starfire looked as though she would have a heart attack upon seeing the Boy Wonder in this form. "Robin! Who did this to you?"
Robin was struggling just to stay conscious, let alone answer Starfire's plea. "Acrimon..." was all that he could say before the lack of blood finally got to him. The last image he saw was that of Starfire's tear covered face...
Sorry it took so long to write this chapter; I've been on vacation lately so I didn't have enough time to get anything done. -.- Anyways, I hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for more.